Albania Is The Perfect Place To Go In Europe
Though Albania may have not been on your vacation radar, we think this is an amazing destination to consider for your next trip! One look at the globe, you might wonder why more people are not flocking to this incredibly picturesque country, especially when considering Albania has hit the geographical jackpot with its location along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, and that’s just the start of the beautiful scenery.
Within Albania’s borders, there are six mountain ranges, plentiful river valleys and lakes, and it is one of the most biodiverse countries in Europe. All of this, conveniently positioned within the Mediterranean, make Albania a perfect place to immerse into or to include in a grand tour of the Balkans.
Albania truly speaks to all of the senses, and provides for just about any type of experience you could possibly want for in a European vacation. Albania's laid-back atmosphere, welcoming locals, and its incredible history are definitely great excuses to hop onto the next plane to Mother Teresa Airport, just north of the capital city, Tirana.
A walk through Albania’s fascinating history and architecture will take you from the Neolithic age, passing through Byzantine times, the Ottoman Empire, the Communist era, and finally, into the contemporary world. Albania also has four UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests of the Carpathians.
There are amazing beaches both known and hidden, idyllic villages, vibrant and historical cities, a diverse culture, and endless opportunities in nature. If all that is not enough reason to go, top it off with the fact that Albania is well off Europe's beaten path. The value of your tourist dollars will go much further in Albania than elsewhere on the continent and Albania presents a wonderful opportunity to help local communities thrive, as many of the people working in tourism are small business entrepreneurs.
Where to Go On Your Vacation to Albania
The Albanian Alps in the north are known as Bjeshkët e Namuna to the Albanians, which means ‘The Accursed Mountains.’ Here you will enjoy stunning views of mountain peaks nestling lush green valleys, and the charming rural villages will delight you. There are incredible natural environments to explore such as Theth National Park and the rugged Valbonë Valley National Park. These are both perfect places to stay active, enjoy nature, and truly feel like you have gotten away from it all.
In the south of Albania, avid skiers will find not only great skiing, but also some of the best deals for winter vacations in Europe. In the Korçë area, Bigëll – Dardhë is a popular ski resort and the largest in Albania. Due south of the city of Korçë is Voskopojë, formally known as Moscopole, which has an interesting history in addition to great skiing.
South of Tirana is the beautiful town of Berat, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A once-fortified city, Berat is situated along the banks of the Osum River and is well known for its rows of white Ottoman houses, numerous Byzantine churches, and the Red Mosque.
Gjirokastër, in southern Albania is included with Berat as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in a beautiful valley between the Drino and Gjerë mountains, you will find what is considered a rare example of Ottoman architecture. The 12th-century castle that overlooks this extremely picturesque city is alone worth going to see, but the town itself is something right out of a postcard.
The Albanian Riviera along the Ionian coast is a presently unspoiled destination. Known as Bregu to the locals, it has some of the best beaches in Europe and you just might find some of them to yourself. There are sweeping vistas, and stunning mountain backdrops to feast the eyes on and plenty of nature to enjoy here. Dhërmi, Jal, Himara, Qeparo, Borsh, Sarandë, and Ksamil are all great beaches with distinct differences in their landscapes.
Tirana is a colorful city and best known for its wealth of Soviet and Fascist-era architecture. The landscape is quickly changing, and there are also wonderful examples of modern architecture including plans for the country's first vertical forest, which is a project currently under development. Tirana makes a great place to base for making day trips to other places like Krujë before moving on to your next destination.
Shkodër is the oldest city in Albania. This ancient Balkan town is an artistic community and is really a great place to slow down and enjoy the laid-back vibes. Rozafa Castle is a very interesting excursion from Tirana and you will have excellent views of the surroundings from here.
We get very excited about those places where you can take a fun, safe, and interesting road trip! One of the very best ways to visit Albania is to rent a car and hit the open road. Self-driving allows for impromptu side trips and making your own discoveries. What could be more fun?
Most people planning to visit Albania will find themselves in Tirana at some point. One of the most interesting things to do here is to visit Bunk’Art, This is a communist-era bunker built to house the government in the event of a nuclear attack. Now a contemporary art gallery and historical museum, this makes for an interesting introduction into Albania's history. There are more bunkers located throughout the country and this might be a fun thing to use as inspiration for your amazing road trip through Albania.
Head to the village of Muzinë where close-by you will find the Blue Eye or Syri i kaltër—a fresh water spring that bubbles up from a depth of more than 50 meters below to create a magical pool with the most amazing shades of blue to green. Don't say we told you it was okay to ignore the 'no swimming' sign but, if you find yourself in the need of a refreshing dip and want to risk it, this is some of the clearest water you'll find in Europe.
There are many experiences to have in Albania and simply not enough real estate here to cover it. With all of the countries in the world to choose from, Albania ranks very high on our own bucket lists. Just go!
Great Experiences To Have In Albania
The Best Times To Travel To Albania
The best time to go to Albania is really soon! Having not yet been completely overrun with tourists, this is us giving you a 'go now nudge' before the rest of the world figures it out! Whatever your aspirations are for your next eastern Europe vacation, Albania might just be the perfect vacation spot you had not thought of! No matter the season, the country has something to offer but the best times are when the weather is pleasant enough to enjoy everything.
Spring and autumn are the ideal times to visit. While April through June is pleasant enough weather, we feel — the very best time to go is in September and October. Fall is the perfect time because you will have less chance for rain, the coastal waters are still warm, and most European vacationers are now back home from their own holidays.
July and August are the high tourism season for both locals and others who are ‘in the know’ about where to go when France and Italy are full of other tourists. Even so, if you do go in the summer, Albania is still one of the lesser visited countries in Europe, and especially with tourists from the United States. The beaches will certainly be busier so, heading to the interior is your best option for avoiding any crowds during this time.
With respect to safety, Albania is considered a very safe place for travelers. According to the U.S. State Department, the only place to avoid is the town of Lazarat in the south which has experienced violence associated with the cultivation of marijuana.
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