TIRANA – the capital

Tirana was proclaimed the capital of Albania relatively late, in 1920. Its beginning as a city can be traced back to 1614 when a local feudal nobleman Sulejman Bargjini, build some simple civic infrastructure such as a mosque and public hammam. However, discoveries of fortifications in the central area of the city as well as a Roman Villa with mosaics from the 3 rd century AD, are clear testimony of Tirana’s much earlier beginnings. The city began its growth at the beginning of the 18th century with population from other areas converging to Tirana due to its central position. Today with almost 1/3 rd of the country’s population, Tirana is not only the most populated city in Albania, but also the political and economic heart of the country. The Adriatic Sea and Dajti mountain are very close, giving this capital access to the sea or mountain in around 45 minutes. A large park with an artificial lake is located in the south part of the city.

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What to visit in Tirana

  • The Mosque of Ethem Bey: The symbol of Tirana is situated just off the main Scanderbeg Square. It was constructed in 1789. Together with the Clock Tower (1830) they make an important historic part of Tirana.
  • Central Tirana architectural styles: The Ministerial buildings, the main boulevard, stadium, University building were built in the 1920s and 30s by Italian architects and represent the modern development of Tirana as a city. After the Second World War several buildings were erected in a communist architecture such as: The Palace of Culture, The Palace of Congresses, The National Historic Museum, The Dictators Pyramid being converted into Youth Centre for Cultural & Technology etc.
  • Ura Tabakeve – Tabakeve Bridge: This is an arched stone bridge constructed in the 18 th century and is situated not far from the main square, along the boulevard “Zhan Dark”.
  • The fortress of Pertrela: Located at south of Tirana on the right side of national road linking the capital with the city of Elbasan. It was built up by the middle age. The castle was under the command of Scanderbeg sister, Mamica Kastrioti. Petrela castle used to control the Egnatia road, the Durres - Tirane branch, a part that for that time had a particular importance. This castle was also part of a smoke signalling defence system for the castle of Kruja.
  • The fortress of Preza: Built in the 15 th century it is in a dominant hill over the fields below and directly opposite the mountain of Kruja, forming the last signalling point for enemies approaching Kruja Castle from the fields below. It has been declared a "Monument of Culture"
  • The Tomb of Kapllan Pasha: It was built in 1814 to honour Kaplan Pasha, who ruled Tirana in the early 19th century.
  • Museums:
    o National Historic Museum
    o Archaeological Museum
    o Gallery of Fine Arts
    o Bunkart 1 & 2 (huge underground bunkers turned museums)
    o House of Leaves museum of survelliance


This UNESCO protected town is one of the most attractive traditional Albanian towns, declared a museum city. Know also as “the town of one-thousand windows”, it is situated on the slopes of two mirroring hills divided by the Osum River. The still inhabited fortress rises in a predominant hill. Inside its walls is located the “Onufri Museum”. Paintings and icons by the outstanding Albanian painter are also exhibited there. The old part of the city has some religious buildings like churches and mosques.

What to visit in Berat

  • The Museum of Iconography “Onufri”: One of the most interesting Icon museums displaying some masterpieces in a original setting of the Church of St. Mary. Famous also for 2 of the oldest bible manuscripts in the world kept hidden under its altar for many years, to hide them from the atheist frenzy of the Albanian cultural revolution.
  • The Museum of Ethnography
  • The Fortress of Berat: The fortress is situated in a dominant position overlooking the town. It was famous for its many byzantine era churches thought to be around 40 at one time. One of them is the Church of St. Triadha, dating back to the end of the thirteenth century and beginning of the fourteenth century. Very interesting frescoes are found inside it. Behind the Church of St. Todri, there are the churches of St. Kolli, St. Constantine, St. Helen, St. Mary Vllaherna, and others.
  • Ruins of the White Mosque: Its internal walls are found inside the castle of Berat. They are built on the foundations of Illyrian walls, followed by reconstructions in Byzantine and Ottoman style.
  • The Church of Saint Mehilli, (Michael): A well-known structure, combining European and Byzantine construction techniques.
  • The Church of Saint Triadha (Trinity): Speculations are that the chapel might have been built on the foundations of the ruins of a pagan temple. The temple was built to honour the goddess Artemis, from which the present name Ardenicë derives.


