Best Things to do in Albania
Traveling through Albania is incredible as you explore all the country has to offer – from stunning mountains to white sandy coastlines and quaint little villages in between.
Start your journey in the bustling capital Tirana, where you’ll dive deep into the country’s complicated history. From there, make your way over winding mountain roads to visit villages such as Theth and Krujë. Or, head to the Albanian Riviera, where blue waters and diverse beaches await. Enjoy all the best things to do in beautiful Albania!
Tip: Though possible to do with public transportation, the best way to experience Albania is by renting a car. The country has good roads perfect for completing an Albania itinerary with your own vehicle.
1. Visit the Beaches
Not dissimilar to the coastline in neighboring Croatia or Greece, Albania’s shores are dotted with many stunning beaches. Here, multi-colored sand lines with crystal-clear turquoise waters and impressive rocky coves.
The Albanian coastline stretches roughly 476 kilometers, from northern Vlorë all the way to local favorites Saranda and Ksamil in the south. Though there are differences between locations, you can’t go wrong with any beach on the Albanian Riviera.
The southern beach town of Ksamil is a real summertime treat. Surrounded by lush greenery and some of Albania’s best-preserved historical remains, it’s one of the most popular areas on the country’s coast. Here, you’ll find beautiful turquoise waters back onto soft yellow sand covered with colorful beach umbrellas.
From private or public beaches, long stretches of soft sand, or quiet pebbled coast – there are plenty of beaches in Ksamil to choose from. Bring a book, rent a sunbed, and spend your days enjoying the refreshing water and incredible scenery.
Visiting the incredible beach town of Himare is one of the best things to do in Albania. Though it’s not as busy as other coastal towns, the former fishing village is slowly developing into a more popular holiday destination. From crystal clear turquoise waters perfect for swimming to multi-colored sandy beaches and hidden coves – there’s lots of beauty to discover in and around Himare.
The town lies 4 hours south of Tirana and makes a great location to relax for a day or two. Soak up the sun on beaches free from big tourist crowds and wander through the cute alleys of Himare Town. Additionally, take in the incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea from the castle up on top of the hill.
Known as one of the best-preserved archeological sites and nature parks in the Mediterranean region, Butrint National Park is one of the best things to do in Albania. This stunning protected UNESCO park lies just 15 minutes south of beach town Ksamil. It bears testimony to the country’s incredibly rich past. Explore the works of the ancient Greeks, Romans, and the Ottoman Empire as you walk along the shaded site.
The archeological site blends perfectly together with the beautiful nature of the park, the reason for its proper preservation. In fact, the co-presence of historic structures and landscapes is exactly what makes Butrint a unique place to visit.
3. Visit Theth (A must-do in Albania)
Deep at the heart of the Albanian Alps lies the beautiful traditional village of Theth. As you make your way over the winding mountain roads, you’ll find it nestled below the looming peaks, surrounded by lush meadows full of wildflowers. Here, life moves at a slower pace, allowing you to have the time to enjoy the calm of the region.
The locals live a very traditional life in Theth, and you’ll see farmers herding sheep and cows along the remote roads. The village itself has one long street lined with little houses and a river, adding to its fairytale atmosphere. There’s also a beautiful church close to the edge of town that has some of the best views we’ve ever seen!
Spend your days relaxing in nature, hiking the famous Valbonë Pass, and discovering the area’s stunning waterfall.
Tip: The people in the village are lovely and very accommodating in case you need anything. Though you might not speak Albanian, Google Translate can help you along the way.
4. Berat Town
Every Albania itinerary has to include a stop in beautiful Berat, known as ‘the City of a Thousand Windows’. Split by the River Osum, you’ll find two ancient neighborhoods filled with traditional Ottoman houses and UNESCO sites. There’s plenty of history to be discovered as you wander the cobbled streets full of mosques, churches, and ruins home to friendly neighborhood cats.
The most famous neighborhood is Mangalem, the beating heart of Berat. Here, Ottoman houses are sprawled up on the hill, each with perfect window panes that give the town its famous nickname. Across the bridge, you’ll find the other neighborhood of Berat, Gorica. Though much less visited, it’s just as beautiful! Stroll around the town’s streets and markets, getting a feel for the medieval atmosphere.
One of the best things to do in Albania when discovering the ancient city of Berat is to visit the Berat Castle. This 13th-century structure is the biggest castle in Albania and tells the story of the city. What’s more, the locals still live within the citadel walls, meaning you’ll find houses and little shops in the castle quarter. Zig-zag over gravel paths to reach the top and look out over the beautiful views of the valley below. There’s also a museum in the castle, where you can learn all about the history of Berat.
5. Taste the Albanian kitchen
Nothing tops diving into Albania’s rich food scene, full of variety and delicious flavors. Because of the country’s mix of history, cultures, and religions, you’ll notice that different influences all come together in one tasty cuisine.
Enjoy all sorts of delicacies, from stuffed peppers and eggplants to olives and baked local cheeses. On the coast, try freshly caught seafood at beachfront restaurants or order a hearty pizza in a traditional taverna high up in the hills. Though the food in Albania is generally quite meat-heavy, there are some veggie options among the traditional dishes.
Fun fact: In Albania, the head gesture for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ is the opposite of most countries. This is something you might want to know when offered something new like Raki, the traditional alcoholic beverage in Albania.
One of the best ways to discover the variety of Albania’s cuisine, with its Italian and Middle Eastern influences, is to join a food tour.
6. Shop at the Gjirokaster Bazaar
Located in the old town of Gjirokaster stands a beautiful limestone bazaar surrounded by traditional Ottoman buildings. This district of zig-zagging streets has been the center of commerce for centuries, filled with cute cafes and small shops full of interesting treasures.
Take in the city’s character as you roam the twisting streets between the impressive architecture. From artisans selling herbal teas and local honey to carpet shops, souvenirs, and even some second-hand stores, you can do plenty of shopping in the bazaar. Strolling past the bazaar of Gjirokaster is one of the best things to do in Albania.
7. Kruje Old Bazaar
While exploring the rugged mountains of northern Albania, you’ll come past one of the most historically important villages of the country – Krujë. With its castle at the top peering out over the valley below. The village has a rich history, as it’s known as the home base of patriots and the epicenter of Albania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The most interesting place you’ll come across in the 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 Albania. It’s known as one of the oldest bazaars in the country, built over 400 years ago! Roam through the small pedestrian streets lined with little shops.
This is a great place to go souvenir shopping, with vendors selling everything from beautiful handwoven fabrics and carpets to iron supplies, wooden items, or paintings.
Perched in Tirana’s center stands an incredibly unique and culturally-significant building of the country: The Piramida of Tirana. It was initially built to honor Albania’s ex-communist leader Enver Hoxha and was completed just before the fall of communism. However, over the years, it’s had many other purposes instead. Nowadays, it stands abandoned and remains a curious remnant of the past, covered in colorful graffiti.
Though much of Albania’s capital focuses on the country’s turbulent history, there’s much more to do in the city. Wander through colorful neighborhoods, try out delicious meals in local restaurants, and immerse yourself in the calm nature right next to the busy streets.