Welcome to Albania Albanian Hospitality Explore Albania with us! Who are these Albanians? Albanians: the Great and the Good Ancient echoes The Albanian UNESCO sites. Tirana a dynamic capital city The Petrela Caslte City breaks in Albania Durrës Berat Korça Pogradec Vlora Saranda Gjirokastra Shkodra Elbasani Kruja The house is always open for guests. The Curly Pelican: on the most western nesting point in Europe. National Parks Dajti National Park Thethi National Park Lura National Park Divjaka Pines National Park Shebenik – Jabllanicë National Park Llogara National Park Valbona Valley National Park Tomorri Mountain Park Fir of Hotova National Park Shtama Pass National Park Prespa National Park Zall Gjocaj National Park Butrint National Park Fir of Drenova National Park The small country spread in two seas. Velipoja Durrës Lagoon of Narta The small islands of Albania. The Porto Palermo Castel Albanian Lakes Albania: the country blessed by water sources Leisure sports and Adventure Outdoor Activities The Osumi Canyon Traditional Albanian Food and Beverages Typical Albanian Flavors and Souvenirs Cultural Events Do you know? map
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ania Welcome to
Albania is a land to be loved.
In this small Mediterranean country, virgin nature and cultural mysteries come together to create a unique sense of place. From the pure, white snow of the mountains to the red fields of spring poppies, Albaniaâ€™s landscape is ever changing with the seasons, offering visitors a warm summer beach holiday or a challenging mountain trek during the fall. In Albania, visitors are welcomed as guests as part of the countryâ€™s rich cultural traditions and heritage. The warm hospitality of Albanians will make everyone feel at home in this small, wonderful land. Come to Albania! We welcome you as our guest!
Hospitality Known as the “Land of the Eagles” (“Shqipëria” in Albanian), the country of Albania has a long stories about resting and recreation. This dating back to the time of Emperor Justinian. In the fifth century, the Emperor’s family was known to vacation at Lin, a village on the shores of Lake Ohrid, just north of Pogradec. Several other famous travelers have traveled to Albania over the centuries: Eduard Lear, Lord Byron, Mary Edith Durham, and many more. Many of them left the impressions or Albania in their written works, describing in glittering terms the “Land of the Eagles” that they came to know.
The first tourist association in Albania was established in 1928 as the “Royal Tourist Automotive Club,” and the first National Tourist Organization was established in 1933. In 1955, the ALBTURIST enterprise was established as a state controlled company and in April 1992, Albania created its first Ministry of Tourism, which has had various names over the years. Today, the Ministry has expanded to encompass the sectors of culture, youth and sports. The Albanian National Tourism Agency (NTA) was established in September 2007 by a special decision given by the Council of Ministers and is now included in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, Youth and Sports. After the last elections held in June 2013 tourism is part of the Ministry of Urban Planning and Tourism. Hospitality is just one of the reasons that tourists come to visit this small country. Within a small territory, Albania offers an amazing range of natural environments, including twelve national parks, all of which have something unique to offer. The Albanian coast offers visitors an escape to calm, quiet waters as almost the entire coast is sheltered from winds, making it a paradise for swimmers.
Albania with us! Albania is located in the heart of the Mediterranean region and stretches along the seashores of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. It is an important gateway to the Balkan Peninsula, a junction of roads from north to south and from west to east, with the proximity to reach major European capitals within 2 or 3 hours by air. Upon initial contact, tourists will discover an epic country with a rich, history and culture, where the people speak one of the oldest living languages in Europe.
As a result of its geographical positioning, Albania displays traces of different civilizations and cultures including Illyrian, Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, etc. This compact country shares borders with a number of countries, including Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, and Italy (across the Adriatic Sea). Although small, Albania offers a diverse range of nature to explore. There are many wonderful beaches, spectacular mountains, river valleys, large canyons, forests rich with flora and fauna, large and small lakes (some of which are unique in the Balkans), and many other surprises for visitors. The culture and history are also impressive and have much to offer tourists. Butrint, located in the south of Albania, is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and is apprized as one of the most wondrous places on earth, full of mythology and mystic atmosphere. The site lies in the center of a Mediterranean jungle and was built by in an ancient Trojan style. Two other Albanian cities are on the UNESCO World Heritage List, prominent for their specific architectural style: Berat and Gjirokastra. Albania is proud to host a wide range of archaeological sites, Illyrian castles, medieval fortifications, Byzantine churches and monasteries of the post-Byzantine period.
Who are these
Albanians? Albania territories have been populated since 100,000 years ago. At the beginning of the third millennium B.C., an IndoEuropean population was established in the area and as a result of the merge, a population was conceived that retained specific cultural and language characteristics in the Balkan Peninsula (pelazgians tribe). Between the second millennium and the first century B.C., the Illyrian population was founded. Like the Greeks, the Illyrians succeeded in preserving their language and traditions in spite of Roman occupation.
The Greeks colonist from Corinth and Corcyra arrived in present Durres and established the ancient city of Epidamnos. They established Apollonia in the seventh century B.C., and settled self-governing colonies. With the expansion of the Ardianai Kingdom in the north, based in Shkodra, a new conflict with Rome started, culminating with Rome sending a fleet of 200 ships against Queen Teuta in the year 229 B.C. In 167 B.C., this war ended with the expansion of the Roman Empire’s control over all of the Balkans. The most important trade route between Rome and Byzantium was” Egnatia” Road, which passed through the port of Durrës. With the division of the Roman Empire (395 A.D.), Illyria fell into the occupation of the eastern empire, later known as the Byzantine Empire. Three of the first Byzantine emperors (Anastasius I, Justin and Justian I) were of Illyrian origin. From 1443 until 1468, the Albanian resistance under the command of Skanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti) won 25 battles against the Turks led by Sultan Fatih Mehmet, the conqueror of Constantinople, who failed to invade the city of Kruja. After the death of Skanderbeg, it was only a matter of time before the Ottomans defeated the Albanian resistance, taking control of the country in 1479; 26 years later, Constantinople was occupied. Albania continued to exist under the Ottoman regime for more than 400 years afterwards. Muslim citizens were favored
by the system and were excluded them from the Janissari, a tax that required every Christian family to provide one of their sons to be converted to Islam and serve in the Ottoman army. As a result, many Albanians converted to Islam while maintaining a sense of harmony and religious tolerance. The peaceful co-existence among the different religions in Albania has been evident along the centuries. The country is a unique example among many other nations for this tolerance and close cooperation. The Pope Francis choose Albania in its visit as the first European country. This as a key example for all the world in terms of religion tolerance.
Numerous efforts and rebellions eventually led to Albania’s declaration of independence in November 1912. From that time until the end of the First World War, the country became prey to the attacks of neighboring states. Mussolini’s Italy occupied the country in 1939, ending the 11-year monarchy of King Ahmet Zogu, and in 1943, Hitler’s Germany occupied the country.
The resistance to these foreign attacks is known as the Anti Fascist National Liberation Front. When the German troops of the Third Reich left the country in November 1944, the Communist Party came to power. Shortly after, a totalitarian regime was established under the leadership of the communist leader Enver Hoxha. A policy of isolationism was applied during the approximately 50 years of his rule. The self-support system used by the communist regime banned Albania from all foreign investments, leaving the people in great economic poverty until 1991, when Albania eventually emerged from isolation. The first free election were held in 1991. Actually after the last elections in 23 of June 2013 the Socialist Party with its ally rule the country.Albania is a member of the NATO alliance since 2009.and is presently involved in a series of processes and reforms aimed at economic growth and the country’s admission into the European Union.
the Great and the Good These are some of the most prominent Albanians in the international arena, but there are many others with conspicuous success in present times. Most importantly, these sons and daughters of a small country like Albania confirm the vitality and the verve these people hold, by listing us proudly in the big human terrestrial family. The famous Albanians The humanity, the geniality, the verve and the vitality of this small nation is revealed and signified in many outstanding figures, each of whom has proudly brought their extraordinary work to the international arena in helping the development of global prosperity, peace, art and culture, science and medicine worldwide.
the Great an The country is home to the great figure of humanity, Mother Teresa of Calcutta, whose maiden name is Gonxhe Bojaxhi and whose parents were both Albanians. Her activities in humanitarian assistance to people in need, poor and victimized by wars, are unprecedented, transforming her in the image of a saint for the entire world.
Ismail Kadare is published in almost every country in the world and has won many prestigious international awards for literature, including the inaugural “Man Booker International Prize.” He has also been nominated several times for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The opera singer Inva Mula ranks among the ten best sopranos of the world, with a collection of extraordinary arias from nearly all the best opera composers of all time. The soprano appears in the most prestigious opera scenes of the world and is particularly appreciated at La Scala in Milan and at the Metropolitan in New York. The violinist Tedi Papavrami has been described in the media as the “little Albanian virtuoso” because of his skillful violin playing upon the international stages as a child.
nd the Good To achieve a position in the history of contemporary visual arts is an indisputable merit and such was given to Ibrahim Kodra, born in the town of Durrës and formed and shaped as an artist in Italy. His masterpieces stand alongside other famous painters such as Modigliani and exposed in the most well known galleries around the world.
