Albania

Capital:
Tirana

Currency
Lek

Best time to visit:
from May to October

In a word:
Faleminderit (thanks)

Vaccines
None

Essential experiences:
Enjoy a byrek while walking through the narrow streets of the capital Tirana while a muezzin sings his prayer; Sail the magnificent crystal clear waters of Lake Koman; Experience the sparkling nightlife of Shkoder, especially in the summer.

albania flag

Navigating among the Albanian fjords

From Tirana, the capital, to Shkoder with its ancient mosques to Bajram Curri, border with Kosovo, sailing on Lake Koman from the picturesque fjords.

In this adventure we started from Tirana, the capital of Albania, to discover the lesser known countries of the Balkans: the newborn Kosovo and the tiny Montenegro, of course by exploring the land of eagles first! We traveled using only local means trying to confuse us as much as possible among its people.

The discovery of Albania represents a complete immersion in Albanian culture, to visit unique destinations such as the ancient city of Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the lively capital of Tirana, without forgetting the splendid landscapes of Shkoder.
This is a land to be discovered where to organize a trip between seaside resorts, archaeological sites, historic villages and natural landscapes of rare beauty.

This is a land to be discovered where to organize a trip between seaside resorts, archaeological sites, historic villages and natural landscapes of rare beauty.

23 july Tirana (Albania)

We land in the modern, clean and well organized airport of the capital Tirana. With an abusive taxi, we reach our hotel: London, in the center.

The red flags with the two-headed black eagle waving imperiously in Skanderberg square, we wander aimlessly, eat a "byrek", and then slip in "Oda", a traditional restaurant, much recommended by the Lonely Planet, with typical Albanian dishes, specialties of another time that delighted us, in particular the excellent bbq of lamb (mish qengji) and peppers with ricotta (fergese tiranse) ... delicious!

24 july Tirana (Albania)

In the early morning we look for a bar to have breakfast, but we don't find anything to eat (I mean dessert), then as usual, we go to a bakery and buy two large biscuits and a bottle of liquid yogurt and on a nice bench in front at the bridge of the tanners in stone, we enjoy a magnificent breakfast in the open air!

We begin our visit to Tirana starting from the Clock Tower, a real local symbol, built in 1820 and 35 meters high; we pass through Blvd Deshmoret Kombit where we see "the Pyramid", a structure that was the Palace of the Congress and today an important cultural youth center even if a little dilapidated.  

We sneak into every alley, market, eat lots of tasty street food and drink excellent local beer.
We turn the Blloku district far and wide, with its local fruit and vegetable markets. We run into a market in Shyqri Berxolli where we sell a little bit of everything, from beauty products, to costumes, from souvenirs to pots.

Meanwhile, outside, in the Et’Hem Bey Mosque, please. This mosque is one of the oldest buildings left in the city and certainly also the most particular mosque we have seen, the first with all glass walls, thus giving the opportunity to admire it without entering it.

We have lunch at "Zgara Korcare" where we eat excellent skewers accompanied by hot grilled bread and a mixture of Greek yogurt \ peppers \ delicious extra virgin olive oil.

We spend part of the afternoon at the National Hystorical Museum in Tirana, right in Skanderbeg square. 200 lek to immerse ourselves in the history of this country, from prehistory to the warrior to whom the square is dedicated, to the dictatorial regime of Hoxa, to Mother Teresa to the present day.

Most people speak Italian very well, they say it is thanks to television, but if you go a little further you discover that many have had life experiences in our country, directly or indirectly, and you hear stories of people who "have tried" …

25 july Shkoder (Albania)

This morning we wake up calmly and slowly we approach the square from where the furgons and buses leave for Shkoder, or Scutari for the Italians. 

We move north and, in two hours, we reach Shkoder at noon.

It's 40° C outside and with sandwich-like backpacks, we struggle a lot also because the bus leaves us in a point far enough from our hotel: Guest House Rruga Hysaj, and, shortly thereafter, we discover that it actually did not even exist!

Yes, despite having booked it on booking.com, this hotel has not existed for a few months! Unfortunately traveling happens also this! Nearby we find another that welcomes us with pleasure!

Shkoder is a historic town located in the north of the country, not far from Montenegro. The main attraction is the beautiful Lake Skadar, which overlooks the houses of the city, creating a rather suggestive landscape.
Do not miss a visit to Rozafa Castle, the great Abu Bakr Mosque, the 19th century English Clock Tower, the Migjeni Theater and the small but interesting Oso Kuka Historical Museum.

In the afternoon it is really impossible to turn the streets, the heat is oppressive. With the fall of the evening the town begins to come alive and populate.

It looked like another place from the early afternoon. All the shops open, events, exhibitions ... after dinner we go to listen to a Franco-Israeli group playing jazz music, all accompanied by an excellent local frozen beer ... what we needed on a warm Albanian summer evening!

26 july Bajram Curri (Albania)

Today we are in Bajram Curri, a very small village located in the Albanian Alps ... but it all starts at dawn: around 6:10 a van (10-seater mini van) picks us up and takes us to Koman in two hours , we embark for a crossing of about three hours.

The landscape has left us truly amazed, the mountains that plunged into the green waters of the lake. The green of the walls turned rock, reminding us at times of Halong Bay in Vietnam. We never expected such a background!

It was really pleasant to sit barefoot, lying on the roof of the boat and enjoying this wonderful unspoiled and not at all touristy nature.

Around 1pm we arrive in Fierze, and on board a van we reach Bajram Curri, near the border with Kosovo ...
It seems that the Far West has moved to the mountains ... not a soul around. Put the backpack in the room, we head towards the center of this microscopic country and throw ourselves into a restaurant, here they speak no other language except Albanian and even the menu is incomprehensible to us.

So the owner decides to take us directly to the kitchen to look inside two big pots ... if they say that in a restaurant kitchen it is better not to go in before eating ... there will be a reason, right? But we are not very scared and we do well! The stew in broth is good, but the legume and vegetable soup is truly exceptional! We pay 3.50 euros in total.

Throughout Albania we have noticed that the bars are full of men having a coffee accompanied by a large glass of fresh water, so here is a typical photograph of these days.

27 july Bajram Curri (Albania)

Today we leave Albania and enter Kosovo!
I am very excited and in my heart: tense; the memories of the images of the news, the ethnic cleansing of Milosevic, the war, the devastation is still so alive!
The border is very close to Bajram Curri and, easily, after a passport stamp, we set foot in the youngest nation in Europe.

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Scopri l'Albania in 2 minuti (Video)