Bunkers & the bizarre history of Albania

This tour is extremely unique and is designed for those with an interest in the bizarre sides of history. We started running this tour in 2015 for travelers, artists and journalists alike and it was a huge success! We are not exaggerating when we say that we’re quite knowledgeable and good at doing this – it is something our company is specifically known for! 
The 700,000 (or probably considerably less but still quite a lot) bunkers of Albania, while arguably an eyesore, add character to the landscape and tell us about the mysterious nature of communist rule under Enver Hoxha.  This flexible day tour offers a chance to explore these concrete curiosities and enjoy some time exploring other parts of Albanian heritage.  Of course, we’ll impart historical information, too! Some of these bunkers were HUGE fall-out shelters intended to house members of the communist party.  Here is a fantastic article written on them (but we will impart many more personal stories, too!)
Let us know which day you are coming and we can work out the details from there. We will indulge in meetings with local people to hear about their lifestyles through personal stories, visit impressive bunkers of all sizes, enjoy plenty of gorgeous landscapes and see some interesting communist street art. In the warm season we can certainly end this tour with a refreshing swim in the shallow waters of Albanian Adriatic. During the cooler season, or if you’re not interested in swimming, we’ll bring you to eat instead! Durres has a fine offering of restaurants, including many seafood ones!
Itinerary Options (Flexible According to Your Interests)
  • In the morning, we’ll drive west from Tirana towards Durres to explore the countryside and meet with local people, visit impressive bunkers of all sizes, see plenty of landscapes and check out communist street art!
  • There is an option to see one or both of the famous BunkArt galleries (1 &2) in Tirana, which recently reopened its doors to the public after a period of silence.
  • We can end the day in Durres (which has more bunkers but also a beautiful pine forest, sandy beaches and plenty of tasty Albanian beer and food.)
  • If the season is right, we can visit derelict Sazan Island, full of ex-military buildings and bunkers (and Albania’s only island!)
  • If interested, we can add a visit to the Roman Amphitheater of Durres and some of the city center attractions too! We can add a trip to Apollonia or include some bird-watching in the Karavasta Lagoon. The day is yours!


Price and Information:
This tour is offered as a private tour! 
Please use this contact form to sign up – it will provide us with all the information we need from you including your pick-up address, number of people, date and any special requirements.  Once we receive your information, we will quote you the price based on your individual booking.
Private tours can be done any day of the year according to your needs.  For private tours we can offer pick-ups in Tirana or from another spot like Durres (the price will change if the pick-up is outside of Tirana.)
Payment Options: We accept bank transfers, PayPal and we have a debit terminal/POS available at our Castle Kiosk Tourist Office in order to accept Debit, VISA and Mastercard payments (please keep in mind that 5% of the total will be added for the latter option.)  We can also accept cash payments where applicable.
Price includes:
  • All expenses for your guide/driver.
  • Fuel and AC car rental.
  • Entrance fees.
  • A refreshing Tirana or Korca beer.
  • Local taxes.



10 Comments on “Bunkers & the bizarre history of Albania”

  1. I’ve been attracted to the tours provided by Albanian Trip immediately I saw their website – the tours seemed very unusual and creative. So I booked two tours for me and my friends – Beaches and Bunkers and Ancients and Ottomans. We were absolutely amazed by these tours, our tour guides showed us beauty and hospitality of Albania, were very knowledgeable and very flexible in providing us what we wanted. Expect some nice and great surprises while doing these tours, not only because Albania is great country, but also because the Albanian Trip company will show you best sides of it. Highly recommended

  2. We took the ‘bunkers and beaches’ tour with Albanian Trip and had an absolutely stupendous time. Our guide Elton speaks excellent English and is incredibly knowledgable about Balkan history and geopolitics but can certainly break it down for the uninitiated! He guided us in a safe, comfortable 4×4 and took exemplary care of us for the entirety of the trip. We would whole-heartedly recommend this excursion!

  3. I was leading a group of Danes and planned a day with Elton guiding us to the “Bunker Wine” and the Rodoni beach north of Durres.
    It was a marvelous day where we went to special places had to find. We started with coffee and raki at the Villa with Star, had a good introduction to life in Albania during and after Communism. On the tour we had a great lunch at the Bunker Wine farm.
    Elton is a knowing and very pleasant guide. He also gave good advice for the rest of our tour.
    Albanian Trip is highly recommended!

