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What to do in Albania

Diving in Albania

Professional diving opportunities have been developed only during the last decade.

The rich underwater discoveries in Albanian seas provide a unique opportunity to explore sea life.

Underwater sports centers are located in North of Vlora (Adriatic Sea). Towards the south, from Vlora to Saranda, there are numerous sports centers, where you can practice this growing sport.

During the last years, joint Albanian-American expeditions have discovered old drowned ships in the area. The most suitable places to practice this sport are Karaburun Peninsula, Sazan Island, the area north of Saranda, Vlora. Underwater Diving Bay, Dhërmi, Jali, Lagji Cape, Cape Rodon etc.

In particular, it is Vlora Bay that ‘hides’ many sunken ships of considerable antiquity.

However, the most famous and popular is the Italian hospital ship “PO”, which sank in March 1941 and was shot by a British airplane “Swordfish”.

Another important discovery is in the north of Saranda bay, where a sunken ship was discovered dating back to century III or IV B.C.

Large amphoras are also found there. It is thought that this relic discovered is among the best preserved of the Mediterranean.

Besides sunken objects, it is also interesting to observe green and black algaes, corals, etc.

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What to do in Albania

The mills trail of Albania

Become a part of Albanian’s hidden treasures

Escape the ordinary and visit this beautiful passage

Original article was published at: http://albania.al/activity/tours/the-mills-trail/

We don’t claim ownership over the content, we are sharing just to promote Albanian Tourism. Please visit: http://albania.al/activity/tours/the-mills-trail/

As you are driving down from the Llogara mountain, while you are enjoying the beauty of the nature that accompanies your road, looking down just a little bit from your car window, you spot a small village between hills and ranges that also has a wide outlet to the sea. With its white-painted houses, gracefully composed one over the other on the mountain slope, where high bell towers of churches stand out, the village of Dhermi is recognized for its climate and magical coast as well as for the great number of small churches and their monumental, ethnographic, aesthetic and historical value. Historical data show that this beautiful coastal Albanian village has been populated from the early ages of antiquity, through medieval to modern times. Divided in three neighborhoods (Hondraqi, Gjileka and Dhermi, which together make up the village), Dhermi with its captivating panoramas has inspired painters and writers, who gave life to their works while enjoying the views and small paths that this village has to offer. If you are a little bit like them or if you are just looking for a motivating amble, trekking through the trail of the old mills is a must-do. The name comes from the 7 mills that were found while building the path, so listen carefully and let the mills tell you a story: This is the very footpath that the locals have trodden for centuries. Visitors can take the route along the running stream, rest under the shade of high trees while enjoying the chirps of birds and gaze the trail that connects village houses with the blue sea. As you saunter along the trail, the history accompanies you in every step you take, you can visit two ancient churches, the picturesque waterfall, the tracks of the first hydropower station ever built in Albania’s villages, the old mills, and other attractive sites. Walking across the trail you see an ancient chapel known as Saint Stefanos church. Built in the 12th century, it still remains on its grounds astonishing its visitors. The church of Ipapandia is a gem of history itself. Built in the 15th century, its walls still remain proud and strong welcoming every tourist. The well-preserved interior mural frescoes, are believed to have been painted by Nikolla Joani, a distinguished Albanian medieval painter. This church stands out for its carved and engraved ceiling decorated with floral designs and portraits of saints. A portrait of Alexander the Great of Macedonia is also featured in this church. As you continue walking, while enjoying the breeze and the fresh air, hidden in the treasures of nature you will find the first hydropower ever built in an Albanian village. The staff that built this hydropower in 1952 were paid with the revenues generated from the sale of power to village households. The hydropower was built on financial and material contributions of Dhermi people who immigrated to the United States. Walking across the trail not only is inspirational but also cultural. It’s time to escape the ordinary and visit this beautiful passage.

Please visit: http://albania.al/activity/tours/the-mills-trail/

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Gjirokaster Visit Albania

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra – The city of stone

If you had imagined about a stone town, be sure it exists. It’s called Gjirokastra and it’s in Albania. In this small town in the Balkans, Gjirokastra is a attraction to visit and also, Since 2005, it has been in UNESCO World Heritage site.

