19 February 2018

Albania, a destination better than you thought -Telegraph Travel

Telegraph Travel has published an article listing ‘10 destinations that are better than you thought’, and among them is Albania in the 9th place. As telegraph writes ‘we judge a place or adventure by reputation”, and it shouldn’t be like this at all.
“We asked 10 of our favourite writers to challenge common wisdom and share their tales of the countries that surprised them, the places they dismissed – or embraced – in error. After all, places change. Reputations are often ill-deserved. The world is your playground: go test it out for yourself.”
Albania getting a nickname “the country of bunkers”, isn’t all about the dark communist past. In fact, tourism in Albania is blooming. Read the experience of the Telegraph travel writer Chris Leadbeater.
Radhime Beach Albania
Credits: Albania Holidays

Albania:  ‘Where was the concrete brutality I had assumed to be total?’
Just below the lounge, with its cushions and coffee pots, I could see several short flights of stairs descending carefully towards the sea. I followed them, past the swimming pool, down the cliff-face to the beach. Although it was still relatively early, just after 9am, a group of young guests was already stationed on the shingle.
One of them decided that her time had come and, fixing her brown hair in a ponytail, took a running leap from the rocks. Momentarily, I lost her, her outline devoured by the swarthy green of the Karaburun Peninsula beyond. But then she landed with a giant splash, surfaced with a smile – and, letting out a whoop of unfettered glee, demanded that her friends join her. They required no second invitation.
It was a scene that could have been staged on a hot afternoon on the Italian Riviera – the boutique retreat, the youthful abandon, the private beach, the decadent beauty of the setting. Indeed, the comparison might not be so far-fetched. At this point on the map – the crooked elbow where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet – Italy is just 60 miles west. But the Hotel Liro does not sit in Puglia – or, indeed Liguria. It is tucked into the shore at Radhimë, just outside the city of Vlorë in southern Albania, where preconceptions linger.
Mine included. I had travelled to one of Europe’s last “hidden” destinations, well aware of its past and its image – the half-century of Communist rule which endured until 1992; a reputation for breeze-block hotels rearing in unlovely fashion over dull sands. I had found the latter, not least in second city Durrës, with its humdrum high-rises at the water’s edge.
But I had found something else, too. Although Albania built badly in the domestic tourism boom which followed the parting of its Iron Curtain, it left alone much of the lower half of its 296 miles of coastline. Radhimë feels unspoiled, chic even. As does little Orikum beyond it, where the landmass kicks up, forcing travellers over the twisting Llogara Pass, the road chasing its tail towards Saranda and the Greek border – elevated viewpoints showing a gorgeously unsullied panorama, mountains plunging steeply to surf and spray. Where was the concrete brutality I had assumed to be total? Not here.

See here original article!

13 February 2018

Albania among destinations that you should visit in 2018 - GEO De

Albania is true rough diamond,- writes the German travel magazine ‘GEO De’.
GEO is Europe's leading magazine for large reportage (in text and image) promoting destinations. On their recently inspirations trends about destinations that tourists should visit in 2018 they have listed Albania among 10 places.
The Albanian Riviera is becoming popular thanks to prestigious media and travel influencers who continuously promoted this unspoiled beauty.  
Photo: rh2010 / Fotolia

‘In search of barely visited wild beaches, more and more tourists are invading the Balkans. Croatia has been experiencing a tourist renaissance for years, and neighboring countries such as Montenegro are also benefiting. No wonder, then, that the view is even farther south, and there is really a true rough diamond with Albania. The Albanian Riviera is still considered the Cinderella among the famous sisters, but that's what makes it so special. No large hotel complexes, hardly any tourist infrastructure and unspoiled coastlines awaken the spirit of discovery of all those who prefer authenticity rather than comfort.
About 200 kilometers beyond the capital Tirana, the road leads over 1000 meters to the Mediterranean. The Albanian Riviera stretches for about one hundred kilometers from the Llogara Pass to the archaeological sites of the 3000-year-old Butrint in the very south just before the Greek border. And in between are beach pearls like Gjipe (picture) or Kakome, which are best discovered on a road trip.’


