Most Popular Places to Visit in Albania, 2023, Top Attractions

Best Places to Visit in Albania, Top Attractions

Albania’s cities and scenic countryside are full of amazing old castles, Roman ruins, and Ottoman-era mosques and buildings, which make the country fascinating to explore. With picturesque towns such as Gjirokaster and Berat for visitors to enjoy, there is always something new to see and do. Albania emerged from communist rule in 1991. Nowadays, visitors are invariably surprised at all that it has to offer; beautiful beaches lying alongside breathtaking mountain ranges and glittering lakes. Amazing old castles, beautiful Ottoman stone towns, countless wonders of nature, remote mountain ranges surrounded by beaches and quaint villages running along with the modernity of a quirky, modern capital- you can see it all if you decide to visit Albania-Europe’s unpolished diamond! Still very much off the beaten path, Albania attractions are slowly but surely being revealed to the outside world after the country threw off its shackles of communism and opened doors to the world. Thanks to long, untold history, Albania’s scenic countryside and its welcoming locals, the country has managed to make a visible mark on the tourist map. Today, if you head out to explore the country, you'll always have something new to experience in its picturesque towns of Gjirokaster and Berat, the quaint and quiet Theth, the seaside town of Himara and the colourful capital city of Tirana. With all these and more delightful places to visit in Albania, you could spend weeks exploring the country’s nooks and crannies without getting bored. Once you decide to visit Albania, it’s hard to pass over the eccentric capital, Tirana, which is popular for its remarkable history and rugged backdrops. Not only is it the largest city in Albania and the easiest place to start your journey from, but Tirana is also a lively place thriving on never-ending energy that oozes out of its wealth of clubs, bars, cafes and taverns. As a capital, Tirana attractions include the country’s finest museums, theatres and galleries representing the national arts. 

#1- Kruja
Kruja is home to some of the best museums in Albania and has deep ties with national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg. After all, it was from Kruja Castle that Skanderbeg rebuffed the Ottomans for decades, a feat that made him a national symbol. It’s unsurprising then that the town’s castle is now home to the Skanderbeg Museum, dedicated to the man. While up at the castle, don’t overlook the Ethnographic Museum of Kruja, set inside a gorgeous Ottoman house that gives visitors insight into what life was like for a wealthy family of the era.

#2- Lake Prespa
Lake Prespa is the third and final border lake to make this list. Technically, though, it’s a system of two lakes, with Great Prespa Lake and Little Prespa Lake separated by a small isthmus. While there are a variety of places to visit around the lake across the different countries, in Albania the shoreline is dominated by Prespa National Park. The park is wetlands, marsh, forest, and nearby meadows, making it an especially good place for birdwatching. One attraction that is worth venturing out onto the lake to see is Maligrad Island, where you’ll find the remote Church of St. Mary inside a cave.

#3- The Blue Eye
The Blue Eye is a water spring with unbelievably clear blue water. The spring emerges through a karst hole that’s more than 50 meters (164 feet) deep, but visitors are able to see surprisingly far down into the hole thanks to the impeccable clarity of the water. To reach the spring, visitors first walk through a forest of oak and sycamore trees before eventually reaching a viewing platform by the water. Although there are signs warning against swimming in the icy water of the Blue Eye, many visitors opt to dip their feet in.

#4- Llogara National Park
If you follow the coast north of the Albanian Riviera, you soon reach this mountainous national park and its spellbinding views of the country’s coastline. And, yet, the park is perhaps best known for the Llogara Pass, a mountain pass that reaches 1,027 meters (3,370 feet) in elevation and is home to Albania’s best stretches of road. Even if the road didn’t take you to panoramic viewpoints, the drive through the Llogara Pass would be well worth the journey.

#5- Vlorë
The popular resort city lies on Albania’s south coast and boasts plenty of beaches, bountiful nightlife, and its fair share of interesting historical curiosities. For beaches, there’s the long stretch of sand at Plazhi i Ri or the more central beachfront at Plazhi i Vjeter. Nightlife isn’t hard to come by in Vlorë, but the Cold Water area at Uji i Ftohte has become particularly popular in recent years. Finally, on the history front, there’s the Independence Proclamation Building, where Albania declared its independence in 1912, as well as the ruins of Kanina Castle.

#6- Lake Koman
This reservoir in northern Albania is surrounded by steep mountain walls and features vibrant, crystal clear water, the combination of which has naturally fostered comparisons with the majestic fjords of Norway. The best way to see the scenery of the lake is with a journey on the famous Lake Koman Ferry, which transports you from the town of Koman to Fierza further along the Drin River. It’s a great way to slow down your sightseeing for a spell and just take in the splendor of the Albanian countryside.

#7- Përmet & Benja Thermal Baths
A small, out-of-the-way town in the south of Albania, Përmet might seem an unlikely choice to include on this list. But Përmet has a secret weapon, just up the river from it – the marvelous Benja Thermal Baths. Here, the water from nearby geothermal springs is diverted into man-made pools, allowing visitors the opportunity to soak in the soothing water while appreciating the blissful nature of the valley around them. The baths are found by Katiu Bridge, a gorgeous old stone bridge that offers stunning views of the distant mountain ranges.

