Albania Travel Guide

Albania Adventure Travel Guide: Ideas and Inspiration

PureTravel Says: “Albania is one of the most versatile and interesting travel destinations to see. The country is filled with mountainous scenery that is both beautiful and functional. In fact, this traditional Ottoman City is filled with cultural sites, traditions and inviting locals that entice many visitors and keep bringing them back year after year. The large collection of castles and medieval churches make it an ideal spot to learn more about ancient culture. In addition, the country is the perfect place for adventure seekers who love trekking and water sports. In fact, Albania is an outdoor lover's dream, with endless wildlife and nature there to explore. Albania also has many of the modern conveniences desired in a travel destination, with a wonderful offering of restaurants and other entertainment areas that are sure to keep even the wildest travelers amused.”
Holiday Highlights

Culture & History - The culture of Albania is one of the best reasons to visit. The country is filled with numerous ancient churches and other buildings that are amazing sights to see. There are numerous museums throughout the country that also offer a great insight into the culture of the Albanian people. In fact, many of the country’s cities have wonderful murals and statues that showcase the talent and history of the natives. There are also many archaeological sites all over Albania that shows the ancient history in a very interesting way.

Walking & Trekking - Albania has many great areas for walking and trekking. The mountains are the best areas, which offer adventure seekers a great opportunity to explore the beautiful surroundings at their own pace. In addition, the mountains in Albania offer great versatility, making it easy for beginners and experts to trek along the same areas, due to the many paths and slopes for walking and climbing.

Nature & Birdwatching - Albania is a bird watchers dream destination. Thanks to the well-preserved national parks of the country, there are numerous ways to watch the birds of Albania. In fact, many rare bird species can be found here, making it a worthwhile activity.

Water Adventures & Activities - There are many amazing water features in Albania that offer great adventures to travelers. Many of the mountains and canyons in the country have rivers or other bodies of water running through it, making it perfect for sightseeing and white water rafting. There are also many interesting caves and other areas that have great history and intrigue, such as the cave once occupied by pirates.
When To Go

Albania’s climate makes traveling to the country very versatile. Both the spring and autumn months are good, due to the weather and natural scenery. For nature lovers, the best time to visit would be during these times when the countryside is either filled with colorful trees or beautiful blooming flowers. The waters of Albania are warmest during September and October, so these months are ideal when traveling to the southern region of the country. The winter months can be cold in Albania and the electricity can be lost due to freezing. The icy roads can also be difficult to travel on during these months, making it even more difficult to visit the area during the winter. However, there are some great skiing opportunities during the colder months.
Top Tips

- It is customary to remove your shoes when entering Albanian homes.
- Use a specialist tour operator who will have local knowledge.
- Check the latest travel advice as some areas in the northeastern part of Albania have been known to be dangerous, so it is advisable to exercise caution when going through this region.
- Be aware that Albania does not have an embassy or consulate.
- Remember, gestures in Albania differ from other countries. For example, yes is usually signalled by moving the head from side to side horizontally, while no is signalled by raising the eyebrows or a click of the tongue.
Holidays In Focus

Culture and History
Albania’s culture is possibly the best reason to visit the country because it truly has everything to offer to visitors. Not only are there wonderful castles, churches and other buildings that showcase the architecture and history of the area, there are also amazing archaeological sites that cannot be overlooked. The country also boasts many wonderful museums and art collections that will satisfy even the biggest history buff.

A good place to start exploring the culture of Albania is to tour the many castles in the country. The Drisht Castle is a great place to start because it has a lot of different things to offer. Not only does the castle showcase wonderful architectural details, it also shows a wonderful example of the country’s history. The castle sits high above sea level, which offers breathtaking views of the scenery surrounding the castle. There is also a fortress and many homes within the castle walls that offer even more exploring possibilities. This village dates back to Roman times. The Rozafa Castle, located in Shkodra, is another interesting site. This castle was the last fortress to fall to the Ottomans in Albania. In addition, this castle is the one that has been used most recently so it is in very good condition.

The archaeological sites are equally intriguing with the city of Butrint the most common area to find these explorations. The city of Apollonia, which is now abandoned, is another great place to explore the rich archaeological remains. Another good city to see is Kruja, where much of Albania’s 15th century history can be seen at the local castle and in museums. In addition, there is a wonderful village called Drivatium, which is filled with archaeological excavations of ancient Albania. Byllis is also known for its archaeological relics.

Travelers should make a point to visit Tirana while exploring Albanian culture. This city boasts a distinctly communist background, which offers an interesting view of the country. There are many different murals and statues here as well, including a pyramid that was meant as a mausoleum. The statue of Mother Albania can also be found here in the Martyr’s Cemetery.

In addition to castles and archeological artifacts, Albania is home to some great museums. The National Ethnographic Museum Krujė is a great place to start. This museum is home to many Albanian artifacts, and offer a great portrayal of how natives lived during ancient times. There are also amazing displays of ancient pottery, metal art and embroidery that can be seen. The National Museum of Medieval Art, which is located in Korca, is another great museum in Albania. Here, one can find ancient art made of natural materials like stone, wood and metal. This museum offers a wonderful view of the craftsmanship of the people of Albania. Other great places to see ancient Albanian art, namely religious art, is to visit Tirana, Berati or Korēa, all of which offer wonderful collections of ancient art.

Walking and Trekking
Trekking in Albania is a great adventure experience with impressive mountains found throughout the country. The Albanian Alps are the most popular area for trekking, where mountain climbing and skiing is also popular. The Tomorri massif is also popular, and offers a smaller scale trek for visitors to try out. Both of these areas are filled with tours and resorts that easily accommodate visitors and make them feel right at home.

