When you picture crystal-clear blue waters, white sand beaches, quaint historic towns, and stunning natural scenery, which European country comes to mind?
Maybe you answered Italy, Greece, or Croatia.
Albania may not have come to mind at all, but this Balkan country is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe that offers all of the above and more.
Here’s why Albania should be on your bucket list this year:
1) Incredible Beaches
One of the top reasons to visit Albania this summer is for its amazing beaches.
Located on the Adriatic Sea, Albania’s beaches are among the best-kept secrets in Europe. While they are widely visited by locals and tourists from other Balkan countries, Albania’s beaches are still largely off the radar for most other tourists.
However, they are some of the best beaches in Europe, with white sand beaches and clear turquoise-blue waters.
Sarande is a resort town known for its beach parties and nightlife, while Ksamil and Borsh Beach are known for their stunning natural beauty.
2) A Cool Capital City
Albania’s capital city Tirana is extremely cool, hip, and funky. It’s a hodgepodge of striking architecture, a mixture of modern design and Communist-era buildings.
The city was named the European Youth Capital of 2022 because of its rapid growth and its youthful, vibrant spirit. Tirana is a city that’s constantly in flux and changing by the day.
There are so many reasons to visit Tirana, and this city offers something for everyone, including foodies, history fanatics, and party lovers.
3) Quaint Historic Towns
Although Tirana is a great city to visit, the real charm of Albania lies in its quaint historic towns.
Berat, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most striking historic towns in the country due to its nickname of “The City of a Thousand Windows.”
Gjirokastra is another beautiful ancient town that is known as “The City of a Thousand Steps” due to its many stone stairs and hilly landscape.
4) Affordable Prices
One of the best parts of Albania is how affordable it is. It’s a great destination for budget travelers, or luxury travelers who want to travel in style in a destination where their money goes much further.
While many popular destinations in Europe, such as Italy, France, and Greece are extremely pricy, countries in the Balkan region can be shocking cheap, and Albania is among the cheapest of all.
Even other once-affordable Balkan countries like Croatia are experiencing skyrocketing prices this year, making Albania a refreshing alternative.
5) Friendly People
One of the biggest highlights of all in Albania is the people. Albanians are extremely friendly and hospitable.
You’ll be blown away by the level of hospitality that is shown by Albanians. Even if there’s a bit of a language barrier (English is not widely spoken, especially among the older generations in Albania), people will go out of their way to help you in any way that they can.
Unlike some other European destinations like Italy that are flooded with American tourists, Albania has not experienced much of that yet, and you don’t have to worry about being scammed or ripped off.
6) Relaxed Visa Rules
Albania is an emerging destination for digital nomads in Europe because of its sunny climate, affordable prices, great places to base yourself, and relaxed visa rules.
Americans can spend up to one year in Albania without a visa. This makes it very attractive for digital nomads and long-term travelers.
It’s one of the few countries in Europe that still offers long stays for American travelers hoping to reset their Schengen visas after nearby Croatia joined the Schengen Zone.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com