My recommended 10 day itinerary for Albania
Our 10 day itinerary for Albania allows you to see a mixture of historical sites, beaches and cities. We followed this route during our holiday to Albania with kids. We really enjoyed it as we felt like it gave us a good balance of exploring the country, while still finding time to relax.
Albania is such a beautiful country, with so much to see and do. In my opinion 10 days is a perfect amount of time to spend in Albania. It will give you time to get a good feel of the country and I have no doubt that you’ll be planning a return visit afterwards!
Day 1-2: Berat
Visiting Berat is a gentle introduction to your 10 day itinerary for Albania. Berat is a great gateway to understanding some of the country’s history. It’s easy to access from Tirana which is a 2.5 hour drive away. One of the reasons we chose to head straight to Berat from the airport is so that we could get used to driving in Albania, before we hit the capital. Berat is a quiet and relaxed town, so is the perfect place to begin your trip.
Berat is more than 2,400 years old and is under the protection of UNESCO. It is known as both the City of a Thousand Windows and the City of the Floating Windows. This is due to the white Ottoman houses that line its hillside slopes.
I would recommend beginning your visit at Berat Castle, known locally as Kala. The castle compound is large and offers amazing views of the city. You can walk along the edges of the wall to experience different viewpoints and there are also parts of the building which can be climbed onto. The site is a great example of Albania’s rich history, with a large number of churches and mosques dotted around.
Afterwards make sure you explore Berat’s Old Town, which is lined with traditional Ottoman houses. Although be aware that the narrow cobbled streets are very steep in some parts!
Of course, you must head down to Gorica Bridge, which crosses the Osum River. I’m sure it must be one of the country’s most photographed bridges. Built in 1780, it links the two neighbourhoods, the more touristy Mangalemi and Gorica, which is more residential.
You can easily spend two days in town. However, if you only have 24 hours in Berat, check out my highlights.
Day 3: Gjirokastra
Gjirokastra, also known as the Stone City, is definitely worth a visit. Another UNESCO World Heritage site, the town has an interesting history, including one of the biggest castles in the Balkans. It also has a unique architecture, with many of its buildings made from stone, hence its name. You can either choose to stay the night here, or stop by for lunch on the way to the coast like we did.
Because we were travelling with young children and didn’t want to check in and out of too many different accommodations we decided to just have lunch and a wander around. However you could easily adapt our itinerary to stay here one night and have one less night on the coast.
Gjirokastra is famous for its castle, which was built in the IV century AD. You can walk around its walls to take in the view and also check out the museum, which explains some of the town’s history. The town is also well-known for its Bazaar known as Qafa e Pazarit, where you can buy lace, wooden carvings and traditional Albanian outfits. Our little adventurers were also fascinated in one shop to see an old well, which had been discovered when the foundations were being built. It was covered with a clear plastic cover to allow customers to see down into it. Although it was closely guarded by the shopkeeper, who would only switch on the light for people to look down if they bought something!
Gjirokastra is also known for its food, and we had a fantastic lunch at one of the restaurants overlooking the town. We tried the Gjirokastra’s famous speciality of qifqi (rice balls made with fresh mint), which was delicious.
If you have more time in Gjiokastra you can also check out the Ethnographic Museum, which is located in the house where the country’s former communist dictator Enver Hoxha was born.
One thing I would say to be aware of in Gjirokastra is its extremely steep narrow cobbled streets. I found it quite stressful being a passenger in the car as we navigated the tight turns. So I can only imagine what it was like for poor Mr A who was driving. Also, do not blindly follow your sat nav as ours tried to direct us down a flight of stone steps!
Day 4-7: Ksamil
You should definitely include some beaches in your 10 day itinerary for Albania. If you want a busier resort head to Sarande, which is an hour away from Gjirokastra. However, we decided to travel a little further down the coast as we really wanted to check out Ksamil Islands. Plus we wanted to visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint.
Our beach holiday in Ksamil was one of the highlights of our holiday to Albania. We found it to be a really friendly, relaxed beach town. Although it did get busy it didn’t feel too overcrowded and there are plenty of different beaches to explore. We also loved taking a boat trip out to the four islands.
Visiting Butrint from Ksamil is also an easy trip, as it is just 5km away. Butrint is a really special place and is a great way to learn more about the varied history of the country.
Day 8-10: Tirana
Tirana is the capital of Albania and it is definitely worth spending a minimum of two days here, or more if you can. Exploring Tirana with kids is also really fun.
The drive from Ksamil to Tirana is five hours, but the first part is quite scenic as you travel along the coast. I’d recommend stopping for lunch on the beach along the way.
Make sure you check out Bunk’Art 1 and Bunk’Art 2 during your visit. The former bunkers have now been given a new lease of life as art galleries.
Also take the Dajti Ekspres Cable Car up Dajti mountain for the best views of the city.
I hope you found this 10 day itinerary for Albania helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions!
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