A city rich in history and spectacular landscapes, in addition to being one of the gastronomic centers of the entire country, Lezha packs a full day of valuable and delicious amusement.
After you have enjoyed your morning coffee in one of the many cafés in town, head to Lezha Castle, from where you will get a good view of the entire town below. This fortress was built on the foundations of the ancient acropolis during the 8th century. What is immediately noticeable about it is the varied phases of construction it has gone through as a result of the many invasions throughout the centuries. This fortress with numerous entrances is part of the city’s ancient complex, the latter also referred to as the area of Illyrian stones. The city’s ancient name is Lissus and its fortified walls, once upon a time, connected the castle to the city’s port.
Lezha Castle, photo by IntoAlbania.
Lezha’s food is perhaps one of the main attractions of this region. Local and international visitors alike rush to the many delicious restaurants and farm-to-table spots every weekend, so much so that it’s difficult to secure a table. In the last decades. Lezha has undergone a kind of gastronomical renaissance, creating a modern take on an already famously delicious traditional cuisine. As such, here you can find modern dishes that have not lost none of the traditional flavor. The ideal place to really experience this gastronomical renaissance is Mrizi i Zanave, the most popular farm-to-table restaurant in the country, located in the village of Fishta. Eat here once and you will find that its popularity is entirely justified!
Mrizi i Zanave. Photo source: IntoAlbania.
In terms of obligatory historic places, Lezha is an absolute must! Much of Albania’s history is rooted in this town and one visit here really introduces you to some of the main chapters and names of the country’s story. The Memorial of Skanderbeg rises over the remains of the 14th century St. Nicholas Cathedral and is the place where Skanderbeg was buried in 1468. While the hero’s remains are no longer in this location, this place is worth visiting as it truly honors Skanderbeg, the most significant national figure.
Memorial of Skanderbeg, Lezha, photo by IntoAlbania.
Another must-see, the Obelisk of the Lezha Covenant, sits not far from the Skanderbeg Memorial. This monument was erected in order to commemorate the day of March 2nd, 1444, when the most prominent heirs to the Albanian principalities joined Skanderbeg in his fight against the Ottomans. On this occasion, the first-ever Albanian army was born.
In the evening, get to a beach to enjoy the last – and less harmful – rays of the sun as well as prepare for one of those famous Adriatic sunsets. You can take your pick between the trendy Rana e Hedhun Beach (which literally translates to “Thrown Sand”), the legendary and nostalgic Shëngjin, a favorite vacation spot for many decades, or the lesser known, cozy Tala Beach. Take a bottle of wine with you, relax and enjoy the spectacular sunset at the beach of your choice.
Rana e Hedhun, one of the stages of the festival. Photo by IntoAlbania.
For an equally delicious and memorable but entirely different experience than your lunch, head to Rapsodia Restaurant. Another restaurant of international renown, Rapsodia will make you think you have entered a “Top Chef” episode. Most people who have been to Rapsodia know that cooking here is its own kind of art from. Alfred Marku, the famous chef, does not hold back on experimenting with taste while keeping it all delicious. There are many bonuses to dining here, namely its multi-course sample menus, which allow you to try many things at once, and the overall relaxing and pleasant atmosphere. To find the restaurant, simply follow the road that takes you to Shëngjin.
At “Rapsodia” Restaurant. Some of the appetizers pictured here are vegetable cream puffs (“petulla” in Albanian), octopus carpaccio with pomegranate vinaigrette, and bass carpaccio with citrus vinaigrette. Photo by IntoAlbania.
Mullet with kadayif crostata and white chocolate cream. Photo by IntoAlbania.
In order to trace the history of Christianity in Lezha, you may choose to visit the Church of Our Lady’s Annunciation (Kishën e Zojës Nunenciate), also known as the Church of Dom Lleshi. This object rises above the hills situated across from the city and marks the spot where St. Francis of Assisi founded the first Franciscan convention in Albania. Another church, that of St. Eufemia, located in Kallmet, is recognized among the locals as the destination of a holy pilgrimage. If you especially like frescoes, you should see the fragments of the 12th century fresco here, depicting Saint Eufemia, the church’s namesake.