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Overview

Introduction

For a country that was closed to the world for much of the twentieth century, Albania has opened up to tourism remarkably fast. Albania’s development in terms of resorts and new hotels has been rapid, and its beach resorts are now as sophisticated and busy as anywhere in the Med. Prices too are now close to or on a par with modern day Greece in the resort areas - but if you venture a little off the beaten track you will find an older (and much cheaper) Albania, especially up in the mountain villages: a contrast that offers a fascinating insight into the country that was.

 

Albania is a beautiful and historic land with a most welcoming people. She has one of the oldest flags and tongues in Europe, and preserves traditions and culture unadulterated by the outside world for centuries. Her long coastline is washed by the Ionian and Adriatic sea and hides some wonderful beaches. The mountain scenery is stunning; not for nothing do the Albanians know their land as Shqiperia - Land of the Eagles. Here was ancient Illyria; and here too that great Roman road, the Via Egnatia, began its long march east to Constantinople.

Some scars of the past remain - notably the many infamous concrete bunkers, some of which have been transformed into art installations or bars - but these are insignificant compared to Albania's many treasures and natural beauty. Our cultural tour will show you much of what the south has to offer.

Saranda is the main town in the south and easily reached by regular ferries from Corfu in as little as 30 minutes. Built on top of a Roman port (which surfaces here and there) and crowned by a 16th century castle, Saranda today is a large modern town of some 33,000 inhabitants. Built above a wide bay, the town now extends up to the top of the hills and along the coastline, which is fringed by pebble beaches. There is a wonderful long wide promenade above the beach, planted with palms, flowers and shrubs, and backed by an array of smart restaurants, cafes and bars. .

For some superb beaches not too far from town, head for pretty Ksamili near Butrint. Traffic permitting it is a half hour drive (there are regular buses). It is the new poster child for beach holidays in Albania, having a number of pretty small bays and beaches, and several islets just off-shore which you can be taken to by boat or even pedalo they are so close (strong swimmers could make it too). Some fine seafood restaurants and a wide choice of cafes and bars complete the picture. Ksamil is now very popular and heaving with visitors in high season.

The Albanian Riviera to the north enables a stunningly scenic drive high above the sea, passing close to a number of traditional villages. The road has been improved and it now takes only 80 minutes to the developing beach resort of Himara. Built behind a pair of long wide organised sand/shingle beaches, there is no shortage of restaurants and cafe bars to choose from in this small resort. Other excellent beaches can be found within a 30 minute drive north and south, and the high mountains behind hide a number of traditional villages where life continues much as it always has. Views are spectacular!

Albania is still rough around the edges so do not expect the sophistication and service you are used to receiving in countries that have been hosting north Europeans for years. Although on a fast learning curve, Albania is still one of the poorest countries in Europe, so do bear this in mind. That said, we believe a week here followed by a week at one of our Greece resorts makes for an intriguing and contrasting holiday experience.

 

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Getting There

Flight to Corfu, transfer to Corfu port (15 mins) and hydrofoil or ferry to Saranda (hydrofoil takes 30 mins, ferry takes 60-75 mins). Services are frequent. Onward transfer to hotel (Saranda 5 minutes, Himare c 80 minutes). Alternatively, fly to the mainland Greek Airport of Prevesa and onward transfer by taxi (c. 3 hours to Saranda) - this may require a change of taxi at the border point which we will arrange. An entry visa is not required for UK passport holders. Please note that Albania is on Central European Time which is 1 hour behind Greece.

Car Hire

Car Hire is available locally - our local agent or your hotel will be able to assist

Multi Centre Options

Albania can combine with Corfu and by taxi with the resorts of Lefkas, Meganissi, Parga, Sivota, and Hidden Greece Mainland Fly Drive (from Prevesa Airport). Approximate transfer times from Saranda - ferry to Corfu 30-75 mins., taxi to Parga or Sivota 2 hours, Lefkas 3.5 hours, Meganissi 4 hours including 30 mins ferry (waiting time at Nidri port not included).

Representative

We have a local agent in Saranda who can give any information and assistance required.

General Information

Albania is 1 hour ahead of the UK, so 1 hour behind Greece. Main towns have ATMs and the local currency is the Lek, but there are restrictions on taking Lek out of the country and may be difficult for exchange so we'd recommend taking the bulk of your spending money in the form of low denomination Euros, which are widely accepted, and try not to be left with wads of Lek on the last day. Prices are generally lower than in Greece (we estimate by c 20%).

Recommended Reading: Albania by Gillian Gloyer in the Bradt Travel; Guide series.

Useful information

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020 8568 4499

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Dudley Der Parthog
Dudley Der Parthog
Best time to go
  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC
Time Difference

GMT + 2 hours

Currency

Albania Lek

Language

Albania

Average flight times

3 hours

  • Average temperature

    Average rainfall

Talk to our Albania expert

Dudley Der Parthog
Dudley Der Parthog

Having been at university and unsure as to what to do following some temporary jobs, Dudley joined the family firm as a brochure packer in 1979. In those days distribution was from the office premises and Sunvil was just beginning to grow again, following the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, the company’s major destination, in 1974. He was then made responsible for travel agency sales. In due course he took over the running and brochure writing for the Sunvil Greece programme and the contracting of accommodation. He is now a director of the company and is the most knowledgeable and experienced member of the Greek team. He mixes work in administering the programme with taking reservations and he particularly enjoys tackling complicated and well nigh impossible itineraries.

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We open today at 9:15 AM

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Himare, Albania

Albania

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We promise that a member of our specialist reservation teams will reply personally to your holiday enquiry before 5.30pm if received before 12.00pm (Monday to Friday). Enquiries received after 12.00pm will be replied to within 24-hours (excluding Sundays).

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Spain, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774
  • Marketing: 020 8758 4731

Required Information

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Thank you for your enquiry. A member of our specialist reservation teams will be in touch shortly.

If your enquiry is of an urgent nature, please telephone our dedicated reservation teams on the numbers listed below.

Our lines are open from 9.00am to 5.30pm Monday-Friday and from 9.30am to 4.30pm Saturday.

  • Greece: 020 8758 4758
  • Cyprus: 020 8758 4759
  • Portugal, the Azores, Italy, Sicily and Scandinavia: 020 8758 4722
  • Latin America: 020 8758 4774

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