23 June 2017

Albania - from Lake Koman to Valbona Valley

The beauty of Lake Koman and Valbona Valley of the Northern Albania has attracted a lot of tourists last years. This time a Portuguese travel blogger has visited the Koman Lake and Valbona Valley. "The boat trip to Lake Koman is one of the most amazing things you couldn’t miss in Albania, as it is one of the ten most beautiful boat trips in the world", he says. 
Credits: projecto100rota
After experience with the boat ride along the magnificent Koman Lake they headed to Valbona Valley where they spent the night in a guesthouse.  After having a nice sleep in the guesthouse, the next morning they visited the landscapes of Albanian Alps and the river Valbona, a tour that gave them the feeling of being  in paradise.
 
Credits: projecto100rota
See original article in Portuguese https://www.projecto100rota.com/2017/06/13/albania-do-lago-koman-a-valbona/

16 June 2017

Tgcom24 /Albania: The Mediterranean to be explored

“Here is Albania with dreamy beaches, warm seas, lush scenery, endless sunshine and affordable prices.” Tgcom 24, the online global news site in Italy describes our country as the new place for holidays. Between sea and culture, history and fun, Albania is the emerging destination in Mediterranean, with great value for money. A country with breath-taking landscapes, spectacular beaches that looks like Caribbean beaches and great hospitality.
Photo source: Tgcom24
Sea in Albania, is synonymous of the low-cost holidays. The south of the country is the most spectacular and the most beautiful with crystal-clear waters:  from Valona to Saranda and beyond, in the Llogara National Park, with coves, beaches and small villages.
Tgcom 24 makes a list with some places for a holiday that will surely surprise you.
Saranda loved by young people - Defined as "The White City", it overlooks at a small and open bay, surrounded by hills, and is right in front of the Greek island of Corfu. Beyond the sun, sea, and night life, Saranda has a rich history and culture:  Castle Lëkurësi (now a restaurant with a wonderful view over the town and the Butrint lagoon) and absolutely should visit also Archaeological Park of Butrint.
Photo source: Tgcom24
The Blue Eye with its colour in deep blue which stands at an altitude of 152 m.
Vlora, a charming and very quiet, sandy, bathed in wonderful turquoise waters, crystal clear.
Drymades: a beautiful golden sandy cove where you can camp or rent a bungalow and enjoy one of the spectacular sunset characteristic of this stretch of Albania.
Photo source: Tgcom24
The Pirate Cave - The Beach of Livadhi, at the foot of the castle of the city of Vlora is framed by thick vegetation behind the walls and rocky walls on the sides: here is perfect for a quiet swim.


03 June 2017

The Best of Albania Takes Travelers Off the Tourism Conveyor Belt

Francesca Masotti, the journalist and blogger from Italia writes again about Albania and the best places to visit in our country. Stunning shores, fabulous beaches, great food and a wallet-friendly economy only scratch the surface when describing this lively Balkan country. While it is becoming more popular with tourists, Albania (the correct name is Shqipëria or, more officially, Republika e Shqipërisë) remains undiscovered. Certainly there are the terrific coastlines and historic attractions, but the best reason to come to Albania is to discover a completely unknown country wrapped in mystery after decades of isolation.
Prepare to fall in love with this wonderful place: from the capital city Tirana to the stunning clear waters of the south through to the ancient towns, an excursion through Albania is a real adventure.
Albania Drymades beach_Francesca Masotti 
The first place is the capital city of Tirana: “Forget London, Paris or Rome. For a city break rich with culture, history and gastronomy—yet unspoiled by the tourists masses—try Tirana instead. The Albanian capital city is the Balkans Peninsula’s (southeastern Europe) next upcoming travel spot.
Berat (UNESCO City) is the second city on the list for its impressive white houses with small windows climbing up to the hill to its castle, earning it the title of ‘town of a thousand windows’, and many mosques.
 
albania_berat_francesca masotti
Gjirokastra (UNESCO Site):  Reach the citadel of ancient Gijrokastër for dazzling vistas. Once here, you’ll understand why it is UNESCO world-heritage site. One of the oldest cities of Albania, the name means Silver Fortress, and it clearly shows the confluence of Albanian, Greek and Turkish cultures.
albania_gijrokaster_francesca masotti

The Albanian Riviera
: Driving along the Albania’s coastline means rolling past striking landscapes filled with traditional villages, golden beaches lapped by turquoise waters, small orthodox churches and mountains that rise dramatically.
The Archeological Park of Butrinti: Before leaving Albania you have to spend few hours in the Butrint Archaeological Park. It is close to the Greek border and less than an hour from Saranda. The ancient ruins of Butrint are in a fantastic natural setting and from a variety of periods, spanning 2,500 years. 

