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Thread: Lonely Planet Names Albania, Kosovo among ‘Best Destinations’

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    Lonely Planet Names Albania, Kosovo among ‘Best Destinations’



    http://www.balkaninsight.com/en/arti...ist-05-22-2018

    From the link:

    "One of the most popular travel guides, Lonely Planet, has included Albania and Kosovo on its list of the ten best holiday destinations in Europe for 2018.

    Lonely Planet’s list of ten “essential destinations in Europe this year” includes Kosovo and Albania’s capital Tirana must-see place on the continent.
    Lonely Planet’s website says says that Kosovo, which is included alongside Emilia-Romagna in Italy, Cantabria in Spain and Friesland in the Netherlands, “somehow stayed below the radar of most travellers”."

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    Tirana is a special place to visit thanks to all the brightly painted apartment buildings. Not many people in Western Europe know about them.












    Albania, like other places in the Balkans (notably Montenegro and Croatia) is blessed with some breathtakingly beautiful mountains. I think that a lot of tourists are avoiding Albania because they are afraid of the Mafia. That's a shame because the country has a lot of potential. Even if the Mafia doesn't target tourists, it's the image of the mob or the risk of being caught in between gang fights that scares people away.










    Last edited by Maciamo; 23-05-18 at 19:34.
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    Yes. I also think some tourists are generally more afraid to travel to places that they and their friends have no experience with.
    Some are as you say also afraid of some of the stereotypes(mafia etc.) that are so often mentioned about albanians in Tv-series and such.
    But i think that is an obstacle that can be easily overcome. Just look at Italy, they are packed with mobs, yet they still have tons of tourists and rarely any problems.

    Although it is slowly starting to turn. Tourism in Albania (but not so much kosova) has skyrocketed since 2010.
    Actually two days ago, for the first time in my life, i saw a huge billboard here in Denmark with the picture of an albanian beach saying something like "Visit fantastic Albania".
    So it actually seems people have started to invest more, and more people are getting up their eyes for albania.

    If anyone you are going this year i would propose the ancient city of Butrint. The athmosphere is to great there, and there are so few tourists if you come at the right time. Sometimes its almost like stepping into ancient times when you walk around in butrint.

    Also the Blue eye is recommendable too. Its a natural spring in which some chemical processes that has happened over thousands of years have made then bottom blue, so it looks great. And it tastes great too, imo the best water i have ever had in my mouth. Pure water pouring up directly from the bedrock.

    Butrint:





    Blue eye:





    Look on the last picture, you can actually see the water bubbles reaching the surface from the spring below.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ernekar View Post
    Yes. I also think some tourists are generally more afraid to travel to places that they and their friends have no experience with.
    Some are as you say also afraid of some of the stereotypes(mafia etc.) that are so often mentioned about albanians in Tv-series and such.
    But i think that is an obstacle that can be easily overcome. Just look at Italy, they are packed with mobs, yet they still have tons of tourists and rarely any problems.
    It's not about not having any experience with the place. Most of the people I know travel to countries where they haven't been before, but would still be reluctant to travel to countries or regions with bad reputations, and that includes Albania, but also the South of Italy, both because of the Mafia.

    Actually I don't have to rely on hearsay and personal impressions. Here are the statistics for the number of foreign tourists by region in Italy. The gap between North and South is colossal. Lombardy gets 22 million visitors, Veneto 13 million, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (not the most interesting region) 11 million, Lazio 11 million, Tuscany 9 million, Liguria 8 million, but the most visited region in the South is Campania (in my opinion possibly the most beautiful region of all Italy) with only 3 million foreign visitors. Calabria, Basilicata and Molise all together get 466,000 visitors per year, three times less than than tiny Aosta Valley!!

