Here are some of the beautiful locations we love in Albania.
Photo by godo godaj
The Great Balkan Ride, beginning in Sarajevo on August 5th, explores an beautiful, historic, and very much underrated part of Europe. And nowhere exemplifies those three qualities more than Albania. Here are some photos showing the incredible variety of scenery waiting to be discovered.
Albania contains an astonishing variety of scenery, but you’ll be hard pressed to find a more picturesque spot that the Valbona Valley National Park. Tucked away in the far North of the country, close to the borders with Montenegro and Kosovo, the area has been described as the “Albanian miracle of the Alps”. We can’t disagree.
Near the Valbona Valley, but in a national park of its own, Theth (or Thethi) may be our favourite place in Albania. The famous British traveler Edith Durham said of Theth that “I think no place where human beings live has given me such an impression of majestic isolation from all the world.” This village, surrounded by mountains, has a simply stunning position.
We love this old postcard of Albania’s capital Tirana. The buildings have changed dramatically, with the faded grandeur replaced by brightly colored modernization. Tirana is still packed with history though, and is a fascinating place to visit. And while it might not have the best scenery in the country, there’s no better place to party.
It almost seems unfair, but Albania, in addition to its enchanting mountains, is also home to some of the best beaches in Europe. The golden sands of the “Albanian Riviera” are unmissable, and if you pick the right spot you can avoid the crowds that you’d expect on more famous Mediterranean beaches. In some places your only company might be one of the remaining “concrete mushroom” bunkers.
A UNESCO Heritage site, Gjirokastër is another highlight of Albania. The “City of Stone”, is famed for its charming architecture: an imposing castle, Ottoman houses, and cobbled roads. Also renowned for its notable inhabitants — it was the birthplace of both dictator Enver Hoxha and novelist Ismail Kadare — this is a stop to look forward to on the Balkan Ride.
Though we don’t stop in the very South of Albania on the Balkan Ride, we highly recommend a visit after the rally is completed. Not only can you find plenty more beaches, but at the ancient city of Butrint there is an unbelievable array of archaeological treasures, dating back thousands of years.