Located in southeastern Europe, the “New Mediterranean Love” or the country of Albania is a traveler’s jackpot as it has something to offer to all kinds of visitors. From abundant natural beauty, to towns replete with historical significance, brilliant beaches, or appetizing cuisine, the wide ranging terrain of Albania is a place with vivid and spectacular avenues to explore.
Many towns and cities of Albania are included among UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Albania’s history goes back to Illyrian times. Clear Greek, or Illyrian, Byzantine or Roman, and Ottoman influences are visible in the architectural, cultural and social domains. Innumerable castles are scattered throughout the Albanian landscape. To add to the majestic and historical value, the towns and their architecture make them popular among tourists.
Different towns are known for different features. For instance the beauty and serenity of Sarande make it a popular Honeymoon destination. The views of the sunset and sunrise over Sarande’s beaches are truly splendid.
If Sarande is known for its natural beauty, then town of Korce has rich historical significance. Located in the lap of Morava Mountains, Korce’s history can be traced back to Copper age, and also has Mycenaean, (Greek) and Ottoman rules and influences in their past. Kruje is also a popular tourist site. The ottoman rule of 15th century, and further back the Illyrian tribes till 12th century made their mark on Kruje. Situated near Mount Kruje, and on the banks of river Ishem, it does not lack in natural beauty either. Picturesque locales abound in these cities of Albania. Pogradec, a city that is home to many ancient castles, bridges, and old mosaics, is also known as City of Poets. This is mostly due to the fact that many famous Albanian authors hailed from Pogradec. The towns and cities included among world Heritage Sites include those of Berat, Butrint and Gjirokaster.
Butrint is a Roman and Greek City, whereas Gjirokaster is a medieval Ottoman town. Berat, a popular destination among tourists, was named as the ‘Town of Thousand Windows.’
Many castles can be found in Albania, and make up for imposing sites. Some of the more famous ones include Rozafa Castle, Berat Castle, Lekurest Castle, Pogradec Castle, Gjirokaster Castle. This is by no means an exhaustive enumeration, there are countless more castles situated in charming and ancient Albanian towns. Shkoder is Albania’s most historic of towns, and located nearby is the Rozafa Castle. Dating back to 167 BCE, it has Illyrian, Roman and Ottoman influences. Its dating makes it evident that the current standing structures are largely due to subsequent renovations. The now preserved structures have Venetian architectural influences. Overlooking the town of Berat is the Berat Castle. Located near river Osum it dates back to the 13th century. There are many ancient churches and a mosque around the once majestic fortress.
Gjirokaster Castle also houses a military museum. Lekurest Castle dates back to 16th century and overlooks Saranda. These castles, their ruins and remains are a testament to Albania’s extremely rich history.
The Albanian Riviera, Albanian Alps, Lakes (like Ohrid, Belsh, Skadar), Rivers like Drin and their picturesque surroundings, Ksamil Islands, different mountain ranges, Kakame Bay, the pristine beaches and turquoise waters, the vivid and colorful fauna and flora all make Albania a naturally blessed country. Located in Delvine, the Blue Eye Spring is another very popular destination among tourists. A visually attractive phenomenon that happens naturally, a pool (with depth not yet confirmed but more than 50 m deep) produces a water spring. The blue waters gushing from the pool and acting as a source for a river make up for a natural and wonderful view.
Drin, longest Albanian river and the natural beauty that abounds around it provide some spectacular visions. An artificially made lake, Koman fills up the canyons of Drin. The mountains through which the river Drin weaves its way, and the flamboyant flora and fauna that is interspersed around its course all make up for a beautiful and stunning place.
Lake Skadar is another place popular from the view point of tourism. This lake is named after Shkoder, which is an ancient and culturally vibrant Albanian town. The lake is not popular merely because of its scenic qualities. It is also a favored place among bird watchers, being Europe’s largest bird reserves. Around 270 species of birds that include pelicans, herons and seagulls can be easily spotted here. All these factors come together to make Lake Skadar (also known as Lake Scutari) a charming site.
Albania is also famous for its beaches, the untouched beauty compounded by the pristine sands, blue of the waters and the waves all make it a delight for beach lovers. From sunbathing, to imbibing the stunning natural beauty the vast seas and skies of Albania make up for memorable experiences. Various cities and towns have spectacular and touristy beaches. The Albanian Riviera in Vlore is a coastal area most popular as a tourist attraction.
These beaches are surrounded by Ceraunian Mountains and Ionian Sea on different sides. Scattered across this coastline are various ancient structures like castles, medieval churches and traditional villages. Many national parks are also situated nearby. Castles along this Riviera include those of Borshi castle, Ali Pasha Castle, Kanine Castle to name a few. There are many plantations along this coastline; these include olive groves, orange and lemon plantations. The varied landscapes, from mountains, seas to rich flora and fauna, beaches, caves, castles all harmonize and make Albanian Riviera a spectacular and unforgettable location.
Albania is also called “Europe’s Last Secret”. All the natural and archaeological Albanian offerings are treasures worth exploring. It is bound to leave all travelers with memories that can be cherished forever.