In this article, you’ll discover Kruja’s location and its allure for tourists, along with valuable information on how to get there and where to stay. Kruja is among Albania’s most renowned tourist cities, especially regarding its historical significance. It’s the birthplace of Skanderbeg, the legendary leader of Albanian resistance. Learn more about this captivating city below.

kruja castle albania
The Magnificent View of Kruja’s Citadel and Skanderbeg Museum from Another Part of the City.

General Facts about Kruja

One significant aspect of Kruja’s historical significance is that it became the capital of the first “Albanian” principality (in the territory of modern Albania) called Arbëria, in the late 12th century. Although short-lived, it marked Albania’s early establishment as a small yet strong and independent entity.

In the 15th century, Kruja became the capital of the Kastrioti clan, famously represented by Prince Skanderbeg, renowned for his resistance against the Ottomans, including the formidable Sultan Mehmed II, who conquered Constantinople but couldn’t take Kruja (under Skanderbeg’s leadership).

Skanderbeg is a national hero of Albania, and his equestrian statues adorn numerous squares across the country. Even the central square of Albania’s capital, Tirana, bears his name.

kruja skanderbeg
Kruja is the center of anti-Ottoman movement in the 15th century. And Skanderbeg is his inspirer and leader.

How to Get to Kruja

Kruja boasts a convenient location, just 25 kilometers north of Tirana. However, public transportation isn’t the most convenient option. Therefore, most tourists prefer traveling to Kruja by car.

If you still wish to travel by bus (or rather minibus), consider the following:

  • From Tirana, take the bus from the northwest terminal (look for minibusses with “KRUJE” signs);
    • coordinates: 41.344261, 19.776640.
  • From Durrës, buses depart from the Durrës bus station.

For more details on public transportation in Albania, check out the article “Public Transport in Albania.”

Another option to get to Kruja is by taking a guided tour from Tirana

Important to know:

Buses from both cities have similar schedules, departing from Tirana around 7 am, and the last bus from Kruja to Tirana is around 3-4 pm. The fare from Tirana is 150 lek (1.5 euros).
bus to kruja
These are the minibuses (pay attention to the sign) you will find at the bus station in Tirana and in Kruja.

Where to Stay in Kruja

Though you can explore the city in half a day, I recommend staying overnight for the breathtaking views from various accommodations.

  • First and foremost, I highly recommend the most popular hotel in Kruja: Hotel Panorama Kruje. While slightly pricier (from 50 euros per night) than other hotels in Kruja, it offers a rooftop pool with a view of the castle, a fantastic breakfast, and inclusive underground parking. You won’t find another hotel as fabulous as this one in Kruja.
hotel panorama kruja
My personal choice in Kruja is undoubtedly Hotel Panorama.
  • If you prefer unwinding in a pool after tiring mountain hikes, consider staying at Villa Emiliano: ROOMS EMILIANO Castle of Kruja. You can book rooms with a delightful breakfast, and the villa is right inside the old Kruja castle. Prices start from 40 euros per night.
hotels in kruja
The Emiliano guesthouse (on the right in the photo) is located directly within the fortress, allowing you to enjoy breakfast with a view of the castle’s ruins.
  • Another guesthouse, Rooms Merlika -Inside the Castle-, offers similar rooms right in the heart of Kruja’s castle. Don’t hesitate to book this option if others are occupied. Prices start from 35 euros per night.
where to stay in kruje
The Merlika guesthouse is situated next to the fortress, offering free parking and a fantastic, delicious breakfast each morning.
  • The modern 4-star Mervin Hotel offers stylish European-style rooms. Prices (from 50 euros per night) include breakfast and warm hospitality from the hosts.
kruja hotels
In the Mervin hotel, you’ll feel like you’re staying at a standard hotel in Warsaw or Athens.

Sights of Kruja

First and foremost, Kruja is renowned for its historical heritage, making a stroll through the castle and museums a significant part of your day. But more on that later. You can read about Albania’s history in the article: “History of Albania.”

Kruja Castle

The legendary Skanderbeg held this fortress for many years. Even after his death, the castle resisted the Turks for another 10 years. However, in 1467, when it finally fell, the Turks razed it to the ground in retaliation against Skanderbeg.

Today, the fortress preserves the foundation of its walls, a few gates, and an imposing watchtower, which undoubtedly offers breathtaking views of the surroundings. The tower is currently under reconstruction, and it might be open for visitors to ascend after completion.

In general, you can tour the castle itself, excluding the museums, in about 20 minutes.

Useful Information:

Parking near the fortress is paid, and the pricing is unclear – some may negotiate for 200 lek for half a day, while others charge 500 lek per hour. It can be more challenging to bargain during the high season.
  • Fortress coordinates: 41.50758, 19.79474.
  • Entrance to the fortress itself is free. The tower is now closed for reconstruction, upon its completion, most likely the rise to the top will be paid.
  • Time required: around 20-30 minutes for the small fortress.

