Krujë District, Albania
Kruje CastleThis is a great day trip from Tirana, only about a half hour drive from the capital city. Well, actually it takes about half an hour to get it within eyesight, but then the drive up the mountain and into the town takes at least another 20 minutes. If the castle and its incorporated museums are your ultimate goal, keep in mind that they close their doors for about 2 hours mid-day. The small markets stay open but the museums themselves shut for a long lunch.
The two museums are small as well. One is dedicated to the national hero Skanderbeg and the artifacts of his time. The other museum is focused on the ethnography of the region and has mostly handcrafted objects. Frustratingly, they both close at the exact same time for lunch so its not so easy to juggle visits.
However, the castle should really be only one element of this visit. The small old market is great for wandering, the truly winding roads do make way for cars but are filled with town members walking and visiting and hanging out in coffee shops. I visited on a weekend and enjoyed sitting under a tree in one of the town squares with the elderly members of a wedding reception party who were themselves observing the younger family members dancing and picture taking.
The view of the valley is absolutely beautiful. There are reasonably priced places to take lunch but I enjoyed snacking in the shade and people-watching.