Photo Credit: Chris Barnes

The rugged mountains of northern and eastern Albania, with their dense forests and wild terrain might look inaccessible, but now that the country is making strides in developing a tourism infrastructure, areas that were completely off-the-beaten path are now available to enjoy. This is also largely the case when it comes to towns and cities, with road upgrades and improvements in public transport opening up whole areas of the country, previously unvisited by foreigners to everyone.

For outdoor lovers, this new level of accessibility will allow them to take in world-class trekking routes and feel as if they were the first to conquer these paths. Areas such as the Albanian Alps in the north and the Balkans peaks to the east not only afford heartbreakingly beautiful views across majestic terrain, but also appear to have been untouched for centuries.

Given the scale and scope of Albania’s wilderness regions, those interested in mountain trekking would be well advised to seek out the services of a specialist tour operator, such as Outdoor Albania, to organize a package. Tours can be booked to accommodate anything from a single day to multiple week adventures, and because of the wide variety of landscapes, anything from gentle rambles across lush pastoral countryside to scaling alpine peaks is available.

High peaks and valleys might not be for everyone, and with a coastline that follows the whole length of the country, lining the Ionian and Adriatic seas, relaxing on the beach is a great alternative. The Adriatic coast is blessed with long, sandy beaches and warm, shallow waters, whereas the Albanian Riviera in the south is more dramatic, but equally enticing. Some of the most popular stretches of sand are in Mali Robit, Vlora, Ksamil and Dhermi.

For those who prefer city breaks, Tirana is compact, accessible, and safe by western standards. It has had something of a renaissance over the last decade and is immediately notable for its large number of bright, colorful buildings. As Albania’s capital, it has everything you would expect from a downtown hub, from museums and galleries, to entertainment, shopping, and nightlife. A great way to take in the capital is with a sightseeing tour, and operators like CityDiscovery providing guided daytrips around Tirana and other locations such as Durres, Kruja, and Berat.

Being a small country, Albania is easy to navigate as part of a self-drive tour. Automobiles are available from a number of car rental firms across the country, allowing motorists to take their time as they discover Albania’s varied landscapes, towns, and villages.

Those who prefer to travel with the wind in their hair can do so on a bike tour. Albania’s hilly landscape is ideal for mountain biking, while its coastal lowlands provide great potential for unhurried rides across a great swathe of unspoiled countryside. There are plenty of mountain roads and trails for all levels of cyclist to enjoy. Outdoor Albania offers cycling tours through the Albanian hills, lasting anywhere from a day to two weeks.

With a history that dates back to the time of Julius Caesar, Albania draws on its ancient past with a wide range of stunning antiquities, a number of which have been named UNESCO World Heritage sites. From Roman ruins to mediaeval forts and villages, tourists can go back in time by visiting Albania’s memorable settings. Daytrips to the castle and amphitheater at Durres with ReadyClickAndGo are recommended.

Aside from taking in Albania’s natural beauty and the wealth of history and culture it has to offer, one of the most memorable things a visitor can do is spend time with the locals. Albanians are renowned for their hospitality, and any trip to a village would not be complete without joining them for drinking and dancing the night away at one of their many impromptu celebrations.

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