20 Must-Visit Attractions in Albania

Butrint | © Robs123/Pixabay
Butrint | © Robs123/Pixabay
Photo of Francesca Masotti
7 February 2018

At only 11,100 square miles (28,748 square kilometres) and with a total population of just under three million people, Albania might be small, but it’s certainly not lacking in things to do and see. From the stunning beaches of the Albanian Riviera to gorgeous archaeological sites, Albania will not disappoint you. Here’s a list of the top 20 must-visit attractions in the country.

Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is, with the capital city Tirana, the most popular place in the country. The reason is that it is just amazing: long sandy and pebble beaches lapped by turquoise water, and lovely coastal hamlets with small Orthodox churches, cobblestoned streets and flowers everywhere. The best places to visit are Dhërmi, Drymades beach, Vuno, Qeparo and the seaside town of Himara.

Albanian Riviera | © viganhajdari/Pixabay

BunkArt in Tirana

Art Gallery, Museum
Map View
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The Entrance of the BunkArt in Tirana | © BunkArt
Tirana is one of the liveliest capitals of the Balkan Peninsula, with plenty of museums and art galleries that are worth a visit. Once in town, don’t miss the BunkArt, a majestic coveted bunker built in the outskirts of the town in the 70s by the former dictator Enver Hoxha. It is the perfect place to visit if you want to learn more about the Communist history of Albania.

The UNESCO town of Gjirokastër

Archaeological site, Bazaar
Map View
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The old town of Gjirokastër ©Thomas Mulchi/Flickr | ©Thomas Mulchi/Flickr
One of the most stunning destinations in Albania and the Balkans is Gjirokastër. This town is located in the south of the country and, for its unique Ottoman architecture, has been included in the heritage sites by UNESCO. Gjirokastër is home to one of the most beautiful castles in the country, which offers spectacular views over the city.

Berat, the City of a Thousand Windows

Architectural Landmark
Map View
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Berat | © my_cottage / Flickr
Located in the middle of Albania, Berat is one of the oldest towns in the country. It is also known as the City of a Thousand Windows due to the several windows on the buildings’ façades. Berat is part of UNESCO World Heritage sites since 2008, not just for its beauty, but also because the town is a unique example of religious tolerance.

The old city of Kruja

Bazaar, Museum
Map View
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Kruja | © Chris Walts / Flickr
Located 40 minutes by bus from the capital Tirana, Kruja is home to the National Ethnographic Museum, located inside a castle, one of the most popular tourist attractions of Albania, that offers stunning vistas over the Adriatic Sea. From the fortress, the Albanian hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg defended the country from the Ottoman invasion for almost three decades. Once in town, don’t miss a stroll through the old bazaar and buy a local souvenir.

Porto Palermo Castle

Archaeological site
Map View
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Porto Palermo Castle | © SarahTz/Flickr
Near the coastal town of Himara there is Porto Palermo, one of the most beautiful fortresses in the country, known by the locals as Ali Pasha Tepelena. It is said that the Albanian administrator of Ioannina, Ali Pasha Tepelena, built the castle to honor his wife. The castle offers dazzling views over the Ionian sea and surrounding mountains.

Lively Saranda

Natural Feature
Map View
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Saranda is the main town along the Albanian Riviera | © KatarzynaTyl / Pixabay
Saranda is one of the most famous touristic locations in Albania, mostly known for its gorgeous beaches and vibrant nightlife. It is located between the Greek island of Corfu, reachable with a boat ride of 40 minutes, and the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint, the most important archaeological park of Albania.

The untouched peninsula of Karaburun, Vlora

Historical Landmark
Map View
The largest town on the southern coast of Albania is Vlora, a city with important historic sites, such as Kanina castle, Zvernec island, and Orikum, but it is mostly known as the town where Albania declared its independence over 100 years ago. From the port of Vlora, every day with the help of Teuta Boat Tours it is possible to reach the fabulous Karaburun Peninsula (and the near Sazan Island), an untouched area with stunning beaches.

Llogara Pass

Forest, Natural Feature
Map View
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The breathtaking view of the Albanian Riviera from the Llogara Pass | © NH53 / Flickr
One of the most scenic natural landscapes of Albania is Llogara, a mountain pass located between Vlora and Palase, the first beach of the Albanian Riviera. The road is very dangerous and the spectacular panorama doesn’t help, but pay attention and be sure to bring your camera with you to take amazing pictures.

The City of Serenades, Korça

Historical Landmark
Map View
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Korça | ©12019/Pixabay
Korça is one of the main cultural centres of Albania, located in the southeast, near the Macedonian border. The city is known for its excellent beer Korça, old bazaar recently renewed, the largest Orthodox church in the country, its ancient villas, and the Education Museum, located in the former building where the first Albanian school opened in 1887. Korça is also known for the local songs, serenades, that are among the most famous of the Balkans.

Butrint Archaeological Park

Archaeological site, Museum, Park
Map View
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Butrint is the largest archaeological park in Albania | © Gina / Wikimedia Commons
Inhabited since the prehistoric times, Butrint was once a Greek colony, a Roman colony, and a bishopric. It is the largest and most famous archaeological park in Albania and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The highlights here are the theatre, baptistery and basilica. In the uptown, there is also a museum with artefacts found in the ancient area.

The lake town of Pogradec

Natural Feature
Map View
One of the favourite destinations in the country for locals is Pogradec, a small town located on the shores of the Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe, situated between Albania and Macedonia. Pogradec is one of the most famous summer destinations of Albania due to its beaches and vibrant nightlife.

The largest amphitheatre in the Balkans

Museum
Map View
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The archaeological amphitheater of Durrës | © aakaashá/Flickr
Durres is mostly known to be the main port of the country, but it is also one of Albania’s oldest towns. Durres is home to the largest amphitheatre in the Balkans, located behind the port. The town also hosts an interesting archaeological museum with artefacts found in the theatre surroundings.

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