20 Awesome Things You Need To Do In Albania


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The thing about Albania is that it has an adventure for every type of traveler. Be it really high mountains or pretty beaches or old castles, everyone can find things to do in Albania. This gem of a place in the Balkans was underrated for so long and now is stepping into the limelight. 

Albania was once one of the most isolated countries in Europe under a harsh communist regime. Now, Albania is fully open and ready to welcome visitors. Head over there right now and explore the best of what Albania has to offer. Because there is something for everybody there!

This article dives into 20 awesome things you need to do in Albania!!

Hike From Theth to Valbona in the Albanian Alps

National Park of Thethi, Albania.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

One of the top experiences in Albania for outdoor lovers is the epic full-day hike from the village of Theth to Valbona through the “Accursed Mountains” (Albanian Alps). This challenging 10-mile trek with 3000 feet of elevation gain takes you over mountain passes and along steep valley walls, rewarding your efforts with breathtaking views the entire way.

The scenery is absolutely spectacular, with snowy peaks, vast alpine meadows, waterfalls, and pine forests. The best time to hike is during the summer months when the snow has melted. Come prepared with proper hiking boots, trekking poles, layers, and plenty of water and snacks. You’ll want to take your time and soak in the majesty of the surroundings!

Keep in mind: 

  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3000 feet
  • Duration: 6-8 hours
  • Best Time: June to September
  • Difficulty: Moderate to Challenging

The Mystical Blue Eye Natural Spring

Blue eye spring near Sarande, Albania
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

You’ve likely never seen water as blue as what fills the Blue Eye (Syri i Kaltër), a natural karst spring in southern Albania. Fed by an underground river, the almost perfectly circular pool has shockingly clear waters in azure hues. The spring is quite deep – no one knows just how far down it goes, as the deepest measured point was over 50m!

Swimming is prohibited in the really cold waters, but you can walk out onto platforms to look down into the blue depths. Mystery surrounds the Blue Eye, with legends that it has no bottom. While you may not be able to take a dip, trust me – you’ll be mesmerized by the exquisite color of the spring and the beauty of its park-like surroundings.

Wild Camp on Remote Albanian Beaches

Gjipe beach with rocks and river in Albania
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Did you know that wild camping is completely legal in Albania? With mile after mile of perfect coastline and very few crowds, the beaches here are a camper’s paradise. 

Some of the best spots for pitching a tent are as follows:

  • Gjipe Beach: A gorgeous remote bay framed by sheer canyon walls. Getting here requires a boat from Himarë or a 30-minute hike.
  • Rrjolli Beach: Up in northern Albania, this is a long, wild stretch of coast near the village of Rrjolli. Very quiet with beautiful mountain views.
  • Livadhi Beach: Just north of Himarë, camp right on the soft sand of this picturesque beach.

You can rent all the camping gear you need in many Albanian cities for very reasonable prices. Just be sure to camp only on public lands and always pack out your trash. With warm weather from May through October, the camping season is long and sunny in Albania!

The Majestic Ruins of Butrint

Butrint Albania
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

One of the most impressive archaeological sites in the Balkans. The ruins of Butrint have a vast area along the coast of southern Albania. Settled since prehistoric times, Butrint reached its height under Greek and then Roman rule, serving as a major Mediterranean trading port.

Today, you can walk amongst crumbling city walls, a huge amphitheater, the ancient agora (marketplace), a gymnasium, a baptistery, and other structures in the middle of gorgeous natural surroundings. 

Butrint is situated in a prime location surrounded by a lake, wetlands, and the Vivari Channel, which made it a strategic port for millennia. 

As a protected UNESCO World Heritage site, Butrint is extremely well-preserved. The archaeological museum on-site houses many artifacts found during excavations.

Butrint makes an excellent day trip from nearby Sarandë or Ksamil towns. The best way to experience it is to take your time wandering the site, then relax at the beach in Ksamil’s islands afterward for the ultimate history-meets-beach-bliss combo!

