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Tourism in Albania

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Tourism in Albania
Brand Image of Albania Tourism.jpg
The official logo of Albania, used to promote the tourist attractions in the country
Website Official Page

Tourism in Albania has been a key element to the economic activity in the country, and is one of the country's most significant sectors. The bulk of international tourists going to Albania are mostly from Europe as well as from Asia and the United States.[1][2] It is characterized by the rich 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, low prices, and the wild and peculiar atmosphere of the countryside.

With a total of 3.8 million visitors, Albania is the 25th (out of 47 countries) most visited country in Europe.[3] Lonely Planet ranked Albania as the number 1 destination to be visited in 2011.[4] The New York Times ranked Albania fourth among 52 destinations to be visited in 2014.[5] Although still underdeveloped, Albania is set to prime its debut on the world scene as it celebrates a century of independence.[6] A Huffington Post article outlined 10 reasons for visiting Albania in 2013.[7] Recently, Albania has been officially dubbed as Go Your Own Way. Previously, it was dubbed as A New Mediterranean Love.[8] According to the Polish Tour Operators Association, Albania is the 10th most visited country by the Poles.[9]

Biodiversity

The lynx still survives in Albania. (left) Golden eagle is the national symbol of Albania.[10] (right)

Although a small country, Albania is distinguished for its rich biological diversity. Over a third of the territory of Albania – about 10,000 square kilometres (3,861 square miles);– is forested and the country is very rich in flora. About 3,000 different species of plants grow in Albania, many of which are used for medicinal purposes. Phytogeographically, Albania belongs to the Boreal Kingdom, the Mediterranean Region and the Illyrian province of the Circumboreal Region. Coastal regions and lowlands have typical Mediterranean macchia vegetation, whereas oak forests and vegetation are found on higher elevations. Vast forests of black pine, beech and fir are found on higher mountains and alpine grasslands grow at elevations above 1800 meters.

Some of the most significant bird species found in the country include the golden eagle – known as the national symbol of Albania[11]  – vulture species, capercaillie and numerous waterfowl. The Albanian forests still maintain significant communities of large mammals such as the brown bear, gray wolf, chamois and wild boar. The north and eastern mountains of the country are home to the last remaining Balkan lynx – a critically endangered population of the Eurasian lynx.

Climate

With its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands backed upon the elevated Balkan landmass, and the entire country lying at a latitude subject to a variety of weather patterns during the winter and summer seasons, Albania has a high number of climatic regions relative to its landmass. The coastal lowlands have typically Mediterranean climate; the highlands have a Mediterranean continental climate. In both the lowlands and the interior, the weather varies markedly from north to south. The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7 °C (45 °F). Summer temperatures average 24 °C (75 °F). In the southern lowlands, temperatures average about 5 °C (9 °F) higher throughout the year. The difference is greater than 5 °C (9 °F) during the summer and somewhat less during the winter.

World Heritage Sites

Although relatively small, Albania is home to a large number of lakes. Three of the largest and oldest lakes in southern Europe located in the country; Shkodra, Ohrid and Prespa.[12]

(Left-to-Right): The ancient Amphitheatre of Durrës, UNESCO World Heritage Site of Gjirokastra, Ruins of Butrint and the Monument of Agonothetes in Apollonia.

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

The following is the UNESCO Tentative List of Albania:[13]

Most of the international tourists going to Albania are mostly from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, and Italy.[14] From Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and the Czech Republic, but also from Western European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Scandinavia, and others.[15]

Regions

Northern Albania

Northern Albania is known for its alpine mountainous landscape, conservative highlands, historic regions, large hydroelectric reservoirs, traditional inns and camping areas, and where the southern most glaciers of Europe are located. Some increasingly popular features include:

Coastal western lowland of Albania

The western lowland of Albania alternates between archaeological sites, castles, long stretches of curative sandy beaches, and lagoon areas perfect for bird-watching. In total, the coastline of Albania stretches over 476 km (296 mi)[16] and is administered by the AKB National Coastal Agency [1]. Some emerging coastal areas include:

