Is Albania a beautiful country?

If you are unfamiliar with Albania, you might be wondering if Albania is a beautiful country. In this blog post, I will describe why Albania is a beautiful country and introduce you to the highlights.

Is Albania a beautiful country? Albania is a beautiful country. Albania is a very mountainous country, with rugged and undisturbed nature, waterfalls, water springs and lakes. Albania also has a beautiful coastline, called the Albanian Riviera. And two UNESCO cities, called Berat and Gjirokaster, have beautiful old town centres.

In this blog post, I will describe and show you some of the most beautiful places in Albania. So you can see that Albania is indeed a beautiful country. 

These are some of the most beautiful spots in Albania:

  1. Theth Mountain village, including the Blue Eye of Theth and the Grunas Waterfall
  2. Lake Koman Ferry
  3. The Albanian Riviera coastline
  4. Berat UNESCO city
  5. Gjirokaster UNESCO city
  6. The Blue Eye of Saranda
  7. The springs of Drilon near Lake Ohrid
  8. Kruja Castle

1. Theth village, including the Blue Eye of Theth and the Grunas Waterfall

Theth is a small village in the mountains in the Albanian Alps. The Albanian Alps are a large mountain range on the borders of Montenegro, Albania and Kosovo. 

What is so special about the Theth village is its remoteness. Theth can only be reached by driving on a turning and twisting mountain road. Although Theth does have high snow in the winter, this area is not a ski area. So there are no ski lifts and in the winter the entire area is closed off from the rest of the world, due to the high snow. 

In the summer months, Theth is a hiking destination. You can stay in one of the little guest houses or farmhouses that are surrounded by the high peaks of the Albanian Alps. Your guest house will cook a local dinner and traditional breakfast for you. The guest houses are personal and authentic. 

Then from your guest house, you can go for a hike. The most popular half-day hikes are the Blue Eye of Theth and the Grunas Waterfall. 

The Blue Eye of Theth is a natural mountain pool that you can hike to via a trail. You must first take a 4-wheel drive taxi to the trailhead and then hike for 1 hour to get to the Blue Eye of Theth. This hike is really worth doing! 

The Blue Eye of Theth is a magical place, the pool is surrounded by cliffs and lush nature. A rushing waterfall fills the natural pool and a calmer river drains the pool down the mountains. The water is so clear, you can see every little stone on the bottom of the pool. Of course, you can go for a swim, but it is ice-cold mountain water!

From the Theth village, you can also hike to the Grunas Waterfall. The Grunas Waterfall is closer to the Theth village. From the Theth village, you hike for approximately 20 minutes alongside the river in the valley and then 30 minutes on a trail to reach the Grunas Waterfall.

The Grunas Waterfall is a 25-meter-high waterfall that fills a turquoise green pool on the bottom. It is such a beautiful and relaxing spot!

2. Lake Koman Ferry

The Lake Koman Ferry is an absolute highlight! So if you are planning to travel to Albania in the upcoming year, put the Lake Koman Ferry on the top of your list of places to visit!

Lake Koman is a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains in the North of Albania. This Lake was created when a dam was placed near the Koman village during the communist period. To ensure the locals who lived in the area could still get from A to B, boats started operating on the lake. 

But the boat trip on Lake Koman is so beautiful, that it unintentionally became a tourist attraction! 

Lake Koman is a very long lake, that runs through the mountains, like a long river. The Lake Koman Ferry turns and twists through the mountains. Every time the boat turns a corner, you see another beautiful panorama of the mountains surrounding the lake. The area is remote and only a handful of people live in these mountains. The views from the ferry are so beautiful!

Tourists start their trip to Lake Koman from Shkoder city. From Shkoder, you can book a seat on a shared minibus or hire a 4-wheel drive taxi to bring you to Lake Koman. The ferry boat departs once a day from Koman at 9 AM, so you will need to leave Shkoder city at 7 AM to catch the ferry boat.

The ferry boats depart from Koman at 9 AM and make a 2.5-hour boat journey from Koman to Fierze. From Fierze, you can then take another minibus or 4-wheel drive taxi to the remote Valbone village in the Albanian Alps. And the next day, you can hike across the 1800-meter-high Valbone Pass to Theth. And complete your round by travelling back from Theth to Shkoder.

If you are not planning to hike across the 1800-meter-high Valbone Pass, you can simply go to Lake Koman for a 1-day boat trip. You start from Shkoder city or Tirana city and return to your hotel at the end of the day.

Insider tip! If you would simply like to enjoy a boat trip! I highly recommend taking one of the smaller boats to the Shala River. The smaller boats also depart from Koman but make a stop at the remote Shala beach on the Shala River in the middle of the day. Very beautiful and a perfect 1-day destination for people who don’t plan on a big hiking adventure, but do want to enjoy beautiful nature and relax!

3. The Albanian Riviera Coastline

The Albanian Riviera is a beautiful stretch of coastline in the South of Albania. Whereas in the North of Albania, the focus is on mountains, lakes and hiking. The South of Albania is focused around the Albanian Riviera coastline. 

