Planning a couple of day trips from Tirana is a great way to make the most of your stay in Albania if you’re short on time. While I’m a fan of a long, lazy itinerary, it’s hard to make time to fully explore every part of a new country, especially when you’re constrained by annual leave like me!
Luckily, Tirana is beautifully located in central Albania which makes it a great jumping-off point for adventures big and small. Whether you’re a nature lover or ancient ruin wanderer, you’ll find something for every type of traveller in my list of amazing day trips from Tirana. Let’s get started!
1. Dajti Mountain: a panoramic escape
Of all the day trips from Tirana, this is the most accessible as the Dajti Mountain is easily visible just beyond the city’s limits. You can actually get up and down in as little as an afternoon using the Dajti Ekspres cable car ride – an experience in itself. We had a disaster as we stupidly didn’t check the cable car times – assuming they’d be operational just before sunset – and missed the last one to the top!
If (unlike us) you’re lucky enough to make it to the top, you’ll enjoy gorgeous panoramic views of Tirana and beyond. You can actually hike up the mountain too, which is a great option to spend more time in nature rather than pounding the city streets, or combine the two by taking the cable car up then walking the trail to the Tujani peak for more stunning views.
Practical tip: check the weather for optimal visibility – it’s an amazing photo location!
2. Gamti Mountain and Bovilla Lake
For those craving a nature-filled escape, head to Gamti Mountain and Bovilla Lake. It wasn’t until recently that this day trip came to my attention and looking at the pictures, I’m pretty gutted we didn’t make it there!
While the journey through scenic landscapes will be a treat in itself, the stunning views and crisp mountain air when you’re there make it well worth the trip out of Tirana. It looks like the perfect retreat for hiking enthusiasts and anyone seeking a peaceful day surrounded by nature – hopefully one day I’ll get to experience it for myself.
Practical tip: Allow 1.5 hours for the drive or take a group tour to hike with some like-minded travellers! Don’t forget to pack some snacks and water for a delightful lakeside picnic.
3. Kruja (or Kruje)
Kruja is a gem waiting to be explored and a popular day trip from Tirana. With its historic castle and vibrant bazaar, the beautiful hillside setting means that it was once the tactical site of several of Skanderbeg’s famous battles – the Albanian hero that Tirana’s Skanderbeg Square is named after.
Here you’ll be able to visit the centre of his rebellion, Kruja Castle and learn more at the Skanderbeg Museum. It’s a great option for a day trip from Tirana, with around four hours being plenty of time to stroll through the bazaar and ease yourselves in.
Practical tip: Kruja is super accessible from Tirana by either a quick 40 minute drive or a convenient 1 hour bus ride. Buses depart frequently and are only around 150 Leke (under €1.50).
4. Komani Lake: a scenic boat ride
Prepare for a day of awe as you embark on a boat trip on Komani Lake – it’s easily the most beautiful ferry ride I’ve ever been on! As well as scenic boat trips, you can also use the Komani Ferry to get to some of Albania’s most stunning destinations – for example, the incredible Valbona – Theth day hike. Another highly recommended destination on the lake is Lumi i Shales, a super secluded part of the river perfect for sunbathing, swimming and relaxing in nature’s beauty.
Practical tip: The ferry journey takes around 2.5 hours. Secure your tickets early for breathtaking landscapes en route.
5. Pellumbas Cave: A Hidden Gem
Venture off the beaten path to Pellumbas Cave, a hidden gem not far from Tirana. This cave is like Mother Nature’s art gallery, adorned with stunning formations. A short hike leads you to this underground wonder and in the summer, you’ll be able to cool off with a refreshing dip in the Erzeni canyon. It’s a day trip with a touch of adventure and a dash of mystery!
Practical tip: It’s about 45 minutes by car to the Pellumbas Cave but to get the most out of your trip and learn about the area’s history, it could be worth joining a group tour for this one too – Get Your Guide have some great options which I’ve shared below. Wear sturdy shoes for the hike too!
6. Durres: history by the sea
Balance history with the seaside, without the crowds of Ksamil. Durres is one of Albania’s most well-known beach towns and somewhere I strongly considered staying. However, in the end, we ran out of time so a day trip from Tirana is a great way to get a quick glimpse of what it has to offer.
It’s most famous attraction by far is the Durres Amphitheatre, the largest in the Balkans that was originally built in the 2nd century AD – although it’s been partly destroyed by earthquakes twice! On a day trip, you might not get a huge amount of time to enjoy the beach, but for blend of culture and relaxation within easy reach of the city, what more could you ask for?
Practical tip: Durres is a super quick drive from Tirana – you’ll be there in under an hour – or there are frequent buses leaving from the city centre too.
7. Berat: the City of a Thousand Windows
Berat lives up to its title as the City of a Thousand Windows, with picturesque cobblestone streets, Ottoman-era architecture and a castle overlooking the city. Explore the UNESCO-listed Berat Castle and wander through the charming Old Town. It’s like stepping into a living museum and I couldn’t get enough of its unique look.
If you’re there in the evening, you can’t miss the chance to eat at Homemade Food Lili – although you won’t want to drive afterwards, the homemade raki is lethal!
Practical tip: Berat is a 2 hour scenic drive or a 1.5 hour bus ride from Tirana so plan for an early departure to maximise your day. Honestly though, if you have time, I’d scrap one of your nights in Tirana to stay overnight in Berat to really get a feel for the city’s traditional charm.
8. North Macedonia: Ohrid day trip
Crossing borders for a day? It’s not impossible! Head to Ohrid in North Macedonia, a town that’s as charming as it gets. It’s been on my list for a while but when it came to our most recent Albania itinerary, we just ran out of time to include it – one day!
While you’re there explore the Old Town, visit ancient churches and be captivated by the serene Ohrid Lake. What a story to tell that you’ve managed to hit two countries in one short trip!
Practical tip: The bus journey along is approximately 3 hours, plus potential border-crossing times, so this is really a whistle-stop tour! I’d recommend taking a tour to maximise your time exploring or extending your stay to allow you to spend more than a couple of hours in Ohrid.
There you have it – a collection of the best day trips from Tirana that promise adventure at every turn. Pack your sense of adventure, charge that camera and let the exploration begin!
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Homemade Food Lili, Berat review
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