Albania, a state situated in the Balkan Peninsula, is best known to tourists for its southern coast, the Albanian Riviera. With traditional Mediterranean villages, seaside resorts and a lively nightlife scene, the country is a destination that attracts visitors looking for beach relaxation, culture or an alpine adventure in the Albanian Alps.
What to Do
Visitors to Albania do not lack for choice when it comes to activities and sights to see. The Albanian Riviera between Saranda and Vlore is a haven of golden sand lapped by the warm waters of the Adriatic Sea. For more energetic holidays there are stunning mountains and hills for hiking and national wildlife sanctuaries and parks for exploring in the northern regions of Albania. If you are going south then the awe-inspiring natural scenes are found in the valley and lakes of Korca, Permet and Pogradec.
Albania is also a destination for cultural experiences – from fairy-tale castles like Gjirokastra and archaeological sites like the ancient ruins of Butrint to charming historical towns dotted all over the country. The United Nations has awarded no fewer than 3 sites in Albania the title of UNESCO World Heritage Sites and these are always worth a visit: Butrint, Gjirokastra and Berat.
Traditional meats include succulent fire-roasted lamb, chicken and rabbit with rice and yoghurt based sauces, accompanied by regional vegetables including locally grown peppers, greens, olives, grapes and figs. If you’re staying on the coast you should take the opportunity for a meal of freshly caught fish washed down by the world-renowned Albanian raki.
Albania’s climate is essentially Mediterranean in nature with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters. With temperatures ranging from an average of 10°C in January to 25°C in July, visitors are likely to enjoy temperate conditions. In the mountains the rainfall tends to be more abundant and the days and nights cooler at altitude. It is generally thought that the best months to visit Albania fall between May and September.
How to Get There
There are several means of reaching Albania. By air you’ll arrive at Mother Theresa International Airport in Rinas, which is about 17km from Tirana. Visitors are advised to take airport transfer services and taxis to Tirana, which is usually a 20-minute journey.
If you are driving there are motorway connections to Albania from Kosovo, Greece, Montenegro and Macedonia. Regular bus services to Tirana and Korça operate from Tetova in Macedonia, from the main cities of Kosovo, and from Athens, Sofia and Istanbul.
Flanked by 2 coasts, Albania can be entered by sea as well. Passenger ferries connect the Port of Durrës to the Italian ports of Bari, Ancona and Trieste and to the Koper in Slovenia. If you are sailing from Greece there is a daily ferry to the Port of Saranda from the island of Corfu.
Travelling to Albania? Don’t Miss…
- Blue Eye Spring is a spectacular pool of fresh water encircled by electric blue shores that give you the impression of diving into the iris of an eye. You’ll find this gem on the southern coast between Saranda and Gjirokastra.
- Mangalem Quarter, Berat hosts 3 lavishously decorated historical mosques. For architecture lovers these Ottoman-era buildings are a true treasure trove.
- Bazaar, Kruja is the shopping mecca for souvenir hunting. The Ottoman-style market throngs with antiquities and regional crafts.