A cosmopolitan city with a laid back vibe, Shkodër (Shkodra) will draw you in as soon as you arrive. We loved the cafe lifestyle, the harmonious blend of cultures and religions as well as the warm friendly people. Just across the border from Montenegro, Shkodra is Albania‘s northernmost city. Set on Lake Shkodra, it is one of the oldest cities in the country. The bicycle culture is very strong and popular with people of all ages. It is a very active city and extremely pedestrian friendly. A popular pastime of the locals is to enjoy a late afternoon stroll by the lake. Other highlights of the city include the impressive ruins of Rozafa Castle as well as a number of parks, museums and monuments. In this Shkodra destination guide, we give you everything you need to know to make the most of your trip to Shkodra Albania.
What is Shkodër Albania known for?
Shkodra is one of Albania’s most important cities and is known for its rich art, culture and religious diversity. The city is home to a mosque, Catholic church and Eastern Orthodox church that are all within viewing distance of each other, demonstrating the religious harmony of the city. Shkodra is also the centre of Albanian Catholicism. Furthermore it has a long and turbulent history as one of Albania’s oldest continuously inhabited cities.
Why you should visit Shkodër Albania
If you are looking for a city that has a great lifestyle and low cost of living, look no further than Shkodra Albania. This has got to be one of our favourite cities in Albania. We loved the relaxed atmosphere of the city, where you can find outdoor cafes filled with happy customers as well as parks and long pedestrian streets where cyclists and pedestrians go about their days at an easy pace. There are also many fruit and vegetable markets throughout the city where you can get fresh produce for a fraction of the price that you pay in other European cities. The locals are friendly and are always happy to stop for a chat and welcome you to their city.
Shkodra has the unique claim to fame of having a mosque, a Catholic church and an Eastern Orthodox church all within eyesight of each other. Its citizens take pride in the fact that these religions live in harmony side by side. Keep in mind also that Albania had a period where religion was completely banned and it was the world’s first officially atheist country. Religion was banned under communism from 1967 all the way up to the fall of communism in 1990.
The city has some great attractions to enjoy. No visit to Shkodra is complete without a visit to the imposing Rozafa Castle, which overlooks the city. There is also Lake Shkodra, which is the largest lake in Southern Europe. Those interested in history and culture will enjoy the museums and monuments scattered throughout the city.
Shkodër Destination Guide: Know before you go
Basic info about Shkodër Albania
- City name in Albanian – Shkodër. It is sometimes referred to as Shkodra or Shkoder in English.
- Language – Albanian. There are two dialects in the Albanian language – Tosk, which is spoken to the south as well as Gheg which is spoken in the north. The subdialect Northwest Gheg is spoken in Shkodër. English is becoming more widely spoken in the country, particularly amongst younger people. However not everyone you meet will be able to speak English.
- Currency – Albanian lek (ALL). This has been the currency of the country since 1926. Currency exchanges can be found in most cities and ATMs are available widely throughout the country.
- Population – 136,000 (2011)
- Area – 160 km2 (400 sq mi)
- County – Shkodër. Shkodër is the capital of this county.
- Region – Northern Albania (also known as Gegëria). Shkodër is the capital of this region.
- Emergency number – 112
- Police number – 112
Utilities in Shkodër Albania
- Electricity – Albania uses Types C and F power plugs. The country operates on a 230v supply voltage at 50Hz. Power outages are common in Albania.
- Water – the tap water in Albania is not safe to drink. However as the water is chlorinated, it is safe to use tap water for brushing your teeth. We recommend bringing a water purifier such as a life straw on your trip. Alternatively you can buy bottled water.
- Toilets – sit-down flushing toilets are the most common type of toilet in Albania, although Turkish style squat toilets can be found in some places. Don’t flush your toilet paper – use the bins provided. Bidets can be found in many bathrooms in Albania. Public toilets are common and are also free to use.
- Telephone country code: +355
Where is Shkodër Albania?
Shkodër is in the county of Shkodër in the Northern Region of Albania. It is on the border with Montenegro, on the edge of Skadar Lake (also known as Lake Scutari, Lake Shkodër as well as Lake Shkodër).
The closest major Albanian town to Shkodër is Tirana. Shkodër is around 2 hours by bus from Tirana.