  4. Had a fun day out with George in mid June Had a marvellous tour of the main bunker in Tirana followed by a lovely wine and food tasting session at a local farm .Countryside was beautiful as was the beach.
    Great day out with a very informative and amusing guide .We saw a pregnant dog trotting in earnest by the side of the main road and George said ” she was off to Tirana for a better life”…still laughing about that.

  5. We decided to have an extra day in Tirana and wanted something a bit different and Albanian Trip’s “Bunker and Beaches” one day tour looked enticing. A small band of five of us led by guide Ervin Budo set off in an air conditioned minibus big enough for twenty. The first stop was the bunker. This was the centre and command post for Albania’s infamous communist leader Enver Hoxha. The regime may have collapsed over 20 years ago but the bunkers survive. This was where the great leader would run the country in the event of a nuclear attack. He really believed it would happen, a paranoia born out of a complete distrust and hatred of the Soviet Union, China and the US. So mad, bad and obsessed with the belief nuclear annihilation was imminent the order went out to dig. With that thousands of prisoners, political dissidents, miners and army conscripts worked to the point of exhaustion to build over 170,000 bunkers across the whole of Albania. This one is the biggest, now renamed Bunk’Art (you can’t say the Albanians don’t have a sense of humour!). We were handed over to the bunker’s specialist guide, Artemisa, and entered the bunker through a hundred metre tunnel, then descended down four flights of stairs and entered a warren of corridors.
    There is a maze of rooms, an underground city with accommodation for hundreds of people, (top dogs and friends only) a radio communication centre, even a cinema, and right in the centre of it all the great man’s sitting room and bedroom, complete with en suite bathroom with red lavatory! which he visited only three times, we were told. To add to the effect, you’re exposed to a simulated chemical attack and in a darkened room bombarded with the sound of a nuclear attack. It’s both amusing and chilling in equal parts. Artemisa’s English is excellent and she briefed us in detail on the full horrors of Enver Hoxha’s hardline communist regime. We were quite delighted to see the light of day when it was all over. Not to be missed, impress your friends with a tale of Enver Hoxha’s nuclear madness .A must-see visit if you’re going to Albania.
    But the day had only just begun and we were off again in the mini-bus with Ervin back in charge . Next stop a farm where the Farmer had had his farm confiscated and collectivised under the regime and then returned to him, in part, when the regime fell. The farmer and his wife greeted us and soon had us round a large table by a lake on his farm, groaning under the weight of his home grown peaches, watermelon, bread, cheese and homemade wine, sumptuous.
    Ervin came into his own, as an English teacher, his impressive linguistic skills provided an almost simultaneous translation as we bombarded are farmer host with questions about life under the regime, life afterwards and his family’s aspirations now.
    It was really interesting, we started to get a direct account of what life was like for the small farmer under the regime and how he has recovered now. It was a shame to leave but there was a timetable to keep to and yet more food to be eaten. We drove for another 20 minutes or so to a beautiful peninsula and to the top of the headland where there was a small restaurant with stunning views over the Adriatic Sea. Lunch was served. Sensational barbecued fish and prawns with salad and wine; we were soon bloated. Then we were off to the beach part of the tour, a small local beach populated mostly by Albanian people where fortunately there were sunbrellas as by now the temperature was in the upper 30s. After a suitable time for digestion we took to the sea, a glorious 24° perfect for floating and basking.
    Then sadly at 6 p.m. it was over and we drove back to Tirana. A really enjoyable, fulfilling day .
    We probably haven’t said enough about Ervin’s skills as a guide. His English as said is excellent – no question fazed him – and with a prodigious knowledge of the Albania, he was funny and amusing and an all round good guy to hang out with. In fact we were so impressed we decided to book him for the following day to take us around Tirana to see the museums and meet another survivor of the old regime who told us stories of being both an artist and a loyal military officer to the regime and then seeing the light. We also visited the creepy House of Leaves, the spy centre for the regime where all the paraphernalia of spying is displayed including bugging and the confessions of the “enemies of the people” were extracted. Worth a visit in itself as a warning from history.
    We wanted to do more than skim the surface as a tourist and these two days with Ervin really gave us some insight into the recent history of Albania and what’s going on now. We were certainly richer for the experience and we certainly got value for money. We strongly recommend these tours, prices depend on the number in the group but between 45 and €65 a day per person. The days start at 9 and finish around 7 including all meals and drinks, yes very good value, can’t recommend it strongly enough .

