Elbasan is a city and a municipality in the middle of Albania. Its central location is the reason it is sometimes referred to as "Kërthiza e Shqipërisë" (The Bellybutton of Albania).
Elbasan is a key city for visitors to Korca, Pogradec and North Macedonia. All the travellers from Tirana or other parts of Albania must pass through Elbasan to arrive in North Macedonia through the Qafë-Thana border.
About 45 minute ride from Tirana with the bus through the semi-finished new motorway that is still being built as in 2018. Firstly, you have to go to the Terminal to take the bus that is in front of Faculty of Economics University of Tirana, in the "Qyteti Studenti" area, "Arben Broci" street. The new motorway was opened in 2012 and now you can go from Tirana to Elbasan much faster. Beside the new motorway you can see the beautiful landscapes. Elbasan is 54.7 km away from Tirana International Aeroport. You can take a taxi from there.
All the main important places to visit in Elbasan are located near to the city center, you can only take a walk and visit.
Taxis are located close to the main square at the center of the city.
- 1 St. Bashkia stop. To get to the thermal baths (Llixhat) take the bus from here, east of Elbasan Central Palace. The ticket is 50 lek for the 12 km.
- 1 Elbasan Castle, Elbasan City Center (Right at the city centre.). Only two ancient walls remain but the area inside is full of old houses and famous personalities houses, cobblestone streets, and an excellent restaurant. One castle wall is centred around the impressive sahati (clock tower). In the center of the castle are two water sources.
The two-thousand-year-old Castle of Elbasan, a Roman construction built as early as the 3rd century B.C. Foreigners in the 800s noted that cities like Elbasan no longer existed in Europe. Skampis, as this fortress-town was once called, was founded in 1466 by two strikingly different leaders: the Roman emperor Justinian and Sultan Mehmet the Second.
- The Mosque is in the heart of the Castle and the other Mosque is in the city center.
- Elbasan Ethnographic Museum – Located in the centre of the city, not far from the Castle of Elbasan, this museum is housed in a traditional two-story 18th century house that tells of the culture, folklore and lifestyle in this medieval city.
- Scampa – Theatre is the culture cult of Elbasan, in the entrance of it is a library.
- Shefqet Vërlaçi's house – He was a deputy and a member of the headship of Elbasan who supported the Albanian Independence in 1912.
- The first professional Albanian education school ever opened in Albania in 1909, Normalja Elbasanit. The intellectuals that came out of that school were lay out all around the Albanian areas spreading knowledge and giving Albanian language lessons. Now its the Pedagogical school.
- Kostandin Kristoforidhi house (started as a museum in 1978) – The house where the scholar Konstandin Kristoforidhi was born. Kristoforidhi is well-known in Albania for having set the basis of unification of the two Albanian dialects into a national language. The house doesn't work yet as a museum and isn't visitable on the inside although discussions are being made to turn it into a museum.
- Elbasan Arena – It has a modern architecture. There are over 400 parking spaces, 2 restaurants, 1 conference room and a restaurant for V.I.P. The stadium has a capacity of 15,000 seats. You must have an ID card to enter the stadium.
- Take a stroll down the wide brick boulevard leading from the center of town past one of the castle walls and the clock tower. Most evenings right after dusk the boulevard is full of many Elbasan residents out for a nightly walk.
- Visit the Plane Tree and the ruins of the Basilica
- 1 Sotira Waterfall. Visit the caves and waterfalls of Gramsh
- 2 Hike along Via Egnatia. Via Egnatia was a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC.
- 3 Belsh Lakes. Visit the numerous lakes near Belsh and take part in the annual Summer Day celebration in mid-March near the Dumreja Forest (to the North-East from the town).
- 4 Holta Springs. A set of hot springs in a picturesque canyon and surrounding. The main hot pool is 50-100 m after the entrance of the canyon.
- Visit Krasta mountain that is known for its fresh air, the plants and the nature.
- Stop at one of the picturesque villages of Gjinar and Stebleve.
5 Llixhat (or Llixha) means thermal baths and they are located 12 km south of Elbasan. You can take a dip in the curative thermal waters or stay in one of the hotels and have a whole week of treatments.
- 2 Llixhat bus stop. The bus from Elbasan St. Bashkia stop ends here.