Journey the Length of Lake Koman by Ferry

Ferry cruising lake Koman in Albania
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

For one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world, don’t miss the epic Lake Koman experience in northern Albania. This man-made lake was created in the 1970s when the Koman hydroelectric power station dammed the winding Drin River. The result is a long, narrow waterway surrounded by mountains, forests, and vines.

The 2.5-hour ferry voyage takes you through mountains and alongside ancient villages, only accessible by boat. At times, the ferry goes into narrow gorges with just cliffs hugging the boat so narrowly you feel you could reach out and touch the rocks. In the riparian tunnels, it’s so dark you’d never know it was the middle of the day.

You can take the ferry one way and arrange a private transfer to pick you up on the other side near Valbona. However you approach Lake Koman, it’s sure to be a highlight of your time in Albania.

Ancient Bylis

One of the five (I think) well preserved church ruins in Byllis.
Photo Credit: Flickr.

Bylis is an ancient city where the Illyrian tribe of the Bylliones was the main settlement. The atmospheric ruins of Bylis are located on Albania’s central coast between the city of Vlore and the town of Ballsh. 

Founded in the 4th century BC, this UNESCO-protected site lets you roam through excavated temples and fortifications. This place gives us a peek into the architecture of the time  including floor mosaics, amphitheater, public baths, gymnasium and Doric temples. 

A museum onsite houses many artifacts and provides overviews of the complex’s fascinating history. Bylis makes an easy stop on coastal road trips between Fier and Saranda or day trips from Gjirokastër. 

Quaint Town of Pogradec on Lake Ohrid 

Beautiful lakeshore landscape at lake ohrid (near Lin village) in Albania
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Pogradec is a little town situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid. There are a lot of things to do in Pogradec, regardless of being a small town. Start with walking the narrow cobblestone streets lined with 19th-century Ottoman houses. Visit Drilon Park to see excavated Roman and Byzantine ruins and artifacts. 

Love nature? Take a leisurely boat ride out on the glassy lake, appreciating the mountain views. Take a hike in the nearby trails through the bucolic countryside and traditional villages. Make sure you experience the small-town Albanian hospitality by staying at a local guesthouse.

Albania’s Historic National Theatre 

Tirana_National_Theater Albania
Photo Credit: WikiMedia-Commons.

See a Performance at Korçe’s elegant theatre, which opened in 1940. They host regular opera, drama, music, and folk dance performances year-round. Hate huge crowds? This theatre is basically an intimate 300-seat auditorium with ornate details and superb acoustics. It makes you feel like you are posh and in another time!

Even if you don’t understand Albanian, make sure to experience the passion and artistry. Before you go, check the calendar to make sure and reserve tickets early for the best seat availability. The historic national theater is one of the top cultural attractions in Korçe, a must-not-miss!

Sample Albanian Wine on a Tasting Tour 

Green vineyard at the south valley with mountains, agricultural background
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

It is no secret that Albania has over 3000 years of winemaking tradition. So, one of the best activities you can do here is take a wine-tasting tour! Visit some family-run vineyards around Berat and Korçe for tastings and tours. 

Make sure you try varieties like Shesh i Zi, Vlosh, Kallmet with fruity, earthy flavors etc. Albania has no shortage of varieties of wine available. You can also learn the history and stories from knowledgeable vintners. Some of the top vineyards include scenic Cobo Winery and eco-friendly Nurellari Winery. 

Pro-tip: Pair sips with local cheeses, olives, and more for a gourmet experience. 

Go Whitewater Rafting on the Osumi Canyon 

Osumi Canyon Albania
Photo Credit: Flickr.

The emerald-green Osumi River gives a dramatic canyon experience with fun Class III-IV rapids. Join a guided full-day or multi-day rafting excursion through the 8-mile twisting canyon. Haven’t done it before? No experience is required as you paddle through roiling whitewater complete with splashes, swirls and spins.

