Albania is a country in south-eastern Eruope, in the west of the Balkan Peninsula. It covers a surface of 28 748 square km. It shares a 172 border with Montenegro to the northwest, a 115 km border with Kosovo to the northeast, a 151 km border with Macedonia to the north and east and a 282 km border with Greece to the south and southeast. It is washed by the Adriatic and Ionian seas and its coastline length is 476 km. The Adriatic separates it from Italy via the Strait of Otranto. Although, much of Albania's surface (70%) is mountainous, the country is home to beautiful lakes, green national parks and long and rough rivers. The average altitude is 708 m above sea level, that is two times higher than that of Europe. The general information we provided above depitcts Albania as a country distinguished by its rich landscape diversity such as valleys, hills, mountains, lakes, rivers and seas. The diversified landscape creates ideal conditions for a visitor to undertake many adventures such as hiking, trekking, flying, scuba diving, rafting etc.
Mountains to go hiking and trekking
Korab Mountain is the highest peak of Albania with 2764 m hieght. This mount is right in border between Albania and Macedonia. Jezerca Mountain (2694 m) is the highest peak of Bjeshket e Nemuna mountain range, that constitute the famous Albanian Alps. The story about this summit is very much about scenic surroundings that hikers may enjoy while getting to the base of the mountain. Gjallica Mountain (2486 m) towers above Kukes town and it maintains a snowcap long into spring. The views from Gjallica summit are extraordinary. On a fine day it should be possible to see Korabi and many other peaks of Albanian Alps from Gjallica summit. Gramoz Mountain (2520 m) is the highest mountain in southern Albania. The summit of Gramoz (also called Cuka e Pecit) sits on the border of Albania with Greece, near Erseke town. A hiker can enjoy a pleasant hike across the meadows with a plenty of excitement on the summit. Nemercka Mountain (Papingu Summit) is 2485 m high. It is probably the most alpine mountain in the southern part of Albania. It has unavoidable ups and downs while on a long hike, which makes the summit difficult to reach. This means that one has to climb more than 2300 meters from Gjinkar village near Permet to reach the summit. Tomorr Mountain is probably the best known mountain in Albania because the site is a sacred to both christians, who climb it on "Assumption Day"(August 15) to honor the Virgin Mary, and the bektashi, who honor Abbas Ibn Ali during an annual pilgrimage(August 20-25). The north summit of this mountain is called Cuka e Partizanit with 2416 m high. The summit of Mali i Thate (The Dry Mountain- 2288m) is called Pllaja e Pusit and both Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespa, the largest lakes in the Balkans, can be seen from there. Valamares Mouontain is among most favourite to go hiking in Albania and it is 2372 m high. Valamares is a relativly isolated mountain, so the views are far and wide. From all the mountains in the south of Albania, Ostrovice Mountain must rank among the most remote, certinly among the most beautiful and also among the most challenging peaks. It is one of the most interesting mountains in the southern Albania. In spite of its impressive height of 2362 m, Ostrovice seems to hide in the vast hinterland between Korca, Gramsh and Corovode. Kallabaku Mountain (2171 m) is an interesting rocky outcrop in the vast grassy hills of Shishtavec area. It sits on the border between Albania and Kosovo, quite close to where the borders of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia meet. Koritnik Mountain is a mountain located in north-eastern Albania and the south of Kosovo. It is 2393 m high and it is totally surrounded by branches of the White Drin river. Grama Mountain is 2345 m high and around it there are many lakes where the largest one shares the same name with the mountain, the lake of Grama. Cajupi Mountain is 2145 m high and you can enjoy a wonderful view of Drino Valley from there.