Another major talent, named in the French media as a genius of contemporary choreography, is the Paris Opera House ballet maestro, Angjelin Prelocaj, whose works stand alongside the works of the great Nurejev. Born in 1957 to Albanian parents who had immigrated to Paris, he began his career by studying classical dance before turning to contemporary dance. He has received many prestigious prizes, among them the “Chevalier de L’Ordre National des Arts et des Lettres.” On the other side of the Atlantic, many other famous Albanians are contributing in their respective areas. Ferid Murad is the Nobel Prize winning inventor of the Viagra pill. Famous Hollywood actors of Albanian origin include Jim Belushi, his brother John Belushi, and Eliza Dushku. Stan Dragoti is famous not only as a film director but as the man who led the “I Love New York” promotion campaign. Many art critics consider Fadil Berisha, the great photographer living in New York, to be a genius in his field.
echoes “Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity” Iso-polyphony is an epic form of the oral art of singing in Albania, which has its origin in ancient times. It is now present in southern Albania, especially in the provinces of Gjirokastra, Tepelena, Vlora, and end culminating in Himara and the surrounding villages along the Ionian coast. On November 25th, 2005, Albanian iso-polyphonic folk music joined the list of “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” protected by UNESCO.
UNESCO sites. Albania is as one of many countries with sites included on UNESCOâ€™s World Heritage List. The first Albanian site to be included on the list was Butrint, in the south of the country, in 1992. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times and was a part of the Greek and Roman colonies. Later, it experienced a period of prosperity under Byzantine administration, which was followed by a short period of Venetian rule and the eventual abandonment of the city in late medieval times. The present state of the archaeological site shows traces of all the time periods the city has gone through.
The culture of Albania has evolved hundreds of years. The most ancient objects found at the archeological site in Butrint are a stone hammer and a shaft belonging to the second half of the second millennium B.C. Hekateus made first mention of the city at the end of the sixth century B.C., affirming that the city was built according to Troy and that the origin of the name refers to the sacrifice of a bull named â€œButhrotos,â€? provided by the Trojan prince Aeneas on his way to Dodona. During its early period, Butrint was the center of the Kaonic tribes, later to become part of
the kingdom of Epir. In the years 1926-1936 the Italian archeologist Luigi Ugolini led excavations in southern Albania, focusing his work in Butrint and Finiq, where he discovered the baptistery, the theater, the basilica, the public baths, many houses, and a great
number of objects and sand statues of inestimable value. The most extraordinary objects discovered in the theatre of Butrint are the statue of Apollo, the goddess of Butrint, the marble heads of Zeus, the portrait of Agrippina, and many Latin and Greek epigraphs. Parts of the city were rebuilt during the fifth century B.C. The next two cities to join the list were Gjirokastra in 2004 and Berat in 2006.
a dynamic capital city Tirana is the capital of Albania and also the main economic and cultural center of the country. Tirana is relatively new. Sulejman Pashë Bargjini a feudal lord from the region constructed the first building in 1614. In the place where today is the monument of “The Unknown Soldier,” he built a mosque, a hamam, and a stove, which at the time were the main institutions of a newborn city.
In 1816, the Toptani family came to rule the city. The most important date in Tirana’s history is February 11th, 1920, when the Lushnja Congress declared Tirana the provisional capital of Albania; definitive status would be given in 1925. Following this act, the city has experienced constant growth, which continues today and has gained particular momentum since 1990. Famous Italian architects made the center of Tirana their project during the early parts of the 20th century. The main boulevard in Tirana, Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit, was built in 1930, while the central square, Skanderbeg Square, was built between 1928 and 1929. In 1968, on the 500th anniversary of his death, national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg had a monument inaugurated in Skanderbeg Square. Twenty years afterward, in the square was added the monument of the dictator Enver Hoxha. Shortly after on the 20 February 1991 the students and the people oust it from the square.In Tirana, you can visit a network of museums and galleries such as the National History.Museum, the Archeology Museum, the National Art Gallery, and many more, including numerous private galleries. Some of the most important monuments and sites in Tirana are the Mosaic of Saint George, the walls of Tirana’s Castle, the tomb of Kaplan Pasha (one of the medieval rulers of the city), the Tabak Bridge, the Mosque of Ethem Beut, just to name a few Tirana is simultaneously the center of many important institutions such as the Palace of Congresses, the International Cultural Center, the Palace of Culture with the Opera House and the Ballet
Theater, and the Sky-Tower complex, as well as the governmental buildings of the Council of Ministers, the Presidency and the Parliament. In the southeast of the city lies the park with an area of 250 ha, which includes the 55 ha artificial lake, the memorial to the British and German soldiers that died in Albania during World War II, the Botanical park and a swimming pool complex, which helps make the park an ideal place for leisure activities.
Nightlife in Tirana Tirana is unquestionably the dynamic center of Albania thanks in part to its lively nightlife, comprised of theaters, restaurants and clubs. There are a variety of places to entertain you and most of them stay open all night. Bars and clubs can be found throughout town, particularly in the“Blok” area, playing all kind of live music, including jazz, house, funk, Latin, etc. You can choose to go to the “Murphy’s” Irish pub or to “Hard Rock Cafe” an Americanstyle saloon playing hard rock music. Tirana is home to the Opera House, the National Theater and many other galleries and museums, which in recent years have hosted many artists and world-famous performers. Tirana also offers a wide range of cocktail bars, where you can enjoy some of the best cocktails while listening to music from the best DJs. Downtown, the Regency Casino invites all the warm-blooded people out to test their gambling luck.
Petrela Castle is located 18 km away from Tirana, alongside the Tirana-Elbasan national road and it is one of the main tourist attractions near Tirana.
The castle, which has a triangular shape with two spotting towers, was constructed on top of a high rocky hill. Both the southern and the southeastern side are extremely craggy, which made the fortress protected and unreachable. Below the hill that the castle sits upon is the town of Petrela, from which the castle received the name. Discoveries show that Petrela Castle is a medieval fortress built at the time of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I, in the sixth century A.D., built at the time that Vila Castle (an ancient stronghold lying in front of Petrela Castle) lost its importance. The fortress was built for military purposes, guarding the branch of the Egnatia Road between Tirana, DurrĂŤs, and Elbasan, which at the time had a particular significance. At the beginning of the fourteenth century, the stronghold was part of the Topiaj dominion, the rulers of a region flanked between Mat and Shkumbin. In the walls of the castle can be found the first insigniaof Topiaj family.
in Albania Durrës Mentioned by the Roman poet Katulus as “The Adriatic tavern”, Durrës is one of the oldest cities of Albania with 3000 years of history. Founded in the year 627 B.C. by colons from Korinth and Korkyra, its ancient name was “Epidamnos” and later “Duyrrachium”.
Currently, Durrës is the country’s principal port and is daily connected by ferry lines to the Italian ports of Bari, Trieste and Ancona. More relaxingly, Durrës is known for its nearby sea resort, which is the largest and most popular in Albania. During the summer season it becomes home to thousands of tourists coming in particular form the regional market and also plays host to many day visitors. In the southern part of the Durrës beach is the “Kavaja crag,” known in Roman times as “Petra”. It was here that the last battle between Julius Caesar and Pompey took place. The most important monument to be visited in Durrës is the Roman Amphitheatre, built in the second century A.D. It is the second largest monument of this type in the Balkans. Other things of interest include the archeological museum, the rotunda (the Byzantine forum), the Roman baths, the castle walls, the small Venetian fortress, and much more.
Berat Part of the UNESCO World Heritage List, Berat, a “2400 year old museum,” is located 120 km away from Tirana. Built alongside the Osumi River, the city lies by the foot of the Tomorri Mountain, considered in antiquity as a sacred place.
Named, “one on top of the other windows” city, Berat has three characteristic quarters, Mangalem, Kala (the castle) and Gorica, and is described as a rare example of a wellpreserved Ottoman city located in central Albania. Part of the city is the castle, which was built in the thirteenth century, but the origins of the site date back to the fourth century B.C. The center of the castle quarter is rich with many Byzantine churches; most of them unique for the wall paintings, icons and the values they hold. The cathedral of St. Mary houses the Onufri National Iconographic Museum. Berat is also home to a considerable number of mosques that were built in the Ottoman period.The King’s Mosque (Xhamia e Mbretit) is the oldest one, built in the fifteenth century at the time of Bayazid II, notable for its fine ceiling.
Korça The city of Korça is one of the largest and most important cultural and economical centers of Albania, located in the southeastern part of the country. The city is known for its typical quarters, composed of low houses and villas, which are paved with cobblestone. The city of Korça has a range of museums such as “The Education Museum”(located in the building where the first Albanian school opened in 1887), “The National Museum of Medieval Art”, “The Prehistoric Museum”, the house-museum of the famous landscape-painter, Vangjush Mio, the museum of the Oriental Art “Bratko”, etc.
