Tourism in Albania

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Berat, the Town of a Thousand and One Windows.
Ancient Amphitheater of Butrint
Gjirokaster, the city of stone
The Wild Albanian Alps in Northern Albania
Kruje Castle
Skanderbeg Grave and the Lezhë Castle
Korçë, the city of Serenades.
Winter in Lake Ohrid near Pogradec
Taivani, the most popular restaurant of the vibrant capital Tirana
Seaside town of Saranda across from Corfu
Blue Eye spring

Tourism in Albania is characterized by archaeological heritage from Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman times, unspoiled beaches, mountainous topography, delicious traditional Albanian cuisine, Cold War era artifacts, unique traditions and hospitality, and the wild and peculiar atmosphere of the countryside. In 2014, the New York Times ranked Albania fourth among 52 destinations to be visited.[1] Although still underdeveloped, Albania is set to prime its debut on the world scene as it celebrates a century of independence.[2] Lonely Planet ranked Albania as the no. 1 destination to be visited in 2011.[3] A Huffington Post article outlined 10 reasons for visiting Albania in 2013.[4] Recently, Albania has been officially dubbed as "Go Your Own Way". Previously, it was dubbed as "A New Mediterranean Love" and "Europe's Last Secret".[5]

The bulk of international tourists going to Albania are from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, and Italy.[6] Foreign tourists mostly come from Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland, and the Czech Republic, but also from Western European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Scandinavia, and others.[7] To better enjoy ones's stay and for useful information, first time travelers to Albania are strongly encouraged to consult online/print publications and travel forums on specific tips and itinerary or can simply book a tour with a local tour operator. Backpackers are common and prefer resting at hostels, camping in the countryside or along the coast. Organized groups visit the numerous archaeological sites and historic towns. A growing trend has become canyon rafting, cycling and mountain biking, hiking, or off-road touring in the countryside. The latter can also be explored through the adventurous Albanian railway system. Recently, car rental agencies, tour operators, and tourist information centers have opened branches in the capital and other towns. Dental tourism has become popular as local dentists offer services with much lower prices. Local delicious cuisine can be tasted at traditional Albanian restaurants located near tourist attractions and scenic spots throughout the country.

However, tourism is hampered by local management issues such as poor road and public utilities infrastructure, unregulated waste disposal, illegal construction and hunting, uncertain land ownership, and an unqualified hospitality sector. Despite such setbacks, most coastal, some mountainous roads, and water supply and treatment facilities are being reconstructed mainly through IPA pre-accession funds to the EU. The private sector and foreign donors are heavily investing in accommodation and renovations at historical sites, while others are expressing interest in building tourist resorts and marinas.

Destinations and General Information[edit]

  • Flag: Black double-headed eagle on red background
  • International telephone prefix: +355
  • Government: Parliamentary Democracy
  • Population: 2,821,977 inhabitants (according to 2011 Census)
  • Area: 28,748 km2
  • Capital city: Tirana
  • Language: Albanian
  • Currency: Lekë

Official Holidays[edit]

  • January 1 & 2 - New Year’s Day
  • March 14 - Summer Day
  • March 22 - Nevrouz day
  • May 1 - Labor Day
  • October 19 - Day of Beautification of Mother Teresa
  • November 28 - Independence Day
  • November 29 - Liberation Day
  • December 8 - National Youth Day
  • December 25 - Christmas Day

Towns and archaeological sites[edit]

Stemming from a rich history of civilisations, Albania holds a mix of interesting artefacts. The most visited towns are:

The most visited archaeological sites are

Natural attractions[edit]

Albania is known for its breathtaking landscape. Some increasingly popular features include:

Village areas[edit]

Albania is a rural and agricultural oriented country. The main emerging agritourism destinations are:

Climate[edit]

Albania has a Mediterranean climate with each season offering distinct, yet pleasant weather. Some features of the climate vary by region: The coastal areas have a Central Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The alpine areas have a Central Continental climate with cold, snowy winters and temperate summers. The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7°C, and summer temperatures average 24°C. Lowland rainfall ranges from 1,000 mm to more than 1,500 mm annually, with greater rainfall in the north. Nearly 95% of rainfall occurs in the winter and rainfall in the upland mountain ranges is heavier. Despite the rain, Albanians enjoy a great deal of sunshine, second only to Spain in average annual sunny days. The overall climate is pleasant and favors outdoor activity.

