Albania has natural beauty in such abundance that you might wonder why it’s taken 20 years for the country to take off as a tourist destination since the demise of a particularly insular strain of communism in 1991. So backward was Albania when it emerged blinking into the bright light of freedom that it needed two decades just to catch up with the rest of Eastern Europe. Albania may have been largely ignored by the rest of the world, but that doesn’t seem to have bothered the Albanians. They’ve just got on with embracing life in a languid and chaotically post-communist way.
Albania offers a remarkable array of unique attractions, largely due to this very isolation: ancient mountain codes of behaviours, forgotten archaeological sites and villages where time seems to have stood still are all on the menu. Lively, colourful Tirana is the beating heart of Albania, where this tiny nation’s hopes and dreams coalesce into a vibrant whirl of traffic, brash consumerism and unfettered fun.
When to go
Jun Enjoy the perfect Mediterranean climate and deserted beaches . Aug Albania’s beaches may be packed, but this is a great time to explore the mountains . Dec See features and shorts at the Tirana Film Festival, while the intrepid can snowshoe to Theth .