Albania is a country in Southeastern Europe. The country spans 28,748 square kilometres (11,100 square miles) and had a total population of 3 million people as of 2016. It is a unitary parliamentary constitutional republic with the capital in Tirana, the country’s most populous city and main economic and commercial centre. The country’s other major cities include Durrës, Vlorë, Sarandë, Shkodër, Berat, Korçë, Gjirokastër and Fier.
Albania has natural beauty in such abundance that you might wonder why it took 20 years for the country to take off as a tourist destination since the end of a particularly brutal strain of communism in 1991. So backwards was Albania when it emerged blinking into the bright light of freedom that it needed two decades just to catch up with the rest of Eastern Europe. Now that it has arguably done so, Albania offers a remarkable array of unique attractions, not least due to this very isolation: ancient mountain codes of behaviour, forgotten archaeological sites and villages where time seems to have stood still are all on the menu. With its stunning mountain scenery, a thriving capital in Tirana and beaches to rival any elsewhere in the Mediterranean, Albania has become the sleeper hit of the Balkans. But hurry here, as the word is well and truly out.
Even though there are talks of budget airlines opening routes to Albania this has yet to happen and flights to Tirana are still quite expensive. If flying from the UK, British Airways (at Gatwick) is the only airline with direct flights to Tirana.
There are regular ferry services to and from Italy (Bari and Ancona). Schedules change with the season so check before turning up to the port.
Crossing into Albania by road is usually painless although there can be long waits at the border in the summer months. If arriving from Montenegro you can cross the border via Ulcinj or Podgorica.