How to get to Shkodër Albania
Shkodër destination guide: Arriving by land
Shkodër Albania intercity land transport
The main transport options for travelling overland to Shkodër Albania are:
- Private vehicle
- Private transport operator
Driving to Shkodër from within Albania
If you are driving to Shkodër from within Albania, here are the travel times and distances:
- Durrës – 1 hour 40 minutes (108km, 67miles) without tolls
- Tirana – 1 hour 44 minutes (103km, 64miles) without tolls
- Elbasan – 2 hours 6 minutes (140km, 87miles) without tolls
- Berat – 2 hours 46 minutes (192km, 119miles) without tolls
- Vlorë – 2 hours 58 minutes (225km, 140miles) without tolls
- Gjirokaster – 4 hours 5 minutes (301km, 187miles) without tolls
- Himarë – 4 hours 39 minutes (297km, 185miles) without tolls
- Sarandë – 5 hours 15 minutes (352km, 219miles) without tolls
Intercity trains to Shkodër Albania
The Albanian national railway company is called Hekurudha Shqiptare (HSH). This is also known as Albanian Railways or Albrail. For more information see this website: https://albrail.al/en/
Intercity buses to Shkodër Albania
A common way to get around Albania is by using intercity buses. Intercity bus companies that operate between Albania and nearby countries include Tirana Metropol as well as AlbTrans. Buses depart from Shkodër bus station, which is near the roundabout and across the road from the Tourist Info Centre.
Popular bus destinations from Shkodër include:
- Tirana Albania – travel time 2 hours. Tickets cost 400 lek one way according to information we found prior to making the trip both from speaking to locals as well as online. However we were charged 500 lek one way.
- Durrës Albania – travel time 2.5 hours. Tickets cost 400 lek one way.
- Podgorica Montenegro – travel time 1.5-3 hours. Tickets start from 10 euro one way.
- Kotor Montenegro – travel time 4-4.5 hours. Tickets start from 15 euro one way.
- Budva Montenegro – travel time 3-4 hours. Tickets start from 12 euro one way.
- Dubrovnik Croatia – travel time 8 hours. Tickets start from 39 euro one way.
Bus prices have risen recently for some destinations, so please use these prices as a guide only.
Shkodër destination guide: Arriving by air
The nearest major airport to Shkodër is Podgroica Airport, Montenegro (Airport code TGD). This international airport is 39km (24miles) from the city.
Other nearby airports include:
- Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza, Albania (Airport code TIA). This airport is 39km (24miles) away.
- Tivat Airport, Montenegro (Airport code TIV). This airport is 75km (47miles) away.
- Dubrovnik Airport, Croatia (Airport code DBV). This airport is 116km (72miles) away
The national airline of Albania is Air Albania.
Shkodër destination guide: Arriving by boat
Shkodër is on Skadar Lake, which spans across both Montenegro and Albania. However there are no maritime border control facilities on the lake and no boat services that offer crossings from Montenegro to Albania on Skadar Lake. There are only boat tours available.
Ferry Berisha runs a daily ferry ride (April to November) through the scenic fjords of Komani Lake between Koman and Fierza. A one way fare for a foot passenger is 8 euro or 1000 lek (price as at 2022). The journey takes 2.5 hours. From Koman you can get a minivan to lek for around 700 lek. It is also possible to do the return journey starting and ending at Shkodër on the same day. For more information see this website: https://komanilakeferry.com/en/timetables-and-prices/
Shkodër destination guide: How to get around Shkodër Albania
Walking in Shkodër Albania
By far the easiest and cheapest way to get around Shkodër is to walk. Most of the main attractions in the city area are within easy walking distance.
Cycling in Shkodër Albania
Cycling is a very popular mode of transportation in Shkodër. Locals young and old use bicycles to get around the city. The city is very bike friendly. Bicycle parking areas are common outside restaurants and shops. There are also many bike hire shops around the city. Cyclists share the road with cars and other vehicles. Additionally there are many pedestrian pathways throughout the city that are also used by cyclists.
Local buses in Shkodër Albania
There are local buses in Shkodër.