See full article on Paste Magazine: https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2017/05/take-5-albania.html 

17 May 2017

Tourist enjoy dancing folk music at New Bazaar in Tirana

Albania Holidays organized the folklore tour with a group of tourists from different countries.
Mr. Aldrin Dalipi from Tirana Municipality meets with tourist 

This is one of many groups that we as Albania Holidays offer the Folk Tour , which is one of best-selling and most memorable tour we provide. Watching tourists dancing our traditional dances was really impressing. They seemed to have fun a lot while learning our dances and folklore. 
Tourists wearing Albanian traditional clothes dancing at the New Bazaar in Tirana

It was amazing to see the New Bazaar (Pazari i Ri) transformed into a fantastic arena. It doesn’t happen often to see a French lady dancing  having a “progonishte dance” and a Spanish lady dancing  a “Tropoja dance”. Citizens of Tirana joined the party and they dance together with Nathalie Cauqil, Marie Pascale and Marie Formaux from France, Julieta Souza and Juliana Lorenzoni from Brazil, Simona Jovic from Serbia, Anne Myntti from Finland, Olalla Moya, Marta Cuevas from Spain and Heather Serginia from USA.

Travelers from around the world have joined the folk course and tour organized by Albania Holidays

“First of all, I wanted to thank you one more time for the perfect organization ! We enjoyed a lot this trip and it is also thanks to you and your team ! Everyone fell in love with your country and we will definitely talk about Albania to all our friends ! It is so worth of visiting.  I will recommend your agency and your country and when I come back to Albania, I will of course contact you again. So again, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU !”- Simona, the tour leader, wrote to Albania Holidays.  

13 April 2017

11 Reasons Albania Should Be Your Next European Destination

For many, Italy and Greece are dream vacations. From wine to food to terrain steeped in history, plus the beaches and landscape, that Mediterranean life has much to love.
But, in underappreciated Albania, that Mediterranean dream can be experienced for up to 65 percent less… for now.
Albania is largely undiscovered by North Americans, with good reason. For half the 20th century, the country was off-limits to all foreigners at the hands of a brutal dictator. That time is over, and now Albania’s stunning landscapes, world-class beaches, ancient Mediterranean foods, and welcoming people are open for business.

Here’s why this under-visited country should be next on your European bucket list.

By Steffani Cameron

1. For the People
Unlike most of Europe, where tourism has thrived for decades, if not centuries, Albania was closed off for nearly five decades. In 1944, dictator Enver Hoxha assumed power and soon made Albania more isolated than North Korea is today. With only 27 years of freedom since then, Albanians are enterprising, welcoming, open people. They’re proud and excited when they see tourists, especially North Americans. Explore the capital, Tirana, and you’ll find American flags, a street named after George W. Bush, a park named for Harry Truman, and many more American tributes.

2. For Besa
An ancient code of honour going back centuries, “besa,” compels Albanians to do everything they can to protect and help guests, friend or foe. This code led Albanian Muslims during World War II to risk lives in creating false identities, jobs, and support networks for Jews fleeing Nazis in nearby countries. An old story tells how a northern town considering a hotel development faced protesting locals who insisted visitors were always welcome to stay free in their homes — anything less was un-Albanian. Today, besa means Albanians will never turn you away in a time of need, which is always good as a foreigner in a strange land.

3. For the Mountains
With more than 70% of its landscape covered in mountains, Albania is among the world’s most mountainous nations. The south’s mountains are often terraced for cultivation — farms here produce everything from wine and hazelnuts to tomatoes and leafy greens. To the northwest, the sinisterly-named “Accursed Mountains” are the Albanian Alps. With jagged rocks, formidable hiking trails, crystal-clear glacial lakes, the Accursed Mountains boast some of the world’s most underrated mountaineering. If you love to explore, plenty of guiding outfits are ready to show you these Alps for far cheaper than you could ever do in Switzerland.

4. For the FoodThanks to its Mediterranean climate, Albania’s local produce, wines, dairy, and meats will add a notch to your belt. It’s proximity to culinary capitals like Italy and Greece, coupled with centuries under the Ottoman Empire and Venetian overlords, means that a tasty blend of culinary influences linger today. But Albania’s got its unique food history too. A recent “Slow Food” movement is burgeoning as young chefs return from abroad to reclaim their food culture and regional products. Nevermind “local” food – you’ll want to explore regions like Korçë (Korca), where everything from milk and cheese to beef, lamb, chicken, and vegetables are often from that very property.

5. For the Coast
Albania crept onto the global tourism radar around 2009. After an episode of Top Gear was shot on its winding coastal roads following exposure from intrepid bloggers and other media, the secret began slipping out. The Albanian Riviera is said to have the Mediterranean’s most untouched, natural beaches, along with ancient ruins and terrific seafood. With turquoise waters, its beaches compete with any in Greece or Croatia, without as many crowds, at prices fit for every budget. While Greece’s Corfu has tourist traps galore with sky-high prices, just 23 miles across the Adriatic is Sarandë, Albania, without the tourist madness, where your money will go twice as far. If castles and ancient ruins fascinate you, they’re up and down the Riviera too, where even Julius Caesar played tourist way back in 48 BC.

