What to see in Albania? In this article, you will find a list of 30 must-visit attractions in Albania. It contains a wealth of useful information, including ticket prices, opening hours, maps, as well as the author’s personal ratings, tips, and recommendations.
Brief explanations about the list of Albania’s attractions
If you’ve read articles on this topic on other websites, you’ve likely encountered a common issue. They tend to repeat each other’s content, making it unclear whether a particular attraction is worth your time or not.
This ranking aims to address that by including attractions that may not be worthy of attention, accompanied by the author’s assessment of their visitation necessity, along with justifications. The information provided is highly detailed, and feel free to ask questions in the comments.
Important note:The assessment of each attraction is subjective, as the author (myself) is a human and cannot claim to possess the absolute truth 🙂
Additionally, it’s worth noting that an attraction might refer to an entire town or settlement. A separate article will be linked to highlight all the interesting places within that town. This approach ensures that this list is as comprehensive as possible. Otherwise, the list might end up dominated by 20 out of 30 attractions located in Tirana, as many tend to do.
Map of attractions or what to see in Albania
The map is interactive, allowing zooming in and out. However, I recommend using the Travel Map from this guide, which not only includes all of Albania’s attractions but also every location covered on this website. It greatly simplifies the process of planning your personalized travel itinerary.
Important tip:Do you often find yourself wandering aimlessly, unable to locate a particular attraction? Frustrated that you turned the wrong way or there’s no road to your desired destination? You’re likely using Google Maps. But if you want to see every path, every footpath, consider downloading free apps like Maps.Me or Organic Maps in advance.
You wouldn’t believe how many complaints I’ve received about missing roads, getting lost three times along a route, and failing to locate waterfalls or hot springs – all from people using Google Maps. Other aforementioned map apps offer detailed footpaths and trails.
Top 30 attractions in Albania
Let me begin by stating that although Albania is a small country, many travelers believe it to be stuck in the past. However, rest assured, there’s plenty to see here. The country boasts two seas, mountains covering 71% of its territory, a plethora of architectural landmarks, and countless natural wonders. Even if your vacation spans two weeks, you won’t have enough time to explore the entire country – choices will have to be made.
1. Tirana – the capital of Albania
The largest city in Albania, its economic and cultural hub. It’s hard to miss Tirana if you’re arriving by plane or traveling from north to south or vice versa – all roads lead through Tirana.
Important note:Online portrayals have crafted an image of Tirana as a gray and uneventful city, with nothing much to do. While it’s not Rome or London, believe me, the city won’t disappoint. It possesses its unique charm that needs to be experienced.
A mere visit to Tirana will fill two to three days with attractions galore. The “must visit” list easily surpasses 10-15 items.
Tip:If, like most travelers, you’re arriving and departing from Tirana’s airport, I recommend planning your itinerary so that you have time for Tirana at the end of your journey. Also, a car isn’t necessary in Tirana, but it’s essential elsewhere in Albania. I explain why in a separate article about the city.
- Recommended time to allocate for Tirana: 2-3 days. Beyond that, it becomes excessive and there’s not much more to do.
- Main downside of Tirana: it lacks access to the sea.
- Main advantage: situated in the heart of the country, making it easy to travel from the capital to any part of Albania.
- Detailed information about Tirana, its attractions, accommodation, and dining options can be found in the article: Capital of Albania – Tirana.
Author’s rating:9 out of 10. A must-visit city for everyone, whether you’re traveling by car or plane, for a week or three in Albania. Skipping the country’s capital would be a mistake, and trust me, you’ll find plenty to do here. It has its own charm and allure, with kind people, delicious cuisine, history, architecture, panoramic viewpoints, and parks. If only it had a sea, I’d give it a 10.
2. Durrës and the ancient amphitheater
The second-largest city in the country after its capital. Durrës sits along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, a mere 40 km from Tirana. Durrës is as ancient as you can imagine. Its official founding year is 627 BC. Just think about it – over 2600 years old.
One of the primary man-made attractions of Albania is found here – the ancient Roman amphitheater. I certainly have my own opinion about the significance of this attraction, but I’ve detailed it in a separate comprehensive review about Durrës and what to see there.
- To acquaint yourself with all of Durrës’ attractions, a single day is sufficient.
- The amount of time needed for beach relaxation is an individual preference.
- Durrës boasts a long sandy beach, and the shallow sea makes it ideal for families with children.
- This is one of the dirtiest cities in the country.
- Its main downsides, aside from trash, include:
- Albania’s largest port is situated in the city center, dividing the old town from the newer hotel districts.
- Durrës is the main resort and vacation destination for Albanians, particularly those from the capital. It’s only 40 km from Tirana to Durrës, resulting in a large influx of people during weekends and vacation periods.
Author’s rating:3 out of 10. If possible, it’s better not to stay here. It’s dirty, crowded, and has a cargo port nearby. Albania offers better beaches than what Durrës has to offer. The 3 points are solely for the old town and the presence of the sea. In general, it’s my least favorite city along the Albanian coast.
Vlora, the third-largest city in Albania, with a population of 80,000. It is located, much like Durres, on the coast of the Adriatic Sea, 120 km to the south.
In reality, for me personally, Vlora shares many similarities with Durres.
