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Albania

Shkodra Valbona Valley National Park
Albania Costal Town Through Castle

Albania

Get ready for a charming patchwork of different architectural styles and influences that reflect Albania’s changing fortunes and tumultuous history. Whether you want to beach-hop along the Albanian Riviera, hike in the Albanian Alps, go rafting on the Valbona River, cruise on the cliff-flanked Lake Komani or spot eagles around the Lura National Park or Lake Shkodra your main worry will probably be to have enough time for it all!

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Albania, bordering Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece, is still unknown to most travelers. However, after decades of isolation from – with few exceptions – the rest of the world the country in recent years has opened up, becoming one of the exciting undiscovered travel destinations in Europe

In Korçë and Voskopojë in Southeastern part of Albania you’ll see churches and monasteries with impressive frescos from the middle age whereas the Turkish Ottomans have left their marks with mosques and prayer halls at UNESCO world heritage sites like Berat and Gjirokastër. The capital Tirana is a fusion of all this and even if you don’t care much for history you won’t have a dull moment..

You’ll find it more inexpensive to travel here than most places on the continent. You won’t necessarily find the same high street brands here that you find in most major towns and cities in Western Europe. In fact you won’t even find a McDonalds! In Tirana instead there are outlets of a local fast food chain around the city called Kolonat with a logo that uses the same red and yellow colors as McDonald's but inside you can besides burgers and fried order spaghetti Bolognese and Greek souvlaki.

The capital and only real big city also has its share of ritzy bars and night clubs and many of the buildings that were shaped by the socialist ideology now serve other purposes. Tirana is also the place to be if you fancy spending a day at museums or galleries.

Albania is connected by bus to the neighboring countries but the only international train connection to Podgorica in Montenegro is mainly used for freight. You have ferries to and from Italy and Greece and the most popular modes of transportation within Albania are busses, mini busses and shared taxis. If you find it slightly difficult to navigate in the transportation system you are most likely not the only one. It can be very tempting to take a cab and fortunately this, like almost anything else in Albania, is cheap.

Mediterranean with a twist

With the importance of olive oil, vegetables and fish on one side and a lot of filo pastry and grilled meat on the other Albanian cuisine is a fine mix of Mediterranean and Balkan traditions. In the coastal towns by the Adriatic Sea you’ll see prawns, mussels, hake and sea base on the menu, carps and trout are popular near the lakes and in every smaller or bigger town you’ll find variations of oriental style fast foods like qofta and byrek. Lamb is very popular and often offered spit-roasted.

Greetings and expression

Most places in Europe the usual way to indicate “yes” is by nodding and to indicate “no” by moving the head horizontally from side to side. In Albania, like in some other countries on the Balkan Peninsula, however, shaking your head from side to side means yes while a slight raising of your eyebrows and a short click with your tongue means no. Don’t let yourself get confused!

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Cities and places you should visit in Albania

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