Hotels, motels and where to sleep
Restaurant, taverns and where to eat
Cultural (and not so cultural) events
Interesting information and useful tips
Shkoder in Northern Albania is one of the most
unique and interesting places not only in Albania, but also in the
entire Adriatic basin. Its origin is unknown, but we know that it
was an important trading city during the Greek expansion in the
region. This is one of the oldest and most historic places in the
Balkan Peninsula, as well as an important cultural and economic
center. In classical times, Shkoder was known as Skodra and was the
capital of the Illyrian tribe of Labeits.
The region, which
today corresponds to the territory of Shkoder, was founded in the
4th century BC. ancient Illyrian tribes Ardaii and Labeytov. This is
evidenced by artifacts and inscriptions found in the
Rozafa Castle. At that time, the city was
known as Skodra. The city has historically developed on a 130-meter
hill strategically located in the outflow from Lake Shkoder to the
River Buna. The Romans annexed the city after the third Illyrian war
in 168 BC, when Gentius was defeated by the Roman army under the
command of Anicia Gallus. In the 3rd century AD, Shkoder became the
capital of the Praevulitans in connection with the administrative
reform of the Roman Diocletian. With the spread of Christianity in
the IV century, the Archdiocese of Skodra was founded in Shkoder and
officially adopted in 535 by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I.
For many different eras, it has retained its status as a major
city in a wider region, due to its strategic location, close to the
Adriatic Sea and the Italian port cities, as well as land routes to
other important cities and towns in neighboring regions.
During different eras, it retained its status as a major trading
city due to its strategic position, close to the Adriatic Sea and
the Italian port cities, as well as land routes to other important
cities and towns of the neighboring regions. With a population of
77,075, it is the largest city in the north of the country, and in
the Shkoder district there are 215,347 people as of 2011.
Description of Schkoder
Shkoder Tourist Info
Center, Rruga Teuta (Southeast of Sheshi Demokracia). Provide city
maps and can help with any of your inquiries, including bus time
North of Albania Travel, Rruga Kolë Idromeno 145 (in
the pedestrian zone), ☎ +355 67 39 22 119. 07:00-21:00. Tourist
information, tour operator, hostel, transport services, bike and car
Kalaja/Rozafa Fortress (2 km southwest of Shkodra,
near the southern end of Lake Shkodra). Founded by the Illyrians,
this fortress was rebuilt by the Venitians and the Ottomans. Rozafa
is a woman buried in the ramparts, who supports the structure. The
renovated museum inside the castle explains its history and that the
area of the former city is now consumed by the rivers beside the
castle. The museum costs 200 lek extra and there is a private guide
you can ask about almost anything. There are amazing views from the
highest point. 200 lek, 150 lek to enter the Museum.
Historical Museum, Rr. Oso Kuka, no. 12, ☎ +355 22 243213.
09:00-14:00. The museum is situated at a traditional Shkodran house
featuring valuable artifacts on every sphere of social life in the
area. 150 lek.
Marubi National Museum of Photography, Rr. Kolë
Idromeno, no. 34 (midway through main pedestrian street), ☎ +355 22
400 500, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Mo-Su 09:00-14:00, 16:00-19:00.
Albanian's only photo museum capturing development of Shkodra and
Albania in general. Major part of the collection comes from three
generations of Marubis. 700 lek.
Lake Shkodra. The largest lake
in the Balkans. Take a taxi to the village of Shiroke. Alternatively
ask around for the public bus which goes to the edge of the city,
where it is a pleasant 5-km walk by the lake to Shiroke. There is a
less frequent bus directly to Shiroke.
Mes Bridge (Albanian: Ura
e Mesit) (in the village of Mes, about 5 km northeast of Shkodër).
This bridge was built in the 18th century by Kara Mahmud Bushati,
the local Ottoman pasha.
Drisht Castle (above the modern village of Drisht,
10 km northeast of Shkodër). A ruined castle, the earliest traces of
Frost Castle's fortifications date to the late Neolithic era. The
walls and towers date to 1396-1478 during the Venetian era.
Shurdhah Island (Albanian: Ishulli i Shurdhahit). It is in the Vau i
Dejës Reservoir, which is fed and drained by the river Drin. It is
accessible by tourist boat in summer from the Vau i Dejës dam or
Rragam. It contains the ruins of the medieval town of Sarda. You can
visit the ruins of the 11th-century medieval castle, which includes
two rings of defensive walls and towers (some submerged in the
lake), the remains of a Byzantine church and other early medieval
walls. The setting on the steep rocks rising from the lake is
Five Heroes monument. This was "one of
Albania's best examples of socialist-realist sculpture".