- Typical and uniform architecture.
- There is also a port, smaller and less busy than Durres.
- There is garbage on the streets, but not as much as in Durres.
- Even the beaches are almost identical.
However, over the past couple of years, intensive reconstruction of the waterfront and the city as a whole has been underway in Vlora, and the city has transformed significantly:
- A beautiful, modern, and lengthy promenade.
- The bridge to the Zvernec Island has been restored, and it’s very beautiful there.
- The number of tourists here, among the locals, is significantly fewer than in Durres.
Vlora is situated right near the famous Llogara Pass, at the junction of two seas. Beyond Vlora to the south is the Ionian Sea.
- A half-day at most is sufficient to explore all of Vlora’s attractions.
- Beach time can be as long as your soul desires. Almost all the beaches here are sandy.
- For a full review of the city, where to stay, how to get there, what to see, including prices and operating hours, read the article: Vlora – the Resort of Albania.
- Vlora is an excellent place for those who want to go paragliding.
Author’s Rating:5 out of 10. Honestly, there’s not much to do in the city, and the beach experience in the south is much better. But compared to Durres, it’s much cleaner and more pleasant. People often come here for a month. Since the city is quite significant for Albania, accommodation is relatively affordable, and the infrastructure is good. Additionally, it’s easy to travel along the entire coast from Vlora due to its advantageous location.
4. Pogradec and Lake Ohrid
Pogradec is a small town with a population of only 21,000. The town is located far from the sea, at an elevation of over 800m. While snow in winter is a rarity in Tirana and the coast, in Pogradec it falls every winter. Not for all three months, more like a couple of weeks, but still. This is due to the altitude; it’s about 5-10 degrees colder here compared to the coast.
If Pogradec were not located on Lake Ohrid, the oldest and deepest lake in the Balkans, tourists wouldn’t even look in this direction. However, everywhere they write about it as the most beautiful resort in Albania. I’d be willing to argue that, but there is some truth to it.
- In Pogradec, there are only three attractions: the waterfront, Drilon Park, and an observation deck overlooking the city. It’s also often written that the ancient Goliku Bridge is here. This is just people copying each other’s information who have never actually been here. The Goliku Bridge is located 80 km from Pogradec on the way to Tirana. More on that below.
- Pogradec is located away from tourist routes and attractions. The only ones for whom it’s convenient to visit are those going to/from Macedonia. The border is just a couple of kilometers away. Also, those who decide to travel the entire SH75 route; more on that below.
- A full review of Pogradec can be read through the link.
- Cultural programming of attractions here is almost absent. The main activity is contemplating the lake, the Macedonian mountains, and searching for Zen.
Author’s Rating:If you don’t need to go to Macedonia and aren’t allergic to salty sea water, then 2 out of 10. There’s practically nothing to do here, and it’s much colder than the coast. I wanted to give it 1 point, but I gave 2 for the beautiful views of Lake Ohrid. Someone might say that I’m subjective, and the city is beautiful. Yes, that’s true.
5. Saranda – the Jewel of the South of Albania
It’s not a village yet, but it’s hard to call it a city. More like a small town. Very compact. With a population of fewer than 15,000, Saranda is located in the south of Albania, on the coast of the Ionian Sea. Only 15 km to the border with Greece. And from any point in the city, Greek Corfu is visible; it’s just a couple of kilometers away. By the way, Saranda is predominantly populated by Greeks, and thanks to them, it doesn’t resemble the rest of Albania.
Within a 30 km radius of Saranda, there are many natural and man-made attractions. Saranda is one of the warmest and sunniest cities in Albania.
- Saranda is a very clean city.
- Beautiful pebble beaches.
- Crystal-clear sea water.
- The cuisine in cafes and restaurants has a Greek accent and Greek dishes.
- My personal advice: when planning your ideal route through Albania, if you have extra days for a beach stay, choose either Saranda or Ksamil.
- A full review of Saranda, its attractions, where to stay, and where to eat can be found in the article through the link.
Author’s Rating:10 out of 10. This is the best resort city in all of Albania. It has everything that any tourist needs. Nature, fantastic sea, beaches, a hilltop castle, promenades, complete infrastructure, and numerous attractions within a 30-minute drive from the city. The beaches of Ksamil, the ancient city of Butrint, oyster farms, and the Blue Eye spring are just a few examples. Even if you stay here for a week and have a car, you’ll discover interesting things every day.
Furthermore, Saranda has a unique feature: a small port from which a high-speed boat goes to the Greek island of Corfu every day. In just 25 minutes, you’re there
6. Ksamil – a Beach Paradise
A satellite of Saranda. Perhaps the southernmost town in Albania. Only 7 km from Saranda, and if desired, you can even walk there.
It’s often written that Ksamil is one of the most beautiful cities in Albania. I’d argue with that. Besides the beach, there’s practically nothing to do in Ksamil. It’s a quiet and very small town. If you have a car, you’ll significantly diversify your leisure with excursions. Since there are many attractions in the vicinity of Ksamil.
But Ksamil is an excellent place for lovers of beach relaxation. The Albanian islands, which can be reached by swimming, are located here. Since the distance from the mainland is only about 200 meters. Here, the sea is azure, the beaches are beautiful, and the islands are covered with Mediterranean pine forests.