In the vicinity of the city is the cemetery of French soldiers killed during the First World War. Apart from the museums and monuments, Korça is the city where the largest carnival in Albania is organized, taking place before Orthodox Easter. Musically, the city is known for the local songs, called “serenata”. In the city you will find many taverns with tasteful traditional cooking such as various types of pie which perfectly combines with the good music and the traditional drink, raki. Korça is a very good base for exploring many tourist points located in the nearby mountains such as Voskopoja, Dardha, Vithkuqi and Boboshtica. These villages are well known for offering the possibility to practice many outdoor sports and activities. The area is also famous for the Byzantine churches of Vithkuqi and Voskpoja, whose walls were painted by famous medieval Albanian painters. Close to Korça you can visit Prespa Lake (which is the country’s largest National Park), Drenova National Park, the Neolithic tombs of Kamenica, etc.
Pogradec The city of Pogradec was built on the southwestern shores of Lake Ohrid and is one of the most notable cities of Albania for its tradition in hosting “family tourism” and for the pleasant, fresh climate during the summer season.
The tectonic lake is four million years old and is the deepest of its kind in the Balkan Peninsula reaching a maximum depth of approximately 300 meters. The lake environment is a natural habitat for a variety of old flora and fauna. It houses the rare fish “Koran,” a kind of trout, impossible to find in almost any other lake in the world. Lake Ohrid is part of the Natural and Cultural Heritage List of UNESCO. The most visited tourist spots around the lake are Lin, Pojskë, Hudenisht and Tushemisht. Worth visiting are the Driloni water sources, located 5 km from Pogradec. Don’t forget about the wonderful restaurants in the area, constructed from wood and offering some of the most delicious dishes of the region; don’t miss the Koran’s dish (Tavë Korani). Besides nature, Pogradec and its surroundings provide a big number of historical sites such as the Basilica of Lin, with the multicolored mosaic, and the monumental tombs of the Lower Selca.
Vlora Vlora is an old city founded in the sixth century B.C., originally known by the name Aulona. Vlora is situated in a beautiful location, in the front of the Karaburun peninsula and Sazan Island and surrounded by beaches and rocky sand.
The city carries historical importance to Albania as it hosted the First National Assembly, which declared the country’s independence from Ottoman rule on November 28th, 1912. The Museum of Independence is dedicated to this historic event. Other museums include the ethnographic and historic ones. Highly recommended is the Muradije Mosque, the only work remaining in Albania from the famous architect Sinan the Great, built in 1542. On the top of the hill overlooking the city is the religious point of Kuzum Baba. Vlora is the starting point of the Albanian Riviera and is one of the most frequented areas of Albanian “Sun and Sea” tourism. Located in this region are the Orikum and Amantia archeological parks, and the Llogara national park.
Saranda The city of Saranda is located along the Ionian coast, near the Greek island of Corfu. These two locations are connected via ferries, making it possible for tourists to visit all the marvelous sites of the city of Saranda. The city was mentioned in the first century B.C. with the name Onhezmus. This ancient city was unfortunately destroyed by the barbarian invasions, but some ruins remained and today it is possible to visit the old settlement as well as the old synagogue. Saranda is well known for its sunny weather and has traditionally been the ideal destination for honeymooners and young people.
In the city and surrounding areas, there are some small and very clean beaches like Ksamil, Krorëz, Kakome, etc., which offer great opportunities for different water activities. The area around Saranda is also blessed with a number of archaeological sites. The most important of these is most certainly Butrint. Part of the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1992, Butrint is only 18 km away Saranda and includes such sights as the Askelapius temple, the theater, the stoa, the portals, the baptistery, the Venetian fortress, and more. The ecosystem surrounding the area is a national park, offering you the opportunity to walk in a real Mediterranean “jungle”. Other important sites around Saranda are the ruins of the 40 Saints Monastery, (which denominates the modern city of Saranda), the Mesopotam Church and the small castle near the mouth of the Vivari channel. Only 2 km south of Saranda, on top of a high hill, is the Lëkursi castle, which is a wonderful place to enjoy a meal while enjoying the extraordinary Ionian landscape. Other places of interest are the “Blue Eye” water source, the ruins of the ancient city of Phoinice (Finiq), a former settlement of the Chaonians tribe, etc.
Gjirokastra The traditional city of Gjirokastra is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of the most attractive tourist sites of the country.
Perched on the eastern side of the Wide Mountain (Mali i Gjërë), the city began as a fourth century castle, which is today the greatest castle in the whole country. Inside the fortress is the Museum of Weapons, where weapons of different periods up until the Second World War are displayed. Gjirokastra is known as “The City of Stone,” and some of the main tourist attractions are old houses, built by stone to resemble small castles, and streets paved with cobblestone. While visiting, you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, located in the house where the former communist dictator Enver Hoxha was born. The city is a very good starting point for reaching the archaeological park of Antigonea, the Tekke of Melan, near the village of Nepravishta, and the untouched natural areas of the Fir of Sotira in Dropull and the water sources of Viroi.
Shkodra Shkodra is located in northwest Albania, near the lake with the same name, which is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. Shkodra is an ancient city founded in the fourth century B.C. as the main center of the Illyrian Labeat tribe and was originally named “Scodra”. Shkodra is one of the main centers of Albanian culture and history. The main attraction visited by tourists is the Rozafa Castle, which dates back to the Illyrian period. The castle was built on a rocky hill located in the west side of the city, surrounded by three rivers: the Drini, Buna, and Kir.
Other interesting and historical places to visit inside the city are the Historical Museum, the Marubi atelier of photography, the Lead Mosque, built by Bushatlliu in 1774, the Englishman’s Clock (Sahati i Inglizit), the Great Coffee (Kafja e Madhe), designed and built in 1900 by the local architect Kolë Idromeno, the typical quarters of Gjuhadoli and Serreq, built with venetian architecture, the Cathedral Church, the Franciscan Church (Kisha e Fretërve), and much more. There is a great number of natural and architectural places surrounding the city to be visited, such as Velipoja beach, Lake Shkodra, with the picturesque villages of Shiroka and Zogaj where you can enjoy the unique cooking of the carp dish Tava e Krapit, the bridge Ura e Mesit on the river Kir, and the ruins of the medieval city of Sarda in the Vau Dejës lake. Shkodra is also the gateway to the magnificent Albanian Alps.
Elbasani Elbasani is the country’s third largest city and was once a settlement and a station on the ancient Via Egnatia (Egnatia Road). The city was originally known as Skampa but was changed to Ilbasan (“to rule the country”) during the rebuilding of the castle by Sultan Mehmed the II in 1466. The city’s name would only later be transformed to what we know today: Elbasan. Some of the most interesting objects in the city are the walls of the old castle, which encircle residential quarters.
Within the walls, one can visit the Church of St. Mary, complete with very beautiful iconostas, and the King Mosque (Xhamia Mbret). Other objects of interest are the Ethnographic Museum and the thermal waters in the vicinity of the city, which have been used since Roman times. Four km away from the city is the Monastery of St. John Vladimir, built by the Albanian Prince Carl Topia in 1382. Actually the remains are kept at the Orthodox Church in Tirana. In this monastery were found the buried remains of the ruler of Duklja, (Serbian Principality) prince Vladimir, which were respected by local residents by performing sacred processions Other sites near Elbasan are the churches of Shelcan and Valësh, which were pain by the famous Albanian iconographer, Onufri.
Kruja Kruja is just 32 km away from Tirana and very close to Tirana International Airport. This historic city is 608 m above sea level and offers an open vista to an amazing panoramic view.
The name and the importance of the city are closely related to the 25 years of activity of our national hero, Skanderbeg, who in the fifteenth century made Kruja a bastion of uncompromising resistance against the Ottoman. The Gjergj Kastrioti Museum is situated inside the castle walls, which date back to the fifth and sixth centuries A.D. The museum itself was inaugurated in 1981. Within the walls of the castle are also the Ethnographic Museum and the Dollma Tekke. Near the castleâ€™s entrance is a traditional market, which dates back to the period of Skanderbeg. Here, tourists can find Albanian craft products such as embroidery, carpeting, silver objects, copper, alabaster, filigree, traditional clothing, antiques, etc.
The house is always
open for guests. The Hospitality, the Culture and the Art Hospitality is an old Albanian tradition. In the Kanun of LekĂŤ Dukagjini (Ancient North Albanian civil code) was written, â€œThe house is always open for guests.â€? In this tradition of hospitality, foreigners are always treated with special respect. Albanians are a friendly people who make visitors feel very welcome.
Beside the hospitality that was highly regarded by travelers for centuries, Albania is rich with traditions and folklore. During your visit through ethnographic museums as well as by following artistic folkloric activities, you will be able to enjoy this wealth inherited over the centuries that still continues to blossom nowadays. Albanian art has left its traces in Europe via artists such as the musician Jan Kukuzeli of the eleventh century, who contributed to the field of Byzantine music by composing a system known asystem. Onufri, the famous iconographer of the sixteenth century, is also well known for the unique artistic value of his icons. Now, Albania is part of the contemporary world of arts and culture thanks to the range of artists in Albania that are working in different disciplines. Your visit to Albania is a good opportunity to visit many art galleries, exhibitions, museums, and to experience the arts through a wide range of different activities.
The Curly Pelican:
on the most western nesting point in Europe. One of the best-known species of wildlife in Albania is the Curly Pelican, also known as the Dalmatian Pelican. What makes the Curly Pelican special in Albania is that the nesting point chosen represents the most western point of this pelicanâ€™s European habitat.