    If Italian regions were visited for the actual beauty and number of tourist attractions, or even for their climate, Campania and Sicily would be the most visited regions alongside Tuscany and Lazio and well ahead of Friuli or Piedmont. But that's not the case because a majority of Europeans are afraid to go to Southern Italy. It's the sheet beauty of the Bay of Naples or places like Palermo, Taormina, Siracusa or Ragusa, or the unique attraction of Pompeii that motivates some people to overcome their fears and travel there. But the statistics speak for themselves.

    As Albania does not have famous places like Pompeii or Siracusa most ordinary people prefer to play it safe and go somewhere else instead. In Albania's case, there is also the poor infrastructure (bad roads, especially compared to nearby Croatia) and subpar quality of medical services by European standards. If Albanians worked on this they could really turn their country in a major tourist destination and make far more money than by growing cannabis.

    What Lonely Planet is trying to do is reassure less adventurous travellers that it's ok to visit places like Albania and Kosovo. It's laudable, but I am not sure it will be enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It's not about not having any experience with the place. Most of the people I know travel to countries where they haven't been before, but would still be reluctant to travel to countries or regions with bad reputations, and that includes Albania, but also the South of Italy, both because of the Mafia.

    Actually I don't have to rely on hearsay and personal impressions. Here are the statistics for the number of foreign tourists by region in Italy. The gap between North and South is colossal. Lombardy gets 22 million visitors, Veneto 13 million, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (not the most interesting region) 11 million, Lazio 11 million, Tuscany 9 million, Liguria 8 million, but the most visited region in the South is Campania (in my opinion possibly the most beautiful region of all Italy) with only 3 million foreign visitors. Calabria, Basilicata and Molise all together get 466,000 visitors per year, three times less than than tiny Aosta Valley!!

    If Italian regions were visited for the actual beauty and number of tourist attractions, or even for their climate, Campania and Sicily would be the most visited regions alongside Tuscany and Lazio and well ahead of Friuli or Piedmont. But that's not the case because a majority of Europeans are afraid to go to Southern Italy. It's the sheet beauty of the Bay of Naples or places like Palermo, Taormina, Siracusa or Ragusa, or the unique attraction of Pompeii that motivates some people to overcome their fears and travel there. But the statistics speak for themselves.

    As Albania does not have famous places like Pompeii or Siracusa most ordinary people prefer to play it safe and go somewhere else instead. In Albania's case, there is also the poor infrastructure (bad roads, especially compared to nearby Croatia) and subpar quality of medical services by European standards. If Albanians worked on this they could really turn their country in a major tourist destination and make far more money than by growing cannabis.

    What Lonely Planet is trying to do is reassure less adventurous travellers that it's ok to visit places like Albania and Kosovo. It's laudable, but I am not sure it will be enough.

    Albania does have places like Pompei. Its called Apollonia, a place near city of Fier. In that city in antiquity there was the best military school of the time where Julio Cesar graduated. Also there was one of the best schools of art. The cite is partially excavated. They still excavate partially finished sculptures.
    Albania and Kosovo are safe. None of these countries is on top of murders per capita. Both countries rank below average for the size they have. Tirana the biggest Albanian city has the lowest murders in Europe compared with the cities of the same size in Europe.
    Albania has in place a brand new road system. In 4 years to come the road system will be complete and government has plans to upgrade them aesthetically.
    The largest tourist group preferring Albania are Polish. This year their numbers according to statistic Institute of Albania doubled. The government will open a direct flight from Warsaw to Albania. If Albania was not safe do you think they will be coming? Polish once they come write to their friends in Facebook, that's why they coming. Poles also know where Italy is, But they know that at the end ov vacation you need t file for bankruptcy.
    Turisticlly speaking Albania is better than Italy. Financially one will be ripped off in Italy. One women from New York City that I know lost the appetite of travelling altogether after visiting Italy. The bill was so hefty so she said will no longer wishes of going back.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    It's not about not having any experience with the place. Most of the people I know travel to countries where they haven't been before, but would still be reluctant to travel to countries or regions with bad reputations, and that includes Albania, but also the South of Italy, both because of the Mafia.