- If beach relaxation is important, then it’s Ksamil. If you want more infrastructure, then Saranda.
- Sightseeing beyond the city in both Ksamil and Saranda is the same.
- The best beach is Bora-Bora; the sea is very beautiful. A detailed report about Ksamil can be found through the link.
Author’s Rating:8 out of 10. Without a doubt, Ksamil is a must-visit place. I recommend that everyone stay in Saranda and come to Ksamil for a day of beach relaxation to personally experience these famous beaches. But remember, the beaches in terms of size are quite modest, and during the season, it’s crowded. In the city itself, besides the beach and sea, there’s not much to do.
7. Shkodër (Shkodra) and Lake Skadar
One of the largest cities in Albania and the northernmost city in the country. It’s often referred to as a city that is a must-visit. Yes, Shkodër is a clean, tidy, and cozy town. I really like its pedestrian zone in the center, the Mes Bridge, and the fortress on the hill. But honestly, there’s not much to do here for more than half a day.
Shkodër is a must-visit for tourists who:
- Are traveling to or from Montenegro. Whether you want it or not, your route will likely pass through Shkodër.
- Plan to take the ferry across Lake Koman through the canyon of the same name.
- Want to do mountain hiking through the famous pass in the Accursed Mountains.
- You can read about all these attractions below and in the full Shkodër review.
Interesting fact: In a city where more than 100,000 people live, including its outskirts, there isn’t a single traffic light.
Author’s Rating:6 out of 10. Honestly, you don’t need to go to Shkodër intentionally. There’s no sea here, and Lake Skadar is also located outside the city. The list of attractions is not very extensive. But if your route takes you through Shkodër, then setting aside half a day or a night is simply necessary. This is a city from which you shouldn’t expect anything special, and that’s when it will exceed all your expectations 🙂
8. Gjirokastër and Ali Pasha Bridge
In reality, this city is known not for its bridges, but for its castle on top of the mountain. However, castles and fortresses are present in almost every city in Albania, while bridges like the ones here, in such a state, are rare.
Gjirokastër is located inland, away from the sea, but it combines two incredibly beautiful things:
- Architecture, bridges, medieval streets, and other man-made attractions. The city, with almost 2000 years of history.
- And secondly, the mountains and nature, seamlessly intertwined with man-made attractions.
In summary: the wonderfully preserved architecture against the backdrop of the incredibly beautiful mountains has created a city that is a must-visit.
- You can cover the whole of Gjirokastër, its castle, and old town in about 3-4 hours.
- But if you have a car and time, there are two cool waterfalls, a canyon, and a winery in the vicinity of Gjirokastër. And that’s even more than a day’s worth of exploring.
- You can read the complete review of Gjirokastër for information about where to stay, what to see, and where to eat.
- Most tourists visit Gjirokastër on the way from Saranda to Përmet when going to the hot springs of Bënje.
- Some spend just one night, while others allocate half a day and continue onward. The choice is yours, but a day is more than enough to explore every corner of Gjirokastër.
Author’s Rating:9 out of 10. Gjirokastër will captivate every tourist. The spirit of the times, the mountains, the Ali Pasha Bridge in the gorge, and the views that are rare in Albania. Even if you’re not interested in architecture and historical monuments, you must come here and see it with your own eyes. Not every country in the world has such beauty.
9. Berat – The City of a Thousand Windows
The city of Berat is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. From the description, it’s very similar to Gjirokastër. Also situated in the mountains, Berat is over 2000 years old, and it also has a castle on the hill. However, on the ground, these two cities are quite different from each other.
By the way, Berat is also the center of Albanian winemaking. Here, you can even organize tours to an actual winery.
- Berat itself, its castle, and the old town can be explored in about 3-4 hours.
- But if you have a car and time, there are two amazing waterfalls, a canyon, and a winery in the surroundings of Berat. And that’s even more than a day’s worth of exploration.
- You can read the complete article about Berat for information about where to stay, what to see, and where to eat.
Author’s Rating:9 out of 10. Objectively, this city is one of the coolest attractions in Albania. And there’s plenty to see in the surrounding areas as well. I’m often asked whether it’s better to go to Berat or Gjirokastër. I can’t make the choice; both cities are amazing and different. But if you have very little time, then perhaps Berat is better, as it’s closer to Tirana and easier to reach.
10. Bogove Waterfall
What to see in Albania? Waterfalls, of course!
Calling Albania a country of waterfalls might be a stretch. But still, there are 3-4 waterfalls here that deserve your attention. One of them is the Bogove Waterfall. It’s located in the mountainous central part of the country. The waterfall, with a height of 35 meters, consists of two cascades.
What’s especially pleasant, at least for me, is that you can’t reach the waterfall by car. From the parking lot to the Bogove Waterfall, you have a beautiful 2.5 km trek. It includes 3 bridges, 1 ford (if the bridge is fixed, then 4 bridges and 0 fords).
And the best part is, you can swim in the waterfall. So, bring your swimsuits.
- The Bogove Waterfall is located 35 km from Berat.
- It’s about a 1-hour drive by car, and then a 40-minute hike. You can’t reach here by public transport.