Mini buses (furgons) in Shkodër Albania
Mini buses known as furgons operate in Shkodër. Furgons are a popular public transport option in Albania as an alternative to buses.
Trams in Shkodër Albania
Shkodër does not have a tram system.
Local trains in Shkodër Albania
Shkodër does not have a local train service.
Metro trains (subway or underground) in Shkodër Albania
Shkodër does not have an underground train line.
Vehicle hire in Shkodër Albania
A wide variety of vehicles can be rented in Albania. This includes:
- Bicycles – you can hire a bike from a bike hire shop such as Albania+.
- Electric scooters
In Albania you drive on the right side of the road.
Taxis in Albania
Taxis are common in Albania. Both official taxis with metered pricing as well as more informal taxis where a fixed fare is agreed beforehand are available. Official taxis will generally have prices displayed inside the vehicle. For longer journeys you can agree on a fixed price before you commence your trip. However in general your fare will include the following costs:
- The pickup fee or minimum fee – this is charged as soon as you get into the vehicle. This is generally around 300 lek.
- Price per kilometre.
- Price per hour – this is a price that gets charged when the taxi is stuck in heavy traffic.
Ride-share services in Shkodër Albania
Uber, Lyft and Grab and other rider-share services do not operate in Albania.
Shkodër Albania destination guide: Is Shkodër Albania worth visiting?
Shkodra is our favourite Albanian city and certainly worth visiting. Shkodër is a vibrant city surrounded by spectacular natural scenery and has a lot to offer. In particular it has a great food scene, fascinating history, friendly locals and a relaxed lifestyle.
Shkodër destination guide: How long to spend in Shkodër Albania
Shkodër is a great place to come for a couple of days or even more. It is a vibrant cosmopolitan city with great food and an interesting mix of cultures and religions. We were impressed with the strong bicycle culture in the city as well as the great atmosphere and friendly people. We spent 1 week in Shkodër and enjoyed taking time to enjoy the various activities available in this lively city.
Shkodër destination guide: What to do in Shkodër Albania
Shkodër is a beautiful Albanian city with many activities on offer. It has a range of great free activities as well as paid activities.
Shkodër destination guide: Free things to do in Shkodër Albania
There are enough free activities in Shkodër Albania to keep you entertained for a weekend or even a leisurely week:
- Skadar Lake
- Ebu Bekir Mosque
- St Stephen’s Cathedral (Arqipeshkëvia Metropolitane Shkodër Katedralja e Shën Shtjefnit)
- Rruga Kolë Idromeno
- Monument to Mother Teresa (Monument Nene Tereza)
- Nativity of Christ Orthodox Church
- Buna’s Bridge
- Sheshi Isa Boletini
- Shatervani Park
- Mesi Bridge
For more details, see our Shkodër travel guide on the 10 Best Free Things To Do in Shkodër Albania.
Shkodër destination guide: Paid activities in Shkodër Albania
A number of attractions in Shkodër Albania charge an entry fee:
- Rozafa Castle – entry fee is 400 lek for adults (as at 2023)
- Marubi National Museum of Photography – entry fee is 700 lek for adults (as at 2023)
- Site of Witness and Memory – entry fee is 150 lek for adults (as at 2023)
- Shkoder History Museum – entry fee is 200 lek for adults (as at 2023)
- Venice Art Mask Factory – entry fee is 300 lek for adults (as at 2023)
- Peaks of the Balkans
Other paid activities in Shkodër Albania include:
- Boat charters and tours
Weather in Shkodër Albania
Shkodër enjoys a warm temperate climate. It has cold winters, with average temperature range between 2°C and 10°C in the coldest month of January. Summers last from June to September and are hot and sunny, with the average temperature range between 21°C and 32°C in the hottest month of July. The month with the most rainfall is November with 10.4 days of rain on average and the driest month is July with an average of 3.7 rainy days.
Best time to visit Shkodër Albania
We recommend visiting Shkodër in either May-June or September-October. This is when the weather is warm but not too hot and it’s not in the peak tourist season. We were there in late May and it was a very pleasant time to enjoy the city and surrounds.
Internet and mobile phones in Albania
There are four major internet and phone companies in Albania – Vodafone Albania, One Telecommunications Albania (formerly Telekom Albania), ALBTelekom (formerly Eagle Mobile Albania) and Plus.
