Albania- An Off-beat European Destination

Albania is a small country on the Balkan Peninsula of Europe. The country is yet unexplored, and this makes it a unique destination away from the chaos of famous tourist places. Delve into its rich culture and history, and have an authentic experience of this off beat European destination.

 

5 Best Places to Visit in Albania

Tirana

The capital of Albania has a fantastic confluence of architecture from different eras including the Ottoman era, Fascist era, and Soviet era. Skanderbeg Square is the focal point of Tirana and on its north is the National History Museum preserving history from prehistoric to Communist to anti-Communist times. The museum offers a unique insight into the history of this Alabania.

tirana

How to reach?

Being the capital of Albania, Tirana has an international airport. You can directly book a flight from your departure destination to arrive here.

How to get around?

You can hire a taxi, car or a bicycle to go around the city.

What to see?

  • Et’hem Bey Mosque
  • Kapllan Pasha Tomb
  • National Historic Museum
  • Bunk Art
  • Tirana Catle

What to eat/drink?

  • Byrek
  • Sufllaqe
  • Doner
  • Gjiro
  • Boza

What to buy?

Tirana has both upscale as well as commercial street shops where you can splurge on shopping. You will find a good collection of footwear, clothing, jewelry, and books.

 

Berat

Berat was named the “city of museums” in 1961. This historic city is situated on the river Osum in the heart of Albania. Famous for its Ottoman styled houses, Berat houses a magnetic castle on top of a hill. The castle has a massive compound. Its walls enclose Byzantine churches, the Red Mosque, and the Onufri National Museum.

berat

How to reach?

Berat is well connected by road to major towns. You can either take a van or a bus from Tirana to Berat.

How to get around?

Berat is a small town. You can easily explore the town on foot.

What to see?

  • The Kala Castle
  • Onfuri Iconography Museum
  • Mangalem Old town Area
  • Sahatit Mosque
  • Lead Mosque

What to eat/drink?

  • Rice with turkey-cock
  • Mont Blanc pastry named after the white peak of Tomorri Mt
  • Figs
  • Olives
  • Juice made from roses

What to buy?

It’s a good idea to buy traditional items such as stone carving, wood cheeping, and textile products as souvenirs from Berat.

 

Albanian Riviera

Albanian Riviera entices travelers with its surreal beauty and the relatively less crowded beaches as well as impressive mountains. This peaceful beach paradise is a perfect place to relax and take your mind off of the things from which you need a break.

albanian riviera

How to reach?

You can go to any of the coastal villages of the Albanian Riviera by hiring a car.

How to get around?

Cars, camper vans, bicycles, or on foot –you can decide how you want to explore.

What to see?

  • Ali Pasha Tepelena Castle
  • Ruins of Himara Castle
  • Borshi Mosque
  • Nivice Basilica
  • Old Qeparo

What to eat/drink?

  • Harapash
  • Birjan
  • Brass and wrasse fish
  • Lemons, oranges, olives
  • Honey, sage, dairy products

What to buy?

Albanian Riviera consists of coastal villages. It’s better to buy souvenirs from other places. You can get fresh sea food, vegetables, fruits, and dairy products here.

 

Kruja

Kruja is situated at a distance of around 20km from the capital city of Tirana. The destination is worth a day’s trip with its alluring Kruja castle which functions as a national sanctum, Skanderberg museum, Sari Saltiks tomb, and Qafe Shtama national park.

Kruja Castle

How to reach?

You can reach Kruja by taking a bus from Tirana. The journey takes about 45 mins.

How to get around?

It’s a mountainous small village. You can easily tour it on foot.

What to see?

  • Kruje Castle (There are many attractions inside the castle)
  • Old Bazaar
  • Merat Beut Mosque
  • Black River Canyon
  • Weeping Gorge

What to eat/drink?

  • Pule me Qull
  • Kabuni
  • Pizza
  • Cornelian cherry
  • Blackberries

What to buy?

Take home lovely carpets, hand-made slippers, antiques, traditional clothing, and lots more.

 

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra is called “the city of stones” because of its small castle-like houses made from stones that are constructed in Balkan style. It’s a UNESCO world cultural heritage and boasts of several cultural attractions such as museums, theatres, and religious places.

gjirokaster

How to reach?

Buses are available for Gjirokastra from most of the major towns and cities.

How to get around?

You can choose to take a taxi, local bus or get around by foot.

What to see?

  • Gjirokastra Castle
  • Gjirokastra Mosque
  • Old Bazaar and Historic Ottoman Homes
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Zekate House

What to eat/drink?

  • Qifqi
  • White cheese
  • As Gjirokastra is famous for dairy products, you can try dishes made from them.

What to buy?

You can buy traditional artifacts from Artisans’ Center.

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