“The last mystery of Europe” is the second name of Albania, which for many years remained a closed country for visitors. A lot has changed since the fall of the Iron Curtain: about 3 million people come to the Adriatic coast of Albania every year. However, even such interest cannot yet be considered massive. That is why today we will give you 6 reasons to move to this amazing country.
1. The People
For a long time, Albania has had a place only for Albanians. A foreigner has been something special and was treated as such. But even now, as more and more tourists flow this way and Albanian are getting used to them, the same strict rules of politeness and hospitality still apply.
Hospitality is an old tradition in Albania. Guests must feel comfortable, no matter what. Nobody can discuss uncomfortable subjects with the guests or judge them. Of course, guests always get a meal, which is the best food in the house. In tribal law, the guest is sacred.
2. The Beaches
Albania is located on the coast of two seas. It has several popular resorts, and each one is worth a visit.
Durres is the second capital of the country and the largest city in Albania after Tirana. A little more than a hundred thousand people live here. Durres consists of two parts: the historical centre and the resort, with hotels and beaches. Between them is the seaport, the largest in the country.
The resort area of Durres with hotels and beaches south of the centre and the seaport stretches for 13 kilometres along the seashore. Most of the hotels are not older than 15-20 years.
Most tourists come to relax in Vlora by the sea and sunbathe on the beaches. The central promenade (Rruga Cameria) has been updated recently. Multi-story apartments with huge balconies, planted on the shore of palm trees, a couple of kilometres of sidewalks with paving tiles, and fashionable lanterns. Cafes and restaurants on the ground floors of the buildings, hotel rooms, and apartments above.
If you go further along the embankment to the south, there’s a hilly place with picturesque rocks, and the scenery resembles the coast of Turkey near Antalya. There you’ll din fashionable hotels with outdoor pools, and bathing in which you can simultaneously admire both the mountains and the sea.
Saranda is a chic modern resort, in which the vast majority of buildings are hotels and stylish white-stone apartments with dozens of cafes and restaurants on the ground floors. Over the past 20 years, Saranda’s life has changed dramatically: beach tourists from all over Europe have flocked here. Because there are more than 300 sunny days a year, so you can come here all year round. In the off-season, Saranda has a cool and relaxed atmosphere. The road to Saranda from Vlora along the sea is an attraction in itself the views of the sea are impressive.
In Saranda, the embankment is divided into small sections and the same modest-sized beaches. There is a small and pretty Friendship Park in the centre and the ruins of a 5th-century synagogue next to it. The centre of Saranda is very small, and you can see it in just an hour.
Ksamil and Butrinti
Ksamil is one of the most popular seaside places in the country. Thanks to the most beautiful beaches with snow-white small pebbles and water of a pale blue colour. The feature is four islands with beaches located near the shore. You can walk along the bottom or swim to the nearest two islands. The other two, more remote, are visited by boats and sea catamarans. You can rent and swim yourself or order a taxi.
Now Butrinti is a popular place where not only vacationers from neighbouring Ksamil come, but also tourists from all over the coast. But not so long ago it was impossible to get here at all. The road from Saranda to Butrinti was laid only in 1959. This was done by the personal order of Enver Hoxha, who wanted to show the attraction to Nikita Khrushchev, who arrived in Albania on an official visit.
3. The Mountains
The North Albanian Alps (Bjeshkët e Nemuna) are the highest mountains in Albania. This array is located on the territory of three countries Albania, Montenegro, and Kosovo. The highest peak of the North Albanian Alps Ezerza (2694 meters) is located in the territory of Albania.
You need to come to this mountainous region only in the warm season, unlike the low-lying part of the country, where it is comfortable in winter. It’s not only because of the cold, many roads are closed due to the snow, including those leading to the mountain village of Teti, popular among tourists. Teti, although located at a relatively low altitude (750-950 meters) is surrounded by high mountains from 2000 meters and above.
But in the warmer months, it’s easy to get to Auntie: it’s only 75 kilometres from Shkodra. Even 10-15 years ago it was a real wilderness, and travellers spent the night mostly in tents. But now that place has dozens of hotels in Auntie for different budgets.
