Explore the virtually unspoilt mountains of the Albanian Alps in the country's north and south. Holiday by Albania's pristine sandy beaches such as Vlora and Dhermi along the beautiful Adriatic and Ionian Sea coastlines. Be impressed by Berat Citadel. Visit villages and towns almost untouched by the passing years and sip a glass of local raki (strong alcoholic aperitif made with plums and grapes) at any bar or restaurant.
Not long ago the most isolated country in Europe, in recent times Albania has taken giant steps forward. Humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize-winner Mother Teresa was born in this beautiful, mountainous Balkan state, where Islam, Catholicism and Eastern Orthodox Christianity coexist. Laze on unspoilt golden, sandy beaches and explore beautiful lakes such as Ohrid and Koman. Culture-lovers will be absorbed by well preserved 'museum cities' like Berat, also known as the 'city of a thousand windows' for the multi-windowed dwellings that seem to tumble down the hillside.
Many Albanian cities are worth visiting in addition to Tirana, the dynamic and fast-changing capital. Hilltop castles watch over the historic cities of Berat and Gjirokastra. Shkodra, in the north-west, is a good base for visiting the Albanian Alps on hiking or mountain-biking holidays. At Saranda, on the south coast, whitewashed houses line the bay. Close by are the ruins of the ancient city of Butrint dating from the sixth century BC.
Both the Albanian Alps in the north of the country and Llogara National Park in the south offer excellent and varied trekking and mountain biking. In between are countless villages where life has hardly changed for centuries. Take some time off in Pogradec, a popular resort on Lake Ohrid, one of Albania's many lakes. Just 45 minutes from Tirana, Durres has good, sandy beaches. Stretching for more than 60 miles along the Ionian Sea, explore the unspoilt Albanian Riviera's beaches and dramatic coastal scenery.