Unfairly shunned by many tourists because it’s seen as dangerous or backward (neither of which are true), Albania offers secluded beaches, locals who take a genuine interest in travellers, tasty Turkish-style food, Ancient Greek ruins and Ottoman towns. Imagine a trip to the Balkans before it got discovered and you’ve pretty much got it, with prices to match.
Tell your friends or family that you’re off to Albania, and you’ll likely receive a stock response: “Isn’t it dangerous?”, “Isn’t there a war going on there?”, and “Is that even in Europe?” are some of the most common. Speak instead to those who have been, and the associations with the country’s name become infinitely more positive – you’ll hear of rippling mountains, Ottoman architecture, pristine beaches and endlessly hospitable locals. Following decades of isolationist rule, this rugged land still doesn’t seem to fit into the grand continental jigsaw, with distinctly exotic notes emanating from its language, customs and cuisine. Pay a visit to this beguiling corner of Europe now, before it garners the popularity it deserves.
Things not to miss :
- TIRANA -Sip an espresso in Albania’s colourful, chaotic capital
- BERAT The 'town of the thousand windows' is known for its pretty rows of Ottoman houses lining the hills
- IONIAN COAST-Albania has some wonderful stretches of beach along its Ionian shore
- GJIROKASTRA-Birthplace of dictator Enver Hoxha, this stone city with its busy bazaar is now listed by UNESCO
- KRUJA-Hilltop scene of national hero Skanderbeg’s resistance