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Tourism in Albania

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Title: Tourism in Albania  
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Tourism in Albania

The Albanian Riviera, panoramic view

Tourism in Albania is characterized by archaeological heritage from Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman times, unspoiled beaches, mountainous topography, delicious traditional Albanian cuisine, Cold War era artifacts, unique traditions and hospitality, low prices, and the wild and peculiar atmosphere of the countryside. Lonely Planet ranked Albania as the no. 1 destination to be visited in 2011.[1] The New York Times ranked Albania fourth among 52 destinations to be visited in 2014.[2] Although still underdeveloped, Albania is set to prime its debut on the world scene as it celebrates a century of independence.[3] A Huffington Post article outlined 10 reasons for visiting Albania in 2013.[4] Recently, Albania has been officially dubbed as "Go Your Own Way". Previously, it was dubbed as "A New Mediterranean Love" and "Europe's Last Secret".[5]

World Heritage Site of Berat
Ancient Amphitheater of Butrint
Gjirokaster, the city of stone

The bulk of international tourists going to Albania are mostly ethnic Albanians from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, and Italy.[6] Foreign tourists mostly come from Central and Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. Tourists also come from Western European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, UK, Scandinavia, and others including the United States, Turkey and countries in Asia.[7]

Contrary to general perception, Albania is a very safe country with warm and helping people as reflected in the traditional Albanian expression Buke, Kripe e Zemer (Bread, Salt and Heart). To better enjoy ones's stay and for useful information, first time travelers to Albania are strongly encouraged to consult online/print publications, travel forums and blogs on specific tips and itinerary, or can simply book a tour with a local tour operator. Some travelers include Albania as part of the wider Balkan tour package. Visitors with Blloku, Tirana's entertainment district which transfers along the Albanian Riviera during the peak summer months. The adventurous Albanian railway system has been described by many travel guides as a tourist attraction and a de facto panoramic journey. Car rental agencies, tour operators, and tourist information centers have opened branches in the capital and other towns. Dental tourism has become popular as local dentists offer services with much lower prices. Local delicious cuisine can be tasted at traditional Albanian restaurants located in emerging agrotourism areas, near tourist attractions, and in scenic spots throughout the country.

However, tourism is hampered by local management issues such as poor road and public utilities infrastructure, unregulated waste disposal, illegal construction and hunting, uncertain land ownership, and an unqualified hospitality sector. These are due to Albania's long isolation, but are being dealt with and improvement is being seen constantly. Most main and coastal roads, some mountainous ones, and water supply and treatment facilities have been recently reconstructed mainly through IPA pre-accession funds to the European Union. The private sector and foreign donors are heavily investing in accommodation and renovations at historical sites, seasonal charter flights and cruises are increasing, while others are expressing interest and investing in building tourist resorts and marinas.

Contents

  • General information 1
    • Official holidays 1.1
    • Religious coexistence 1.2
  • Towns and archaeological sites 2
    • UNESCO World Heritage Sites 2.1
  • Natural attractions and emerging agritourism areas 3
    • Northern Albania 3.1
    • Coastal western lowland of Albania 3.2
    • Central Albania 3.3
    • Southern and Southeastern Albania 3.4
  • Climate 4
  • Panoramic routes 5
  • Festivals and national heritage 6
  • Issues affecting tourism 7
  • Cultural and gastronomic albania gallery 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12
    • Official regional travel guides 12.1

General information

Skanderbeg Museum in the Castle of Kruja overlooking the Adriatic
Vibrant capital Tirana
Pedestrian Kol Idromeno Street in Shkoder
Durres beach promenade
Bazaar of Korce
Seaside town of Saranda across from Corfu
Pogradec along Lake Ohrid
  • Flag: Black double-headed eagle on red background
  • International telephone prefix: +355
  • Government: Parliamentary Democracy
  • Population: 2,821,977 inhabitants (according to 2011 Census)
  • Area: 28,748 km²
  • Capital city: Tirana
  • Language: Albanian, Greek & Italian with English as a foreign language
  • Currency: Lekë

Official holidays

Albania has other holidays as well but may not be official state recognised bank holidays as the above. Albanian counties may have local holidays such as Greek National Day in Himara, that are not officially celebrated by the central government.