    Actually I don't have to rely on hearsay and personal impressions. Here are the statistics for the number of foreign tourists by region in Italy. The gap between North and South is colossal. Lombardy gets 22 million visitors, Veneto 13 million, Friuli-Venezia Giulia (not the most interesting region) 11 million, Lazio 11 million, Tuscany 9 million, Liguria 8 million, but the most visited region in the South is Campania (in my opinion possibly the most beautiful region of all Italy) with only 3 million foreign visitors. Calabria, Basilicata and Molise all together get 466,000 visitors per year, three times less than than tiny Aosta Valley!!

    If Italian regions were visited for the actual beauty and number of tourist attractions, or even for their climate, Campania and Sicily would be the most visited regions alongside Tuscany and Lazio and well ahead of Friuli or Piedmont. But that's not the case because a majority of Europeans are afraid to go to Southern Italy. It's the sheet beauty of the Bay of Naples or places like Palermo, Taormina, Siracusa or Ragusa, or the unique attraction of Pompeii that motivates some people to overcome their fears and travel there. But the statistics speak for themselves.

    As Albania does not have famous places like Pompeii or Siracusa most ordinary people prefer to play it safe and go somewhere else instead. In Albania's case, there is also the poor infrastructure (bad roads, especially compared to nearby Croatia) and subpar quality of medical services by European standards. If Albanians worked on this they could really turn their country in a major tourist destination and make far more money than by growing cannabis.

    What Lonely Planet is trying to do is reassure less adventurous travellers that it's ok to visit places like Albania and Kosovo. It's laudable, but I am not sure it will be enough.
    Its much more complex than you suggest.
    The mafia is not the only reason why people do not visit southern italy as much. Many factors play in.
    Some of which are that the germanic and french speaking people comprise a great part of those tourists, and it is easier to go northern and central italy by car, instead of going all the way down south by driving for days or having to catch a plane.
    Another factor is that northern italy is much much richer and therefore they have the means to brand themselves properly, so people actually hear about them. So if people have experience or knows someone has experience, or even just sees billboards frequently enough with a specific country, imo it will have a great impact on the number of tourists.

    You can see it clearly in the numbers of tourists to albania too. Its not like the mafia has dissappeared, but the number of tourists is rising dramatically. The main reason for this is not the disappearance of the mob, but that only now the investors have started to throw money at us, which we in turn use to brand ourselves to the world.

    Another factor as to why we are only now starting to get a rise in tourists, is that until the late 90's albania was a closed country where no one was allowed to enter.
    So nostalgia also plays a part in the sense that there is a greater chance that people today will take their kids on vacation to greece or france, because they have good experiences from when they were kids themselves and their parents took them to those places.
    No adults today have memories of going to albania when they were kids, simply because it was a closed communist country back when those people were kids. So we are basically starting from scratch in that regard.

    You are right about our infrastructure, it is kind of crap some places, compared to other european countries. But they are constantly improving it. And im sure that in a couple of years the case will be a whole different matter.

    Just to put into perspective:
    When i had to go to Durres in albania from Kosova back in 2007, it took us 12 hours, where we had to ride for hours on mountain roads (sometimes without asphaltation, and it was literally up in the skies), until we reached a river, where we had to jump on a boat for several hours, jump off the boat, and then drive again for hours on pulverized mountain roads.

    Then a couple of years later i had to do the same trip. Only this time they had dynamited their way all the way though and made a highway, this time it only took 1.5 hours from Kosova to Durres in albania.

    In other words, in 2011 it took only 10% of the time that it took in 2007. A baffling 11 hours less.

    Changes like this make a huge difference for tourists.

