One of Europe’s best-kept secrets, Albania is a stunning country of imposing rugged mountains, alluring sandy beaches, and ancient fortress towns. Following the end of communism in 1991, Albania opened itself up to curious travelers, and its efforts have certainly been rewarded.
Teeming with half-forgotten Roman and Greek ruins, achingly beautiful national parks, and dynamic festivals that celebrate the country’s rich culture, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Albania.
As well as all the opportunities for outdoor adventure, this enigmatic country is a fantastic place to broaden your horizons, with thought-provoking art galleries, captivating museums, and dazzling UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Visit in summer for the chance to chill out on Instagrammable beaches and swim in crystal-clear natural pools. Or plan your trip for winter when you can go skiing and cozy up with local comfort food. There really isn’t a bad time of year to visit Albania!
With so much to see and do, it can be tricky to know where to begin. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Albania. Add these fun Albania attractions and activities to your Albania bucket list, and you’re sure to have a wonderful time exploring one of the most gorgeous countries in Europe.
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25 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Albania
1. Admire the Dazzling Blue Eye
The Blue Eye is one of the most beautiful places you’ll come across on your travels. Tucked away in Muzinë in southern Albania, the Blue Eye is a natural water spring that provides water for the 15-mile-long Bistricë River.
The water here is almost too clear to believe. You can see all the way down to the bottom and admire the tiny light blue bubbles as they quickly rise to the surface and pop. The bubbles create waves on the water that can be quite mesmerizing.
One of the most interesting things about the Blue Eye is its depth – no one knows how deep it is. The furthest anyone has managed to dive is 164 feet, but they didn’t go all the way to the bottom.
Although there are signs saying that swimming is forbidden, you will see some people take a dip. If you want to risk it, keep in mind that the water is only around 50°F (10°C) – even in the middle of summer!
2. Relax On The Albanian Riviera
You’ll find some of the most fun things to do in Albania on the Albanian Riviera. This is one of the most popular and dazzling parts of the country. It’s the perfect place to go, whether you want to spend your time relaxing, exploring, or partying.
Start your day by taking a wander around Saranda, the liveliest town in the area. Here you can stop for a coffee and baklava before climbing the hill to the Forty Saints Monastery, from where you can see gorgeous views of the city.
In the afternoon, head to Ksamil, home to some of the most stunning beaches in Albania. Ksamil is made up of three small islands which are within sailing distance of each other. You’ll also find loads of great seafood restaurants in this area. When you’ve had enough of sun, sea, and seafood, check out Butrint, the biggest archaeological site in Albania.
Although it’s relatively small, Ksamil is home to three incredible lounge bars that always have a buzzing atmosphere. Here you can spend your evening drinking freshly-made cocktails and listening to live music.
3. Explore Krujë Castle
Krujë Castle is one of the best-preserved and unusual castles in Albania. Built between the 5th and 6th centuries, the castle is perched on Krujë hill and remained beyond the reach of the powerful Ottoman Empire that was taking over Europe in the 15th century.
The castle was where Georg Kastriot (also known as Skanderbeg in English), an Albanian feudal lord and military commander, was based. With just 3,000 men, he managed to put a halt to a number of attacks and make a significant dent in the Ottoman Empire’s expansion. He played such an important role in the country’s history that you can see a statue of Kastriot in Skanderbeg Square today.
While the castle is no longer a fortress, it does house a museum dedicated to Kastriot. The exhibits are arranged in chronological order and tell the story of Kastriot’s life and military achievements.
One of the most interesting pieces in the museum is the replica of the Arms of Skanderbeg. It’s unlike other coasts of arms and features a helmet and sword topped with a goat head.
4. Spend A Full Day Hiking From Theth To Valbona
For some of the best sights in Albania, follow the hiking path between Theth and Valbona, two remote villages in the Albanian Alps.
This hike takes 6-8 hours and covers around 10 miles, depending on your exact starting and finishing points. You’ve got to be pretty fit to complete it, but if you’re up for the challenge, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most gorgeous scenery you’ve ever seen in your life!
The views you’ll see along the way are simply sublime. From wide-open spaces covered with lush green trees and impressive mountain backdrops lightly dusted with snow to sweeping valley panoramas and precarious rocky viewpoints that make great photo opportunities, you’ll be surrounded by beauty here.
