18 REASONS TO BOOK YOUR HOLIDAY IN AMAZING ALBANIA
DISCOVER ALBANIA'S LEADING TOURIST DESTINATIONS WITH ADRIA FERRIES
Discover the unexplored land of Albania, a country that will offer you hospitality and care. – “Anyone entering the home of an Albanian has always been considered as a ‘god’, so the guest always takes first place” – Edi Rama. Adria Ferries has been operating between Italy and Albania since 2004 and is working to promote the country and its beautiful beaches in the south and mountainous areas in the north. Albania, or Shqipëria as Albanians call it, offers numerous hospitality structures where you can spend your holiday. Enjoy the delicious foods and wines of the country against a backdrop of history, nature and culture.
VLORË – PLACES NOT TO BE MISSED
An ancient city and natural harbour in the Strait of Otranto, Vlorë lies at the point where the Ionian and Adriatic Seas meet and the waters become increasingly deeper, the coastlines more jagged and the beaches rockier. Vlorë has always been an important city, as the home to one of the Mediterranean’s major ports.
After being dominated for centuries by the Greeks, Romans and Turks, it became the capital of the newly founded state of Albania in 1912, before passing this title onto the current capital, Tirana. Vlorë is a favourite destination for tourists from across Europe. It is a typical, slow-paced southern city, with low buildings and sunshine for over 260 days a year, with the result that summer temperatures are high and the winters are never too cold.
In addition to the seafront and the harbour area with their fashionable restaurants and bars, Vlorë offers the chance to admire important historical monuments, particularly in the hidden streets of the city. Amidst the run-down old buildings, there are local fruit and vegetable markets and small shops selling all types of goods. The main points of historical and cultural interest of Vlorë, the Muradie Mosque and the ruins of the walls of Aulona, are located along Rruga Sadik Zotaj, a palm-lined avenue that starts from the roundabout facing the port. The sights in Vlorë include the Monument to Independence built in the 1970s to commemorate the liberation of Albania from the Ottoman Empire in 1912.
Vlorë is unquestionably worth a visit and one of Albania’s major tourist destinations. It is easy to reach for anyone travelling from Italy, with Adria Ferries departures from Ancona and Bari for Durrës, as it is just over one hundred kilometres from the main Albanian port.
VLORË – STUNNING BEACHES
Vlorë has some of Albania’s most beautiful beaches. Almost all the beaches in Vlorë are on highway SH8, which links Vlorë to Sarandë. The first beaches on arriving in Vlorë are located close to the city.
Plazhi i Vjetër: the vast and uncontaminated sands of the old beach of Vlorë, where you can soak up the sun surrounded by the pine grove or snorkel to discover the numerous relics and caves on the seabed.
Plazhi i Ri: the new beach of Vlorë is unquestionably more modern and has numerous bars, restaurants and bathing facilities, for anyone seeking lively social activities.
Uji i Ftothë: Continuing to the south of Vlorë, just outside the town, there is Uji i Ftothë, an enchanting beach stretching for over two kilometres, with a fascinating panorama created by the majestic mountains that almost seem to merge into the crystal clear waters.
Orikum: Another seaside town not to be missed when you visit Albania, and particularly Vlorë, is Orikum. This ancient, small town is full of history, as it was considered a strategic outpost on the sea. In addition to the visitor attractions of the necropolis and the naval base, it is home to one of the country’s most celebrated beaches for the seabed and the turquoise waters, perfect for a family holiday with children.
VLORË – THE BEST HOTELS FOR YOUR STAY
Hotel Liro **** Located in Vlorë, the Hotel Liro offers a private beach with free use of sunbeds and beach umbrellas. It has a bar and a restaurant serving Mediterranean cuisine, with a spacious terrace as the perfect place to enjoy the dishes and free Wi-Fi in all areas. The rooms all have air conditioning, a balcony with sea view, satellite TV, a mini-bar, safe and ensuite bathroom with shower, hair-dryer and complementary toiletries. The Hotel Liro offers various water sports to enjoy on the private beach, such as windsurfing, diving or snorkelling for the more adventurous. Hotel Liro also has free parking. It is located opposite the local bus stop and 150 km from Tirana Airport.