Religious coexistence

In Albania, there is a peaceful coexistence of those practicing a variety of religious faiths. Muslims, Orthodox, and those following the teachings of the Catholic Church comprise the majority of people adherent to religion. In 1967, religious worship was prohibited and the country became the world's only official atheist state. Since the end of Communism, Albanians have been guaranteed the freedom of religion and have exercised that freedom in various ways.

Towns and archaeological sites

Stemming from a rich history of civilizations, Albania holds a mix of interesting artifacts. Since 2013, town centers in Albania are being redesigned and facades painted to reflect a more Mediterranean look. The most visited towns are:

The most visited archaeological sites are

UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Albania is home to two World Heritage Sites (Berat and Gjirokastër are listed together)


The following is the UNESCO Tentative List of Albania:[8]

The Wild Albanian Alps in Northern Albania
Spectacular Lake Koman Ferry only comparable to the Scandinavian fjords
Curative beach sands of Shengjin in the north

Natural attractions and emerging agritourism areas

Northern Albania

Northern Albania is known for its alpine mountainous landscape, conservative highlands, historic regions, large hydroelectric reservoirs, traditional inns and camping areas, and where the southern most glaciers of Europe are located. Some increasingly popular features include:

Golem beach south of Durres. Nearby coastal retreats include Lalzit Bay to the north, and General's Beach to the south.

Coastal western lowland of Albania

The western lowland of Albania alternates between archaeological sites, castles, long stretches of curative sandy beaches, and lagoon areas perfect for bird-watching. In total, the coastline of Albania stretches over 476 km (296 mi)[9] and is administered by the AKB National Coastal Agency[2]. Some emerging coastal areas include:

  • Curative beaches of coastal Shengjin near Lezhe, and Velipoja close to Ada Bojana near the Montenegrin border
  • Coastal areas of Lalzi Bay north of Durrës near Rodon Cape, Golem Beach south of Durres, and General's Beach near Kavaje
  • Kune-Vain Lagoon near Lezhe, and Karavasta Lagoon near Divjake along the Adriatic Sea
  • Picturesque areas of Fushe-Kuqe and Shenkoll near the Kune-Vain-Tale Lagoon Area
  • Protected coastal area of Pishe-Poro in the Vjosa River Delta near Narta Lagoon featuring bird-watching, sand dunes and medicinal herbs
Olive groves and serpentine on the SH3 at Krraba Pass near Elbasan
Turquoise beaches in Radhima south of Vlora and down along the Albanian Riviera
Blue Eye spring

Central Albania

Central Albania alternates between hilly and mountainous topography, ancient castles and rich culinary traditions of rural Tirana, Elbasan, and Gramsh.

Southern and Southeastern Albania

Southern and Southeastern Albania are mostly mountainous and known for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Orthodox monasteries, Albanian Renaissance figures, and long stretches of shingle and sandy beaches along the Albanian Riviera and Lake Ohrid.

Climate

Vjosa River and Mt. Nemercka along SH75 near Përmet

Albania has a Mediterranean climate with each season offering distinct, yet pleasant weather. Some features of the climate vary by region: The coastal areas have a Central Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The alpine areas have a Central Continental climate with cold, snowy winters and temperate summers. The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7 °C, and summer temperatures average 24 °C. Lowland rainfall ranges from 1,000 mm to more than 1,500 mm annually, with greater rainfall in the north. Nearly 95% of rainfall occurs in the winter and rainfall in the upland mountain ranges is heavier. Despite the rain, Albanians enjoy a great deal of sunshine, second only to Spain in average annual sunny days. The overall climate is pleasant and favors outdoor activity.

