Is Albania worth visiting? Tips from a tour guide

I get emails quite often asking if Albania is worth visiting. Many travellers are new to visiting Albania, so they are wondering whether Albania is worth a visit or not. I am a private tour guide in Albania, let me answer that question for you.

Is Albania worth visiting? Albania is definitely worth visiting. These are the places in Albania, which are definitely worth a visit:
1) Beautiful untouched beaches, like Gjipe beach
2) Boat trip on the Shala River, known as the Thailand of Albania
3) The Cape of Rodon, a stunning rocky peninsula at the coastline
4) The Blue Eye of Theth, a stunning blue pool filled by a little waterfall
5) Butrint, an archaeological park & UNESCO sight
6) Cable Car ride to Mount Dajti Balcony
7) Berat city, a beautiful old town with an “Italian feel”
8) The Lake Koman Ferry, one of the world’s greatest boat rides
9) Ksamil beach, a paradise-like beach with four little islands
10) Lake Bovilla balcony, enjoy lunch with a panoramic view
11) Blue Eye, a freshwater spring that resembles a human eye
12) Kruje & Mount Sarisalltik, visit the castle of Albania’s national hero Skanderbeg

I am a private tour guide in Albania, let me introduce you to the best places to visit in Albania!

1. Gjipe Beach – A hidden cove in Albania

One of the main attractions in Albania is the Albanian Riviera. Basically, the Albanian Riviera is a 120 meter long stretch of coastline in the South of Albania. What makes the Albanian Riviera so special, is that it still has hidden coves & untouched beaches.

One of the highlights of the Albanian Riviera is Gjipe Beach.

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Gjipe is a wild beach that is completely surrounded by cliffs. Because it is enclosed by cliffs it is actually quite hard to reach. But that is exactly the beauty of Gjipe! Since it is not so easy to get to, it remains untouched and remote.

Now you might be wondering “So, how do I get to Gjipe beach?”. You have two options to get to Gjipe beach. If you are driving to Gjipe, you must park your car and hike across the trail through the mountains for 30 minutes to get to the beach. If you have a 4 x 4 car, you may be able to get closer to the beach, than the parking spot.

Alternatively, you can take a boat to Gjipe beach from Dhermi beach, Jale beach or Himare beach. This is actually a great way to arrive because you will have beautiful views of the coastline during your boat tour. This option is obviously a bit pricier because you must pay for a boat tour.

2. The Shala River – The hidden Thailand of Albania

If you want to have a truly memorable experience in Albania, I highly recommend you visit the Shala River.

The Shala River is a river that turns and twists through the mountains in the North of Albania. This river is in a completely isolated region. Because the Shala River is so isolated, you can only visit this area with a little boat.

It is absolutely worth it though! Because the Shala river is often described as the “Thailand of Albania”.

The river has the most azure blue water and the river is surrounded by high mountain cliffs and lush nature. It is like visiting a little island in Thailand, but instead, you are in Europe!

If you would like to take a boat trip on the Shala River, you must start your journey from either Tirana city or Shkoder city.

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From the capital city Tirana, it takes two hours to drive to Shkoder city in the North of Albania. Then from Shkoder, you must drive another 2 hours to get to Koman. For your drive from Shkoder to Koman, I recommend you book a 4 wheel drive car, because the road is quite rocky and a low/regular car might not make it.

The boat to the Shala River departs from the boarding station in the Koman village. You will be on the boat for approximately 1.5 hours. The boat will drop you off at a little beach on the Shala River, where you can swim, sunbathe, have some lunch or stay in a guest house.

The boat trip on the Shala River is truly something special and an unforgettable experience!

3. The Cape of Rodon – A natural wonder only the locals know about

If you are staying in Tirana, I definitely recommend you go on a day tour to the Cape of Rodon.

The Cape of Rodon is a mountain pier in the Adriatic Sea. It is essentially a long stretch of mountains that runs into the sea. Kind of like a finger that points into the Adriatic Sea.

So why should you visit the Cape of Rodon? Because it is absolutely stunning. You hike through the hills for about 45 minutes. And at the end of the trail, you look down onto the Cape of Rodon.

