My third day in Albania continued in the mountain village of Krujë in north-central Albania. Come along with me as I try some amazing Albanian mountain food in Krujë Castle and shop for a traditional qeleshe hat in the local bazaar in Krujë, Albania!
Krujë is located just 35 minutes north of Tirana, the capital city. It’s absolutely gorgeous and is home to lots of ruins, restaurants, and more! I couldn’t wait to check out Krujë Castle and buy a qeleshe later at the bazaar in Krujë, Albania. My friend and guide Ani from Balkan Pearls Tour Operator and I started at Restorant Bardhi, which opened in 1994. In the kitchen, I watched them make some yufka with chicken, a kebab, a rack of lamb, salads, cheeses, and a unique-looking lamb byrek!
I tried a thin sheet of pressed and flattened plums, and then watched them make a tava with lamb and potatoes. They also make their own cheese, including blueberry cheese and spiced cheese! I couldn’t wait to try them.
Then, I went upstairs with the owner, Bardhi, to try some rakija straight from their barrels. It was aged for three years in oak barrels and is made of a mix of cabernet franc, merlot, and syrah grapes. It was strong and has so much flavor!
At our table, I started with a potato-and-lamb fritter, which was so moist and contained onion. Next was the blueberry cheese, which was like manchego but had hints of blueberry flavor. The pepper cheese was like a spicy manchego. Then, I jumped on the squash pie, which had a flaky phyllo dough crust. It was the best pie I tried in Albania!
The lamb byrek was next. It was cut differently and was unbelievably good. The crunch mixed with the lamb and onion was insane! Next were little lamb pies that were similar to samosas. There was another with goat cheese. The food was super homey and fresh! Next was a sauce yogurt similar to tzatziki, which was served in a cucumber. There was also some soft and amazing goat cheese that was similar to mozzarella. I couldn’t get over the amazing textures!
The baked lamb leg was crazy good. Lamb is my favorite meat of all time. It was so juicy, fatty, and fresh! Then, even though I was full, I moved on to the lamb ribs. The meat fell off the bone!
Dessert was a traditional Albanian dish called kabuni, which is made from rice, lamb neck, cinnamon, and raisins! It like an exotic rice pudding with juicy, shredded lamb! It’s super sweet, though and has a meaty flavor. What an incredible Albanian mountain food feast in Krujë Castle before exploring the bar and shopping for a qeleshe in Krujë, Albania!
Next, we headed to Skenderbeg Museum, one of Albania’s most famous museums. It’s a history lesson of medieval Albania. You can see a map of the settlements in medieval Albania. Skenderbeg, the national hero, was from the area and was sent to the Ottoman army. He returned in 1443 and united the princes of Albania, and started an uprising against the Ottomans which lasted for 25 years until his death in 1468.
Inside are lots of paintings and his helmet. Atop the museum, you get gorgeous views of Krujë, the river, the surrounding mountains, and more! Then, we followed the main road leading from the castle, which leads to the bazaar. Along the road are bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops.
The Bazaar of Krujë is so beautiful and authentic! The paths are set with stones and have such an authentic feel. It was like stepping back in time! There, I met a shop owner named Ndricim, who invited me inside to show me how to make a qeleshe, which is a traditional Albanian hat!
He showed me his factory, where he had dozens of wool hats in different shapes, as well as wool shoes. He used a type of wooden bow to fluff the wool before they use a wooden tool to press it for 24 hours. They make a hat from 2 sheets of wool. Then, they add soap and water, which is like a glue and sticks the two sheets together.
Each qeleshe shape represents a different county in Albania. The shape I got represents northern Albania. Then, the hat is pressed and it shrinks. They remove the black hairs, wring out the soapy water, and then shape the hat on the molds. Then, they add more soapy water and rub it into the hat and shave the hat using a razor. Then, they smooth it out and let the hat dry. I learned that it takes 2-2.5 hours to make their wool shoes!
I bought the hat for 1,200 lekës. They also sell wool eggs! I bought some slippers for my daughters and then visited another souvenir shop. There are about 60 of them! This one sold tea sets, shirts, coffee sets, mugs, scarves, antiques, and more! There’s a 120-year-old tool that threads wool that only costs 30,000 lekës, or about $30 USD.
Next was a shop that focuses on clothing with the flag of Albania. I bought an Albanian flag sweater for 25,000 lekës (about $25 USD). Then, I visited a shop where they made Albanian carpets. Everything is handmade by the woman who works there! It took her 7 days to make one of the carpets!
I was loving this amazing medieval town! Everyone was so friendly and the town was so unique. Visiting Krujë Castle and shopping for a qeleshe in Krujë, Albania is an experience I will never forget. Huge thanks to my friends at Balkan Pearls Tour Operators and Rental Car Albania for making this trip possible!
I hope you liked coming with me to have Albanian mountain food in Krujë Castle and shopping for a qeleshe in Krujë, Albania! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!