Panoramic routes

Adventure tourism sports like off-road touring and rafting in Albania

Due to the varying geographic elevation, Albania features endless panoramic routes with the main being:

  • Vlora-Saranda route in Southwestern Albania along the Albanian Riviera starting from coastal Vlorë into Llogara Pass and along the Ceraunian Mountains
  • Rreshen-Kalimash motorway connecting Albania with Kosovo between mountains along the Fan River Valley in Northern Albania
  • SH78 Jergucat-Delvine along Muzina Pass overlooking the Dropulli Plain in Southern Albania
  • SH75 Korçë-Ersekë-Përmet-Këlcyrë-Tepelenë route along alpine meadows and Vjosa River Valley in Southeastern Albania
  • Tirana-Elbasan-Pogradec route along the Shkumbin River valley and Ohrid Lake in central Albania
  • SH21 Koplik-Theth and SH20 Hani Hotit-Tamare in the Albanian Alps overlooking steep cliffs, challenging mountain peaks, and crystal clear rivers and waterfalls
  • Levan-Tepelene-Gjirokaster route along the Vjosa River characterized by deep blue waters and an alpine setting

Festivals and national heritage

Skanderbeg Grave in Lezha

The Albanian culture is known for its rich folklore and unique traditions showcased in various forms:

  • National Historic Museum in Tirana, Skanderbeg Museum in Kruja, Skanderbeg's Tomb in Lezha, and the many Ethnographic Museums scattered in various cities
  • Gjirokaster National Folklore Festival is held every five years in Gjirokaster (to be held from 10 to 16 May 2015)[10]
  • Lock-in Tower of Theth as an artifact of the bloodfeud tradition.
  • Albanian traditional wedding celebrations mostly take place in the summer time and can be observed at historic sites as well. To this day, some conservative older men and women mainly from the North still wear forms of Albanian traditional clothing in their daily lives. Instead, older women from the South usually wear all black outfits. In the summer months, Albanian women wear predominantly white and colorful Mediterranean-style dresses combined with flowers following latest European fashion trends. Younger men usually wear body tight, very short sleeve T-shirts. Older men wear formal or business attire usually accompanied with a hat.
  • Evening walkabouts are a traditional ritual usually in the summer months as locals promenade along the town squares or seaside promenades to relax after tiring hot summer days. Cafes are usually full mainly with retirees and students, while local parks with families. In addition, Tirana enjoys a very active nightlife where luxury cars and charming people invade the streets and bars of the former politburo residence area known as Blloku. The afternoon siesta is observed as some shops close down for a few hours after midday.
  • There is a strict code of conduct when meeting with Albanians.[11]
  • Throughout the year, many regions organize local exhibitions and festivals of regional crafts and delicacies which can be found in local souvenir and artisan shops.

Issues affecting tourism

Bird-watching in Karavasta Lagoon revived by a moratorium

The main problem to a viable tourism industry is the lack of a clear strategy. By far, tourism is not seen as the main economic industry of the country. Some problematic issues include spatial planning such as illegal construction, unregulated waste disposal, poor road and public utilities infrastructure, illegal logging and hunting, noise pollution, and unclear land ownership. On the economic aspect, there is an unfavorable fiscal policy, expensive sea and air entry points, and lack of state incentives, and limited accommodation capacities. Furthermore, there lacks a clear accommodation classification system and qualified hospitality sector personnel. Finally, there are successful efforts to extend the tourist season from April to October instead of cramming in the traditional peak months of July and August.

Cultural and gastronomic albania gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ 400,000 More Tourists Visited Albania in 2008 "From BalkanTravellers.com http://www.suite101.com/content/lonely-planet-albania---in-from-the-cold-in-2011-a303777" . BalkanTravellers. 
  2. ^ "52 Places to Go in 2014".  
  3. ^ Richardson, Whit (22 October 2012). "The Place: Albania Steps Into the Spotlight".  
  4. ^ Giray, Leyla (27 December 2012). "10 Reasons 2013 Is The Time To Visit Albania".  
  5. ^ "Albanie". Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  6. ^ http://www.mtkrs.gov.al/web/Treguesit_statistikore_te_turizmit_30_1.php
  7. ^ Turizmi ne Shqiperi: Reklama per Evropen Lindore, Shqiperia.com
  8. ^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre. "UNESCO World Heritage Centre - Tentative Lists". Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  9. ^ R. Eftimi. "SOME CONSIDERATIONS ON SEAWATER-FRESHWATER RELATIONSHIP IN ALBANIAN COASTAL AREA" (PDF). ITA Consult. 
  10. ^ "Festivali Folklorik Mbarëkombëtar i Gjirokastrës më 10-16 maj". KOHA.net. Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  11. ^ http://www.balkanology.com/albania/article_albania_for_beginners.html

