Albania Travel Guides for Backpackers

Pogradec, a place that will make you want to come back

Pogradec is a city that holds in itself many beauties and treasures. As a person who was born and raised here, I can say that my favorite thing about Pogradec is the peace nature offers. As you go for a walk by the lake, or climb the mountains nearby and see the entire city, you should stop for a second, close your eyes and take a deep breath. You will see yourself filled with a peace that will make you forget for a few seconds the world or anything around you. You will discover a desire to just enjoy life. Reasons to visit Pogradec Pogradec is well-known for very hospitable and welcoming people. It doesn’t matter if they don’t know you, they will still invite you to their house. In summer days they’ll invite you to join them in their courtyard and offer you some fresh homemade lemonade or delicious jam, made by the ladies of the house. If you come to visit Pogradec during winter days, you’ll be offered some mountain tea (typical Albanian) by the fireplace and a good chat. In Pogradec, you can find a very nice combination of tradition and the modern. Typical houses in Pogradec are one or two-floor houses, usually with a yard full of trees and flowers. You can still find these houses in the old part of the city, Toplec district, where all the buildings and the streets are preserved by the government and also by the people of Pogradec, who are very proud of their heritage. The modern is also combined with the overall picture of the entire city. The buildings are usually with 6 to 8 floors. Another reason to visit Pogradec is that it offers a breathtaking and peaceful view as you open your eyes and see one of Europe’s deepest as well as oldest lakes; a lake with an ecosystem of worldwide value that holds more than 200 endemic species. Not only is the view breathtaking but also the treasures that live in the lake are invaluable.                                                                                                                                                                                                   One of the best things about Pogradec is that the climate makes it possible for all the seasons to be experienced fully. Pogradec is often named as the city of flowers, so you can come and experience the bloom of flowers while taking a long walk by the lake, on fresh air. During summer there is a lot to do, like swimming in the […]

Why you should go to Albania (and why you’ll love it)

I have recently had the opportunity to cycle around Europe, from Italy to Greece – and on my way, I unexpectedly met what is certainly a forgotten gem like no other at the border of Europe: Albania. Before entering the country, we had been warned against the dangers we’d supposedly encountered, which simply happened to be clichés conveyed about an unknown nation. Yes, it may be difficult to get accustomed to Albanian narrow streets, confusing road rules and wild dogs, but if you want to experience something entirely new and get to discover a preserved place, believe an adventuress who has crossed it from North to South: you definitely need to go to Albania. And here are all the reasons why you should. Prepare yourself to fall in love! Sköder (and the Sköder Lake)       It is simply impossible to miss the Sköder Lake, which is a must-see site for the landscape and its wildlife. It is difficult of access (except if you have a car, or if you’re cycling) but I have to say that it is absolutely astounding – especially as it is a (quite famous) spot to observe pelicans! Make sure to follow up with a visit of Sköder, and get ready to be surprised at every corner. Don’t miss the main square of the city where you’ll be able to experience the incredible religious mix (and tolerance) of Albania! Locals will tell you how much they are proud of it, and you'll notice very soon that it is very representative of the spirit of the country. If you find the time (and the energy), go to Rosafa Castle where an unbelievable story (and view) awaits for you. And on your way, don’t forget to try bureks, a delicious (and cheap) food speciality. Lezhë If you’re interested in Albanian History, Lezhë is the place to go! Have a walk around the city, which is quite small: you’ll be able to discover more about Skenderbeg, Albanian national hero… and the Albanian flag. Spot Lezhë Castle (or climb up to its entrance door if you feel like it) – but most of all, don’t miss Skenderbeg Memorial! If it’s not open when you get to it, here is a tip for you: on the other side of the square, you’ll find a tourist information point where ethnographers and historians work. Tell them you would like to know more about this historic site, and they’ll open it for you. Of course, if you want information on any other monuments you’ve encountered in Lezhë, here is a chance to ask all the questions you have! Tiranë Tiranë is the capital city of Albania, and… It’s nothing like any other capital cities you’ve seen before. You might want to walk along Tiranë’s river, the Lanë – or if the weather is not as bright as you expected it to be, I would recommend you to go and seat at the Kafe-Librari E Përshtatshme, where you can borrow a few books […]

Surprising Durrës: ancient ruins among modern buildings

DURRËS IN ONE DAY: WHAT TO SEE My boyfriend and I decided to go to Durres for the 1st May long weekend. We decided to go there besides everyone told us that Durrës isn't a beautiful city to visit, rather it isn't at all. But we decided to go there because of the sea, and we thought that it could be nice to visit it before the season starts: we have been told the city turns in one of the most touristic of the Albanian coast. After that, if you live in Kosovo (as we do) and you don't own a car, the choices of a seaside place where to go for a couple of days without spending more than the half of your available time on the bus are limited. We have to say that they were right: Durrës isn't a beautiful city. It's overbuilt, it's under construction almost everywhere and often kitsch. But we found out actually that it's a very interesting city. Explain interesting: among massive and horrible communist style buildings, there are Roman ruin, the ancient city walls, Archaeology sites, a Venetian tower, the summer residence of the Albanian royal family, some lovely modern sculptures along the pedestrian, and some other unusual glimpse all around the city. All this make Durrës a bit odd and schizophrenic, but for sure it's not going to make you bored! Luna Park of Durres on the seaside, view from the Venetian Tower   THE OLD DURRËS All around the city centre may happen to bump into the Byzantine Forum, a complex of columns where it used to be the old market or the Roman amphitheatre, both surrounded by modern buildings. It seems that the municipality neglects them entirely or almost. Actually, these attractions tell us much more about the city, the history (that grounds its roots in the Illyrian time) and the relations among other great population of ancient times. Archaeological sites Coming from the harbour, the first interesting thing that you will encounter is the Venetian Tower, part of the city walls. Built in the XV century, when the city was under the Venetian domain, it's a stocky and large tower, hosting today a cafe with the view of the sea and the pedestrian. All around the tower, grounded below the asphalt, is probably the whole ancient city of Durrës, unfortunately, covered. When we went there, they found new ruins while working in new projects for the city. The terrible news is that they're going to be (probably) covered again. The city walls of Durres On the left side of the tower, the walls climb up the road side by side with a small park. All along the wall, there is an entrance to the old city. At the end of it, a tiny cobblestones road brings you to the Roman Amphitheatre. The entrance is with a payment of 400 Lek (around 3€), and it also includes the Archaeological Museum. A girl […]
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