That place is the Karavasta Lagoon on the Adriatic coast, which, with a surface of 4,330 ha, is the largest lagoon of the Albanian coast and one of the largest lagoons of the Adriatic. For this reason the Karavasta lagoon has been protected by the Ramsar Convention since 1994. Inside the lagoon is a small sandy island where flocks of pelicans typically come together. The Curly Pelican is considered an endangered species and the numbers of this bird continue to decrease worldwide.
The Karavasta Lagoon presently contains about 5 percent of the entire worldwide population of the Curly Pelican.
Dajti National Park Located just 26 km east of Tirana, Dajti National Park has an area of 3,300 ha. The park is often referred to as Tirana’s “natural balcony” because of the beautiful view of the city it affords visitors.
There are a number of 200-year old beech trees in the park that are beautiful and would make the trip worthwhile, even without the magnificent vistas of the country below. For those interested in staying overnight in the park, pleasant accommodations are available. The visitor can reach the Dajti National Park from Tirana also with the cable car. The trip takes less than 15 minutes and pass through the spectacular and untouched areas.
National Park Located in the Albanian Alps, by the Cursed Mountains (Bjeshkët e Namuna), Thethi National Park has an area of 2,630 ha.
It is only 70 km away from Shkodra and the Theth River runs through the park with a plentiful supply of mountain trout. The Grunas waterfall is particularly worth seeing, as are the many oak trees and the variety of animals in the park. Thethi National Park is a very popular area frequented by international visitors. There are many guest houses which offer accommodation facilities for the guests.
National Park Lura National Park, located to the east of Kunora e LurĂŤs, has an area of 1,280 ha.
The most picturesque features here are the 14 glacier lakes of Lura, which are frozen in the winter. To the south, you can visit the Field of Mares, which has a wide variety of colorful plants and coniferous trees. The park offers great possibilities for developing eco-tourism.
National Park This park is 40 km from the town of Lushnja, 5 km from Divjaka.
It has an area of 1,250 ha and is part of the Karavasta Lagoon, which has been under the protection of the Ramsar International Convention since 1994. It is a forest near the Karavasta lagoon, and it contains one of the most interesting faunas of the country. THE PARK IS A FAVORITE among nature lover and a perfect place for applying bird watching. There is also a beach nearby that only recently has begun to attract tourists.
Shebenik – Jabllanicë
National Park This park is located in the northeastern part of the town of Librazhd (25 km far). The park has an area of 2,092 ha and is the newest one in Albania.
Due to his climatic conditions, both types of mountain tourism (white and green) are possible to apply. A beech forest covers eighty for cent of the park area. Further, the park is home to a number of endemic and rare plants. Within the park region dwell a number of different species that are fast becoming rare in Albania, including the brown bear, gray wolf and the endangered Balkan Lynx.
National Park About 40 km to the southeast of Vlora, this park is where the Adriatic Sea becomes the Ionian Sea.
Near the Llogara Pass, a number of interesting tree shapes, created from wind currents, can be observed (e.g., the Pisha Flamur, or the Flag Pine). From the Llogara Pass, visitors can see the Ionian Sea, the sharp slopes of Vetëtima Mountain and a good part of the Albanian Riviera. It is a great spot for air sports and has a wonderful climate due to the combination of mountain and sea air.
National Park With an area of 8,000 ha, this is the gem of the Albanian Alps. It is located 25-30 km northwest of Bajram Curri. It lies between high mountain peaks and is a festival of colors and contrasts.
Its biodiversity makes this park a wonderful tourist attraction. The village of Valbona is the focal point of the park. The configuration of the park, the hydrology, forests, flowers, characteristic dwellings and the hospitality of its people make Valbona Valley an ideal place to visit. Valbona valley is a very popular area frequented by tourist. They can find accommodation in many guest houses which are located in this area
This park has an area of 4,000 ha and is situated to the east of the museum city of Berat.
From a far, the mountain of Tomorri gives the impression of a gigantic natural fortress. Located in Tomorri Mountain Park is the grave of Abaz Aliu (Kulmak Tekke), 1,200 m above sea level. Every August thousands of pilgrims go up to the tekke for a week, a natural stimulant for religious tourism.
Fir of Hotova
National Park With an area of 1,200 ha in the region of Frashër ( permet, this park is located about 35 km northeast of Përmet.
The main characteristic is the Hotova Fir, which is one of the most important Mediterranean plant relics of the country. Thanks to its beautiful environment, healthy climate and proximity to living quarters, this park has great recreational value year round.
National Park This park, 25 km to the northeast of Kruja, has an area of 2,000 ha.
The Queen Mother water source is one of the most attractive spots in the park with clean, cold and curative waters. A large number of visitors frequent the park to visit this spot.
National Park Prespa National Park has an area of 27,750 ha and straddles the borders of three countries: Albania, Greece and Macedonia.
It contains the lakes Prespa e Madhe and Prespa e Vogël, as well as their water sources. The park is also rich with cultural history. You can visit the Eremite Byzantine churches in the Prespa Lake, the cave of Treni, Trajani’s castle and the St. Mary’s Church in the island of Maligrad.
National Park An unspoiled nature , far away from noise and a perfect place for recreation
This park has an area of 140 ha and is located 40 km northeast of Burrel. It is a very picturesque park with a number of underground water sources and creeks.
National Park This 2,5000 ha park is located about 25 km south of Saranda.
It has great scientific, tourist and archaeological values, as well as a high level of biodiversity. Blue tourism in Ksamil, ecotourism in Butrint Lake, fishing and water sports are just some of the outdoor activities that this area is well suited for.
Fir of Drenova
National Park Located just 10 km from the city of Korรงa.
The park has an area of 1,380 ha and is frequently visited by both locals and tourists. Many drinking water sources such as Shen Gjergji, Plaka, Pllica and others are located inside the park.
The small country
spread in two seas. The Republic of Albania has a considerable coastline that stretches for 450 km (including lagoons) and extends along the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea. It is easy to tell the seas apart thanks to their different characteristics. The Adriatic beaches tend to be sandy with shallow waters, making them suitable for family holidays. The main beaches are those of Velipoja, ShĂŤn Gjini, DurrĂŤsi, Golemi, Spillenja, Divjaka, Vlora etc.
Besides the beaches, the Adriatic coast is rich with lagoons and natural ecosystems providing wonderful opportunities for those passionate about the study and observation of birds, as well as those interested in eco-tourism. The Ionian costal line is known for having fascinating beaches with deep and very clean waters. Younger crowds tend to visit the Ionian beaches as the area offers many opportunities for those interested in water sports like diving, boat tours, etc. Some of the most exotic and interesting beaches in the south of Albania are DhĂŤrmi, Jali, Himara, Qeparo, Borsh, Saranda and Ksamil There are many lakes throughout Albania, each one differing in size and characteristics. The Albanian seaside has a considerable length of 450 km and is rich in varieties of sand beaches, small gravel beaches, capes, coves, covered bays, lagoons, sea caves, etc. Some areas of the seaside are ecologically very clean, which represents prospective unexplored areas, something very rare in Mediterranean areas. In the north, the seaside begins at the Buna River delta, which is also the country
border between Albania and Montenegro. The small island of Franc Josef can be found here, though sometimes it becomes a peninsula depending upon the water level of the river. This is a place of great importance for vegetation and sea birds in the area. The vegetation is a typical one of groves with a predominance of poplars and other leaf trees, while seagulls are the dominant sea bird in the area. Franc Josef is recommended for people that love nature and prefer relaxing away from the sounds of civilization.
Velipoja Velipoja beach is the northernmost beach of the country, situated 22 km away from Shkodra. There are 250 sunny days and temperatures above 20°C normally begin by mid-May. The beach, with 4 km of high quality sand, is suitable for family vacations and is generally populated by northern Albanians. Near to Velipoja beach is the lagoon of Viluni with a surface area of 130 ha. This is a very important natural eco-system, hosting a number of varieties of sea birds.
However hunting has been banned for two year period throughout the country, due to over hunting and lack of control in some areas. Velipoja beach also has a legal hunting area of 700 ha situated nearby.Shëngjini beach is another sandy beach in the Lezha district, situated 8 km away from the city of Lezha. Shëngjini beach is well known for its high quality sand and has 200-300 sunny days per year. In the north of Shëngjini, before the Renci Hills, is the wonderful beach, Rana e Hedhun (Thrown Sand), which is well protected from the winds of this area. The Lezha seaside has a wonderful natural ecosystem ideal for the development of ecotourism, bird watching, etc. Because of the winds of this area, the Drini River delta is highly recommended for surfing. The lagoon system of Kune-Vain is found at this delta, where tourists can easily observe a large number of sea birds. There are two lagoons comprising this system: Ceka, with an area of 235 ha, and Merxhani, with an area of 77 ha.
The biggest surprise for tourists in this area is the sandy island of Kune, situated at the right side of the Drini River delta.
