Even when Shkoder, Albania is usually an entry or departure level within the nation when crossing the border with Montenegro, town doesn’t get that a lot recognition amongst vacationers. However in actual fact, this is likely one of the greatest locations to go to in Albania! Not solely there are some cool issues to do in Shkoder however the metropolis could be additionally an important base to find some unimaginable nature within the northern a part of the nation.
I lastly managed to go to Shkoder lately – on my method to Montenegro, I’ve determined to spend in the future in Shkoder to see what town has to supply. The climate wasn’t sadly on my facet because it was raining closely however even then I managed to seek out and revel in some nice Shkoder sights. And the poor climate resulted in some dramatic, moody views of the realm round that had been merely good.
In case you are planning a visit to Albania you’ll want to head north to see this a part of the nation as effectively, so totally different from the favored south. You should utilize Shkoder as your base to discover this stunning space however give town a while too – it might sound a bit random at first however you would possibly find yourself pleasantly shocked with Shkoder identical to I did.
The place is Shkoder
With a inhabitants of a bit over 100 thousand inhabitants, Shkoder is the fifth largest metropolis in Albania, situated within the very north of the nation, proper on the shore of Lake Shkoder. Tirana, the capital of Albania, is 100 km south of Shkoder and the border with Montenegro is simply 10 km away from the middle of town.
Why go to Shkoder
The vast majority of vacationers who go to Shkoder come right here as a result of town is a handy cease on the way in which to/from the Albanian Alps (Accursed Mountains) or Montenegro which makes it an important alternative to verify what to see in Shkoder. And it has a lot, sufficient to spend a minimum of one busy day right here.
There are spectacular ruins with stunning views of the realm round, the one pictures museum in Albania (and a extremely good one at that), and unimaginable nature proper on the outskirts. Even in the event you don’t plan to remain in a single day right here to proceed your journey to a different vacation spot it’s price visiting Shkoder as one of many day journeys from Tirana.
The right way to get to Shkoder
There are buses and minibusses a minimum of each hour from Tirana to Shkoder, departing from the bus station within the northern a part of the capital and arriving on the central a part of Shkoder (Sheshi Demokracia). The journey takes round 2 hours and the ticket ought to price round 400 leke.
There are additionally direct buses from Montenegro (Ulcinj and Podgorica) nevertheless the schedule just isn’t that dependable so it’s greatest to ask earlier than if they’re actually working. After I was going from Shkoder to Ulcinj there was imagined to be a bus at 9 within the morning (in keeping with the data within the vacationer info) nevertheless it by no means arrived so I used to be pressured to take a taxi (which was 20€ so not that dangerous however nonetheless, that was not the plan).
It’s also possible to go from Tirana to Shkoder through Lake Koman – that’s what I did. I took the 5 am minibus from Tirana to Lake Koman, then took the return ferry on the lake and afterward caught the minibus to Shkoder, arriving within the metropolis round 5 pm. It was a bit loopy however the views of the lake had been mindblowing!
The right way to get round Shkoder
Among the Shkoder sights are situated a bit away from the middle – one of the best ways to get to them is by bike. Shkoder is usually flat (apart from the fort) so driving round is a pleasant method to get across the metropolis. The choice is strolling round (though some locations are a bit too far for that) or catching a taxi, which shouldn’t be too costly anyway.
Issues to do in Shkoder
And now let’s lastly speak about the perfect issues to do in Shkoder.
Go to Rozafa Citadel
Even whether it is situated a bit away from the middle (some 3km), that is undoubtedly the most important of all of the Shkoder sights. The spectacular ruins of the 14th-century fort, constructed on the steep hill close to the shore of the Shkoder Lake and on the confluence of the Buna and Drin rivers towers above the realm, provide spectacular views of town and past. You may clearly see the superb Lake Shkoder from right here (together with its half in Montenegro), on a transparent day you can too admire the panorama of the close by breathtaking Accursed Mountains. The legend says that the identify of the fort, Rozafa, is a sworn statement to the girl who was buried contained in the partitions to assist the construction.
However whereas the views are the rationale itself why it’s price visiting Shkoder Citadel, the ruins are fairly nice too. For the reason that hill the fort is constructed on has been at a crossroads already in historic instances, it was inhabited already again then. The current works on the hill confirmed that this was an important heart of the Illyrian tradition within the territory of Albania.
The ruins we will see in the present day date again to Venetian instances who took over the fort in 1396 and expanded it. Crucial occasion within the fort’s historical past was the battle of Shkoder in 1478-1479 when the heroic protection of the city was led from there.
Throughout the Ottoman instances, Rozafa Citadel was the seat of the native administration and after they moved to town within the second half of the 18th century, the military stayed there.