Panoramic routes[edit]

Scenic Llogara Pass overlooking the Albanian Riviera

Due to the varying geographic elevation, Albania features endless panoramic routes with the main being:

  • SH8-AL.svg Vlora-Saranda route in Southwestern Albania along the Albanian Riviera starting from coastal Vlorë into Llogara Pass and along the Ceraunian Mountains
  • Autostrada A1 Italia.svg Rreshen-Kalimash motorway along the Fan River Valley in Northern Albania
  • SH78 Jergucat-Delvine route overlooking the Dropulli Plain in Southern Albania
  • SH75 Korçë-Ersekë-Gjirokastër-Përmet-Këlcyrë-Tepelenë
  • SH3-AL.svg Elbasan-Pogradec route along the Shkumbin River valley and Ohrid Lake
  • Koplik-Theth and Koplik-Vermosh in the Albanian Alps overlooking steep cliffs, challenging mountain peaks, and crystal clear rivers and waterfalls

Festivals and national heritage[edit]

The Albanian culture is known for its rich folklore and unique traditions showcased in various forms:

  • National Historic Museum in Tirana, Skanderbeg Museum in Kruja, Skanderbeg's Tomb in Lezha, and the many Ethnographic Museums scattered in various cities
  • Gjirokaster National Folklore Festival is held every five years in Gjirokaster (last held in September 2009)
  • Lock-in Tower of Theth as an artifact of the bloodfeud tradition
  • Albanian traditional wedding celebrations mostly take place in the summer time and can be observed at historic sites as well. Moreover, some conservative older men and women mainly from the North still wear traditional clothing in their daily lives. Instead, older women from the South usually wear all black outfits.
  • Evening walkabouts are a traditional ritual usually in the summer months as locals promenade along the town squares or seaside promenades to relax after tiring hot summer days. Cafes are usually full mainly with retirees and students, while local parks with families. In addition, Tirana enjoys a very active nightlife where luxury cars and charming women invade the streets and bars of the former politburo residence area known as Blloku. The afternoon siesta is observed as some shops close down for a few hours after midday.
  • There is a strict code of conduct when meeting with Albanians.[9]
  • Throughout the year, many regions organize local exhibitions and festivals of regional crafts and delicacies.

Religious Coexistence[edit]

In Albania, there is a peaceful coexistence of those practicing a variety of religious faiths. Muslims, Orthodox, and those following the teachings of the Catholic Church comprise the majority of people adherent to religion. In 1967, religious worship was prohibited and the country became the world’s only official atheist state. Since the end of the Communism, Albanians have been guaranteed the freedom of religion and have exercised that freedom in various ways.

National Parcs of Albania[edit]

  • ZALL GJOCAJ

National Park Zall Gjocaj has a surface of about 140 hectares and is situated approximately 40 km northeast of the city of Burrel. It offers a very picturesque view and good possibilities for developing the ecotourism. The presence of numerous sources and system of ravines make it more beautiful. Therefore there is a typical plant kingdom of mountain areas: lack pine and beech. The old woods that are 150-200 years old are very attractive with their giant shape and a view dressed with ivy plants, moss and mushrooms. Among the animals here, we can mention the brown bear, wolf, fox, wild boar and many others.

  • QAF SHTAMA

Qaf Shtama National Park is located 25 km northeast of Kruja. The spectacular views and high peaks of this location are truly breath taking. It comprises an area of 2,000 hectares. The road that leads to the entrance of the park goes through the narrow Vaja Canyon, about 600-700 metres deep, formed by the Droja River that flows at its bottom. The legend goes that after the occupation of Kruja by the Turks, ninety young virgins from the town threw themselves down to the bottom of the canyon in order not to fall into the Turks’ hands. The vegetation in the Qafë Shtama Park consists mainly of pine forests, which make if a place with good climatic conditions believed to help relieve lung conditions. In the Qafë Shtama Park one finds also Burimi i Nënës Mbretëreshë (Queen Mother’s Spring), which flows with crystal clear water noted for its healthful properties, thought to have drinkable water of curative properties. Qafë-Shtama is suitable for nature tourism and such activities as hiking, camping, etc. North of the pass road is the major part of the park, mostly undeveloped land with mountain forests, where pines, beech and oaks dominate. The black pines are one of the most important resources in Albania. The forest retreat for offering brown bears, wolves, foxes and various birds. The highest point to which it rises steeply from the pass to the north, are the Maja e Liqenit (1724 meters) and the secondary peak Maja e i Rjepat Qetkolës (1686 meters). In the north-west and south from the area falls into deep river valleys. In the south it borders the park on the Dajti National Park.

