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Albania’s Lovely Towns and Historical Cities

Photo by Elizabeth Gowing

From Ancient Greek to Ottoman, Albania's history through its loveliest towns

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This itinerary starts in Tirana as the most common entry point to the country and explores Albania’s historical cities and towns. However, if you are arriving from Greece you will prefer to start in Korca or Saranda; if you’re arriving from Montenegro you’ll start in Shkodra.


Day 1 in Albania

Spend the day in Albania’s capital, Tirana. There’s the chance to see landmarks and museums showcasing the country’s Communist past, the delightful Et’hem Bey painted mosque, and a breath of fresh air and perspective on taking the cable car up to Mount Dajti.


Day 2

Heading north and back in time, to Kruja, the site of the castle of the fourteenth century warrior against the Ottomans, Skanderbeg. His dramatically-situated town on an escarpment above the plain is also home to an interesting Historical Museum and Ethnological Museum. An even more popular draw of the site is the bazaar filled with antiques and curio shops, giving you the chance to touch, try on, and maybe even take home traditional arts and crafts.


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From Kruja continue to the capital of northern Albania, Shkodra. Known as a centre of culture the city is charming for strolling, and a walk up to the citadel gives stunning views out to sea.

Eat dinner and spend the night at the Tradita hotel museum showcasing the best of Albania’s culinary traditions.


Day 3

A drive (or a couple of bus journeys) south takes you to the Unesco World Heritage Site town of Berat, known for its heritage homes stacked attractively against the hillside which is topped by a citadel, still inhabited and also home to medieval churches.

A stay in one of the city’s Ottoman-era homes will leave you well-rested and ready for


Day 4

A drive looping round the Bredhi i Hotova national park takes you to the charming Art Deco city of Korca, known for its good food and beer.


Day 5

The next morning you have the chance to drive out (or take a local taxi) to the extraordinary community of Voskopoja, once the largest town in the Balkans, but now a sleepy community settled around frescoed churches dating from the town’s eighteenth century heyday.

Then head off to Tepelena, another town where there is more to explore of what it was than of what it is today. In the case of this town, the citadel of Ali Pasha, where Lord Byron stayed on his travels through Albania, is now a photogenic ruin.


Day 6

Today you’ll drive or get the bus to Albania’s southern-most city, Saranda. It’s a busy seaside town offering the chance for a beach stop, and plenty of hotels for any budget. But make sure you continue just 10km further south to have the chance to see the stunning archaeological site of Butrint with Greek, Roman and Ottoman era ruins to be explored.


At A Glance

Price Range:
budget
midrange
Most Suited to:
single
couples
Season:
spring
summer
fall
Length:
longer

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