25 February 2014

Is Albania safe?

"Definitely. Being reasonably newish to tourism they adore tourists and will go out of their way to make you feel comfortable". -this is how Lisa Eldridge answers this question in the Albania section of her blog. Thank you Lisa for your positive article about Albania!
Travelling Alone in Albania
I was still on my 16 week tour of Europe and had made my way from Montenegro to Albania and for a country that I was very nervous about entering, it completely surpassed my non expectations and has been one of my favourite countries on my European tour.
What do I love about it? It has mountains, it has beaches, UNESCO sites, and it has a very colourful capital city with great bars and restaurants. In fact, there are so many different areas of the country that spending a week here just wasn’t enough.
Places to see in Albania
Shkodra - Unless you stay at the lake, there’s not that much to see here except the castle with apparently great views of the lake (make sure you go left for the entrance and not right which I did and walked for an hour before realising it wasn’t the way in and then gave up getting to the top). The area near the casino is great for restaurants at night too but everywhere seems to close quite early. There are only 2 hostels here and I stayed at Mi Casa es Tu Casa which was clean and sociable but the rooms were a little overcrowded.
Thethi - In the Albanian Alps, the village of Thethi is dotted with stone houses and a rocky landscape with great walking tracks and clear, mountain air. The journey time from Shkroda is approx 5 hours with the majority of the time on winding, rocky roads which adds to the rustic experience. This area is totally different from the rest of Albania and it is so relaxed that you’ll want to stay for longer than a weekend.
Tirana – A lovely capital city with a large manmade lake, pretty colourful buildings and surprisingly good bars. I didn’t make it to the museums but if you want to go then make sure it’s not on a Monday when they close.
Dhermi – Buses from Tirana take 6 hours and the scenery is gorgeous! The bus drops you off at the top and it’s a 20 minute walk down the winding hill to Dhermi to the beach areas.
Vuno – This is a little locals town in the mountainside on the route between Dhermi and Himare and has a really lovely feel. There is only one shop which doubles up as a restaurant and bar where you will find the locals and occasional donkey walking past.
Sarande – A seaside city with a Mediterranean climate and great beaches. From here you can visit the ancient city of Butrint, the ‘Blue Eye,’ Ksamil and monasteries. This is one of my favourite places to stay.