Close to the border with Montenegro, Shkodra in Albania is the point of entry for the sublime natural landscapes in almost every direction from the city. East is Drin River that flows through canyons, right to the west is the Adriatic Sea and its sandy beaches, and northeast are the Albanian Alps where the country’s tallest peaks can be conquered. For history buffs there’s plenty to catch the eye as Shkodra has been on a key trading post for millennia, and both the Ancient Greeks and Romans settled here. Inside Shkodra you can acquaint yourself with Albanian history and culture, visiting mosques, cathedrals, workshops and photographic archives.
Also see: best places to visit in Albania.
1. Rozafa Fortress
Every civilisation in Shkodra’s history has used this strategic spot on a craggy hill next to the confluence of the Drin and Bojana Rivers. There was an Illyrian stronghold here 2,500 years ago and elements of it were adapted for later fortresses. The Romans also left their mark, but most of the ruins are from Venetian times when the castle was sacked after a siege by the Ottomans in 1478. The castle saw action right up to 1912 when it was defended by the Ottomans against Montenegrin and Serbian forces.