With easy-to-follow markings and plenty of places where you can rest, refill your water bottle, and get something to eat along the way, this hike is really pleasant, albeit a bit strenuous. It’s important to know that the hiking route is only open during the summer months when the snow has melted.
5. Grab A Byrek To Go
Byrek is one of the traditional Albanian foods that you’ve absolutely got to try. They became so popular throughout the country because not only are they delicious and versatile, but they’re the perfect thing to eat on the go when you’re rushing to work.
Similar to the spanakopita you get in Greece, byrek is made with layers of super-thin filo pastry that encase a rich filling. Spinach and feta cheese is the most popular and traditional filling combo, but you’ll also find byrek stuffed with onion and tomato, cottage cheese, beef ragout, or mushrooms and Greek yogurt.
This dish is so popular that you’ll find it available in restaurants, cafes, bakeries, grocery stores, and street food stalls throughout the country. If you’re in Tirana, we suggest stopping by Te Eda. This tiny bakery makes an amazing byrek stuffed with shredded chicken. It’s served warm and tastes incredible!
6. Enjoy A Scenic Drive Through Llogara Pass
If you’re planning on renting a car, one of the top things to do in Albania is to take a road trip along the Llogara Pass. This famous scenic drive is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular in the world.
The route is in the middle of the Llogara National Park and works its way up to 3,280 feet above sea level. From this high up, you can see for miles over the stunning Albanian countryside and out to sea.
When you reach the top of the pass, we definitely recommend you get out to really take in the view. You’ll find a number of restaurants up here. If you can snag a table by the window, you’ll be able to admire the stunning panorama while also enjoying traditional Albanian food.
The Llogara National Park is home to a number of animal species, including fallow deer, European wildcats, and golden eagles. If you keep on the lookout, you may just spot them during your drive!
7. Embrace Albanian Culture At The South Outdoor Festival
The South Outdoor Festival is something you’ve got to check out if you’re planning to be in Borsh at the end of April or the beginning of May. This dynamic festival is a celebration of Albanian culture, tradition, food, music, sports, and nature in one of the most fabulous settings along the Albania Riviera.
People from all over the world travel to Borsch to show off their amazing talents and to witness the astounding skills of the performers. The program changes each year, but you can expect around 40 different outdoor activities targeted at people of all ages, nationalities, and abilities.
From paragliding, kayaking, and SUP yoga to trail running races, cultural tours, and fun games for little ones, there’s absolutely loads going on. Throw into the mix interactive art exhibitions, street food stalls, an open-air cinema, dance classes, and local product fairs, and you’ll find plenty to see and do here.
8. Explore The Ancient City Of Berat
The ancient city of Berat is one of the most popular and charming Albania attractions. It’s believed to be one of the oldest cities in the country and has been given the nickname “City of a Thousand Windows” because of its mesmerizing architecture.
The fitting nickname was given because the buildings of the city are stacked on top of each other, making it look like countless windows are all piled up high. The result is gorgeous and looks like something you’d see in a painting, not in real life!
While you could have a wonderful time just wandering around the winding cobblestone alleyways, there are loads of landmarks to see in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here you can check out the 13th-century Kala Castle, the Iconography Museum set inside an 18th-century church, and the Bogove Waterfall, which is surrounded by untouched nature.
9. Spend The Day At Gjipe Beach
Gjipe Beach is the place to go when you need to relax and get away from it all. Hidden away in between Himara and Dhërmi, this bay is one of the most dazzling you’ll ever see in your life. Here you can relax surrounded by crystal-clear azure waters, white sand that’s as soft as flour, and a remarkable canyon backdrop.
Because it’s remote and tricky to reach, Gjipe Beach is rarely crowded. To get there, you can take a boat ride from Himara. Alternatively, you can drive to a rough car park close to the beach and follow the 30-minute trail to get to the shore. We prefer the driving option because it’s cheaper and you can arrive and leave whenever you like.
The final boats from Gjipe Beach to Himara leave in the afternoon, after which the beach becomes even more secluded and peaceful. This is a great time to visit if you want to avoid potential crowds.