This island is covered with hygrophilous vegetation and more than 227 kinds of plants, including wildly growing green Mediterranean bushes and willows. Regarding fauna, there are a number of birds on the island, including wild ducks, pheasants, big redheaded ducks, and many more. Of the 353 species of birds found throughout Albania, 70 can be found in this area along with many mammals and amphibians. South of Kune are additional beaches in the less-populated Tale area. One of the most attractive areas of the Albanian Adriatic is Lalezi Bay, situated between Rodon Cape and Bishti i PallĂŤs. Rodon Cape is a wonderful natural masterpiece of 7.5 km and is a highlight for those who enjoy diving. The beaches of Lalezi Bay are sandy ones, some of them surrounded by strips of pine trees. Some of the most outstanding beaches are the ones of ShĂŤn Pjetri and Rrushkull, well known for their clean and deep blue waters.
Durrës Durrësi beach, situated only 39 km away from Tirana, is the biggest and the most populated beach of the country. It has a length of 6 km with a considerably wide strip of sand. The sea depth increases very gradually, which makes this beach very attractive to families with children, and the location of Durrësi Bay keeps it very protected from the winds.
Situated here is the largest number of tourist facilities including hotels, motels, villa compounds, bars, restaurants, discos, etc. During the last few years this beach has become the destination not only for tourists from Tirana but also from Kosova and Macedonia. In the northern part of Durrësi is Currila beach, where the water is deeper and the beach is protected from the warm wind coming from the land. The nearby beaches of Golem and Mali i Robit comprise nearly the same amount of land as Durrësi beach and have similar characteristics. Here you can find a pine forest decorating the seaside. Like in Durrësi beach, the concentration of tourist facilities here is very high (hotels, restaurants, bars, pubs, etc.). Regarding the beaches in Kavaja district, it is worth mentioning the Karpen and Spilleja beaches, which are known for the high quality sand (rich in iodine), sea waters, and dense vegetation of pine trees. The Cape of Lagji closes the Durrësi bay in the south. It is a suitable natural object for diving.
Nearby are the small beaches of rare beauty: Bardhori and Gjenerali. Bardhori is a rocky beach, while Gjenerali is surrounded by lush vegetation and appears like a natural amphitheatre. Both are secluded beaches, excellent for those who wish to escape noise. Karavasta Lagoon is the biggest lagoon along Albanian coast, with an area of 4,330 ha. It is one of thirteen National Parks of Albania, and it has many important values for bio-diversity. Karavasta Lagoon is the western point of Europe where nests curly pelican (pelicanus crispus). There is found 5 % of its worldwide population.
For these values the Lagoon of Karavasta is under protection from the International Convention of RAMSAR, since 1994. The observation of these pelicans is a very interesting experience if you go by boat near the island where they usually perch. In this ecosystem there are 210 kinds of birds, 12 kinds of mammals and 16 kinds of reptiles. Lagoon waters which reach approximately 1.5 meters deepness are rich with fish, especially mullet and eel, which are offered in many restaurants in the Divjaka beach. The flora of the National Park of Divjaka excels for its beauty and special freshness. There dominate the confer of soft and wild pines, where the large crown pines stand out. The multistory forest is very rich of herbals and high woods. Divjakaâ€™s sea sand is rich of a considerably amount of iodine and the temperatures over 20 degree Celsius start from the second half of May and continue until the beginning of October. This is an area where are combined the beach activities with eco-tourism.
Lagoon of Narta In the south, at the Vjosa River Delta, is the Lagoon of Narta, which has an area of 4,180 ha, making it the second largest lagoon in Albania.
Narta Lagoon is another natural ecosystem with the potential to be developed for eco-tourism, bird watching, fishing, etc. It is one of the best locations in Albania for bird watching, as there are 195 kinds of birds in Narta and during the winter, there nest about 48,700 seabirds, or 23% of the birds that come to Albania for the winter. This number includes thousands of different ducks, whitetailed eagles, flamingos, peregrines, black kites, etc. In the lagoon’s waters are many fish, including eels and Narta’s bass. The area of Narta is also known for its production of high quality wine. In the future, natural tourism in the lagoon could be coupled with wine tourism. Vlora is the second biggest harbor of the country and one of the most important points for Albanian tourism, offering both “sea and sun.” The area near the city along the Vlora beaches is known for its new and modern hotels along with other facilities like bars, restaurants, discos, clubs, etc.
This is one of the most exciting tourist areas of the country. The tourist area starts directly south of the city along the small and rocky beaches of Vlora’s bay. There are beaches here with very interesting configurations. In front of them is the peninsula of Karaburun, the largest peninsula of the coast, and the island of Sazani, the largest island of Albania. This configuration helps Vlora’s beaches to be protected from the winds.
Jonufri’s beaches, which lie in this area of Vlora’s bay, extend to the stream of Dukat, near the small town of Orikum. The beaches are surrounded by a hilly area of citrus which contrasts nicely with the blue waters of the sea. In the southern part of Vlora’s bay is Orikumi, where a harbor for yachts was recently built. Orikum’s beach is about 2 km long. In this area are the Pana and Rrapi sea caves. This entire area is of interest for divers because of the archeological remains and sunken ships. One of these is the Italian ship “PO,” sunken in 1941 during World War II. It is also said that Julius Caesar sank the ships of Pompei’s troops here. The area of Uji i Ftohte is convenient for observe different algae while diving and in the area of Zhiron, black and green algae can be found. In the west, Vlora’s bay is closed by the peninsula of Karaburun, the largest peninsula in Albania, about 16 km long and 4.5 km wide. The west coast of Karaburun is amazing, with high, scrappy coasts, small bays, and beaches, making it one of the most attractive points of the Albanian coast for passionate divers.
In the north of the peninsula is the Cave of Haxhi Ali, the largest cave in the country: 30 meters deep, 18 meters high, and 12 meters wide. These dimensions allow for the entrance of boats. The cave’s name comes from a sailor from Ulqin, who sailed in these waters during the 17th century.
There are many small beaches such as Arusha Bay, Grama, and Dafina beaches that are recognized for their depth, high quality waters, and isolated positions, which protect them from noise. Near Grama’s beach is the Cave of Slaves, named such as it is believed that slaves worked in this cave during antiquity. There is ancient graffiti on the walls of Grama’s beach and it is thought that the Temple of Dioskure was located here.Near the peninsula of Karaburun is the island of Sazani, the largest island in Albania. It is about 19 km from Vlora’s harbor and has an area of 5.7 km2; it is 4.5 km long and 2 km wide at the largest spots. In antiquity, the island was called Sason. The island presents a sharp, rocky coastline especially along the western part of the island. In the southeast area of the island is the Admiral beach, which is known for its very clean waters. Sazani has become known as a diving location and together with Karaburun, they make for a wonderful and unique diving experience. After the climb of Llogara lie Ion’s beaches, the beaches of the Albanian Riviera, which make for one of the most beautiful regions in Albania.
The Albanian, Riviera the place where the sun stretches across the deep sea, the splendid configurations of rocky and isolated small beaches, the mountains and hillsides covered in Mediterranean vegetation, and the villages constructed between the mountains and sea.
This is the warmest region of Albania, where the average temperature in January is 10°C and the average temperature in July is 25°C. This area is blessed with 300 days of sun. From the peak of Llogara, which is 1,057 m above sea level, the exquisitely beautiful littoral zone can be seen as if from the vantage point of an airplane. The first beach here is Dhraleos in Palasë, which has a length of 1.5 km. This is one of the most exotic and tranquil beaches of the Albanian littoral zone, complete with deep, blue waters. This beach is popular for water sports and is even sometimes the destination for the parachutes that launch from the peak of Llogara. Dhermiu is located a little further south and is one of the most frequented and important tourist places along the Albanian coast. The crystal-clear waters, isolated beaches, water sports, and diving make this the preferred beach of younger generation. The different beaches that are part of Dhërmiu are Jaliksari, Shkambo, and Gjipea. The beach of Gjipea has beautiful formations. After the beach, there is a stream that has made a canyon with 70 m high walls. Located near the beach of Dhermiu is the Cave of Pirates, which tourists can access by ferry. There are also some hotels, restaurants, and summer discos located here.
Throughout this entire area, “familiarity tourism” has been developed, where tourists can choose to rent a house as their accommodations instead of staying in a hotel. Eight km south of Dhermiu is Vunoi, near Himara, which is the central area of the Albanian Riviera. It is a touristy place that comes to life during the summer season thanks to the younger generations that come here. In this area are the beaches of Spilea, Potami, Llamani, and Livadhja.
All of them stand out for their deep waters, navigability, and rocky characteristic. After Borshi is the beach of Qeparoi and the small tectonic gulf of Porto Palermo, which is located near Ali Pasha Castle. Borshi is one of the longer littoral zones of the Albanian Riviera and girding this beach is a collection of massive Mediterranean vegetation, primarily citrus and olive plantations). Familiarity tourism has also become very popular in this area. Between here and the city of Saranda can be found the beaches of Bunec, Kakome, and Krorëz, whose collective length runs about three km and each with beautiful, crystalclear water. The city of Saranda is the most populous city on the Albanian Riviera and is a big tourist destination, especially preferred by newly married couples on their honeymoon. The city and surrounding areas offer a range of hotels catering to five-star travelers as well the more budget-conscious, while home rentals also remain an option. The city is positioned well upon the coast in that it is only 9 km away from the island of Corfu. Ferries offer daily connections between Saranda and Corfu, which makes Saranda a good base for European tourists. In the city of Saranda are the small beaches of Centrali, Pllakave, and Liman. Usually, tourists prefer to visit one of the most frequented places, Ksamil, which is located between the peninsula of Ksamil and the Lagoon of Butrinti and hosts a number of hotels and restaurants. In front of it expands Corfu and near the beach of Ksamil are 4 small islands covered by Mediterranean vegetation and with a surface of 8.9 ha. The Lagoon of Butrinti.