See original article here!

12 February 2018

Albania reborn: What to see and do in Europe’s newest holiday hotspot- Daily Express

“So rich in treasures and sensational sights, everyone has wanted a piece of Albania over the centuries. Maisha Frost discovers a mysterious beauty coming out of the shadows and longing to welcome the world.” This is how the renowned British media “Daily Express” describes Albania in a long article.
Every first time visitor in Albania is impressed by so many things that you can find attractive and worth a visit in this forgotten corner of Europe.
Kruja citadel: Getty Images

“Ancient Greeks, then jeweler-loving Illyrians, the ancestors of many of today’s Albanians, were followed by Romans, Byzantines and Ottomans who all seized, settled and surrendered here in a relentless game of thrones.
Today’s democratic Albania is transforming fast in other ways: the power blackouts and potholes are in retreat and the young as stylish as their European counterparts. Few too would have predicted the land’s dividend from a failed state that never saw through its plans for collective farms. Albania’s small family-run farms stayed largely pesticide-free and its wildernesses untouched.  Today that means organic havens for produce and wildlife, a place for taste delighting foodies and ramblers, with lots for the locals to shout about.
What to see in Albania:
Tirana - Capital of many colours
The capital Tirana is lively and safe, but with an understated, surreal side that often leaves visitors wondering what to make of it.
Part Mediterranean town, part Soviet relic its rainbow-coloured apartment blocks, painted on the orders of a former mayor to bring some cheer, are more faded pastel these days.
For good reason perhaps Tirana’s citizens seem to have a Pythonesque talent for looking on the bright side of life. Ask them about Albania’s reputation as a gangster factory and they promise – only half joking - “there’s no trouble here, we’ve exported all the criminals”.
The city’s cultural highlights include a triumphalist history mural guarding the entrance to the classical artefact-packed national museum and the pretty 18th century Et’hem Bey mosque’s minaret and rare floral mosaics.
 
Tirana: Getty Images
Kruja: A land of thrones
More weird and wonderful Albania unfolds during the hour’s drive from Tirana to the medieval citadel of Kruja.
Vacant buildings in various stages of abandonment stand beside the highway, some half built or decaying shells and some brand new but desolate and often for sale.
Through a great stone archway lies a long bazaar, its low, long-eaved timbered houses and busy cobbled alleyways a lot like an episode from the TV medieval fantasy.
Beautiful Berat
South of Tirana a great gorge splits the mountains and you come to Unesco world heritage site and Albania’s poster girl Berat.
Dating back to the 4th century BC, the city’s seven-arch Gorica bridge, a favourite Ottoman masterpiece, spans the Osum river and tiers of white gabled houses climb steep cliffs to its citadel.
There towering walls form a hilltop cradle for ancient mosques and eight medieval churches, one housing a stunning collection of icons by 16th century master Onufri, famous for the luscious ruby coloured paint he used.
Berat- Maisha Frost

Wilderness walks and ancient ways
Wild nature is never far away in Albania and as I followed herders’ trails for a morning’s ramble in the sweet air high in the hills above Berat I was surrounded by slopes thick with poppies, campion, delicate blue lilies and wild orchids peeping among the tall grasses.
The crowds have not caught up yet either with the country’s archaeological sites, rated among the best in Europe.
Layers of history are densely packed in Durres, the port city and transit point for the ancient Via Egnatia route to the west of Tirana.
Although this does not have the manicured magnificence of Rome’s Colosseum, the stark suburban setting and details like the pens for lions and the steps deliberately made uneven for crowd control made me more aware somehow of history’s relentless tide.
Different again is pastoral Apollonia, a remote Pompeii-without-the-people hilltop site dating from 588 BC that was once a Greek city state served by slaves and then a Roman cultural centre.
At the entrance a Byzantine monastery’s stone walled galleries are dripping with classic bronzes, busts, vases and coins and across the cobbles gargoyles erupt from a 13th century frescoed church.
As I wandered deeper among its towering ancient pillars and olive groves, red rump swallows and bee eaters flitted by and I was suddenly in a moment only Albania could deliver.
In the distance rose the outlines of a mosque’s minaret and the hump of a bunker, then an unseen church bell began to toll.
Scenic view of Albania
Photo: Maisha Frost
See original article here!

