Albania has much to offer visitors and not just in the capital city Tirana or in the country’s other main destinations. From the natural wonders of the north to architectural treasures, historic parks to terrific beaches, here is a list of some experiences that will make you an Albania expert.
Blloku is the coolest and liveliest neighborhood in Tirana, a must-see place for travelers who are looking for fun. From cozy, well-designed cafés to modern restaurants and fancy clubs, Blloku is the most famous area in the Albanian capital and, certainly, a place that every Albania expert will have visited.
The most scenic road in Albania is the SH8, an extraordinary road that starts from the mountain pass of Llogara and ends in Ksamil, offering breathtaking views over the coast and sea. Drive carefully, because the road is very challenging and the stunning panoramas can easily distract drivers.
It is not difficult to find stunning beaches along the Albanian coast, but one of the most scenic is Drymades, a pebbly and sandy beach near the hamlet of Dhermi. Drymades is a relaxing beach and offers a quiet atmosphere and terrific views over the Ionian Sea.
Every Albania expert will have visited a bunker at least once. The country has plenty of variously sized bunkers, some abandoned, others turned into spectacular contemporary museums, like BunkArt and Bunk’Art 2. Bunkers can be easily found everywhere, near beaches, hidden in the forests and right in the middle of the towns.
You cannot consider yourself an Albania expert unless you have danced to at least one of the traditional Albanian songs. Albanians have traditionally danced in groups – especially for important events, such as weddings – and in a circle. From north to south, the country has many beautiful traditional dances that locals are always happy to teach.
For expert trekkers, there is nothing better to do in Albania than to trek through the Albanian Alps. From Valbona National Valley to Theth, the pearl of northern Albania with its lovely catholic church and crystal clear natural spring, a trip here is a real adventure. Prepare yourself to be amazed by the stunning natural landscapes of the Albanian Alps and to fall completely in love with this country.
You’ve seen your fair share of weddings? Well, forget everything you know: Albanian weddings are not like other weddings, but are serious parties. The well-dressed newlyweds spend most of their time taking pictures with parents, relatives and friends and dancing all night long with their guests. Sometimes Albanian weddings last for days, but this was mostly in the past; nowadays, a wedding normally lasts a day and, if you are lucky enough to participate in it, you will remember it as one of the best days of your life.
Albania is an ancient country where Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans, and Venetians lived, among others. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the country has plenty of ancient ruins. The most beautiful archaeological area in Albania is undoubtedly Butrint, a national park located not far from the Greek border, just behind Ksamil’s stunning beach.
No one can be considered a true Albania expert without having visited one of the country’s two historical towns, Berat and Gjirokaster. Berat is smaller and easier to reach from Tirana and home to stunning mosques as well as Ottoman-era buildings. Gjirokaster is home to the largest fortress in Albania and one of the most beautiful bazaars in the country.
Albania is home to one of the Balkans’ most famous beers, Korça beer. As the name indicates, this beer is produced in the lovely town of Korça, one of the most important historical destinations in the country. Every August, Korça hosts the Beer Festival, a tasty event where you can drink excellent local beer and meet locals.
Albanian gastronomy is one of the best in the Balkans and in Europe, too. Restaurants offer excellent dishes prepared with the freshest seasonal products, fish, meats, vegetables and fruits. Some of the not-to-miss dishes are tavë kosi (lamb cooked with yogurt sauce and rice), fergësë (ricotta cooked with peppers and spices) and byrek.
Nestled between Albania and Macedonia, Ohrid Lake is one of the best kept secrets of the Balkan Peninsula, a beautiful natural area with enchanting lake towns and breathtaking panoramas. One of the coolest things to do in Albania is to go for a drive here and discover unspoiled places that are never crowded, not even in the peak of the season.