Hotel Palace **** Hotel Palace is located in Vlorë, just 750 metres from the closest beach. The modern rooms have air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. The hotel also has a restaurant and private parking included in the price. Several rooms have an ensuite bathroom with jacuzzi, while others provide bathrobes and slippers. Some rooms have a lounge area for greater comfort and others have a terrace or balcony. Guests are provided with complementary toiletries, a hair-dryer and flat screen TV. Hotel Palace is located 50 km from Dhërmi. It offers a bike rental service and can also organise a shuttle service on request.
VLORË – TYPICAL PLACES TO TRY SOME ALBANIAN CUISINE
Restorant Joni Vlorë A place not to be missed for true seafood lovers. "Restorant Joni Vlorë" serves traditional Mediterranean and Italian cuisine and is also a pizza parlour. Authentic ingredients are the order of the day, not just for the seafood dishes that are the highlight of the menu, but also for the desserts, which are all home-made with the same care and attention as all the other specialities. The dishes are all made to order and although this sometimes means you might have to wait a little bit longer, the delicious and refined dish will always be worth the wait. Healthy food and delicious flavours are guaranteed. The restaurant has a relaxing atmosphere, created through a meticulous attention to every detail to ensure your comfort. The highly qualified staff will take the time to help you choose your dish. Al fresco dining is possible during the summer.
Tragjasi Bar and Restaurant A top-class restaurant serving traditional Albanian cuisine. It is open 24/7 and all the dishes are made with fresh fish, meat and many other ingredients. The garden offers a stunning view of the lake and is ideal for breakfast, dinner or a cocktail served at the outdoor bar. It is the ideal setting to enjoy the world’s freshest seafood, served with expertise by highly qualified staff who can help you choose from the wide range of dishes.
DURRËS – PLACES NOT TO BE MISSED
Durrës is home to one of the largest ports in the Balkans. Adria Ferries calls there and offers tourist packages to Albania with low cost travel from the ports of Trieste, Ancona and Bari. The city is characterised by a combination of fabulous beaches and historical monuments. The first stop after docking in Durrës could be a visit to the Archaeological Museum, built by the archaeologist Vangjel Toçi in 1951, and the Roman Amphitheatre. The amphitheatre is particularly interesting. It was built in the early 2nd century AD and has numerous architectural aspects worth seeing. Experts believe that the entire archaeological site has yet to see the light of day. It was put forward as a potential Unesco World Heritage Site in Albania in 1996. The amphitheatre is located in the city centre and has an elliptical shape, with a diameter of around 140 metres and seating capacity for up to 20,000 spectators. In addition to the history and the architectural curiosities, heading beyond the city centre to the south there is a seafront over six kilometres in length, with stunning beaches where you can enjoy a delightful day by the sea. The promenade adjacent to the beaches has sunbeds and beach umbrellas and numerous kiosks, restaurants and bars.
DURRËS – STUNNING BEACHES
A sandy seabed and fully equipped beaches are close by in Durrës. Various activities are available on the beach, such as beach volley, fishing and bowling, and your comfort is guaranteed by the state-of-the-art structures that delimit the coastline.
Golem and Mali i Robit Heading south, Golem and Mali i Robit beaches lie side by side around 10 km from the centre of Durrës. These are wide, sandy beaches stretching for several kilometres, surrounded by pine groves and numerous historical monuments for tourists looking for cultural activities.
Gjenerali Beach The unusual name derives from the fact that a rich general loved to spend time at this beautiful and clean beach. The beach is 400 metres long and 50 metres wide and the principal attraction that brings so many tourists to its shores is the birth of sea turtles. The beach has bathing facilities and restaurants open throughout the summer season. Although the road to the beach is not among the best, the beach is also equipped to receive campers, who often set up on a small stretch of land by the sea.
