Overview

Introduction

Albania is now opening up to tourism and a visit here offers a fascinating insight into a country that was closed to the world for much of the twentieth century.

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 - 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.

Built on top of a Roman port (which surfaces here and there) Saranda is today a large modern town of some 33,000 inhabitants. It is, truth be told, not the prettiest - recent unregulated development has resulted in a plethora of high rise buildings, many unfinished. But before writing Saranda off do take into consideration the many plus points to a stay here.

For some fine beaches not too far from town, go to Ksamili near Butrint. It is a 15- 20 minute drive and there are regular buses. It is a popular spot for locals, has a number of pretty small bays and beaches, and several islets just off-shore which you can be taken to by boat (or even swim, some are so close). Good fresh fish restaurants too.

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 an hour to the small beach resort of Himara, where you can have lunch and a swim.

This is one of the last significant stretches of undeveloped coastline in the Med. 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 you will need to go with an open 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

Sunday flight Gatwick or Manchester to Preveza (Birmingham flights on request). Then 3 hours by taxi (please note, on arrival will be one taxi from the airport to the Greek/Albanian border and another taxi from the border to Saranda. The return will be one taxi all the way Saranda to airport (or Greek resort if twin centre). An entry visa is not required for UK passport holders.

Car Hire

Car hire is available - please enquire

Multi Centre Options

Albania can combine with Lefkas, Meganissi, Parga, Sivota, Hidden Greece Fly Drive, Sailing. Transfer times Saranda to Parga or Sivota c 2 hrs. Lefkas and Meganissi transfers will be via the airport.

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.

Foreign Office advice

We’ve partnered with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel Aware campaign to help provide top tips and advice for planning for your trip abroad. It’s important to do some research before you travel to learn about any necessary visas and vaccinations required for entry to your destination, understand any unusual laws and customs and to be aware of the latest travel advice for the region. Click on the link below for more information on what to prepare for your trip overseas. You can also sign up for email alerts and follow @FCOtravel on Twitter for alerts whilst you are away.

Visit gov.uk/travelaware for more information

Useful information

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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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Berat, 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

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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
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