Traveling with kids requires patience and balance. Balance in the sense that you have to keep up with your little ones’ agility and tantrums. It is both challenging and rewarding. Right?
This is why many parents are tempted to look for familiar places such as fast food, playgrounds, and many other things that remind them of home when traveling. This is true most especially if you are traveling to big countries and metropolises. It is convenient and easy. But aren’t we taking out the opportunity for our kids to explore and enjoy the experience?
So, if you are planning to travel to Europe, why not start with the smaller European countries first, especially those places where tourists do not always visit, such as Montenegro, Moldova, and Albania. They may be small, but they do not fall short of amazing things to see. In this article, we’ll cover the beautiful country of Albania!
For too long, many travelers overlooked Albania as a tourist destination. But I want to change that. I want it to be the focus of our discussion. In this article, I will highlight the activities and places you can do and see with kids in the country.
Let’s get started.
1. Off the beaten path
The country’s dark past is one of the reasons why many travelers ignore visiting Albania. But there’s a reason why it is called “past”. The country has moved on and so should we. Since not many tourists have visited it yet, you can be assured that you won’t have to stand in line with a cranky kid onto ruins and Roman sites such as The Amphitheatre of Durrës or the Rozafa Castle. Albania is considered one of Europe’s last frontiers, therefore, there is just so much for everyone, some sites are touristy but the vast majority are untouched.
2. Albanian beaches are among the best ones in Europe
I know, It is given that Montenegro, Italy, or Greece are probably your first options when we talk about European summer beaches. But Albania is a great summer destination as well. The beaches on the rocky islands of Ksamil are amazing and outstanding. So, don’t miss the chance to enjoy the sun, the sand, and the crystal-clear water there with the family. If you like the crowd, then, head to Beach of Durres, which is Albania’s biggest and most visited beach.
3. From beaches to a water spring, Albania has it
One of the most notable Albanian natural wonders is the Blue Eye or Blue Hole. Known locally as Syri and Kalter, it is a water spring that offers fantastic views and crystal-clear blue water to travelers. The depth of this tremendous and extensive water source has not been determined, so letting the kids swim directly to the abyss is probably not a good idea. There are other shallower parts where they can enjoy a dip though.
4. Can’t get enough of beaches and springs? Let the kids have fun on the lake
The biggest lake in Southern Europe that is Lake Skadar, also called Lake Scutari, Lake Shkodër and Lake Shkodra happens to be in Albania. Well, technically, Albania shares the lake with Montenegro, but the lake was named after the city of Shkodër in northern Albania. This karst lake is one of the best places for the family to enjoy water activities like paddling and kayaking. Camping and even glamping is a perfect thing to do with the little ones as well. There are hotels and restaurants around the lake that offer delicious traditional food. It’s a winner!
5. Camp with your kids
Take the kids to The Valbona Valley National Park, which is located at the Albanian Alps in northern Albania. Amazing landscapes, glacial springs, astonishing rock formations, waterfalls, and the dense forest await you. You will see nothing but pristine and untouched beauty. So, get your trek gears ready and enjoy the camp. The park has trails, but some are unmarked, so traveling around the park with a guide is the best way to go.
6. Explore the Capital
For starters, Albania’s capital city of Tirana is where you can kick off your Albanian adventure. Among all the other cities in the country, it is where you will find many communism influences. Therefore, it is so common to see colorful Ottoman-, Fascist- and Soviet-era architecture. If your kids love history, then, exploring the city to see Skanderbeg Square – the city’s main plaza, National Museum of History – a Communist-era building turned into a museum with vast exhibits about the country’s past, and rather strange Piramida, will be an exciting thing to do.
7. Check out Butrint
Albania is home to some UNESCO sites, which are Butrint and Gjirokastra. Butrint or Butrint National Park is a very beautiful place for the family to visit. The kids will love the view of both man-made and natural sceneries. There are Roman buildings, some of which date back to 2,000 years ago that proves Albania is rich in history. Because of its lakes, salt marshes, plains, wetlands, reed beds and islands, ecotourism could also be a good reason why people should visit this amazing place. And wait, snapping photos here is definitely going to be worth it.
8. Don’t miss out on Gjirokastra, too
Like I said previously, Albania is proud home of some gorgeous UNESCO sites, which include Gjirokastra. It is a city and a museum at the same time. Confused? Don’t be. Gjirokastra is a breathtaking site of ruined castles described by UNESCO as “a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate.” Several houses surrounding the hill are beautiful reminders of the colorful history of the place. A day trip here will excite the kids and the kids-at-heart.
9. Aside from Gjirokastra, you should also visit Berat!
Just like the other two sites, Berat is also an Ottoman town well-known for its white Ottoman houses. What can kids see here? Well, there is the 13th-century Berat Castle that is perched atop a hill overlooking the town. You can also visit churches or several mosques, such as the Red and Lead Mosque. But among the most popular Ottoman landmarks in Berat that you should tick off your list is the old Gorica Bridge that is located in the OsumRiver.
This article is part of our popular series, Place To Go With Kids!