The Albanian Riviera is usually the first thing to come into mind when people mention Albania. The riviera is unmistakable famous for the affordable beach towns and crystal clear sea. However, Albania has so much more to offer. We’ve put together a list of our favorite castles in Albania for those who want to explore a bit more.
Albania has always been a hot spot when it comes to history. Many wars and invasions have been fought over here and this resulted in an incredibly rich history for Albania. The country is full of castles that are still standing today.
There are a total of 158 castles and other fortifications in the territory of Albania. Surely some of these are in ruins but some are surprisingly well preserved. Get ready to explore some of the best castles in Albania with us if you want to dive into the deep history of this beautiful country.
Castles in Albania Worth Visiting
Out of the impressive amount of 158 castles we’ve selected just 10 that are definitely worth a visit. This is a pretty small number but these are the most interesting or most well-preserved castles that you can find in Albania.
However, as castle ruins are everywhere in Albania, there is a great chance that one will be nearby your hotel. And even if it didn’t make our list it might be worth a visit especially if it’s really close.
1. Krujë Castle
The castle of Krujë is an impressive structure that is pretty well preserved even today. Not only it is a nice sight to see on your vacation but it is a historically important castle in Albania.
It was during the Ottoman empire when Krujë Castle took center stage in Albania. Most of the Balkans fell under Ottoman rule, however, Skanderbeg decided to rebel against it. He took Krujë Castle without a fight by forging a letter from the sultan himself.
It was this castle that was the base of his rebellion and the Ottomans failed to take it for many years despite the small number of defenders. Only 10 years after the death of Skanderbeg could they take the castle and finally integrate it into the Ottoman Empire.
The locals knew Skanderbeg as Gjergj Kastrioti who was an Albanian noble. Today the remains of the castle hold a museum dedicated to Skanderbeg. We definitely recommend that you see the museum and not just the castle, in order to understand the full story.
2. Fortress of Bashtovë
The Fortress of Bashtovë is an impressive ruin of a standard rectangular medieval fortress. Today it’s mostly the walls and some of the bastions that remain.
As you walk through the front gate and look around, you can imagine the bustling life inside the fortress, protected by the high-rising walls.
It’s a unique castle in Albania as it’s the only fortification that’s built on an open field. It’s also a candidate to be included on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list in Albania.
3. Porto Palermo Castle – Ali Pasha Tepelena Fortress
Porto Palermo Castle was built by Ali Pasha as the name suggests. It’s a triangular castle that has remained in remarkable shape throughout the ages.
You can visit this castle today and see an almost untouched fortress with high walls and impressive views. The castle lies close to the water off the coast of the area of Porto Palermo.
The small islet that hosts the castle is worth the short hike in itself but when you go up on the walls of the castle you’ll get really nice views of the sea and the Albanian coastline.
Once you’ve seen the castle you can relax on Porto Palermo beach. The fact that you can head directly to the beach after seeing the Porto Palermo Castle makes it one of our favorite castles in Albania.
4. Ali Pasha’s Castle
Ali Pasha did not stop at just one fortification in Albania. And how lucky we are that he didn’t. Ali Pasha’s Castle is a dream for drone photography.
This rectangular castle is in an okay shape. The walls are mostly in a good condition but the internal structures are no longer standing.
Regardless, Ali Pasha’s Castle still proves to be an impressive sight. It stands on its own tiny island, inside the Burint National Park. In fact, the only way to visit this castle is by a short boat trip.
Once you land near the castle you are free to explore the structure and go inside the inner courtyard. You can catch great views of the Albanian Mainland on one side and Corfu on the other side. The island location makes for superb aerial shots so if you’ve got a drone, you must visit this castle.
5. Lëkursi Castle
Lëkursi is the ruined castle standing proud over Sarandë. It is built atop the local hill in order to defend the area from the Venetians originally. The ottoman emperor at the time wanted to attack Corfu and needed a defensive fortress for possible landing points to be safe from any countermeasures by Venetians.
Today you can visit this castle by hiking up the hill from Sarandë. Although it’s not a demanding trip it can be a bit harsh in the height of summer so we recommend avoiding a visit during noon.
Inside the castle, you’ll find a restaurant today. Although it looks like the restaurant is part of the original ruin it is just built that way. This restaurant has a huge deck overlooking the area just like the defenders of the castle would overlook the area.
6. Rodoni Castle
Rodoni Castle is more of a ruin than a well-preserved castle. In this case, the trip is the main attraction and the scenery is a great bonus. That’s because Rodoni Castle is located on the Cape of Rodon, a stunningly beautiful cape.
The ruin is a short hike from the parking lot. Along the hike, you’ll get many opportunities to take great pictures especially as you are coming from a height downward the castle. You’ll get some outlook points where the castle is fully visible along the Cape of Rodon. The views make Rodoni Castle one of the most picturesque castles in Albania.
7. Berat Castle
Berat Castle is one of the most impressive castles in the whole of Albania. It’s a very old castle with records dating back to the 4th century already mentioning a fortification near Berat.
Although history was not kind to this castle, it’s an impressive place even in its ruined state. The once magnificent fortification housed as many as 20 churches and a mosque. What a lively atmosphere it must have been in its prime.
8. Castle of Gjirokastra
The Castle of Gjirokastra is another hilltop structure that’s unsurprisingly found in the town of Gjirokastra. It’s in very good condition and we definitely recommend it as one of the castles in Albania you should visit.
The 12th-century castle is impressive and you’ll get great views from its castle walls. There are also some smaller exhibitions inside the castle in regards to military history, with some military equipment on display.
9. Petrela Castle
Another hilltop castle that you will find in an acceptable condition. One of the watchtowers is still standing over the scenery. It’s from the 15th-century.
You can visit the castle and see the remains that are surprisingly well preserved and also get great views of the area. There is also a small restaurant inside with an inviting menu.
10. Durrës Castle
We’ve actually contemplated not putting the Durrës Castle on this list but in the end, we still think it’s worth seeing. Especially if you are in Durrës. Then it’s not something to skip.
It’s not so much of a castle just one remaining bastion. Also known as the Venetian Tower it stands proudly in the harbor to remind you of the interesting past of Albania. It’s a great historical monument.
+1 Tirana Castle
Finally, we have a bonus tip for you. It’s a bonus because it has walls. It has an old entrance. However, the Tirana Castle is very far from what it was originally.
The interior is completely modernized and is full of nice artisan restaurants and shops. The atmosphere inside the walls is always amazing and you can get some great food inside. It’s a must-visit when you are spending some time in Tirana.
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