Holidays to undiscovered Albania
Follow the Adriatic Coast south from Montenegro and you arrive at another of Europe’s lesser-known holiday gems: Albania. With Greece to the south and Croatia drawing crowds further north, this spectacular, unspoiled country is often overlooked. But news is spreading, and the promise of culture-rich cities, beautiful beaches and big, sweeping landscapes dotted with centuries-old churches and monasteries, is drawing more and more visitors each year.
Our tour takes you off the tourist trail to uncover Albania’s cultural heritage in places like medieval Kruja and UNESCO-listed Berat, as well as the spirited capital Tirana, which is fast getting a hold on Europe’s thriving city break scene. Crossing the border inland into North Macedonia, you’ll encounter pretty lakeside towns and dizzying mountain scenery, and peer into frescoed old churches and ancient winding bazaars.
Albania is a land of unspoilt scenery waiting to be discovered. From areas of outstanding natural beauty in the mountains to a stunning coastline that boasts some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean you can take in the sights at your leisure, without hordes of tourists.
Tirana is the capital of Albania. It’s beautifully colourful architecture dates back to the Ottoman, Fascist and Soviet eras. The main attraction in the city is Skanderbeg Square, where you will find the monument dedicated to hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu. Other places of interest include Bunk’Art - a museum and art gallery inside a bunker, as well as Et'hem Bey Mosque and the Pyramid of Tirana.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint is an archaeological treasure that has historically had settlements from the Greeks, the Romans, Byzantine’s and the Venetians. It has fascinating ruins from each of these times, set in a beautiful landscape.
In the very south of Albania, you can visit the city of Gjirokastra, set in a valley between the Gjerë mountains and Drino. Also known as the Stone City, a walk through its old cobbled streets reveals stout, slate-roofed houses, the imposing 12th century Gjirokastër Fortress, and Zekate House with its original Ottoman architecture.
Located on the Osum River, Berat is an old town 120km from Tirana, famous for its 13th century fortress, Berat Castle and its Ottoman architecture. Berat is a UNESCO site and is known as ‘the city of a thousand windows’ after its apparent never-ending display of windows from the town’s houses, that are set on the side of a mountain.
The best time to visit Albania is spring and autumn. Travelling at this time means you’ll avoid the heat of high summer and the worst of the winter, and there’ll be fewer crowds, too.
The local currency in Albania is the Albanian Lek. Euros are widely accepted but your change will usually be in the local currency. Major credit and debit cards are accepted in most shops and restaurants, and you’ll find ATMs in all the main towns.
Albanian is the official language in Albania, and by far the most widely spoken.
Several airlines offer direct flights to Tirana from London and the flight time is approximately three hours.
Albania is one hour ahead of GMT.
If you hold a full British passport you can stay in Albania for up to 90 days without a visa, as long as your passport is valid for at least three months from the date you arrive. However we always recommend you check before you travel because requirements can change. You can do this easily at CIBT visas or GOV UK.
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