Think you should visit Spain for Europe’s best beaches? Or Italy for the best of Roman culture?

What if you could find both in one lesser-known and more affordable hidden gem?

Enter Albania!

Albania has seen an incredible 233.3% increase in air passengers compared to 2019, making it by far the fastest-growing destination in Europe.

Here’s why you should visit:  

Fascinating Historical Attractions 

The land that is modern-day Albania was once part of the Roman Empire, so you’ll find an abundance of incredible Roman attractions here.

But without the crowds and overtourism that you’d find in Rome!

Ruins in ancient Apollonia, Albania.

Some of the most important Roman ruins in Albania include the Apollonia Archeological Park, Butrint, and Berat Castle.

Butrint is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s also considered the most important, archaeological site in Albania.

The remains of a Roman Ampitheater are included on this significant site but it has actually been inhabited since prehistoric times.

Exploring Berat Castle 

Perhaps the most unique archaeological attraction in Albania is Berat Castle.

Walking through the castle is like walking through the history of Albania, as it has been adapted and updated with each of the country’s successive occupations.

Historic city of Berat in Albania

This is a fortified walled castle, but it also contains churches and mosques and is completely unique. You won’t find anything quite like Berat Castle anywhere else in the world.

The town of Berat, where it dominates the skyline, is also historically rich, fascinating, and well worth exploring.

The Albanian Riviera

If breathtaking beaches are more your bag, then you won’t be disappointed here.

The Albanian Riviera is considered the most up-and-coming Mediterranean beach destination and it stretches over an incredible 130km length of stunning white sand.

colorful fishing boats saranda albania

There are few bad beaches in the Albanian Riviera, but if you’re looking for the best then try Saranda, which is a typical seaside city ideal for those travelers that like attractions and creature-comforts with their beach breaks.

Here you can stroll along the Hasan Tahsini Boulevard, indulge in delicious freshly caught seafood in abundance of restaurants, and spend your evenings in al fresco cocktail bars.

The tourism infrastructure is incredible here.

For those incredible blue seas that rival the Maldives, and that the Albanian Riviera is so well-known for, head to Ksamil. This is my favorite beach in the country, though not quite as lesser-known as it once was.

aerial view of a beach in Ksamil, Albania

Off the coast of Ksamil are 4 uninhabited islands and these are a great choice for a daytrip from the mainland.

Tourists visit for the spectacular views, as well as for swimming, jet skiing, or kayaking.

An Affordable Destination

Compared to many other beautiful spots in the Mediterranean, Albania is positively cheap!

The dollar is a significantly stronger currency than the Albanian Leke, so everything is more affordable on the ground when you arrive in the country.

Old Bazaar of Korca city with people hanging out at cafes during summer evening korca albania

You should expect to pay between $2-5 for a cheap meal or snack in a cafe, and $10 would cover a hearty lunch or dinner in a local restaurant.

A pint of beer would set you back just around $2.50 while a cappuccino currently costs a little under $2.

Of course, the more tourists there are in the area you visit, the higher the prices will be.

But it still remains true that Albania is one of the cheapest destinations in Europe and ideal for budget travelers.

Exploring Tirana

Tirana is the Albanian capital, and despite its small size, it is a lively, vibrant capital city.

You’ll find plenty of rich traditional culture here but it is a youthful, contemporary side of Tirana that makes it so fascinating.

Tirana was once a dull, communist capital, but now its buildings have been painted in bright colors, and the city’s pedestrianized streets are a pleasure to explore.

Skanderberg Square In Tirana, Albania, Balkan Peninsula, South Eastern Europe

Highlights of the city include the National History Museum, and Bunk’Art which is a Cold War bunker that has been converted into a fascinating modern art gallery.

If you’re flying into Albania, then you will land in Tirana, and it is well worth taking a few days to explore this exciting capital before you move on to the coast.

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