1. Marubi -National Museum of Photography
If you’re interested in photography, history, or both, this museum is certainly for you! On display are a wide variety of intriguing photographs from multiple artists that help you get a better understanding for Albanian culture, life, history, and its people from the 19th & 20th century. The museum itself is named after an Italian, Pietro Marubi, who came to Shkodra around 1850 and who is responsible for some of the collection in the museum today. Pietro also worked with many local Albanian photographers and trained a few as well. We think that this museum will help you get acquainted with where Albania has been, in order to understand where it could be going.
2. Have a coffee or drink along the pedonale
When we say the Pedonale we’re referring to Rruga Kolë Idromeno, a walkway that extends from Rruga G’juhadol all the way to the City Hall of Shkodra. During the day you will find the cafes along this street full of men with wandering eyes, but don’t let that stop you! Take a seat among them and enjoy your share of people watching. This street fills up especially after sundown when many people go out for an evening walk called the xhiro.
3. Get lost down a side street
Though the main pedonale can be fun to experience, don’t leave the small side streets and alleyways unexplored. These mainly transitory pathways often contain unexpected beauty that could include charming old buildings, locals going about their every day life, blossoming flowers, and scenes that overall capture a different perspective of the city and its people. This is also a great time to take some pictures : )
4. Visit one of the many local markets
Shkoder has a few different markets that are bursting with fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. The two largest markets in the city are Rus and Zdralle, though you will also find fresh produce sold along side streets. We think that the produce from the market is a perfect and cheap breakfast or lunch option. Most of the people working at the markets might not speak much English, but with a smile and some gesturing you’ll do just fine! Keep in mind that it’s best to visit the markets in the morning from 8-13:00.
5. Go for a bike ride
Shkoder is synonymous with biking and everyone from as young as 5 to as old as 85 can be found cruising through the city on two wheels. It is yet to be known how or why biking became so popular in the city, but for some reason its is! A bike ride through the city or out to the lake is a lovely way to spend an afternoon and it will afford you views you might not have seen on foot. The only thing we ask is to please keep in mind that the road rules here are a bit different. You should be extra aware if you decide to bike as bike signals, lanes, or moving with the flow of traffic is still a pretty foreign concept.
6. Visit the Castle and learn about the history of Rozafa
Built around the 4th century BC by the Illyrians, Rozafa Castle contains much history and offers stunning views of Shkodra lake and countryside. This castle played a major role during the Medieval ages and period of Skenderbej. There is so much to learn about this castle and ancient Albanian civilization that we suggest you accompany us on one of our daily castle tours, departing from the city every day at approximately 17:30 in order to enjoy a fuller experience of the castle (this is our only plug, we promise!)
7. Take a nap during Zheg
You’ve heard of siesta? Well Zheg is the Shkodran equivalent. After lunch and during the hottest parts of the day (approximately 14:00-17:00) most Shkodrans are at home resting or sleeping and avoiding the sun. Most people usually won’t sleep for the whole 3 hours, but definitely won’t be out for a coffee or doing shopping during this time. If you happen to be outside during these hours you’ll notice that many shops are closed and that the streets are almost empty. So if you want to really do as the Shkodrans do, take a nap in the middle of the day.
8. Go for a swim in the lake
Not always the coolest of water (it is a lake after all), but on the hottest of days, any kind of water feels good. Shkodra lake has some very charming views and on clear days you can get spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. The lake is easily accessible by bike and there is also a bus that can take you to Shiroke/Zogaj. It departs from in front of Hotel Rozafa a few times per day, however bus times are subject to change. Ask at your hotel or hostel if you plan to go by bus.
9. Support local businesses
Though Shkoder is not the largest of cities, it still has quite a few interesting handmade/local stores that sell interesting items that make great gifts or souvenirs. For more specific suggestions, check out our blog post about supporting local businesses http://kiriadventures.al/support-local-businesses/, check out the map at the bottom for the locations!
10. Visit a Mosque, Orthodox Church, or Catholic Cathedral
Shkodra offers you the opportunity to visit all of the above as the religious diversity in the city (and country) is quite varied. Some of these buildings were re-purposed during communism or demolished (as religion was officially banned) the cathedral for example was converted into a gym! Today however you’ll hear church bells and call to prayers all throughout the day. Go for a short exploration of each as they’re within walking distance of each other.