Albania

Albania is located at the heart of the Mediterranean and is the gateway to the Balkan Peninsula.  Stretching along the shores of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, there are gorgeous beaches, spectacular mountains, river valleys and canyons, forests and lakes. The culture and history are impressive and as a result of it’s location of the junction of ancient civilizations there are some of the oldest languages in Europe spoken here. Bordering Greece to the south, Macedonia and Kosova to it’s east and Montenegro to the north, Albania is a melting pot of culture and scenery.

Whether it’s a summer beach holiday, a spring mountain hike or an autumn visit to the festivals, Albania has a lot to offer tourists from all over the world. Sometimes known as ‘land of the Eagles’ Albania has welcomed tourists since the days of the fifth century Emperor Justinian when his family holidayed at Lin on the shores of Lake Orchid, north of Pogradec. The first tourist association was formed in 1928 and today the Ministry of Tourism encompasses culture, sports and youth tourism.  There are a range of natural environments here, including twelve national parks and the coast has sheltered warm waters, ideal for swimming.

There are several UNESCO listed sites in Albania, including Butrint in the south and Berat which is the country’s main archeologial site.  Butrint had been inhabited since prehistoric times and was part of Greek and Roman colonies. The most ancient objects found here include a stone hammer and shaft from the second half of the second millennium BC.

The capital city is Tirana and the main economic and cultural centre of Albania. There are plenty of museums and galleries here along with a good selection of restaurants and theatres. 18 km away is Petrela Castle which is triangular in shape with two spotting towers on top of a rocky hill. Korca is a large city in the south east with low houses, villas and cobble streets.  On the shores of Lake Ohrid is the city of Pogradec which is tradionally known for ‘family tourism’ in the summer season.

Natural History in Albania includes the Dalmatian or ‘Curly’ Pelican which nests at Karavasta Lagoon on the Adriatic coast, the most western point of this bird’s European habitat.  This lagoon is protected by the Ramsar Convention and supperts about 5% of the world’s population of this pelican.  National Parks include Dajti just 26km from the capital, Thethi in the Albanian Alps and Prespa which borders three countries and is also rich in cultural history.

The Ionian Coast has great beaches with deep, clean waters and attracts a young crowd for diving, boat trips and water sports.  Many of the lakes in Albania have good hotels and water sports to enjoy. Outdoor activites and adventure sports come in all shapes and forms in Albania. Great hills and mountains for walking and trekking, skiing in the winter, mountain biking, caves and climbing. Rafting and canoeing are popular through the narrow gorges and canyons such as the Osumi River.

As with other countries in Eastern Europe, Albania has a number of natural sources of thermal waters which are famous for regenerating and curative characteristics.  The Postenan steam baths near Leskoviku are known for medical attributes which help asthma, skin diseases, arthritics and more.  There are Spa Centres in several towns.

Albanian food is a mix of Turkish, Balkan and European influence with lots of regional specialties.  There is lots of grilled meat, particularly lamb and various pies.  They use a lot of olive oil, spices, vegetables and lemons. Freshwater fish and walnuts are used in many areas and the Mediterranean climate makes Albania good for cultivating grapes and wine production. The most famous alcoholic drink is Rakia a type of brandy.

Ask me about a tailor made or group holiday to Albania outdoor activities, family fun or winter sports – or combine with a visit to neighbouring countries or a cruise.  Whatever you want to do, ask me how to get you there!

 

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