We often tell about holidays in Albania because this country has entered our hearts and we are pleased to share with others its beauty which, for now, is really still to be discovered. The first to have loved the Land of Eagles was actually Roberto, who after having been there for work several times, convinced the family to organize a family holiday in Albania: a month on the road that allowed us to discover this corner of Europe. And to come back again …
We tell you right away that usually most of the people who decide to go to Albania choose to go south , towards the white beaches of Ksamil or the countries of the Albanian Riviera . Excellent choice for more, but if you have time and love to “get out of the usual routes” our advice is to dedicate a few days to visit the north of Albania .
Visit Northern Albania
Today’s article is therefore dedicated to those who are looking for ideas for an itinerary in northern Albania , perhaps the least known part of the Land of Eagles, where the sea is replaced by mountains, lakes and, as they told us precisely the Albanians met while traveling, the truest traditions.
However, we advise you not to leave without a good travel guide : there are few on the market in Italian, this guide of Albania is perfect if you have an on the road in mind, this is designed to extend the itinerary to Kosovo while this is especially dedicated to Tirana and the north.
Itinerary to visit Northern Albania
Northern Albania borders Montenegro and Kosovo , which is why many of those who choose to visit the area combine it with a tour of these two countries. Not all of them, however, some decide to stay in Tirana and then visit the surroundings, especially the north.
Keep in mind that the north of Albania is mostly mountainous and is home to some of the most famous lakes in Albania but also some cities full of history. Below we have tried to create a short itinerary that allows you to visit this part of the country, capturing its different aspects, without claiming to be “absolute truth” but on the basis of our experience and also of our mistakes. Where possible we have included links to some in-depth articles to avoid making this post too long.
Visit the north of Albania: the stages
Here are the stages that we recommend you do on an itinerary in the north of Albania . Keep in mind that some mountain roads may not be in good condition – things change quickly in Albania – so when organizing, don’t be too tight with the times. Also allow yourself enough time for trekking in the Albanian Alps.
- Koman and the Valbona Park
Tirana, the capital
The first stop to start your visit to northern Albania , whether you reach the country by ferry from Durres or by plane, could be Tirana . The capital is also a good place to better understand the country because, here more than elsewhere, the renewal that has involved Albania in recent years is clearly perceived. Tirana is a young city but above all it is lived by young people, since here there are many Italian companies that have decided to invest in Albania by focusing on the many young people who, after graduation, choose to stay in the city.
Among the things not to be missed in the city is the Et’hem Bey Mosque , an example of Ottoman architecture, with its floral decorations and the annexed Clock Tower , the National Historical Museum , to understand the history of ‘Albania, and the Bllok , with its many bars and clubs, probably the liveliest area of the city. A stop then “a must” is at the Pyramid of Enver Hoxha , a project wanted to celebrate the dictator who, when we were there, was now abandoned but full of meanings. There is also the Peace Bell, built in 1999 with cartridges fired during the days of riots. For all these reasons, in our opinion Tirana is a nice way to start visiting Albania, then if you want some more information about the city you can find it by following the links with the dedicated articles.
Kruja, the city of Giorgio Castriota
Kruja or Kruje – one of our difficulties was the one with the names – is a town that is very close to Tirana and which is worth including in an itinerary in the north of Albania. This is the city of Skanderbeg , the Albanian national hero, or the man who, practically alone, stood up to the Turkish army, blocking its advance towards Europe, probably changing its destiny. The history of this leader is very fascinating and the site is the destination of many Albanian tourists even more than foreigners who go there to visit the Skanderbeg Museum located in the castle. The town, however, is in itself very picturesque with its cobbled streets, the Ethnographic Museum , the Bazaar and the teqe – or the temple – of the Islamic brotherhood of the Bektashi. Also in this case if you want to know more you can read this article dedicated to Kruja .
From Kruja you can quickly reach Lezhe , the ancient Lissa , a small town that was one of the strongholds of Skanderbeg and where the Albanian hero is buried. Lezhe can also be an excuse to spend a day at the beach in Albania , even if here, unlike Ksamil, the sand is dark, with large and well-equipped beaches but much less scenic than those of southern Albanian.
Shkodra Lake and the city of Shkodra
Another stop that we recommend you to include in your trip to northern Albania is the city of Shkodra . In this case, it is one of the most important cities of Albania, with a lively historic center – dominated by the Mosque and the Orthodox Cathedral – where it is pleasant to stroll in the evening, the Rozafa Castle and the Historical Museum .
But going to Shkodra also means making a stop at Shkodra Lake , with its huge spaces and the possibility of kayaking or simply swimming or relaxing on the beach. This lake is the largest in the Balkan Peninsula, in fact divided almost in half between Albania and Montenegro, which is also striking because its banks are practically uninhabited and intact. Also in this case you can read more about our experience by following the links that lead to the dedicated articles.
Koman Lake, Thethi and Valbona
The Lake Koman is probably one of the most famous tourist attractions of Albani in North: This is actually a reservoir compared to its beauty to the Norwegian fjords that winds along narrow in the mountains, where once there c ‘was a valley then submerged to create the lake. It is possible to visit Lake Koman with the boats that, on a daily basis, make service from the dam and travel the course also allowing the transport of cars but one of the reasons to go there is probably that here still today some of the most ancient Albanian traditions are respected such as the Kanun . If you want to know more about the lake and its history, you can read the article we dedicated to it by simply following the link.
One of the reasons to visit Lake Koman and embark is to reach the small towns of Theti and Valbona with the large Natural Parks that many tourists choose to go trekking in Albania.
Tips for organizing an itinerary in northern Albania
In the blog you will find many articles dedicated to your trip to Albania , with practical advice, stories and the stages that we loved the most. Below we present some information in brief, just if you are planning to leave:
- Safety in Albania : Let’s start by saying that, despite what some still think, our opinion is that Albania is a very safe country for tourists . In fact, during our trip we never felt in danger, not even turning at night in Tirana, and we found everywhere friendliness and a lot of kindness on the part of the Albanians who have often done their utmost to help us.
- Albanian roads: If you decide to move by car, keep in mind that Albanian roads are often narrow and winding , also due to the conformation of the territory, that the motorways are few and that some roads are not in perfect condition (even if it is nothing unsurpassed!). We chose to rent a car to visit Albania independently and we never had any problems, while traveling we met some girls who had instead chosen to travel by public transport who told us about their experience: From their point of view with a little patience it is feasible even if it is not always easy to find information.
- Insurance : A topic to pay attention to is the health policy because in Albania the agreement with the SSN (or our Health Service) is not in force, so it is better to equip yourself by taking out a specific travel insurance like this .
- In Albania with children: If, like us, you are planning to visit the Land of Eagles with children, we have collected some doubts and questions in a dedicated article (because for this destination many have asked us for advice and reassurance!)
- Problems in a trip to Albania: Although our family vacation experience in Albania was absolutely positive (as well as Roberto’s previous trips) what we would like to point out is that the Land of Eagles is experiencing a phase of incredible growth and excitement which brings with it some contradictions. Two in particular are waste management and construction: for us this has absolutely not affected our experience but if you want to know more you can read this article .
- Useful tips for visiting Albania : If you have time to read a (long) article, following the link you will find all the tips resulting from our experience in Albania.
Finally, if you need any other information, write us on YouTub, Facebook and Instagram or leave us a comment below this post! 🙂 Have a nice trip!