    Dont misunderstand me, i am not denying that the mob can be a factor too when it comes to tourism, although a very small factor. And i think that branding is much much more important. And that the mafia-image of the country is just a remnant of back when we were not branding ourselves, but were branded through foreign tv-series and documentaries. A great example is the Top Gear episode in albania, where basically all they talk about during the whole episode is the mafia. Which i don't find fair, because most people, and especially not tourists will never see a mob member down there. And even if they did they wouldn't notice, because basically all people down there are nice to tourists.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ernekar View Post
    Its much more complex than you suggest.
    The mafia is not the only reason why people do not visit southern italy as much. Many factors play in.
    Some of which are that the germanic and french speaking people comprise a great part of those tourists, and it is easier to go northern and central italy by car, instead of going all the way down south by driving for days or having to catch a plane.
    I disagree. French, German, Swiss and Austrian tourists only represent about 30% of all tourists to Italy, and I doubt that most French people come by car as France is very big and it requires them to cross the Alps. South Germans may come by car, but it would be much easier to all other Germans to come by plane too. Ryanair has so many cheap flights everywhere across the Italian peninsula that fewer and fewer people are going there by car. It's easier to fly and, if you need it, rent a car there.

    I am certain that proximity is not the reason why North Italy receives more tourists as Southern Spain, and particularly the Canaries, have far more tourists than Northern Spain. In fact the Canaries have more tourists per capita than almost anywhere else in the EU, even though it is 4 to 5 hours by plane from Northwest Europe and most of the tourists there are Northwest Europeans.

    Look at the stats for tourism in Italy. There are as many American, British and Chinese tourists (11 millions) as German ones and none of them come by car.

    Another factor is that northern italy is much much richer and therefore they have the means to brand themselves properly, so people actually hear about them. So if people have experience or knows someone has experience, or even just sees billboards frequently enough with a specific country, imo it will have a great impact on the number of tourists.
    One of the reasons that Northern Italy is richer is that it is less corrupted and attracts more tourists, not the other way round. 80% of foreign tourists (40 out of 50 millions) go to Northern Italy or Lazio. That's a lot of money. Tourism makes up 13% of the GDP in Italy, but if 80% of it goes to the northern half, so it's more like 20% in the North and 5% in the South (mostly Campania, Sicily and Sardinia).

    Advertising by regions plays a very minor role in the decision-making process of tourists. I don't remember seeing any ad or commercial for a specific Italian region. It's travel websites and guide books that tell people where to go. Another important factor is the availability of cheap flights to specific destinations.

    For this, Ryanair, EasyJet and other companies have revolutionised the way Europeans travel within Europe. Many people now look at what cheap destinations is available to them from their nearest airport. If you live in London you can fly wherever you want on a budget, but if you live near a minor airport with only 5 routes and one of them is Vilnius in Lithuania or Shannon in Ireland, you may want to give it a try, even if it isn't as attractive as Vienna, Rome, Venice or Istanbul. But I know people who chose their city breaks based on cheap flight routes available to them. And bad luck for Albania Ryanair doesn't fly there! In fact, as far as I know, there isn't any discount airline flying to Albania or Kosovo. The only other country like that in Europe is Moldova.

    If discount airlines started operating flights to Tirana and major guide books made more to recommend Albania and Kosovo, it would considerably increase the number of tourists. But these countries also need to work on their infrastructure, especially roads, hotels, tourist-friendly restaurants, and reassure tourists with extra security and maybe official shuttle buses from the airport to main hotel districts.

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    Albania is getting more and more tourists especially the riviera in the south in July and August. A lot of scandinavians are buying property in Saranda; Italians have their caffes and gelato shops, Serbs, Montengrins have their restaurants selling their food. As per tourists there are Italians, Poles, Czech, French, Dutch, Macedonians, and of course Kosovars. I go to Albania every second week and it is safer then in many european countries that I have been. Tirana is a vibrant place with absolutely stunning caffes&bars&clubs, fine dining restaurants, bio food, lovely and beautiful people. Vibrant music scene, art exhibitions and plays. It is a reall gem. After starting to go to Albania I never crave to go to Europe. Albania is honest and not arrogant as some touristic places in italy, austria or france can be.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DuPidh View Post
    Albania does have places like Pompei. Its called Apollonia, a place near city of Fier. In that city in antiquity there was the best military school of the time where Julio Cesar graduated. Also there was one of the best schools of art. The cite is partially excavated. They still excavate partially finished sculptures.
    That's not like Pompeii. These are Roman ruins like everywhere else in Europe (Split, Zadar, Arles, Nîmes, Taragona, Merida just to name a few outside Italy). Pompeii is unique for it's degree of preservation by lava.