Vjosa River left Krujë center-left Church of the Cape of Rodon center-right Durrës right
  • Curative beaches of coastal Shengjin near Lezhe, and Velipoja close to Ada Bojana near the Montenegrin border
  • Coastal areas of Lalzi Bay north of Durrës near Rodon Cape, Golem Beach south of Durres, and General's Beach near Kavaje
  • Kune-Vain Lagoon near Lezhe, and Karavasta Lagoon near Divjake along the Adriatic Sea
  • Picturesque areas of Fushe-Kuqe and Shenkoll near the Kune-Vain-Tale Lagoon Area
  • Protected coastal area of Pishe-Poro in the Vjosa River Delta near Narta Lagoon featuring bird-watching, sand dunes and medicinal herbs
  • Krujë is called by the locals as the Adriatic Balcony from the stunning view that offers day and night

Central Albania

Central Albania alternates between hilly and mountainous topography, ancient castles and rich culinary traditions of rural Tirana, Elbasan, and Gramsh.

Southern and Southeastern Albania

Southern and Southeastern Albania are mostly mountainous and known for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Orthodox monasteries, Albanian Renaissance figures, and long stretches of shingle and sandy beaches along the Albanian Riviera and Lake Ohrid.

Sarandë left Blue Eye Spring center-left Ksamil Islands center-right Dhermi right

National Parks

Remains of the theatre of Butrint.

The Butrint National Park has been included in the list of Top 10 national parks in Europe by The Guardian. Butrint is known for its unique Ancient heritage which includes UNESCO-protected Butrint National Park. It was inhabited since prehistoric times and was a city of the Illyrian tribe of the Chaonians, later a Roman colony and a bishopric. Butrint is some 14 kilometres south of Sarandë and close to the Greek border. A number of major monuments are still extant including the city walls, late-antique baptistery, great basilica, theatre and Venetian castles.

Gjiri Skalomës in the Karaburun Peninsula.

In addition to archaeological remains, the site of the ancient city is situated within natural woodland with a complex ecosystem which depends on the nearby freshwater Lake Butrint and Vivari Channel, which drains the lake into the Ionian Sea. It is this combination of historic monuments and natural environment which makes Butrint such a unique place, a landscape with monuments as beloved of the Grand Tourists of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park is the only national marine park of Albania. It lies southwest of Albania, in the county of Vlorë, whereas the Strait of Otranto separates it from Salento in Italy, by only 72 kilometres (45 mi). The western coast of the Karaburun Peninsula comprises a rough relief, steep cliffs, caves, small bays and rocky beaches, such as Gjiri i Kakomesë, Gjiri i Arushës (Bear's bay), Gjiri i Dafinës (Laurel bay) and 14 km (8.7 mi) southeast of Gjiri i Arushës is located the most interesting Gramata Bay, a small bay where ships and vessels anchored since antiquity.

The Llogara National Park is known from its vibrant flora and fauna with over 100 different types of wild animals and birds including: deer, wild cats, foxes, etc. The mixture of refreshing high altitude mountain air and proximity of the sea makes it very attractive destination for tourists. The area is also important for the growth of eco-tourism, picnic, hiking and air sports. The Divjakë-Karavasta is the largest lagoon in Albania and one of the largest in the Adriatic Sea. It is separated from the Adriatic Sea by a large strip of sand. The lagoon is part of the Divjakë-Karavasta National Park. It was chosen as an area of international importance, protected by the Ramsar Convention of 29 November 1995.

Theth situated in northern Albania.

Dajti National Park is located 26 km east of the capital, Tirana. It's accessible all year round and can be reached on foot or via cable cars. Lurë National Park is home to many rare species of wildlife. The twelve glacial lakes of Lurë that were formed during the Würm glacial period are an identifying attraction. The Prespa Lakes are the highest tectonic lakes in the Balkans, standing at an elevation of 853 m (2,798 ft).

Theth is a national park in the extreme north of the country, designated by government decree in 1966.[17] It covers an area of 2,630 hectares and is located along the Theth River. The main attractions in the park are the Grunas Waterfall and the Lock-in Tower.[17] The Valbonë Valley was designated in 1996, the park covers 8,000 hectares including the Valbona Valley and the Valbona River[18] and lies between high and craggy peaks bordering Theth, Gashi River, Plava and Gucia (Montenegro), all strictly protected natural areas.

The Valbonë Valley in autumn.

