Albania, or Shqipëri– “the land of eagles”, were visited by Ornela and Natalia between 23-30 May. They began in the capital, Tirana, and then moved up north to Shkodër. After visiting this picturesque town, the pair headed down south stopping at various places of interest to reach the city of Saranda and finally go back to the starting point. On their way, our vloggers visited seven different places chosen for their beauty and history, and also as examples of how EU support is creating opportunities for local people.
Meet our Vloggers
Ornela is a travel influencer from Albania who shares her passion for adventure and cultural exploration on Instagram. Her content features imagery and insightful tips on how to travel on a budget. Ornela’s explorations of hidden gems in various regions inspire others to follow suit, making her a trusted source for those seeking unique and affordable travel experiences.
Natalia describes herself as a creative soul for whom finding inspiration is never an issue. She travels a lot making sure all her fascinating experiences are well-documented in an attractive visual form of videos and photos that she shares on social media. She comes from Poland but is internationally educated, having attained her master’s degree in Barcelona, Spain, where she is currently based.
Exploring the capital city and relaxing in the Grand Park of Tirana.
Learning about EU4 Culture Project and attending 'Made of us' media brunch.
Visiting EU-funded Marubi National Museum of Photography.
Learning about ZA FEST, a festival co-funded by the EU.
Durrës, Vlora, Saranda
Visiting Venetian Tower, renovated thanks to EU4 Culture project.
Hiking to Argiro Castle in Gjirokastër, going back to Tirana.
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Beginning of the trip!
The trip started in Tirana, the capital city of Albania, and, at the same time, Ornela’s home town. The city welcomed us with shockingly crowded streets!
First, we explored Skanderbeg Square, noticing a mix of architecture: The National History Museum (from the communist era), The Ministries (from the Italian era), etc. Then we visited, the Museum of Secret Surveillance, also known as the House of Leaves which sheds light on a dark period in Albania.
In the afternoon, we changed scenery by going to the Grand Park of Tirana to enjoy the calming nature. After that, we went to relax at Ornela’s home. Her mom welcomed us with some typical local food whose taste was truly amazing.
Hitting the road
We started the day by interviewing Lejla Hadzic, the cultural heritage advisor at UNOPS. She told us many facts about the mosaic that was restored with the help of the EU4 Culture Project. For example, the stones used on it are called tessera and are exported from Venice. She also mentioned that she had a chance to work with the creators of the mosaic, a rare occurrence. There are 24 ongoing restoration projects just like this one! That’s amazing because Albania has an incredible culture and history.
Later we headed to our media brunch! There we had the chance to meet all the YEAs, Albanian press and EU in Albania and to present our road trip. This event officially started our trip! Straight after that, we went on to explore the city in the evening and Natalia rated it 10/10!
Woke up in the city that has everything!
Lake, river, sea, mountain, castle, museums, restaurants and many more you will find in Shkodër -- the second city on our itinerary. We started the day by eating byrek. Ornela showed the BEST spot for a traditional one with yoghurt! After that we went to Marubi National Museum of Photography. It’s one of the richest photo archives in Europe with over 500.000 negatives! This museum was funded by the EU.
We had lunch at the most amazing restaurant with lake view. After that we headed straight to Theth to visit one of the oldest guesthouses there and to interview the owner.
Always on the move!
We woke up early to interview Pavlin Polia. He told us many interesting stories about Theth and the impact of Za Fest on Theth tourism. Za Fest is a festival organized in Theth and funded by the EU. Thanks to it, the road was reconstructed.
Then, we took off to see the highest waterfall in Albania. The hike was worth it! On our way back, we stopped at the tower of reconciliation, the place where the elders of the village gathered to pass judgment. After lunch, we spent 5 hours on the road heading to Durrës. The traffic was wild, but we handled it perfectly and, finally, we arrived at Durrës.
From the mountains to the sea in a heartbeat
We started our day in the coastal city of Durrës were we went to visit the newly renovated Venetian tower. It was renovated thanks to EU4 Culture project. Then we hit the road and visited 2 more EU-funded projects- Lungomare and Vlora Bypass. We took the long way to Ksamil so we could enjoy the views from the riviera. It was worth every extra km!
Later in the evening we arrived in Saranda to walk along the promenade and to eat sufllaqe -- a local type of kebab.
Ancient people knew how to live (beach mode on)
This day was full of history and mythology. We had an opportunity to be guided by Erjona Qilla - an archeologist on Butrint heritage site. Thanks to the EU, Butrint is now a part of the Roman Emperors and Danube Wine Route. After spending 2 hours there, we finally had a chance to cool down and swim at Pema e Thate beach. We could easily see Corfu from there! For lunch we went to the mussels house- reservoir were the tasty mussels are grown and enjoyed. On our way to Gjirokastër we stopped by the Blue Eye a natural spring and biodiverse National Park.
To get to our first castle on the day, Argjiro Castle in Gjirokastër, we did a mini hike that rewarded us with the view of the castle, old town and mountains! We tried oshaf, traditional dessert with fig and milk. After that we hit the road again, this time to Berat. On our way we saw the majestic Tepelena Castle. Our first stop in Berat was of course another castle! To get there we passed along the Mangalem neighborhood and Gorica Bridge.
This was our last stop before going to Tirana airport and saying goodbye to each other.