On account of its natural beauty and important archeological value, Butrinti, located 18 km south of Saranda, has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This tectonic lagoon is an important natural ecosystem with great tourist value. The surface is 16 km2, the depth is 20 m, and the lagoon is connected to the sea by the 3.6 km canal of Vivar.
As a result of favorable wind directions, this is an ideal place for sailing sports. Regarding animal life, this area is great for bird watching and in the forest of the archeological area near the lake, at least 90 species of birds can be seen, including drakes, black neck ducks, eagles, and falcons. Various types of reptiles and amphibians can be found here as well, including the Epirote frog, which exists nowhere else in Albania. Until the Cape of Stillos, the remaining southern Albanian coastline consists of beaches and untouched marshes.
The small islands
of Albania. The Island of Franc Josef.
The Sandy Island of Kune
Franc Josef is a small island located in the Buna River delta. This island is rich with waterfowl and other bird species. The island is also covered in beautiful lush greenery and provides a peaceful place to refresh and relax.
The Sandy Island of Kune has an area of 125 ha and lies in the Drini River delta. This island features extravagant and varied plant life, including everything from small Mediterranean shrubs to ash and willow forests. Island wildlife is abundant as well, boasting 70 bird species, 23 species of mammals, 22 reptiles species, and 6 species of amphibians. Since antiquity, hunters have prized this island for its variety of prey. Located nearby, the secluded and private beach of Tale is also worth visiting. Zverneci Island Zverneci Island is one of two islands in Narta Lagoon in Vlora. It is very picturesque and its landscape is dotted with beautiful cypress trees. The island is also home to the historically significant Santa Maria Church. Access to the island is via a wooden bridge, which offers spectacular views of the lagoon.
The four marvelous Ksamili islands total only 8.9 ha when measured together, but feature some of the most unspoiled beauty in all of Albania. They remain covered in lush, green vegetation throughout the year, and can only be accessed by small boats. The clear water surrounding these islands makes the pristine beaches in the area that much more special.
Shurdhahu Island is a small, but picturesque island located in Vau i DejĂŤs Lake. On this island, visitors will find the ruins of the medieval town of Sarda. It has also served as the residence of the prominent feudal Dukagjini family. Sazani Island Sazani Island is Albaniaâ€™s largest island, measuring 5.7 km2. It sits approximately 15 km off the shore at Vlora and features mostly rocky shores, except for the magnificent Admiral Beach. In antiquity, this island was known as Sason, and it has long been a destination for divers and fishermen. Maligradi Island Maligradi Island is located in Grand Prespa Lake. It is frequently visited by boaters who come to enjoy the beauty of the varied fauna and the historic Saint Mary eremite church.
The Porto Palermo
Castel Porto Palermo Castle, (Kalaja e Porto Palermos) is a castle located close to Himara, in the Vlora region, southern Albania. It was built by Ali Pasha Tepelena in the late 18th century CE. It has a rectangular shape with four bastions in its corners. Along the terraceâ€™s parapet is a positioned loophole for canons. The inner space is made of halls, stores and other areas. Stone stairs leading to the terrace are located in the central part. Walls protect the entire area with gun loopholes at the front and at the side.
On the outside, in the archway entrance, is a stone balcony in the form of a cantilever. The castle would have been vulnerable to cannon fire from the hill above and this also suggests an early date for its construction when cannon had not developed the range they had later. In 1662 the Venetians feared the Turks would recondition it. In 1803 Ali Pasha offered the castle and port to the Royal Navy. At which time the fort only had four or five cannon implying that Ali Pasha did not see the fort as important for him.Shkodra Lake has a surface of 362 km2, of which 149 km2 belong to Albania.
L a ke s The most famous is Lake Ohrid with a surface of 362 km2, of which one-third belongs to Albania. The lake is 300 m deep, making it the deepest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. The historical value and the diverse flora and fauna have helped Lake Ohrid to become one of UNESCO’s Cultural and Natural Heritage sites. There are a variety of aquatic species in the lake, the most famous of which is the Koran, known for being a particularly delicious fish. The city of Pogradec, well known for its climate, was built on the southwestern coast of Lake Ohrid.
Alongside the shore there are several tourist centers such as Lini, Pojska, Pogradec, Drilon and Tushemisht, where many hotels and guesthouses offer comfortable accommodations for a wonderful and relaxing vacation. Prespa Lake with a surface of 285 km2, of which 38.8 km2 belongs to Albania, is known for the small island of Maligrad. For those exploring the island, the old The main tourist centers are Shiroka and Zogaj, offering numerous hotels and restaurants. This area is famous for it’s variety of fish, including carp, eel and shtojzë. The main leisure activities here are fishing, swimming, sunbathing and the exploration of the area. Those who are willing to explore more of Albania will be able to see the artificial lakes formed by the Drin’s cascade (Vau i Dejës Lake, Komani Lake and Fierza lake), the artificial lakes of Shkopeti and Ulza, the small glacial lakes of Lura, Balgjait, Dobërdol, Sylbice, Rajca and many more.
the country blessed by water sources The springs, rivers, and streams in Albania The Albanian countryside is rich with springs, rivers, and streams. There are an estimated 200 springs, each of which bursts forth with over 200 liters of water per second. Some springs have been noted for their medicinal or curative powers and have thus been the site of spas since antiquity.Four springs which are remarkable for their natural beauty are the Blue Eye in Saranda, Cold Water in Tepelena, Viroi in Gjirokastra, and Syri i Sheganit at Lake Shkodra.
The network of inland Albanian waters consists of 11 major rivers and their 150 tributaries. Measuring 285 km, the Black Drini River is the longest and it flows from Lake Ohrid to the Adriatic Sea. Other large rivers include the Valbona, Buna, Fani, Mati, Erzeni, Shkumbini, Seman, Vjosa, Osumi, Shushica, Devolli, Langarica, Drino, and Bistrica rivers. Some valleys and canyons created by these ancient flows offer tremendous natural beauty as well. Among these are the Valbona and Shala Valleys in the Northern Alps, Tomorica Valley, Këlcyra Outfall on the Vjosa River, and the Bënça and Osumi Canyons. The canyons, in particular, offer a beautiful backdrop for a variety of paddling sports. Waterfalls are also a part of this vast network, such as those located at Grunas and Thethi, Shoshan and Kurveleshi. Thermal water and spa tourism. These spas are located throughout the country, but several noteworthy ones exist in Leskoviku (Vronomero) Dibra, Elbasani, Benja, and Fushë-Kruja (Bilaj). The Postenan steam baths near Leskoviku and the drinking water sources of Kroii Bardhë in the Municipality of Selita, in Mirdita, are known for their valuable medical attributes in curing disease like asthma, skin diseases, arthritics, neurologic diseases, gastritis, rheumatism etc. Some of these water sources offer contemporary accommodation services like the Ibrahim Kupi Centers in Bilaj, Elbasan, Peshkopia and Leskovik.
and Adventure Approximately two-thirds of Albania’s geography is either hilly or mountainous. These elevations offer myriad outdoor recreation possibilities, including everything from paddling sports to paragliding. These areas also host a variety of tourism ventures, including eco and agritourism. There is a renewed interest in alpine climbing and exploration as well, with the 2,018 m Çika Ridge being a highly desirable climb. Various destinations in the Northern Alps, with elevations as high as 2,700 m, beckon to the climber as well.
Specifically, the towns of Vermosh, Thethi, Razëm, Bogë, and Valbona can all serve as starting points for an expedition. Cultural experiences also abound in the mountains. Tomorri Mountain hosts the Baba Tomorri, Abaz Aliu celebration, a festival featuring aspects of Albanian and Bektashi cultural traditions. The catholic Saint Ndou gathering in the Laçi highlands represents a pilgrimage destination for many of Albania’s faithful. The highland areas near the Drenova, Dardha, and Voskopoja regions in Korça offer rich cultural experiences as well. Among other landmarks in Albania are “Guri i Kamjes”, an outcropping southwest of Pogradeci, and Korabi Mountain in Dibra, Albania’s highest peak at 2,750 m. Moving south, travelers will encounter historical Kruja town. Perched among mountainous peaks, this is the location where Skanderbeg united warring tribes and defended Albanian lands from Ottoman attacks.
Nature in Albania comes in a variety of forms and offers numerous opportunities for exercise and enjoyment through sports and activities, all of which can make for a remarkable vacation.
