It’s hard to find countries in Europe that are still off the beaten track. Before we considered going to Albania we didn’t think of this country, that had been isolated from the outside world in East Bloc times, as one of them. After visiting some outstanding places in Albania we had to change that view.

We were surprised by the low numbers of visitors that we saw in some of the most beautiful cities on the Balkans. We can only guess at the reasons. Do people still see Albania as some bleak communist state? Do they think there’s not much to see? Is the country just too strange?

Cheap destination

places in Albania

Stunning Albanian scenery

Over the course of two weeks of traveling to several places in Albania we met wonderful people, ate some great food, saw many outstanding sights, relaxed on quiet beaches and were stunned by some amazing scenery. Add the low cost of travel (Albania is one of the cheapest countries in Europe and euros are more than willingly accepted over the Albanian Lek) and you’d think it should be a popular travel destination.

Even driving through Albania – which had us worried a little bit – was a breeze. Major roads are in good condition (and many roads are being improved), traffic is low on most of these roads while donkeys are becoming a rare sight, we’ve never seen more gas stations and car washes before and even the driving habits were no worse than in other Balkan countries (except for some crazy driving in Tirana).

places in Albania

Gjirokaster fort perched on a hill above the Unesco World Heritage old town

The only complaints we could think of is that Albania’s infrastructure planners have not heard of ring roads yet, all major routes leading you inconveniently through cities, and that there are very few big supermarkets with a wide selection of products (are we sounding very spoiled now…?). But the country is developing at a rapid pace, so we think that will change soon.

Anyhow: Albania sooner or later should become a traveler’s favorite, so get here while it’s still a bit ‘undiscovered’ (we hate that word). Below you find some of the places in Albania we visited and liked.

Places in Albania

Lake Koman

places in Albania

This elongated lake in northern Albania was created after a hydroelectric project in the 1970’s. The three hour ferry ride across the lake is incredibly scenic with views of mountain gorges, vertical cliffs and the blue water of the lake. We made the ferry ride to get to Valbona in the Albanian Alps.

Albanian Alps

Even if you’re not a real hiker doing the Valbona-Theth hike in the Albanian Alps comes highly recommended. Granted, the hike is not easy but anyone with a reasonable fitness can complete the day hike which crosses 1.759 meter Valbona Pass to the charming off-the-beaten path village of Theth. Along the way you will be rewarded by fantastic mountain panoramas.

You can read more about the Lake Koman ferry ride and Valbona-Theth hike here.

Krüje castle

Just 20 kilometers north of Albania’s capital Tirana is Krüje castle. The historic but almost new looking castle houses a quirky museum glorifying Albania’s 15th- century national hero Skanderbeg. Regular furgons make the trip from Tirana.


places in Albania

Albania’s capital has left bleak post-communist times behind and is transforming into a colorful and modern city. Look closer, though, and you see enough remnants of its dark past. Make sure to visit Bunk’art 1, the former atomic bunker complex where Albania’s paranoid dictator Enver Hoxha and his cronies could go into hiding in case of war.

You can learn what to see during a visit to Tirana here.


Nicknamed ‘The City of Thousand Windows’ you won’t easily forget the first sight of the white houses stacked upon each other against the hill leading up to Berat’s still lived-in castle. Despite its unmistakable beauty this Unesco World Heritage listed city is still pleasantly off the beaten track. Get here before it gets really discovered.

We wrote this post about our visit to Berat.

Llogara Pass

places in Albania

One of the most scenic drives in Albania is the winding road over the 1.043 meter high Llogara Pass. Coming from the north fantastic vistas of the beaches of the Albanian Riviera unfold before your eyes (when it’s not too cloudy or hazy, that is).

Albanian Riviera

Albania has a coastline that has not been discovered by mass tourism. Yet. New developments are quickly changing the once unspoiled beaches, although on more difficult to reach places they can still be found. Even then, the beaches are much better value than in neighboring countries. Take advantage while you still can. It’s a great coastal drive too.

Blue Eye

About 20 kilometers from the beaches of southern Albania the Blue Eye is a popular excursion. Crystal clear and intensely blue water arises from a small spring deep in the earth’s crust. Only the most hardened dare to dive into its frigid cold waters.


In this south Albanian city the Unesco World Heritage listed old center invites for some aimless wandering. Visit old homes of eminent Gjirokastër families, appreciate the once strategic importance of the biggest castle in Albania and walk the cobblestoned streets admiring the unique Albanian-Ottoman architecture.

Read here why you must visit Gjirokastër, aka ‘The Stone City’.

Vjosë river bends

places in Albania

In the deep south of the country flows the Vjosë river through one of the most beautiful valleys in Albania. Three scenic bends in the river are a worth the detour in itself. We found it one of the most awesome places in Albania.

Bënjë thermal springs

Located near the town of Përmet on a side road off the Vjosë river is another hidden Albanian gem. The therapeutic qualities of the Bënjë thermal springs have been known since ancient times and still people come to bath here. Many springs can be found in the scenic Lengaricë Canyon. At the entrance to the canyon you’ll find a very picturesque Ottoman bridge.