Nature and Bird Watching
Bird watching is another activity in Albania that should not be missed. There are numerous areas in which bird watching can be done, including the national parks found throughout the country. One great park to try is the Llogara National Park, which is in the beautiful coastal town of Viora. This park is special due to its location between the Adriatic and Ionian seas, which adds an extra natural element that visitors will adore. Here, some of the most interesting species of bird, many of which are found in the mountains and around the water, can be found in this one place. In addition, the park’s location high above sea level offers incredible views of the countryside.

Karavastaia is a wonderful place to birdwatch thanks to its natural accumulation of wetlands on the coast. This is an ideal area to search for eagles and herons, as well as the rare Kune-Vaini, also known as the Dalmatian pelican. Another great place for bird watching is in the city of Butrint. This city is filled with marshes and waters that naturally draw in the birds of Albania. Lake Butrint, in particular, is a good place to search for birds, whose location also makes a great opportunity to discover the cultural city surrounding it.

Water Adventures and Activities
Although possibly the least known activity in Albania, water sports and other adventures are one of the most rewarding things to do in the country. There are numerous water features found all over Albania, including beaches and lakes, which offer diversity and versatility when taking part in water activities.

White water rafting is one of the most popular water adventures in Albania, which is due to the number of mountain and canyon rivers that run freely throughout the country. The Osumi River, in particular, is a great place for white water rafting. In addition many local tour operators offer great rafting tours that are perfect for beginners.

Although water sports are a main draw, just exploring some of the water features in Albania is rewarding. One place to do this is in the Palasė Village, where the Palasė beach is found, which is often used as a landing strip. Another interesting water feature is the body of water known as “Blue Eye”. These clear waters are an incredible shade of blue and the natural wonder is well worth getting to see.

Finally, the Caves of the Pirates in Dhėrmi should not be missed. This small coastal village’s biggest attraction is the large cave that was once used by pirates. Although the history of the cave is what draws people in, it is the amazing views from it that keeps bringing them back.
Classic Itineraries

- Visit Voskopja to see vibrant frescoes in many local churches.
- Visit Pojan Monastery, Muradie Mosque, Kuzum Baba terrace, Lead Mosque and Hamam of XVI Century, Elbasan.
- Churches include Ceta Church and Rubiku Church.
- Check out Pisha Flamur in Llogara Pass, a natural phenomenon made of trees.
- Explore Saranda (Sarande) waterfront town.
- Visit the Roman amphitheater in Durrėsi.
- Swim in the crystal clear sea of the Adriatic and Ionian Coast.
- Hike at Mount Dajti National Park.
- Explore Shkodra with its mountains and set on the Balkan’s largest lake.
- Visit Berat town with museums, ottoman houses, citadel and mosques.
- Museums include National Historic Museum, George Kastriot Skenderbeu at Kruja and National Ethnographic Museum at Kruje.
- Other museums include National Museum OF Medieval Art, National Education Museum, National Museum Onufri, Independence Museum, National Museum of Scanderbeg's Grave, National Arts Gallery and National Photo Gallery Marubi.
- Swim at Vlora and visit the lovely bay.
- Explore Rozafa Fortress at Shkodra’s.
- Visit Durres for its history and museums.
- Capital city Tirana has plenty of communist history and sights.
- Visit the ruins at Butrint.
- See snow-capped mountains in Southern Albania.
- Northern Albania has mountains and villages.
- Arts and crafts of carpet weaving, pottery, hand weaving and silver.
- Castles include Drisht Castle, Rozafa Castle, Petrela Castle, Preza Castle, Lezha Castle, Rodoni Castle, Bashtova Castle, Elbasan Castle, Kanina Castle, Borsh Castle and Lėkurs Castle.
- Festivals include National Festival of Folklore at Gjirokastra Castle and National Typology Festival of Saze and Folk Orchestras at Korca.
- Visit historical sites of Kavaja Rock, Shėn Gjini, Lezha Island, Savra Field, Milot Field and Borova village, all which had famous battles fought at these sites.
- See the monuments of Skanderbeg, "Mother of Albania" and Monument of Independence, Vlora.
Archaeological Itineraries

- Archaeological Parks include Finiq (Phoinike), Lezha (Lissus), Oricum (Orikos), Shkodra (Scodra) and Butrint (Bouthrotos). Visit also Byllis, Antigonea, Apollonia and Amantia.
- See the Archaeological sites of Ancient Durres, Fortification of Gorica, Peshtan, Mbjeshovė, The fortress of Vokopola and The Monumental Tombs of Selca e Poshtėme. There is also Albanopolis (Zgėrdhesh), Nikaia (Klos), Sofratika Theatre, Dimal, Gurėzeza, Aulon (Vlora), Treport, Onchesmos (Saranda), Fortified settlement of Gradishta e Belshit, Ad Quintium, The Persqop fortress, The fortification of Rosuja, The cave settlement of Rrėza e Kanalit, The tumuli burials of Shtoj, The cave settlements of Himara, The fortified settlement of Karos near Qeparo and The Kratul fortification.
National Holidays

January 1-January 2 - New Year's Day / Viti i Ri
March 7 - Teacher's Day
March 14 - Summer Day
March 22 - Nevruz Day
April 1 - April Fool's Day
April - Easter
May 1 - May Day
June 1 - Children's Day
October 19 - Mother Teresa Day
November 28 - Independence Day
November 29 - Liberation Day
December 8 - National Youth Day
December 25 - Midwinter / Christmas
Travel Resources

By Julie Bowman


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