    Albania and Kosovo are safe. None of these countries is on top of murders per capita. Both countries rank below average for the size they have. Tirana the biggest Albanian city has the lowest murders in Europe compared with the cities of the same size in Europe.
    I am not the one you need to convince. I know the statistics. Murder rates don't vary that much across Europe. It's more a matter of image, which I think is due in great part by the activities of the Albanian mafia in other European countries and give a terrible press to the country and its people, even if most people have nothing to do with it. For many Europeans the only organised crime they ever encounter or hear of in the news or from people in the street are the Albanian, South Italian or Russian mafia, and that's a potent psychological reason why these places have much less tourists and suffer economically because of it. You could say that these mafia is indirectly bleeding their home countries because of the bad reputation that not only scares away tourists but also businesses. I have heard business people say that they don't want to have anything to do with Albania because of its association with the mafia. It may be unfair or short-sighted, but that's the way people are.


    Albania has in place a brand new road system. In 4 years to come the road system will be complete and government has plans to upgrade them aesthetically.
    Good to know. Looking forward to it.

    Turisticlly speaking Albania is better than Italy. Financially one will be ripped off in Italy. One women from New York City that I know lost the appetite of travelling altogether after visiting Italy. The bill was so hefty so she said will no longer wishes of going back.
    Yeah, well, I have been many times to Italy and was never ripped off once. The worst experiences of people trying (but rarely succeeding) to rip me off on a daily (or hourly) basis were in places like Egypt or India. In Europe the worst I have had was in Spain (Madrid, Segovia and Sevilla - never elsewhere).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    I disagree. French, German, Swiss and Austrian tourists only represent about 30% of all tourists to Italy, and I doubt that most French people come by car as France is very big and it requires them to cross the Alps. South Germans may come by car, but it would be much easier to all other Germans to come by plane too. Ryanair has so many cheap flights everywhere across the Italian peninsula that fewer and fewer people are going there by car. It's easier to fly and, if you need it, rent a car there.

    I am certain that proximity is not the reason why North Italy receives more tourists as Southern Spain, and particularly the Canaries, have far more tourists than Northern Spain. In fact the Canaries have more tourists per capita than almost anywhere else in the EU, even though it is 4 to 5 hours by plane from Northwest Europe and most of the tourists there are Northwest Europeans.

    Look at the stats for tourism in Italy. There are as many American, British and Chinese tourists (11 millions) as German ones and none of them come by car.



    One of the reasons that Northern Italy is richer is that it is less corrupted and attracts more tourists, not the other way round. 80% of foreign tourists (40 out of 50 millions) go to Northern Italy or Lazio. That's a lot of money. Tourism makes up 13% of the GDP in Italy, but if 80% of it goes to the northern half, so it's more like 20% in the North and 5% in the South (mostly Campania, Sicily and Sardinia).

    Advertising by regions plays a very minor role in the decision-making process of tourists. I don't remember seeing any ad or commercial for a specific Italian region. It's travel websites and guide books that tell people where to go. Another important factor is the availability of cheap flights to specific destinations.

    For this, Ryanair, EasyJet and other companies have revolutionised the way Europeans travel within Europe. Many people now look at what cheap destinations is available to them from their nearest airport. If you live in London you can fly wherever you want on a budget, but if you live near a minor airport with only 5 routes and one of them is Vilnius in Lithuania or Shannon in Ireland, you may want to give it a try, even if it isn't as attractive as Vienna, Rome, Venice or Istanbul. But I know people who chose their city breaks based on cheap flight routes available to them. And bad luck for Albania Ryanair doesn't fly there! In fact, as far as I know, there isn't any discount airline flying to Albania or Kosovo. The only other country like that in Europe is Moldova.

