Small Balkan states are still a bit mysterious and undiscovered by most of the tourists. Such a feature makes them more interesting for exploring and they truly have a lot to offer. Albania is the best example for this story since it has just started to develop its tourism and travelers from all around the world are simply amazed by its beauty. So, if you are up for something different and more adventurous, book yourself a ticket and go straight to the land of eagles.
Albanian Geography – Suitable For Every Season
Albania is a Balkan country with amazing geographical extremes. Most of the country is covered with high mountains which make it almost impassable. On the other hand, its western part is full of beautiful beaches along the even more astonishing Adriatic and the Ionian Sea. But even its beaches are different, namely, the northern ones are sandy, but those in the south are rocky, so you can choose what suits you more. But the marvelous seaside is not the only Albanian potential. On the contrary, its lakes are perhaps even more fabulous. The Prespa and Skadar Lakes are wonderful but the true king of the lakes is undoubtedly Ohrid. Once you come to the Ohrid Lake you will never ever think about going to the sea.
Albanian capital city, Tirana is a place you have to visit but Durres and Gjirokaster are also a must see locations. Albanians are very proud of their country and are happy to present it to all travelers. Once you arrive in Albania you will get to know a completely new level of hospitality. Albanians say that a guest is a sacred person and they truly treat them like that.
Albanians are usually referred to as the ancient European people since historians believe that they and Greeks are the only true original inhabitants of the continent. Albanian ancestors were the Illyrians – the ancient people who were mentioned in Homer’s Iliad and their traces can still be seen all around Albania. Throughout the time, other major cultures had a vast influence on the tribes living in Albania, from Greeks and Romans to Turks and Italians. Marks of these impacts can still be seen and they make the country even more interesting.
Albania had become an independent state in the early 20th century and after the World War II, it came under a harsh communist rule under the President Enver Hoxha. Albanians do not like to remember this period of their history but even today you can see many remnants of that time. For example, almost on every corner, you can see abandoned concrete bunkers which were erected by Hoxha in the case of Soviet or any other invasion. Some of them are quite massive and inventive Albanians have transformed them into huge discos.
Apart from amazing beaches, lakes and other natural beauties such as mountains, rivers, and forests, Albania is also rich in interesting historical and cultural monuments. Tirana is the best starting point where you can learn a bit more about the Albanian past in one of many museums. Check out the city center where you can see some of the finest examples of Albanian traditional as well as communist architecture. Massive concrete buildings stand right next to the modern office towers and Ottoman mosques and family houses. Next stop could be a town in the south of Albania called Berat. The whole city is actually a museum since its history goes back some 2500 years.
But the next town located also on the south will impress you even more. It is called Gjirokaster and it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Some call it the white or stone city since all buildings are completely made of pale rocks. The entire city looks like a big fort and there is an astonishing Weapons Museum in its center where you can see various weaponry from prehistory to WWII.
These are just a few of major destinations and monuments you should really see once you arrive in this small but interesting country. But there are hundreds of others worth checking out so feel free to choose those you find most attractive.
Accommodation To Suit Every Budget
Visiting Albania means having a chance to choose among a wide variety of lodging, from the most luxurious hotels to budget accommodation. No matter what part of the country one decides to visit, he will surely be able to book either an expensive suite or a room, or somewhat cheaper variants in three-star hotels. Besides, there are numerous economic resorts and rental houses in Albania. The price one gives for spending a night in a hotel or hostel inevitably tells a lot about the amenities he will get. However, being hospitable as they always are, Albanians will undoubtedly offer you more than you have paid for your stay.
What is more, Albania is an extraordinary destination for both, tourists who are ready to pay more as well as for budget travelers. For instance, all the coastal regions have well-developed tourism and they do not lack lodging capacities. The famous city and port Durres has excellent hotels and rental houses with low prices per night and great service. Visiting Durres, for example, will enable you to book a room in a two or three-star hotel with a location right next to the sea. Thus, once you get up in the morning, you can go straight to the garden and have a lovely cup of excellent Albanian coffee for a good morning, and then head straight to the beach, which is only several steps away from you. Of course, all of the five-star hotels in Albanian coastal regions are on the beach, and moreover, each of them has a separate and private beach, away from the public crowd and jam. Each of the beaches has their own people in charge of making your stay more comfortable. They will do their best to make your desk chair in a right place and to stay in shade, or they will offer to bring you anything you need from the nearby cafe or a restaurant. There is indeed no hospitality as Albanian hospitality.
Albanians always state that if you wish to experience true Albania, then you should visit the south of the country. This is because the south is more developed than other regions, at least when it comes to tourism and accommodation. Saranda, for instance, is a perfect place for a vacation since the country invests a lot into construction and building new lodging capacities. Also, you will pay a bit more than in Durres, but you will also have better service.
The capital city, Tirana, will also surprise you when it comes to accommodation. The small and not so famous country such as Albania is not referred to have so many famous and luxurious hotels, but Tirana still can enthrall you with the long list of the hotels you can stay during your visit. Hotel Sheraton, Hotel Butrinti, or Hotel Rognar Europa Park are just some of the examples, together with a list of somewhat less luxurious hotels placed on every corner of the Albanian metropolis.
Cuisine – A Paradise For Gourmets
Wherever you go in Albania, you will surely not be hungry, since each place in the country has at least couple of the restaurants offering domestic as well as international cuisine. Hence, Albania is a culinary delight for gourmets. Albanian cuisine is a perfect mixture of all the best features of Italian, Greek and Turkish cuisines, and eating traditional meals of the country is a must during your visit. The most popular Albanian dish, usually served for lunch, is Gjelle. It is a meat which is served fresh vegetables and salad, cooked on a low flame. The coastal regions will offer delicious domestic dishes such as Shish Kebab, Kofte, and Byrek. And in case you love eating buns, nowhere in the world will you eat so delicious puff pastries and strudels. In case you are more for international cuisine, go for pizza, which is more than excellent, especially in the capital Tirana. One thing is for sure, no one has ever stayed hungry in Albania, so we are sure you won’t be the first visitor to go through such an experience.
There’s Just So Much to Do Here
Being a home to fourteen national parks, Albania has indeed a lot to offer. The country’s nature is beautiful, and although the country has hundreds of kilometres of a coast, it is still mostly covered with mountains and hills. For that reason, one can do many things when deciding to spend some time here. For instance, hiking and trekking activities are very popular, and there are numerous organisations and companies that offer services of visiting some of the most interesting Albanian mountains. Apart from visiting the country in summer, a winter is also a good solution. Thanks to the numerous mountains placed in Albania, one can spend winter skiing and hiking. What is more, kayaking on Albanian rivers, especially on Osumi River, is also popular. A long adventure in the canyon of the Osumi River will surely be unforgettable. Other interesting activities consider bird watching, wild water rafting, and visiting historical and religious monuments.
Even though Albania has long been undetected, the recent decade has shown that the country is extremely interesting and that it has a lot to offer. That is why tourists are enthralled by its history, culture and tradition. Moreover, no place on Earth, except for Albania, will be so hospitable and ready to make you feel like at home. Albania is really worth your time and money.