06 February 2018

Albania has the beauty of Switzerland and old-centuries unique traditions

The centuries-old traditions live together with the memories of the Communist era. This mix of both and the nature's beauty compared to Switzerland make Albania an exciting attraction for those arriving from the far north” - writes ‘Turizmus, a Hungarian tourism portal.
Turizmus praise the potentials of Albania regarding tourism, as they refer to several Scandinavian articles about Albania.
Photo: foldersmagazin.hu

“Residents and leaders of this beautiful country today do not yet know what it means when mass tourism starts. Even a couple of years and as the fast foods spread and open to the many star hotels, it happens.  Recently, in Scandinavian newspapers, we can see more and more stories about Albania as travel destination.
The capital, Tirana is not a metropolis such as Berlin, and it does not look like Budapest, "notes the author," but the mingling of minarets and concrete cubes, the hospital men offering of raki, is an exotic mix.
And here it is really all about home, in Albania you will find delicious food taken straight from farms of the villagers.

Read the original article here

05 February 2018

Albania is a voyage of discovery, an unknown part of Europe

“Albania is a voyage of discovery, an unknown part of Europe”, writes Kurier, an Austrian daily newspaper based in Vienna.
Photo: /Manfred Ruthner
Albania opens up for all culture-interested. The hotels offer good comfort while culinary will not disappoint you as you taste the combination of Italian, Greek and Turkish cuisine.
Albania is a great package offering, magnificent landscapes, and precious cultural assets.
‘Kurier’ writes a long article describing the turbulent history of Albania, and how this country shines as must -tourist destination.
“Only a few decades ago, little was known about Albania. Visitors came sporadically and only on special occasions, such as the football World Cup qualifier in December 1980. There were no  football fans coming at that time, only a few journalists had arrived and were brought from the airport to the center of Tirana. But since the turn of the century in 1990, the country has undergone a tremendous development.
The ancient history of Albania is one of the main things that attracts visitors in Albania. From Roman heritage, UNESCO Sites to unspoiled beaches Albania will impress in each corner.
 
Photo: /Manfred Ruthner
The heritage of the Romans
The tourist treasure of Albania is located outside the capital, where grandiose landscapes and precious cultural assets await. On the way to the coast you pass Apollonia, a vast excavation field that invites you for a walk between the reconstructed parts of a Roman temple and the theater. In antiquity, the city was still accessible by ship and economically significant, but after an earthquake in the 4th Century silted up the port.
With the port city of Vlora you can reach the Adriatic Sea. Only recently, the promenade was opened with magnificent palm alley on "Lungomare".  Still, the beach chairs in front of the new hotels are unused in the sand and waiting for guests. In 1911, the declaration of independence of Albania from the Ottoman Empire took place in Vlora; Relics, pictures and documents can be admired in the Museum of Independence.
 
Photo: /Manfred Ruthner
Albania Riviera
Immediately behind Vlora, the landscape becomes more contemplative and the coastal road becomes curvier. Again and again, it opens the view to small bays, where pebble beach and turquoise iridescent water lure. Here runs the border between the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea. In tight serpentines you get on the Llogara Pass. At 1,000 meters above sea level there is a spectacular view: along its entire length the Albanian Riviera spreads, olive groves and orange groves form a delightful setting for the bright pebble beaches. At the observation deck, a paraglider is getting ready. A quick start, and the thermal already captures its glider and carries it out in wide curves along the coast. Down the beach you can see a construction site - soon the guests will be able to move into the resort.