Offroad Driving Adventures
There are many old roads in Albania where one can enjoy offroad driving adventures. Starting from the south, Frasher can be reached very comfortably on a rather good old road, taking the turn off from the Kelcyre-Permet road near Piskove. It is an easy but long drive of almost 30 km passing through the "Brethi i Hotove" National Park. Another pleasant half-day drive can be through the remote Zagoria Valley. Zagoria lies between Cajupi Mountain (on the Gjirokaster side) and Nemercke and Dhembel Mountains (on the Permet side). Dajti Mountain near Tirana is a perfect palce for an enormously enjoyable drive with considerable elevation gain and losses (almost 2000m). The trail takes a new dirt road to Shengjergj. From there it climbs via Shenmarie to the dizzying heights of Mali me Gropa. The road across Qafe Shtame, that used to be the main link between Tirana and Burrel, it is one of the most recommended drive with moderate difficulty for offroad enthusiasts. Going to the north, the old road along the Drini i Zi (The Black Drin River), connecting Peshkopi with Kukes, must be considered one of the Albanian classics and surely is on the list of any ambitious offroad enthusiast.
Osumi Canyon is a unique place to experience rafting adventures. Eight waterfalls, a cathedral, an unspoiled nature and the soothing sound of water, all together create a truly unique trip for everyone who gains an enormous pleasure from adventures. Another river that offers fantastic rafting experience is Langarica canyon. Langarica itself is a branch of Vjosa river. This trip will provide a great adrenaline as you float by the crystal water and will certainly make it an unforgettable experience. While at these two canyons you can enjoy rafting, at Erzeni canyon you can have a thrilling hiking experience. It lies along the Erzeni River, near Tirana, the capital city of Albania.
Scuba Diving Adventures
The coast of the Ionian Sea, starting from Vlora Bay has rocky outcrops hiding sea life and other goodies. The Karaburun Peninsula has a rich and varied stock of wildlife. Due to protected conditions and warm water temperatures, ranging from around 12 degree celsius in winter to upwards of 24 celsius in summer, diving in Albania is comfortable all year round. In the bay of Vlora, there is the wreck of a WWII Italian ship. It is 150 meters long and it starts from 18 meters and up to 33 meters deep down. The Probitas, an Italian freighter sunk in the bay of Saranda in 1944 is another worthwhile diving experience. It starts at a depth of only a few meters and descend to over 20 m. Good visibility, warm protected waters and a variety of sea life makes this an excellent location for scuba divers.
Mountainous terrain of Albania makes it a place where one can enjoy skiing experience. The best time to go skiing is from November until April. In the north the best places to go skiing are the surroundings of Mount Jezerca, the outstanding Valbona Valley and Mount Korab while in the south Mount Tomorr, Mount Nemercka and Mount Ostrovica. The most well known ski areas in Albania are Shishtaveci Valley (in Shishtavec village) in the north and Dardha Valley (in Dardha Village) in the southeast.
The land of Eagles offers you fantastic opportunities to fly over the country and to enjoy breathtaking landscapes and views. For flying-lovers, there are beautiful places to fly from such as the Llogara in Vlora, the Dajti Mountain in Tirana, the Cajupi Mountain in Gjirokaster or the Morava Mountain in Korca. Albania is a country where flying can be an enjoyable experience. In May 2017, there is going to be held the 9th FAI World Paragliding Accuracy Championship Albania 2017.
