Home » 7 Days in Albania: Summer in North
You may think of Albania as a country with few places to visit due to its small territory and because it’s newly known in the industry of tourism. But, if you’re going to delve deeper, you’ll discover history, places, and experiences that you don’t expect for Albania.
A naturally formed country with a diverse beauty. On the one side, its coastline with sandy beaches and the popular Albanian Riviera. While, mountains and hills covered by a diverse vegetation and wildlife, sizing up the other side of Albania. Therefore, it offers a two-sided tourism experience for those who visit it.
Below are two itineraries that can be experienced within a week. If you want to see the entire country, then you better expand your visiting days in Albania.
Your trip will probably start at Tirana. If you’re going to visit the north side of the country, better start it from the capital. Tirana is full of restaurants and cafe-bars serving up coffee less than €1. The city has interesting open-air markets, vibrant street art, a National Museum, a National Opera and its castle in the Pedonale area. You can find these cultural attractions are nearby the centre of the capital at the Sheshi Skanderbeg. – Highlights of Tirana Skanderbeg Square (Sheshi Skënderbe)The area is around 40.000 sq, found in the centre and assembles the major sights of the city. The National Opera, the Palace of Culture, the National Historical Museum, the famous Clock Tower, and the City Hall are just to name a few. Walking around the streets of Tirana is a pleasant experience.
Et’hem Bey MosqueA stunning landmark of the city, the little Et’hem Bey Mosque, depicts waterfalls, trees, and other motifs not usually shown in Islamic art.
Mountain DajtiThe mountain is 15 minutes ride and offers the best view of the capital. Zou can do hiking and rest for a while in the beautiful green nature.
Grant Park’s Lake of TiranaThe Artificial Lake of Grant Park in Tirana is the most frequented lake due to its location. Activities you can do here are: boat riding, canoeing and kayaking. You can take your bike and cycle around the lake or enjoy a walking path around the lake.
Bunk’Art MuseumAlbania is full of surprises! In Tirana you can visit a real bunker – if you ever wanted had that desire. The Bunk’Art Museum is a highlight when visiting the city. It is a 3000 sq meters underground on the surface from a Cold War Concrete Bunker. The Museum hosts an exhibition of contemporary art, a dark tunnel and private chambers to discover.
At the end of your first day, you can go out to some of Tirana’s fantastic restaurants – there’s something for everyone!
Next days of your trip, should be Shkodra. The most convenient way to get to the city is by rental car. Start early in the morning if you want to avoid traffic and catch up a full day in the Albanian city of culture and poetry.
Shkodra is broadly the most known city of Albania. Also, it’s one of the oldest cities in Europe. Shkodra will quickly enchant you with its cultural heritage. Many poets, artists, musicians, and photographers were born there, and it serves as the gateway to the Albanian Alps.
What to visit on your first day in Shkodër?
– Go to Rozafa Castle
The Rozafa Castle is a special place and a must-see attraction in Shkodër. There is a legend it of a woman that had to be sacrificed in order to build it.There was an Illyrian stronghold here 2,500 years ago and elements of it were adapted for later fortresses. The Romans also left their mark, but most of the ruins are from Venetian times when the castle was sacked after a siege by the Ottomans in 1478. The castle saw action right up to 1912 when it was defended by the Ottomans against Montenegrin and Serbian forces.
– Visit the Historical MuseumThis astonishing museum is located on a steep hill overlooking the city. The building is a former Venetian merchant’s house, even including authentic stone fortifications. The exhibits of the museum are compact and provide detail about ancient activity in the region, the Byzantine era, and Ottoman times, right up to the oppressive regime under Enver Hoxha. In the garden, you will find an original Venetian stone-well and the remnants of a Roman tomb.
– Delight yourself in the open-nature of Shkodra LakeThis expansive lake, the largest in the Balkans, forms a natural boundary between Albania and Montenegro. You could rent a bike in Shkodar to get out there, or catch a bus to the western edge of the city and complete the remaining five kilometers on foot. Not far from the border with Montenegro is the Lake Shkodra Resort, which is a campsite with chalets and camping grounds offering tent rental right on the shore where the lake is set off by the Albanian Peaks in the distant background. You can hire kayaks here or set off on a hiking trip around the beautiful perimeter of the lake.
– Next day (3) start from visiting: Marubi National Museum of Photography
The National Museum of Photography ‘Marubi’ was established as an absolute need to identify and promote the photographic archive created by the Marubi Dynasty and other city of Shkodra photographers, a cultural heritage unique in its kind.
– Ride to Mes BridgeSpanning the Kiri River five kilometers northeast of Shkoder, is this magnificent Ottoman bridge. For starters, the environment is almost idyllic, framed by the hills of the Maranai Nature Park, and with evergreen vegetation on the banks of a shallow river that draws swimmers in summer. The river has been crossed at this spot for as long as humans have been here, and was on the trade route between Shkodra and Pristina in Kosovo.
