Albania is a country located in the southeastern part of Europe, in the region known as the Balkans. It shares borders with Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Greece, extending along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Known for its beautiful landscapes and historical landmarks, Albania is gradually but steadily attracting attention, becoming a popular tourist destination.

From the beautiful beaches of the Albanian Riviera to ancient ruins in the countryside, Albania has it all. The top 11 must-visit spots in Albania show a country that’s both exciting and friendly, offering a mix of adventure and relaxation. Whether you love history, nature, or just want a unique European escape, Albania’s hidden gems will surely snatch your heart.

brown brick building near green grass field and mountain under blue sky during daytime
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11. Shkodra

Let’s start with Shkodra, located by the lake in northern Albania. Shkodra will charm you with its mix of history, culture, and natural beauty.

The main highlight of this beautiful place is undoubtedly the ancient Rozafa Castle, sitting on a hill and overlooking the city. The panoramic views from the top of the castle are breathtaking. Legend has it that the castle was built by three brothers, but it was only completed when one of them sacrificed his wife by trapping her in the castle walls.

Skadar Lake is the largest lake in the Balkans. In addition to breathtaking scenery, it offers boat rides to experience the beauty of crystal-clear waters and seaside villages. Alongside the mentioned Rozafa Castle, we also recommend learning more about the history of this little town at the Marubi National Museum of Photography or catching a performance at the Migjeni Theater to see the beauty of Albanian performing arts.

When it comes to food, where to begin… Definitely, start with fërgesë, a hot stew made with peppers, tomatoes, and cheese. Also, make sure to try the local specialty, rosto, a slow-cooked lamb dish. Wash it all down with a glass of raki, a strong Balkan drink.

What might appeal to you more than the food is what truly sets Shkodra apart which is its warm hospitality, where hosts welcome visitors with open arms, making you feel truly welcome. In essence, Shkodra, as a hidden gem of Albania, represents an adventure you wouldn’t want to miss.

an aerial view of a city
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a bridge over a river
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10. Butrint

Next on the list is Butrint, a part of UNESCO’s world heritage. While the ruins dating back to the 7th century BC are truly mesmerizing, there’s so much more to discover in this ancient archaeological wonderland.

As you explore through the ruins, you’ll be transported back in time to the days of the Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, and Venetians. From the impressive Greek theater, to the Roman baths and the Byzantine basilica, each structure tells a story of the city’s rich past. And don’t forget to climb up to the Venetian castle, where panoramic views of Lake Butrint and the Vivari Channel are stunning.

For those seeking a beach getaway, Butrint is very close to some of Albania’s most beautiful beaches.

When it comes to local foods, Butrint offers a delightful culinary experience. Make sure to try traditional Albanian dishes like tave kosi, burek or freshly caught seafood from the nearby Ionian Sea.

Did you know that the ancient city was once a major trading center in the Mediterranean? Or that it was populated by various civilizations, each leaving their mark on its architecture and culture?

Also, explore the Sanctuary of Asclepius, dedicated to the Greek god of healing, and uncover ancient medical practices. Butrint is not just a place for history enthusiasts, it also wins over nature lovers. The Butrint National Park, with its several different ecosystems, adds a touch of natural beauty to the archaeological site. Enjoy yourself in the rich surroundings, spot rare bird species, and welcome the quiet ambiance.

Whether you’re drawn to history or nature, Butrint promises an unforgettable experience. So pack your bags, begin a journey through time, and let Butrint’s charm impress you.

a group of people on a stone staircase with a statue in the background
Photo by Abenteuer Albanien on Unsplash
a stone wall with a stone wall
Photo by Abenteuer Albanien on Unsplash

9. Theth

Our next stop is Theth, a lovely village in the Albanian Alps. It represents an escape into untouched natural beauty, unaffected by human touch. For this reason, Theth is a paradise for hikers and nature lovers.

Make sure to visit the stunning Grunas Waterfall where you can swim in the crystal-clear waters. Another must-see is the Blue Eye, a beautiful natural spring.

If you are looking for the breathtaking picture-perfect views, the Lock-in tower is a place for you.

When in Theth, don’t forget to try the local specialties like burek pies filled with cheese, spinach or meat. Also, taste flija, a pancake with layers served with honey. And of course, enjoy some rakia.