The Cape is overgrown with lush and wild nature. And then surrounding the cape, you see the rough waves of the sea crashing into the cape.

You can descent the trail to get to sea level. There is a castle called “Rodoni Castle”, which was built next to the sea by Albania’s national hero Skanderbeg.

And then, on your way back, I avoid climbing uphill to the trail. And instead, you wade through the sea with your bare feet. This is experiencing untouched nature! Along the sea, you will see these little wild beaches and hidden coves.

Going to the Cape of Rodon is like disconnecting from our rushed and stressful world. And immersing yourself in nature to get away from it all!

4. The Blue Eye of Theth in the Albanian Alps

The Blue Eye of Theth is a destination in Albania, that people travel hours to reach! The Blue Eye of Theth is something truly unique in Albania.

Essentially, the Blue Eye of Theth is a natural mountain pool. The natural pool is filled by a little waterfall and surrounded by cliffs and greenery. If you visit the Blue Eye of Theth, it makes you realize how truly stunning nature can be.

The only thing is, it takes a true adventure to get to the Blue Eye of Theth. From the capital city Tirana, you must drive for about 2 hours to the city of Shkoder in the North of Albania. Then from Shkoder, you drive for about 3 hours to the Theth mountain village.

Don’t discount this journey as easy. Because the road to the Theth mountain village is a turning and twisting road that leads high up in the mountains. The first 2 hours of the road is asphalt, but then the last hour of your journey will drive across a dirt track with stones.

Then from the Theth village, you drive approximately 30 minutes to the trailhead. And from there you hike through the mountains for an hour to reach the Blue Eye of Theth.

When you get to the Blue Eye of Theth, after a long journey, I guarantee you will feel it’s worth it! The Blue Eye of Theth is an untouched, natural wonder.

You will feel instantly relaxed when you sound of the waterfall. And all you want to do is sit down and admire the beauty. Moreover, you will go home with some really impressive pictures, that all of your friends will be jealous of!

5. Butrint – The ruins of an ancient city surrounded by wild nature

Butrint is the most impressive historical sight in Albania.

Butrint is a UNESCO site and an archaeological park. There are many archaeological sites all around the world, so what makes Butrint worth a visit?

The archaeological park of Butrint is a unique combination of ruins and nature. Butrint was an important ancient city during the Greek Empire and the Roman Empire.

The ancient city was set on a little peninsula surrounded by the water of Lake Butrint and the Vivardi Channel.

Nowadays, the ruins of ancient times have been surrounded by lush green nature and trees. So exploring Butrint is like going on an adventure to a little island.

From a historical point of view, Butrint is without a doubt the most interesting sightseeing spot in Albania. The ancient city was a part of many different empires throughout history. Including the Greek empire, the Roman empire, the Byzantine Empire and the Venetian Empire.

I have visited Butrint many times, and I always find it very relaxing and beautiful. There is a circular route that leads by all the interesting archaeological finds on the island. You walk through the beautiful nature and make stops to explore the ancient theatre, the baptistery, the bathhouse, the castle and many more sights.

Don’t worry, if archaeology is not your expertise, you will still really enjoy this beautiful location. And free brochures and information boards will help you to piece together the story of this ancient city.

6. Dajti Express Cable Car – Stunning panoramic view of the capital city

If you are flying to Tirana International Airport, you will most likely spend at least 1 night in Tirana city. If so, I highly recommend you visit the Dajti Express Cable Car during your stay in Tirana.

The Dajti Express is a cable car that takes you from Tirana city up to Dajti Mountain. The cable car’s lower station is in a residential neighbourhood about 20 minutes by taxi from the city centre of Tirana.

You board the cable car and you will fly through the air for about 15 minutes. The cable car trip is absolutely stunning. You will instantly feel calm and relaxed, as you look down onto the world below. The cable car passes over treetops, little farmhouses, natural lakes and mountain cliffs.

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Then when you arrive at the Dajti Mountain balcony, you will have a stunning panoramic view. From the Dajti Mountain Balcony, you can see the entire city of Tirana, the Adriatic Sea and the coastal town of Durres. The view will take your breath away!