Fir of Hotovë-Dangëlli contains the largest area of Bulgarian Fir in the Balkans. Other tree species include maple, black hornbeam, ilex, red and black juniper, raspberry and others. The Shebenik-Jabllanicë 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.[19]

The majority of Shtamë Pass National Park is mostly undeveloped mountain land with forests, in which pine trees, and oak dominate. The park of Fir of Drenova has a particular importance on the trans-boundary exchanges of flora and fauna elements. It represents a key habitat and bio corridor for large vertebrates, such as the bear (Ursus arctos), wolf (Canis lupus), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus); a habitats variety of: natural subalpine and alpine pastures, beech forest (Fagus syvaticus), pine (Pinus sp.), fir (Abies sp.) and hazelnut (Corrilus avellana).

In the classical period, Mount Tomorr was originally known as Mount Amyron who was a central feature in the region of Dassaretis, which was named after its inhabitants the Dexari, a tribe of Epirus belonging to the Chaonian people.[20] Zall-Gjoçaj National Park is a wonderful park 40 km northeast of the town of Burrel. Featuring a variety of springs and ravines, it is resplendent in natural beauty.

Panoramic routes

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 Albania.svg Rreshen-Kalimash motorway connecting Albania with Kosovo between mountains along the Fan River Valley in Northern Albania
  • SH78 Jergucat-Delvine along Muzina Pass overlooking the Dropulli Plain in Southern Albania
  • SH75 Korçë-Ersekë-Përmet
  • Ancient Via Egnatia along modern SH3

Panoramas

See also

References

  1. ^ http://www.mtkrs.gov.al/web/Treguesit_statistikore_te_turizmit_30_1.php
  2. ^ Turizmi ne Shqiperi: Reklama per Evropen Lindore, Shqiperia.com
  3. ^ Mark Hillsdon (27 February 2017). "The European capital you'd never thought to visit (but really should)". telegraph.co.uk. 
  4. ^ 400,000 More Tourists Visited Albania in 2008 "From BalkanTravellers.com http://www.suite101.com/content/lonely-planet-albania---in-from-the-cold-in-2011-a303777" Check |url= value (help). BalkanTravellers.  External link in |title= (help)
  5. ^ "52 Places to Go in 2014". The New York Times. 10 January 2014. 
  6. ^ Richardson, Whit (22 October 2012). "The Place: Albania Steps Into the Spotlight". National Geographic. 
  7. ^ Giray, Leyla (27 December 2012). "10 Reasons 2013 Is The Time To Visit Albania". The Huffington Post. 
  8. ^ Auzias, Dominique; Labourdette, Jean-Paul (2009). Albanie. ISBN 2746925338. Retrieved 16 June 2015. 
  9. ^ http://www.pzot.pl/tempOpen/default/files/000000005MA255R5E1B23K6JBDGH4343_Booking_Report_T17_2016_44.pdf
  10. ^ Streissguth, Thomas (2010). Albania in Pictures. Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 978-0-7613-4629-6. 
  11. ^ Streissguth, Thomas (2010). Albania in Pictures. Twenty-First Century Books. ISBN 978-0-7613-4629-6. 
  12. ^ "Rivers and Lakes | Visit Albania | The Official website of Albanian Tourism". Albania.al. Retrieved 15 August 2014. 
  13. ^ http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/state=al
  14. ^ "Treguesit statistikorë të turizmit". Mtkrs.gov.al. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2014. 
  15. ^ "Turizmi ne Shqiperi: Reklama per Evropen Lindore". Retrieved 13 September 2014. 
  16. ^ R. Eftimi. "SOME CONSIDERATIONS ON SEAWATER-FRESHWATER RELATIONSHIP IN ALBANIAN COASTAL AREA" (PDF). ITA Consult. 
  17. ^ a b Thethi-Guide. "Historia e Parkut Kombetar Theth" (in Albanian). Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  18. ^ Albanian National Agency of Tourism. "Valbona Valley National Park" (in Albanian). Retrieved 28 July 2010. 
  19. ^ "Proclamation of the natural ecosystem of Shebenik – Jabllanica as a "National Park"". Cat Specialist Group. 
  20. ^ Hammond 1994, pp. 422–423; Hammond & Griffith 1972, p. 94.

External links