Unfortunately, it was removed from there and replaced by a bland
contemporary fountain. The monument was temporarily dumped at the
city's garbage dump, only to be finally put back at the Dobrac
Roundabout in the northern entrance of Shkodra. The site is still a
useful reference point for finding your way around. Interestingly,
the fountain is surrounded by seating, in the centre of a busy
roundabout called Sheshi Demokracia (Democracy Square) with no
pedestrian crossings! Only in Albania!
Museum of Memory,
Bulevardi Skenderbeu. Museum dedicated to the crimes of the
communist regime in Albania featuring photographs, videos, and first
hand accounts of political prisoners from Shkodra.
Ebu Beker Mosque.
The earliest signs of human activity in the
lands of Shkodër can be traced back to the Bronze Age. The favorable
conditions on the fertile plain, around the lake, have brought
people here from early antiquity. Artefacts and inscriptions,
discovered in the Rozafa Castle, are assumed to be the earliest
examples of symbolic behaviour in humans in the city. Although, it
was known under the name Scodra and was inhabited by the Illyrian
tribe of the Ardiaei, which ruled over a large territory between
modern Albania up to Croatia. Queen Teuta, King Agron, and King
Gentius, were among the most famous personalities of the Labeates.
The city was first mentioned during the antiquity as the site of
the Illyrian Labeates in which he minted coins and that of Queen
Teuta. In 168 BC, the city was captured by the Romans and became an
important trade and military route. The Romans colonized the town.
Scodra remained in the province of Illyricum, and later Dalmatia. By
it 395 AD, it was part of the Diocese of Dacia, within Praevalitana.
The dawn of the Middle Ages saw the migration of Slavs. De
Administrando Imperio describes how Byzantine Emperor Heraclius gave
the Serbs a territory in this region during the first half of the
7th century. The southernmost, maritime polity of the Serbian
Principality at Duklja, included the Shkodër region. After the death
of Prince Caslav, the state disintegrated with Duklja retaining most
of it. Tsar Samuel of Bulgaria had by 997 conquered all of Thessaly,
Epirus, Macedonia and most of Albania. In the early 11th century,
Jovan Vladimir ruled Duklja amidst the war between Basil II and
Samuel. Vladimir allegedly retreated into Koplik when Samuel invaded
Duklja and was subsequently forced to accept Bulgarian vassalage.
Vladimir was later slain by the Bulgarians. Shingjon (feast of Jovan
Vladimir) has since been celebrated by Albanian Orthodox Christians.
In the 1030s, Stefan Vojislav from Travunia expelled the last
strategos and successfully defeated the Byzantines by 1042. Stefan
Vojislav set up Shkodër as his capital. Constantine Bodin accepted
the crusaders of the Crusade of 1101 in Shkodër. After the dynastic
struggles in the 12th century, Shkodër became part of the Nemanjić
Zeta province. In 1214 the city became part of the Despotate of
Epirus under Michael I Komnenos Doukas. In 1330, Stephen Decanski
appointed his son Stefan Dusan as the governor of Zeta and its seat
Shkodër. In the same year Dusan and his father entered the conflict
which resulted with campaign of Decanski who destroyed Dusans court
on Drin River near Shkodër in January 1331. In April 1331, they made
a truce, but in August 1331 Dušan went from Shkodër to Nerodimlje
and overthrew his father.
In the 14th century, Shkodër was
taken by the Balšić family, who surrendered the city to the Republic
of Venice in 1396, in order to form a protection zone from the
Ottoman Empire. During the Venetian rule the city adopted the
Statutes of Scutari, a civic law written in Venetian. Venetians
built the St. Stephen's Church (later converted into the Fatih
Sultan Mehmet Mosque by the Turks) and the Rozafa Castle. In 1478-79
Mehmed the conqueror laid siege on Shkodër. In 1479 the city fell to
the Ottomans and the defenders of the citadel emigrated to Venice,
while many Albanians from the region retreated into the mountains.
The city then became a seat of a newly established Ottoman sanjak,
the Sanjak of Scutari.
With two sieges,
Shkodër became secure as an Ottoman territory. It became the centre
of the sanjak and by 1485 there were 27 Muslim and 70 Christian
hearths, although by the end of the next century there were more
than 200 Muslim ones compared to the 27 Christian ones,
Military manoeuvres in 1478 by the Ottomans
meant that the city was again entirely surrounded by Ottoman forces.
