Albania has a lot of history and also of historical attractions to show. The main towns are trying to get into modernity, but Shkodra, on a lovely lake is a real pearl, especially for the traditional architecture. On a small mountain looking over the lake there is the Rozafa Castle, not so much conserved inside, but with visible walls to be visited to know the history and as well to see the panorama.
In the town, there are a couple of museums that tells through stories and objects the local history and it has to be seen also the Saint Steven Cathedral, an interesting example of religious art and architecture. Going around the downtown you see a superb structure with nice buildings, even if not all of them properly restored, and peaceful pedestrian avenues.
I had a break for late morning breakfast in the five stars Grand Hotel Europa, a tall building in the center of the town. On the top floor, there is a very elegant restaurant and bar, where wooden and iron tables and chairs are offering a very nice setting. It is a popular place for inhabitants but as well for tourists, especially because of the luxury accommodation. The amazing view and the good service are for sure justifying the choice.
Outside Shkodra, following the river, it is possible to see the ancient Mes Bridge, but on the way, there is the perfect location for the lunch. The place is called Bar Restaurant Illyria Shkoder. It was built on a hill overlooking the river and it is a multilevel building, with terraces spread around. In winter time it is better to stay inside, but thanks to the windows guests can enjoy the amazing view.
Everything is recently made, but the style recalls the Illyrian origins, with big and opulent statues, but it is pleasant to see it. Insider the restaurant the elegance is all around and in the service, combined with the popular friendly approach of Albanians. Since inside the complex, there are three different restaurants divided in a very particular way, the menu is for sure full of a good variety of local and Mediterranean recipes.
The ingredients are well selected by quality and even the quite simple dishes are cooked with great ability by the chef. There is as well a good selection of wines. If you like the fish, choose the traditional “tave krapi”, a recipe invented and made in Shkodra. The prices are more expensive than usual considering Albanian standards, but when you choose luxury and a very particular setting it is just normal. For who is going to visit the town and surroundings, Bar Restorant Illyria Shkoder is a must, but also a pleasant taste experience.