Cultural and archeological adventures (including natural heritages)
"Logu i Bjeshkeve" is a cultural event that takes place every year since 1998 on the second Saturday of August in the village of Kelmendi. Kelmendi girls compete to be the most beautiful of the Mountains. This is a good opportunity that a visitor can get acquainted with traditional costumes, songs and dances of the northern part of Albania. "Gjirokaster National Folklore Festival" is an artistic festival that takes place in Gjirokaster Castle, in the southern Albania. The festival is considered to be the most important event in Albanian culture as it displays Albanian traditional music, dresses and dances. The festival itself is a proof of the preservation and protection of the cultural inharitance in years. Besides cultural values, Albania has inharited impressive castles and archeological objects. One can visit the Rozafa Castle in Shkodra that is the oldest one in the country. The castle rises on a rocky hill 130 m above sea level, surrounded by the Bojana and Drin rivers. The castle and its surroundings form an Archeological Park of Albania. Kruja is a historical town where you can visit the Skanderbeg Museum and National Ethnographic museum, both located inside the Kruja Castle. Inside the Skanderbeg Museum can be found a library with important documents regarding Skanderbeg, the national hero. The museum serves as a memorial and contains sculptures, paintings, stone arch and many other old objects that explain the activity of the national hero in that time. A visit to Berat otherwise known as the "town of a thousand windows" cannot be missed. Recently, Berat has become a major star on the Albanian travel scene. The old UNESCO-listed Mangalem Quarter with its narrow, cobbled streets is an incredibly picturesque area to wander around. A climb up to its inhabited fortress, Kalaja, will take your breath away with wonderful views of surrounding mountains. Inside an 18th -century Ottoman house is the Ethnographic Museum with exhibits of Albanian traditional culture. Down to the south, you have the opportunity to visit Gjirokastra Castle that was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008. The castel sits on top of a hill that towers over the surrounding town making it a striking monument to the grandeur of the past. Another UNESCO World Heritage listed site is Butrinti National Park that is situated in the town of Saranda. This 2500 years old archaeological site is a delight to explore. Albania is a country of abundant natural heritage. Starting from the north, one can distinguish the National Park of Thethi that is siutated in the Albanian Alps. It is 3.300 ha large and through it flows the beautiful Thethi River. Valbona Valley National Park is considered one of the most beautiful parks in Albania. The park features impressive scenery comprised of high alpine ridges and the Valbona valley. In the inner part of the park there are a lot of caves. The most eminent is the Cave of Dragobia. Alongside the valley there are several villages which provides accomodations in traditional houses. National Park of Lura is a perfect area suitable for outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, horse riding. Natural beauty is everywhere with ancient stands of pine and 12 picturesque glacial lakes. Bredhi i Hotoves that is situated in the southern part of Albania, covers an area of 1 200 hectares. The park looks like a giant green crown which makes it more appealing to visitors.
Mediterranean climate, nearness to the sea and cooperation with the neighbouring counties have had a huge impact on diversity and profusion of Albanian cuisine. Albanian cuisine can be normally divided into three categories according to the regions: 1.cuisine of northern region of the country;2. cuisine of central part of the country;3. cuisine of southern region of the country. The common characteristic of the all regions is that fish, meat, vegetables and fruits are all grown biologically.
Climate of Albania
Albania has a mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters in the lowlands. In the highlands, snow is present from November till March.
How to reach Albania?
By Air: Tirana's "Mother Tereza" International Airport, is the only international airports and is located 25 km northwest of Tirana, the capital city, just 20 minutes away. In 2007 it has undergone through a terrific change, transforming it into a larger and modern terminal. There is also a tourist information centre inside. At the airport exit, there are plenty of taxis 24/7 that can take you to the city. The taxi fee to the city centre is 15 euro. There is also a bus called "Rinas Express" that runs once an hour between the airport and Skanderbeg Square. "Rinas" means the bus goes to the airport. It costs ALL 350 each way. It runs from about 8:00-19:00. The trip takes around 25-30 minutes. The bus is not only punctual, but sometimes even early, so plan to be there a few minutes in advance.
By bus: You can reach Tirana, the capital city, by coach from: Istanbul, Turkey (20h, 35euro one way); Athens, Greece (14h 30-35euro one way); Sofia, Bulgaria (22h, 22euro one way); Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia (8h, 15 euro one way); Prishtina, Kosovo (4h, 10-15 euro one way)
By boat: There are ferries from Bari, Italy to Durres, Albania (9h, 50euro) and from Ancona, Italy to Durres, Albania (19h, 70euro). There is also a reliable overnight ferry service operated by Skenderbeg Lines from Brindisi to Vlore. There are ferries from Corfu, Greece to Saranda. Albania on daily basis.
By car: You can reach Albania form anywhere by car by crossing through one of the major cities of the neighbouring countries such as: Podgorica-Montenegro, Ohrid-Macedonia, Prizren-Kosovo, Thessaloniki-Greece, Ioannina-Greece.
As one might expect, theis beautiful and varied terrain offers visitors many opportunities to enjoy Albania's natural beauty, its bio food and its warm hospitality.
Discover Albania...........It is that small gem you are looking for,
right in the heart of Europe!