One of the main questions for anyone travelling to Albania is ‘Where should I visit?’. Albania has many great cities, towns and villages that you shouldn’t miss out on when you come to visit. Therefore, I have named some of the main ones you should visit during your time in Albania.
There are so many reasons why you should visit Albania. It’s a country that is truly unique and authentic. Around every twist and turn, you will find another beautiful landscape or beach. The people are extremely friendly and very hospitable. In the last year, it has fast become my favourite country in the world due to its uniqueness and strong traditional ways that no other country in Europe can offer.
Without further ado, here are the top places to visit in Albania…
Berat is also known as the town of one thousand windows due to the Ottoman style houses that Berat is famous for. It is now a UNESCO site as there are over 2000 years of history to explore. If you walk to the top of the castle you get amazing views of the city of Berat. Within the castle walls, you will also see everyday homes that people still occupy today. If you are a backpacker then make sure you stay at Berat backpackers, it’s a great hostel located in a beautiful place!
Himare is a less busy beach town located a few hours’ drive north of Saranda. It’s a much less busy beach getaway than the likes of Saranda. The views are incredibly pretty and it’s the perfect place if you want to chill out by the beach for a few days. I highly recommend making a trip to the old part of Himare which is in the hills, next to the castle. From there you get incredible views of the Riveria and you also get to see a traditional village, it’s so pretty!
Located in the north of Albania, this city is very quaint and a great doorstep to some fantastic hiking in the area. You will notice that Shkodër is the city of bikes, everyone’s biking! It’s also incredibly affordable place. The architecture is unlike anywhere else in Albania. You may notice that you have stepped back in time into an old-fashioned film, that’s the charm of Shkodër.
Interesting fact! The southern Albanians speak a different dialect to the Albanians in the northern places like Shkodër and in Kosovo.
A lot of people either go to Berat or Gijrokastёr because they think because they are both UNESCO cities they will be the same – WRONG! Make sure you visit Gijrokastёr too. Cobbled streets and a castle perched at the top, Gijrokastёr is worth the stop.
Make sure you save a few hours for the castle where you can see and climb if you wish on the old army tanks, plus you get amazing views. There is so much to see here including underground tunnels, a weapon museum (you can actually pick up the weapons!) and abandoned rooms of the castle. Spend an afternoon wandering the streets and people watching from a café. Gijrokastёr has a lot of character!
If you’re a backpacker I highly recommend you stay at Stone City Hostel. It’s an awesome hostel!
Tirana is one of the coolest cities in Europe in my opinion. It has an edge, there are lots of things to see and most importantly for any traveller, the alcohol is cheap. In the summer as most people have migrated to the beach of Saranda or Durres the city isn’t as busy but in the winter the city is thriving again. There are some wonderful places to party in Tirana as well. Don’t forget to visit the raki bar, Komiteti. You can try all the different flavours of raki here and its set in a sort of museum! It’s a cool place to hang out.
You can also look at the old communist leader’s house, Enver Hoxha. I highly recommend visiting the house of leaves, which is where you can find out a bit more about what Albania was like in the communist times. There are lots of things to do here so I highly recommend spending a few days here. If you’re a backpacker make sure you stay at Trip’n Hostel, you won’t regret it!
Saranda is where I am based in Albania. In the summer it’s a thriving beach city being one of the most popular places to visit. Saranda is a great mix of beach life, good restaurants and the main location in Albania for nightlife. In the summer a substantial number of Albanians come here to live and work for the tourist season so the nightlife here is very prominent.
In the winter it’s a sleepy beach city but still boasts great weather. In fact, Saranda itself gets over 300 days of sunshine a year so if you have to spend winter anywhere in Europe I would spend it here! Make sure you read my full guide on Saranda here which includes the best things to do, best places to eat and where to stay!
Only a 20-minute bus ride from Saranda is the beautiful paradise of Ksamil. The only advice I would give is to visit in any other months except for July and August. During those two months, the place is absolutely packed. It’s much nicer to visit in the of the season when most of the summer tourists have left and there are only a few sunbeds left.
The sand is white, the sea is crystal clear, what more could you want? There are also a few islands which you can swim out to as well as you can rent a jet ski or paddle boat and spend the day relaxing in the Albanian sun!
When you come to Albania you will no doubt try one of the local beers Korça. Well, you can visit the city when Korça is made and produced. The best thing about it is that you will get beer for the wholesale price. That means you will pay a pittance for a bottle of beer, that’s insane! Korça is set in a valley so the city is surrounding by mountains. From Korçë you can also do some amazing hikes in the surrounding area.
There’s a roundup of the best towns and cities to visit whilst you are in Albania. There are plenty more places to visit while you’re in Albania. Every town, village and city are unique, and none are the same. My advice would be to hire a car and drive around the country. This way you can see a lot more. If you don’t have access to a hire, make sure you read my guide to transport through Albania!
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