The most important source of water is Kroi i Nenes Mbretëreshë (The source of the Queen Mother), which is known for its clean, clear and healthy water. It brings the legend of the source with the Albanian royal family together, which is supposedly a day of water supply from this source could be after the year 1932 by a testing laboratory in Vienna this as the best water in the country had been awarded. The water is also taken and a beverage bottling brought a little further down at the park entrance. The produced this mineral water is sold under the nationally brand ‘Qafshtama’.

  • LLOGARA

Llogora National Park (Albanian: Parku Kombëtar i Llogarasë/Llogorasë) is a national park in Albania declared since 1966 by the Albanian Government. The park covers an area of 1,010 hectares and protects the forests on the north side of the Llogara Pass between a height from 470 to 2,018 m above sea level. In the park can be found many black pine (Pinus nigra) trees, Bosnian Pines (Pinus heldreichii), Bulgarian fir, (Abies borisii-sign) and ash trees (Fraxinus).

Air currents around the area have caused trees to bend in many interesting shapes, like the Flag’s pine (Pisha e Flamurit). Along the road exist several restaurants, hotels, and a small wooden cabin complex. The area of the park and the surrounding mountains is used mainly for hiking and tracking tours. A paragliding site serving annually as an international competition venue is located south of Llogara. Along the curvy road are also located several local vendors of honey and mountain tea. Ceasar's Pass (Qafa e Cezarit) named after Julius Ceasar who set foot in the area in pursuit of Pompey is also located near Llogara Pass.

  • BREDHI I DRENOVES

The park is situated 10 kilometres from Korça, on the side of the Morava Mountain and has many attractive points including Bozdoveci, Guri i Capit, Cardhaku, etc. The Drenova National Park Forest is known as “Bredhi i Drenoves” (fir trees of Drenova). It is also rich in other beech and black pine trees. The forest slopes are covered with hazelnut trees. The lower part of the park is covered in hazelnut trees. The Park has a rich fauna and includes the famous Bozdoveci Bear, a monument of culture. A very rich fauna life exists and here you can find the famous Bozdovec’s Bear.

It has an area of 1,380 hectares, of which 750 hectares are covered by forests, 240 hectares of pastures, and the rest is rough country land The area is largely frequented by visitors. The numerous natural springs with all-year drinkable water, such as those of Shën Gjergj, Plaka, Pllica, add to the attractiveness of the park.

  • KARABURUN - SAZAN

Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park (Albanian: Parku Kombëtar Detar "Karaburun-Sazan") proclaimed in 2010 is the only national marine park of Albania. The park covers a marine area stretching 1.9 km along the coastlines of Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island near the Bay of Vlora. The marine park is 16 kilometres long with a width varying from 3 to 4.5 kilometres, and covering 12,428 ha of surface in total. Karaburun Peninsula itself is a Managed Nature Reserve while Sazan Island is a military zone in Albania. The marine park features ruins of sunken Greek, Roman and World War II ships, rich underwater fauna, steep cliffs and giant caves, ancient inscriptions of sailors on shore, secluded beaches, and breathtaking views of the coastline.

This marine park is considered the rich variety of underwater landscapes, habitats and species of marine fauna and flora as for accommodation, food and breeding for a number of species of national, regional and global importance. Distinctive features of its biodiversity are underwater meadows of Posidonia. Also, it is suitable for the growth of many plant and animal underwater organisms, starting with marine algae, sponges, molluscs, crustaceans, red coral, reptiles, mammals. Benefit from the creation of marine national park consists, besides the protection of the marine natural environment, biodiversity, underwater landscape, the caves, canyons, etc., but also to promote underwater tourism, including cultural and historical values inside the underwater surface him. Marine national park values are unique and interactive with the values of biodiversity and natural coastal land of the Karaburun peninsula and the island of Sazan, which complement each other and are characteristic of the landscape of this region.