My personal rating:

7 out of 10, if you appreciate historical ruins. On a sunny day, it’s enjoyable to stroll around, and the view from the fortress is unforgettable.
castle in kruja in albania
Here is all that remains of the fortress after it was conquered by the Ottomans at the end of the 15th century. The clock tower is currently under renovation.

Skanderbeg Museum

Located directly within the castle grounds, the museum building, built in a “castle” style, is a modern creation. The museum was opened in 1982 and is named after Georg Kastrioti – Skanderbeg’s real name, given by the Turks.

The museum houses several pavilions displaying a chronological sequence, from Illyrian tribes to Georg Kastrioti’s reign in the 15th century. It preserves numerous original items, bells, battle standards, ammunition, and weapons.

  • Coordinates: 41.50754, 19.79404.
  • Ticket price: 500 lek (5 euros), visitors aged 12-18 pay 150 lek, children under 12 enter for free.
  • Time required: 40-50 minutes for a thorough visit.

My rating:

5 out of 10, as I prefer exploring outdoor attractions. Museums are for museum enthusiasts.
skanderbeg museum kruja
The Skanderbeg Museum, and in the foreground are the ruins of the Mehmed Fatih mosque and the minaret.

Ethnographic Museum

Another museum situated within Kruja’s castle is the Ethnographic Museum. It is an actual Albanian villa, built in 1764 in Ottoman style, owned by the wealthy Ottoman Toptani family.

The rooms in the villa are transformed into pavilions. On the first floor, there were rooms for servants and craftsmen, with exhibits telling the story of olive oil and wine production, as well as products made from sheep’s wool. The second floor contained rooms for the owner and his family.

In this museum, you can see and even touch objects used by affluent Albanian families in the 18th century.

  • Coordinates: 41.50662, 19.79359.
  • Ticket price: 400 lek (4$), visitors aged 12-18 pay 120 lek, children under 12 enter for free.
  • Time required: 30 minutes.
  • Today (February 2024), the museum is closed, and no one knows when it will reopen.

My rating:

4 out of 10, as I found the Skanderbeg Museum more interesting.
museums in kruja
The museum is located in the villa of former Ottoman aristocrats.

Old Bazaar

You can reach the Old Bazaar on your way to the fortress. Along the cobblestone street, vendors on both sides offer t-shirts, flags, woolen products, ceramics, and traditional clothing.

Pros: It’s an excellent place to buy unique souvenirs and handmade items.

Cons: The vendors are exceptionally persistent, more so than anywhere else in Albania. Albania, in general, has few places with pushy vendors.

  • Coordinates: 41.50920, 19.79483.
  • Entry fee: Free, but the number of banknotes you part with will depend on how well you handle enthusiastic traders.
  • Time required: If you don’t plan to buy anything, you can pass through in 5 minutes. However, if the vendors draw you into their stalls, plan at least an extra hour.

My personal rating:

5 out of 10. Ten for the ambiance and authenticity, and one for the overly active traders, something I dislike.
old bazaar in albania
The old bazaar in Kruja is somewhat reminiscent of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

Travel Tips

Based on the information above, you can draw the following conclusions:

  • If you are traveling by car, you can visit Kruja on your way from Tirana to the northern part of the country (e.g., Shkodër). You can stroll around the city for two to three hours or better yet, stay overnight in a villa inside the old castle.
  • If you won’t be renting a car, it’s very convenient to get to Kruja from Tirana by minibus, taking just an hour of travel time.
  • Moreover, purchasing souvenirs in Kruja is effortless, as there’s a whole street dedicated to such items, offering a vast selection. You might find even more options in the old town of Gjirokastër. For more details about Gjirokastër, read here.
  • In the article link, you can find a complete list of souvenirs you can bring from Albania as gifts, which might come in handy at the Kruja bazaar.


Kruja is a small town that will take about three hours of your time. It’s worth visiting if you want to learn more about Albanian independence, its national hero, and the lives of ordinary and noble citizens throughout history. However, if history isn’t your interest, you can skip Kruja.

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania

  • Flights at the best prices with best discounts
  • Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
    • DiscoverCars – a major international resource
    • LocalRent – the leader in the Albanian car rental market. Very low deposits, even in cash.
  • Hotels and apartments throughout the country:
    • Hotellook – compares prices among dozens of platforms and offer you the best one.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Albania.
  • Tours, excursions and activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 550 tours
    • Viator – 920+ excursions and activities throughout the country
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo eSIM in Albania from $4.5
    • DRIMSIM – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfer: Intui.Travel