Moreover, there is a recreational park on the Dajti Mountain balcony with a variety of entertainment. There is a beautiful clifftop restaurant with tables on the top of the cliff! The rotating bar will give you a 360 degrees view from your table in about 45 minutes. And you can participate in buggy riding, horseback riding, mini-golf, target shooting, outdoor fitness or hiking.

After your trip to Dajti, you will feel very relaxed and I am sure you will be glad you visited this beautiful location!

7. Berat UNESCO city – The city of a thousand windows

Berat is the most beautiful old town in Albania and it is absolutely worth a visit!

Berat is a UNESCO heritage city. What makes Berat truly unique is the two old neighbourhoods, that were built on the slopes of the hill. The two neighbourhoods are opposite each other and divided by a river in the valley.

Berat is also known as “the city of a thousand windows”. Because when you are standing in the valley and you look upwards to the old neighbourhoods, you will see thousands of little windows looking down to the valley.

Apart from the old neighbourhoods, Berat also has a stunning hilltop castle known as Berat Castle. This castle is set on the top of the hill and it has a beautiful panoramic view of the entire valley.

Berat became a UNESCO site because it has little white houses, that were built during the Ottoman Empire. What makes this site truly unique is that the little houses are still inhabited today. You will be even more surprised that you see people living inside the hilltop castle.

In summary, Berat is one of the prettiest towns in Albania with a very “romantic” and “Italian feel”. In Berat, you can see a piece of history from the Ottoman Empire. And you will see the authentic Albanian culture as people live their life inside this old city.

8. The Lake Koman Ferry – One of the World’s Greatest Boat trips

During your holiday in Albania, I highly recommend you spend 1 day visiting the Lake Koman Ferry.

The Lake Koman Ferry is a famous boat ride in the North of Albania. Bradt Travel Guides even described it as “one of the world’s greatest boat trips”.

Lake Koman is actually an artificial lake that was created by building a massive dam. To ensure the local people living in the region could get around, little boats would cross Lake Koman.

But unintentionally, the Lake Koman Ferry became a famous tourist attraction in Albania. Because travellers found out that this boat ride on Lake Koman is absolutely stunning.

Lake Koman is essentially a very long lake. It is a bit like a river that turns and twists through the mountain landscape. The ferry boat turns and twists along the lake, revealing new stunning views at every turn.

What is also amazing about the Lake Koman ferry is the silence of nature. You totally relax when you are onboard, simply staring at the beautiful nature.

If you want to visit Lake Koman, I do recommend you book a tour or arrange your transportation beforehand. Because the Lake Koman ferry only departs once a day at 9:00 AM. Therefore, you must leave Tirana at 5:00 AM or Shkoder city at 7:00 AM in order to catch the ferry on time. And the boat departs from a remote area in the little Koman village.

9. Ksamil beach – The pearl of the Albanian Riviera

Ksamil beach is a paradise-like beach in the South of Albania.

When you see pictures of Ksamil beach, you will immediately think it is a tropical island or somewhere in the Caribbean. But instead, this little paradise beach is right in Europe!

Although Albania has many beautiful beaches and hidden coves. Without a doubt, Ksamil beach is the most beautiful beach in Albania.

Ksamil beach is set on a little peninsula in the South of Albania. In fact, it is so far in the South of Albania, that it is close to the Greek border and the Greek Corfu island.

What makes this beach so idyllic, is that there are four little islands right in front of the beach. From the beach, you can swim to the nearest island. Or you can rent a boat or a kayak to explore the three islands which are a bit further away.

All the Ksamil islands are uninhabited. The highlight are the two twin islands, which are connected via a narrow strip of land.

The peninsula of Ksamil has little wooden shutters all around that lead into the sea. It is also a perfect destination for snorkelling because the water of the sea is incredibly clear.

If you plan on visiting Ksamil, the best periods are June or September. Because since Ksamil is so beautiful it can be busy in July and August. So if you visit just before or just after the high season, you can enjoy it most!