There are hardly any cars on the panoramic road to the south and dozens of people on the bike. No locals, however, but tourists from the US, who enjoy the view on the low-traffic route at autumnal pleasant temperatures. In the distance you can see the island of Corfu.
Opposite the mainland, in the southernmost part of Albania, lies the Natural Park of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, probably the most important in Albania. An avenue of eucalyptus trees forms the entrance, then opens the view of the well-preserved Greek theater. For hours you can go exploring in the park under shady trees. Particularly interesting are the remains of a temple, the ruins of a Byzantine basilica from the 6th century with remains of a beautiful mosaic floor and the findings exhibited in the museum.
Gjirokastra
 There is the next UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gjirokastra, the "stone city". Climbing steep cobbled lanes leads to the castle, past small shops selling embroidery, small stone-carved artwork and other souvenirs. The fort houses the National Arms Museum, which houses a remarkable collection from the period between 1912 and World War II. The view of the old town is impressive. All roofs are covered with flagstones, which are abundant in the mountainous environment.
Berat
The road to the north from here is well developed and crosses one of the most scenic sections of Albania. Wide, untamed river valleys with weathered bridges and an impressive mountain backdrop evoke memories of Karl May's novel "Through the Kingdom of Skipetars". Soon Berat is reached, one of the oldest cities in Albania. The castle district on a hill consists of numerous houses, most are still inhabited, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, they are under special protection. A former cathedral is used as a museum. Impressive is the precious icon wall with scenes from the life of Jesus and the twelve apostles and saints. Below the castle is the district Mangalem, also called "city of a thousand windows", with mosques and fascinating old houses.
Photo: /Manfred Ruthner

Kruja

High on a steep mountain slope lies the city of Kruja, which is inextricably linked to the history of Albania. From here, the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg led a successful fight against the Turkish army. In the castle, the very turbulent history of Albania is graphically traced. When you look from the top, you can already see the suburbs of Tirana, the final destination. On entering the capital, you can still see depressing prefabricated buildings, relics from the communist era. But the center presents itself as metropolitan, with a broad boulevard that runs between government buildings in Mussolini architecture and well-kept parks and finally flows into the Skanderbeg Square with opera and cultural palace from the 1960s.

Read original article: https://kurier.at/reise/auf-entdeckungsreise-durch-albanien/308.080.481 

30 January 2018

European road trip of the month: Albania

For those who doesn't consider Albania as an adventurous destination, they should think it again. The online magazine “Carole Nash”,  a motorcycle insurance brokers in the UK and Ireland writes about Albania and call it the “European road trip of the month”.

Read the article below:
Going on a road trip is an ideal way to clear your mind, and Europe offers plenty of idyllic locations for you to explore. A country that’s worth visiting is Albania because there are lots of wonderful places to see. It’s an underrated locale that’s steadily growing in popularity. With beautiful beaches, historic towns and gorgeous scenery, Albania is worth checking out.
Some of the best sites in the country:
Tirana
Start your road trip off in the capital city of Tirana, which is a thriving cultural hub. While you’re in the city, you should visit Skanderbeg Square, which contains the Clock Tower and the National History Museum. You’ll be able to access the top of the Clock Tower and get amazing views of the entire city. If you fancy getting some good food, then you’ll want to head over to the Blloku district that has some of the best restaurants in the city. The architecture throughout Tirana is stunning, so you’ll have plenty of photographic opportunities.
Mount Dajti
Head outside of the city to Mount Dajti and you’ll be treated to spectacular views of Tirana and beyond. You can reach the top of the mountain by taking the Dajti Ekspres cable car. There’s the chance to see all kinds of wildlife, from wolves to wild cats. The natural beauty of Mount Dajti makes it one of Albania’s most picturesque locations.
Durres
Found 21 miles west of Tirana, Durres is an ancient city that houses Albania’s main port. Durres has popular beaches that come alive during the warmer months, making summer an ideal time to visit. Away from the sea, there are other sites worth seeing, like the Durres Archaeological Museum. It contains artefacts from Ancient Greece and Rome.
Berat
Known as ‘The Town of a Thousand Windows,’ Berat is another ancient town that’s worth visiting for its heritage. Berat gets its nickname from the old manor houses with their many windows. You should check out the The Kala, a fortress within the town that played an important role in Albania’s military history. There’s also the old districts of Mangalem and Gorica, with their white stone houses and terracotta tiles. The districts are connected by the Gorica Bridge, which is steeped in folklore.