6. For the Variety in Culture
Albania’s capital, Tirana, has been ravaged by wars, dictators, and invaders for over a century, so if you want a traditional European Old Town, you won’t find it. It’s dominated by rundown relics, chunky communist-era and Italian neo-Fascist architecture, along with edgy new builds popping up as the city explodes into modernity. But opera, art galleries, live theatre, and dining are thriving in the capital.
Elsewhere, the Old World lives on. Cities like Berat, Korca, and even Shkodër in the north reflect older Albania. Deep in the Accursed Mountains, you’ll find the remnants of a culture unlike any on Earth, the “society of sworn virgins,” where women who lost the men in their lives took oaths to remain celibate and “live as men”. It’s a fascinating lifestyle on the cusp of extinction, with only around 100 “virgins” remaining, and just another part of what makes Albania so fascinating to explore.

7. For the Vibe

Albania’s government may be rife with corruption, but their vision for a new Albania has an unmistakable air of change. The grips of poverty remain evident across the country’s cities and towns, but a newfound feeling of hope pervades. Often, parents say all they want to give their children is a better life than they had. In Albania, that better life has arrived, and looks brighter daily.
Then there’s the country’s tolerance. Pope Francis said, in 2014, Albania’s religious harmony is a model for the world. This is because, in 1967, Enver Hoxha declared the nation atheist, making all religion illegal. In Albania, religious discrimination was inflicted upon everyone. Today, they welcome all faiths. In town squares, you may hear Christian church bells pealing as a nearby muezzin sings the Islamic call to prayer.

8. For a Snapshot in Time
Tirana is fixated on a dynamic future. The capital is following an ambitious new plan — “Tirana 2030” — that aims to increase in green spaces in the city, planting forests even in the heart of the city’s bustling Skanderbeg Square. There’s an audacious vertical-growth plan for high-rises to dominate the skyline, with an “orbital forest” to become both the city perimeter and a containment system for urban sprawl, protecting outlying natural areas. Rapid transit will reach both the airport and Durrës, the bustling Adriatic beach resort city 19 miles away. Soon, Tirana will be nearly unrecognizable. Today’s oddly wonderful mix of the communist past contrasting with bold progress won’t last long.

10. For Bunker Mania
One of the strangest legacies of leader Enver Hoxha’s reign are the bizarre bunkers that dot the country. From 1967 until his death in 1985, Hoxha pursued a paranoid scheme that filled Albania with concrete bunkers. There are over 750,000 bunkers in the country, that’s one bunker for every four people in the country, and a whopping 15 bunkers every square mile. So indestructible are they that only coastal bunkers are being removed, due to a 2008 tragedy that killed five holidaymakers when the tide swept in and drowned them. Most bunkers, though, have become shelters, canvases for graffiti, and even art galleries, cafes, and other businesses.

11. For the Bargains
The average Albanian earns around $500 a month, yet many dine out frequently, speaking to the country’s amazing dining bargains. A generous grilled dinner will run you $6 or less, versus the $15 or more you’d pay for a meal of the same quality in Greece. Two scoops of gelato on par with Italy’s often costs as little as 30 cents. Espresso starts at 35 cents. In fact, it’d be hard to spend more than $25 on a meal at the best restaurants in the country. Taxis are seldom more than $3. The best opera seat is under $10. But, considering the bargains elsewhere, lodgings are disproportionately pricey, since tourism’s a recent phenomenon in the country and places to stay are limited.

06 April 2017

Albania Holidays free tour for kids of Fshati SOS in Albania

Albania Holidays in cooperation with its UK partner, Exodus Travel organized a free tour to Berat for children of SOS Village Albania. SOS Village is  a social, non-profit, non-politic and non-religious organization offering shelter to children who have lost parental care.

The group of 28 children had the chance to visit Berat, a UNESCO city,  on April 1st, while some of them have never been in this city. Kids of age up to 15 years old enjoyed this trip and learned a lot about this UNESCO Site. The program included transport, tour guide, a visit to Onufri Museum and Berat Castle all for free!



Thank you letter of SOS Village Director

05 April 2017

Sazan island will open for tourists this year

This year the Sazan Island, which is still a military property will be used for tourists as a touristic destination. The agreement was signed today between the Minister of Defense, Ms Mimi Kodheli and the Minister of Tourism, Ms Milva Ekonomi. The island will open its doors from 1 May to 31 October, during summer season.

 The decision was taken based on the repeated requests by tour operators in the country to use this island and all the beautiful part of Karaburun peninsula for tourists, to show them the best places of Albanian riviera.

Sasan Island once used as a fortification to protect the Country against invaders, during the communist times. In the islands lived many families of military personnel, so there are old communist buildings, remains of hospitals, schools. There was a life, even though the island has shortage of drinking water. The Minister of Defense, Mimi Kodheli, said that Sazan used to be habitable, and it may be an even bigger attraction since no tourist investment has been done so far.

The flora and fauna of the island is totally unexplored, and underwater archaeology as well as, which is thought to be very reach in the area.

The government wants to extend the visits of tourists by offering a wider variety of options and diversity on touristic products. Albania is known not only for Chrystal and virgin beaches, but also for its nature, cultural sites listed in UNESCO, as well as for adventure tourism and culinary.

Tourism increased with 15% in 2015, taking the total number of visitors to 4.7 million. It expected to be larger this year.