10. Lake Bovilla – Beautiful nature close to Tirana

Lake Bovilla is a stunning place to visit in the middle of nature.

Many tourists staying in Tirana are looking for great 1-day tours to make from the capital city. If you are staying in Tirana, I highly recommend you visit Lake Bovilla.

From Tirana, you must drive for approximately 1 hour to get to Lake Bovilla. Although Lake Bovilla is actually very close to the capital, it feels like a completely different world. As the lake is surrounded by high mountain cliffs and there are no cities or villages in sight.

When you arrive at the Lake, you can drive up a turning and twisting road to the Lake Bovilla balcony. From the balcony, you can take impressive pictures of the lake.

On the balcony, you can climb a staircase to get to an even higher viewing spot. And there is also a little restaurant on-site, where you can enjoy some local specialities.

Insider tip! The Lake Bovilla balcony is an excellent place for a picnic. So consider taking some food and wine with you to enjoy your lunch in nature!

11. The Blue Eye of Albania – A natural miracle

The Blue Eye of Albania is a very unique sightseeing spot in Albania. If you are travelling to the South of Albania, I do recommend you make a trip to the Blue Eye of Albania.

The Blue Eye of Albania is a freshwater spring. And although there are numerous mineral water springs in Albania, the Blue Eye is truly something special.

The Blue Eye is a special water spring because it is absolutely stunning. It is a round pool, which is filled with fresh water from a cave underneath the surface. The freshwater is incredibly bright blue. So bright, that you almost cannot believe it is natural.

The spring is called the “blue eye” because it looks like a human eye. The bright blue water resembles the iris of a human eye. And the underwater cave is the dark pupil of a human eye.

The water of the blue eye spring is so clear that you can see all the beautiful underwater plants, trees and rocks.

Nobody actually knows how deep the blue eye spring really is. Divers have attempted to reach the bottom of the spring, by diving down into the underwater cave. This is a very dangerous activity to undertake because the spring pumps water up to the surface with very high pressure. So a diver must push against the water pressure.

Therefore, nobody has been able to reach the bottom of the spring, but it has been determined it is at least 50 meters deep.

Insider tip! Both Saranda and Ksamil are popular places to stay in the South of Albania. From Saranda or Ksamil, you can make a day trip to the Blue Eye of Albania. And if you drive a bit further along the same road, you can visit the UNESCO city of Gjirokaster. The two destinations are close, so you can explore them both on the same day.

12. Kruje & Mount Sarisalltik – The home of Albania’s National Hero Skanderbeg

Kruje is a very popular day-trip destination for people staying in Tirana.

Kruje is a hilltop village about 1-hour drive from Tirana. The village is known for the Kruje castle.

Kruje castle is very famous in Albania because it is the castle of Albania’s national hero Skanderbeg. Throughout history, Albania has always been a part of different empires. Albania was a part of the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, the Byzantine Empire, the Venetian Empire and the Ottoman Empire.

From 1444 until 1466, the Ottoman-Turks were invading Albania. Skanderbeg was an Albanian national, who was raised in the Ottoman Empire and had become a strong military commander for the Ottomans. However, in 1443, he deserted the Ottoman Empire and started fighting for the Albanians.

Skanderbeg united the different Albanian tribes from different regions and built an army to fight against the Ottomans. Skanderbeg successfully managed to keep the Ottomans from invading the North of Albania for 25 years, until his death in 1468. Soon after, Albania would become a part of the Ottoman Empire for 500 years.

In Kruje, you can see the castle of the national hero and you can visit the fascinating Skanderbeg Museum to learn about this life.

Other highlights in Kruje are the Ethnographic Museum, which gives you a unique insight into what life was like for a rich family during the Ottoman Empire. And you can stroll along the Old Bazaar market to buy souvenirs and handicraft items.

Insider tip! If you book a tour or a taxi to visit Kruje, ask if you can visit Sarisalltik as well. Sarisalltik is a viewing point on the top of the hill at a height of 1176 above sea level. You will have a stunning view! And it is only a 20-minute drive from Kruje.

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.