DIVJAKË-KARAVASTA The Karavasta Lagoon (Albanian: Laguna e Karavastasë) is the largest lagoon in Albania and one of the largest in the Mediterranean Sea. The lagoon is situated in the west of Albania and the largest town found near the lagoon is Lushnjë. The lagoon is cut of from the Adriatic Sea by a long sandy bar. The Karavasta lagoon has many pine trees and small sandy islands. The lagoon is famous for the rare Dalmatian Pelican which nests there: In fact 5% of the world's population of this type of pelican is found in this lagoon.

The Karavasta Lagoon is within the List of Ramsar wetlands of international importance and part of the Divjake-Karavasta National Park. The Divjaka-Karavasta National Park is the largest non-coastal complex in Albania with an area of 22,230.2 hectares, made of four lagoons with a total of approximately 5,000 hectares, of sand dunes and a river delta. It is situated in the central part of Western Region, between Shkumbini River in the north and Seman River in the south, 40 km west of Lushnja, by the Adriatic coast. Divjakë-Karavasta National Park is listed as Ramsar site since 1994. There is a Mediterranian Pine Forest near the Karavasta lagoon, and it contains one of the most interesting faunas of the country. Divjakë-Karavasta area provides the special conditions for accommodation of a number of plant communities and animal species, among which many of them are at risk of extinction in the world such as Pelican (Pelicanus crispus Bruch).

The lagoons provide living conditions and breeding sites above the 5% of the world population of this bird. The islands in the lagoon are one of the most important features of the area for the conservation of birds. Although in the past, the Dalmatian pelicans have nested in other parts of the lagoon, they now only nest on these islands, owning to disturbance elsewhere. In addition, many of the other important breeding birds of the lagoon nest on the island because they are safe from predators and human disturbance. These include Collared pratincole (Glareola pratincola) and Little tern (Sterna albifrons).

  • DAJTI

Mount Dajti National Park (also Dajti/Dajt Mount/Mountain National Park) (Albanian:Parku Kombëtar i Malit të Dajtit or Parku Kombëtar i Dajtit) is situated 26 km east of the capital and 50 km east of Tirana International Airport Mother Teresa. The park has a surface area of 3,300 hectares, is highly frequented by day and considered the 'Natural Balcony of Tirana'. Dajti Mountain together with Priska Mountain (1353m) to the south and Brari Mountain to the North consists of the national park which has an exact coverage area of 29,216.9 hectares. The 3,300 acres (13 km2) protection area was expanded on 21 June 2006 by many more times with the core zone now being 9,000 acres (36 km2). In addition to the forests and beautiful mountain landscapes with many wild flowers, numerous mammals are protected as well. In the park there exist wild boar, eurasian wolf, red fox, European hare, brown bears and wildcats. In the lower part of the mountains the vegetation is scrub determined with much heath, myrtle and fragaria. Oak dominates at around the 1,000 metres altitude zone following with beech forests with some conifers. Perched on the top there is almost no vegetation. Brari Mountain to the north is also part of the protected area located near Brar village and containg the panoramic Brari Canyon, Brari Ottoman Bridge and a cave. One of Tirana's main water sources, Bovilla Lake is located to the northeast of Brar village.

Dajti Mountain can be reached through a narrow asphalted mountain road onto an area known as Fusha e Dajtit. This was the location of a summer camp but now is the site of many restaurants and radio/TV transmitters. From this small area there is an excellent view of Tirana and its plain. This is the reason this place has been named as the Balcony of Tirana. From June 2005, hikers and visitors of the mountain can use an Austrian built gondola lift from the eastern outskirts of Tirana to Fusha e Dajtit (Plain of Dajti) at 1050 meters altitude. Lately, traces of prehistoric settlements and fortifications from later periods have been discovered in the area.