The origin of the city starts with the castle of Gjirokastra, built in IV century. The city was named Argyrokastro, in 1336. Then in 1417, the Ottoman army conquered the city. Gjirokastra reached its peak over 1800-1830, when monumental assembly houses were built. The first neighborhoods are those of Bazaar and Hazmurate.

The main characteristic of Gjirokastra is the intensive use of stone in building the houses, which look like small fortresses and the streets of cobblestone, which all lead to Bazaar. You can also visit the Mosque of Bazaar here, built in 1557. Due to all these features, Gjirokastra is also known as the “The Stone City”.

The most important structure of the city is the castle, which is the biggest castle in Albania. Gjirokastra Castle, invites you to the Museum of Weapons,opened in 1971. During your stay in Gjirokastra, you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, located in the house where the former communist dictator Enver Hoxha was born.

Gjirokastra traditional houses

You can also visit the house of Zekati family in Palorto. It is one of the most magnificent and characteristic buildings of Gjirokastra. It is considered as the best surviving example of an ottoman tower house in Gjirokastra.

Other important traditional buildings to visit are Angonati House, Babaramonewly restored house, Skendulaj house or Eqrem Cabej House. One of the famous spots to visit at ‘Sokaku i te Marreve’ that means Mad People Street is also the reconstructed house of the famous Albanian writer Ismail Kadare.

If you like culinary, be sure to visit because the town of Gjirokastra is also known for its culinary art. We can mention special dishes like; pasha qofte, shapkat, oshaf with dried figs (a dessert with sheep`s milk, sugar and dried figs), etc.

In Gjirokastra you can visit interesting sites, part of the cultural heritage as well as natural wonders, like the archaeological park of Antigonea and the ancient theatre of Hadrianapolis.

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What to do in Albania

Birdwatching in Albania

Pack the binoculars and bird watch in the coastal wetlands of Karavasta. Part of the Divjake-Karavasta National Park, the lagoon is the westernmost breeding site of the Dalmatian Pelican. For further birdwatching, visit Kune-Vain, Patok , Tale , Narta lagoon , the nature reserve beside the Drini River, home to spotted eagles, spoonbills and herons and also the Lake of Shkodra.

Source: http://albania.al/activity/adventure/birdwatching/

Euro Birdwatch in Albania

The EuroBirdwatch, which takes place every year in autumn, is the biggest event of the European and Central Asian BirdLife Partners and a very important occasion for the general public and birdwatchers alike to observe bird migration and raise awareness for this special natural phenomenon.

Since its launch in 1993, EuroBirdwatch has steadily become a beloved fixture on the annual BirdLife calendar. Every October, our national partners across Europe and Central Asia host hundreds of local birdwatching events open to all. Experienced birders, inquisitive newcomers, the young and old alike turn out in their droves to observe, identify and count passing birds during the natural event of the season – the great autumn migration where millions of birds make their epic journey southwards to wintering areas in the Mediterranean and in Africa. There really is something for everybody: fun activities designed for children, public bird ringing, ornithological excursions, and photo exhibitions. But the stars of the show are, of course, the birds: from barn swallows, dunlins, sand martins and ringdoves to Cory’s shearwaters, great cormorants and many, many more.

41 partner ogranizations preparing events in 40 countries over Europe and Asia to invite people observe fascinating bird migration.

AOS with Regional Agencies for Protected Areas as well as partner associations, every October are in the field, contributing for the Eurobirdwatch.

Source: https://aos-alb.org/euro-birdwatch-in-albania/

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Shqipëri What to do in Albania

Climbing and Speology in Albania

The highest peak, Mount Korabi, on the border with Macedonia, towers 2,751 m above sea level. The cliffs of Llogara, Nemercka mountain at the south ,but also a vast range of mountains all over the country are perfect for alpinism or climbing.