    If discount airlines started operating flights to Tirana and major guide books made more to recommend Albania and Kosovo, it would considerably increase the number of tourists. But these countries also need to work on their infrastructure, especially roads, hotels, tourist-friendly restaurants, and reassure tourists with extra security and maybe official shuttle buses from the airport to main hotel districts.
    30% of the tourists can not be labeled as 'only'.
    To have a third of your tourists coming from such a limited area in the world(western europe) is a lot in my opinion.

    But anyways well just have to disagree on some points. I don't have the motivation to argue on this one, because in the end it comes down to how we perceive it differently. I believe that the northern italians attract more tourists because they brand themselves better due to having more money. Not the other way around. And yes then it becomes like a circlular effect, where the tourists bring even more money, and then northern italians can brand themselves even more. So we are basically just arguing over which came first, the hen or the egg. I believe that when the whole culture of tourisms really started to take place, northern Italy was richer, and therefore had a headstart. And what we see today is basically just a continuation of that.


    And it is not exactly true that the cheap flight companies don't fly to Albania and Kosova. Easyjet, Wizzair, Norvegian and FlyGermania all fly to Albania and Kosova. And they are all discount companies. I think Ryanair is the only one which doesn't, but they fly to Skopje instead, which is something like a 1 hour drive from Prishtina.

    I agree with the point that the guidebooks are crucial too for promoting Albania and Kosova to tourists. But it seems they are starting to do that now. When Lonely Planet places both Albania and Kosova on the Top 10 places in Europe, then its a pretty clear sign that it has started. Soon other guides will open their eyes too and start recommending these places.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBS View Post
    Albania is getting more and more tourists especially the riviera in the south in July and August. A lot of scandinavians are buying property in Saranda; Italians have their caffes and gelato shops, Serbs, Montengrins have their restaurants selling their food. As per tourists there are Italians, Poles, Czech, French, Dutch, Macedonians, and of course Kosovars. I go to Albania every second week and it is safer then in many european countries that I have been. Tirana is a vibrant place with absolutely stunning caffes&bars&clubs, fine dining restaurants, bio food, lovely and beautiful people. Vibrant music scene, art exhibitions and plays. It is a reall gem. After starting to go to Albania I never crave to go to Europe. Albania is honest and not arrogant as some touristic places in italy, austria or france can be.
    It is true that tourism is increasing well in Albania, but if you look behind the number, over 80% of tourists are from neighbouring countries (42% from Kosovo, 17% from Macedonia, 12% from Greece and 10% form Montenegro) and the rest is mostly from Serbia and Italy. A lot remains to be done to attract more distant tourists.

    Apart from adding cheap flight routes to main European cities, it would be good if the government advertised better the country's qualities. One of the biggest attraction in Albania are its 14 national parks. Yet when I try to checked their websites, here is what I found.

    Valbona Valley National Park => "Oops, something went wrong." No info at all.

    Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park => site inaccessible

    Butrint National Park => site inaccessible

    Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park => no webiste

    Llogara National Park => no website

    Tomorr National Park => no website

    Fir of Hotovë-Dangelli National Park => no website

    And so on. You get the idea.

    The Albanian Tourism website is only in English. Why not add 5 to 10 more languages? Even I translated some of my own articles in several languages (+ articles kindly translated by other people). If they want more tourists they have to work for it and not just expect French, German and Spanish people to be satisfied by a website in English.

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    This British newspaper explains why Albania remains unheard of as a tourist destination for British tourists.

    To say that Albania is almost unheard of as a package destination is to overlook the many Albanian tourists who are well aware of their home state's suitability for a week on the sand. There are plenty of rooms, and plenty of paying customers, in the hotel zones of Durrës (the second city, in the north of the country) and Saranda (the key tourism hotspot, in the south, close to the Greek border). It is just that, as yet, there are very few Britons among them. The cat remains in the bag.

