Albania: the new destination of Italian tourism
The coastline and sea of Albania are attracting an increasing number of tourists, particularly from Italy.
With five thousand years of history, archaeological parks, Unesco World Heritage sites, over 400 km of coastline and inland areas that are still virtually unknown, Albania is a fascinating destination, with uncontaminated beaches, premium hospitality and breathtaking views, all at truly reasonable prices: Albania is the perfect low-cost summer holiday destination.
How to get there
AF Francesca – Durrës Port
Adria Ferries runs daily departures from Italy’s three Adriatic ports: Trieste, Ancona and Bari to Durrës. As a leader in sea travel between Italy and Albania, Adria Ferries satisfies the needs of both departing passengers and the numerous carriers who ship goods between the two countries. “Our ferry services between Italy and the “Land of the Eagle” have so far carried over 4.2 million passengers and more than 910,000 vehicles with them.” - says ship owner Alberto Rossi, the chairman of Adria Ferries.
The company provides its guests with a whole range of innovative and high-quality services, such as the on-board catering offering traditional Italian dishes, the new children’s play area, an excellent accommodation service, and also state-of-the-art procedures guaranteeing passenger safety.
Customers who choose to travel with Adria Ferries obtain a whole range of benefits, including early booking, the “return and save” promotion with discounts up to 50% on the return journey, free travel for children, discounts for campers, motorcyclists and groups and up to a 35% discount if the ferry + accommodation package is booked with the “Il Mondo in mano” Tour Operator.
There are currently three ferries in service: AF Marina, AF Michela and AF Francesca. A fourth will be added by the end of the year. For anyone planning a holiday in Albania, the company also provides the services of its own Tour Operator, called “Il Mondo in Mano” for seaside holidays and various tours to discover the Land of the Eagle.
Things to see in Albania
Albania is a unique experience for anyone seeking a holiday surrounded by the countryside and culture and also for culinary enthusiasts.
Ksamil is in southern Albania, on the Ionian Sea, facing the island of Corfu (the word “ksamil” actually means “six miles” in Albanian): it is part of the Butrint national park, a protected natural area and also a major archaeological site. Just like the Apollonia site, founded by the Greeks and conquered by the Romans, which is in central Albania. Together with the beaches of Dhermi and Himarë, Ksamil is one of Albania’s most popular tourist destinations.
Travelling by sea from Trieste, Ancona and Bari with Adria Ferries takes you to Durrës, Albania’s major port. This ancient city, which was founded by the Greek colonies and known as Dyrrachium, was the capital of Albania until 1920 and is now its most important port. The Via Egnatia, the ancient Roman road linking Durrës to Istanbul, started here and near the port it is still possible to see the ruins of the Venetian Tower and the Castle, destroyed and rebuilt, one of the major defensive positions of the Balkans. Close by there are the ruins of the Roman amphitheatre built in the second century by Trajan, the largest in the Balkans, with room for 15,000 spectators. Major archaeological finds are housed in the Archaeology Museum and the Ethnology Museum, but the market is the place to discover the true spirit of any city, offering an insight into its local customs and products. At the end of Bulevardi Dyrrah, the indoor fruit market offers a myriad display of colours, flavours and stories of the local population.
The capital, Tirana, is easily reached from here. It is a modern city, enlivened by the bright colours chosen by the “Artist-Premier”, Edi Rama, as mayor of the city, and characterised by skyscrapers, mosques and open churches. The places to visit are Skanderbeg square, dominated by a statue of the national hero on horseback, the Bunk’art Museum, the castle fortresses, Kroit Chruch, Tanners’ Bridge, Ethem Bey Mosque, the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Paul and the Orthodox Church of the Resurrection. Tirana is a university city and a seat of culture, with museums and five libraries, including the national library, housing one million books.
Tirana – View of the city
Also well worth a visit is Berat, the museum city of a thousand windows lying on the side of a hill and a Unesco World Heritage site. A fortress stands over the town, which is surrounded by city walls with twenty-four defensive towers, enclosing the white Mosque, the Dormition Cathedral, numerous Byzantine churches, the Onufri Museum and the Ethnography Museum. Many excellent wine producers have opened over recent years around Berat, a land of vineyards, such as the “Cobo Winery”.
City of Berat
Another delightful seaside town is Vlorë, in southern Albania, which is already a highly developed tourist destination, with hotels in various categories, apartments, B&B, restaurants and bars. Vlorë has the entire range of tourist facilities and could be a valid alternative to the well-known tourist destinations of the Adriatic. Places to visit there include the Muradie Mosque, the Monument to Independence in Flag’s Square and the ancient districts, including the Jewish quarter.
It is an easy trip from Vlorë to Apollonia, dedicated by the Greeks to the god Apollo and founded in 588 BC, a strategically and logistically important city-state for sea trade. It is now possible to visit the archaeological site, but only a small percentage has been excavated so far and almost all the treasures remain underground. It was an extremely rich city, at the centre of trade and a crossing point of the Via Egnatia leading to Constantinople. Important ruins from the classical era lie alongside Byzantine churches with their Romanesque capitals, creating a fascinating combination. Berat is already a Unesco World Heritage site, as an example of an Ottoman city, and Apollonia has been nominated as one.
Apollonia – Archaeological Site
Another Ottoman city is Gjirokastër, in southern Albania, the museum city located on the side of a hill looking over the valley and famed for its massive use of stone in building the houses and the streets. It is known as the “city of stone” and represents a meeting point of Albanian, Greek, Ottoman and Roman culture. The city developed around the castle at the top of the hill, the second largest in the Balkans and dominating the surrounding plain. The characteristic old town of Gjirokastër stands at the top of the hill, with its splendid houses, artisan workshops, restaurants and charming hotels.
The number of foreign visitors attracted by a country that retains its cultural identity and hidden treasures continues to increase. Albania offers a wide range of solutions to suit all tastes: there are plenty of open-air activities for sports lovers and culinary enthusiasts can enjoy the flavours of a genuine culinary tradition based on the products of the land and the sea, accompanied by the excellent local wines. Visiting this country offers the chance to enjoy its attractions, but also to contribute to spreading its culture and values and allowing it to take its rightful place among the great countries of the Balkans and the Mediterranean. Italian tourists also choose Albania because it is an inexpensive option, with lower costs than other tourist destinations on the Adriatic, and also easy to reach. Adria Ferries connects Italy to Albania with a journey of just a few hours and departures from the ports of Ancona, Bari and Trieste, according to need.
For more details visit the section Tour Operator
Check out our articles here:
- “Albania: una nuova meta per il turismo italiano" - affaritaliani.it
- "Adria Ferries punta sul turismo verso l'Albania" - TREND
- "Albania, viaggio nel Paese delle Aquile da Tirana a Durazzo" - ANSA ViaggiArt
- "Le spiagge più belle dell’Albania adriatica" - Siviaggia
- "Albania trendy tra movida e spiagge caraibiche" - Tgcom24
- "Albania Storia e bellezza da scoprire al di là dell'Adriatico" - Emotions Magazine
- "Speciale Albania" - Travel Quotidiano
- "Viaggio in Albania da Tirana a Apollonia, passando per Berat e Valona" - Il Sole 24 ore