    The principal port of Durres is the second largest city of Albania. The city was colonized by the colonists from Corinth and Korkyra in 627 B.C. It was named Epidamnus, which later became Dyrrachium. The most important object is the amphitheatre, the largest in Balkan with 15,000 seats, dating back to the 2nd century AD and containing an Early Christian crypt with a rare wall mosaics . Between the 1st and 3rd centuries Durres was an important port and trading centre on the Via Egnatia trading route, between Rome and Byzantuim (Istanbul). After a great number of earthquakes, much of ancient Durres sank into the sea or collapsed and was subsequently built over. Today the city is well known for the nearby beach resort of Durres and its sandy beaches and warm sea waters.

    What to visit in Durres

  • The Archaeological Museum
  • The Amphitheater: Partially excavated starting since 1960, has a seating capacity between 15.000-20.000 people and is situated on the middle of the modern city.
  • Byzantine Forum
  • Venetian Torra: (small castle open as a bar)
  • Ancient city wall
  • The Exhibition of Folk Culture
  • The mosaic of Arapaj, Arapaj village (Viwable only through a special permit from the Ministry of Culture)

  • FIER

    One of the largest cities in Albania Fier was developed as an industrial city during the 45 years of communism dictatorship. However this city boasts with some very important historical sites.

    What to visit in Fier region

  • Apollonia: It represents one of the most important archaeological sites of Albania. The most interesting objects to be visited are the magnificent wall of Agonothetes II Century B.C.
  • Monastery of St Mary: Situated next to the ancient site of Apolonia and home to the site’s archaeological museum. The older monastery was reconstructed by the Byzantine Emperor, Andronicus Palaeologus the Second.
  • Archaeological site of Bylis, The Archaeological Park of Bylis is a significant site representing the ruins of an old Illyrian civilization.The Illyrian city of Bylis, situated on a hill near today’s village of Hekal, once extended to a surface of 30 hectares, which was protected by a wall 2.2 km long. Today, there are still visible the ruins of the theater, with a capacity of 7500 spectators, which served not only for theatrical and musical performances for the city’s inhabitants and the surrounding areas but also as venues where important decisions were made about the fate of Byline community.


    One of the most important cities of southern Albania has been declared a “Museum City”. It is built on the slope of a mountain and is known for its characteristic and narrow stone paved streets. The dwelling houses have the form of medieval towers consisting a building ensemble with characteristic architecture. The castle of the city stands like a balcony over the city. It nables the visitors to enjoy a very beautiful landscape. The National Museum of Weapons is housed in the interior of the castle. Weapons are produced and used by the Albanian since the ancient times are displayed there.

    What to visit in Gjirokastra

  • The Museum of Weapons: is situated inside the Castle of Gjirokastra. It shows the development of weapons in Albania, from antiquity to the present.)
  • The Ethnographic Museum: It is otherwise known as the birth-house of the former dictator Enver Hoxha. It is currently visited by many tourists interested in Albanian tradition, culture, and ethnography.
  • The Castle of Gjirokastra: is a grand fortress with a fantastic location, dominating the whole valley of the Drino. Its construction continued for several centuries and only in the twelfth century did take the shape of a castle. When exiting the castle, visitors walk along a road on both sides of which are 200 stone houses.
  • The Mosque of Pajazut Khan: is within the castle as well. To the north there is the old market, called the Castle Market.
  • The Church of Labova e Kryqit: In the village with same name
  • The archaeological site of Antigonea: In the village of Saraqinisht;
  • The ruins of archaeological site of Adrianapol: In the village of Sofratike.


    Is the largest city of south eastern part of Albania. It is situated at the foot of Morava Mountain on a plateau 800 m above sea level. It became an important trading and handicraft centre in the 18th century due to the development of trade with neighbouring regions. The museum for Medieval Art is in Korça. It presents the spiritual and material culture of the Albanian people. There are also the Museum of Education, where the first Albanian School were opened in 1878 and the new museum of “Bratko Collections” with antiquaries from the Far East.