- The path is easy, with no significant elevation gain. You can do it in sneakers.
- Time needed for the round trip from Berat to the waterfall: 2 hours for the drive, 1.5 hours for the path, and 1 hour at the waterfall itself. An hour is enough for swimming, taking photos, and simply enjoying the views. So, about 5 hours in a relaxed pace.
- The attraction is open 24/7.
- Entrance fee: free.
- Coordinates: 40.567757, 20.168676.
- There are no shops or facilities here. Bring your own water and snacks.
- For more information, read the full article about the Bogove Waterfall.
Author’s Rating:I love waterfalls and nature more than architecture. For me, it’s a 9 out of 10. Yes, it’s not as tall and impressive as the waterfalls I’ve visited in Malaysia or the Dominican Republic, but in the Balkans, it’s a gem. Especially pleasing is its wildness and the absence of civilization. No ticket booths or souvenir sellers. Just nature and you.
11. Sotira Waterfall
Another gem not far from Berat. Although it’s almost a two-hour drive by car one way to the start of the 4 km trail. And reaching here from other cities in Albania is even further and more challenging.
Sotira Waterfall is not a bit worse than the Bogove Waterfall, and maybe even better. But the fact remains that it’s more remote and there are fewer tourists here.
- Sotira Waterfall is located 80 km from Berat.
- Driving time by car: 2 hours one way + 1 hour 20 minutes walking one way + 1 hour resting at the waterfall. In total, plan about 8 hours (the entire daylight) for this captivating journey.
- Open all the time.
- Entrance fee: free.
- Elevation gain of the hiking trail: 200m.
- Coordinates: 40.75555, 20.166898.
- Also, I recommend bringing water and snacks. There are no shops along the way.
- Full review of the waterfall in the article about waterfalls in Albania. The link was provided above, in the description of the previous waterfall.
Author’s Rating:9 out of 10. A fantastic place on the map of Albania. I highly recommend visiting both waterfalls. But if you have to choose one due to time constraints, the Bogove Waterfall is more accessible, while Sotira is more challenging and farther away.
And remember, waterfalls are especially beautiful in spring and autumn when there’s more rainfall and they are at full flow.
12. Theth, Grunas Waterfall, and Blue Eye #2
These are not just landmarks of Albania, but must-see places for any traveler from the “what to see in Albania” list. Unfortunately, due to the difficulty of access, its geographical location, and the required amount of free time, not even a third of tourists in Albania make it here.
Theth is a small village of about 500 people in the Albanian Alps, also known as the Accursed Mountains. You can’t imagine the beauty here, the mountains are simply incredible. The views leave you speechless. And in this place, there’s a great trail over the pass to Valbona Valley, Grunas Waterfall, and the Blue Eye spring with its waterfall.
Important to know:Albania has two attractions with the name “Blue Eye.” The one that almost all tourists visit is near Saranda, about which I will write below. This is the lesser-known Blue Eye. They are entirely different but have similar water color.
- From Shkodër, it takes a 2-hour drive through serpentine roads to reach there (70 km).
- Ideally, plan for 2 nights here.
- Even better: a circular route Shkodër – Lake Koman – Valbona – hiking over the pass – Theth – Shkodër. This route cannot be driven by car. You can leave your car in Shkodër. It takes 4 full days for the whole journey. If you find the time, you won’t regret it.
Author’s Rating:Just click the link and look at the photos. 10 out of 10. If you’ve come to Albania, remember, you won’t likely be this close to this place again. It’s one of the remote mountain locations in Albania where traveling without a car is not difficult.
13. Valbona Valley – TOP from the Albania’s Attractions
Someone might say it’s a village, while others might call it a whole valley in the Accursed Mountains. Both are correct. This mountain village is home to even fewer people than the nearby Theth, which I wrote about a bit earlier. I don’t know how many people live in Valbona, but there’s not even a single shop here, not even a small one. And there’s only one restaurant.
However, in Valbona, you won’t starve. In your guesthouse where you’ll stay, the host will offer a real national dinner for a small additional fee. And believe me, you’ll be delighted.
An interesting point. The two villages of Theth and Valbona are just 10 km apart. 10 km through a mountain pass of incredible beauty. But if you go the route where cars can drive, it’s 170 km and 8 hours of travel.
- The nearest city from where you can reach Valbona is Shkodër.
- Travel time: 2 hours to the ferry – 2.5 hours on the ferry through the stunning canyon and Lake Koman – 1 hour by car. In total: about 6 hours.
- It’s also ideal to allocate 2 nights in Valbona.
- Full report about Theth – Valbona and attractions, how to get there, where to stay, read through the link.
Author’s Rating:10 out of 10. If you ask me whether Theth or Valbona is better, I won’t answer. Perhaps the more grandiose views are in Valbona, but there are more attractions and interesting places in Theth. However, I strongly recommend taking the route I mentioned above.
14. Koman Lake and Canyon
Koman Lake is a lake in a canyon. The width of the lake at its widest point is just under 1000 meters. But most of it is only 300-400 meters wide. But its length is an incredible 50 km.
On one hand, it’s a lifeline for the local residents. For many of them, the ferry across the lake is the only connection to civilization. On the other hand, it’s a splendid tourist attraction and the only convenient way to get to Valbona Valley.
