Tell your friends or family that you’re off to Albania, and you’ll likely receive a stock response: “Isn’t it dangerous?”, “Isn’t there a war going on there?”, and “Is that even in Europe?” are some of the most common. Speak instead to those who have been, and the associations with the country’s name become infinitely more positive – you’ll hear of rippling mountains, Ottoman architecture, pristine beaches and endlessly hospitable locals. Following decades of isolationist rule, this rugged land still doesn’t seem to fit into the grand continental jigsaw, with distinctly exotic notes emanating from its language, customs and cuisine. Pay a visit to this beguiling corner of Europe now, before it garners the popularity it deserves.
Stalinist history, fabulous beaches and Ottoman architecture