Gjirokaster
Gjirokaster has a fairytale quality, as seen from its quirky, stone architecture. A stand out location is Gjirokaster fortress, which overlooks the town. Every five years the fortress is used for the National Folklore Festival to celebrate Albanian culture. There’s traditional music and dancing that gives an insight into the country’s history.

See original article: Carole Nash


Albania among 12 Magnificent Cheap Countries - Bright Side

Albania- exclusive vacations with low prices. Bright Side is an online publisher who writes about inspirations, creativity and destinations. Recently they published an article ranking 12 Magnificent Countries That Offer Rather Cheap Vacation, and among them is Albania.
Brightside recommends their readers to have a look at Albania as a magnificent country with low prices: “Albania is full of magical places: Gjirokaster City, the Blue Eye, Lake Skadar, Ksamil, Butrinti, and more.


It’s easy to find cozy rooms in hostels from €5 and from €10 in hotels and in private houses. Albanian prices on food and alcohol are some of the lowest in Europe. Street food is also very tasty and costs from €1.80. Restaurant prices are rather cheap too, usually from €3.50. The most popular dishes are: Chomlek with meat and vegetables, seafood dishes, oshaf desserts, and tasty coffee from €0.50-€1. You can also count transport expenses: €0.90 for 31 miles (50 km) if you travel by train and €0.90 for 19 miles (30 km) if you travel by bus.



See original article: Bright Side

29 January 2018

Albania: Europe’s forgotten Balkan beauty is a new hot spot for 2018–Express UK

There are many reasons for Albania to be on your bucket list for 2018, as recommended by prestigious travel magazines. This time, it is the British media Express UK that promotes Albania as a new hot spot for 2018.

Unesco world heritage site Berat, which dates back to the 4th century BC- Getty 

“Within sight of Italy and Greece, Albania it is an easy-going place with welcoming people and a land stacked with natural and ancient treasures.” writes Maisha Frost, the author of the article.

In Albania you will find authentic beaches resorts and not the typical luxury Mediterranean writes Express UK. “True, its beach resorts lack the luxury Mediterranean touch. But this is a tolerant Balkan beauty of a different cast where fiery red Orthodox icons and swirling Islamic mosaics grace holy places side by side, and limestone ridges add a luminous dimension to hilltop citadels and wildflower meadows.”

But following the Second World War Albania, a country on the edge both physically and culturally, came under the iron grip of Communist rule. Raw traces of those brutal years remain, most dramatically in the shape of concrete nuclear bunkers, mushroom-like humps that mark the landscape.

Tirana

One of the most intriguing cities in Albania is its capital Tirana.

Tirana is lively and safe and rather surreal. Part Mediterranean, part Soviet relic its rainbow-coloured apartment blocks, painted on the orders of a former mayor to bring some cheer, is more faded pastel these days. The city’s cultural highlights include a triumphalist history mural guarding the entrance to the classical, artefact-packed national museum and the pretty 18th-century Et’hem Bey mosque’s minaret and rare floral mosaics.

 
National Historical Museum mural- Getty Images

Kruja

Just after a steep bend the scenery changes dramatically and for a moment I thought I had time-travelled to Game Of Thrones land as Kruja’s fortress ramparts reared above. Through a great stone archway lies a bazaar with low, long-eaved timbered houses and busy cobbled alleyways. Beyond is the tower and castle, now a museum full of sculptures and homages to Skanderbeg who fought the Ottomans and for a while reunited Albania.

Kruja’s old town feels like being on the set of Game Of Thrones- Getty Images
Berat

Dating back to the 4th century BC, the city’s seven-arch Gorica bridge, a favourite Ottoman masterpiece, spans the Osum river and tiers of white gabled houses climb steep cliffs to its citadel. There towering walls form a hilltop cradle for ancient mosques and eight medieval churches, one housing a stunning collection of icons.

