Shkoder is situated in the North of Albania next to the Montenegro’s border. Indeed Podgorica, the capital city is only 1hour drive away from Shkoder.
I benefited of two days off to visit this northern city of Albania. I took a mini bus from Tirana for only 300Lek (about 2,20Euros) for a 2 hours drive. Like in Tirana the city is surrounded by mountains but plus a river and a lake which are the most attractive things to do in addition to the castle: Rozafa castle.
So I went there with two guests from the Hostel (Hostel Albania) I was volunteering in Tirana. As my time in Shkoder was quite short we managed to do 3 of the most interesting things about the area.
We first started with the discovering of the lake and to do that we hired bikes from the hostel we were staying at. Indeed, cycling in Shkoder is very popular, everyone has a bike and unlike Tirana, it is way safer to bike there. That’s how we got to the Lake by Bicycle, on our way we had a really nice view of the castle, we passed through a typical Albanian village. We cycled for about an hour and a half (because we needed stops to take pictures!) before reaching a “public beach” where one of us took a bath, apparently the water was really hot! It was a really nice first approach to discover the city and its area.
The second touristic thing we did was the visit of the castle. To go to the castle you can either go on foot which is around 40minutes or by bus (30Lek =22cents), so we took the second option and I think we did well because once you get out of the bus you have to walk all the way up to the entrance of the castle and when the temperature is over 30degrees, it takes your energy really fast. Then the entrance fee is 200Lek (1,5euros) and it is really worth it! Indeed, the view from the castle is amazing, you have a vision of the city plus the lake, the river and the mountains! The castle in itself is mostly ruins but there are some hidden spots which were used by the people to protect themselves from the enemy. The only thing that was really disappointing was the souvenir shop in the middle of the ruins… We really did not get it. But I guess, this what the world has become everything has to be a source of income to the cost of the authenticity and of the protection of historic sites. But except for this detail, we all really liked the Castle.
The third and last thing, we did was to go to Mesi Bridge so to go there we took a bus to the terminal station and from there we did hitch-hiking but the first car which stopped was actually one of the shuttles which runs from the city to the surrounding villages. The cost for both types of transport was about 80lek (60cents). I found this place amazing, it might only be an old bridge but standing there with the mountains in the background it is just beautiful. Moreover, as it was during summer time, we could walk on the pebbles which are normally recovered by water, but the heat dries the river during summer so there was no water when we get there. On our way back we also hitch-hiked and this time was successful (but I think we waited for about 30minutes before getting a ride). I have to say that hitch-hiking in Albania is something that is done very well. Unfortunately for my, this was the end of my trip in Shkoder and I had to take the bus back to Tirana but I really liked it!
Unlike Tirana, I found it more touristic but still more authentic as on the road you can see some carts but also some modern carts (without the horses but with a scooter).