So, if you’re planning a journey through Albania and want to visit Valbona or want to take the Theth-Valbona route, as I mentioned above, then Koman Lake and the ferry across the entire lake should definitely be part of your dream route.
- To the start of the ferry crossing from Shkodër, it takes a 2-hour drive.
- Ferry travel time: 2.5 hours.
- Ticket price for the ferry without a car one way: 7 euros.
- Read the extensive article about popular lakes in Albania and details about Koman Lake through the link.
- There’s also an option for a circular trip on the ferry without visiting Valbona.
Author’s Rating:Well, you understand. All attractions in the Accursed Mountains get a rating of 10 out of 10. And the ferry across Koman Lake is no exception. You just need to find 4 days in your journey, and you don’t even need a car, unlike the rest of Albania. Your super route is ready. And then you can head to the beaches of Saranda and Ksamil in the south.
15. Accursed Mountains and Hiking through the Pass
If you’ve read the previous three attractions of Albania, then the trail through the pass in the Cursed Mountains concludes this location. In reality, you have the following route options for your journey:
- Visit only Valbona Valley with a ferry ride on Lake Koman.
- Drive from Shkodër to Theth and hike to the Grunas waterfall and Blue Eye on the outskirts of the village.
- You can complete this route with a hike through the pass in the Accursed Mountains.
- This would be the icing on the cake and a logical conclusion to your journey in northern Albania.
- Time required for the pass: 6 hours (consider the entire daylight).
- Route length: about 10 km from start to finish, plus time to reach your guesthouse. Usually around 12 km in total.
- The pass is closed in winter. It closes with the first snowfall (usually in November).
- The entire hike through the pass is free.
Author’s Rating:10 out of 10. All 4 locations in the Accursed Mountains or Albanian Alps deserve the highest rating. In the author’s opinion, it’s the best natural attraction in Albania. Only in these mountains can you compile a long list of cool locations when asked what to see in Albania.
16. Llogara Pass – Where Two Seas Meet
The pass itself is of little interest to tourists. There’s a beautiful forest here, short hiking trails in Karaburun Park, and even a few hotels and restaurants. For the vast majority of tourists, Llogara Pass is intriguing for two things.
- The road itself through the pass, which is very picturesque and beautiful. It’s considered the second most beautiful road in Albania.
- The viewpoint overlooking the Ionian and Adriatic Seas.
- Some travelers even paraglide from the pass to the beach in the town of Vlorë.
The pass is located on the border of two national parks, Karaburun and Llogara:
- Open 24/7.
- Entrance is free everywhere.
- The road you need to drive along connects the two cities on different seas, Vlorë and Dhermi. Its number is SH8.
- Coordinates of the viewpoint: 40.188271, 19.599288.
- Everything about the pass, the viewpoint, the bunker with a sea view, and the beautiful road can be read in the Llogara Pass article.
- Time to plan: the road itself takes 1.5 hours. Plus an additional 30 minutes at the viewpoint. So, from Vlorë to Dhermi, it’s about a 2-hour drive.
Author’s Rating:7 out of 10. The views are stunning, the road is beautiful. Besides the viewpoint, there’s not much else to do here. You can stop at the pass to have lunch, but there are no views, just a forest. If you’re driving from Tirana to the south, it’s difficult to bypass this route. It’s the only one along the coast. So, just plan a stop at the viewpoint and enjoy the experience.
17. Blue Eye near Saranda
One of the most famous and popular attractions in Albania. The Blue Eye is a spring that emerges from underground in the southern part of the country. The unique beauty of this spring comes from the color of its water. It’s hard to describe with words, you need to see it.
By the way, you can swim here, but even on a hot day, the water is icy cold.
Important to know:Albania has two Blue Eye springs. One in the north in the Accursed Mountains and the other in the south near Saranda. When people refer to the Blue Eye, know that it’s always about the southern one. It’s the most popular and is featured in all guidebooks as a symbol of the country. Many people are not even aware of the Blue Eye in the north. But I wrote about it in point #12 of this article.
- Everything about the Blue Eye, how to get there, tips, and recommendations, as well as what this wonder is, can be read through the link.
- At the end of 2022, an excellent road was built here, and payment booths were set up. The entrance fee is 50 lek (0.5$).
- You can rent an electric scooter for an additional fee. It’s a little over 1.5 km from the ticket booth to the attraction. You can’t get closer by car.
- Coordinates of the Blue Eye: 39.923712, 20.192622.
- You’ll need about 15 minutes for the attraction itself without swimming. Overall, plan about 1.5 – 2 hours, if you’re walking.
Author’s Rating:6 out of 10. Probably my biggest disappointment, perhaps because expectations were too high. They present this Blue Eye as the main gem of Albania. But in reality, yes, it has a beautiful color, but there’s not much to see. If you miss it, you won’t lose anything. It’s better to plan a visit to the Blue Eye in the Accursed Mountains.
18. Ancient City of Butrint, or What to See in Albania for History Enthusiasts
Butrint is a genuine ancient city. To put it in perspective, it’s not just old stones and ruins. It’s a complete city: with walls, temples, residential quarters, a palace, baths, and even an amphitheater. It somewhat resembles Pompeii, but on a much smaller scale.
