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Albania’s capital city, Tirana, is one of the most vibrant places to visit in the country. Visitors can easily see all the main attractions in a weekend, but if you’re interested in discovering all its hidden gems, you’ll want to spend a few more days here. Tirana has plenty of things to see and do, and each time of the year has something to offer visitors. If you want to know the best time of the year to visit, click here.
Any whistle-stop tour of Tirana should at least include Skanderbeg Square, the heart of the town, and a stroll through Pedonalja, the main pedestrian street of the city that is lined with cafés, bars, theatres and cinemas. Located nearby are BunkArt2, a museum dedicated to the victims of the Communist regime, and the National Gallery of Arts, with artworks by some of the most famous Albanian artists of the 20th century – these are two not-to-miss places to visit when in town. If you have extra time, head over to the Grand Park that surrounds the artificial lake, one of the most relaxing areas in town. Drink a coffee here and then grab a cab and head to BunkArt, a contemporary museum built inside the largest covered bunker in Albania, located in the outskirts of Tirana and focused on the Communist era. Once back in town, spend the night in Blloku, the liveliest neighborhood in Tirana, full of cool restaurants, pubs, clubs, and cafés.
A dynamic and cultural city, Shkodra is considered the cultural capital of Albania. This enchanting town, just an hour and a half by car from Tirana, can be visited in a weekend. The city centre, with its Photography Museum, churches, mosques and old buildings, can be easily discovered in one day, if you move fast. Many travelers use Shkodra as a base for exploring northern Albania and visiting places like Koman Lake, Theth, Vermosh, Shkodra Lake and even Ulcinj, a beautiful town located in southern Montenegro.
One day is enough to visit Kruja, the old capital of Albania. Located near Tirana, Kruja is the perfect day trip from the capital. Most of its visitors go there for the stunning old bazaar to buy pretty souvenirs like carpets, rugs, and bags. Kruja is also home to one of the oldest castles in the Balkans, which is definitely worth a look, too. Inside the castle’s walls, there is the Skanderbeg Museum, a museum dedicated to a military commander – widely considered by many Albanians to be a national hero.
These two architectural gems, both listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites, can be visited in a weekend. Gjirokastra definitely deserves two days devoted to exploring the castle, traditional houses, museums and wandering through its beautiful old bazaar to buy unique handmade pieces. Berat is a smaller city filled with mosques and Ottoman-style houses. The town, including the castle and the National Ethnographic Museum, can be discovered in one day if you move quickly. However, to fully enjoy the town and the surrounding mountainous area, a weekend is ideal.
As Albania’s most romantic city, Korça is the perfect destination for a romantic escape. Its old city centre is filled with colorful buildings, lovely terraces, secret squares and the prettiest market in the country. Depending on your interests, Korça can be explored in a weekend. However, if you want to explore the surrounding area, you might want to tack on a few more days to your itinerary. Korça is located in the south of Albania, near the Macedonian border and is surrounded by some of the most enchanting places in the Balkans, like Ohrid Lake, the Prespa Lakes, and the village of Dardha. It’s also a great location for ski enthusiasts.
A weekend is not enough to visit all the beautiful places that the Albanian Riviera has to offer. The coast of south Albania has plenty of pretty hamlets, wonderful beaches, and hidden bays where you can relax and swim in crystal clear waters. You can use one of the coastal villages as a base for exploring the Riviera. From Dhërmi, the first village after the Llogara Pass, to Ksamil, the last village before the Greek border, the Albanian Riviera is home to spectacular places to stay. The region is also home to Butrint archaeological park, which you’ll need a day to explore.