Albania is yet to get 5G. 2G is expected to be switched off in Albania in December 2025, however no date has been set for when 3G will be switched off.
Albania is ranked 47th fastest in the world for mobile internet speeds and 92nd fastest for fixed broadband. For Fixed Broadband the average download speed is 48mbps and upload is 24mbps (as at June 2023).
Cell phone SIM cards can be bought in a numbers of places throughout Albania. These include phone stores as well as at Tirana International Airport.
How much to budget for Shkodër Albania?
Is Shkodër Albania expensive?
Shkodra is an affordable European travel destination that offers modern apartments at surprisingly low costs. The cost of food and activities is also very budget-friendly. Albania is generally an affordable country to visit and Shkodër is no exception.
Shkodër destination guide: Daily spend for a couple travelling in Shkodër Albania
As a rough guide, we recommend the following budgets for a couple:
- Low-budget daily spend – 60 euro per day for a couple will get you hostel accommodation, meals from bakeries and markets, local transport and free or cheap activities such as visiting museums and parks
- Mid-range daily spend – 250 euro per day for a couple will get you mid-range accommodation, local transport, restaurant meals and a few paid activities
- Luxury spend – 600 euro per day for a couple will get you a premium experience in Albania, staying at luxury resorts, travelling by private transport, doing a range of paid activities and eating at high end restaurants
Shkodër destination guide: Accommodation in Shkodër Albania
There is a good range of accommodation to suit most budgets in Shkodër Albania. Airbnb operates in Albania and we were impressed with the range of options available in Shkodër.
Where to stay in Shkodër Albania
We recommend the following accommodation in Shkodër Albania:
- Best hostel in Shkodër Albania – The Wanderers Hostel is a great value hostel right in the middle of Shkodër. The staff are very friendly and helpful and the hostel has a great atmosphere for getting to know your fellow travellers. The dorms are clean and comfortable and the facilities are excellent.
- Best guesthouse in Shkodër Albania – Green Garden Guesthouse is an amazing guesthouse on the outskirts of Shkodër. It is set in a beautiful garden oasis with fruit trees and a vegetable garden. There are also cute pets on the property including turtles. The hosts are very warm and kind people who ensure your stay is special. Breakfasts are plentiful and delicious and the rooms are clean, comfortable and air conditioned.
- Best boutique hotel in Shkodër Albania – Atelier Boutique Hotel is a charming hotel right in the heart of Shkodër. The rooms are spacious and stylishly designed. The hotel has a gorgeous courtyard area and there is also a restaurant onsite. The staff are wonderful and the food is fantastic.
- Best apartment rental in Shkodër Albania – we stayed in this Comfy apartment in Shkoder. We absolutely loved this property! The apartment was brand new when we stayed there and the décor was stylish and modern. Our host provided everything you could possibly want for a comfortable stay. Additionally, the building is perfectly positioned right in the middle of Shkoder.
How much is accommodation in Shkodër Albania?
For short-term accommodation, a general price per night is as follows:
- Budget accommodation – 7-12 euro for a dorm
- Mid-range accommodation – 25-100 euro for a private room
- Luxury accommodation – 70-175 euro a night for a luxury hotel
- Rental property – 30-250 euro a night for a fully furnished 3-4 bedroom home
Shkodër destination guide: Food in Shkodër Albania
Being on the water, seafood is very popular in Shkodër.
How much does food cost in Shkodër Albania?
Our price guide for your food budget in Shkodër Albania is as follows (prices as at 2022):
- Restaurant meal – 600-2000 lek for a main dish
- Local eatery – 600-1200 lek for a main dish
- Bakery food – 100-240 lek euro for byrek, a slice of pizza as well as other bakery items
- Glass of wine – 300 lek
- Shot of Raki – 70-100 lek
- Coffee – 50-150 lek
Regional dishes in Shkodër Albania
Popular traditional Albanian dishes can be found throughout the country. There are not too many dishes that trace their roots to specific regions of Albania. The following traditional Albanian dishes can be found in Shkodër Albania:
- Nena (wild spinach)
- Raki (alcoholic drink)
- Fishkell (Traditional Albanian Sausage)
- Japrak (stuffed vine leaves)
- Stuffed peppers
- Tavë Kosi
Cheap Eats in Shkodër Albania
- Bakeries are a great place to get cheap and delicious food. Byrek are typically around 100-240 lek. Other common bakery food include pizzas and cakes.