Other areas suitable for mountain climbing are the Albanian Alps in points such as: Vermosh, Theth, Razëm, Bogë, Valbona, etc. But also Tomori mountain, extending to the districts of Berat and Skrapar at Osum canyons or also Gjipe canyon at the Albanian Riviera.

Throughout Albania, intrepid explorers will also find many vast caves just waiting to be discovered.

Professional and amateur spelunkers alike will find no shortage of underground chambers to conquer. Near Shkodra there are at least 35 significant caves of a total of 68 designated as National Natural Monuments. An easily accessible cave is the Pëllumbas Cave near Tirana; it is Albania’s second largest. A sign-posted trail leads up to this cave, nestled in the beautiful Skorana Canyon on the Erzen River.

Another cave of interest for tourists is Pirrogoshi cave. It is the largest in Albania, located in Skrapar. Other caves are: Kabashi cave (Gramsh) Cave Neziri (Mat), cave of Lek Pete in Kurvelesh, the cave of Treni in Devoll, etc.

Source: http://albania.al/activity/6/speology_and_alpinism/

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Shqipëri What to do in Albania

Cycling and Mountain Biking in Albania

For all cycling lovers, Albania is becoming a very good destination to experience natural beauties and unique panoramic views . That exist many type of tours like the Tour of the Albanian Riviera , Unesco Sites , Albanian Alps or just touring around Tirana or other big cities and exloring the nature around. Albania is included in the project of Balkans trail Transdinarica .Also for the Mountain bike lovers The equipment for these sports should be taken with you, as they cannot be rented. Some of the tours are organized in the Albanian Alps, such as Theth, Bogë, Vermosh etc. Another bicycle tour is one which crosses the shores of Lake Shkodër or Tirana sorroundings.

Source: http://albania.al/activity/5/cycling_and_mountain_biking_/

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Shqipëri Travel

15 things you probably didn’t know about Albania

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/

Today Albania marks 104 years of independence from the Ottoman Empire. We’ve decided to celebrate by recalling 15 things you probably didn’t know about the small country that boasts both an Ionian and Adriatic coastline (you can have that fact for free).

1. What’s Albania?

First and foremost, Albanians do not call home Albania, instead the name for the nation in its mother tongue is Shqipëri.

2. More Albanians live outside the country than within

The Albanian diaspora is vast, stretching from its neighbours such as Greece and Turkey to further afield nations such as the US and Canada – so much so that it is believed that the number of Albanians living outside Albania is greater than the country’s population of nearly 3 million. Hundreds of thousands emigrated following the collapse of the communist regime in 1991 and ensuing economic crisis.

3. You can’t set your clock by Albanian buses

Albanian buses (called furgons) have no timetable, they depart when they are good and ready – or full.

4. It has just one Nobel Prize winner

Mother Teresa, though born in the then-Ottoman Empire and now-capital of Macedonia, Skopje, was Albanian. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 for her work helping the poor in Calcutta, India.
Mother Teresa was Albanian-Indian

5. Smile and nod has different connotations in Albania

Albanians nod when they mean “no” and shake their head when they mean “yes”. Be careful answering questions with your head.

6. It is one of Europe’s most at-risk countrties

According to a 2015 World Risk Report compiled by the UN, Albania is one of the countries in Europe most at-risk from natural disasters. Alone in such a category – with the exception of neighbouring Serbia and Netherlands –Albania is deemed to be at risk from flooding. In 2010, the country was hit by major floods, forcing as many as 7,000 families to be evacuated.

7. It was a communist island

In the sense that no man is an island, Albania was an island. A communist state alone in a sea of communism. Behind the Iron Curtain, Albania was neither part of the Soviet Union – or one of its satellite states – nor Tito-led Yugoslavia, so was in a sense a stand-alone communist state in the second half of the 21st century. The People’s Republic of Albania became in 1976 the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania. The country even fell out with most of the world’s communist powers. Leader (and dictator) Enver Hoxha broke ties with the USSR, withdrew from the Warsaw Pact and ceased relations with the People’s Republic of China. He was also continually hostile to neighbouring Yugoslavia.