– Visit the amazing nature of Shurdhah IslandIn the summer, you can catch a boat out to Shurdhah Island, almost 400 metres in length and covered with dense vegetation. Climb onto shore for a small adventure, discovering the last remaining fragments of Sarda, an ancient city. This was an Illyrian settlement, and later a Roman citadel. In medieval times, it was a city famous for its 365 altars and being the seat of Bishops of Sarda and Sapa.
From Shkoder, it is time to start the famous Valbona to Theth hike.The journey to the alps is a bit of a process but every step is worth it. The first of those steps is taking the most epic ferry ride you’ll ever have.Really, you cannot leave Albania without at least going on this ferry ride.
Picture towering Norwegian style fjords on all sides of you as you sail across a turquoise river. It’s something special and no picture can embrace it exactly!
The ferry ride is only two hours, but you’ll wish it lasts longer. After arriving at Fierze, it’s a simple drive to Valbona.
Theth to Valbona Theth and Valbona are two national parks located next to each other in Albania’s north. Theth to the west and Valbona to the East. They are only connected by foot, meaning there are no roads connecting these two national parks. Therefore, many travelers make the trek by foot and it’s one of the most epic hikes you can do.
However, this is only possible in the summer months, as snow often blocks the way. This 6–7-hour hike can only be done between the months of May-September.
– Explore Blue Eye of Theth – day 4Theth is the most known natural attraction in north Albania. The Blue Eye is the most frequented wild green spot. Approximately 8 km from Theth, you can find the Kaprre village. Here is where the amazing source of natural water springs continuously. The Blue eye is secluded with rocky and green slopes forming a fascinating landscape of natural scenery.
– Go for hiking in Valbona Valley Natural Park – day 5 to 6Located in the northern part of the country, amidst the Albanian Alps, is the Valbona Valley National Park. The park is around 80 km2 formed by the Valbona River, mountains, alpine landscape, glacial springs, rock formations, waterfalls, and the Valbona Valley. The valley is surrounde by coniferous trees within a dense forest. Valbona is characterized by very remote areas with a large untouched ecosystem and with pristine quality. This vast natural environment is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the Albanian Miracle of the Alps.
Drive backwards through Shkodër to arrive in Lezhe and settle here for one night. There are 34 natural monuments and 21 cult objects, museums, archeological and historical in the Lezha district. The tourism is the most promising branch for the economic development of this region. Ecological purity of the terrestrial, aquatic and air environment, floral presence with forests, meadows, diverse fauna, suitable climate and other factors, shows that there are all possibilities for the development of a modern and sustainable tourism of all kinds.
– Walk highly up to Lezha CastleThe castle is built on the foundation of the ancient Acropolis about 8th century. The castle has known many phases of construction, all the way to the last one of 1520, by Sultan Selimi I. In the historical and archeological literature, the castle of Lezha is known for a long time as the Castle of Elison. In 2002, after the restoration of the foundations of the Medieval Castle, it was noticed that the thickness of the walls reached up to 14 ft (4.30 m). Until today, 12 gates and 48 defensive towers have been discovered.
– Ancient City of Lissus (Illyrian StonesLissus includes the medieval castle, the tomb of the Hero “Gjergj Kastioti” Scanderbeg and some other objects of historical value. The fortification walls of Liss are stronger than those of Apollonia, making this ancient city one of the most prominent in the Illyrian times. The city had two sea ports, a sea man, that of “Nympheum”, today’s Shengjin and the River Port, near Oldrin (today’s Drini)
– The memorial of ScanderbegSkanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti), was an Albanian nobleman and military commander who led a rebellion and successfully resisted the Ottoman Empire for 24 years.When he died of malaria in 1468, he was buried in what was the Cathedral of Saint Nicolas in Lezhë. Unfortunately, soon after he dies the Ottomans occupied Lezhë and ransacked the tomb and the Cathedral was converted into a mosque. When the country became a communist state, the building was transformed into the memorial of Skanderbeg with its minaret removed.
– Bird watching in the lagoons of Kune-VainThese two lagoons lie between the city of Lezha and the Adriatic Sea, on both sides of the river Drini. Three watchtowers have been built for visitors, one in Kune and two in the Vain area. They serve to explore the area as well as to observe the numerous birds. If in Kuna you go for the wonderful beach, in Vain you go for the tranquility of the forest or for sport hunting. In both lagoons are located some of the best restaurants in the area. Explore the lagoons of Kune-Vain for their biodiversity, attractive and relaxing nature.
– Spent your last day in ‘Rana e Hedhun’ ShëngjinDrive to Shëngjin and rent a room where you desire. The beach there is sandy and forms a long wide coastline. About 3-4 kilometers away from Shengjin, you find a rare geo-monument called Rana e Hedhun. The place has taken its name from the sand that looks like has hit the mountain nearby. While its beach is majestic and surrounded by green hills. Go for a unique experience on one of the most beautiful Albanian beaches. You can travel by speedboat or by car to Rana e Hedhun.
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