    Why would this be? Well, there are several reasons, but the biggest, perhaps, is one of access. In an era when budget flights zip across Europe with the regularity of London buses, Albania has remained immune to the affections of the major low-cost carriers.
    Again, there are reasons for this - the chief one being that, at time of writing, Albania has only one fully functioning international airport. This is Tirana Nënë Tereza (named, somewhat remarkably, after Mother Teresa, who was born in what is now Macedonia to parents of Albanian and Indian ethnicity in 1910).

    It lies 11 miles north-west of the capital (Tirana) - but, until recently, has been as much a hindrance as a help to anyone wishing to visit the country. Heavily modernised between the turn of the millennium and 2005, it was also - from 2001 to 2016 - the beneficiary of a government-sanctioned monopoly which made it the only Albanian airport permitted to receive flights from overseas. This left it at odds with the policy pursued by no-frills airlines like Ryanair and easyJet to touch down at secondary rather than main air hubs (and pay lower landing fees as a result). Indeed, as it stands, there is no secondary international airport in Albania. If you want to travel in from Britain at the moment, your only option is the scheduled British Airways service from Gatwick (to Tirana).

    Things, though, are changing. The lifting of the airport monopoly last year has sent a couple of small balls rolling. Kukës Shaikh Zayed Airport (so-called because it has fledgling funding from Abu Dhabi) has been given the nod to begin welcoming international flights - although, while Ryanair and Hungarian budget carrier Wizz Air have expressed an interest in using Kukës, no airlines have yet announced plans to fly there.
    Not that the airport will ever be a funnel-point for fly-and-flop tourism. Kukës is located in the north-east of the country, almost 100 miles from Durrës and its beaches - making it an unfeasible component in cheap bucket-and-spade deals. The same, however, cannot be said for Saranda, where talk of a new international airport has been afoot since 2016. This would need to be constructed from scratch (probably - a small airstrip already exists, but it is not fit for international purpose), and would not open until the middle of the next decade at the earliest. But it would be a considerable boost to tourism in the region. At the moment, if you wish to visit Saranda from the UK, the most "direct" way is to fly to Corfu (with, for example, easyJet), and take a short ferry ride east. Unsurprisingly, very few British tourists can be bothered to make the effort.

    So will this be a spark for British bargain-seekers making a dash for the Albanian Riviera? Well, maybe. But maybe not yet. One of the other issues with seaside breaks in Albania is that the standard of accommodation in the tourism heartlands is, while not quite the phalanx of creaking concrete communist boltholes that popular opinion might imagine, barely more than adequate. There are no luxury retreats in Durrës, no boutique spa hideaways - merely mid-range medium- and high-rise blocks that, though perfectly comfortable and clearly of muster for the domestic market, may not quite meet the expectations of British travellers who could just as easily go to Greece.
    The fact that there is only one airport, which is far away from the beaches, that there is no discount airlines present, and that the quality of hotels is not good enough for North and West Europeans tourists explain why most of the tourists come from neighbouring countries (+ a bit from Poland). That's why I said that there was still a lot of work to do on the infrastructure, as well as the country's promotion through well-designed, multilingual websites.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo View Post
    That's not like Pompeii. These are Roman ruins like everywhere else in Europe (Split, Zadar, Arles, Nîmes, Taragona, Merida just to name a few outside Italy). Pompeii is unique for it's degree of preservation by lava


    I am not the one you need to convince. I know the statistics. Murder rates don't vary that much across Europe. It's more a matter of image, which I think is due in great part by the activities of the Albanian mafia in other European countries and give a terrible press to the country and its people, even if most people have nothing to do with it. For many Europeans the only organised crime they ever encounter or hear of in the news or from people in the street are the Albanian, South Italian or Russian mafia, and that's a potent psychological reason why these places have much less tourists and suffer economically because of it. You could say that these mafia is indirectly bleeding their home countries because of the bad reputation that not only scares away tourists but also businesses. I have heard business people say that they don't want to have anything to do with Albania because of its association with the mafia. It may be unfair or short-sighted, but that's the way people are.




