Albania - Summer 2023

Journey to a hidden place

Reha Seslioglu

10/11/20233 min read

xploring Albania: A Memorable Summer Vacation

Introduction: When selecting a summer vacation destination, Albania emerged as a hidden gem on our radar. Intrigued by its unexplored beauty, we embarked on a journey to discover the enchanting allure of this Mediterranean gem.

Why Albania for a Summer Vacation: Our decision to choose Albania was driven by its uncharted allure. The idea sparked while scouting for the perfect summer getaway, and after delving into the country’s highlights, we were amazed by its diverse offerings – pristine beaches, vibrant cities, historic sites, UNESCO landmarks, natural wonders, and delectable cuisine.

Traveling to Albania: Our seamless journey began with a direct flight from Istanbul to Albania through Air Albania. Accessibility from Europe made it a convenient choice.

Itinerary Planning: With a well-organized plan spanning 10 days, we set out to explore Albania to its fullest potential. Our itinerary included:

  • Part 1: Serene Seaside Retreat (5 Days in Sarandë)

  • Part 2: Berat’s Historic Charm (1 Day in Berat)

  • Part 3: Harbor Exploration in Durres (1 Day in Durres)

  • Part 4: Mountain Escapade in Theth (1 Day in Theth)

  • Part 5: Unveiling Tirana (1 Day in Tirana)

Part 1: Serene Seaside Retreat in Sarandë: Our initial days were devoted to relaxation by the sea in Sarandë. Albania’s extensive coastline immediately captivated us. En route to Sarandë, we visited the historic Apollonia site, a sprawling complex that demands at least 2 hours to explore fully.

Sarandë’s Coastal Charm: Sarandë, a beloved summer destination for Albanians, offers a blend of Tavernas, Pizzerias, and local eateries, reflecting its popularity among Italians and Greeks. Opting for a tranquil stay, we chose Andon Lapa hotel, strategically situated in northern Sarandë. This offered a private beach and a serene ambience. Ksamil, just a 15-minute drive away, boasts equally enchanting beaches. The UNESCO-listed Butrint National Park is a must-visit for history enthusiasts, merely a 30-minute drive from Sarandë.

Part 2: Exploring Berat’s Rich Heritage: Transitioning to the next phase of our journey, we spent a night in each city to maximize our exploration. We bid farewell to Sarandë and set course for Gjirokastër before arriving in Berat. Berat, recognized by UNESCO, is famed for its architectural beauty, riverside charm, ancient castle, and the intriguing Onufri Museum.

Berat’s Timeless Beauty: Berat, nestled amid hills and forests, evokes a tranquil charm. Our accommodation at Hotel Onufri, situated in the old town, provided an optimal vantage point. The hotel’s restaurant, featuring delightful Albanian cuisine, left a lasting impression.

Part 3: Discovering Durres’ Coastal Allure: After a fascinating visit to the Onufri Museum, we departed Berat for Durrës. The journey took approximately… Our time in Durrës, a harbor city nearest to the capital, was a delightful interlude.

Durrës: Coastal Tranquility with Urban Flourish: Despite its urban sprawl, Durrës maintains an inviting atmosphere as palm-lined streets lead the way. Our stroll along Bulevardi Dyrrah and Rruga Taulantia offered a taste of the city’s charm. Rruga Currila’s beaches beckon, and while we missed a swim, Durrës offers a promising destination for future vacations.

Part 4: Mountains and Serenity in Theth: Following our Durrës escapade, we embarked on a scenic drive to Theth National Park. This leg of the journey held the most anticipation, and it did not disappoint.

Theth’s Majestic Mountains: The road from Durres to Theth, winding and rural, offers captivating vistas. Two hours of ascending through Albanian Alps unveils breathtaking panoramas. Our retreat at Gurra Family Guesthouse, embraced by the Albanian Alps, was a serene escape.

Part 5: Embracing Tirana’s Energy: Our final destination, Tirana, awaited – a culmination of our Albanian exploration.

Tirana’s Vibrant Conclusion: Tirana, Albania’s capital, embodies vibrant energy. While our stay was brief, Tirana’s dynamism left a lasting impression. A fitting end to our remarkable Albanian adventure.