Mehmed the Conqueror personally laid the siege. About ten heavy
cannons were cast on site. Balls as heavy as 380 kg (838 lb) were
fired on the citadel (such balls are still on display on the castle
museum). Nevertheless, the city resisted. Mehmed left the field and
had his commanders continue the siege. By the winter the Ottomans
had captured one after the other all adjacent castles: Lezhë,
Drisht, and Žabljak Crnojevića. This, together with famine and
constant bombardment lowered the morale of defenders. On the other
hand, the Ottomans were already frustrated by the stubborn
resistance. The castle is situated on a naturally protected hill and
every attempted assault resulted in considerable casualties for the
attackers. A truce became an option for both parties. On January 25
an agreement between the Venetians and the Ottoman Empire ended the
siege, permitting the citizens to leave unharmed, and the Ottomans
to take over the deserted city.
After Ottoman domination was secure, much of the population fled.
Around the 17th century, the city began to prosper as the center of
the Sanjak of Scutari (sanjak was an Ottoman administrative unit
smaller than a vilayet). It became the economic center of northern
Albania, its craftsmen producing fabric, silk, arms, and silver
artifacts. Construction included two-story stone houses, the bazaar,
and the Central or Middle Bridge (Ura e Mesit) over the Kir river,
built during the second half of the 18th century, over 100 metres
(330 feet) long, with 13 arcs of stone, the largest one being 22
metres (72 feet) wide and 12 metres (39 feet) tall.
was a major city under Ottoman rule in Southeast Europe. It retained
its importance up until the end of the empire's rule in the Balkans
in the early 20th century. This is due to its geo-strategic position
that connects it directly with the Adriatic and with the Italian
ports, but also with land-routes to the other important Ottoman
centre, namely Prizren. The city was an important meeting place of
diverse cultures from other parts of the Empire, as well as
influences coming westwards, by Italian merchants. It was a centre
of Islam in the region, producing many ulema, poets and
administrators, particularly from the Bushati family.
18th century Shkodër became the center of the (pashaluk) of Shkodër,
under the rule of the Bushati family, which ruled from 1757 to 1831.
Shkodër's importance as a trade center in the second half of the
19th century was owed to the fact that it was the center of the
vilayet of Shkodër, and an important trading center for the entire
Balkan peninsula. It had over 3,500 shops, and clothing, leather,
tobacco, and gunpowder were some of the major products of Shkodër. A
special administration was established to handle trade, a trade
court, and a directorate of postage services with other countries.
Other countries had opened consulates in Shkodër ever since 1718.
Obot and Ulcinj served as ports for Shkodër, and later on Shëngjin
(San Giovanni di Medua). The Jesuit seminary and the Franciscan
committee were opened in the 19th century.
Shkodër (İşkodra) was a sanjak of Rumelia Eyalet in Ottoman Empire.
In 1867, Shkodër sanjak merged with Skopje (Üsküp) sanjak and became
Shkodër vilayet. Shkodër vilayet was split into Shkodër, Prizren and
Dibra sanjaks. In 1877, Prizren passed to Kosovo vilayet and Debar
passed to Monastir vilayet, while Durrës township became a sanjak.
In 1878 Bar and Podgorica townships belonged to Montenegro.
Ottoman-Albanian intellectual Sami Frashëri during the 1880s
estimated the population of Shkodër as numbering 37,000 inhabitants
that consisted of three quarters being Muslims and the rest
Christians made up of mostly Catholics and a few hundred Orthodox.
In 1900, Shkodër vilayet was split into Shkodër and Durrës sanjaks.
As in the whole of Albania there is no bus station per
se. Instead there are a few gathering points for buses/furgons
scattered around the city.
Buses departing to
Tirana and Durrës. Majority of buses depart from the main city
square with a fountain (called Sheshi Demokracia). This includes
buses/furgons to Tirana that leave every round hour; the journey
lasts for 2 hours (116 km) and costs 400 lek (2018). There are also
direct buses to Durrës (avoiding Tirana) for 700 lek.
Velipojë. 2 blocks south-west along Rruga studenti, about a 10-min
walk from Sheshi Demokracia there is a small furgon station from
where they depart to the nearby coastal village of Velipojë.
Furgons to Kelmend and Thethi. To catch a furgon to Albanian Alps,
head 2 km north of Sheshi Demokracia. There is a gathering point for
transport going to Kelmend and Thethi.
Furgons to Koman. This
also includes some other locations in an eastbound direction,
including Vau i Dejës dam.
(Montenegro), buses cost €5 (plus €1 if you have baggage) and leave
at 06:00, 07:00, 12:30 and 16:30. If they are not available, you can
take a taxi to the border at Muriqan (€10) and after crossing the
border, take another taxi to Ulcinj (€8). However, the return ticket
from Shkodra to Ulcinj costs €5 and buses leave at 09:00 and 16:00
from the city center fountain.
From Podgorica, take public
buses to Tuzi, then hire a taxi either to the border or to Shkodra.
