Sea, Lakes and plenty of Culture

Set at the foot of Mount Dajti and home to several artificial lakes, the Albanian capital of Tirana is an excellent starting point for exploring a beautiful country of extraordinary diversity.

Of course Tirana itself is also well worth exploring. Among the city’s best-known attractions are the Et’hem Bey Mosque and, right next to it, the Clock Tower of Tirana that stands 115 feet tall, or the Grand Park of Tirana that features an artificial lake. The city’s landmark is the Skanderbeg Monument on the eponymous square, which was built to commemorate Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero.

Quick facts Tirana

Flight time

1:50 h

Distance

1270 km

Time difference

none CET

Exchange rate

CHF
1.00
=
ALL
108.89

Language

Albanian

A cup of cappuccino costs around

CHF 1.21

From Shkodra to the Albanian Riviera

Travellers venturing north from Tirana will arrive in Shkodra, near the Albanian border with Montenegro. The ancient city is located on the shores of Lake Skadar, which is the largest lake in Southern Europe. The second-largest is Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest lakes in Europe and renowned for its extraordinary fauna. Set between southwestern Macedonia and eastern Albania, the shores of Lake Ohrid are home to the popular holiday destinations Ohrid, in Macedonia, and Pogradec in Albania.

The port town of Durrës, Albania’s second-largest city, is less than twenty miles as the crow flies from Tirana and a popular choice for beach holidays. Having said that, the nicest beaches are situated along the Albanian Riviera, a coastal section in southwestern Albania: crystal-clear, turquoise waters attract visitors to the various beach resorts, such as Himara and Saranda. The bay of Porto Palermo, just south of Himara, is especially popular.

Ancient ruins and a karst spring

Besides sun worshippers, culture aficionados are well catered for in Albania. The archaeological site of Butrint is situated a good twelve miles south of Saranda and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The ruins of the ancient Greek city of Apollonia in the Fier region are another popular cultural attraction. ;;; ;;; Situated on the eastern slope of the Mali i Gjerë (“Wide Mountain”) and nicknamed “City of Stone” because of its stone roof houses, Gjirokastra is one of the oldest towns in Albania. The stone roofing originally served the purpose of temperature regulation. The western slope of Mali i Gjerë features the karst spring Syri i Kalter (“Blue Eye”), which is also a popular tourist attraction. Whether beach, culture or nature: Albania clearly has something to suit every holiday taste.

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