- 3 Pristina bus stop (Memi Reisen), ☏ +355 38 44 45 49 - 242 252, +355 692 111 222, +355 684 222 333. From Pristina: 04:00 and 14:00. Many of the guests here come from Kosovo directly into Llixhat, since the place if very popular with Kosovo Albanians. The bus also goes through Prizren. €10 (one way).
There is a set of pools in the center of town. The rest are hotels from basic to luxurious, €15-25 per person per night, including thermal treatments—try Hotel Debrova (+355683098892), Hotel Cekrezi Qender (+355696576322), or Hotel Ylli (+355699773243). Check and inquire prices beforehand. If you come just for a visit, try Boci/Puka hotel, which might let you in for free for one cure.
There are shops, restaurants, post office and a market in town, so you don't have to bring much.
Note, there is another spa town a few km further south, called 6 Tregan, which has at least 3 central hot springs and around 4-5 big hotels.
- Traditional costumes
- Postcards of the city
- Souvenirs with Elbasan castle carved in stones.
You can find them in a shop close to the city center and near to Scampa theatre.
- Bugaçe – A traditional Elbasan breakfast roll found nowhere else in Albania. Smothered in butter and with a dash of salt, this roll is delicious but not for those watching their cholesterol.
- Buke me qofte – A traditional food made in various kiosks in the city.
- Bollokume – Another Elbasan speciality rarely found elsewhere in Albania. It is essentially a large sugar biscuit. While sold in stores all over the city, the best are always the freshly baked warm cookies.
- Try the traditional Tavë Elbasani, Fërgesë Elbasani, tavë kosi and other yummy specialities.
- Kompeka is a traditional desert in Elbasan. You can try this delicious food in the first floor of Hotel Skampa, where is a restaurant.
- Revani is also a traditional delicious desert.
- Cokollatë e zezë (black chocolate). It's like hot chocolate, but almost as thick as pudding and eaten with a spoon.
- Ashure. A sweet pudding-like drink made with corn and nuts.
- 1 Elbasan Backpackers, ☏ +355 69 621 3789. This small, family-run hostel actually feels more like a home-stay. As March 2021 there are 2 buildings for guests: A dorm building with 8 beds and a small shed functioning as private room. Wifi available. Communal kitchen (outdoors), shower/WC (outdoors). The family lives on the premises and breakfast is served at the family's terrace. The host (mother) doesn't speak much English but there's always someone around to translate (the son, Eduart, is fluent in English and French). Dorm bed 850 lek.
- Hotel Vila Imperial – 450 m from the centre. Hotel Vila Imperial features a bar, terrace and free WiFi. 069 432 7991
- Hotel Guri – 500 m from the centre. Featuring room service, this property also provides guests with a terrace. The air-conditioned rooms provide a garden view and come with a desk and free WiFi.
- Antique House Elbasan – 650 m from the centre. Antique House Elbasan has a balcony, free WiFi, a garden, as well as a terrace.
Wireless Internet is widely available in cafés and restaurants throughout the city, although it's a good idea to ask if one is available before you sit down. Free public WiFi is also available around the city through Albtelecom.
Several private phone calling shops with long-distance calling are available.
Mobile telephony providers provide 3G and 4G internet telephony.
- Sopot (Albanian: Sopoti) – A small region in north-east Albania. It is also a village (Prrenjas municipality) and mountain with the same name.
- Pogradec – Overshadowed by its glitzy neighbors on the Macedonian side of the lake, the town of Pogradec has been experiencing a revival.
- Berat – One of the oldest towns in Albania, known as the "city of 1001 windows", with a well preserved castle and nearby the world famous Osum Canyon.
- Durrës – One of the oldest cities in Albania. It has the largest amphitheater in the Balkans and a lot of newly explored beaches.
- Korçë – Albania's cultural capital, full of life during the summer when you can find couples and families strolling through the city's main park, Parku Rinia. You can hike to the top of the beautiful mountain Moravia and view the city and its surrounding landscape.
- Përmet – “The City of Roses” in the Vjosa River Valley, approximately 30 km from the Greek border. The city is known for its clean environment and tradition of wine and raki making. And it is famous for its nearby thermal springs, located in a beautiful river valley with an ancient Ottoman bridge.
- Pristina (Kosovo) – Direct buses leave from the spa center LLixhat to Pristina.
- Struga (North Macedonia) – On the northern shore of the lake, Struga is a smaller, quieter, cheaper, but less fun alternative to Ohrid.