Theth’s charm lies in its stone houses with tile roofs. Accessible only by a narrow mountain road, the journey is challenging but definitely worth it. So pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable adventure.

a fenced in field with a white building and a tower in the distance
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a body of water surrounded by mountains and trees
Photo by Abenteuer Albanien on Unsplash

8. Kruja

Kruja (Krujë in Albanian) is a historic city in Albania, celebrated for its role in the fight and resistance against the Ottoman Empire during the 15th century.

The city itself is located in the north-central part of the country, positioned at the foot of Mount Kruja, offering a breathtaking panoramic view of the surrounding landscape. The city is most famous for Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, the national hero of Albania, who successfully led the Albanian resistance against the Ottomans for over two decades from his fortress in Kruja.

Today, Kruja’s fortress is a popular tourist destination with the Skanderbeg Museum situated within its walls, giving you the opportunity to step back in time as you explore.

Another must-visit location is the Old Bazaar, a market where you can experience the local culture.

No visit to Kruja is complete without trying tavë kosi or fërgesë, finishing it off with rakia, as always. For dessert, try baklava, a sweet pastry made with layers of filo, nuts and honey.

With its rich history, stunning landscapes and delicious food, this destination is the one you wouldn’t want to miss.

brown and white concrete buildings under white sky during daytime
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7. Dhermi

Let’s head to the coast… Dhermi is a stunning coastal village along the Albanian coastline.

Known for its untouched beaches, clear waters, and breathtaking sunsets, Dhermi has become a popular summer destination for both local and international tourists in search of a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. The highlight is Drymades and Gjipe Beaches, offering something for everyone, from sunbathing to swimming and water sports.

Did you know that Dhermi is also famous for its olive oil production? The warm Mediterranean climate is perfect for growing olives. Another interesting fact is that Dhermi is home to the Church of. St. Theodore, built in the 18th century where you can see stunning frescoes inside.

As for the food, try tave dheu, a casserole made with lamb, onions and tomatoes. If you are more into seafood, you will love grilled octopus and fried calamari, freshly caught that same day. Every meal is better when washed down with a glass of local wine or even rakia, whatever you please more.

Pack your bathing suit and start your adventure.

a small village nestled in the side of a mountain
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people on beach during daytime
Photo by Jani Godari on Unsplash

6. Valbona Valley National Park

Are you a nature lover looking for a hidden gem to explore? Look no further than Valbona Valley National Park in Albania.

Put on your hiking boots and start exploring the stunning Accursed Mountains. Don’t forget to take in the breathtaking views along the Valbona River as it flows through the valley. And make sure to visit the charming village of Valbona, where you can experience the warm hospitality of the locals and see how Albanians traditionally live.

Valbona Valley National Park is home to over 1,600 species of plants and animals, so keep an eye out for lynxes or brown bears during your visit. Also, the park’s rough terrain was shaped by glaciers during the Ice Age, which is pretty amazing to see!

And don’t miss out on trying the delicious local food, like filija, a pancake with layers served with honey, or the tasty local cheeses served with freshly baked bread.

Whether you’re someone who loves nature, enjoys history, or simply appreciates good food, Valbona Valley National Park offers something special for all.

a view of a valley with a river running through it
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a tiger walking on a dirt path
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5. Ksamil

Let’s head back to the coast and visit the lovely village of Ksamil. Located on Albania’s southern coast, Ksamil is famous for its beautiful beaches, often called the “Ionian Pearl”.

Start your adventure by exploring Ksamil’s gorgeous beaches. They have clear blue water and soft sand, perfect for relaxing, swimming, and snorkeling. And don’t forget about the nearby Islands of Ksamil, a group of four small islands you can reach by boat.

Ksamil is also part of the Butrint National Park, so you can enjoy both the beach and explore the ancient ruins of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in addition to enjoying the beach.

Did you know that Ksamil is really close to the Greek island of Corfu? You can even take a short boat ride and check out Greek culture and food for a day.

When it comes to food, Ksamil has plenty to offer. Try traditional Albanian dishes like tave kosi, fërgesë, and baklava. And seafood lovers will enjoy grilled octopus, shrimp, and sea bream, best paired with local wine or Albanian rakia.

