Albania is a place often misunderstood. Between Montenegro and Greece lies a hidden paradise that, more often than not, people miss or don’t even know where it is on a map. I feel in love with Albania. Its landscapes are vast, the people are friendly and I felt safe at all times. There is so much to see and do in Albania but here are 9 reasons why you need to visit Albania right now.
The most beautiful beaches in Europe
Albania has some of the most beautiful beaches I have seen in Europe and even the world. The best part? Although the Albanian Rivera is probably the most touristic place in Albania the crowds are nothing compared to other parts of Europe. When you arrive in Albania head straight for the Rivera and explore some of the hidden paradises that are waiting to be discovered. With crystal blue water, white sand beaches and cheap beer, you will be happy with your decision to come here instead of Corfu where you will pay triple the amount. Beaches like Ksamil, which is pictured above is not to be missed. Also, take a look at Butrint beach that is equally as beautiful. There are great bus links between the beaches but don’t expect to find a timetable online. You are better off to ask a local and go with the flow.
The people are incredibly friendly, trustworthy and honest
While travelling the world I have met some really lovely people but Albanians stood out to me. From 20 men yelling and running after the bus that I was just about to miss to the locals welcoming me and telling me they are happy I picked Albania to travel around, every single person I met was friendly. Even though a majority of people who I asked directions didn’t speak a word of English they always lead me to someone who did or gave me recommendations on where to go, etc. The Albanian people are really helpful and have great hospitality too. Trust is extremely important to Albanians so you can count on them if you ever need something. They are also very generous! Expect to be treated like a queen and given endless amounts of Rakia (equivalent to moonshine).
Albania has many beautiful castles and historic sites
There is are UNESCO heritage sites, beautiful castles and ancient forts dotted all around the country. Butrint has Roman ruins dating back 2000 years ago along with Berat and Gjirokastra, which also have UNESCO sites that you should definitely visit.
The history is fascinating
Albania went through some tough shit, there’s no other way to say it. The country was under a tight communist rule for 47 years. During that time, Albanians were controlled with just about everything. It was the first all atheist country in the world in 1967 as all religion was banned in the communist era. If you want to learn more and gain a better understanding about the history then don’t forget to go the National History Museum in Tirana.
It’s got character, lots of character
Out of all the places I travelled to in Europe I say Albania has the most character. I don’t think I have laughed to myself more times than I did in Albania. Visiting the town of Shkoder I felt like I had travelled back in time. You will feel like this all over Albania. You really have to be prepared to go with the flow and not have much planned for your visit to Albania. If you are trying to research when a bus is, or how long it will take, I would stop now. Just ask the locals, it’s the best way. Bus times change often but are usually reliable. The country has a charming personality. To sum it up, one of my favourite saying while I was there was ‘aye?’ with a confused look on my face. It will sometimes feel as though you’re travelling in the old days but that’s one of the huge positives about Albania. Don’t expect your trip to be boring!
It’s super affordable
This has got to be one of the top 3 countries when it comes to affordability. Expect to purchase a litre of wine for a couple of euros or a main meal for only a few. If you’re on a budget this is the perfect place to come. If not, you will live like kings! A bed at a hostel can cost 5-10 euros, it’s insane. Also, another great thing is the portion sizes. Let’s just say you get value for money and being a total tight-arse when it comes to money, Albania is heaven.
From rolling mountains and beautiful beaches along with colourful waters, it’s no wonder Albania is a paradise for nature lovers. Most of Albania is filled with mountainous territory giving it marvellous views and many natural wonders. One of which is not to be missed is called the Blue Eye, or Syri i kaltër in Albanian. It’s located in the South, not far from Sarandё. This natural spring is a phenomenon that still cannot be explained. It’s extremely colourful but be warned, the water is super cold.
It’s a safe travel destination
There seems to be a misunderstanding of Albania and unfortunately, majority of that comes from the movie ‘Taken’ and other Hollywood films. Let’s get this straight, Albanian people are not off the movie ‘Taken’. They are extremely humble and trustworthy people so please stop associating Albanians with sex traffickers from the movie. There are bad people everywhere in the world, no matter which country you go to. I felt a lot safer in Albania than I did in other popular European cities. As a woman travelling alone I never felt targeted, uncomfortable or harassed. In fact, Albanian men are very respectful. I even went to an Albanian club and never once felt objectified like I have in other European, American and New Zealand clubs. Hitchhiking in Albania is extremely common with tourists and sometimes the only way to get from A to be B if you want to get off the beaten path. Although I didn’t try hitchhiking myself, I do know of people that basically hitchhiked throughout the country and can vouch that they felt safe the entire time.
Albanians love foreigners!
They welcome you with open arms and open hearts, that’s when you know it’s a great travel destination. “Where are you from?”, is a popular question expect when travelling around Albanian. When stated “New Zealand” their faces lit up with happiness, joy and a little confusion at times. Yes, New Zealand is a long way.
Albanian really made an impression on me and I am so happy to be sharing 9 reasons why you should come and enjoy the country too. I could name about 100 more! I loved it so much that I plan to visit Albania multiple times this year to see more of the country as I still have so much more to see and experience in Albania.
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