Kruja is one of the most important cities of Albania, mostly known to be the hometown of George Kastriota Skanderbeg, the greatest Albanian hero of all the times. It is just one hour by car, or bus, from the capital city Tirana, so you can easily visit it in one day.
Start your day in Kruja with a traditional Turkish coffee at Hotel Panorama Kruja, a majestic hotel located at the beginning of the old bazaar of the town. Take your time to drink the hot and tasty beverage and prepare yourself to visit this ancient town. From the hotel’s bar, reach Pazari i Krujës, one of the most beautiful and well-preserved markets of the Balkan Peninsula. You’ll find plenty of cool souvenirs, such as carpets made by local artisans, cups in which to drink Turkish coffee, clothes and more. The old bazar of Kruja looks like a fairy tale place with small wooden boutiques, narrow cobblestoned streets and colorful textiles.
Before continuing your tour, reach Taverna Vjetër Kryier, a restaurant located at the top of the bazaar, which offers traditional Albanian cuisine, such as tavë kosi (lamb cooked with yogurt sauce) and a mix of excellent grilled meats. Now you’re ready to explore the rest of the city. Turn right and climb the street that leads to the old castle area. After a short walk, you will arrive to one of the most important places in the Land of the Eagles, the place where Skanderbeg fought against the Ottomans to save Albania and the rest of the West from their advance. To learn something more about that moment and the history of the Balkan country, go visit the Skanderbeg Museum, one of the most interesting museums of Albania. Entrance is 200 lekë, about €1 (just over US$1) , and so totally worth a look. If you don’t mind visiting two museums in one day, you should know that the castle of Kruja is home to another important museum, the Ethnographic Museum, which is set in a 19th century Ottoman house that belonged to the Toptani family, one of the richest families of Albania.
Kruja’s castle offers breathtaking views over the mountains. After the visits to the museums, there is nothing better to do than relax and admire the gorgeous sunset in one of the most beautiful places of Albania. If you are looking for relaxation and quiet, this is the place to be. Kruja is not crowded like Tirana, it is surrounded by beautiful mountains and, although a bit touristic, it is not frequented like the main destinations located on the coast. So keep it on mind.
Honestly, there is nothing fun to do in Kruja at night, so the best thing to do here is to eat at Bardhi Restaurant, a beautiful restaurant located inside a traditional villa just a few steps from the Skanderbeg Museum. If the weather is good, ask for a table on the terrace (it offers beautiful views over the Skanderbeg museum and the surrounding area). This restaurant serves traditional gastronomy and, due to its large space, is often used as wedding location – so don’t be surprised to see people dressed in elegant clothes who dance and sing traditional Albanian songs.