10. Test Your Taste Buds With Tavë Kosi
If you’ve got an adventurous palate, one of the best things to do in Albania is to try tavë kosi. This classic local dish is made from lamb, which is smothered in a yogurt, egg, rice, garlic, and oregano sauce before being baked until golden brown.
In some areas, this dish is also known as Elbasani and is named after the place in which it was invented. It sounds like an unusual flavor combination, but it really works! The sauce becomes thick and almost cheese-like when baking. When it’s done just right, the top is crispy and crunchy, while everything underneath is rich and creamy.
The restaurant inside Hotel Mangalemi in Barat serves an amazing tavë kosi. Here you can choose from a wide range of traditional Albanian dishes made with fresh, organic products. If you order the tavë kosi, you’ll be treated to wonderfully tender lamb and a sauce that’s velvet-smooth.
11. Marvel At Tirana’s Unique Orthodox Autocephalous Church
There are many Orthodox Autocephalous Churches throughout Albania, but none of them can compete with the one in Tirana. Located in the heart of the city, this one-of-a-kind church is spellbinding from the inside out and looks nothing like you’d expect a typical church to look like.
Strikingly modern, despite its long history, the church boasts a Byzantine and Orthodox design with many curved arches, shining gold doors, and navy blue accents. It almost looks like a church from the future, even though it was built decades ago.
The church looks truly remarkable from the outside, but if you step through the entrance, you’ll be even more amazed. Full of bright light streaming in from the numerous windows, the inside features a dramatic dome ceiling, a traditional candle chandelier, and colorful murals on the walls.
It’s completely free to enter and guests are always welcome, even during services.
12. Lose Yourself In Mount Dajti National Park
For some of the best outdoor Albania activities, head to Mount Dajti National Park. Easily accessible by cable car, hiking, or driving, this wonderful park is the perfect place to go to escape the rush of nearby Tirana.
Here you can while away hours wandering throughout the mountain range. The trails aren’t clearly marked, so it’s worth planning a route on your phone or following a guided route from an app so you don’t get lost. Almost all the hiking trails will take you along rocky ridges, guaranteeing phenomenal views you’ll want to remember forever!
Whichever route you take, you’ll be surrounded by fragrant pine forests where you can take a rest when your legs get too weary. If you don’t feel like packing a picnic, you’ll be glad to know there’s a restaurant at the cable car station. Here you can dig into traditional Albanian dishes 3,280 feet above sea level!
13. Step Back In Time At Apollonia
In its heyday, Apollonia was one of the most important cities in the world, making it a fascinating place to visit. Established on the central coast by the Greeks in 588 BCE, the ancient town was originally named Gylakeia. Its name was later changed to Apollonia after the Greek god Apollo.
The city was once home to important temples, spectacular theaters, huge libraries, and even a philosophy school. Although you can’t see the buildings in all their glory today, you can see the ruins and imagine what they looked like when they were at their finest.
Some of the ruins, such as the theater and the spectacular columns of an important administration center, are still in great shape today. The area is surrounded by rolling green hills and olive groves – it’s easy to imagine why the Greeks wanted to settle here.
There are even more ruins hidden underground that have yet to be excavated. But until work begins, the ruins that are there today provide a great insight into Albania’s past.
14. Party At One Of The Best Beach Festivals In Europe
One of the coolest things to do in Albania is to check out one of the many beach festivals that take place all summer long. Out of all the lively festivals the country boasts, our favorite is the Kala Music Festival.
This incredible event takes place each June in Dhërmi and is often cited as the best in Europe. Even though the weeklong music festival only began in 2018, it’s already hugely popular and attracts thousands of people each year.
The stages are scattered across various beaches in the Albanian Riviera. During the daytime, you can dance to the latest techno in the sunshine. When the sun sets and you get your second wind, you can carry on partying well into the night under the stars.
In addition to the many DJ sets, the festival also features a wellness program with yoga, meditation, HIIT, and boxing. The participation fee for the wellness program is really affordable and all profits go to a local charity.
15. Gorge On Tave Mishi
When you’re really hungry, one of the best things to order in Albania is tave mishi. This decadent feast is a mixed meat platter that gives you the chance to try all sorts of different things in a single dish. It’s often served during special celebrations and family gatherings, but you’ll find it on some restaurant menus, too.