Kallmi and Curilla Heading north from Durrës takes you to the two beaches of Kallmi and Curilla. Two creeks bathed with the crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic and a stunning seabed if you fancy snorkelling. Nature reigns supreme here, although there are several bathing facilities on the beaches.
DURRËS – THE BEST HOTELS FOR YOUR STAY
Hotel Villa Brais ***** The perfect location for your stay in Durrës. The hotel is located 200 metres from the Amphitheatre and the rooms have TV, PC and a DVD player. The bathrooms have shower and/or jacuzzi, hair-dryer and complementary toiletries.
Palace Hotel e spa ***** The hotel opened in 2013 and is located on Durrës seafront, facing the splendid beaches. It has thirty-three rooms with a sea view. The delicious breakfast offers seasonal dishes and you can also enjoy evening dinner on terrace, accompanied by piano music.
DURRËS – TYPICAL PLACES TO TRY SOME ALBANIAN CUISINE
Restorant Artur: typical cuisine in Durrës, with a wide range of seafood hors d'oeuvres, first courses and main courses, pizza and excellent wine. This restaurant is located on the seafront and has a spacious dining area and a terrace where you can enjoy your meal in the warmest seasons. Another attraction is unquestionably the Skënderbeu Winery, a historical wine cellar standing on a beautiful hill close to the city.
SHKODËR – PLACES NOT TO BE MISSED
The places to visit in the Land of the Eagle include the stunning Shkodër. If you are wondering what places to visit in Albania to discover the history of its people and have fun at the same time, this city is unquestionably one of them. Shkodër is in the north of the country, close to the Albanian coast, and is one of the oldest cities still existing. Shkodër’s greatest treasure is indisputably the nearby lake of the same name. The atmosphere is also what keeps the tourists coming to one of Albania’s liveliest locations. The sites that should not be missed when you visit Shkodër include: Rozafa Castle at the top of a hill, offering a stunning view of the city, the Ottoman era Mesi Bridge, under which the clear waters of the Kir river flow, the “Marubi” National Photography Museum, one of the largest archives in the Balkans, the Lead Mosque, thus named because its cupola is covered in lead tiles, and St Stephen's Cathedral, one of Shkodër’s major historical buildings.
As already said, the social life in Shkodër is a major attraction for tourists, and, in the afternoon, the city fills with young people and families who have come to enjoy the sunset in the numerous bars along its streets. If you decide to take your holiday in Shkodër, it is also worth visiting the Valbonë and Thethi National Parks and also leaving some time to visit the stunning Komani Lake. Albania ferries to Komani Lake depart from Shkodër every day at 9.00 a.m. and the trip lasts around one and a half hours. You can also embark with your car.
SHKODËR – THE BEST HOTELS FOR YOUR STAY
Hotel Colosseo **** Luxury and a highly professional staff are the keywords at the Hotel Colosseo in Shkodër. The rooms have TV, balcony with view, air conditioning, Wi-Fi and mini-bar. The hotel also has a spa, where you can relax and allow yourself to be pampered by the specialised staff. Like most hotels in Albania, this hotel also has an excellent restaurant, for anyone wishing to take their meals there.
Luani Arte **** An excellent combination of the classic and the modern, ideal for anyone seeking relaxation and pleasure. The hotel has a jacuzzi and a fitness area for all guests. All the rooms have a view of the magnificent countryside around the city. Clean and comfortable.
SHKODËR – TYPICAL PLACES TO TRY SOME ALBANIAN CUISINE
Hotel Tradita Restaurant The restaurant has the typical courtyard, warm and welcoming, with a large brazier where traditional dishes are prepared, then served by the skilled and helpful staff. The price/quality ratio is excellent.
Bar/Restaurant Elita The restaurant serves excellent Mediterranean cuisine. Live music and the quality of the wines will make your dining experience even more pleasurable. The dishes are cooked fresh and the presentation is perfect. Attention to detail is everywhere. Well worth a visit!