Stop along the way to see the towering canyon walls, calming waterfalls and sculpted rock gardens. Many outfitters provide all rafting gear, riverside picnic lunches, and offer hotel transfers from nearby towns. This thrilling but safe rafting trip is perfect for adventurous adults and teens looking for an adrenaline rush. 

Relax at Benja’s Ancient Thermal Pools

Benja Thermal Pools Albania
Photo Credit: Flickr.

Just outside the town of Përmet, the Bneji’s ancient thermal pools are fed by underground hot springs. In this ancient stone bath, a series of small pools are filled with 40°C waters rich in beneficial minerals such as sulfur. 

Although the rotten egg smell takes some getting used to, the blissfully warm waters are so relaxing. Sitting in these natural thermal pools surrounded by nature provides an incredibly serene experience. A visit to Benja makes for a unique wellness experience away from crowds in southern Albania.

Attend an Outdoor Albanian Folk Festival

LEPUSHE, ALBANIA - AUGUST 11: a young couple in albanian costume performs a courtship dance. The beautiful girl is the winner of "Miss Mountain 2012" in Lepushe, commune of Kelmend. Shot in 2012
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The outdoor Albanian Folk Festival is an experience not to be missed in Albania. To fully immerse yourself in traditional Albanian culture, time your visit for a folk festival. Major events include the Gjirokastër National Folklore Festival happening each June showcasing music and dance.  Or the South Outdoor Festival happening around the springtime mixing folk performances with crafts, cuisine and much more. 

Both festivals are attended for the lively atmosphere with parades, concerts, workshops and activities for all ages. It’s a way for tourists and natives to appreciate Albania’s cultural heritage through colorful costumes, songs and dances. 

You’ll leave with a deeper understanding of local traditions and having made amazing memories too!!

Visit Apollonia for Some History

Apollonia Albania
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

These exceptionally well-preserved ancient Greek ruins date back to 2nd century BC when the coastal town was founded. Today you can walk through the ancient crumbling temples, a theater, houses and fortifications in a gorgeous seaside setting. 

Apollonia flourished as an important port and center of philosophy and culture for many centuries. Here, you’ll find the bouleuterion, odeon, monastery and museum housing many excavated artifacts. Set aside a half day to visit and step back over 2500 years into surprisingly intact history. 

Enjoy Nature In Qafë Shtamë National Park

National Park of Qafshtama
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Located just north of Tirana, this national park is named after the Qafë-Shtamë mountain pass. This is one of your best options to explore a landscape full of green peaks, deep valleys, rivers and traditional stone villages. 

Hiking trails go through beautiful beech forests with plenty of photo-worthy views for you to shine on social media. The highest points in the park are Maja e Liqenit (1724 meters) and Maja i Rjepat e Qetkolës (1686 meters). Qafë-Shtamë  is also home to a significant water source, Kroi i Nenës Mbretëreshë, known for clean and clear water. 

Keep your eyes open for native wildlife like roe deer, foxes, eagles and the park’s rare Ghegar horses. So, go ahead, walk around, calm down and watch some rare animals walk by!

See The Tomb of Sari Saltik

Panorama of Skanderbeg square and Skanderbeg monument in Tirana in a beautiful summer day, Albania
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

If you travel just outside Tirana, you can visit the ancient tomb of Sari Saltik, a revered 13th century Bektashi dervish monk. This highly decorated tomb (mausoleum) is considered a holy pilgrimage site by the natives. 

In many local  and Orthodox Christian legends, Sari Saltik is linked to saints like Saint George, Elijah, Saint Nicholas, and others. Legend says his body was buried in seven coffins in distant towns among non-believers. Today, his alleged tombs are scattered across the Balkans and western Anatolia.

You can explore the inner chamber with stone walls which are carved with symbolic markings. While the peaceful gardens outside contain healing springs used by visitors over the centuries. 

Krujë’s National Ethnographic Museum

Krujë's National Ethnographic Museum Albania
Photo Credit: WikiMedia Commons.

Krujë’s National Ethnographic Museum is a great place to visit for history buffs. The museum is situated within the grounds of Castle of Kruja’s fortified courtyard. Take a guided tour around this well preserved traditional Ottoman house built in 1764 that’s constructed by Ismail Pashë Toptani as his family home. 

