10 Things to See & Do in Albania

Ever wondered what makes Albania a must-visit destination? From the sun-soaked shores of the Albanian Riviera to ancient sites that tell tales of a rich past, we’ve rounded up the top 10 activities that will elevate your trip from ordinary to extraordinary.

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1. Explore the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera stretches from the village of Dhërmi to the city of Sarandë, offering a variety of beaches to suit every taste. Whether you’re into water sports, beach bars, or secluded coves, there’s something for everyone.

  • Why Visit: Imagine a coastline untouched by mass tourism, where locals and visitors alike revel in the natural beauty. That’s the Albanian Riviera for you.
  • Best Time to Visit: June is ideal as it’s warm but not overcrowded.
  • Pro Tip: Dhermi Beach is a local and my personal favorite, offering a perfect blend of natural beauty and modern amenities.
Lukove, Albanian Riviera
Lukovë beach on the Albanian Riviera

2. Visit Gjirokastër, the “Stone City”

Don’t miss the Ethnographic Museum, located in the former home of Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha. It offers a fascinating look at traditional Albanian life.

  • Why Visit: This UNESCO World Heritage site is a living museum with stone houses and cobbled streets that tell tales of times long past.
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring or Autumn for pleasant weather.
  • Pro Tip: The Gjirokastër Fortress offers panoramic views that are perfect for your Instagram feed.
Clock tower in the castle in Gjirokaster Albania
The clock tower and castle in Gjirokastra, a Unesco world heritage site.

3. Hike in the Accursed Mountains

The Accursed Mountains are home to various flora and fauna, including the endangered Balkan Lynx. Local guides can help you explore responsibly.

  • Why Visit: Also known as the Albanian Alps, these mountains offer some of the most breathtaking landscapes in Europe.
  • Best Time to Visit: For the best hiking conditions, late spring to early autumn.
  • Pro Tip: The Valbona to Theth hike is a challenging but rewarding experience.
Tourists hiking Valbona
Tourists hiking in Valbona

4. Discover the Ruins of Apollonia

Apollonia was once a significant academic center, and it’s said that the Roman Emperor Augustus studied there. The ruins include a theater, a library, and several temples.

  • Why Visit: Once a bustling Illyrian and Roman city, Apollonia now stands as a testament to the passage of time.
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring and autumn offer mild weather and fewer crowds.
  • Pro Tip: The on-site museum houses artifacts that contextualize the ruins.
The ancient city of Apollonia in Albania

5. Take a Boat Ride on Lake Koman

A hydroelectric dam created the lake, and has become an unexpected tourist attraction. The boat ride offers a unique perspective on the Albanian countryside.

  • Why Visit: Often compared to the Norwegian fjords, Lake Koman offers stunning natural beauty.
  • Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early autumn for the best weather.
  • Pro Tip: The early morning ride offers the best light for photography.
Komani Lake
Komani Lake in Northern Albania

6. Savor Albanian Cuisine

Albanian cuisine places a strong emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Whether seafood from the coast or organic vegetables from the mountains, the food is as natural as it gets.

  • Why: Albanian food is a melting pot of Mediterranean flavors influenced by Greek, Italian, and Turkish cuisines.
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, each season offers culinary delights.
  • Pro Tip: Byrek, a flaky pastry filled with cheese or meat, is a must-try.
Byrek with meat – a national dish, popular in Albania and other Balkan countries.

7. Wander Around Tirana

Tirana is a city of contrasts, where mosques, churches, and synagogues coexist peacefully. The Skanderbeg Square is the city’s heart and a great starting point for exploration.

  • Why Visit: The capital city is a vibrant mix of old and new, with communist-era buildings next to modern art installations.
  • Best Time to Visit: Year-round, as each season offers something unique.
  • Pro Tip: The BUNK’ART installations deeply dive into Albania’s communist past.
Monument of Skanderbeg in Tirana
Skanderbeg monument, with Et’hem Bay mosque and clock tower in the center of Tirana, Albania

8. Visit the Blue Eye Spring

The spring is a geological phenomenon where water bubbles up from more than 50 meters underground, creating a stunning blue “eye.”

  • Why Visit: This natural spring offers a mesmerizing blend of clear blue waters and lush green surroundings.
  • Best Time to Visit: Spring or autumn to avoid the crowds.
  • Pro Tip: Early morning visits offer the best lighting for photos.
Blue eye spring near Sarande, Albania
Blue Eye Spring near Saranda, Albania

9. Explore the Llogara Pass

The Llogara pass is a gateway to the Albanian Riviera, so it’s often the first taste of the stunning landscapes that await you further south.

  • Why Visit: This mountain pass offers one of the most thrilling drives in Albania, with hairpin turns and stunning vistas.
  • Best Time to Visit: Late spring to early autumn for clear skies.
  • Pro Tip: Stop at the viewpoints for some jaw-dropping photos.
Llogara pass in Albania.
The Llogara Pass in Albania offers incredible unobstructed views of the Ionian Sea

10. Relax in Durrës

Durrës is one of the oldest cities in Albania and was once the capital of the Roman province of Illyricum. Today, it’s a bustling port city with plenty to offer.

  • Why: This coastal city offers a mix of modern amenities and historical sites, making it a perfect place to relax and explore.
  • Best Time to Visit: June or September for warm weather without the crowds.
  • Pro Tip: The Roman amphitheater is a must-visit historical site.
Durres city and port
Durrës city and port.

Your Turn to Visit

Albania is a land of endless possibilities, catering to a wide range of interests and tastes.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a history aficionado, or a beach bum, there’s something for everyone in this Balkan gem.

So, regardless of when you visit, you’re guaranteed an experience that will stay with you long after you’ve returned home.

Although I was born in Albania, I've spent my adult life traveling there as a tourist. Being a native who visits frequently, I can give you an insider's view of Europe's best-kept secret.
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