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Albania Travel & Holiday Tips


Albania, one of Europe's most remote countries, has opened its doors for business and travellers. Although it still looks the part of a poor nation, Albania is moving ahead with the times. There is steady international investment in the major cities, and it is safe for travel to Tirana and to the outskirts (if travelling with an escorted tour).

Albania's greatest asset is its natural beauty. The scenery along the southern coast is breathtaking, as are the jagged mountains in the interior. Although a trip to Albania isn't for everyone, adventurous travellers will find it an exciting and rewarding destination.


Created in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, Tirana has only been the capital of Albania since 1920. The city has examples of early 19th-century architecture such as the Ethem-Bey Mosque (built 1789-1823) and the 35m- (117ft-) high clocktower (1830). The old bazaar quarter was demolished in 1961 to make way for the Palace of Culture, which houses the Opera and Ballet Theatre and the National Library. The city centre and the government buildings on Skanderbeg Square date back to the Italian era, creating the impression of a provincial Italian town, while the Pyramid, which was built as a museum for Enver Hoxha (Albania’s former communist leader), has been turned into an international Cultural Centre.

Today, Tirana is not only the most populous city in Albania, but also the political, economic, cultural and spiritual centre of the country with national museums of archaeology, history and art. The National Historical Museum and the National Art Gallery are highly recommended, along with the Exhibition of Folk Culture. The best view over the city is from the Martyrs’ Cemetery, which contains the Mother Albania Monument.

Other attractions in Tirana include the Fortress of Pertrela, located south of Tirana on the right side of national road linking capital with the city of Elbasan. It was built in the middle age. The castle was under the command of Skanderbeg sister, Mamica Kastrioti. The fortress of Preza, which was built in 15th century has a very nice and strategic position in front of Kruja mountain.

The Coast

The important port of Durres is the second-largest city in Albania with the second-largest concentration of industry. The city was colonised by the Greeks in 627 BC and was named Epidamnos, later becoming Dyrrachium under the Romans. From the Venetian Tower at the harbour, the medieval Town Wall leads to the Amphitheatre dating back to the second century BC and containing an early Christian crypt with a rare wall mosaic. There is also an excellent Archaeological Museum. Between the first and third centuries, Durres was an important port and trading centre on the Via Egnatia trading route between Rome and Byzantium (Istanbul). Following a number of earthquakes, much of ancient Durres sank into the sea or collapsed and was subsequently built over. Today the city is best known for the nearby beach resort of Durres Plazh.

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