Holidays to Albania
With a fascinating history, including a long period of Ottoman rule, it has more than its fair share of castles and fortresses as well as archaeological remains included in the list of Unesco World Heritage sites.
More recently, the post-war years of Communism which collapsed in 1990, has also left its mark, another aspect which makes it such an intriguing country to visit.
Geographically it also packs a punch. Criss-crossed by mountain ranges and hilly uplands, its borders take in the northern Albanian Alps and Pindus Mountains in the southeast, with large tracts of water including the vast Lake of Shkoder. And, along its 265 miles of coastline, it has beaches which rival the best that the Mediterranean has to offer.
With a fascinating history, including a long period of Ottoman rule, Albania has more than its fair share of castles and fortresses
Where to go
Compact capital, Tirana, is easy to navigate with its National Historical Museum, Mosque of Et’hem Bey and National Art Gallery within a short walk of each other. Get a feel for the country’s communist past on a visit to BunkArt, a huge underground bunker on the outskirts of the city.
Albania’s best preserved ruins are at Butrint, south of Saranda, a fortified city settled by the Greeks in the 6th century BC. The ancient Greek hilltop city of Apollonia, near Fier, has a good onsite museum. Also, don’t miss Gjirokastra’s hilltop stronghold, a former prison, with sweeping views across the valley.
When to go
Spring and autumn are perfect seasons for hiking and cycling in the mountains, or visit in winter for idyllic snowy scenes. Temperatures reach the high 20s along the Mediterranean coast in the summer peak. The popular Korca Beer Festival in August sees four days of traditional dancing, food and music.