Minibuses to/from Hani i Hotit (the Montenegro border on the way
to Podgorica) run from around 300 lek. Taxis for this journey cost
Buses from Gjakova go at 06:00 directly to
Shkodra via the highway from Prizren.
your way round Shkodra is complicated by the fact that all of the
roads have been renamed, and some of the old names have even been
re-used in different places! All roads have got new road signs.
Since all the maps and guides (including this one) give the old
names, finding your way round is a bit like being in a parallel
There are some public buses running inside city.
There is also infrequent bus to the nearby village of Shiroke.
Shkodra is the bike capital of Albania, because it's
flat. This is a heritage from the Hoxha era.
1 Hotel Rozafa (Hotel Turizmi) (Right in the city
centre, Rruga Marin Barleti close to Sheshi Demokracia). Old
communist-style hotel; clean; gentle and English-speaking personal;
nice view over the city if you book in an upper floor; 91 rooms; no
air conditioning. 2000 lek for a double room (2013).
Guest House, Shkodra: shtoj i ri, reparti ushtarak. kodrajt (By car,
turn down from E762 road towards Shtoj i Ri. Pass a few local shops,
look and for sign on the right hand side of the road.), ☎
+355682335921, e-mail: email@example.com. This is a 12-bed
B&B/guest house run by Florian and his family, located amongst
orchards and vineyards. It is outside, but within walking distance
from the centre of Shkoder. Breakfast is included, and lunch and
dinner are offered for €4, serving Albanian cuisine made from
organic food farmed in the own garden. The family can help to
arrange tours of Shkoder and to get into the Albanian Alps or to
other cities in the country. €15, breakfast included.
Lake Shkodra Resort. Modern campsite 8 km from Shkodra with
restaurant, Wifi and access to the lake, organises tours to Thethi.
3 Belvedere Apartment, Bulevardi Bujar Bishanaku 16 (From the
main square "Sheshi Demokracia" follow a North-West direction onto
"Bulevardi Bujar Bishanaku" for 250 m.), e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 15:00, check-out: 11:00. This is a holiday and short-stay
apartment near main square "Sheshi Demokracia". The apartment is
fully furnished and features a fully-equipped kitchen. The 80-m²
living space includes: one bedroom, one living room with open
kitchen, a bathroom, hall and a balcony. The balcony offers you a
great panoramic view over the city, castle and mountains. €40.
4 Hotel Kaduku (at Sheshi Demokracia, immediately
next to the Rozafa Hotel), ☎ +355 22 242216. Highly recommended -
friendly staff, large clean room with A/C, right in the city centre.
€50 for double, with breakfast.
5 Hotel Tradita (Tradita G&T),
Rr. Risto Siliqi, no. 25, ☎ +355 22 240 537. Check-in: 14:00,
check-out: 12:00. As close as it gets to being invited to the dining
hall, the kitchen and courtyard of the local Ottoman Pasha. €50.
6 Hotel Colosseo, Rr.. 14 rooms. Single: €50; Double: €60; Suite:
7 Grand Hotel Europa, Sheshi 2 Prilli, ☎ +355 22 241 211.
Prestigious luxury hotel. 50 rooms. From €123.
8 Hotel Argenti,
☎ +355 22 439 09. This is a modern hotel in the Velipoja area with
comfortable rooms furnished with A/C, TV, bathroom and showers. The
restaurant provides traditional Albanian and European cuisine.
Carp fish in Shiroke village
Lots of dining
options are available on the main pedestrian street - Rruga Kolë
Idromeno. There are also some nice restaurants and pizzerias on the
promenade near Buna River Old Bridge (Rruga e Molos street).
1 Restaurant, Rruga e Molos. This is ampscale restaurant by Albanian
standards, serving delicious food including fish. It has a nice
atmosphere and is in a small garden. 300 - 700 lek.
Francisco Bar & Restorant, Rruga Kolë Idromeno. A proper
restaurant's look and feel and an extensive menu are provided. Some
portions are huge, some aren't. The quality of food varies a lot,
from superb to simply uneatable. It has a second floor terrace. 300
- 1500 lek.
3 Green tavern, Rruga Kolë Idromeno. This restaurant
has a little bit of a club atmosphere, but is nonetheless very
ambient. Pizzas, pastas, and salads are provided. 200-350 lek.
Shkodra is famous for its numerous patisseries where
you can eat delicious sweets, and it's possible to come to Shkodra
for this alone.
4 Cafe Oraldi (Pasticeri Oraldi), Parruce, ☎
+355 68 274 6492. Superb cakes. Definitely one of the best in
Albania. Extremely popular with locals. 80 - 150 lek.
Local beers "Korça" or "Tirana" and the famous Albanian spirit