VALBONË – PLACES NOT TO BE MISSED
A river running through Valbonë National Park
The tourist itinerary we propose in Albania for anyone wishing to get away from seaside tourism includes the Valbonë National Park, located 200 km from Shkodër, in the district of Tropojë. The park is surrounded by the limestone rock of the Albanian Alps and extends over 80 km2. This is precisely what makes it so popular for anyone seeking an adventure holiday in Albania in an uncontaminated setting like this one.
There are two types of excursion to choose from:
- By car: follow the directions for Bajram Curri along the handy new motorway and head towards Valbonë for 30 km.
- By boat: enjoy an amazing trip on board the small boats that sail up Komani Lake as far as Fierzë. This type of excursion is certainly recommended if you want to enjoy the view.
The ferries depart from Bajram Curri every morning at 9.00 a.m. and travel to the district of Tropojë. The journey lasts around three hours.
Once you arrive at your destination, you can continue by car towards Valbonë, or take one of the many buses available in Tropojë.
The temperatures in Valbonë are always medium to low, as it is in the mountains, although they rise considerably in the summer. Spring and summer vacations are certainly recommended, since rainfall is frequent during the rest of the year.
Besides being the ideal destination for trekking enthusiasts, Valbonë National Park also offers various sports for adventure lovers, such as climbing and rafting. It is also ideal for nature lovers and anyone seeking a more adventurous and low-cost holiday, as it is possible to camp in certain areas of the valley, in full respect for the environment.
Valbonë National Park
VALBONË – THE BEST HOTELS FOR YOUR STAY
Nature reigns in Valbonë, so the hospitality structures are limited, but still as hospitable and welcoming as all hotels in Albania. It is therefore recommended to book well ahead of time.
Hotel Margjeka *** The hotel is close to the trekking paths and has an excellent restaurant offering fresh produce. The hotel is surrounded by the countryside and mountains, and its simple but welcoming rooms have free Wi-Fi and a splendid view of the mountains.
Kol Gjoni Guest house A highly welcoming guest house surrounded by the mountains. It has free Wi-Fi and a restaurant where you can enjoy the delicacies of Albanian cuisine. It also welcomes campers with their own tents in the garden. Only a small number of rooms have an ensuite bathroom, so anyone with particular needs should contact the guest house well ahead of time.
VALBONË – TYPICAL PLACES TO TRY SOME ALBANIAN CUISINE
Rilindja Restaurant The restaurant is located on the road to Thethi and serves fresh and authentic traditional Albanian cuisine. The warmth and hospitality of the staff contribute to making your stay even more enjoyable. The restaurant also has a terrace, where you can admire the beauty of the Albanian Alps.
THETHI – PLACES NOT TO BE MISSED
Thethi National Park
Thethi is a small village lying 70 km from Shkodër, in an area of majestic and uncontaminated natural beauty. Thethi is the perfect destination for trekkers and walkers, as the small village lies amidst the highest mountains of Albania, which reach an altitude up to 2500 metres. The Thethi and Valbonë National Parks lie among the deep canyons with their numerous rivers. It is not an easy place to reach, as the mountain roads are twisting and bumpy, so it is best to organise a visit to the village of Thethi well ahead of time.
The Grunas Waterfall
Various excursions for nature and adventure lovers start in Thethi, to be taken either independently or with a guide. The most popular, and the most difficult, lasts six hours and links Thethi to Valbonë. There are also easier itineraries for non-experts, although they are still fairly demanding, such as the walk to the 30-metre high Grunas waterfall. This is a brief, one-hour walk. Tourists who visit this park are always enchanted and amazed by the beauty of the surroundings, far from the stress of day-to-day life, telephones and the Internet. The concept of time is relative in Thethi.
THETHI – THE BEST HOTELS FOR YOUR STAY
Bujtina Berishta Thethi If you arrive from the Valbonë-Thethi walk, this guest house is perfect, as it is close to the path. It is a jewel nestled among the mountains and offers its guests an all-round and quality service. The guest house is all run by a friendly and hospitable family, from the food to the rooms. Visitors will feel totally at home there and pleasantly surprised.