The city was founded in the 8th century BC. Today, it holds elements of Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, and Ottoman cultures.
- This is one of the more expensive attractions in Albania, with a ticket price of 1000 lek (10$).
- Operating hours: 9 AM to 7 PM daily.
- Entrance coordinates: 39.743954, 20.019105. The city is located in the southernmost part of Albania, a few kilometers from the resort village of Ksamil.
- Official website: https://butrint.al/
- Time for the attraction: around 2 hours at a leisurely pace.
- Detailed review of visiting Butrint and more photos can be found through the link.
Author’s Rating:If you love old stones and ruins, then it’s definitely a 10 out of 10 for you. If you’re like me and prefer nature more, then it’s a 7 out of 10. Nonetheless, the size of the entire city is impressive, and I recommend every traveler to visit here. The ancient amphitheater of Durrës doesn’t even compare to this complex. And in my opinion, the ancient complex of Apollonia near Fier and Vlorë is far behind Butrint.
19. Hot Springs of Benje
The hot springs are a unique natural attraction of the country. In a fairly remote mountainous area of Albania, 15 km from the cozy little town of Përmet, springs emerge from the ground with water temperatures of around 30 degrees Celsius all year round.
Yes, it’s not boiling hot, but in these springs, you can lie comfortably in the warmth. And if you’re traveling through Albania in late autumn, it will feel like a sauna.
- A comprehensive article with advice, coordinates of lesser-known and non-touristy hot springs, and an overall review of this attraction can be found through this link: all about the Benje hot springs and the amazing canyon.
- Open 24/7.
- Completely free.
- Plan at least 1 hour, or however long you enjoy.
- Accessible only by car.
Author’s Rating:95% of tourists crowd around the first two springs. If you venture about 500 meters further into the canyon, you’ll find several springs with almost no tourists. Definitely a 10 out of 10, and I recommend everyone not to stop at the first two springs but continue further.
20. Langarika or Benje Canyon
Locals call this canyon Benje, and its official name is Langarika. Technically, it’s the same location as the Benje hot springs since they are located at the beginning of Langarika Canyon. However, if we take all the tourists who come here, as mentioned earlier, 95% of them stop at the first two springs. Another 5% venture further into the canyon to the remote springs.
Only 1% continue deep into the canyon, entering a completely different world. Look at the photos above, and you’ll see for yourself. In some places, Langarika Canyon narrows to 5 meters, and its vertical walls reach up to 100 meters. I had never been in such places before.
- A link to the detailed review of the canyon was provided above.
- Route length through the canyon: about 3 km.
- Open 24/7, but you need to time your visit right. It’s not accessible every month of the year.
- Canyon and the route within it are completely free.
- Plan about 3 hours for the canyon route. I recommend allocating a full day for this attraction: the canyon and the springs.
Author’s Rating:A definite 10 out of 10. No need for comments here. The most important thing is that you can walk through it. But here’s a tip: if the water level is high during your journey and walking is impossible, check out point 27 about rafting in Albanian canyons.
21. Most Beautiful Road in Albania – SH75 Route
The most beautiful road in Albania (as they say on the internet), the SH75 route, is located in the south of Albania. I drove along this road in both directions, and I have my own opinion about it.
- Route length: 162 km.
- Driving time without stops: 4 hours, plus time for stops at viewpoints for photos and rest. Ideally, plan for 5-6 hours one way.
- The road starts 20 km away from the popular tourist town of Gjirokastër and ends in Korçë, an industrial city where there’s not much to do except for having a beer at the restaurant near the brewery.
- A comprehensive report on the entire SH75 route can be found through the link. There, you’ll find information on where to go and what to skip, along with many photos from the route.
Author’s Rating:7 out of 10. The road is stunning, but to truly enjoy it, you can cover just two sections of about 20-30 km each. The remaining 100 km are not particularly noteworthy. If you have a longer trip planned, around 8 days, for a road trip through Albania, it’s worth including the most beautiful sections of the route in your itinerary.
22. Goliku Bridge and Ancient Egnatian Road
An attraction that’s surprisingly hard to find accurate and up-to-date information about on the internet. 80% of sources claim that this bridge is located in the city of Pogradec on Lake Ohrid. People copy each other without a second thought.
The Goliku Bridge is a remarkable Byzantine-era bridge that has survived to the present day. What’s more, it’s in excellent condition and is still in use by the local people. The Goliku Bridge was part of the ancient Egnatian Road.
This road stretched for over 1000 km, connecting the already significant port city of Durrës on the Adriatic with the heart of Constantinople. It began at the famous ancient amphitheater in Durrës, mentioned in point #2 above.
- In reality, the bridge is located 70 km away from Pogradec. Detailed information can be found in the article linked.
- Bridge coordinates: 41.170667, 20.261863.
- Time to explore the bridge: about 10-15 minutes. There’s barely any trace of the ancient road left here.
- Open 24/7.
- Entrance fee: free.
- Similar bridges can be found in Gjirokastër (two of them) and one near the Benje hot springs.