#8- Korçë
By far one of the prettiest cities in Albania you’ll come across is Korçë. What’s interesting is that Korçë is most famous among tourists for being the home of Korça beer, which is commonly found throughout the country. Those who go beyond a tour of the city’s brewery, however, discover that Korçë is a low-key gem. Walking around the city you’ll find lots of traditional Ottoman architecture, making it quite an enjoyable place to explore on foot. 

#9- Apollonia
Albania is full of fascinating historical sites, but easily one of its most impressive is the ancient ruins of Apollonia. Located near the small city of Fier just inland of the central coast, the Apollonia Archaeological Park features the remains of the ancient Greek and Roman city founded around 600 BCE. Today, Apollonia is a UNESCO world heritage site that still features archaeologists uncovering new ruins and artifacts. 

#10- Butrint National Park
Butrint is a national park on the coast of southern Albania that is home to a fantastic collection of historical sites from different eras in the region’s history. With an array of monumental relics from the ancient Greeks, Romans, Venetians, and Ottomans on display around the national park, it’s no surprise that UNESCO recognized Butrint with world heritage status in 1992. 

#11- Lake Ohrid & Pogradec
The city of Pogradec is the main Albanian destination on the lake, making it the obvious choice if you want to spend time cruising around Lake Ohrid while in Albania. But Pogradec has a few things to offer, too, from its generous beachfront to the wonderful views from its hilltop castle ruins. For something a little different, come in June for the city’s Puppet Theater Festival, whose popularity has inspired further festivals across the Balkans.

#12- Albanian Alps
These soaring mountains, often also known as the Accursed Mountains, lie in the far north of Albania by the border with Montenegro. The Alps are home to two of Albania’s most beloved national parks, Theth National Park and Valbona Valley National Park, widely agreed to be two of the most beautiful places in Albania. These regions are perfect for travelers interested in hiking and nature, with plenty of trails that pass through dense forest and past waterfalls and springs. For accommodation in the Albanian Alps, look to the small mountain villages of Theth and Valbona as they are excellent bases for exploration.

#13- Durrës
As the main port city in Albania, it could be easy to dismiss Durrës as not worthy of your hard-earned vacation days. But Durrës definitely deserves a closer look as it’s packed with impressive historical sites and home to the closest beaches to the capital, Tirana. Without question the most significant attraction in the city is the Durrës Amphitheater, the largest of its kind in the Balkans, but the Venetian Tower of Durrës and the Archaeological Museum of Durrës are also quite interesting. 

#14- Tirana
Tirana is a fun, lively place to dive into the country’s culture and history. Skanderbeg Square is a worthy starting point as it sits right in the heart of the city and is home to the exceptional National History Museum, identified by the gigantic mosaic on its facade. Other fascinating historical attractions in the city center include the 18th-century Et’hem Bey Mosque and Bunkart 2, one of two Cold War bunkers in Tirana cleverly converted into art and history museums. 

#15- Berat
 The charming buildings have earned Berat the nickname The City of a Thousand Windows, while its thousands of years of history has earned the town a place on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Beyond admiring its gorgeous scenery, visitors will also delight in exploring the remains of Berat Castle and wandering down to the intricate Gorica Bridge. 

#16- Saranda
Saranda combines brilliant beaches, pumping nightlife, and interesting historical sights to ensure that it has something for everyone who visits. Mango Beach and Saranda Beach are the two central beach areas that come alive during summer, although the seaside at Pulëbardha Beach is also quite lovely. In terms of attractions, Lekursi Castle sits at the top of the list, both for its hilltop ruins but also its epic sunset views.

#17- The Albanian Riviera
The area generally refers to the stretch of coast on the Ionian Sea that starts at Saranda and continues all the way north to Llogara National Park. Besides Saranda, Dhërmi is probably the most popular beach town on the Albanian Riviera thanks to its nightlife and the various music festivals that it hosts. However, there are plenty of quieter towns along the Albanian Riviera where you can easily spend a few days relaxing by the beach, such as Himara, Borsh, Palase, and Vuno.

#18- Shkodra
Generally considered the cultural capital of Albania, Shkodra hosts a variety of festivals, some enlightening local museums, and the celebrated Migjeni Theater. However, what often intrigues visitors the most are the pastel colors of the buildings in the city center as they give the old town an unexpected Italian feel. In terms of attractions, the two most noteworthy are Rozafa Castle with its local legends and the elegant Ebu Bekër Mosque. Just a few miles from the center of Shkodra lies Shkodra Lake, where you can do tours out on the water.

#19- Ksamil
Ksamil is found to the south of Saranda and is widely considered among the prettiest vacation spots in Albania due to its idyllic seaside surroundings. Crystal clear water, fine sand beaches, and four small islands just off the coast have led people to draw unlikely comparisons between Ksamil and the Maldives!

#20- Gjirokaster
This small inland city is the other historical city alongside Berat that is recognized by UNESCO for its exceptionally well-preserved character. Walking through its cobblestone streets past the bazaar and gorgeous Ottoman architecture, you’ll surely feel transported back in time. Things only get better when you journey up to Gjirokastra Castle, where you’ll find a weapon museum and mesmerizing views of the nearby mountains. 

Photo Source: Google