The Albanian Riviera is a 120-kilometre-long stretch of coastline between the cities Vlore and Saranda. The Albanian Riviera starts in Vlore city. From Vlore, you can get on the coastal road to Saranda. This coastal road leads all the way to the South of Albania and onwards to the border with Greece.

If you are flying to Tirana airport, it will take you approximately 3 hours to drive to Vlore or 5-6 hours to drive to Saranda. 

However, it is worth planning a full day for your road trip along the Albanian Riviera, because there are many beautiful beaches and sightseeing spots along the route. 

One of the hidden spots is the island of Zvernec. The island of Zvernec is a small island in a lagoon near Vlore. From Vlore, you get off the main road and drive towards Zvernec for approximately 20 minutes. The little island is connected to the mainland via a 270-meter-long bridge, you can walk across the bridge and visit a little monastery on the island. This is a spot to take beautiful pictures.

Another great place to stop is the Llogara Pass. The Llogara Pass is the highest point on the coastal road from Vlore to Saranda. From Vlore, you will immediately notice you are driving uphill towards the pass. Then once you get to the other side of the pass, the views will take your breath away. There is a restaurant and parking lot at the top of the pass, stop for a coffee or lunch whilst taking in views of Palase beach, Dhermi beach and the Ionian Sea.

Dhermi beach is the first beach once you drive down from the Llogara Pass. Dhermi is a popular beach. This is the spot where the young, hip and trendy crowd hangs out. Of course, you can also walk along the beach down to the more remote Drymades beach, which is very beautiful!

Further down the road, you can visit Jale beach, which is known for its bright turquoise-green water. If you have the chance, it is well worth staying overnight in Jale and hiring a boat to go to the remote Gjipe Beach nearby. Albania still has those remote and hidden coves along the coastline, where you can still enjoy pure nature and privacy!

Himare is a beach village in the middle of the Albanian Riviera. Whereas Vlore and Saranda are big coastal cities with many apartments and hotels built up along the coastline. Himare has more of a small village feel. So it might be a great place for you to stay right in the middle of the Albanian Riviera!

And then, to the South of Himare, you should make a stop at the Castle of Ali Pasha in the Bay of Porto Palermo. This little triangular fortress was built on an almost island in the middle of a large bay. Porto Palermo is not so much a spot for swimming but rather a natural harbour. Visit the Castle of Ali Pasha and climb the staircase to the rooftop viewing deck for impressive views of the bay.

Of course, there are so many more hidden and remote beaches. Some of them are further from the road and require some hiking or a boat to get to! But really, these hidden beaches are what make the Albanian Riviera such a beautiful place to visit!

4. Berat UNESCO city

Berat is the prettiest and most beautiful town in Albania. Berat is a city in the centre of Albania about a 2.5-hour drive to the South of the capital city Tirana. 

Berat is known as “the city of a thousand windows” because it has little houses that were built on the slope of the hill. And when you are standing in the valley, a thousand little windows look down on you from the hillside.

Berat is a UNESCO city because it has an old town centre that dates back to the Turkish Ottoman Empire. Albania was a part of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle Ages, just like the other Balkan countries were. 

And in this period Berat was a thriving city. Berat was known for its merchants and craftsmen. There were leather workers, silk makers, stony masonry artists and many more handicraft professions that Berat specialized in.

Berat is an absolute highlight when you are visiting Albania. You can go on a 1-day trip to Berat from the capital city Tirana since it is only a 2.5-hour drive. Or if you have the time, it is well worth staying in Berat for 1-2 nights to see the beautiful city light up in the evening.

Berat’s main attractions are the hilltop castle and the Ottoman town in the valley. The hilltop castle dates back to the 13th century when Albania was a part of the Byzantine Empire. The castle is gigantic and until today people are living in the neighbourhood inside the castle. It is a lively and beautiful castle with stunning views of the valley below.

In the valley, the main sight is the Ottoman Town. There are two old neighbourhoods, that were built on opposite hills. If I were to describe what these neighbourhoods look like I would say a little hilltop village in Southern Italy or Greece. The old town centre has a very romantic feel. And many lovely coffeehouses and restaurants, where you can relax while enjoying the view of the old town.

5. Gjirokaster UNESCO city

Gjirokaster is also a UNESCO city, but much further in the South of Albania, near the border with Greece.

Actually, Berat and Gjirokaster are one UNESCO sight together. Because there are both examples of towns from the Ottoman period. Basically, you can see the old town centres and imagine what life was like in this period. 

That being said, Gjirokaster has a very different look and feel than Berat. Where Berat is cute and romantic. Gjirokaster is much more grant.

That is because Gjirokaster was the city where the local Albanian governor of the South of Albania ruled the region. Many of the people who lived in Gjirokaster had good government jobs and great salaries. And therefore, they were able to build grand and impressive houses. 