Right now Rozafa Citadel is likely one of the most essential landmarks in Albania, standard amongst vacationers visiting the nation. Contained in the fort, you possibly can see three courtyards with traces of the previous clearly current there. You will notice remnants of the Illyrian wall, medieval cisterns, and Venetian residences. Subsequent, you can see the ruins of the Church of St. Stephen from the thirteenth century which was remodeled right into a mosque throughout Ottoman rule. Within the final courtyard, you possibly can go to the museum that tells the lengthy and turbulent historical past of the place.
Earlier than visiting the fort verify the opening hours (I virtually missed visiting it). There’s a small price to go to the ruins and one other ticket to see the museum.
Wander across the heart
The middle of Shkoder won’t provide many sights nevertheless it’s actually nice and ideal for wandering round.
The principle pedestrian avenue, Rruga Kolë Idromeno, is lined with quite a few cafes and eating places and is a favourite place for locals to go for a stroll. That’s additionally the place you can see the spectacular Ebu Beker Mosque, constructed within the Nineties and lately renovated to its shining look.
When wandering round additionally, you will stumble throughout quite a few statues (a few of them fairly bizarre) in addition to the clocktower with out the precise clock. Altogether the properly renovated heart is a superb place to really feel and benefit from the vibrant environment of town.
Go to the Images Museum
Marubi Nationwide Museum of Images is the one pictures museum in Albania, situated conveniently on the pedestrian Rruga Kolë Idromeno within the heart. Its origins date again to the mid-Nineteenth century when the Italian artist Pietro Marubbi based the ‘Picture-Studio Marubbi’ in Shkoder which was later led by three generations of the Marubbi household.
Right now the museum, situated in a pleasant historic constructing, reveals an important assortment of photographs displaying the event of Shkoder and Albania previously two centuries. Even in case you are a lot into pictures it’s price visiting the place to see these historic photos and what life was like within the space. Apart from the pictures, you can too see right here outdated cameras or the photograph darkroom, in addition to the short-term exhibitions.
Get pleasure from Shkoder Lake
Shkoder Lake is the biggest lake within the Balkans, divided between Albania (1/3) and Montenegro (2/3). The world is heaven for all fowl lovers, round 280 sorts of birds stay right here (which is round 50% of fowl species in Europe). Among the birds you possibly can see right here embrace pelicans (very uncommon in Europe), herons, and cormorants.
However even in case you are not into ornithology you’ll nonetheless take pleasure in Shkoder Lake. The lake is surrounded by superb mountains that along with the pristine nature create a lovely panorama.
The most well-liked exercise here’s a boat experience and I can undoubtedly suggest it. You may see the lake from a totally totally different perspective after which it is possible for you to to understand it to the fullest. It’s also possible to lease a SUP or kayak to take pleasure in water actions – click here for details.
The simplest entry to the lake on the Albanian facet is from Shkoder. Head to the close by Shiroke village (not removed from the fort) and wander alongside the lake or go on a ship journey. That is such a nice and straightforward getaway from the hustle and bustle of the central a part of town.
See Mesi Bridge
Positioned some 5 km away from Shkoder, Mesi Bridge is an ideal instance of Ottoman structure. It was constructed over the Kir river within the 18th century by the native Ottoman pasha. The bridge is fabricated from stone and has twelve arches. Along with the encompassing panorama, it is likely one of the most picturesque locations to go to in Shkoder and round.
Keep at Lodge Tradita
I hardly suggest motels as sights within the metropolis however Hotel Tradita actually was one of many highlights of my journey to Shkoder (and due to heavy rains I needed to keep inside way more than I deliberate).
Because the identify signifies, the resort is designed within the conventional type. Each rooms and customary areas are filled with native artifacts which can be such a lovely addition. It’s also possible to take pleasure in scrumptious native meals right here and within the evenings you possibly can take heed to stay regional music. The costs are reasonably priced and undoubtedly a superb worth for having fun with the native tradition.
Go for day journeys
Shkoder could be additionally used as a base for some nice day journeys round North Albania and even Montenegro.
Apart from spending the day having fun with Shkoder Lake, you can too head to the magnificent Accursed Mountains to admire some breathtaking views or go for the ferry experience on unimaginable Lake Koman and see the mind-blowing panorama round.
Since Montenegro is simply a brief drive away you possibly can hop throughout the border and go to Ulcinj or Stari Bar with spectacular remnants of the stone city destroyed by the earthquake in 1979.
In case you are planning a visit to Albania listed here are extra articles I revealed about this nice and underrated nation that you simply would possibly discover helpful:
Or in the event you plan to proceed your journey to Montenegro after visiting Shkoder right here is the article with the perfect locations to go to in Montenegro.
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