Albania is often overlooked in Europe. It’s a pity as the sunny country at the Adriatic and Ionian Sea will not disappoint travelers.
The Albania travel experience
We are standing on the highest point of the Llogara mountain pass. Shortly before, an eagle came across. The coastal road, which lead us here crossing the rich of pine trees Llogara National Park, was very impressive. And now we find ourselves on 1,000 metres altitude surrounded by a huge number of goats. The mountaineous landscape together with enormous herds of animals make me think of Tibet. If it were not for the sea… From here we look onto small turqouise bays. We get a hint of further hidden gems we might discover today. The cooling wind is very pleasant on this hot summer day. We are looking forward to the impressions that lie ahead. Finally today is our wedding anniversary.
What to see in Albania?
Albania offers a lot. Of course, we could not see the whole country within four days. Nevertheles Chris and I experienced a lot within this short time and felt pretty much fulfilled. In terms of sights worth seeing I need to state breathtaking landscapes like high mountains or the turquoise sea and many cultural sights. Discovering Albania is a wonderful adventure as it’s almost nowhere crowded by tourists. Here you will watch sheep herds crossing the street. The best time to go is now.
The people of Albania
We only had good experiences in Albania regarding the people. We have never been hacked. The Albanians were extremely helpful and gave us valuable travel tips. Many people speak English well. Although we expected them, we had no communication problems at all in any Albanian corner. The people in Albania are very sociable and enjoy the outdoors. Family and friends have the highest priority. Cafes are an important place of social coexistance and are always well-filled in the cities.
Tirana was fascinating. First, there is a certain vibe in this city. The Albanian capital is youthful. Life takes place outside. The street scene is characterized by many cafes. The old socialist buildings have been given a new life by colorful street art. We were surprised at the fact that the backyards of these houses hide very innovative locations. We loved to spot a health food restaurant there for example. Tirana also has vegan restaurants. There are huge screens and big malls just like in any other modern metropolis. There is a kind of break-up mood. We were delighted to be carried away by the positive spirit and enjoyed the outdoors in the city.
If you travel to Tirana I highly recommend the Artistic Tirana Guesthouse, where we stayed. The hosts are so friendly. Such a great Guesthouse obviously attracts special people, so we made very nice acquaintances. We really enjoyed the breakfast together with the other guests. The Guesthouse is centrally located, close to busy cafes and colorful house facades. This location will bring you closer to the typical Tirana lifestyle.
There are great historical places and archaeological sites in Albania. We visited the city of Berat and could hardly believe how little visited a UNESCO World Heritage sight can be. Berat is known as “the city of 1,000 windows”. The architecture of this place is so unique that my camera hardly came to a halt.
In many towns you can stroll through idyllic old streets while time seems to stand still. At the entrances you can see often wine and the cobblestones look incredibly old. These are places to slow down and enjoy.
Where to travel in Albania?
If you have to decide whether you are going to the coast or to the mountains, you are spoiled for choice. Sun-drenched Albania has to offer a lot of both and of each very beautiful sections. Around Tirana for example, there are magnificent mediterranean landscapes that can compete with the beauty of Tuscany. In general, the country is very diverse. And when you finally know that you want to go to the coast, the decision between the Adriatic and the Inonian Sea is a decision between Garden of Eden and Paradise. Thus, the Ionian Sea was a perfect place for our wedding anniversary.
Thanks to a good advice we have not been to Saranda. You should avoid it if you are looking for lonely beaches. Daily ferrys arrive here from the Greek island of Corfu. I also recommend traveling to the Albanian coast in June or September and not in the main season from July to August.
If you like tips for hidden gems like Albania, you might also be interested in my article about the Šumava in the Czech Republic.