City of Korca worth seeing
Korça, first mentioned in writing in 1510, is considered the “cradle of Albanian culture. Worth seeing is the Mirahor Mosque (1466), the country’s oldest single-dome mosque; Furthermore, the National Museum for medieval Albanian art, the Archaeological Museum and the listed but decaying bazaar district with the many Hans (Persian/Turkish hhan, “house”), the former oriental hostels. The city architecture is characterized by Ottoman, French and Aromanian influences. The mixture of boulevards lined with tree-lined avenues, lush parks, city markets, monuments, mosques and churches is beautiful.
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Museum city of Berat
Berat is nicknamed the “City of a Thousand Windows” and is one of the most important sights in Albania and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The picturesque old town of Turkish origin stretches along the mountain slopes along the Osum River and is connected to parts of the city by a seven-arched bridge. Berat, the oldest city in Albania, is under special protection that prevents new construction between the historic, white houses in the center. The castle is a separate district worth seeing with many sacred buildings. The Onufri Museum keeps well-restored icons in an orthodox church.
Medieval town of Kruja
Kruja, the “Balcony of the Adriatic” (600 m above sea level), is enthroned high on a mountain massif north of Tirana. The medieval city was once the ancestral seat of the national hero Skanderbeg, who successfully defended it against the invading Ottoman armies until his death (tomb in Lezha). The Kruja Castle houses the Skanderbeg Museum and an Ethnological Museum. There is also a rebuilt townhouse and a Turkish bath in the castle grounds.
Historical city of Gjirokastra
In the very south lies the town of Gjirokastra. Its center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The historic old town of Byzantine origin (around 1200) is a listed building. The narrow streets have been restored in keeping with the style. The mighty 13th-century fortress, expanded by Ali Pasha Tepelena in 1811, offers a beautiful view. The museum housed here presents the 2000-year history of the city.
The Albanian Riviera is a steep stretch of coast in the southwest of the country between Saranda and the Llogara Pass. The coastal road to Saranda in the south, which leads through the Albanian Riviera with the small towns of Dhërmi, Himara and Borsh and through the citrus plantations of Lukova, is particularly attractive. Saranda is now one of the most important seaside resorts in Albania. Beach and sea as well as the Llogara Pass, which is located in the natural park of the same name, offer relaxation. Bathing on the beaches of Saranda is not recommended because of the water quality.
Ruined city of Butrint
From Saranda you can reach the ancient city of Butrint, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Excavations from antiquity include a theatre, the Dionysus altar, the temple of Asklepius, the Nymphaeum, Roman houses and baths, early Christian basilicas and an early Christian baptistery with one of the finest mosaics ever uncovered. In Butrint there are city walls from all eras, the Lion Gate, the Venetian fortress on the former acropolis with a beautiful view of the Vivar Canal and the fortifications of Ali Pasha Tepelena are particularly impressive.
Coastal city of Vlora
Even in ancient times, the coastal town of Vlora in southern Albania was a well-known port with significant bitumen and salt production. Today Vlora is one of the tourist centers of the country. Kuzbaba Hill offers the best view of the city. From here one can see the Muradiye Mosque (built in 1538-42 by the master builder Mimar Sinan), the Independence Monument and the harbor to the salt pans on the Narta Lagoon. The water quality on the beaches of Vlora is classified as questionable.
Ancient ruins of Apollonia
The ruins of Apollonia can be reached via the town of Fieri, 12 km away. It was founded by the ancient Greeks and named after the god Apollo (two cult columns survive). Apollonia has a trading port at the mouth of the Vjosa. The Romans used the city as the starting point of the Via Egnatia. The Roman city center has been excavated, showing parts of the city wall, the amphitheater and the streets. In the former orthodox monastery from the 13th century there is a museum worth seeing.
Port city of Durres
Durrës is the second largest city in Albania with the country’s most important port. From the Venetian Tower at the port, the medieval city walls lead to the amphitheater from the 2nd century BC. In this theater there is an early Christian burial chapel with a rare wall mosaic. The collection of the Archaeological Museum is worth seeing. City beaches were very popular among tourists before pollution.
The city of Ohrid
Ohrid is the largest city on Lake Ohrid and is close to Ohrid Airport. It is part of the UNESCO World Heritage. Because of its well-preserved old town, its medieval fortress, many churches, monasteries and mosques and because of Lake Ohrid, it is a popular destination for national and international tourists. Sights include the Voska-Hammām (an oriental bath house), an Ottoman clock tower (Sahat-Kula) from 1725 and the Türbe (a mausoleum).
Founded in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, Tirana only became the capital of Albania in 1920. Mosque, hammam (Turkish bath) and bakery formed the nucleus of the old city. Today’s landmarks, the Ethem Bey Mosque and the 35m high clock tower, were not built until 200 years later in the early 19th century. In 1961, the old bazaar district had to make way for the Palace of Culture, which houses the opera, ballet and national library. Today Tirana is the political, economic, cultural and spiritual center – as well as the location of the most important national museums for archaeology, history and fine arts.
Progadec, Lake Ohrid and Drilon
The enchanting holiday resort of Pogradec near the Macedonian border lies on the deep – and therefore cool – Lake Ohrid with its fishing grounds (trout and carp). Lake Ohrid is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. About 5 km to the east is the tourist town of Drilon. A visit is particularly recommended in May or June, when the flowers are in full bloom in the extensive park areas. Due to the opening of the Tushemisht border crossing, a detour to the monastery complex of Sveti Naum is possible on the other side of the border.
Shkodra and the Rozafa castle ruins
Shkodra is one of the oldest cities in the country, if not Europe. It is located on Lake Scutari and is the cultural, economic and political center of northern Albania. The city is towered over by the ruins of Rozafa Castle. Their founding legend, but also the stone witnesses and documents from Illyrian times with their kings and later feudal families, the occupations and freedom movements, offer Albanian history in abundance. The castle offers a great panorama with a view of the lake and the Lead Mosque.
On hiking trails
There are many good hiking routes in Albania. While the Albanian Alps are only for risk-taking adventurers in good physical condition, the holy mountain of Tomorr in southern Albania is a popular hiking area. It consists of two main peaks, both over 2400 m above sea level. Wolves, deer and wild goats as well as golden eagles and falcons are native to the national park of the same name on the mountain massif.