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This European country is one of the trendiest destinations of the year

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As mass tourism invades Western Europe most popular hotspots, travelers are now heading east to try to escape the crowds. There is a lot of intact European destinations to choose from, but one Eastern country, in particular, has risen to prominence as one of the trendiest destinations of the year: Albania

Aerial view of Dhermi, a Greek-Albanian village on the Albanian Riviera, facing the Adriatic Sea, Mediterranean, Albania, Southeast Europe, Balkan Peninsula

A country that has been largely ignored by tourists over the years, but has now become one of the most promising tourist destinations in Europe:

Why has Albania been ignored by tourists for so long?

Demand for travel to Europe soared between 2023 and 2023, especially after abandoned all entry conditions linked to health and normality fully restored, but while tourism giants like France, Italy or Spain have taken measures to reduce the number of visitors, other lesser known states are eager to welcome more.

Albania is a small nation in southeastern Europe nestled in the Balkan Peninsula, bordering Greece to the south, North Macedonia and Kosovo to the east, and beautiful scenery. Montenegro North. But unlike many of its neighbors, it was only officially introduced to the world 30 years ago.

Pedestrian street in Shkoder, northern Albania, at dusk, Southeast Europe, Balkan Peninsula

Before 1992, the country remained isolated from the rest of Europe due to a repressive communist regime, where most foreigners were prevented from entering and Albanians could not leave on their own. Fortunately, the wind of democracy would eventually blow across the country.

Influenced by the fall of the Iron Curtain, the country became a democratic state and the pre-existing border barriers were finally removed in the 1990s, but the effects of the dictatorship would be felt for years: it was protected from foreign influence. for most of the 20th century, Albania entered the 21st century as one of the most enigmatic countries in Europe. States.

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Modern port of Durres, Albania, Southeast Europe, Balkan Peninsula

Very little information about the country could be found in travel guides, as very few had ever visited it, and promotion efforts were often hampered by internal political crises and by the geographical isolation of Albania as a non-member of the European Union in an increasingly Brussels context. centered continent. That’s not to say he lacked potential.

After several consecutive setbacks, he finally seems to be getting the recognition he deserves.

Albania is no longer a gray area on the European map

Old Mes Bridge in Albania, Southeast Europe, Balkan Peninsula

According to INSTAT, 377,211 foreigners arrived in Albania in January this year, a huge figure. Increase of 94.2% year-on-year. These figures are nothing short of impressive, given that Europe is still in its ‘off-season’ and, generally speaking, arrival figures tend to drop significantly during this period.

In addition, all European countries have lifted border measures and allowed tourism to resume. The fact that Albania has continued to grow at such a rapid rate, despite its fiercest competitors returning to normal, is further evidence that it has maintained the momentum it gained at the start of the pandemic.

Aerial view of Skanderberg Square in Tirana, Albania, Eastern Europe

While most of Europe has been shut down due to COVID, going so far as to ban American tourists for extended periods, Albania remained open without restrictionsa factor which undoubtedly contributed to its sudden popularity.

Last year, 7.5 million tourists vacationed in Albania, an increase of more than 32% compared to 2021, and if the upward trend continues, the country all time record could easily be exceeded by December.

Albanian flag flying on a flagpole in Skanderberg Square, Tirana, Albania, Balkan Peninsula, Southeast Europe

Why is Albania now on everyone’s radar?

Many Americans may not know this, but Albania is, Actually, a summer paradise.

It is located astride the Adriatic Sea, one of the arms of the wider Mediterranean, just like Croatia and Montenegro, but the cost of living here is much lower than in other countries in the region. Here you will find exactly the same turquoise waters, the same white sand or pebble beaches and the same medieval stone towns, without the usual overpriced hotels and tourist traps.

Dhermi beach Albania

Large portions of Albania’s southernmost tip, called the Albanian Riviera, are yet to see any type of developmentmeaning that nature is virtually untouched, untouched beaches and traditional cobblestone-laden villages where generations of families have lived for centuries are sheltered from outside influences.

The Balkan country also has a beautiful countrysideencompassing rolling green hills, vast plains and alpine peaks, medieval citadels and castles that have stood the test of time, despite questionable preservation efforts, and vibrant modern cities.

Picturesque church in the remote village of Theth, Albanian Alps, Albania

Tirana, the original and beautifully chaotic capitalis known for its cafes, its young population (it was recently named European Youth Capital) and its multiculturalism resulting from decades of inter-Balkan migration and a large expat community: Traveling off-road the editors listed him as one of four of the most incredibleand the cheapest destinations for digital nomads this year.

Nomads are also particularly fond of Shkoder, in northern Albania, a smaller and less tumultuous city on the border with Montenegro, Vlore, a resort town on the Adriatic coast, and Gjirokaster, an Ottoman-era gem and UNESCO World Heritage site, famous for its pan-Balkan ethnic cuisine and medieval heritage.

Clock tower in the inner citadel of Gjirokaster Castle, against the backdrop of green mountains, in the old town of Gjirokaster, Albania, Southeast Europe

According to other findings of the World Tourism Organization, Albania has one of the best recovery rates following COVID, arrival figures and tourism revenues far exceeded those of 2019. In other words, it managed to overcome the health crisis and emerged much stronger and much more popular than before.

If you want to discover Albania while tourism is still under control, you better get there quicklyHowever: it’s not really a hidden gem anymore, and it’s only a matter of time before the general public discovers Europe’s best kept secret.

Learn more:

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