Albania, a country located in the Balkan region, has been gaining popularity in recent years as an emerging tourist destination. With its impressive natural beauty, rich history, and unique culture, Albania offers an unforgettable travel experience.
If you’re planning a trip to Albania and have a week available, here’s a recommended itinerary to discover the best of the country in 7 days.
Day 1: Tirana – The Charming Capital
Your adventure in Albania begins in the capital, Tirana. As you venture into the city, you’ll be greeted by lively streets, colorful buildings, and a fascinating blend of historical and modern influences. Head to Skanderbeg Square, the heart of Tirana, where you can admire the equestrian statue of the Albanian national hero, Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Right next to it is the Et’hem Bey Mosque, a masterpiece of Ottoman architecture.
Don’t miss the National History Museum, which houses an impressive collection spanning Albania’s history from ancient times to the communist era. In the afternoon, take a stroll along the main boulevard, “Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit,” where you’ll find numerous shops, cafes, and restaurants to enjoy delicious Albanian cuisine.
Day 2: Berat – The City of a Thousand Windows
On your second day, head south of Albania to the city of Berat, known as the “City of a Thousand Windows.” This architectural gem is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Albania. Berat’s old town is a maze of narrow cobbled streets, traditional wooden houses, and beautiful churches and mosques.
Don’t miss the famous Berat Castle, perched on a hilltop, where you’ll get panoramic views of the city and the surrounding valleys. Explore the Onufri Museum, which houses an impressive collection of religious icons and historical artifacts. You can also enjoy a walk along the Osum River and admire the canyons and cliffs surrounding the city.
Day 3: Gjirokastra – A City of Stone
Continuing your journey south, you’ll reach Gjirokastra, another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Albania. Known as the “City of Stone,” Gjirokastra will surprise you with its medieval architecture and rich history. Explore the imposing castle, which has witnessed centuries of historical events.
Walking through the cobbled streets of Gjirokastra will transport you back in time, as the city has preserved much of its authenticity and original charm. Stone houses with slate roofs and narrow cobblestone streets create a magical atmosphere.
Inside the castle, don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Ethnographic Museum, which exhibits traditional Albanian objects and offers a fascinating glimpse into life in Gjirokastra in the past. You can also explore the old prison inside the castle, where artifacts related to the history of the communist regime in Albania are displayed.
Make sure to visit the birthplace of Ismail Kadare, one of Albania’s most famous writers and a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The house has been turned into a museum dedicated to his life and work and is an interesting place to learn more about Albanian literature.
Day 4: Saranda and the Ruins of Butrint
On your fourth day, head to the coastal city of Saranda, located in southern Albania. Saranda is known for its beautiful beaches and lively nightlife, making it a popular destination among tourists. Enjoy a relaxing day at the beach, sunbathing and swimming in the crystal-clear waters of the Ionian Sea.
In the afternoon, you can visit the impressive ruins of Butrint, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient archaeological site is a fascinating testament to Albania’s rich history. Explore the ruins of ancient theaters, temples, fortifications, and Roman baths, and be amazed by the beauty and history that permeates every corner.
Day 5: Albanian Riviera and Ksamil
Continuing along the Albanian coast, you can’t miss the spectacular Albanian Riviera. With its breathtaking natural beauty and crystal-clear waters, the Riviera is a paradise for nature and sea lovers. Drive along the winding coastal road and enjoy stunning panoramic views of the sea and mountains.
Make a stop in the picturesque fishing village of Himara and indulge in a delicious lunch of fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants. Then, continue to Ksamil, a small paradise on the Albanian coast with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters. Here, you can relax on the beach, explore the nearby islands by boat, or enjoy water activities such as snorkeling and diving.
Day 6: Lake Ohrid and Pogradec
On the sixth day of your trip, head northeast to discover the beautiful Lake Ohrid, which shares its shores with North Macedonia. This lake, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the oldest and deepest lakes in Europe and hosts a rich diversity of aquatic life.
Make a stop in Pogradec, a charming coastal town located on the Albanian shore of the lake. Pogradec offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and historical charm. Take a stroll along the waterfront promenade and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the lake and surrounding mountains.
Visit the Drilon Museum, a former residence of the communist dictator Enver Hoxha, which has now been turned into a museum dedicated to local history and culture. You can also explore the Church of St. John the Baptist, a historic building with impressive architecture.
If you have time, consider taking a boat trip across the lake to the nearby Church of St. Mary on Maligrad Island. This 14th-century church is a sacred place and offers a unique experience amidst the serenity of the lake.
Day 7: Theth National Park and the Albanian Alps
On your last day in Albania, venture north to discover the breathtaking Theth National Park and the majestic Albanian Alps. This mountainous region will leave you breathless with its pristine landscapes and fresh mountain air.
Theth is a small and picturesque village located in a valley surrounded by mountains. It is a popular destination for hiking enthusiasts and offers a multitude of routes and trails to explore. Visit the Grunas Waterfall, a beautiful waterfall nestled amidst lush nature, and admire the Church of St. John, an important landmark in the village.
If you’re feeling adventurous, consider hiking to the peak of Buni i Thores, which offers panoramic views of the national park and the Albanian Alps.
Albania, with its diverse natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, is a destination worth exploring. By following this 7-day itinerary, you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the authenticity of Albanian cities and towns, enjoy the beaches and crystal-clear sea, marvel at ancient ruins, and savor the breathtaking mountain views.
Remember that this itinerary can be adjusted according to your preferences and available time, but it will surely provide you with an unforgettable experience in Albania. Enjoy your trip and discover everything this fascinating country has to offer!