8. It is turning a military bunker island into a tourist attraction

Keen to entice more tourists to the country, Albania has set about transforming Sazan Island, a Cold War-era military island, complete with a bunker designed to withstand a nuclear attack, into a must-see attraction. The base is still technically operational, with two sailors remaining on the two-square-mile isle to offer shelter to navies patrolling Albanian waters. Plans are afoot to make the island more hospitable for visitors – however, a proposed Las Vegas-style casino has already been rejected.

9. It has yet more bunker-related facts

So we’ve had bunker mentality and bunker islands, but this is the real bunker cherry on the bunker cake. Albania is littered with bunkers. There are on average 5.7 for every square kilometre and more than 750,000 across the country. Built under the leadership of communist dictator Enver Hoxha, who was fearful of attack by his enemies (just about everyone), the majority of the bunkers were never used and were mostly abandoned after the fall of communism, though a number are today being put to good use as homes, cafes or museums.

9. It knows a traffic light when it sees one

In 1995, drivers in Shkodër in northern Albania refused to pay a 2,000-lek (£13) tax traffic light tax because their city has no traffic lights. “It is absurd,” one driver told Reuters at the time.

10. It had a teflon king

Zog I is not the name of earth’s 2120 extra-terrestrial conqueror but instead the name of Albania’s king from 1928 to 1939. The dictatorial ruler was the subject of some 55 assassination attempts, including one in which Zog laid claim to the record of being the only modern leader to ever return fire at his would-be assassin.
11. Lord Byron was a fan

The eccentric romantic visited Albania in 1809 as part of his grand tour of the Mediterranean. In a letter to his mother, he wrote that Albanians have the most “magnificent” dresses in the world and told of his horse-riding in the country. “Land of Albania. Let me bend mine eyes on thee, thou rugged nurse of savage men,” he wrote in “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage” of the countrymen. You can follow in his footsteps, with Albania on horseback tours.

12. It has loads of flowers

Though small, Albania boasts more than 3,250 species of plants, which accounts for 30 per cent of all flora in Europe. The best places to see the country’s colourful stock is its national parks, of which there are 15: Llogara is best for vibrant flora and fauna, while Butrint, a Unesco World Heritage site, offers archaeological sites that date back to the Romans.

13. …but no medals

Albania has never won a medal at the Olympics. Its most popular events are weightlifting, shooting and wrestling.

14. It was once home to the “cannabis capital of Europe”

Lazarat, a small village in southern Albania, was once considered “the cannabis capital of Europe” and home to a hefty amount of mafia activity, producing some 900 tonnes of marijuana a year. In 2014, 800 police were deployed to the area to crackdown on the flagrant flouting of rules of not growing truck-loads of weed every day – authorities gained control of the village after a five-day shoot-out with heavily armed residents. The US State Department, however, says Albania remains a major source country for the drug.

15. …And one of Europe’s prettiest towns

The Albanian town of Berat, once a frontier town of the Byzantine Empire, boasts a Unesco-prescribed Old Town, and was rated as one of the most beautiful places in Europe, according to, bizarrely, a poll by the Japanese tourist board.

Source: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/destinations/europe/albania/articles/amazing-facts-about-albania/

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Shqipëri Travel What to do in Albania

Camping and Astroturism in Albania

Albania is one of the best countries for real adventures into the nature . The country offer a lot of camping sites from South to the North and from East to the West . They are furnished with all the necessities in very economic prices, with very hospitable staff , and also with food services for the tourist that prefer visit Albania through their own camper vans or rent just a tent. That is not a difficult thing to tent into the nature , national parks or beaches , in some places can be forbidden so we suggest anyway to contact with the info points of the National Agency of Protected Areas or Municipialities that you visit.

At Shebenik Jabllanica National Park (Fushe Studen locality nearby Librazhd town) is offered for the very first time the Astro-Tourism tours when you can also tent and discover a remarkable connection with the cosmos.

Source: http://albania.al/activity/adventure/camping-astrotourism/