Shkodër Albania culture
Albania national holidays
- New Year’s Day – 1-3 January
- Dita e Verës – 14 March
- Nowruz – Spring equinox, March 19, 20 or 21
- Easter Sunday – typically in March or April.
- Easter Monday – the Monday after Easter Day, typically in March or April.
- Orthodox Easter Day – typically in April or May.
- Orthodox Easter Monday – the Monday after Easter Day, typically in April or May.
- Eid al-Fitr – first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar
- Labour Day – 1 May (public holiday the following Monday if it falls on a weekend)
- Eid al-Adha – 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar
- Saint Teresa Canonisation Day – 5 September
- Flag Day or Independence Day – 28 November
- Liberation Day – 29 November
- National Youth Day – 8 December
- Christmas Day – 25 December (public holiday the following Monday if it falls on a weekend)
National symbols of Albania
- Albania flag – a red flag with a black double headed eagle in the centre.
- Albania coat of arms – a black two-headed eagle with a golden crown. Its wings are raised in flight. It is on a red background with a gold border.
- National flower – red poppy
- National bird – eagle
- National dish – Tavë kosi
- Popular drinks – rakija, coffee, beer, Albanian wine
- National sport – football
- Religion – 59% Islam, 17% Christianity (as at 2020)
Famous people from Shkodër Albania
- Famous people born in Shkodër Albania – the three heroes of Shkodër Branko Kadia, Jordan Misja and Perlat Rexhepi, Queen Teuta, King Gentius, military officer Fahrettin Altay, Islamic scholar Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani, political leader Ramiz Alia, singer Elhaida Dani, writer Luigj Gurakuqi, painter Kolë Idromeno, actress Tinka Kurti, war hero Vojo Kushi, politician Bardhok Biba
- Sports stars from Shkodër Albania – Olympic wrestler Elis Guri, Olympic weightlifter Erkand Qerimaj, footballer Rudi Vata
Is Shkodër Albania Safe?
Albania travel guide: Safety in Albania
We travelled through Albania for three weeks and found the country to be extremely safe. Albania ranks 41st safest country on the Global Peace Index (as at 2022). As with any country, there are good areas and bad areas. Watch out for pickpockets particularly at crowded tourist attractions. Make sure no-one is watching whenever you are entering pin codes and never lose sight of your credit card when making a purchase.
A particular risk around the Albania and Kosovo border are unexploded landmines and ordinances. These are a dangerous remnant from the 1999 conflict. Don’t stray from designated hiking paths and take any warning signs very seriously.
General safety considerations in Albania
Other general safety considerations for travel in Albania:
- Drinking water – Tap water is safe to drink almost everywhere in the country.
- Mosquitoes – the tiger mosquito has been found in Albania. This type of mosquito spreads diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikunguya. After being eradicated in 1967, malaria returned to Albania in 1994 and is a re-emerging disease in the country.
- Altitude sickness – Albania has areas of high altitude. This comes with the risk of altitude sickness. If you are planning to visit any high altitude areas in Albania, be sure to allow sufficient time to acclimatise. If you experience any signs of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, tiredness, loss of appetite or shortness of breath, get help immediately.
- Road safety – Road accidents are a significant risk on Albania. Road conditions are an issue, particularly in rural areas as well as in winter.
- Water safety – If you visit any of the coastal areas or lakes, take care when swimming as currents and waves may be stronger than you expect.
- Earthquakes – Albania experiences earthquake activity. If you experience an earthquake, stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls and anything that could fall. If you are inside get under a table, desk or solid furniture and hang onto it. Cover your head and torso to protect from falling objects. If you are outside, stay outside and go to an open area away from buildings.
- Sun safety – Exposure to the sun can have adverse short-term and long-term effects on the skin, eyes and immune system. Sun protection such as sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses is very important to ensure you don’t get burnt.
As with any destination, take all of your normal safety precautions.
Shkodër Albania Blogs
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