Mountains and hills, which occupy two-thirds of the country and extend from the north to the south, offer opportunities for hiking, trekking, climbing, skiing, mountain biking, cave exploration, etc. The most beautiful and most frequented areas are those of the Albanian Alps, including Thethi, Valbona, Vermoshi, and Razma; the area around Korça with many hot spots like Voksopoja, Dardha, Vithkuqi and Boboshtica; and many other points like Dajti, Llogaraja, Gërmenji, and Tomorri. Albania is home to a dense hydrographic network. The country offers numerous rivers and gorgeous valleys that are full of narrow gorges, canyons and other surprises. Water sports such as rafting and canoeing are very popular in the region. Some of the best locations to visit for water enthusiasts are the canyons of the Osumi river, the Këlcyra gorge, the upper Vjosa where it flows into the Përmeti region, the Devolli valley, and the Shala Valley in the Albanian Alps. Albania also has a number of places suitable for air sports, such as paragliding. The best places for these sports are Llogara, and the mountains of Morava in Korça. In recent years, Albania has been the host of many international air sport races.
The Pirogoshi cave is located in the Skrapari region and constitutes the largest cave in Albania, with a length of over 1,500 m.
It is situated 450 m above sea level near the village of Radesh, 3 km from the city of Ă‡orovoda. The cave has a 12 m wide entrance and a height of approximately 5 m. The inside of the cave is rich with stalactites and stalagmites and perhaps the most interesting places to visit inside the caves are the Major Corridors. And be careful where you step: the cave ends with a deep well where colonies of bats live.
Activities Albania is located east of Italy across the Adriatic Sea and thus enjoys a gentle and temperate Mediterranean climate with mild winters and warm, dry summers. The varied regions, from the towering mountains in the north to the coastal areas in the west, make Albania a beautiful and intriguing destination. Diverse plant and animal life cover this expanse and provide the perfect backdrop to a variety of activities. The clean, blue waters of the Adriatic and Ionian Seas beckon the traveler with both their scenic vistas and the culinary delights they contain.
Rivers crisscross this land and offer both the beauty of the canyons they have carved and the opportunity to traverse them via raft, kayak, or canoe. Here you will find a rich cultural history woven into the very fabric of everyday life â€“ from cuisine to music. Situated at the crossroads of east and west, Albania is also a convenient and nearby destination for many places throughout Europe and Asia. The topographical surface of Albania is mostly mountainous. The highest peak is Mount Korabi (Dibra district), which towers 2,751 m above sea level. Mountains offer travelers a variety of opportunities, from spelunking to skiing. Some of the areas where mountain activities can be found are: Dajti, Llogara, Dardha, Bozdoveci, Voskopoja, Valbona, and Thethi. The remainder of the landscape transitions to lowland plains along the coast and then continues to the southeast. Large rivers flow throughout the country: the Vjosa, Erzen, and Drini are some of the longest. These rivers supply irrigation efforts for the vast agricultural industry that flourishes here.
Alpinism Alpinism is a common sport here. A combination of mountaineering and hiking, this activity can range from a simple day trip to a multi-day summiting expedition atop some of Albania’s loftiest peaks. The Alpine Association has been in existence since 1958 and offers guided excursions into some of Albania’s most beautiful and remote mountain locales. Some areas which offer a multitude of trip varieties are: Biza, Razma, Llogara, Qafe Shtama, Lura, and the Hotova Fir forests of Permeti.
Mountainous regions draw other outdoor adventurers, as well. In milder weather, camping and backpacking are popular and draw enthusiasts seeking cooler weather and a change of pace from bustling city life. In addition to the areas listed above, the Germenj forests and the area surrounding Kurvelesh provide a scenic backdrop with myriad camping opportunities. Hikers will find ample trails and many places to explore in the aforementioned locations. One popular trip is the “Trekking of Cika,” which leads explorers through the Dukat Valley, up portions of the Cika Mountain Range, and finally terminates at the coast near ion’s Seashore. Other hiking opportunities abound in the Alps region of the north and the regions surrounding Tomorri Mountain, the Drini Valley, and the fir of Sotira in the south of the country, amongst other places. A variety of nature trails bring the beauty of Albania’s countryside within reach for the less adventurous traveler. While less strenuous, these treks are no less beautiful and often offer unique views of rural villages and the areas surrounding them. A vast network of trails connects these villages with each other and with other vital resources, offering a dramatic change of pace from the hectic pace of Tirana and other large cities. Skiing is yet another activity that allows the intrepid explorer to experience the beauty of the mountains and surrounding areas.
Mountain biking is gaining popularity in Albaniaand the varied terrain and numerous trails offer many venues to explore. Some organized tours exist in the north around Thethi and Boga, but same the best and most rewarding rides require only the adventurous spirit and the willingness to lool around. Only a short drive from Tirana, many opportunities wait both skilled and novice mountain bikers. There is also e trail round the lake Shkodra.
Speluking The countryside of Albania is dotted with e great variety of caves. Some of them very accessible. In the region of Shkodra only there are more than thirty large caves. Many tourists have enjoyed exploring one of Albania’s largest caves called Pellumbas or Back Cave Located southeast of Tirana, it rangest from ten to thirty-five meters wide, fiveteen to forty meters high and is approximately three hundred meters long.In Tirana district there are other caves such as Vali (Biza). shpella e mire (Good Cave) in Brair etc. Another attractive option for cave explorers is Albania’s largest cave Pirrogoshi, located in the village of Radesh in Skrapar. Other intriguing spelunking opportunities exist in the following places; Juban, Zhyla, Murriqan, Pusi in Shkodra, region. The cave of Lekë Peta in Kurvelesh (south Albania), Neziri Cave in Mat region, Doshi cave in Mirditë region, Kreshmoi cave close to Konispol, Treni cave in Devoll region and many more.
Fishing Fishing is a popular activity throughout Albania. Salt and fresh waters are rich with fish and a variety of aquatic species. Fishing provides the primary source of income for many of the residents of coastal areas and has played a role in Albania’s history since antiquity.
As in many areas of the world, Albania’s stocks are at risk from over fishing, and a campaign has recently begun to disseminate information and protect this valuable natural resource. Mountainous areas offer many creeks and cool, running water and excellent fishing opportunities. The Valbona River and Thethi Creek are also popular, and provide areas to catch Marble Trout. Lastly, the mouth of the Vjosa River provides an unforgettable setting for the angler. Horseback riding is intertwined with Albania’s history and has no doubt been practiced since antiquity. From the use of horses by members of the military, competitions arose which sought to determine which horse and rider were the fastest and most agile. Horse farms are common in Shkodra, Durrësi, Elbasani, Korça, and Berati. Trail rides and other opportunities can be arranged at a variety of riding centers in these areas. Peza, in particular, offers some resources and lessons and is favored for its close proximity to Tirana.and is on old and scenic road between Tirana and Durres
Aerial sports Aerial sports such as parachuting and paragliding began to gain popularity in Albania in the early 1990s. A core group of enthusiasts had a vision for developing the sport and increasing interest among people. What has resulted from these initial efforts is a network of professional pilots and instructors that can guide both the novice and the advanced skydiver through a variety of parachuting excursions.
Additionally, Albania has a beautiful and varied terrain that is conducive to this sport, and offers tremendous vistas while the participant glides back to Earth. One of the most spectacular places to try paragliding is Llogaraâ€™s Neck. Towering 1,052 m above sea level, the site offers favorable winds and sweeping vistas of the surrounding terrain. Divers glide down to Palasa Beach, and can enjoy the natural beauty there following the descent. Since 2000, this place has hosted the International Albanian Open, which draws participants from throughout the Balkans and beyond. Although this is thought by many to be the best place to paraglide, other destinations include Shushica (novice), and Morava, Dajti, and Taraboshi (for those more advanced).
Canyon The Osumi Canyon (Kanioni i Osumit) is a river canyon in southern Albania, near the town of Ă‡orovoda. The river Osum, which passes through the town of Berat, flows through the canyon.
The Osumi River canyon is one of the most spectacular natural attractions of Albania. During the spring, high water from melting snow makes it possible to explore the whole length of the canyon from the river. The rapids are Class II, so one does not need prior white water experience to navigate them. At the end of the summer, when the water is lower, the full length of the canyon is not navigable, but there are various walks with opportunities for swimming in various pools and streams. The edges of the canyon have an unusual ecosystem that preserves the greenery on both sides of the canyon year-round. Mediterranean bushes like heath and briar flourish along with rich flora and fauna. On the slopes of the canyon, erosion has created pockmarked cavern walls with small caves. Some of the rock formations in the canyon have fanciful names such as the Cathedral, the Eye, and the Demonâ€™s Door. The canyons are 26 km (16 miles) long, at an altitude of 450 m. They are thought to have been formed 2-3 million years ago by water erosion.
There are many underground passages and unexplored caves throughout the length of the canyon.
