Budget Travel – Albania

This little-known edge of Europe is called the Albanian Riviera. It differs sharply from its counterparts, the French and Italian Rivieras, by its cost — a week there could give you barely a few hours in its snazzier, snootier namesakes.

While Albania has extraordinary scenery, above all the area is cheap — easily one-tenth the cost if you travel to Italy or France. The cost of living in Albania of a week would give you barely a few hours in other parts of Europe.

Introducing Albania Part 1

Albania may not appear on many tourists’ destination radar but this does not mean that it is not worth visiting. The opposite is in fact true because this part of the Balkans have managed to preserve much of the charm and appeal mainly due to the absence of mass tourism. However, it is only a matter of time before hordes of tourists begin pouring in to crowd the country’s lovely landscape and stunning coasts.

If you are a national of the US or other western countries – check Albania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the complete list – you will not need a visa to enter the country. You will only be required to show your ID card but it is still recommended to bring along your valid passport (otherwise you may not get back into your home country). After payment of the minimal entry fee, you are good to go to explore Albania for 30-90 days.

Albania, being a relatively small country, is easy to navigate. You can simply travel around by public bus or furgon as it is locally known. These buses do not have a fixed timetable, so they are not a practical option if you are pressed for time. However, riding one makes an exciting Albanian experience so it is worth taking at least once.

Taxis are more convenient alternative because for as long as the price is right, taxi drivers will take you to whichever part of the country you want to go. Traveling by rail is also possible, one route in particular – between Lezhe and Shkodra – is recommended for a montage of spectacular scenery that will accompany you along the way.

There are plenty of things to see and do in Albania. You can go on for weeks, even months, and still find something interesting to discover. The coastal cities are one of the most popular places to visit in the country, which boast of cerulean seas, lively seaside resorts and several remarkable ancient ruins.

If you are on the lookout for some of the most stunning beaches in the area, then don’t miss a visit to the Albanian Riviera located southwest of coastal Albania. It is also home to the Llogara National Park and the Llogara Pass is the place to go to take a look at the breathtaking panorama of the entire Rivera.

The city of Butrint, home of the largest archaeological site of Greek and Roman ruins in the country, is another must-see. The coastal road is also ideal for road trips if you are in the mood for just meandering and enjoying the views. Camping is another popular activity with the many camping facilities you will find along the coast.

Albania is also castle country. One of the most popular in the area is Petrala Castle located not far from the capital. There is also Rozafa Castle near Shkodra and Skanderbeg Castle in Kruje. These castles are a delight to explore especially for those interested in history and architecture. The country is also home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the ancient fortifications in Butrint and the architectural wonders of the Ottoman period in Berat and Gjirokastra.

Aside from all these, each and every city of Albania has something exciting to offer the discerning tourist. So, take time to explore the country and you will surely find something to fascinate you while you are in the area. After you’re done with the many attractions, you can simply cross the border to Greece, Macedonia, Montenegro or Italy to extend your Mediterranean getaway.