Further reading

  • Gloyer, Gillian. "Bradt Travel Guides: Albania"
  • Rushby, Kevin (15 August 2015). "The great Eastern European road trip, part two: road trip across Albania". The Guardian. 
  • Jurick, Michael (31 August 2015). "Albania – Europe’s Hidden Jewel". Jurick.net. 
  • Robert, Nate (26 September 2014). "Long Story Short – Albania is The Biggest Secret in European Tourism". Yomadic. Retrieved 26 September 2014. 
  • Webber, Richard (17 June 2014). "Walking Albania: Beautiful country and intriguing cities in this Balkan nation". Daily Express. Retrieved 20 June 2014. 
  • Neville, Tim (13 May 2014). "Post-Communist Paradise in Albania". Outside Magazine. 
  • Andelman, David (19 September 2013). "A cheap vacation in the Riviera? Try Albania". USA Today. Retrieved 20 September 2013. 
  • Middleton, Christopher (8 May 2013). "Europe's last corner: Beaches and beauty in Albania, the hidden bargain of the Balkans". Daily Mail. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  • Reeves, Edward (2 September 2012). "Albania's surprising side". Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September 2012. 
  • Probst, Carol (2 December 2012). "Albania – enjoying Europe without the costs and crowds". International Travel News ITN. Retrieved 8 December 2012. 
  • Knockton, David (8 June 2015). "Seven amazing places to visit in Albania". Saga. 
  • Hoolko, Jessica (15 November 2010). "Eight Reasons to Move Albania to the Top of Your Travel List". Bootsnall.com. 
  • Sieckmeyer, Doris & Jürgen (2009). Friendly Albania / Shqipëria miqësore / Freundliches Albanien [album]. Wien : Christian Brandstätter. p. 224.  
  • "Albania Vacations and Tourism: 128 Things to Do in Albania". TripAdvisor. Retrieved 6 January 2014. 
  • Albanian Tourism on the rise. Albania Properties. 2014.
  • 7, no. 18: 104-112Amfiteatru EconomicGorica, Klodiana. 2005. "Albanian Tourism Management: The Future Path to Sustainable Development,"
  • Gorica, Klodiana. "Issues of European Integration for Tourism: Challenges of Albania as an Emerge Destination". University of Tirana
  • 15, no. 2: 77-89TurizamKruja, Drita and Albana Gjyrezi. 2011. "The Special Interest Tourism: Development and the Small Regions",
  • 1, no. 2: 63-70Regional Science Inquiry JournalKushi, Evis and Enkela Caca. 2010. "Some Problems of the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in Albanian Holiday Hotels",
  • Inter Press Service. Unknown Albania - A Case Study. UNDP Albania: Tirana, 2007

External links

  • Outdoor Albania
  • Visit Albania Official Portal
  • Albanian Mountains Tourism
  • Albinfo Albania Travel Map Database
  • Blue Albania Travel Guide
  • Authentic Albania Accommodation Standard
  • Albanian Tourist: Building a Better Albania
  • Dear Albania—A travel documentary by Albanian-American actress Eliza Dushku

Official regional travel guides

  • Visit Korca
  • Visit Permet
  • Himara Travel Guide
  • Gjirokastra.org
  • Thethi Guide
  • Journey to Valbona
  • Visit Durrës
  • Discovery Kelmend & Shkrel
  • Visit Kukes
  • Go2Pogradec.al
  • Visit Saranda
  • In Velipoja Guide
  • Shengjini Travel & Tourism
  • Visit Vlora
  • Albanian Mountains Tourism
  • Vau Dejes Eno Gastronomic Route
  • Karavasta Guest House Tourism
  • Mirdita Tourism
  • Visit Ksamil
  • Sazani Island
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