One Week in Albania: Lake Ohrid & Korçë (Day 5)

Our second-to-last day in Albania brought us to the lakeside town of Pogradec, situated on the banks of Lake Ohrid, and Korçë, a city in the southeastern part of the country. The southeast is quite different compared to the mountains of Valbona National Park: south of Lake Ohrid you will still find mountains, but less rugged and vast.

Lake Ohrid

Lake Ohrid forms part of the Macedonian–Albanian border. In Macedonia, Struga and Ohrid are popular destinations, while in Albania Pogradec is the only city directly on the lake. When coming from Tirana, the first sight of Lake Ohrid is when you pass over the final hill just before entering Korçë County.

• The first sight of Lake Ohrid.

From there, it is about a 20-minute drive along the lakeside to the city of Pogradec. Only a few years ago, this city was in state of disrepair, with many constructions being left unmaintained. However, in recent years, development began to pick-up thanks to private investors and the government, and nowadays the city is a popular tourist destination for Albanians, and the occasional foreigner.

• Lake Ohrid, with Pogradec on the far left.

We stopped a bit outside the city to get away from the hotels, restaurants, and buzz of the waterfront in general. This way, we could get a better view of the lake and the mountains to the east, part of the National Park Galichica in Macedonia.

• Lake Ohrid, with the mountains of National Park Galichica.


Less than an hour later we arrived in Korçë; a city with just over 75,000 inhabitants, surrounded by the Morava Mountains. We parked our car right in the city center, and the first sight we stumbled upon was a strangely modern looking observation tower, or Red Tower.

• Red Tower.

For 50 lek, or 40¢, you can climb up the ten stairs to get a view of the city. Surprisingly, the view from the top is quite nice, and definitely worth the price. The many red roofs (we assume that’s where the tower got its name from) and mountains make for a nice picture.

• View from the Red Tower.

Afterwards, we continued along the Boulevard Shën Gjergji, stumbling upon the National Education Museum. The museum is located where once was the First School in Albanian language, opened back in 1887.

• National Education Museum.

At the end of the boulevard you can find the impressive Orthodox Cathedral. The cathedral is quite new; it was opened in 1992 after the original got destroyed by the Communist authorities back in 1968.

• Orthodox Cathedral.

Our next stop was the Korçë bazaar, an outdoor shopping area with cobblestone streets and beautiful boutique shops. You can easily spend hours in this lively area of town, browsing through the offerings of the shops, or just enjoying the architecture.

• Korçë bazaar (1).
• Korçë bazaar (2).

Before departing on the long drive back to Tirana, we had lunch at Birra Korça, a brewing company. It is the third-largest beer producer in Albania, after Birra Tirana and Birra Stela. After a few satisfying beers, it was time to head back to the capital, which we, due to our busy program, didn’t really explored yet.

• Birra Korça.

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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