  • LURA

Lura National Park (Parku Kombëtar i Lurës in Albanian) is situated on the eastern slopes of Lura Mountain. It was established in the year 1966 by a decision of the Council of Ministers of Albania. The national park covers an area of around 1280h. The town of Peshkopi is about 25 kilometres east of the National Park while villages such as Fushë-Lurë and Sina e Epërme are even closer to the National Park. The National Park is home to many rare animals such as those mentioned above. But once again the real attractions are its 12 lakes which attract many visitors year round. With a surface of 1.280 hectares it is situated in the eastern side of the mountain massive of "Kunora e Lures". Its 12 icy lakes offer picturesque and attractive environments at an altitude of 1.350-1.720 m. Among the many lakes the one that stand out are the Big Lake 32 hectares, Lake of Pines 13 hectares, Black Lake 8 hectares and Lake of Flowers 4 hectares. However, after the fall of Communism, the area suffered from massive deforestation from illegal logging, and forest fires that have severely affected ecosystems around the many glacial lakes. The four principal lakes are: Great Lake (Alb.: Liqeni i Madh) Black Lake (Alb.: Liqeni i Zi) Lake of Flowers (Alb.: Liqeni i Luleve) Cow's Lake (Alb.: Liqeni i Lopeve)

In the southern part of the park there is a meadow called Field of Mares which offers a relaxing view, since its vegetation is miscellaneous with multi-color flowers and full of coniferous trees. This park offers various possibilities for developing eco-tourism, winter sports, equitation, horse riding etc. The glacial complex of Lura lakes are one of the most beautiful pearls of Albanian nature. The glacial lakes of Lura have a general surface of 100 ha. They are located in the northeastern part of the country in the district of Dibra. In winter these lakes freeze, taking the view of natural skiing lanes. The lake of Flowers is really astonishing with the big white water lilies in summer, leaving the impression of a big garden created by the hand of a mastermind.

  • THETHI

On the date of 11.21.1966 (Nr.96), the Albanian government proclaimed the area of Theth, with a surface of 2630 ha: from which 1680 ha are forest along the sea-line and the other part is gas-plot and grust. It is now declared a “National Park” and is administered by the Directorate of Forestry Service, district of Shkodra.

The “National Park of Theth” lies into the center of the Albanians Alps, between the block “Bjeshket te Nëmuna” on the west, and the block of Jezerca on the east. Thethi is a tourist – alpinist region and it is the most important one north of the country. It is only 70 km away from the city of Shkodra. It is a part of the commune Shalë within the region of Dukagjin. The park is surrounded from all four angles with pitons (rocky) of the two blocks above, which ascend down towards the valley and create an amazing view. Some of the most astonishing parts of this national park are the following: The peak ofRadoines (2570m), Arapit (2217m), Paplukës (2569m), Alisë (2471m) etc. Hanging 750–800 meters below within the valley stretches the pictorial village of Theth.

The “National park of Theth” is 172 km north of the capital of Tirana: 148 km of which is asphalt and the last 24 km is un-asphalted. The valley of Theth is frequently visited from all local and foreign tourists. Right into the heart of the northern Alps, between the historic rocky mountains, amazingly green panoramas and the numerous crystal fountains, this valley lies 900 meters above the sea level.

The park lies in the valley that the river of Theth created. The mountains are very steep slopes and accidence with around 16°-35° however, in some parts 45°-60° or even 90°. The form of the valley resembles that of a deep hole surrounded by mountains. That is stimulated by the glacier activity throughout the years. The river of Shala has formed terraces on each side which are made of gritty soil.

  • VALBONA VALLEY

With an area of 8,000 hectares Valbona Valley National Park is the gem of Albanian Alps - Accursed Mountains. Valbona is the name of the river which flows throug the Valbona Valley and the village bearing the same name located in the Tropoja District of Northern Albania. The district of Valbona Valley, bordering Kosovo to the northeast and Montenegro to the northwest, in combination with the adjacent Theth district to the west, encompasses a region called the Malësi in Albanian, which translates roughly as "The Highlands". It is located 25-30 km to the north west of Bajram Curri town in Northern Albania and is adjacent to the Theth National Park. Valbona Valley lies between the rugged and remote and breathtaking mountain peaks and makes a festival of colors and contrasts. Its biodiversity makes it very important as a tourist attraction.

Valbona village is the focal point of the Valbona National Park. Its configuration, hydrology, forests, flowers, characteristic dwellings and the hospitality of its people make this park an ideal place to visit and invigorate. Rocky and steeply high peaks, such as Jezerce, Iron, Kollata (Podi of Kollatës), and Pecmarrës attract trackers and alpinists. Agricultural and livestock products or the Valbona Valley National Park and area are completely natural, and entirely organic. Food is generally fresh and homemade, but it is also sometimes processed and canned by the inhabitants of the tiny and remote villages. Stunning nature, clean air, high and characteristic mountain peaks, lakes, numerous water resources, forests, mountains, flora and fauna of Valbona Valley National Park provide conditions for true eco-tourism experiences.