You’ll often find tave mishi served with lemon wedges for drizzling fresh juice over the meat. It makes it taste amazing and really cuts through any fattiness.
Different places take their own spin on tave mishi, but it normally includes lamb, beef, and pork. All the meats are grilled until they’re beautifully tender on the inside and slightly charred and crisp on the outside. They’re then mixed with leeks and served all together in a big dish. Half the fun is not knowing what you’re going to get in each forkful!
Tave mishi is a really popular dish throughout Albania. You’ll find it on the menu of almost every traditional restaurant you come across.
16. Visit A Gallery-Museum Hidden In An Abandoned Bunker
If the weather takes a turn for the worse, one of the best things to do in Albania is to spend a few hours inside BUNK’ART in Tirana. BUNK’ART is a quirky art gallery with two locations. Our favorite is BUNK’ART1 which is tucked away inside an old abandoned bunker that was originally built under dictator Hoxha’s rule.
This fascinating place is a combined museum and art gallery. Here you can check out exhibits that show what daily life was like for Albanians under the communist regime. There are also displays that tell the story of the country’s recent history, as well as loads of contemporary artwork.
Some parts of the museum are dedicated to the meeting rooms and living quarters of Hoxha and his cabinet. They’re staged exactly as they would have been at the time. You can even see the dictator’s very own office and hear his voice through a phone receiver.
17. Find Out About Albania’s Tumulus Past
Albania is well known for having a rough history. If you’d like to find out more about it, spend an afternoon at the National Historical Museum in Tirana. The most important museum in the country, this landmark takes you through centuries of Albania’s history.
The museum is divided into eight different sections: Mother Teresa, Communist Terror, National Liberation Anti-Fascism War, Iconography, Independence, Renaissance, Middle Ages, and Antiquity.
The Communist Terror section usually gets the most attention. Here you can see documents, images, and videos of the terrible persecution the Albanians suffered during the communist regime. It really opens your eyes.
Tickets are really affordable, but if you visit on 04/18, 05/15, 05/21, or 09/29, you can enter the museum for free. If you’re just interested in the communist pavilion, you can spend as little as 30 minutes here. But if you want to check everything out, you’ll need to set a full day aside.
18. Ride The Cable Car For The Best Views In Tirana
You’ll find one of the best Albania sightseeing opportunities from the cable car leading up to the top of Mount Dajti. Known as the Dajti Ekspres, the panoramic cable car follows a 0.6-mile route over the magnificent Albanian countryside.
The ride takes around 15 minutes, making it the longest cable car route in the Balkans. During the journey, you’ll rise 3,280 feet above sea level, taking in spectacular views along the way.
When you reach the top, you’ll be welcomed by a number of local restaurants and hotels. But the whole reason for coming here is the views. This part of the city is known as the Balcony of Tirana, and when you get there, you’ll certainly know why!
If you’re not a fan of heights and don’t want to ride the cable car, you can drive here instead. The road follows a much longer route, and it will take you around one hour to get to the top.
19. Visit Krujë’s National Ethnographic Museum
If you find yourself in Krujë, you’ve got to check out the city’s National Ethnographic Museum. Tucked away inside a traditional Ottoman house, the museum gives you a fascinating insight into typical Albanian life hundreds of years ago.
The museum was built in the 18th century and is filled with interesting displays that show you how families lived and worked in the 1700s. As well as homes, the museum also features a wine cellar, blacksmiths, and an old bakery. You can even see stone beehives, baking ovens, and dog houses that date back to the 18th century!
You can’t explore the museum yourself – you can only experience it as part of a guided tour. The guide is fantastic and really brings all the exhibits to life. They’ve got countless fascinating stories to tell you about the types of things local families used to get up to and their interesting traditions.
20. Get Tipsy On Raki
Trying raki is one of the must-do things in Albania if you want to embrace the local culture. Although the strong alcoholic drink was originally imported from Turkey, it’s hugely popular all across Albania and is often enjoyed alongside meat-based main courses.
On average, raki contains 40% alcohol (that makes it 80-proof), so it’s pretty strong stuff! But you never drink it neat. Raki is always combined in a tall shot glass with equal parts chilled water.
