xplore the virtually unspoilt mountains of the Albanian Alps. Holiday by Albania's pristine sandy beaches such as Vlora and Dhermi along the beautiful Adriatic and Ionian Sea coastlines. 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, Albania has taken giant steps forward. 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 is a good base for visiting the Albanian Alps on hiking or mountain-biking holidays. At Saranda whitewashed houses line the bay. Close by are the ruins of the ancient city of Butrint.
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. Take some time off in Pogradec, a popular resort on Lake Ohrid or just 45 minutes from Tirana, Durres has good, sandy beaches. Explore the unspoilt Albanian Riviera's dramatic coastal scenery, stretching along the Ionian Sea.