Guide to AlbaniaTravel Edit

WHERE IS ALBANIA, AND WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT?

WHERE IS ALBANIA, AND WHY SHOULD YOU VISITWHERE IS ALBANIA, AND WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT
Albania might not be the first country that pops into your mind when planning your travel bucket list for 2024, but it should be. This southeastern European country is a treasure trove of natural beauty and historical intrigue, often overlooked in favour of its more famous neighbours. Albania is an eclectic mix of the wild, the ancient, and the inexplicably charming, sort of like your favorite eccentric uncle. With its mix of gorgeous natural scenes and cities that tell tales as old as time, Albania is quietly elbowing its way onto the travel scene.

Geographical Location of Albania

Albania, officially known as the Republic of Albania, is a country located in the southeastern region of Europe, specifically on the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. It finds itself snugly positioned in the northern and eastern hemispheres, bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south and southeast. A notable geographic highlight is its proximity to Italy, being less than 72 km (45 mi) away across the Strait of Otranto, which links the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea. Tirana, the Albanian capital, serves as the heart of the country’s financial and cultural activities, housing approximately 607,467 residents.

Gjirokasrër Albania
Gjirokasrër, Albania, Image by 5075933 from Pixabay

Regions of Albania

Albania, officially known as the Republic of Albania, is a country located in the southeastern region of Europe, specifically on the western part of the Balkan Peninsula. It finds itself snugly positioned in the northern and eastern hemispheres, bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, North Macedonia to the east, and Greece to the south and southeast. A notable geographic highlight is its proximity to Italy, being less than 72 km (45 mi) away across the Strait of Otranto, which links the Adriatic Sea to the Ionian Sea. Tirana, the Albanian capital, serves as the heart of the country’s financial and cultural activities, housing approximately 607,467 residents.

How to Get to Albania

Reaching Albania can be done via various modes of transport. The main international gateway is through Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza, with direct flights from many European cities, as well as connections from Israel and Turkey. Although there are no direct flights from continents like North America and Australia, connections through major European cities are available. For sea travellers, ferries operate from Italy and Greece to Albanian ports such as Durrës, Vlorë, and Sarandë. Land travel by bus from neighbouring countries is also an option, offering a scenic route into Albania.

Saranda Albania
Saranda, Albania, Image by 5075933 from Pixabay

Climate in Albania

Albania’s climate varies across three distinct zones: the warm coast, the continental interior, and the cold mountains in the north. The best time to visit is during late spring and early fall (April to June and September to October), when the weather is pleasant, allowing for a wide range of activities. July marks the peak of the tourist season, characterised by warm weather perfect for beachgoers. Conversely, the period between December and March is colder and wetter, though it offers unique opportunities for winter sports enthusiasts.

Places to Visit in Albania

Historic and Cultural Cities in Albania

  • Berat, often referred to as “the town of a thousand and one windows,” is celebrated for its unique architecture and history.

    Durrës is noted for its ancient origins as the old port city of Dyrrhachium.

    Gjirokastër, dubbed “the city of stone,” is famous for its well-preserved Ottoman architecture and stone houses.

    Krujë is admired for its historical significance and panoramic views over the Adriatic Sea.

    Vlorë, known as “the city of olives and grapes,” offers a rich cultural experience.

    Lezha is recognised for its historical importance as the diplomatic capital of Albania.

    Pogradec is celebrated as “the poets’ city,” likely for its serene landscapes and inspiring natural beauty.

    Sarandë is referred to as “the honeymooners’ city,” ideal for romantic getaways with its beautiful beaches and waterfronts.

Natural Wonders in Albania

  • The country’s topography is characterised by broad, swampy coastal plains along the Adriatic Sea, which rise into hills and mountains, making up roughly 70% of Albania’s area.
  • Albania is renowned for its stunning Albanian Riviera and the majestic Albanian Alps. These areas are among the most popular natural features, attracting visitors with their breathtaking landscapes and outdoor activities.
  • Major mountain ranges, such as the Albanian Alps and the Korab and Pindus Mountains, offer hiking, skiing, and mountain climbing opportunities. The highest point is Mt. Karabit in the Korab mountains, at 9,066 ft (2,764 m).
  • Significant rivers like the Drin and Vlore flow inland towards the Adriatic Sea, contributing to Albania’s scenic beauty and supporting diverse ecosystems.
  • The three major lakes—Shkodra (shared with Montenegro), Ohrid, and Prespa (both shared with Macedonia)—add to the natural allure. Lake Ohrid, in particular, is the deepest in the Balkans and a significant natural and cultural heritage site.

by Elena Leo, WAWW Director of Editorial

Where is Albania and Why Should You Visit