Rêveuse City Guide: Day Trips from Tirana to Berat and Shkodër

Rêveuse City Guide: Day Trips from Tirana to Berat and Shkodër



Tirana is the capital of Albania, however it is also home to other great cities despite it serving its major airport in the Capital. If you manage to go to Albania, we really recommend adding another city into your itinerary, as it's home to breath-taking scenery, such as the Valbone Vallery in the North, as well as the beautiful relaxing beaches down South. On this occasion, we decided to venture into two cities, both of which are two hours away from Tirana. We rented out a car from the airport, which proved really convenient for us, as it meant we could explore the different places in our own time and not have to worry about missing public transport. Through research on travels using public transport, it seems as if there is no particular schedule for some of the buses, so bear that in mind if you are planning on using this option. Nevertheless, Albania is known for its kind people, so if you are ever lost, a local will help guide you in the right direction. For more tips on travelling in Albania, feel free to have a read of our post which takes you on a city tour around Tirana.
  

THINGS TO DO IN SHKODËR

HOW TO GET THERE
If you aren't going by car, we found this page which gives detailed instructions on how to find the bus station. The journey time is about two hours (depending on traffic) and costs around 300Lek (approx £2.20 one way.

01 ROZAFA CASTLE
Entrance Fee: 200 Lek = Approx £1.50
Rozafa Castle is a historical site that gives you picturesque views of the city, which runs far into the distance where you'll see gorgeous mountains, as well as the brilliant blue Lake of Shkodra. Comprising of aged stonework covered in grass, you can still see the remnants of the castle walls and windows. The castle itself has a sad story behind it, which tells of three brothers and their wives who built the castle to protect the people. The walls kept falling down after the castle was completed and the only way for it to holdup was for one of the wives to be sacrificed and buried within the castle to support it's walls. The brothers decided that the wife to be sacrificed would be the one who bought lunch first the next day. They swore not to tell their other halves but in the end the two eldest brothers did and as a result Rozafa, the youngest brothers wife sacrificed herself under the condition that there be a hole for her right breast to feed her son and another hole to caress him and a last one to rock his cradle with. To this day the story of strength and courage is imbued within the castle walls and still remains situated within Shkodër.

02 MESI BRIDGE
In the Northwest of Shkodër lies Mesi bridge, which was built around the 18th century. Showcasing the long history of Albania, the site is perfect for taking photos when the sun is setting and the sun twinkles on the waters crystal turquoise blue surface. You can even relax and take in the view and dip your toes in the cold water. 

03 LAKE SKADAR
The Lake Skadar is the largest lake in Europe with part of it on Albanian ground, and the other on Montenegros side. We parked our car in Shiroke, where we walked around to see the lilac coloured tips of the mountains fading into a deep blue on the opposite side. It was windy here, but in the start of summer, you can also take a bike and cycle around part of the lake and take in the stunning scenery. 

04 VELIPOJË
If you're travelling by car, we recommend to stop by Velipojë for a relaxing stroll by the beach. Velipojë is located about half an hours drive from the centre of Shkodër with the Adriatic Sea separating it from Italy. We visited Albania during early spring, so it was a little windy but definitely worth it just to feel the sand under our toes and breathe in the fresh air. The beach was also extremely quiet with maybe one or two shops open but I'm sure that once summer arrives, the beach is the spot where locals can enjoy the sun.


THING TO DO IN BERAT



HOW TO GET THERE:
To get to Berat by bus from Tirana, you can go to the Regional Bus Terminal, Kashar. From there, the bus departs about every half an hour and costs 400 Lek (approx £3) and takes around 2 hours to get to Berat bus terminal. It is a few kilometers outside of Berat Old Town, where you can take another bus ride which costs about 30 Lek (approx 20p) to the city centre and drop you off at Urban bus stop. 

01 BULEVARDI REPUBLIKA
The road that leads you to the view of the infamous Berat white coloured houses has a really comfortable atmosphere surrounding the area. Along the boulevard, you'll find people lazily lounging in the coffee shops, families strolling by enjoying their weekends, all with a spectacular view to top it off. It is cute little town that has a wealth of history behind it, being one of the Unesco Heritage Sites in Albania. The place almost reminds me of the Amalfi coasts colourful houses, but there's a unique charm about Berat that is idyllic in a homely sense. Here, you can find many restaurants and bars where you can stop off to have lunch. If you have time, you can also enjoy dinner in the evening where you'll get a romantic view of the windows all lit up in the background.

02 BERAT CASTLE
Entrance Fee: 100Lek (Approx 70p)
Berat Castle is located at the top of a hill and includes a number of Byzantine churches preserved within it. We recommend going here first, as it is quite a steep long walk up and I was definitely huffing and puffing on my way to the castle. The castle itself is mostly in ruins, but just looking at it just makes you wonder about the history behind it, being erected in the Roman era.  There is also a viewing platform at the end where you'll see the river Osum and Gorica side, which is truly breathtaking. 

03 MANGALEM QUARTER
Make sure to have a roam around the village. Aptly named a city with a thousand windows, the rows upon rows of white houses aren't just interesting from afar, but within the midst of these houses you'll also find mosques and churches such as the Holy Trinity Church, where you'll get to experience the villagey aspects to the city. Don't be surprised to find a friendly local who will help you around the village and take you on a mini tour around the area, although be expected to pay a euro or two for their kind services.     

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