Albania is a country of great history, even though many travelers do not know many things about the country, we lazy penguins can assure you that it can be a great travel destination for all kind of travelers.
Situated in the Mediterranean, Albania is part of the Balkans and has hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters in the lowlands (what else do we need guys? you can visit the country the whole 12 months of the year!). If you want to know more about country’s beautiful places, scroll down and enjoy these stunning photos that look like they’ve been taken out of fairy tales.
10. Albanian Riviera.
Albania has been recognized as a tourist destination for its beaches, but honestly the interior of the country directly captivated me by places like Berat. This picturesque town is a world heritage site for its historic center and its castle that dominates it from its heights. It is the oldest city in Albania and Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Bulgarians and Ottomans have passed through it throughout more than 2000 years of history. Berat is known as the city of a thousand windows because of the infinite windows that watch over the visitor at all times. Due to the 5 centuries of Ottoman rule, the typical houses of the city maintain a classic Ottoman structure, giving it its own well-defined character. Berat is nestled between huge mountains and crossed by the Osum River. The castle rises majestically over the city, witness to countless battles and from which there are precious snapshots of the town.
The footprint of Roman civilization has remained indelible on this impressive Roman site. It was built in honor of the god Apollo and in times of the Roman Empire it became a very important city on a commercial level. It succumbed to an earthquake, which changed the course of the river, turning the area into a quagmire. The central nucleus of the site is organized around the agora. There you can see the spectacular Agonothètes, the main center of government and meetings of the city. The odeon – an old theater – and the remains of other old buildings are organized around it. In another area there is another larger old theater. The architectural ensemble is completed with a visit to the Apollonia museum, where sculptures, vessels and other objects found in the excavations are exhibited.
7. Lake Koman.
Few landscapes have surprised me as much in my journey through the Balkans as the mountain ridges on the emerald waters. Despite being known as the fjords of Albania, it is a very long canyon on Lake Komani without access to the sea. But that does not take away an iota of its beauty. The best way to visit it is to travel its more than 30 km by boat. The journey lasts almost 3 hours and I assure you that you will not be able to shut your mouth before the amazing scenery. Many travelers choose to use the ferry to continue their journey later to the mountain lands of Valbona and Teth.
It is another of the essential cities of Albania and along with Berat a World Heritage Site. It conserves a very well preserved historic center and they are also making a great effort to improve and restore its heritage. Along its cobbled streets we find many kules, Ottoman-influenced tower-houses typical of the Balkans. The bazaar is the center of life in Gjirokastra and the most beautiful area, with the most representative buildings, including the elegant mosque. How could it be otherwise, it is also protected by a fortress erected at the top of the mountain. It is probably the best preserved castle in Albania and has been the main defensive stronghold of Gjirokastra from Ottoman times until the Hoxha dictatorship. You can also visit some fortified tower houses such as the Zekate House. If I have not finished convincing you yet, you should know that it has a very interesting gastronomy, with fresh products and clear influences from Ottoman cuisine.
This small town near Tirana is a true open-air museum, with centuries of history behind it and the birthplace of the national hero Skanderberg. This former Albanian military man led the resistance against the Ottomans and, despite having failed in his crusade, he is one of the country’s most admired leaders. The castle, strategically located on top of a hill, was the main scene in the fight against the Ottomans. The last few years it has been restored to look again at its best. Another highlight of this picturesque town is the old bazaar, where the market is located. Along its cobbled streets we can find numerous shops offering typical Albanian products and souvenirs. A place to wander and browse its streets.
It is one of the largest cities in Albania and one of the oldest in the Balkans. There is evidence of settlements for more than 2000 years. Due to its strategic location next to Lake Shkodra, it was later conquered by numerous civilizations, notably the Ottomans, who remained for 5 centuries. These left their mark, culture and religion and thus, you can see beautiful mosques in the city. Shkodra is a super lively town, especially at dusk, when its pedestrian streets and terraces are packed with locals and tourists. The obligatory castle is located about 4 km from the city, and from above you can see incredible views of the meandering Buna River. On the horizon you can also see Lake Shkodra, the largest in the Balkans, and shared by Albania and Montenegro. You can take a bike ride to watch the sunset from the lake shore.
The gateway to the Albanian Riviera from the north is the port town of Vlorë, a heterogeneous and lively place where you can find from a festive atmosphere, like the one you will find on the beach of Plazhi i Ri, that the serenity of something less traveled as Uji i Ftohtë. All this, wrapped in the charm that the imposing cliffs give the town, turned into silent witnesses of the union between the Adriatic and Ionian Sea.
Those who have visited the Albanian Riviera have no doubts and that Ksamil is one of the best beaches in this coastal area of the country. It is an archipelago about 20 kilometers from Sarandë made up of three islands dotted with trees, a picture of a postcard that, in front of the pebbles typical of the coastline, offers visitors white sand beaches. Disputing the title of being one of the best beaches on the Albanian Riviera is Dhërmi, one of the most popular with locals. It is the longest urban beach in the country and in its surroundings
It is one of the most popular cities on the Albanian Riviera for both local and international tourists. For now, remember the most popular beach areas of the Spanish Mediterranean and, although its pebble beaches are not the most spectacular, it does have a more than attractive environment to enjoy the holidays and is ideal to become your base of operations. But if what you are looking for is serenity (and a friendlier beach), a few kilometers from Sarandë you cannot miss Bunec.