My amble took me to the 18th-century traditional Ottoman home that is now the city’s Ethnographic Museum. Behind its covered verandas I got a glimpse of what communal life was like until just a few decades ago as men pressed olives and the women wove cloth and waited on them.

 
The River Osum flows by revitalised vineyards and the lovely town of Berat- Getty Images

See original article: Albania: Europe’s forgotten Balkan beauty is a new hot spot for 2018


 

24 January 2018

The Guardian: Albania, 3rd place for the best adventure travel in 2018

Either for beach holidays,  culture or adventure Albania has managed to be on the list by world popular travel magazines. This time, Albania and its coast is in the top 3 recommended for adventure  and hiking trails among “20 of the best adventure travel challenges for 2018’ as listed by the well-known UK newspaper,The Guardian.
Hiking in Albania is popular not only for rugged landscapes,but also for getting to meet locals and know their history and heritage.  All these make Albania very attractive for travelers all around the world.
Photo source: The Guardian
“Albania’s star has been rising, with more travelers each year wanting to explore its treasures, such as the Accursed Mountains of the north, and wild beautiful white beaches of the south. Wild Frontiers has two new group hiking adventures there, one at each end of the country. On its eight-day package to the south, sunny walks along coastal paths and hinterland mountain trails take the group into the Albanian Riviera, Ottoman towns and Butrint national park.”

12 January 2018

June, the best time to visit Albania in 2018 - Swiss media

Albania is the best place to visit in June, during 2018. This is the recommendation of  Travel News, Swiss media. The Travelnews editorial team presented their personal favorites destinations- from January to December and among them is Albania.
They compare Albania with its neighborhood Montenegro and Croatia, claiming that you can go in Albania for cheaper holidays but with remarkable experience.  
Llaman Beach, Albania

“Albania - the country bordering the Adriatic Sea in the west is cheaper than Croatia and receives fewer tourists from the neighboring country of Montenegro. It offers a remarkable variety of mountain ranges and archaeological sites in which time has stood still. In addition to the great wealth of flora and fauna, Albania is also home to various national parks. The hotel prices are incredibly cheap, the beaches are spared from mass tourism and the crystal clear water reminiscent of dream destinations in the Caribbean. In addition, 300 sunny days a year speak for themselves - why not travel to Albania?”
Borsh beach, Albania




11 January 2018

Albania part of Via Dinarica among of hot new hiking trails of 2018 by National Geographic

Prestigious National Geographic Traveler included Via Dinarica Trail amongst world’s best hiking trail in 2018. Via Dinarica is a mega-mountaineering and hiking trail, connecting natural and cultural sights in across 7 countries.
Albanian Alps

 Via Dinarica, named Outside magazine’s Best New Trail in 2014, Paste magazine’s best trekking path in 2015, a 2016 must-see by both Wanderlust magazine and The Guardian, and National Geographic Traveler‘s “Best of the World” destination for 2017 and this year among “hot hiking trails” by National Geographic.

‘A European odyssey, the Via Dinarica runs like a rocky backbone along the Western Balkans. It starts in the peaks of northern Albania, winding its way through five countries before ending in Slovenia. The challenging White Trail is already beckoning — at 782 miles, it takes in some of the highest summits, with a combined ascent of nearly 170,000ft. Take a tent, or check-in at highland huts and farm-stays. “



08 January 2018

Head to wild river Vjosa in Albania, best for adventure-The Independent

"Beat the January blues and head to Albania for adventure” this is what recommends the prestigious world known media The Independent. The article lists 10 categories: and Albania is the chosen one for adventure category.
Photo: Albania Holidays 
“Albania’s Vjosa is the last free-flowing river in Europe, enjoying a protected status currently under threat due to the proposed building of a dam.  Up to 2km wide at some points, the river is ideal for exploring by paddle, with rafting and kayaking available.” writes the Independent.


Photo: Albania Holidays 

See original article: http://www.independent.co.uk/travel/news-and-advice/blue-monday-travel-holidays-winter-sun-weekend-breaks-la-gomera-prague-valletta-a8143641.html