Albania lies in south-western Europe and is officially called the Republic of Albania. It is around 72 kilometres from Italy across the Strait of Otranto. People of the area speak both Albanian and Greek. The capital city of Albania is Tirana.
Tourism in Albania mainly owes to its rich history of the Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman periods and its picturesque natural beauty in the form of its untainted beaches, humbling mountains and delicious food. The Albanian coast particular Albanian Riviera is a major tourist attraction.
Albanian Riviera is a coastal area lying along the Ionian Sea beneath the Ceraunian Mountains in Southern Albania. It is only a part of the Albanian coastline but is the major attraction for tourists visiting the country owing to its natural beauty, history, national parks and beaches. The area is an elite holiday destination with its rich ecosystem. The region houses traditional Mediterranean villages, ancient castles and churches of the orthodox sect of Christianity. The landscape is extremely diverse with mountain passes, beautiful beaches, vivid underwater fauna, caves and various olives, orange and lemon plantations. As a matter of fact Julius Caesar once set foot upon this coastline in his pursuit of Pompey and travelled through Llogara Pass which is now called Caesar’s Pass.
The best way to travel through the Albanian Riviera is by car. From the city of Tirana enter the SH2 highway you can go into Durres and after crossing towns such as Kavaje and Lushunje and keep on going further south. After reaching Fier, you can take the new highway to Vlore County. The rush comes when you go through the Orikum and Caesar’s Pass where the elevation of the road varies and is quite narrow at spots. So it will make for the perfect road trip.
While you are in the country of Albania you must:
Visit the Ruins of Butrint
Albania used to be a retreat even during ancient times. It used to be a serene place for the Romans and the Greeks to find refuge from the chaos of their cities. They scattered the brilliance of their huge villas and amphitheatres all across the Albanian Coast. The city of Butrint is the evidence of the stay of Romans and Greeks in Albania. It is a UNESCO world heritage city.
Explore Beaches at Albanian Riviera
Albanian Riviera houses some of the most beautiful and uncorrupted beaches. The Soviet government and sparse population kept it aloof from the Industrial Revolution and hence the place stays pollution and commercialization free. There are some houses along the coast. Tourists can enjoy swimming, snorkelling or just lazily sunbathing. Sarande Beach offers clear waters and a picturesque view of the sea.
Skiing in the Alps
Albania is a popular skiing destination owing to its diversity in slopes located in the Albanian Alps. Albania is hence often referred to as the ‘Switzerland of the East.’ One can enjoy skiing here in the Alps all around the year, however the months of January and February are considered to be the best when the peaks get covered in a powder. The lack of pollution and industrialization is a boon to the area and hence makes it a beautiful experience.
Tirana is the capital city of Albania. The city has a limited past because of the Communism prevalent in those times. However, Tirana is now a lively city with an active nightlife. Though you might have to struggle with your lingual skills in the region, Tirana has a lot to offer. The places worth visiting are the Et’hem Bey Mosque, the National Historic Museum and the National Archaeological Museum. You can relish the traditional coffee of the region at the Murat Toptani Street. You can mount up Mount Dajti on a cable car and enjoy hiking and trekking in the area.
The city of Berat is located at the shore of River Osum. The city was built as a castle on the top of a hill. The original castle is still on this hill and is called Kalaja. The castle houses a number of beautiful beaches and mosques. The city is also called ‘city of thousand windows’ because houses have large window frontages and design the skyline of the city.
Situated along the Albanian Coastline, Durres is the most important harbour city. The city is also culturally prominent as event and feasts happen all over the year. The amphitheatre of Durres is instrumental to the cultural activity of the city and is hence a major tourist destination. It could house around 20,000 people.
You can’t complete your trip to any place without making the mark of its delicacies on your palate. The Albanian cuisine is Mediterranean and is heavily influenced by Italian, Turkish and Greek styles. The peculiar use of Mediterranean herbs such as oregano, rosemary, black pepper is used for cooking fish, meat. Olive oil and butter are also key ingredients of Albanian Cuisine.
Use of meat is common. Seafood is consumed along the coastline in cities such as Durres and Sarande. The main meal of Albanians is lunch which consists of a stew, a dish of cooked meat and vegetables and a salad of tomatoes, olives and cucumbers.
Albania is a land of purity and beauty. A land one must visit once in their lifetime.