Albania: 3 Must-Visit Landmarks

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Albania is an Up and Comer Waiting to be Discovered

By Oscar Davis

Albania has everything you could want for a fun-filled getaway alone or with one or more loved ones. The stunning country is home to gorgeous natural wonders, some of the best beaches in Europe, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and a culinary scene that will delight the most passionate foodies.

If you don’t want to miss one superb sight during your visit to the beautiful nation, some destinations are worth your time and effort. Here are three must-visit landmarks in Albania.

Albanian RivieraMap of Albania

There is no doubt that the Albanian Riviera is the most popular landmark in the country. The lengthy southwestern coastline stretches from the village of Palasë to Lukovë and has something for everyone. For instance, you can spend your days on sandy and pebbled beaches with turquoise waters, stroll down charming cobblestoned streets that are adorned with beautiful flowers, or step inside one of many small Orthodox churches.

Saranda is a perfect spot for soaking up the beauty of the Albanian Riveria, as it’s its main city and an ideal base for exploring many public and private beaches, historical sites, and nearby towns. Also, you can slash the cost of accommodation in the city if you book your trip to Albania with Voyage Privé, which provides luxurious hotels at an affordable rate.

It will ensure you have a stunning vacation from beginning to end. Plus, when you are not relaxing on one of the beautiful sandy beaches in Saranda, you can dance the night away at one of the city’s vibrant nightclubs or take a 40-minute boat ride to the stunning Greek island of Corfu.

Gjirokaster, Albania
Gjirokaster Albania. Armin Flikr photo.

The Old Town of Gjirokastër

A stone’s throw from Saranda, you would be foolish if you didn’t set time aside in your itinerary to visit the old town of Gjirokastër. It is a UNESCO-listed destination home to authentic, affordable, and delicious cuisine that will explode on the palate.

However, you will struggle to take your eyes off the distinctive Ottoman architecture that earned the town UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 2005. After all, you can breathe in the beauty of the most gorgeous castles in Albania that provide stunning views at every turn.

A Glimpse into the Past

Nestled within the rugged landscapes of southern Albania, the Old Town of Gjirokastër stands as a living testament to centuries of history. As I stepped into its cobbled streets, I was immediately transported back in time. The air was filled with a sense of mystique, and the architecture exuded a charm that only comes from stories etched in stone.

Stones and Legends

Gjirokastër’s streets, paved with smooth, time-worn stones, whispered stories of generations past. The Ottoman-era houses, with their distinctive gray slate roofs and wooden balconies, bore the marks of time. I marveled at the intricate stonework that adorned the buildings, each one telling a tale of the artisans who had crafted them with love and skill.

The Citadel’s Watchful Gaze

Dominating the skyline, Gjirokastër Castle stood as a guardian of the town’s history. As I climbed the steep hill to reach the fortress, the panoramic view that unfolded before me left me speechless. The castle’s walls held secrets from Byzantine to Ottoman eras, and the well-preserved artifacts within its museum offered insights into the region’s rich past.

Ismet Shehu House – A Glimpse into Everyday Life

Stepping into the Ismet Shehu House was like stepping into a time capsule. The traditional Ottoman architecture showcased the elegance of the past, and the home’s layout, complete with a central courtyard and rooms adorned with handmade rugs and antique furniture, offered a window into the lives of the people who once called this place home.

Cobblestone Charms and Craftsmanship

Exploring the bazaar, I found myself amidst artisans who practiced their crafts with dedication. Silversmiths crafted intricate jewelry, coppersmiths hammered beautiful pots, and weavers created vibrant textiles. The aroma of freshly brewed Turkish coffee wafted from cafes tucked into the corners of the narrow streets, inviting me to take a moment to savor the ambiance.

Skenduli House – A Noble Legacy

Skenduli House, a rare example of a traditional Ottoman-era mansion open to the public, offered an intimate glimpse into aristocratic life. The luxurious interior showcased ornate decorations, frescoes, and period furniture that spoke of a time when opulence and elegance were held in high regard.

Bridges and Legends

Walking along Gjirokastër’s stone bridges, I listened to tales spun by locals about legendary figures and historical events. The most enchanting of all was the story of Bazaar Bridge, an ancient stone structure that seemed to suspend time itself, connecting the old town with the newer parts of the city.

Llogora Pass in Albania
Llogora Pass in Albania

Llogora Pass: The Call of the Mountains

In the heart of Albania lies a hidden gem that beckons travelers with its awe-inspiring beauty – the Llogara Pass. This remote mountain road connects the Albanian Riviera to the rest of the country, offering a mesmerizing journey through rugged landscapes, lush forests, and breathtaking panoramas. As the sun’s first rays kissed the ancient city of Vlorë, my journey began.

If you love a challenging walk hike on vacation, clear a day in your diary to tackle Llogara Pass. Situated between Vlora and Palase, the magnificent mountain pass will provide an unforgettable panoramic view that is worth your time and effort. However, the tough terrain isn’t for the faint of heart, as it can be rather dangerous, which is why you should only tackle it if you are a seasoned hiker.

Alternatively, you can explore the beautiful natural landscape by car, as it offers one of the best coastal drives in the world thanks to its scenic views of the Albanian Riveria. Also, it is one of the best ways to experience authentic Albania, as it isn’t unusual to spot shepherds guiding herds along the road or locals riding donkeys or carrying heavy loads of wood for winter.

Oscar Davis
Oscar Davis is a freelance writer from Leeds, England.

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