Travel Blog  

2018 > 08

Albania was a country isolated from the rest of Europe for a very long period during the the Enver Hoxha dictatorship. Now almost 30 years since the revolution the country is up and rising. Tourism is starting to be a big income and the country has even been chosen to one of Lonely Planet's best destinations for 2018.

My family and I always like to visit and experience new and different places so this summer we gave Albania a chance. In the meantime it's always fun to experience a country before everybody else does as well. Actually, we had already plans to visit Albania last year during our long roadtrip in Eastern Europe. We finally found it a bit to hard to squeeze another country into the already intensive planning. 

Now when back home, I guess we were lucky we didn’t squeeze it in since Albania is worth more than just some few days of stress. A two weeks stay gave us plenty of time to experience the capital of Tirana, road tripping within the country and some peaceful days at the beaches of Sarandë and Dürres. 

Here is a top five of places and photo spots which shouldn’t be missed if you are planning a visit to this interesting country.
 

The Pyramid of Tirana

This strange building in Tirana was built back in 1989 and was originally serving as a museum about Enver Hoxha. After the revolution it shortly ceased its function as museum and has since then served as conference center, base for humanitarian organizations and TV broadcasting. Nowadays the building seems to be abandoned and exposed for vandalism. Many locals gathers by the pyramid or even climb to the top just for the view. It’s not the best looking building you have seen but in some kind of way it’s cool and truly worth some shots.
 

The abandoned Pyramid of Tirana

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/320 sec, f/9 @ 73 mm)
 

Dhërmi

When driving north from Sarandë along the coastline you pass several small villages and cities with great beaches. The most famous is probably Dhërmi and no wonder why. The sea is just as blue or should probably say turquoise as you can wish. Sun beds and parasols are nicely aligned along the whole beach with great photo opportunities. At last, the beach walk is very nice and clean as well with many good places to stop for some great food.
 

Sun beds and parasols at Dhërmi beach

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/400 sec, f/7,1 @ 300 mm)
 

Llogara Pass

The mountain rage which divides the southern and northern parts of the country is along the coastline has a spectacular road called the Llogara Pass. The drive includes several hairpin turns and have an elevation difference of 1027 m, at the top you also find the entrance to Llogara National Park. There is several viewpoints along the drive where you can stop and take great photos of the surroundings and the coastline.
 

The steep Llogara Pass drive with several hairpin turns

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/10 @ 24 mm)
 

Gjirokastër

This old town located in the inland Albania on the main road to Sarandë when driving from Tirana is an UNESCO World Heritage and definitely worth a stop. Stroll along the elevated old town with its...houses. To see everything from above, take a walk uphill to Gjirokastër Fortress where you also have great photo opportunity of the old clock tower.
 

Old town of Gjirokastër and the fortress in the background

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/10 @ 24 mm)
 

Sarandë

Sarandë is located in the very south of Albania, close to the Greece border and with the island of Corfu just out of the coast. The area around Sarandë including the famous Ksamil is probably the most tourist developed part of the country. In Sarandë, you will find the resorts and bigger hotels. There is even beaches downtown along the beach walk and most beaches are mainly of rock and the water is therefor crystal clear.  At Ksamil you will instead find smaller family run hotels and sandy beaches. Most of beaches are small and the sun beds are cramped together but still the atmosphere is very nice. 
 

Sunset over Sarandë from the Lëkurësi Castle

(Canon EOS 5D Mark III - ISO 100, 1/100 sec, f/5,6 @ 45 mm)
 

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