Albania has come a long way from difficult times in decades past. Now you’ll find a diamond in the rough with everything you would want out of a trip: a breath-taking coastline, fascinating history, colossal mountains, and heartwarmingly welcoming people. Constantly evolving, Albania today could be different to Albania next year making it a vibrant place to visit.
1. A unique coastline
You’ll have your breath taken away as you drive along tiny coastal roads, winding around mountains that crash into the sea. A bizarre feature of the coast is the indestructible bunkers that litter the place, placed there by Dictator Enver Hoxha’s paranoia. Climb in, on and around these strange sentinels into Albania’s complicated recent past.
2. Historic grandeur
From ancient hilltop fortresses to excellent Roman ruins, Ottoman mansions to famous orthodox icons, Albania has a rich, fascinating history on display.
Learn the sad ledgend of Rozafa, trapped in her magnificent fortress forever above Shkodra. Climb Gjirokastra’s steep cobbled streets amongst fading Ottoman homes of grandeur to its lonely fortress. Or head to Berat for an even greater taste of rare Ottoman style exploring the many well preserved mansions, as well as its medieval citadel full of churches displaying beautiful frescoes and famous icons. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint, a lovingly restored ancient ruin whose history stretches from Hellenistic to Venetian times.
3. Transforming Tirana
Albania’s capital has been working for years to beautify its drab, brutal communist past. Go on your own photographic tour of Tirana discovering the inventive colour schemes that brighten up the city.
Hang out in the cafes by day and dance the night away in the thriving Blloku, an area where the communist elite once lived it up behind walls to keep everyone else out.
Check out www.inyourpocket.com/albania/tirana for the latest tips on where to eat in Tirana, an affordable gastronomical scene which is improving all the time.
4. The unforgettable Accursed Mountains
Albania’s Accursed Mountains are as evocative as they sound. Besides finding indescribable natural beauty you can experience heart-warming stays with families who invite visitors into their remote lifestyles; lives that once were lived fiercely in a hostile, feuding world. Hiking here offers a unique experience to feel as though you are steeping into an undiscovered corner of Europe.
5. Wonderful people
Albania’s greatest gift is its people. They will welcome you to their tables and into their homes, look out for you on buses or just give you a wave on the street. Many countries are friendly but Albania takes hospitality to another level. This alone makes a trip to Albania worth it.