It is generally thought that many years ago the river flowed underground, but over time the rock above the river disappeared, creating the current form of the canyon. In the gulf of this canyon that passes Osum River in both its sides, water flows come from different villages which pass in a rock chain. The local inhabitants tell many interesting legends, such as those of Mulliri i Babait, Vrima e Nuses and Saint Abaz Ali. The canyon includes six narrow sections ranging from 1.5 m wide in the riverbed up to 35 m wide further up the sides of the canyon. Gradeci Canyon, the most beautiful and spectacular canyon of the valley of Osumi, stands close to the cave. It is 4 km long, 40 m high, and in different spots, only 1.5 m wide. Its slopes descend rapidly into the river. To reach the other canyons of Osumi, you must journey southward. These other canyons are located 3 km south from the town of Ă‡orovoda. They are magnificent natural objects with a total length of 15 km. In this area, you can practice water sports like canoeing, rafting and kayaking. There are also several spots that serve as small beaches, such as Varishta.
Food and Beverages Albanian Desserts Albanian desserts originate from either Turkey or Greece and are popular all over the Balkans. These dishes are inspired from both Western and Eastern civilizations. The desserts that are entirely Albanian consist of local fruits, which are used both for compotes and for various types of cakes or pies. Albanian Walnut Cake with Lemon Glaze is a good example in this case. Citrus fruits, such as oranges and lemons are used in many of the Albanian desserts. Also, the Albanian cuisine features many recipes of puddings, the most important of them being oshaf, which is based on sheep milk and figs.
Turkish, Balkan and European kitchens have had a great influence on the Albanian kitchen, which has become known for highly nutritional and delicious food. Almost every province offers particular specialties, though the cooking of grilled meat, especially lamb, and the preparation of various pies is common throughout the country. Central and Southern Albania are well known for using a large variety of vegetables, olive oil, various spices and lemon. The carp dish Tava e Krapit is especially popular in Shkodra while the Koran with walnuts is particularly loved in Pogradec, and many other fish dishes are very popular within the coastal zones of the Ionian and Adriatic. Albania is also famous for a variety of pastry; a large number of them are common throughout the Balkans and Asia Minor. One of them is Ballokumja, a traditional cake whose ingredients are corn flour, butter and sugar, which originates in the town of Elbasan and is delivered as a treat for the Summer Day’s event (March 14). As a result of the suitable Mediterranean climate, Albania is known for cultivating grapes and producing a variety of red and white wines. The most famous are: Merlot, Cabernet, Pinot Noir, Kallmet, Sangiovese, Riesling, etc. The most famous alcoholic drink in Albania, though, is Rakia (a type of brandy whose main ingredient is typically grapes). Some other areas of Albania (Korça and Dibër) use plums to produce the brandy, while Boboshtica uses raspberries. Albania is also known for producing the famous Skanderbeg cognac, which has won many international awards. Among nonalcoholic beverages, Boza (a corn based drink) is produced in the north of the country, especially in the province of Kukësi and its vicinities.
Flavors and Souvenirs You cannot leave Albania without taking a souvenir from this country, that is so full with tradition. Typical Albanian products stand as examples of the traditions of Albanian people, which is expressed and maintained from generation to generation. These craft works are applied in different materials such as wool, wood, copper, silver, etc. Since ancient times, artistic craftworks were important components of the Albanian culture.
The traditional wool clothes, shajaku (pressed wool craft used in different parts of Albania), and elegant fabric clothes (used especially for festive events) show this heritage with its stylish art too, whose embroidery of various gold and silver threads are unique. Differing types of filigree can be found, some of it made with copper and some with gold. Other types of jewelry are available alongside wood engravings and weaponry decorated with gold and silver, applied over the centuries. All of these different items come together to help shape the cultural heritage of Albania. The old market of Kruja is famous for the classic souvenirs that can be found there, including wool products, carpets, different styles of fez, wooden pipes, old copper products, filigrees etc. Besides Kruja, tourists and visitors are invited to visit all the other cultural center of Albania such as Berat, Gjirokastra, Tirana and Shkodra, where they will be able to feel the history and appreciate souvenirs of this wonderful tradition, which are the real expression of our ancient origins.
Events March 14:
The Albanian Song Festival
“Poeteka” “AniFest ROZAFA”
(transmitted by the National Radio Television)
(various activities and concerts)
November 2: May:
“The Magical Song”
“Tirana’s Jazz Festival” “Top Fest”
(concerts with chamber music)
These events are organized annually with no specified opening day
“The White Night”
“International Day of Music”
(music and various festive activities)
(musical bands play music everywhere, accompanying various activities)
The International Visual Arts Competition “Onufri”
The International Book Fair 14 -17 August:
“KORCA BEER FEST”
Tirana Film Festival September 16:
“Peza’s event” (various activities)
(the most important cinematographic event)
International Music Festival “Marie Kraja”
Do you know
1. The Karavasta Lagoon is one of the largest lagoons in the Mediterranean Sea and is home to the Dalmatian Pelican, as well as over 250 bird, mammal, and amphibian species. Five percent of the world’s Dalmatian Pelican population is found in this lagoon.
2. Did you know that the first printing press in the Balkans was established in 1720 in Voskopoja, in eastern Albania? This printing press produced a total of nineteen books, mainly Services to the Saints but also the Introduction of Grammar by a local scholar. Moreover the city had an orphanage for children, known as Orphanodioiketerion, possibly the first in the postByzantine Orthodox world, a hospital and a total of twenty four churches.
3. Mother Teresa, whose given n`ame was Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, was an ethnic Albanian. Mother Teresa’s work has inspired commemorations throughout Albania, including the name of Albania’s international airport: the Tirana International Airport “Nënë Tereza”.
Do you know
4. The second largest Roman Amphitheater in the Balkans, is located in Albania’s port-city of Durrës. Built in the 2nd century AD, the theater could hold 20,000 spectators, about one-sixth of the population of nowadays Durrës.
5. Two of the seven “purple codices”, written from the sixth to the eighteenth centuries are preserved in the UNESCO city of Berat in Albania. The two Albanian codices are very important for the global community
and the development of ancient biblical, liturgical and hagiographical literature.
6. Onufri is “famous” as the most important icon painter of 16th century in Albania. Even though he painted biblical and ecclesiastic motives according to the Byzantine canon, he had the merit to free himself from the strict patterns. In his works, he depicted Albanian landscapes, towns, peasants, shepherds and especially knights. Perhaps the most characteristic feature of
Onufri’s pictures is the socalled “Onufrian red”.
7. Did you know that the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, Augustus, studied in Apollonia, near the city of Fier, in the year 44 BC? 8. The main legacy of the Albanian national hero, Skanderbeg, was to stop the expansion of the Ottoman Empire in Western Europe. His contribution is commemorated in monuments, statues, and
squares named after him in Rome (Italy), Vienna (Austria), Geneva (Switzerland), Michigan (USA), Skopje (Macedonia), Pristina (Kosovo), Paris (France), Spezzano (Italy) and Brussels (Belgium).
9. Albania is rich in natural water sources, such as rivers, lakes, and a long maritime coastline. Two of the most significant ecosystems are the lakes of Shkodra and Ohrid, recognized by the RAMSAR Convention and UNESCO. Lake Shkodër, also called Lake Scutari and Lake Skadar, shares a border with Montenegro and is the largest lake in the Balkan Peninsula. It is named after the city of Shkodra in northern Albania. It is one of the largest bird reservations in Europe, with 270 bird species, among which are some of the last pelicans in
Europe. Lake Ohrid connects the mountainous border between eastern Albania and Macedonia. As Europe’s oldest lake and the deepest in the Balkans, Lake Ohrid preserves a unique aquatic ecosystem with more than 200 species.
10. Did you know that the origins of isopoliphony, one of the worlds most ancient a capella singing traditions, can be traced to the Illyrians, the ancestors of modern Albanians? The term “iso” refers to the drone, which accompanies the iso-polyphonic singing and is related to the “ison” of Byzantine church music, where the drone group accompanies the song. This unique musical tradition was recognized by UNESCO in 2005 when it was added to the list of “Masterpiece of the
Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”
11. The Albanian language is a stand-alone branch of the Indo-European language family and is now spoken by close to eight million people around the world. In addition to a large diaspora, over 80,000 Arbëresh speak Albanian in Southern Italy. The estimated 260,000 Arbëresh are direct descendants of Skanderbeg following a mass migration after his death in the late 15th century.
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Roman Roman Amphitheatre Amphitheatre
Bishti Bishti i Pallës i Pallës M M
DajtiDajti TIRANA TIRANA
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E r E r EthemEthem Beu Beu z e zMosque n e n Mosque M M
Lalëzi Lalëzi BayBay Fushë Fushë Krujë Krujë
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Rodoni Rodoni LaçLaç Shën Shën Ndou Ndou BayBay QafëQafë Shtamë Shtamë Rodoni Rodoni Cape Cape
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Lezhë DriniDriniLezhë BayBay
Mesi Bridge Mesi Bridge
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HaniHani i Hotit i Hotit
Sylbice Sylbice Valbonë Valbonë
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o o antant OtrOtr rë- rëV l oV l o
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Butrinti Butrinti Sarandë
Labova Labova e Kryqit e Kryqit
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A LA BLABNAI A NI A
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M M Bozdovec M M Bozdovec Kamenicë KamenicëBoboshticë Boboshticë
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um um Os Os
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Margëlliç MargëlliçM Patos Patos
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n n ma ma Se Se
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bin bin kumkum Sh Sh
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