  • MALI I TOMORRIT

Mount Tomorr is a large mountain in southern Albania. Its highest peak, called Çuka e Partizanit, reaches a height of 2,416 m and reaches upward to a height of 1,200m. It is located east of the towns of Berat and Poliçan and the river Osum not far from the Canyon of Osum river.

Tomorr is of great importance to the local people where a Bektashi religious temple can be found, and offering them many facilities such as skiing. For its importance and beauty the Albanian Government declared Tomorr a National Park. Tomorr Mountain National Park (Albanian: Parku Kombëtar i Malit të Tomorrit) covers an area of 4,000 hectares. Many endangered species are free to roam and live there.

Just east of Berat lies this scenic mountainous gem. Resembling a natural castle framed by lofty peaks, it is snow-covered in the winter, and holds tremendous religious significance for the Abaz Aliu tribe which lives nearby. The Bektashi tribe also calls this area home, and organizes a large religious festival every August.

Albanian folklore tells how Tomorr came to be. The people believed that Tomorr was a giant that wanted to fight another giant named Shpirag for a young woman. The two giants killed each other and when hearing the young woman cried and drowned in her own tears thus creating the river of Osum.

  • BREDHI I HOTOVES

Bredhi i Hotoves-Dangelli is located in the south-east of the country a few miles from the town of Permet. With an extension of 34,361.1 hectares and a wonderful mass consisting mostly of Macedonian Fir, this national park is one of the touristic pearls of the country, which offers some pleasant surprises in every season, as in winter, where it is covered by snow while in the summer where you can taste its freshness. For several years it has turned into a place that is frequently visited by tourists. It is located in the area of Frasheri, about 35 kilometers from the town of Permeti, northeast of it.

Impressive view of the park is displayed by entering the Lumica valley up near to the top of the Kokojka Mountain. Bredhi i Hotoves-Dangelli is considered as one of the most important Mediterranean relic’s plant in the country and is one of the largest parks in the Balkans with Macedonian Fir.

Except the Fir in this park there are some other species; maple, black hornbeam, oaks, and red and black juniper, raspberry, etc. At the height of 800-1000 meters meet the plain meadows surrounded by secular large size of the trees. This park forms a giant green crown with apparent contrasts that cause to be very attractive for the visitors. The park is rich in fauna too; brown bear, wolf, fox, wild boar, wild rabbit, squirrel, etc.. But the pride of the park and its representative is typical of deer, which you can see in meadows and pastures in the depths forest. The animal world is very attractive for its variety of species ranging from the brown bear, wolf, fox, marten, hind and wild pig etc.

Due to beautiful and picturesque nature, healthy climate, pure air and nearness to the urban areas, this Park gains tourists, recuperative and sportive values at every season of the year. The sorts of tourism to carry out are echo-tourism, champing, excursions etc.

  • SHEBENIK JABLLANICA

Shebenik – Jabllanice National Park is a protected national park located in the northeastern part of the Librazhd District, Elbasan County in central Albania. The park covers an area of 33,927.7 hectares and shares a border with the Republic of Macedonia. Elevations in the park vary from 300m to over 2,200m at the Peak of Shebenik Mountain, which, along with Jablanica give name to the park. The park is one of Albania’s newest, created in 2008.

Within the park region dwell a number of different species that are fast becoming rare in Albania, including the brown bear, gray wolf and the endangered Balkan Lynx. Further, the park is home to a number of endemic and rare plants. The nearest towns to the park are Librazhd and Prrenjas. Two rivers flow and multiple smaller water sources flow through the park's area including the Qarrishte River and Bushtrice River, both of which are 22 km long.