When you order raki, your server will usually bring it over in a tall shot glass. You’ll notice it’s transparent. They’ll place the glass on your table and then pour in the clear water, watching your face as the contents of the glass turn from clear to milky white.
Because raki is said to have health benefits, you’ll see some locals drinking it with their morning coffee. Whether or not it’s good for you is up for debate. But if you start your day with a shot of it, you’re sure to spend the rest of your morning smiling!
21. Focus On Your Wellbeing At Anjunadeep Explorations
Albania is known for its high-octane music festivals that take place throughout summer. If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, plan to be in Dhërmi in the middle of June. At this time every year, the incredible Anjunadeep Explorations festival takes place.
In addition to an amazing lineup of bands, artists, and DJs from all over the world, the festival also places great importance on fitness and wellbeing. There are morning yoga classes to take part in, relaxing massages to enjoy, SUP classes to be a part of, and sea kayaking to have a go at!
All the events take place across a number of golden sandy beaches between 10 am and 6 am the next day. The festival lasts a whopping six days, and the final day is dedicated to chilling out with yoga classes, meditation, and a relaxing beach walk.
22. Go Wild Camping On Rugged Natural Beaches
Camping on untamed, pristine beaches is one of the most unique things to do in Albania. Wild camping (camping wherever you like – as long as it’s not on anyone’s property) is legal in Albania, and the country’s beaches are some of the most spectacular places to camp.
The end of spring, the whole of summer, and the beginning of fall are the best times for camping in Albania. Don’t worry about bringing your own gear. There are plenty of places where you can rent all the camping equipment you need.
Rrjolli Beach is one of our favorite places for wild camping. This beach is in the north of the country and is ideally located if you’re planning on hiking from Theth to Valbona. It’s a very quiet beach, even in the middle of the peak summer season. Although there are no facilities, there are several bars nearby where you can buy drinks and use the restroom.
23. Visit An Ancient Ottoman Town At Gjirokastra
While you’re in the south of Albania, you’ve got to spend some time in Gjirokastra. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gjirokastra is one of the few examples of a well-preserved Ottoman town.
It dates back to the 4th century and is known for its charming architecture. Many of the houses are built entirely out of stone. Even the roofs were expertly crafted from stone! It’s a great place to discover what life was like in Albania centuries ago.
One of the many highlights of Gjirokastra is the castle. This fortress is the second-largest castle complex in the Balkans and boasts remarkable views of the town and countryside. There are plenty of other interesting historical sites to explore, too, including tunnels from the Cold War, the Zekate House, and the Skenduli House.
If you’ve got a little extra time, Gjirokastra Old Town is definitely worth checking out, too. This quaint part of the city is teeming with cute cafes, traditional restaurants, and rustic boutiques.
24. Soak In Benja’s Hot Springs
When you need a break from all the usual things to do in Albania, travel to Benja and relax in the hot springs. The pools here are always warm and provide you with the ideal place to unwind and re-energize until you’re ready for more sightseeing.
The magical hot springs have been here since the days of the Ottoman Empire. Warmed by geothermal activity deep underground, the pools are filled with healing sulfur water that’s the most stunning shade of aquamarine. The sulfur does smell very strong, but it’s worth it for the chance to relax in such a gorgeous place.
The easiest way to get to the hot springs is to travel up a short winding road from the small town of Përmet. After three or four miles, you’ll see an ancient stone bridge crossing over a river. You’ll find a small car park here where you can park and head down to the pools.
25. Take It Easy At Parki I Madh
Offering a little piece of paradise in the middle of a bustling city, Parki I Madh (also known as the Grand Park) is the most peaceful part of Tirana. This sprawling park covers 714 acres and provides you with everything you need for a wonderful afternoon of relaxing.
There’s a huge shimmering lake, various picnic tables dotted under towering trees, and a number of cafes, where you can relax with a cool drink. You’ll come across a lot of dog walkers and joggers in the early morning, but by late morning the place has a much more laid-back atmosphere.
Parki I Madh is home to a number of important landmarks, including the St. Procopius Church and the Presential Palace. It’s also where you’ll find the city’s botanical garden and zoo, which are two other great places to visit when you want to escape city life.
There you have it! The 25 best things to do in Albania. What’s your favorite thing to do in Albania?
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