Kullat and Sadri Lukes Located in an excellent position just 3.5 km from Thethi, the guest house has rooms with a shared bathroom, a play area for children and a restaurant where you can relax and immerse yourself in Albanian culture. The guest house has a 24-hour reception, luggage storage and parking. The price-quality ratio is excellent!
THETHI – TYPICAL PLACES TO TRY SOME ALBANIAN CUISINE
Villa Gjecaj Restaurant An excellent restaurant located in this enchanting valley 10 km from Thethi and an excellent pit-stop for anyone trekking the mountains. It is family-run and offers customers an excellent service and superb hospitality. It serves refined, home-made dishes that are hard to forget.
DIVJAKË – PLACES NOT TO BE MISSED
Continuing south towards Durrës, there is a chance to visit the splendid Divjakë National Park, in Fier County. It is home to the Karavasta Lagoon, the largest in Albania. The park stretches over 5000 hectares and has unique natural features. It is perfect for a day outdoors and a heavenly bonus to add to your seaside holiday in the land of the shqipëtar. The lagoon is separated from the sea by a stretch of sand covered by a pine forest and is linked to the sea via three large canals, two natural and one artificial, to allow fishing, which is the main source of sustenance for the surrounding villages.
Over 45,000 animal species live in the Divjakë Lagoon, which is why it is included in the protected areas of Albania. An absolutely unique feature is the celebrated pelican that lives in the Divjakë Lagoon. There are currently fifty pairs living on the surrounding beaches. If you want to see this protected species up close, it is possible to hire a boat with a local guide and take the chance to see all the unusual features of the area.
DISCOVER ALL THE DISTANCES TO REACH ALBANIA'S MOST BEAUTIFUL CITIES
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ALBANIA: IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR YOUR JOURNEY!
VALID DOCUMENTS FOR FOREIGN TRAVEL
Identify card valid for foreign travel or passport.
Same time zone as Italy.
Albanian is an Indo-European language with many words of Greek, Latin and ancient Slavic origin. Italian is widely spoken among both the old and the young.
CLIMATE AND CLOTHING
Albania has a Mediterranean climate, extremely mild, particularly along the Ionian coast, with cold winters and sub-zero temperatures during the night. Rain showers in late autumn and spring alternate with a large number of sunny days throughout the year. The summer is extremely hot, particularly in the cities, where temperatures reach 40°C in July. Spring and autumn are excellent periods for the tours, but beach lovers can also enjoy a holiday in September and October along the southern coast.
The Albanian currency is the Lek (ALL), which has a fairly stable exchange rate against the Euro (currently 130 Lek to 1 Euro). Local currency can be obtained from cash-point machines and other ATMs. The major credit cards can be used in the cities. Many shops and hotels accept payment in Euro.
Standard 220 V. sockets.
The country code is 00355 to call Albania from Italy. Mobile telephone charges vary according to the provider.
Albania can be reached by land and by sea and has a fairly good and rapidly improving transport network. Private or public minibuses and coaches offer frequent connections between the major cities.
VACCINES AND MEDICINAL PRODUCTSI
No vaccines are necessary to visit Albania. As always, it is a good idea to bring any personal medicinal products with you, as they might not be available locally. It is recommended to drink bottled water.
Tips are always well-received during the tour and should be divided between the driver and the tour guide, at the discretion of the participants.
The country is 70% Sunni Muslim, with 20% Orthodox Christians and 10% Catholics.
Albania was officially an atheist country between 1967 and 1990, but has now entered a new phase in which the number of churches and mosques are multiplying.
Albanian cuisine combines various traditions, similar to Turkish cuisine, with fish and a large quantity of meat, in the form of meat skewers and meatballs (shishquyebap, gofte), various stews, roasts and sour cream and yoghurt based sauces. The local beer is good and the red and white wines are not bad. The traditional local spirits are raki and Greek ouzo.
TAKING YOUR VEHICLE TO ALBANIA
You must take out a mandatory insurance policy when you cross the border into Albania. The cost varies according to vehicle type and the length of your stay.
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