Start your day in Shkodra with a coffee and a croissant. The best place to eat typical Albanian breakfast delicacies is Pastiçeri te Beqoja, a café/bakery that sells a great selection of pastries, including baklava, one of the most famous and tasteful cakes in Turkey, Greece and the Balkan Peninsula.
From the pastry, go straight to Rruga Kolë Idromeno, also called Pedonalja, which is a pedestrian street packed with cafés, restaurants and boutiques. Then walk to the gorgeous Marubi National Museum of Photography, one of Albania’s favourite galleries. Opened in 2016, Marubi is the only museum in the country that is entirely dedicated to the art of photography. The museum displays an impressive collection of pictures taken by the Marubi dynasty, as well as temporary exhibitions. The highlight of the collection is the first-ever photograph taken in Albania by Pjetër Marubi in 1858. Take your time to visit this wonderful spot; even if you’re not a professional photographer, you’ll really appreciate it.
It’s byrek time! Every corner of the city offers visitors a great selection of byrek, a kind of sandwich made with phyllo dough. It is one of the best things you’ll eat in Albania, and throughout the Balkans. Bakeries sell byrek filled with spinach, meat or cheese. All three are worth a bite.
After lunch, take your time to admire the unique architecture of Shkodra. This enchanting town is one of the oldest in Albania and has been a center of trade in the Balkan Peninsula since ancient times. Stroll through the city center and reach a neighborhood where a mosque, catholic church and orthodox church stand within three minutes from each other.
Grab a taxi, or a bus, to reach the outskirts of Shkodra and go to the Rozafa Fortress, the most beautiful fortress in Albania. This stunning building offers stunning views over the city and Lake Shkodra. It was founded by the Illyrians during antiquity and was later rebuilt by the Venetian and Turk communities. Inside the castle, you can see the ruins of various structures and walls built by previous inhabitants.
One of the best things to do in Shkodra is walk along the lake that borders much of the western part of the city. The lake is located between Albania and Montenegro and is simply magical. If you are planning to visit this area, don’t miss a walk along its shores or a boat ride.
Another place that’s worth a visit is the magnificent Mes Bridge, an Ottoman bridge situated 5 km (3.1 miles) northeast of Shkodra. It dates back to 1770 and is located in an idyllic setting surrounded by nature.
It’s time to come back to taste more authentic Albanian cuisine. Go to Sofra Restaurant (sofra means ‘table’), located right in the middle of the Pedonalja. Sit on one of the tables on the street and order a selection of Albanian dishes. Sofra is particularly known in town for its varied menu; we suggest you try a tavë kosi, a lamb and rice dish baked with yoghurt and eggs. Simply delicious!
Shkodra is not Tirana, the town doesn’t have the same vibrant nightlife of the capital city, but it does have a few pubs that are worth a stop to enjoy a beer and a chat with the locals. Start with any one of them, order a beer and spend a beautiful night out in one of the nicest towns of Albania.