The Story of Krujë
Krujë is more than just a small mountain village in Albania – it holds historical importance for various reasons. Back in the day, around the Roman era, the area was home to the so-called Albani. This ancient Balkan tribe turned the area into one of the more important cities of that time. Later, during the Middle Ages, it became the first capital of the Albanian state.
However, the village is best known as the hometown of national hero Skanderbeg, a military commander who fought off Ottoman forces for 25 whole years before his death in 1468. Albania has a long history of being ruled by other countries and empires. Skanderbeg changed that fate temporarily by uniting multiple Albanian troops and fighting off the Ottoman Turks.
Though this happened a long time ago, it’s obvious that the friendly, welcoming people of the village are still exceptionally proud of their history and heritage. Skanderbeg stands at the center of all there is to do in Krujë, making this an interesting destination on your trip to Albania.
Located at the base of Mount Krujë, the village lies tucked between a rugged green landscape and a little river. Once you get there, it almost feels like a completely different world. There’s a stunning old center where you’ll find the top sights that are worth visiting for an hour or two. The authentic Balkan feel, the historical stories, and the friendly local people make Krujë a real joy to explore.
1. Old Bazaar
Once you set foot in Krujë, the first interesting place you come across in the old center is the bazaar. Tucked between cobblestone streets and beautiful wooden houses, the old bazaar in typical Ottoman style is one of the best things to do in the village.
Known as one of the oldest bazaars in Albania, it was built over 400 years ago! While you roam through the small pedestrian streets lined with charming shops, it’s as if you’ve stepped into a storybook.
On both sides of the road, friendly vendors beckon you to look at their traditional local crafts and products. From beautiful handwoven fabrics and carpets to iron supplies, wooden items, or paintings—this is the perfect place to pick up a souvenir. You can peacefully wander around, looking at all the different items and taking some beautiful photos of the bazaar.
The bazaar lies on the slope of a hill, from where you can also admire the beautiful panoramic views of Krujë Castle and the surrounding mountains. When you arrive in Krujë by car, you’ll have to park at the foot of the hill and walk the rest of the way.
2. Krujë Castle
Once you reach the end of the bazaar, you can continue walking upwards to the top of the hill. Here, perched high above the village, stands a stout elliptical-shaped castle, one that contributes to Kruje’s significant history. It was once used as an operational base back in the 15th century by Skanderbeg and his army of 3000 men, which makes Krujë Castle an interesting place to visit on your trip through Albania.
While you walk along the ruins of the stronghold, you can only imagine how this was once the site of Albanian resistance. It was here where Skanderbeg first flew the Albanian flag and from which, together with his army, he fought off the Ottoman forces for many years. Nowadays, you’ll find several worthy sights, such as two museums, a Turkish bath, and several great restaurants.
Though the castle offers an impressive insight into the region’s history, it’s worth visiting for the views alone. At 608 meters above sea level, you can see for miles, looking out over the village, river, and surrounding mountains. If you watch carefully, you can even spot Tirana and the Adriatic Sea in the distance!
3. Museums in Kruje
On the lower castle grounds, there are two museums that give a unique insight into Albania’s history and culture. Once you set foot inside the premises, you’ll find the impressive building of the National Skanderbeg Museum on your left and, a bit closer, the Ethnographic Museum of Krujë.
The first is one of Albania’s most famous museums, illustrating what the castle used to look like and honoring the stories of Skanderbeg with beautiful murals and historical findings. The second museum lies within a traditional Ottoman home and dives into the Albanian lifestyle under Ottoman rule.
Did you know? Though the building of the National Skanderbeg Museum looks like it’s centuries-old, it actually only dates back to 1982. It was designed by the daughter of the infamous communist leader of the country, Enver Hoxha.
Entrance Fee & Opening Times
You can visit the National Skanderbeg Museum every day from 9 AM – 1 PM, and it reopens from 3 – 6 PM. The entrance costs 500 LEK (4.20 USD). The Ethnographic Museum is open daily from 9 AM – 4 PM, and entry costs 400 LEK (3.40 USD).
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Kruje
From lovely little cafes perfect for a morning coffee to restaurants with incredible views over the stunning landscape – there are a few good food options to choose from in Kruje. Many serve traditional Albanian cuisine for reasonable prices, and most are highly rated. Enjoy freshly baked bread and a delicious salad at Garden Restaurant. Alternatively, relax at one of the beautiful terraces up on the hill near Krujë Castle.
Where to Stay in Kruje
Though you can easily visit Krujë on a day trip from Tirana, you can also stay the night. The best area is within the old part of town, right next to the bazaar and close to the castle. Here, you’ll have fantastic views of the surrounding landscape. In case you would like to stay, we recommend just one night. Find your hotel in Kruje.
How to Visit Kruje
Kruje makes for a great visit, both as a day trip destination or as a stop on your journey to other locations in the country, such as Theth. Most people start their trip in the capital city Tirana, from where you can drive or take the bus to Krujë.
Traveling by Car
The easiest way to get to Krujë is by car. Renting and driving a car in Albania is an incredible experience, as you can explore the country on your own schedule. From the capital, it’s about an hour’s drive north through beautiful landscape to get to Krujë.
If you’d rather have private transport to Krujë but don’t want to drive yourself, you can also hop in a taxi. The journey to the village takes the same time, depending on traffic, and costs between 3000 – 3500 LEK (25 – 30 USD).
Traveling to Krujë by Bus
Alternatively, you can travel to Kruje by bus. There are minibusses that drive between Tirana and Kruje every hour, starting at 7 AM till 6 PM. These buses leave from the Regional Bus Terminal and take about an hour to get to Kruje. Note that this bus station in Tirana lies about 15-20 minutes outside of the city center, which you’ll have to get to first. Once there, you’ll find the minibus to Krujë. A one-way ticket costs 100 LEK (0,85 USD).
Tip: Be sure to take the bus headed to Krujë, not Fushë-Krujë, as that’s a different town. Both should have the destination noted on the front, but you can always double-check with the driver. If you don’t want to travel by public transport, you can also hop on a Kruje tour from Tirana.
Once you get to the village, you can easily walk to the different sights in Kruje. You can park your car at the foot of the hill and walk the winding alleys up towards the bazaar and castle. The bus stop is also less than 1 kilometer away from the Krujë Castle.
How much does it cost?
Food, accommodation, and activities are all quite affordable in Albania. Note, though, that the country is primarily cash-only. It’s best to always have enough cash money with you. There are plenty of ATMs in Albania that accept foreign cards for a fee. The best one to withdraw money from is Credins Bank. Make sure to get enough cash out in Tirana before heading to the mountain village of Krujë.
Best Time to Visit Krujë
Krujë is a popular tourist destination for visitors staying in Tirana, as it’s only a short drive away from the city. The best time to visit Kruje is in early/late summer, particularly in June or September, when it’s still warm but hasn’t reached the 40-degree temperatures of August. This way, you can enjoy walking through the steep alleys of the old town and visit when fewer people are on tour.