- 8 views
Perhaps the most enigmatic country in Europe, Albania’s multitude of treasures are just waiting to be uncovered. Ringed by mountain peaks that offer a host of off-road, trekking, and horse-riding adventures, the capital of Tirana is the gateway for adventure seekers. Attractions in the city range from Roman mosaics to the Ottoman-era Ethem Bey Mosque. Plus, you do not have to travel far from the city to enjoy the beaches on the Ionian coast, the hilltop fortresses of Albania’s southern region, and the natural wonder that is Lake Ohrid. When it comes to Albania, there are plenty of highlights packed in a small area.
Due to Albania’s relatively small size, it is possible to get a feel for the country in four days or less, making it a great option for a long weekend getaway. To explore Tirana, Lake Ohrid, and the coastal region at a leisurely pace should not take more than four to five days. However, if you go for a 2-week Albania itinerary, you can cover the length and breadth of the country, ranging from Rozafa Fortress in the north to the ruins of Butrint on the Albanian Riviera in the south of the country. Do not worry if your annual leave does not go that far. For you can cram in the major sights within a 10-day itinerary.
We recommend starting and ending a 4-day Albania itinerary in Tirana. Stroll through the capital’s historic heart on your first day and soak up the views across Skanderbeg Square. Then head for the coastal Durrës, where tacking yachts combine with a treasure trove of historic wonders ranging from a Roman amphitheater to a Venetian tower.
Swap the Ionian coast for the banks of the River Osum in Gorica next. Here the marvels include the crumbling walls of the thirteenth-century Berat Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Next, head south to the unmissable town of Gjirokaster, famous for its Ottoman architecture. Dotted with local restaurants, the ‘city of a thousand steps’ is a great place to sample authentic Albanian cuisine.
Return to Tirana at the end of your trip and soak up its atmospheric streets while sipping on a cup of rich black coffee.
Combine bucket-list destinations with little-known gems during your ten days in Albania. To the south of the country, near the Adriatic coast, is Llogora National Park, which blends magical stays with delightful forest walks and rock-climbing opportunities. Further south still, Butrint’s ancient relics look out across the channel towards Corfu. Explore the mountain village of Dhoksat, known for its organic farms and small-scale vineyards, and hike through the Albanian Alps from Theth to Valbona. End your ten-day Albania itinerary in the country’s far east. Offering almost endless vistas over Lake Ohrid, the city of Pogradec is not to be missed. Activities around the lake also include scenic walks in Drilon Park, a holiday home of Enver Hoxta, the long-gone communist dictator who did more to shape modern Albania than anyone else.
You can either go highlight-hopping throughout the country or focus on a region or two during your one week in Albania. Spend at least one day in the perfectly-preserved Gjirokaster and enjoy authentic Albanian hospitality. The cobbled roads of Kruje, hosting a range of historic attractions dating back hundreds of years, should also be high on your list.
Next, turn your attention to the coastal town of Durrës, a firm favorite among sun-seekers. Stop by Elbasan, the home of the Summer Day festivities, or sample the finest Albanian cuisine in and around Berat. Try red and white wines at the heart of the Roshnik wine region alongside local cheeses, hams, and olives that rival those in Italy.
Reserve the last days for Tirana, a capital that deserves your attention. The magnificent Grand Park could easily take at least half a day. A stone’s throw away from the park is the Pyramid of Tiran along with an impressive cluster of museums.
With the additional flexibility that a two-week Albania itinerary gives you, there can be no better option than to extend your trip to the country’s stunning coastline. While hardly known outside of its borders, the Albanian Riviera and the Ionian coast are in fact the southerly extension of the much-celebrated beaches around Budva and Zadar.
Exploring the country does not have to take endless amounts of time either. The journey by road from Durrës to the ancient archeological site of Apollonia is just over an hour. Similarly, Vlorë’s old town is rich in Ottoman heritage, alongside an attractive seafront edged by forested hills.
Alternatively, why not turn your attention north, where Shkoder nestles among the meandering waters of the River Drin in the foothills of the Albanian Alps? Its mosques and cathedrals hark back to the meeting between the East and the West in what was once one of the region’s most important cities.
Travelling to Albania? Chat with a local travel specialist in Albania who can help organize your trip.
Xheni Tirana Travel Expert in Albania & Montenegro
Dorien Malaj Travel Expert in Albania
Ed Reeves Travel Expert in Albania & Kosovo