The Peaks of the Balkans international tourist route leads from Teti through the mountains. On the territory of Albania, you can take this route for about 50 kilometres through very picturesque mountains, following through the settlements. There are hotels on the route, so you can trek lightly, without a tent and sleeping bag.
You can independently form routes by choosing one of the mountain villages with hotels as a base.
4. The Food
Albanian cuisine is distinguished by an extraordinary variety of dishes, Illyrian, Turkish, Slavic, and Greek traditions are closely intertwined with it.
Italian cuisine had a special influence on Albanian cuisine. In Italy, they say that if you want to eat real Italian food abroad, you have to go to Albania.
The basis of the Albanians’ diet is meat and vegetables. Favourite meat dishes: veal, lamb, or pork, grilled.
Albania is famous for its mussels! Mussels in Albania are grown on special plantations in the sea, the largest plantation is located in the very south of the country near Butrint.
Vegetables and fruits are available in Albania all year round. And of the fruits, you will surely appreciate Albanian figs, grapes, apricots, melons, cherries, persimmons, and citrus fruits. Albania is still the only country where it is prohibited to use chemical fertilizers in agriculture, so you can be sure of the quality of vegetables and fruits.
Albania is washed by two seas and on its territory, there are three largest lakes in the Balkans. Therefore, fresh fish and seafood are also widely used in cooking here. In restaurants on the shore of Lake Shkodar, you will taste the famous Shkodar carp. Lake Oneida is famous for the Koran fish. The Koran is a local variety of trout.
Dairy products are also popular with Albanians. Natural Albanian yoghurt (kos), Albanian cottage cheese (jiz), soft milk cheeses, and milk are present in the daily diet of the inhabitants of Albania.
The “sweet” cuisine of Albania has been strongly influenced by eastern, mainly Turkish cooking.
Albanians’ favourite drink is coffee, especially macchiato and espresso. Coffee is always everywhere throughout the day.
5. The Culture
The tiny country boasts a turbulent history, each of which period has left its traces. Evidence of the Roman era, traces of Turkish rule and the Middle Ages, and other equally colourful objects are scattered in different cities. You can read this chronicle on the example of Tirana – a small, but picturesque capital. Tourists are happy to explore the fortress of Justinian, the Palace of Congress, and the “Pyramid”, each of the objects can be considered a visiting card of its era.
In Saranda there is the ancient city of Butrinti, in Durres, there is the oldest amphitheatre and citadel, founded in the 5th century, the majestic Fatih Mosque, and the remains of the Byzantine Forum. The incredibly atmospheric town Gyrokastra is included in the famous UNESCO list.
Among the attractions, it is worth noting the Valbona Valley Park, the Skrapara canyons, and the Karaburun-Sazan National Park. Each corner has its zest and special atmosphere, so a beach holiday can be organically diluted with an excursion program.
6. The Economic Development
According to INSTAT, at the end of 2021, there were 6,635 enterprises with foreign and joint capital in Albania. This is the highest level in history and 10% more than in the previous year. In total, 600 new enterprises with foreign or joint capital were opened in 2021.
According to the results of a market analysis conducted by experts commissioned by Radio Free Europe (Radio Evropa e Lirë), the cost of housing in Albania today is the lowest in the region. Albania is also recognized as the country with the lowest increase in residential real estate prices. The indicator increased by 4% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022. A square meter in Albanian new buildings costs an average of €1,140.
According to Bankës së Shqipërisë, 32% of homes for sale in Albania were purchased by foreigners in the first half of 2021 (almost 40% of this category of buyers are European residents). Under the new law “On Foreigners”, real estate owners will be able to obtain a residence permit in Albania. To obtain a card, a foreigner would have to own at least half of the area of the property and at least 20 sq.m. per person. The news was published on the website of the Parliament of the Republic at the end of October 2021.
1. Is Albania a good place to live in?
Yes. People are friendly, and real estate prices and daily expenses are low.
2. How much money do you need to live comfortably in Albania?
Not that much. Albania is a very affordable place to live.
3. Can a foreigner buy property in Albania?
Yes. It is easy, and Albania does not have a tax on purchasing for property buyers.
4. Is Albania a good country to retire from?
Albania is an affordable country with a comfortable climate and understandable laws. So, yes.