This museum is furnished room by room and it showcases daily life with traditional furniture, costumes and household objects. You’ll get to check out carpentry, textiles, winemaking tools and more details on the day to day life of Albanians throughout the centuries. In their guided tour, you get to see and learn about the customs and traditions of Albania. 

The shaded courtyard garden with wooden veranda provides a calm and warm welcome. It’s an incredible cultural learning experience of Albanian domestic traditions which is now disappearing. 

UNESCO-Listed Gjirokastër

Gjirokaster, Albania- 28 June 2014: View on the old Gjirokaster town, silver roof. World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Called the city of a thousand stairs.
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

This wonderfully-preserved Ottoman town is known as the “City of Stone” for its historic street layouts.Gjirokastër is also called Argirocastro or Argyrókastron and is located in southern Albania, southeast of Vlorë port. ​​If you wander the cobblestone lanes you’ll find centuries-old two-story stone houses with slate roofs. 

The town has a 13th-century citadel and tower houses called kule built in the style of 17th-century architecture. The town’s center was crafted during the Ottoman Empire by farmers, which remains remarkably intact. 

Some of the must see landmarks include mosques, churches, and the fortress built by Ali Paşa in 1811. Traditionally, Gjirokastër was a center of the Bektashi order of Muslims.

If you want to feel like you time travelled back to another time, this is your place. Gjirokastër was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005.

Horseback Ride Galičica National Park

Galičica National Park by Ava Babili
Photo Credit: Flickr.

For a unique way to connect with nature, saddling up on a ride through Galichica is unforgettable. Follow your professional guide through wildflower meadows, forests and by glacial lakes on calm and well-trained horses. 

Enjoy incredible views across Lake Prespa, one of Europe’s largest and least disturbed natural lakes. Look for mountain goats, rare birds and the tiny pyramid orchids in bloom during the spring. Both short rides and multi-day expeditions are on offer to suit any experience level. 

Sea Kayaking at Saranda Bay

Ksamil - Butrint National Park, Sarande, Southern Albania, Europe
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

The Saranda coastline and Ksamili islands provide ideal paddling conditions across beautiful  blue waters over rocky reefs watching for dolphins and sea turtles.  Sea kayaking lets you access gorgeous pebble beaches inside hidden sea caves which cannot be accessed by foot.

The coastline spread across from Karaburun Peninsula to Lake Butrint. Worried about safety? The Albania Adventure guides are trained and licensed for safe and enjoyable tours.

Make sure you stop to snorkel coral gardens and reefs teeming with fish, or simply enjoy a beach swim. Sunset paddles are especially magical during the warmer months when the water is warm and comfortable too. 

Cycle the Lake Shkodra Loop

Montenegro, Crnojevica river in national park
Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Lake Shkodra makes a great place for an incredible few days of cycling the lake loop. Pedal approximately 150km on mostly flat terrain past farmland, by beaches and cozy villages. 

Rent quality road or mountain bikes and all gear easily in Shkodra – no need to bring your own. 

This is a self guided cycling tour, so make sure you know the basic lay of the land before you head out. The route goes through coastal marshlands hosting migratory birds before climbing into olive groves.  Stay along the way in Shiroke and Shkrel experiencing Albanian hospitality at small inns and farms. 

This is a great way to dive into Montenegro’s history, culture, and the authentic flavors of Montenegrin cuisine.


Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Like I already said, here is the thing about Albania. Whether you’re a history buff, outdoor enthusiast, or simply looking for a unique and unforgettable travel experience, Albania has something to offer. With its rich cultural heritage, tons of pretty landscapes, and warm hospitality, Albania is a place worth exploring.

About the Author:

Meet David Hoffmann, an enterprising traveler from South Miami, Florida, who founded David’s Been Here in 2008. With over 2,000 travel episodes, he delves deep into the culture, history, and cuisine of destinations worldwide.



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