Author’s Rating:5 out of 10. The bridge itself is amazing, but it’s far from all the tourist routes. It’s not worth going all the way for a 10-minute visit. If it’s along your way, definitely stop by; you won’t regret it. However, other Byzantine bridges in equally good condition and also free to visit are easier to access in other parts of Albania.
23. Mussel Farms
In reality, they’re called mussel farms, but you’ll often find them referred to as oyster farms – Mussel Farm or Mussel House. These are genuine oyster and mussel farms where fresh oysters and mussels are cultivated.
There are only three of them in Albania, and they’re all located close to each other. One of them even has a restaurant right on the shore, offering a view of the entire farm. In addition to regular dishes, you can try mussels and fresh oysters here.
Useful to know:Unfortunately, there are no guided tours of the farms, and you won’t be able to see how mussels are harvested. You can only observe from the shore. Nonetheless, the place is beautiful, romantic, and there aren’t many places in Albania where you can taste oysters.
- Restaurant coordinates: 39.788882, 20.011382.
- Operating hours: from 11 AM daily.
- More details about the farm and the restaurant can be found in the article about Ksamil, the link was provided above.
- Oysters are sold by weight, averaging around $4-5 per oyster.
- Mussel portion (20-25 pieces): $6.
- The menu includes a variety of fish and other seafood.
Author’s Rating:6 out of 10. Overall, it’s a good seafood restaurant with fresh seafood and a view of the oyster farm. A must-visit for oyster lovers, optional for others. Located on the outskirts of Ksamil. There’s another seafood restaurant in Saranda that’s equally good. They prepare divine octopus, but oysters and mussels won’t be on the menu.
24. Gjipe Wild Beach
Many sources on the internet claim that this is the best beach in Albania. That’s not the case. They also claim it’s completely wild and far from civilization. Let me clarify, in my understanding, wild beaches without civilization are different. At Gjipe Beach, you can find paid parking, restaurants, a hippie tent village, rental sunbeds and umbrellas, or a few local houses.
If you set aside all expectations and descriptions of Gjipe Beach, it’s a nice beach without tourist crowds, where you can relax well on the Ionian Sea.
- It’s a pebble beach. The length is about 200-300 meters. On one side, there are beautiful cliffs, making for great photos.
- Beach coordinates: 40.126759, 19.670447. It’s called “wild” because it’s situated between the towns of Himara and Dhermi. You can only reach it by your own vehicle.
- Parking near the beach is paid: 200-400 Albanian Lek (2-4$) for the whole day. The price depends on the season.
- From the parking lot to the beach, it’s another 30-40 minutes’ walk. There’s a road to the beach, but not every jeep can pass through it.
- The beach itself is free and open 24/7.
- Near the beach, there are several hiking routes into the canyon and observation platforms on the cliffs. On the way, you’ll encounter numerous bunkers from the time of Enver Hoxha.
- Both tourists and locals come here for the whole day.
- There are one or two bar-cafes where you can buy beer and food on-site.
Author’s Rating:7 out of 10. It’s a good beach, but it doesn’t quite earn the title of the best. Also, getting here without a car is problematic. In the article linked, you’ll find the author’s top 10 beaches in Albania.
25. Himara Town and the Castle on the Hilltop
A tiny town on the Ionian Sea. Population slightly over 6000 people. Yet, the town boasts a beautiful bay, stunning terrain, numerous beaches (all pebble), and one of the best fortresses on the coast.
By the way, from the fortress on the hill, you’ll get an excellent view of the surroundings and the town itself.
- Himara is recommended for a peaceful vacation.
- For a full report on the town, where to stay, how to get there, read the linked article: Himara.
- Plan about 2-3 days for the town to fully experience its atmosphere.
- But if time is limited, you can manage with 3-4 hours to see all the sights and swim at the town beach.
Author’s Rating:7 out of 10. In my ranking of resort towns in Albania, this town confidently takes the third place after Saranda and Ksamil. It’s much better and more charming than Durres and Vlora, but it’s also much smaller. There are other towns I like more, like Berat, Gjirokaster, Permet, but they’re not on the coast; they have a different purpose for tourists.
26. Osumi Canyon
One of the most famous and beautiful canyons in Albania, and at the same time, the least visited by tourists. Osum Canyon is as impressive and beautiful as Langarika Canyon from point #20. However, while it’s possible to hike through Langarika Canyon under certain conditions, hiking through Osum Canyon is almost impossible.
Yes, there are observation platforms and a bridge offering a great view of the canyon. But the maximum experience and the atmosphere of such places can only be felt inside the canyon itself. The view from the observation platforms isn’t as impressive. The question of what to see in the canyon remains open.
- You can read about Osum Canyon in the review about Permet.
- Only 40 km away from Permet.
- Osum Canyon center coordinates: 40.454848, 20.265915.
- Time to plan: 5 minutes, to stand on the bridge and take photos from the height.
- Open 24/7 and free for everyone.
Author’s Rating:4 out of 10. It’s better to plan a visit to Langarika Canyon or the Komani Canyon on Lake Koman. But if you’re ready for an active adventure costing around 40-50 euros per person, Osum Canyon would get a perfect 10 on a 10-point scale. What this adventure entails is explained in the next point.