    What to visit in Korca

  • The Museum of Medieval Arts: The museum is a visual treat not to be missed. It was reconstructed in 2016 making it one of the most beautiful museums in the country. Collected in variously coloured rooms are some excellent frescoes, iconostases and other works from some of the best artisans of the craft produced in what is today Albania. Works from Onufri and the Zografi brothers are on display among the some 7,000 items in the collection. Photographs are not permitted inside to preserve the centuries old icons. To many casual visitors the museum seems closed due to the door remaining shurt for security reasons, so do ring the bell.
  • The “Bratko” Museum: This museum tells the personal story of the famous Albanian photographer Gjergj Dhimitër Mborja. Though later in life he worked in Hollywood, Mborja initially spent 14 years (1942-1956) in Japan as General Douglas McArthur’s photographer. His love of Asia, however, continued well after he returned to the U.S. The Bratko Museum collection, gathered by him throughout his travels, is Mborja’s gift to his hometown of Korça. In his will, he requested that his museum be built with his savings, and for it to be named in honour of his mother, Viktoria Bratko, who never left Albania.
  • National Museum of Education
  • The Archaeological Museum
  • Watering Greensward: This is a place illustrating the pain of immigration, where young ladies use to shed tears for the departure of their loved ones in search of a better future. Many immigrated to the USA.


    Kruja is a medieval town near Tirana. The name of Kruja is closely connected with the name of the National Hero , George Kastriot Scanderbeg, who fought against the Ottomans for 25 years in succession, defending European civilization from their threat in the 15th century. At a prominent and strategic place near the city, there is a castle, within is housed the Scanderbeg Museum (National Museum). On the way to the castle there is a medieval bazaar.

    Kruja attractions

  • Museum of Gjergj Kastrioti Scanderbeg
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Archaeological site of Albanopoli, in village of Zgerdhesh
  • Traditional Bazaar


    Pogradec is one of the most charming tourist resorts in Albania because of its position on Lake Ohrid which distinguishes itself for clear water and mountain views. The Koran fish, similar to trout, is found in this lake. Besides the beautiful beach, your stay in Pogradec is made more interesting by the excursion to the tourist centre in Driloni (5 km eastward) surrounded by ornamental plants and trees.

    What to visit in Pogradec

  • The mosaics of Lin: Atop the cliff that makes up the Lin Peninsula stands the rare historical site of the early Christian (or Paleochristian) basilica, and the remarkably preserved mosaic found within it. Surrounded on all sides from the comforting waters of Lake Ohrid, and the picturesque Lin village in its shores, the views from this particular spot are breath-taking.
  • The monumental graves of Selca e Poshtme: The Selca Tombs are a masterpiece of human ancient settlements, witnessing the traditional way of life in Illyria in 4th - 3rd century BCE. The area is very close to Lake Ohrid, just 40 km from Pogradec. The royal tombs belonged to Illyrian princes and princesses of the ancient city "Pelion".
  • The Goliku Bridge on the old Via Egnatia


    Saranda is most southern city of Albania. Situated opposite of Corfu Island , Saranda is now mostly visited by day trippers who come to enjoy this previously inaccessible resort. It is one of the most tourist sites in Albania and is very preferable by “honeymooners”. Near Saranda there are the ruins of the ancient city of Butrint and the spring of “Blue Eye”.

    What to visit in Saranda

  • Ethnographic Museum
  • The Archaeological Museum of Butrint: Butrint is an extensive archaeological site (over 200 hectares) in southern Albania on the Straits of Corfu, with remains dating from the Bronze Age to the Ottoman era. It has particularly well-preserved features from the Roman and Byzantine periods, including beautiful mosaic floors, and its ‘Homeric setting’ has benefited from remarkably little modern development. Butrint was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List in 1992.
  • The Quadrangular Castle of Butrint: This small castle of Ali Pasha Tepelena built on 1807-1808 is located on a cape jetting out into the sea. It was built to prevent the French from taking Butrint from their base in Corfu.
  • The ruins of ancient town of Onhezmi in Saranda
  • The monastery of Mesopotam Located to the South of Finiq, in earlier times, this was thought to be a pagan temple. It is one of the largest and oldest churches of its period. Its icons depict mostly quadruped and mammal motifs. In its main hall, a mosaic depicts a dragon with spread-out wings. Visitors can see the ruins of the old surrounding walls of the monastery with seven quadrangular towers. These walls predate the church.