  6. Albanian Trip gives excellent tours to Albania indeed and really made our trip so memorable in ways we never imagined.
    The feast luncheon at the farmhouse on the edge of a lake was extraordinary – outstanding food, amazingly fresh and talking with the woman of the farm who had prepared all of it, was priceless.
    Jetmir was a wonderful guide and we had a fantastic tour with him on Saturday!
    He was a real expert in all the places we visited and so patient in translating and explaining things for us in every place we visited.
    We rate him the highest! And will recommend Albanian Trip to all our friends.
    Thank you,

  7. I wanted to leave a note to say what a fantastic day we had on this tour. From my pre-trip contact with Elton to ask some questions about changes to the itinerary, which were all accomodated, I knew we were dealing with professionals. In the planning stage I’d asked to skip the Bunkart museums as we’d booked a tour for the day before this one which covered those off, so Elton suggested some alternatives. As it turned out, the Bunkart 2 museum was unexpectedly closed without notice when we got there the day before, so we’d not got to visit it and we REALLY wanted to. We mentioned this at the start of the day when Ervin met us at our apartment and he was so flexible in amending the itinerary so we could get in there – we ended up having a private tour with a great guide there – Artemisa. When we were leaving I noticed from the car park that the Dajti cable car was close by, so suggested we should quickly drive up there and he spoke to the ticket seller to check the opening times for the next day when we had planned to go. That turned out to be a great help as it turned out it was closing an hour earlier than published on the website, so we were able to change our plans so we didn’t get caught out. When we then mentioned we’d visited a nearby shop during the previous day’s walking tour and left a heavy purchase for later collection, he called in there too, just so we could bung it in the back of the car and not have to lug it back to our apartment – so thoughtful. I was further surprised when he turned up after a little break with a birthday gift for me, which was totally unecpected and a lovely gesture. Hopefully you are getting the picture that these guys are the real deal and you can put your faith in them!

    The highlights of the day for me were the visit to their Red Star villa to chat with Elton and Ervin over coffee and raki about life under Hoxha’s regime and check out the artefacts from that time – we even got given a couple of posters – another lovely touch. The trip to the farm was amazing, the woman who prepared all the delicious home made food sat and chatted with us – with Ervin doing United Nations style simultaneous translation (!). It was a fascinating visit and we could have stayed there hours! The wine she’d made to serve with the meal was amazing and yes, you guessed it, she gave us a bottle.

    It was a great day, arranged to perfection by professionals who didn’t care a jot if they had to turn 360 and do something completely different to the plan we had at the start of the day.

    One tip: my initial contact enquiry had been through the sign-up form on this website and I didn’t get a reply. After a few days I emailed Elton directly via Gmail and he was back at me in no time. I’ve no idea what happened to the contact form enquiry, it might have been some glitch that just affected me, but bear this in mind and don’t give up – this is a great day and highly reccomended. Thanks Elton and Ervin for your professionalism and customer service ethos – we really enjoyed it.

    nick, nadine & john

    • I should have also said – House of Leaves – all the changes to the schedule meant that as we headed back from the farm to the House of Leaves, the ‘secret police’ museum, we were really cutting it fine. Then traffic hit as we got to Tirana and we only rocked up there 25 minutes before closing. Anyhow, we got inand saw a few rooms, but then the security guard came up and said it was closing and we needed to go. A few words from Ervin and he marked our tickets and said we could come back the next day and re-enter for no extra charge, which was a nice gesture. We took advantage of that and got to see it all, but I know it would have been better still with Ervin talking us through everything. Never mind, it was entirely down to our ‘extras’ that we didn’t get there on time!

  8. Pingback: Post-Communist nostalgia in Albania | CCSDD Blog

  9. I did the Bunkers and Beaches day trip with Albanian Trip, and had an absolutely wonderful experience — as a travel editor, my day trips entail a lot of questions and photography, and my guide Elton was both patient and very knowledgeable about both Albania’s seemingly countless bunkers and its history overall. He even tweaked the itinerary to accommodate my preferences, introducing me to hidden gems and aspects of local life along the way. Highly recommended!

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