Road trip around Albania

Stories | 12.09.2019
In collaboration with MAPS.ME, travel blog and photography duo Cobalt State have created this guide and shared the stories of a nine-day road trip in Albania. Check out the duo's itinerary around one of the most mesmerizing countries of Southeast Europe.
Tirana
First obligated stop, the capital Tirana, a modern lively city famous for its architectural richness mixing buildings form the ottoman, fascist and Soviet era. Being the biggest cultural center of the country it is abundant in history and there are lots of activities going on.
Bunk'art 2
A great museum mounted inside a huge old bunker, featuring the history of the communist years of Albania. A must visit, entrance fee 500 LEK.
Krujë
The second stop of the trip takes us to the mountains just north of Tirana, located 35 kilometers from the capital, the city of Krujë is rich in history, home of the ancient Alban tribe and the national hero Gjergj Skanderberg.

The main attraction in Krujë is the homonym castle. Inside the perimeter of the castle you will find as well, the watchtower, two museums, a shrine, a hammam, restaurants, and some hotels and old stone houses that are still occupied.
Berat
The city of the 1000 windows, listed under UNESCO world heritage, its buildings are heavily influenced by the Ottoman-era architecture and a big majority of them date to the times of the ottoman empire.
Climb up the hill to the old ruins of the castle and from the top of the tower enjoy the spectacular view of Berat, the river and the valley. Totally recommended to do it for the sunrise (fewer people, less sun burning).
Dhermi
One of the first nice beaches coming from Vlorë, it is a cool place to spend some time after crossing the mountains and the curvy roads of the Llogara national park.
Maybe have a pizza and a beer on one of the terraces of the restaurants looking to the turquoise waters of the Adriatic sea. Recomendable place to sleep, there are plenty of options to spend the night, from fancy hotels to guest houses and hostels.
Plan to spend the morning in Gjipe bay, just a few kilometers driving from Dhermi. This is probably the most famous beach in Albania, it is only accessible by walking (or a big 4X4) 30 minutes down a rocky road or by speedboat from Dhermi.
Himarë
Himarë is a small town in the department of Vlorë, surrounded by breathtaking beaches of crystal clear water and featuring castle ruins in the old part of town. It is a perfect destination for our fifth stop. Plenty of places offering cheap accommodation and a perfect base to explore and go find some secret beaches.
Lukovë
None of the guides or blogs that we read mentioned stop number six. We arrived by chance, we were tired of driving and wanted a place to chill and sleep. Why should you visit, you ask? The old town is very authentic, just local people walking on the crooked streets.
Four kilometers south of the town you will find the local beach Plazhi I Lukovës, spend there the afternoon for a memorable sunset.
Porto Palermo
Porto Palermo is a triangular castle/fortress located in a small peninsula. There is a carpark on the other side of the road and one must walk to get in, the castle can be visited from the inside and you can mount to the top to watch the view. The entrance fee is 200 LEK.
Blue Eye
Syri I Kaltër in Albanese is a famous and touristic water spring and natural phenomenon that bubbles water from a depth of more than 50 meters. The national monument is about 2 square kilometers and the entrance fee is 100 LEk per person and 200 LEK for the car.
Gjirokastër
Last UNESCO site in our itinerary, Gjirokastër is well known for its distinctive Ottoman-era architecture. A big castle sits on the top of the hill in the middle of the city and is a must-visit to learn the history of the area and to savor the views of the city and the valley.
Don't miss Zekate house, the most visited Ottoman house in the city, spotlighting three floors spread in two towers. The owners keep it open as a museum. Entry fee 100 LEK.
Secret Beaches around Ksamil
Stop number 10 and the last one of this trip. Ksamil has nice beaches but it is really touristic and full of visitors, the best is to drive around the city and find the little rocky bays and viewpoints that the normal tourist won't bother to explore.
Find more bookmarks in the "Road trip around Albania" guide by Cobalt State in the routes catalog on MAPS.ME

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