Gjirokaster is also known as the city of stone because the houses were built with grey natural stones from the region. You can visit the hilltop castle of Gjirokaster and this will give you a beautiful view of the old town centre and the stone houses.

One of the highlights of Gjirokaster is the Old Bazaar Market. This bazaar market of course sells souvenirs, but there are also local handicrafts, Turkish coffee sets and handwoven carpets. You will see many of the decorations that every Albanian family has in their home, so it gives you a good insight into Albanian culture.

Another great place to visit is either Skenduli House or Zekate House. These two traditional houses were kept in their original state since the Ottoman Empire. So you can see the original interiors and imagine what it would have been like to live in Gjirokaster as a rich family hundreds of years ago!

6. The Blue Eye of Saranda

The Blue Eye of Saranda is a place you cannot miss! The Blue Eye is a water spring in the South of Albania. But this water spring is unlike any water spring you have seen before.

The Blue Eye is called “the blue eye” because the water spring looks like a human eye. The spring is located underneath the water level. A cave that is more than 50 meters deep underwater the surface pumps water upwards. This dark cave looks like the pupil of a human eye. And the bright blue water and waving underwater plants form the iris of a human eye. 

There is a viewing plateau above the Blue Eye spring from where you can look down into the blue eye. It is a very calming and natural place, the spring pumps water up to the surface and a rushing river runs away from the spring. The whole area is surrounded by lush and green plants. 

The water of the spring is so clear that you can see every little underwater plant and little rock on the bottom of the river and the spring. 

Capturing the beauty of the Blue Eye in a photograph accurately or describing it, hardly does this beautiful place justice. You simply have to see the Blue Eye spring with your own eyes. And I am sure this will be the highlight of your visit to Albania!

7. The springs of Drilon near Lake Ohrid

The springs of Drilon is an off-the-beaten-path location in the East of Albania. Most tourists focus their holiday on either the North of Albania for a hiking trip in the Albanian Alps. Or on the South of Albania for a beach trip along the Albanian Riviera. However, this spot is in the East of Albania, so of the well-known routes.

In the East of Albania, you can visit Lake Ohrid. Lake Ohrid is located on the border of North Macedonia and Albania. Although Lake Ohrid is a famous destination for visitors to North Macedonia, in Albania the focus is more on the coastline in the west. 

Right near the lakeside town of Pogradec, you can visit the Springs of Drilon. This place is so beautiful and natural, it is absolutely worth visiting.

The Springs of Drilon is a natural location, the springs fill a calming river. On the river, there are little red paddle boats and white swans. There is a beautiful wooden bridge that crosses the river and brings you to a restaurant on the shore. The restaurant has beautiful wooden plateaus that hang over the river. Large willow trees hang into the water of the river. 

All of the nature at the Springs of Drilon is so beautiful. Go to Drilon for a coffee break or a nice lunch near the water. Simply take a moment to enjoy the beautiful nature and calm down. This place is like a natural paradise!

8. Kruja Castle

Kruja is the most famous town in Albania. I mean for the Albanian people it is very famous because this was the town of their national hero. 

The Albanian people have a national hero called Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg was a military commander, who fought against the invasion of the Ottoman Turkish Empire. In the Middle Ages, the Ottoman Empire was conquering the Balkans once city at the time and slowly expanding its reach. 

Skanderbeg was the son of an Albanian nobleman. The Ottomans took Skanderbeg hostage when he was young to ensure his father would be loyal to the Ottomans. Skanderbeg grew up in the Ottoman court and was sent to military school by the Ottomans. He started fighting for the Ottoman Empire in their Army as a military commander but later deserted the Ottoman Army to start defending the Albanians.

Skanderbeg reclaimed Kruja town and the castle of his father. He held a meeting with the nobleman in the North of Albania and together they started fighting against the Ottoman forces. Skanderbeg was very successful for a period of 25 years since he was such a strategic commander. And he was trained by the enemy of course!

In Kruja, you can visit the hilltop castle and explore the museum of Skanderbeg inside the castle’s walls. Kruja castle has stunning panoramic views of Tirana in the valley, the lower town of Kruja and the towards the Adriatic Sea. 

Kruja also has a beautiful Old Bazaar Market alongside the road that leads up to the castle, where you can buy some local handicrafts or souvenirs. There are also some great restaurants and coffee houses along the market square. 

If you have a car, you can drive up to Mount Sarisalltik for a view from the top of the mountains. You will literally stand with your head in the clouds and look down over all of Kruja’s castle and the valley towards the sea. 

Kruja is a very enjoyable and relaxing day trip from Tirana because it is only a 1-hour drive from the capital city.

About me

About me

I am an Albania Tour Guide, who organizes 1-day, 2-day or multiple day private tours in Albania. I arrange your transportation and I am your English speaking guide. So that, you get to experience the most beautiful places in Albania!
Kind regards, Manon

Welcome to Albania!

I am a Tour Guide in Albania

I am an Albania Tour Guide, who organizes 1-day, 2-day or multiple day private tours in Albania.

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