    It is one of the most major cities in the north – western part of the country. It is situated near the lake sharing the same name and along the road that leads to Montenegro. It is an ancient city with rich history. One can find old characteristic houses where wood and other traditional motifs are used. Near the city there is the castle of Rozafa built on a rocky hill from where you can see attractive and beautiful views. During your stay you can visit the Historical Museum of the city. Shkodra is a good point to start your trip to Albanian Alps.

    What to visit in Shkodra

  • Historic Museum: It has a number of sections on archaeology, history and ethnography. It also has its own library with a considerable number of Albanian and foreign books-about 15,000 titles altogether. The library is a great source for students of Albanology;
  • The Fortress of Rozafa: It rises on a rocky hill to the west of Shkodra and was the centre of the Illyrian Kingdom of Labeates. According to the legend, three brothers had been building the fortress during the day only to find that the walls had collapsed at night. A sacrifice was required to ward off the evil spirits and they decided to sacrifice the wife whose turn was to bring them food the next day. They swore an oath not to tell their wives but only the youngest son didn’t. Rozafa, his wife, volunteered to bring the food when the other knowing wives made excuses and hence she was buried alive in the walls of the fortress for it to finally stand strong. At the entrance to the castle one can see the Rozafa bas-relief. According to popular imagination, the lime water that leaks at the main entrance is the milk running from Rozafa's breast which was left outside the wall so that she could feed her new-born baby. A legend which has survived to this day engraved in the name of the fortress known today as The Fortres of Rozafa.
  • Museum of Rozafa Fortress: It explains the various periods in the life of the castle.
  • The Lead Mosque: It is a famous cultural monument in the city of Shkodra that was built in 1773 in the style of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul.
  • The Church of Shirgji Located 20 km from the city of Shkodra, close to the village of Obot it is built in Romanic-Gothic style. The Shirgji church used to be a favourite of Albanian and Montenegrin princes and was especially used for weddings.
  • The Mesi Bridge Located about 8 km from Shkodra, on the Kir River, there used to be three bridges on this river but only this one has survived to this day. The Mesi Bridge is a unique arched stone bridge and considered a 'cultural monument'.
  • The Illyrian ruins of Gajtan
  • The ruins of medieval city of Sarda: These are found in an island of the artificial lake of Vau i Dejës, formed in 1971 as a result of a water dam. Among the remains are the defensive walls, church ruins and the gate to the Dukagjini palace. Sarda is a very picturesque location.
    On the way from Tirana to Shkodra in the town of Lezha is interesting to visit the memorial dedicated to burial place of Albanian National Hero, Scanderbeg.


    Vlora is a coastal city situated in the horseshoe bay with the same name. It is a town of great historical importance as it was here that in 1912 the Assembly was convened to proclaim Albania as an independent state and to set up the first National Government headed by Ismail Qemali. Thus, Vlore became the first capital city of an independent Albania. One can learn more about the background of this event at the Museum of Independence. On a hill above the city one can enjoy the religious place of “Kuzum Baba”. From there you can see the beach and the view of the whole city.

    What to visit in Vlora region

  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Historic Museum
  • The Museum of Independence
  • Kanina Castle: It is believed to have been erected in the 3rd century B.C. and offers spectacular views of the bay of Vlora.
  • Muradie Mosque: This is a sultan-style mosque, with one dome built in the 2nd half of the 16th century. The design and construction of this mosque were carried out by Sinan, the most important architect of the Ottoman Empire.
  • Oricum: Of the many archaeological treasures in Albania, the ancient port of Oricum is arguably one of the most intriguing. This forgotten city played a crucial role in Julius Caesar’s ascent to total domination.
  • Ali Pasha's Castle-Porto Palermo Bay: This small seaside fort is located on a lovely peninsula in the small tectonic bay of Porto Palermo. Ali Pasha built the castle in honour of his wife Vasiliqi.
  • Church of St. Stephan, Monastery, Church of Panajia (Dhërmi): The village of Dhërmi goes back to at least the first century B.C. The village used to have 31 churches. The icons of the Church of St. Stephen were painted in the 18th century. The church is a place of pilgrimage every mid-August when religious rites are performed on the day of St. Mary.