Whether you’re into beaches, history, or food, Ksamil has something awesome for you. Come explore this hidden gem and make unforgettable memories in this lovely coastal village.

aerial photography of house beside body of water
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albania, ksamil beach, summer
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4. Gjirokastër

Gjirokastër, also known as the “Stone City,” is located in southern Albania and is a true historical treasure. This ancient city is famous for its well-preserved buildings from the Ottoman Empire era, which give it a special charm.

Under the strong fortress in the Drino River valley, there are houses with tile roofs, narrow streets, and impressive stone villas that once belonged to wealthy traders. It’s also where Enver Hoxha, a former Albanian leader, and Ismail Kadare, a well-known Albanian writer, were born.

Start your adventure by visiting the impressive Gjirokastër Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage site. From here, you can enjoy beautiful views of the city and explore the Gjirokastër National Museum. Next, take a walk through the charming streets of the Old Bazaar, where you can find handmade crafts and delicious food like burek, tave kosi, gofte and burgers.

Last but not least, visit the Skendull House, a well-kept Ottoman mansion for a glimpse of history. The city also hosts an annual Folklore Festival, where you can see traditional music, dance, and costumes.

If you like exploring history, culture, and tasty food, Gjirokastër is the place to go. Its rich history, beautiful buildings, and tasty food make it a must-visit for all travelers. Come and discover the magic of this historic city.

Gjirokaster Fortress in Albania
Photo by Medina Rrokja on Pexels

3. Berat

Welcome to Berat, located by the Osum River in the heart of Albania, ranking 3rd on our list. This beautiful city is known for its rich history, stunning buildings, and delicious food. Whether you love history, adventure, or food, Berat has something for you.

One of the best places to see in Berat is the Berat Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This old fortress gives you amazing views of the city and has many churches and mosques to explore. Another place you shouldn’t miss is the Mangalem Quarter, a neighborhood with narrow streets and old turkish-style houses.

Did you know that Berat is often called the “City of a Thousand Windows” because of its unique buildings? The white houses with lots of windows make the city look beautiful. Berat also has the Onufri Museum, where you can see religious icons from the 16th century.

You can’t visit Berat without trying its tasty food. Make sure to taste burek and tavë kosi. And don’t forget to try the local wines, Berat is famous for its vineyards and wine.

People, history, landscape – do you need more reasons to visit Berat?

Häuser, Berg und Fluss in Berat in Albanien
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Aerial View of City Buildings
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2. Saranda

Get ready for an amazing adventure in Saranda. Also known as the “Pearl of the Albanian Coast”, this hidden gem in southern Albania has stunning natural beauty, delicious food, and interesting facts that will leave you wanting more.

Start your adventure by seeing the stunning Blue Eye spring with its beautiful blue water. Then explore the ancient ruins of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and enjoy breathtaking views from Lekursi Castle.

Enjoy tasty Albanian classics like tave kosi and fërgesë. Seafood fans can feast on perfectly grilled catches, and don’t miss out on Baklava for dessert!

Due to its proximity to the Greek island of Corfu, it offers an incredible view of it across the channel, appearing as if it’s within arm’s reach.

Fun fact about Saranda is that it was named after a monastery. It’s sunny almost every day, perfect for beach lovers. And in ancient times, it was an important trading city in the Roman Empire.

Pack your bags and get ready to explore Saranda!

a city next to a body of water
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body of water near mountain
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1. Tirana

Tirana, the capital of Albania, is the first place on our list to visit. It is one of Europe’s sunniest cities, soaking up over 2,500 hours of sunshine yearly.

The city center, Skanderbeg Square, is the ideal starting point for your tour. The square is named after the national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu. In the square, you’ll find the National History Museum, where you can learn more about Albania’s rich past.

Not far from the square is the Et’hem Bey Mosque. It’s one of the few buildings from the 18th century that survived the communist era, and now you can visit it.

After exploring the city center, we recommend taking a stroll along Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit, the main street in Tirana. Here, you’ll find many shops, restaurants, and cafes where you can enjoy the local cuisine and atmosphere.

Albanian food is delicious, mixing Mediterranean and Balkan tastes. Try classics like tavë kosi and fërgesë. At the busy Pazari i Ri, enjoy local fruits and vegetables and street food like qofte (meatballs) and bakllasë (fried liver).

No matter if you’re into history, food, or adventure, Tirana guarantees an unforgettable time. Enjoy exploring this wonderful city and discovering all it has to offer.

Aerial View of City Buildings
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Drone Shot of Skanderbeg Square in Tirana, Albania
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