Learn more about these unknown places in Albania in this post.


places in Albania

In the 1970’s and 1980’s Albania’s communist leader Enver Hoxha had around 168.000 small bunkers built to protect the country against foreign enemies (that was basically everyone outside of Albania). Ruined concrete bunkers can still be found at many places in Albania, especially along the coast. You’ll be hard pressed to leave the country without at least having spotted a few of them.

You can also read more about our two week visit to Albania in the following two blogs:

World trip week 6: Albania

World trip week 7: Albania

About the author

Roel Kerkhof

Restless wanderer, retired cyclist and triathlete, geographer and writer. Man with a mission impossible: to visit all countries in the world.


  • Hi!
    Wat een leuke en uitgebreide post. Zou je de trip die jullie hebben gedaan ook in 8 dagen kunnen doen of heb je de 2 weken wel echt nodig?

    Ben benieuwd

    • Hoi Chantal,

      Excuses voor het late antwoord. We waren het afgelopen jaar op reis en hebben in de tweede helft van onze trip onze website gelaten voor wat het was. Vandaag voor het eerst weer eens gekeken en zag je bericht. Ik weet niet of het nog op tijd is, maar 8 dagen is wel een beetje kort. Maar zonder de dagen die we aan de kust hebben doorgebracht en de omweg naar Permet is het wel te doen denk ik.


  • Hey Roel en Eugenie, Ik kijk geregeld of er al weer een nieuwe foto van jullie op IG staat, maar volgens mij zijn jullie daar niet meer actief. Nu kwam ik op jullie blog, omdat ik op zoek ben naar info over Albanië. Gisteren net tickets die kant op geboekt en al best enthousiast, maar na het (weer) zien van jullie geweldige foto’s helemaal!

    • Hey Yvonne,

      We zijn op een bepaald moment met alles gestopt, enerzijds vanwege slechte wifi tijdens delen van onze reis, anderzijds omdat het zoveel tijd kostte. Het werd een beetje teveel moeten. We zijn inmiddels al bijna een maand weer thuis (bah). Misschien dat we site en IG weer gaan oppakken, eerst de motivatie daarvoor weer terug zien te vinden.

      Mooi vooruitzicht om naar Albanië te gaan. We vonden het één van de mooiere bestemmingen tijdens onze reis (maar er waren er ook zoveel meer…., ha, ha. veel plezier daar!

      Roel en Eugénie

    • Hola Lluis,

      Thank you very much! And thanks for visiting our website. Glad you found the information useful and liked the pics. Albania is an underrated but beautiful country.

      Happy travels,

  • hi ,
    nice pic and information . I am suppose to go next month for few days only . What places you recommend me

    • Hi Vikash,

      Great to hear you found our blog useful. Considering the time of year and the limited amount of time I think visiting Tirana (I guess you’ll arrive there?), Berat and Gjirokastër are really feasible. Berat and Gjirokastër should be a highlight any time of year.

      Have a nice trip!

  • Nice list, may I also suggest Butrint and Osum canyon. Butrint it is a must see UNESCO world heritage site with layers of history while Osum canyon is great for rafting. Cheers

    • Hi Herbi,

      Thanks for visiting our site and yes those are also good recommendations. We had 2 weeks in Albania and had to choose where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. Butrint and Osum canyon didn’t make the cut. Maybe some other time though. Albania is great!

      Cheers, Roel

  • I love this website. The images are stunning. I travel a lot but my photos are not so good. Could you please advice on camera and lenses?

    • Hi Paul,

      Sorry about the late response, we don’t seem te be getting any notifications anymore of reader’s reactions. Thanks for the compliment! We use a Sony A7 mirrorless camera with the kit lens that comes with it and edit pictures using Lightroom. Occasionally we use a mobile phone, Samsung S6, as well, mainly to make panorama pictures. What also helped us a lot was taking a beginner’s course for photography. Hope this helps.

      Cheers, Roel

  • Hi, ik ga deze zomer met mijn vriend met de auto door Albanië heen kamperen. We vroegen ons af of er veel campings zijn? Zo niet, is het in Albanië verboden wild te kamperen of niet? Super bestemmingen op je site, we gaan er zeker een paar bezoeken!

    • Hoi Isabel,

      Sorry voor de late reactie, we krijgen om de een of andere reden geen notificaties meer van reacties op onze blog posts. Ik hoop dat ik nog op tijd ben. Er zijn wel campings, maar niet zo veel als in de rest van de Balkan. Wij hadden ook een tent bij ons, maar omdat last minute een guesthouse of hotelletje boeken nauwelijks extra kostte hebben we er in Albanië (en de rest van onze Balkan reis) ook niet zo op gelet en zijn we voor steeds voor kamers met eigen badkamer gegaan. Bijkomend voordeel was dat de eigenaren vaak met wat te eten of drinken kwamen aanzetten. Erg gastvrij allemaal. Of wild kamperen toe is gestaan weet ik niet. Veel plezier in Albanië, het is een mooi land!

      Groetjes, Roel

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