Whether you’re a culture vulture, mountain goat, lake lover, or beach bum, Albania is sure to offer even the choosiest of travelers an unforgettable adventure of a lifetime.
For the Culture Vulture:
Berat → Permet → Gjirokaster
Stocked with a UNESCO World Heritage Site, relaxing hot springs dating back to antiquity, and a city home to famous politicians, writers, and an ancient fortress, this route will have culture vultures falling in love with Albania’s rich historical past. First head to Berat, “The City of A Thousand Windows,” to see how the town got its nickname and learn about its interesting history. Next, journey to Permet and bathe in the seven ancient hot springs nestled in the mountains, each with a specific ailment they have been known to cure. Finally, head south to Gjirokaster and learn about the history of this old town that was once home to Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha, writer Ismail Kadare, and the Greek tribe of Chaonians dating back to 5th century BC.
For the Mountain Goat:
Theth → Valbona → Komani Lake
For any lover of hiking in the mountains, Theth and Valbona in Albania’s Accursed Mountains are sure to take your breath away. First, head to Theth and enjoy a day of hiking to a waterfall and The Blue Eye in one of the most remote villages in Albania. Spend the night in one of the many family-owned guesthouses in the town.
Then, head to Valbona by hiking for six hours through Valbona Pass. It’s sure to be one of the most scenic hikes you’ve ever witnessed. Spend another night in the mountains, this time in one of the guesthouses in Valbona Valley National Park.
Finally, head back south from Valbona by taking the ferry for three hours through scenic Komani Lake, sometimes called “The Grand Canyon of Albania.”
For the Lake Lover:
Lake Ohrid → Pogradec → Lake Prespa → Korca
There are many beautiful lakes in Albania, two of which are on the eastern border. Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa share borders with Macedonia and/or Greece, presenting the unique opportunity to get even more stamps in your passport. First head to Lake Ohrid and take in the view, making sure to go to one of the local restaurants and order some of the rare fish that’s only found Lake Ohrid. Then head to Pogradec, a charming eastern Albanian town with a lot of great history and culture. Next make your way to Lake Prespa and sail to the island in the middle to cross over into Macedonia, enjoying the day on the lake’s beaches. Finally, make your way to Korca for some of the best beer in Albania.
For the Beach Bum:
Durres → Cape of Rodon
Less than an hour west from Tirana, Durres is on the northern coast of Albania, which for the most part has sandy beaches. Enjoy laying in the sun and bumming on the beach for a day, and then head northward towards the Port of Durres to see the second largest city in Albania, as well as some ruins more ancient than Rome itself.
After you’re done in Durres, head northward farther to the Cape of Rodon, where you will encounter both sandy and rocky beaches, and a beautiful and scenic hike to the ruins of 15th century Skanderbeg Castle. Especially after it had been raining, the Cape of Rodon held some of the most dramatic landscapes I have ever seen in Albania.
Vlora → Dhermi → Saranda → Ksamil
The ultimate beach bum must, this route takes you along some of the most gorgeous coastline of the Albanian Riviera. Start in Vlora, a populated coastal town in the south, and work your way down towards Greece. Next, be sure to check out Drymades Beach in Dhermi; it is true paradise nestled between mountains and the sea.
Saranda is beautiful as well, but take note that it can be overcrowded during the months of July and August when many Albanians and foreigners are on vacation. Ksamil is not too far south from Saranda and looks like something from Thailand or the Caribbean.