Albania’s first hundred years proved rocky (quick recap: two world wars, a Communist dictator, civil unrest).

But this November, as the country celebrates a century of independence from the Ottoman Empire, the now-stable Balkan country is primed for its global tourism debut.

Downtown Tirana. (Photograph by Dritan Duraj, My Shot)

Across the Strait of Otranto east of Italy’s boot heal, Albania offers a rewind of the classic Mediterranean holiday.

The Ionian Sea laps at its sun-baked southern coast, where rolling hills covered in olive groves meet a “crystal clear” sea, says Dorina Zhupa, who lives in the cosmopolitan capital, Tirana, and recommends tiny beaches Pasqyrat and Livadhi.

What remains of defense walls at Butrint. (Photograph by Groundhopping Merseburg, Flickr)

Beyond the coast is a landscape rich in history, including the city of Butrint, a World Heritage site that Roman poet Virgil called a “Troy in miniature.”

Hikers retreat north to the Prokletije (a.k.a. “Accursed”) Mountains, the highest section of the Dinaric Alps for secluded trails in Thethi National Park.

Thethi village testifies to a rough-and-tumble past — its stone tower was once a refuge from blood feuders — but these days its rustic guesthouses exude the famous Albanian hospitality.

This article, written by Whit Richardson, is featured in the brand-spanking-new issue of National Geographic Traveler, on newsstands now.

Comments

  1. Elena
    Tirana
    April 17, 2013, 4:42 am

    Albania is a very special country. There are so many things to experience here from rafting, kayaking, and paragliding to cultural heritage discovery. This website is very helpful for those planning on visiting Albania http://www.outdooralbania.com/

  2. George
    Tirana
    January 25, 2013, 5:02 pm

    Great place to visit… Mountain, sea (two actually: Ionian and Adriatic), beach (sand, pebbles, rocky), mountains (trekking, culture, nature), hills (olives, Mediterranean), history (Ceasar, Pompeus, Skanderbeg, Ottoman Soultans, Ali Pasha, SOE, Enver Hoxha, Mother Teresa, Ilirians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Slavs, Ottoman, Italian, German, Communist…), culture (Mediterranean, Ottoman, Balkanic, Poliphony, Epic songs, churches, Voskopoja, Berat, Gjirokastra, Butrint), food (delicious, natural, organic), not expensive, modern, old, rural, urban, crazy, hot, dramatic, tragic, optimistic… Many, many reasons to visit Albania in 2013. You could use http://www.albaniantrip.com for info and help.

  3. Christian Rene Friborg
    Germany
    November 27, 2012, 11:10 pm

    As a European, I can say that Albania is indeed a beautiful country. Me and my wife were able to visit this country a few years ago, and we really enjoyed our trip.

  4. genti
    tirana
    October 30, 2012, 2:47 pm

    If you wont to travel in Theth, Albania , i think that for the first time you have to visit this link http://www.thethi-guide.com/v2/
    .

  5. Albert
    Napoli
    October 28, 2012, 8:16 am

    i was in Albania in Theth i love it , the country is so pritty it is a virgin country , you can have the best ime in therr and the peopel are so worrmed so wllcome
    Albert from Itali napoli

  6. Mikaella
    NYC
    October 28, 2012, 8:04 am

    Not only the nature,history and tradition but girls are very beautiful too :D

  7. Pellumb
    Berat,Albania
    October 25, 2012, 10:37 am

    Albania is a time where the beauty, culture, civilization, artikultura and clear language of the ancients.

  8. Gunes AKDOGAN
    Turkey
    October 24, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Be careful for the dogs in Albania. Mostly in rural areas, mountains. They are really wild and dangerous. I walked from Skodra to Tirana, Macedonia all the way from mountains and several times i was near to get bite.

    South part has amazing seasides like drymades. Discover…

  9. Pam Johnson aka MzZoomer
    Vancouver, Canada
    October 23, 2012, 5:05 pm

    What a great article about Albania. It’s obviously a great time to visit the area and it looks like there is quite a bit to do and see. Being a hiker I can see myself taking advantage of those trails in the Thethi National Park, followed by a nice cooling down dip in the sea at those lovely beaches. Thanks for introducing me to the area.

  10. John
    October 23, 2012, 1:40 pm

    If you’re looking for a hotel, there are great deals on sites such as holidare.com. They compare offers from hundreds of travel companies. You always get the lowest rates and amazing value for money.