    Good to know. Looking forward to it.



    Yeah, well, I have been many times to Italy and was never ripped off once. The worst experiences of people trying (but rarely succeeding) to rip me off on a daily (or hourly) basis were in places like Egypt or India. In Europe the worst I have had was in Spain (Madrid, Segovia and Sevilla - never elsewhere).
    Thanks good is time of Facebook! People write and tell their experiences according to what they see not what they hear! This has been the key of tourism growth in Albania. We know there is a lot of backroom bad talking about Albania, but also it has received a lot of god press lately.

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    My top list of albanian restaurants:
    http://www.mrizizanave.al/ - member of the slow food movement, local produce only, absolutely a must
    http://www.rapsodia.al/restoranti.php -
    http://www.umami.al/food-art-gallery/ - fine dining in Tirana
    http://www.padam.al/ - fine dining in Tirana

    and my favourite for now: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fishop/445458652265289 it is absolutely stunning, over the weekends full of italians

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBS View Post
    My top list of albanian restaurants:
    http://www.mrizizanave.al/ - member of the slow food movement, local produce only, absolutely a must
    http://www.rapsodia.al/restoranti.php -
    http://www.umami.al/food-art-gallery/ - fine dining in Tirana
    http://www.padam.al/ - fine dining in Tirana

    and my favourite for now: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fishop/445458652265289 it is absolutely stunning, over the weekends full of italians
    Thanks a lot! I will try some of them when im going there this summer :)

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    This a good web/info/agency: http://www.discoveralbania.al/
    this one is in English, Italian and French appart from Albanian http://albania-adventure.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ernekar View Post
    Thanks a lot! I will try some of them when im going there this summer :)
    You will enjoy it 😊, some more tips for you:
    Since they are always booked, you should call at least a day or two ahead for reservations (if in high season and over the weekend) “Mrizi i Zanave” and Fishop and just in case Padam. Umami is more flexible so you can just walk in, but over the summer always check before. You should also reserve for this one that I forgot to mention: https://www.mullixhiu.al/. Their produce is again all local, and they have three mills in the restaurant and all the wheat and corn is local. It is a northern cuisine mostly meat, cheese, pasta, pies and breads.

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    Here are some infos about flights and airport plans https://blueswandaily.com/albania-ho...-connectivity/

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    Best ice cream and gelato in Tirana: https://www.facebook.com/search/1021...ces/intersect/

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    vlora waterfront

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    place to visit vlora

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    Quote Originally Posted by FBS View Post
    You will enjoy it ������, some more tips for you:
    Since they are always booked, you should call at least a day or two ahead for reservations (if in high season and over the weekend) “Mrizi i Zanave” and Fishop and just in case Padam. Umami is more flexible so you can just walk in, but over the summer always check before. You should also reserve for this one that I forgot to mention: https://www.mullixhiu.al/. Their produce is again all local, and they have three mills in the restaurant and all the wheat and corn is local. It is a northern cuisine mostly meat, cheese, pasta, pies and breads.
    Thanks :)

    This Mullixhiu place looks really cozy. And their prices are amazing. I had forgot how cheap it is to eat in Albania. I just looked at their website, and their 8 course menu is only 15 euro. In my opinion that is really cheap, especially considering that the ingredients are local and the setting is fantastic.

    Do you know any good places to eat in the northern mountains?
    One time i stopped randomly at one place to eat once while on a roadtrip in the mountains range from Vlora to Saranda, and they served the best cheese and risotto i have ever tasted. And it was just some random family-run restaurant hidden deep indside the mountains. :)
    I would like to know if there are some of those hidden restaurants or villages which are known for their food, but in the northern mountains instead? (because i plan mainly on being in the northern parts of albania this year. Valbona, Shengjin, Tirana etc.)

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    Civilization jn vlora

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