The area is home to at least 14 glacial lakes, the highest of which are around 1900 meters. Flora; The park contains beech, fir, pines, and oak species as well as species such as Purple Willow, Maple, Silver birch, and European silver fir in the northern slopes of the Park area. There are a number of rare and endemic plant species such as Albanian rock rose (endemic species),greenwed (subendemic species), Albanian pansy (subendemic species), Dukagjini pansy (subendemic species) and Rock grevillea (subendemic species) Fauna; The park area is thought to contain one of the primary remaining ranges of the Balkan Lynx subspecies of the Eurasian lynx. On 21 April 2011, the PPNEA (Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania) research team got the first photo of an alive Balkan lynx living within the boundaries of the national park. It is also a natural range for the brown bear, gray wolf, chamois, wild boar, European otter and brown trout. Avian populations include the Golden Eagle, Western Capercaillie, and Hazel Grouse.

Recreation; There are numerous hiking trails throughout the park of varying difficulty with markings of varying quality.

  • BUTRINTI

The archaeological site of Butrint is located within the Butrint National Park. The importance of Butrint to Albania’s cultural heritage was first recognized in 1948 when it became a “site of historical importance.” Butrint, ancient Buthrotum, a port from Hellenistic to Ottoman times, since 1992 is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in south-west Albania, a status that identifies cultural and natural sites of outstanding universal value. Situated on the Straits of Corfu, and surrounded by a picturesque lagoon, it is one of the most remarkable archaeological sites in the Adriatic Sea region. Following twelve years of archaeological excavations and major investment in site management, the site and its museum make it an exceptionally attractive place to visit. A short ferry or hydrofoil trip from Corfu will bring you to the Albanian port of Saranda, from where you can reach Butrint, 20 km to south, by either bus or taxi. The National Park was established in 2000 affording Butrint full protection within Albanian Law. The original 2,600 hectares of the park boundaries were in 2005 expanded to 8,591.2 hectares.

  • PRESPA

It has a surface of about 27,750 hectares and is situated at the cross border of Albania, Greece and Macedonia. It consists of both lakes Big Prespa and Small Prespa as well their reservoirs of water. This area is very rich in cultural values. Worth mentioning is the eremitic churches of Byzantine Age and the cave of Treni, located in the lake of Small Prespa. Here are discovered settlements of the early age of bronze, where the castle of Trajan is among the largest prehistoric place of this district, build up in the 8th century BC and the church of Saint Mary built up in the island of Maligrad in 14th century. This region is considered of significant echo-tourism potential. The Lake of Big Prespa and the Lake of Small Prespa are part of the Balkan Park of Prespa, by an agreement signed by the respective Prime Ministers. There is potential for development of echo-tourism, recreation, sportive fishing, gathering and trading of medicinal plants, familiar tourism, bird watching, blue tourism, aquatic sports etc.

The water level to 849 meters above sea level. It is up to 54 meters deep and is therefore related to Greece only to the three lakes, which have a water depth of more than 50 m. The Great Prespa lies largely in the Republic of Macedonia (~ 190 sq. km) and Albania, the smallest part in the south part of the territory of Greece.

Just south lies the Small Prespa, which is separated from the large Lake Prespa by a narrow land bridge and the water surface is four meters higher than that of the Great Prespa. The Small Prespa drains into the Great Lake Prespa. The main part of the lake is located in the Greek, the extreme west on Albanian territory.

The Prespa is surrounded by high mountains. Its banks are fragmented and there are several small islands. The lake is fed primarily by underground streams and some tributaries. The drain is deeper underground to Lake Ohrid. The lake is very rich in fish and habitat for many rare animal and plant species. He is particularly significant as breeding and wintering habitats for rare bird species, such as the white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus ) and the Dalmatian Pelican ( P. crispus).

The Prespaseen wetlands are particularly sensitive in terms of the Ramsar Convention. The Great Lake Prespa is the center of the Prespa National Park, which was founded by the three littoral states jointly and one of the largest European’s nature reserves. Due to low rainfall and increased abstraction of water for agriculture and household

UNESCO World Heritage Sites[edit]

Albania is home to two World Heritage Sites (Berat and Gjirokastër are listed together)

Issues affecting tourism[edit]

The main problem to a viable tourism industry is the lack of a clear strategy. By far, tourism is not seen as the main economic industry of the country. Some problematic issues include spatial planning such as illegal construction, unregulated waste disposal, poor road and public utilities infrastructure, illegal logging and hunting, noise pollution, and unclear land ownership. On the education aspect, there lacks a clear accommodation classification system and qualified hospitality sector personnel.

Panoramic view of Tirana from Mount Dajt.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Official Regional Travel Guides[edit]