The Balkans are an interesting group of countries and yet they are not high on many people’s bucket lists. But why? Croatia has begun to soar in popularity over the past few years thanks to Game of Thrones fans wanting to visit Kings Landing in real life, and Bulgaria has become a fairly popular winter destination for skiers. But the rest of them are often wrongly overlooked – Albania is one of them. People are shrouded with misconceptions of this surprisingly beautiful and relaxed country. Eight reasons why you should go off the beaten track of travel and experience to visit Albania for yourself. Check out the reasons here.
Get More for Your Money
Albania is cheap. The amount of money that would last you one week in Greece would easily see you through three weeks in Albania. Comparing beer price is the best way to see how expensive a country is; a beer costs about 300 lek, or £2. A standard meal would cost you somewhere close to 1000 lek. That’s less than £7. And accommodation is no different. There are some absolutely stunning properties to rent with beautiful interiors, amazing views and private balconies which range from £20 to £60 per night. Obviously, you can splash out even more for absolute luxury, but often the cheaper ones are perfect and include a huge fresh breakfast!
Nobody expects Albania to have gorgeous beaches, but it shares a coastline with Croatia and Greece, so obviously the beaches are amazing. The biggest perk is that because it isn’t a huge tourist destination at the moment, there are completely untouched beaches; to get to Filikuri Beach in Himarë, you either have a fun scramble down the cliff or catch a boat to take you there. If you want something a little less wild, Ksamil is the most popular area to visit, and some say the beaches there are the most beautiful in the country. But be careful, with popularity comes higher prices, and you can definitely notice the price difference when you visit Ksamil.
Much like the beaches, Albania also boasts untouched, luscious mountain regions, with gorgeous scenery as far as the eye can see. Discover waterfalls and ice-cold dipping pools with turquoise blue waters amongst dense green forest landscapes when you visit the northern villages of Theth and Valbonna. There is a famous hiking route between these two villages that takes you right into the heart of the scenery, or you can challenge yourself to reach the summit of Maja Jezercë , one of the highest peaks in Albania.
There is no point in having these stunning beaches with crystal clear waters and amazingly scenic hiking routes if the weather doesn’t allow you to indulge in them! In the summer, temperatures are consistently in the early thirties and the sun is shining. There are a few rainy days and storms, but generally the weather is glorious. Whilst you’re soaking up the sun, why not try your luck on a few online games? This honest guide on the best online casinos will give you the low down on the juiciest bonuses, best payouts and the newest games to play online. Top up your tan, win some spending money, and relax.
Albanians are open, friendly, and always so excited and happy that you have chosen to visit their country. Tourists are treated with the utmost respect by everyone, and there will always be someone around that speaks English to help you out. If you look lost, they will always offer to help you, give you directions, phone someone or recommend places to see, eat and visit. The locals know all the hidden gems and they may even offer to take you there. Having someone local as your tour guide will give you such an authentic experience of the country, and you are guaranteed to have a good time.
Whilst there aren’t a lot of transport options, the ones they do have are easy to navigate. There is only one train line that operates from Shkoder in the north, down to the coast, but the quality of the train line is questionable. Luckily, the bus routes are simple and easy, and you can get everywhere from the central bus station in the capital city, Tirana. In each place, the buses all arrive and leave from a particular spot, and they have signs on the front that say where they are going. Your accommodation will be able to tell you what time the buses leave, and journeys are typically a few hours, so make sure you have snacks, water and entertainment.
Albania has a somewhat sorrowful and violent communist history, but it is a history that is also interesting and worth learning about. One of the most unusual sights that is completely unique to Albania are the number of bunkers dotted around. Bunkers are everywhere. In fact, there are approximately 173,000 of them placed around the country. These were built by the former leader, Enver Hoxha, and two of them in Tirana have been turned into museum-come-art-galleries, namely BunkArt, where you can learn all about the political ongoing of the country throughout the ages.
Freedom and Safety
Safety is always a great concern for travelers. Albania is actually one of the safest countries to visit; public safety is good and there are low reports of crime. This is one of the reasons why hitchhiking is a popular way for travelers to get around Albania, and you usually get picked up by some chatty locals pretty quickly. On top of this, wild camping is also popular, and it is one of the safest countries to do so. Areas around Berat in the heart of the country, like the Kanionet e Osumit, are perfect to set up camp for a couple of nights to watch the stars and do some hiking. In Albania you are safe and free to roam the wilderness. Perfect!
Instead of jumping on the bandwagon and visiting the most popular places for your summer holiday, experience somewhere a little bit different and book your flights to Albania. You will not be disappointed!