27. Rafting in Albania
Yes, indeed, why not? In a country where 71% of the territory is covered by mountains, and where there are rivers and canyons, there’s also rafting. But rafting in Albania isn’t straightforward and definitive. Here’s what you need to know:
- Rafting in Albania is possible on only three rivers in the country.
- The most popular and challenging routes are in Benje Canyon and Osum Canyon.
- The center of Albanian rafting is the town of Permet. Both routes are no more than 40 km away from it.
- However, rafting is only possible when there’s high water, and each route has its own season. Sometimes, all routes are closed at a specific time due to low water levels.
- For all about rafting, excursions, and other extreme activities, read the article: Excursions in Albania. There, you’ll find the contact information of the organizers.
- Plan half a day for rafting, provided you’re in the town of Permet.
- Cost of the rafting experience: 40-50 euros per person.
Author’s Rating:If Osum Canyon doesn’t seem impressive from above, I would honestly give rafting in this place a perfect 10. Tip: contact the organizers in advance, and they will advise you on which rafting routes are open on your dates. But all the routes are fantastic; agree to any of them if you’re up for an adventure.
28. Paragliding Experience
Another thrilling activity that many are unaware of and often overlook. It’s tandem paragliding with an instructor. There are two sites in Albania where you can arrange this adventure.
One is in Tirana, on a mountain accessed by a funicular. You can find information about this place in the article about the capital city of Albania in point #1. The second is at the Llogara Pass, on the border of two seas, as mentioned in point #16. I highly recommend experiencing the flight from the pass.
- You can find the contact details of the organizers in the article about excursions. The link was provided in the point above.
- The cost of a tandem flight: 50 euros. This is affordable considering that in other European countries, such an activity costs 80-100 euros.
- Duration of the flight: 20-30 minutes.
- You take off from an observation platform at the actual pass and land on one of the beaches at the base. Most often, it’s Vlora Beach.
Author’s Rating:For enthusiasts of such activities, it’s a perfect 10 out of 10. The views are simply breathtaking. You’ll be soaring over both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. I recommend contacting the organizers and arranging in advance. Keep in mind that this activity is highly weather-dependent. Thus, whether the flight happens or not, you’ll only know on the day itself. However, in all fairness, Albania enjoys 300+ comfortable and sunny days per year. So, things should work out well.
29. Enver Hoxha’s Bunkers
A distinctive landmark that can be found all over the country. I personally don’t know any tourist who has been to Albania and hasn’t seen at least one bunker. Even if you’re flying into Albania for just a day, as a transit passenger, you’ll likely come across these bunkers. They are a symbol of Albania, and you’re bound to encounter them.
- During the rule of Enver Hoxha, around 700,000 bunkers were built across the country today! Considering that the country’s population is less than 3 million, and knowing that a bunker was designed for a family of 3-4 people, this means roughly one bunker per family!
- The most famous and largest bunkers are in Tirana. One was Enver Hoxha’s, and the other belonged to the Minister of Internal Affairs, who was considered the second-in-command in communist Albania. Today, both sites have been converted into museums.
- Read all about the bunkers in Tirana in the link from point #1 in the article overview about Tirana.
- The majority of the other bunkers are abandoned and accessible to the public.
- You can find them everywhere: in the mountains, on the beach, in valleys, and even in cities.
Author’s Rating:10 out of 10. These bunkers are a symbol of the country and an inseparable part of its history. They represent a unique phenomenon in the world, where instead of building a powerful army, one person, driven by paranoia, filled the entire country with defensive bunkers. The most important thing to remember is that you don’t need to actively search for bunkers; just note the locations of the two main bunkers in Tirana on your map. The rest will surprise you in the most unexpected places.
30. Trip to Corfu Island
Corfu Island is a picturesque and incredibly beautiful Greek island. You won’t find information about its attractions in this travel guide. I’ll just plant this thought in your mind, and from there, you’re on your own.
An independent two-day trip to Corfu is quite popular among tourists from Europe. Here are the details:
- The distance between Corfu and the Albanian coast is just 2 km at the narrowest point.
- High-speed ferries operate daily along the route: Saranda – Corfu. During the peak season, there are up to 8 ferry trips per day.
- This is yet another reason to visit Saranda.
- Read all about ferry connections in Albania, including Corfu and Italy, in the article: Ferries in Albania.
- The high-speed ferry, also called a speedboat, takes just 25 minutes to travel from Saranda to Corfu’s capital, Kerkyra.
- The cost starts at 25 euros one way, depending on the ferry.
Author’s Rating:8 out of 10. Know that Corfu Island is somewhat removed from the main tourist routes of Greece. If life ever takes you to Greece, chances are Corfu won’t be on your itinerary. This is because there are many other islands in Greece that are much more popular.
In conclusion, I congratulate you for making it through this extensive list of all the attractions in Albania. If you were to delve into each city from this ranking, the list of what to see in Albania as a tourist would expand to over 100 locations. From here, it’s up to you to decide what to cross off and what to include in your itinerary. I sympathize with you, as I’m confident that the places you want to visit far outnumber the time you have.
Wishing you the ability to craft the perfect plan for the perfect journey!
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania
- Flights at the best prices with juicy discounts
- Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
- Hotels and apartments throughout the country: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card in Albania
- Taxi and transfers: Intui.Travel