Places to Visit in Albania

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It may be a small Eastern European country, but there are plenty beautiful places to visit in Albania. With Adriatic and Ionian coastlines, Albanian Alps, and ancient Balkan history Albania is yet an undiscovered pearl.

Albania has a very interesting story. The first human trace on these lands is dated in the Paleolithic. Since then, the area has attracted the Greeks, the Thracian and Illyrian tribes, the Byzantine Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. Like almost every country in Eastern Europe, after the World War II, Albania lived a long Communist period. The Republic of Albania was established in 1991.

Albania is a mix of cultures and influences in the spirit of the Balkans. Most of the people here are Muslims, but many other ethnic groups have a home in this country. New history is growing in Albania. A European future is desired (the country is an official candidate for European Union) and the country is quickly developing into a touristic destination.

Tirana

Tirana from above

The journey of places to visit in Albania starts with its capital, Tirana. The architectural legacy of a tumultuous history will give you the basic information about this country. Tirana is a mix of Ottoman, Fascist, and Soviet architecture. But the city is also the symbol of a new life. Colorful buildings, pedestrian squares, and streets, delightful food are inviting the tourists to enjoy and celebrate life.

Don't miss a delicious coffee (after all, they are famous for it), an ice cream, and some pastries. Mediterranean food mixed with traditional Muslim cuisine and the fresh air of the Balkans compose a special flavor.

The city tour begins in Skanderbeg Square, named after the “Lord Alexander”, Albanian hero of the 15th century. If you want to learn more history, The National Historic Museum is right there. Still history, but slightly different can be admired in Kalo Gallery. The gallery hosts artwork by Albanian artists, including modern young artists.

For a beautiful panorama take a trip to Dajti Mountain. It is only 20 minutes away from Tirana. To get to the top of the mountain get the cable-car. Is the longest cable-car in the Balkans and it will offer you the perfect view of the city.

Durrës

Stunning Durres beach

Durrës is a city with a long history. It was founded by the Greeks in 627 BC. Today, it is Albania's largest port and one of the largest cities on the Adriatic Sea. Durrës is a wonderful place on the list of places to visit in Albania. Its Greek charm, completed with a splendid blue sea, its ancient history, completed with modern seaside resorts, give Durrës something special.

Visit the Durrës Castle, built by the Byzantines in the Vth century BC. There are also Italian artifacts, churches and mosques, the biggest Amphitheater in the Balkans, and a complex Archaeological Museum.

After a long day of sightseeing, relax on a beautiful beach and enjoy a summer day.

Rozafa Castle

Standing on the top of Rozafa castle

Another ancient castle is on the list of places to visit in Albania. Rozafa Castle is situated in the North of Albania, near Shkoder. Due to its strategic position, the Venetian construction was sieged by Ottomans in 1478 and by Montenegrins in 1912.  The castle is situated on a rocky hill and offers a good perspective on the city and the rivers around it. Today, Rozava Castle is part of an Archaeological Park of Albania.

Krujë Castle

Places to visit in Albania

Krujë Castle is another important piece of Albanian history. This elliptical castle was built in the Vth century, but its glory came much later. It was the heart of Skanderbeg's rebellion from the 15th century against the Ottoman Empire.  Between 1444 and 1468, the castle resisted and stand as a major obstacle in front of Ottomans expansion.

Today, Krujë Castle is a museum, dedicated to the Albanian hero. His life and military facts are depicted in chronological order. An Ethnographic Museum and a 450 years old bazaar complete the visit.

Lezhë Castle

Lezhe Castle

The list of places to visit in Albania is full of castles. This is normal in a country with an ancient history and famous visitors as the Greeks, the Romans, the Italians, the Ottomans, and so on. Lezhë Castle was built by the Illyrians and rebuilt by the Venetians in the 15th century.

Later on, conquered by the Ottomans, the castle was rebuilt again. Today, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman architecture can be observed in the lines of the castle. There are Ottomans buildings, a mosque, a Roman Arch, and an Illyrian tower. Pieces of history put together in an Archaeological Park of Albania.

Many places to visit in Albania

Albania is a small and rich country. Its richness stands in a long and various history, in a gorgeous landscape, in people's generosity. It is not a stranger to war or peace, to dictatorial regimes and freedom. But Albania stands again on its feet, proud and joyful, building a new life. Modern seaside resorts, just a ferry away from Italy, and beautiful national parks will certainly put Albania on the international map of tourism.

Don't forget to check out the highlights from my journey in Albania to get more ideas!

Monica Radulescu a freelance writer for aSabbatical.com
Travelling is a joy. It's a way to become a better and wiser person. Mountain paths and road trips are my favourites.

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