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As mass tourism spreads across Western Europe’s most popular hotspots, travelers are now heading east to escape the crowds. There are many unspoilt European destinations to choose from, but one eastern country in particular has become famous as one of the trendiest destinations of the yearAlbania
A country that was largely ignored by tourists for years, but has now become one of the most promising tourist destinations in Europe.
Why has Albania been overlooked by tourists for so long?
Demand for travel to Europe increased between 2023 and 2023, especially after it lifted all health-related entry requirements and fully restored normality, but before tourism giants such as France, Italy or Spain took action reduce number of visitors, other lesser-known states want to welcome more.
Albania is a small nation in southeastern Europe located on the Balkan Peninsula, bordered by Greece to the south, North Macedonia and Kosovo to the east, and gorgeous Montenegro to the north. However, unlike many of its neighbors. it was only officially introduced to the world 30 years ago.
Until 1992, the country was closed off from the rest of Europe due to a repressive communist regime, with most foreigners barred from entering and Albanians unable to leave themselves. Fortunately, the winds of democracy would eventually blow over the country.
With the fall of the Iron Curtain, it transitioned to a democratic state, and the former borders were finally abolished in the nineties, but the effects of the dictatorship will be felt for years; being protected from external influence. For most of the 20th century, Albania entered the 21st century as one of the most enigmatic countries in Europe the states.
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Very little information about the country could be found in travel guides, as very few had visited before, and promotional efforts were often hampered by internal political crises and Albania’s own geographic isolation as a non-member of the European Union, increasingly in Brussels. the concentrated continent. That’s not to say it lacked potential.
After several setbacks in a row, it looks like it’s finally getting the recognition it deserves.
Albania is no longer a gray area on the European map
According to INSTAT data, 377,211 foreigners came to Albania in January of this year, which is huge. 94.2% annual growth. These figures are not impressive given that Europe is still in the ‘off season’ and generally arrivals tend to drop sharply during this period.
In addition, all European countries have lifted border measures and allowed tourism to resume. The fact that Albania has continued to grow at such a rapid pace despite the normalization of its fiercest rivals is further evidence that it has maintained the momentum it gained early in the pandemic.
While much of Europe has been shut down due to COVID, going so far as to ban American tourists for long periods of time, Albania remained open without restrictionsa factor that no doubt contributed to his sudden popularity.
Last year, 7.5 million tourists vacationed in Albania, an increase of more than 32% compared to 2021, and if the upward trend continues, the country’s all-time record could easily be broken by December.
Why is Albania on everyone’s radar now?
Many Americans may not be aware of this, but Albania is actually summer paradise.
It borders the Adriatic Sea, which is one of the arms of the wider Mediterranean, like Croatia and Montenegro, but the relative cost of living is much lower than other countries in the region. Here you’ll find the same turquoise waters, white-sand or pebble beaches, and stone-built medieval towns without the expensive hotels and usual tourist traps.
Large parts of Albania’s southernmost tip, called the Albanian Riviera, are yet to see any developmentwhich means nature is virtually untouched, the beaches undisturbed and the traditional cobbled villages where generations of families have lived for centuries are protected from outside influences.
The Balkan country also has a beautiful villageencompassing rolling green hills, vast plains and alpine peaks, medieval citadels and castles that have stood the test of time despite questionable conservation efforts, and modern, dynamic cities.
Tiran, i a strange, beautiful chaotic capitalknown for its cafe scene, young demographic (it was recently named the Youth Capital of Europe) and multiculturalism resulting from decades of inter-Balkan migration and a large expat community. Off road travel The editors included it as one of this year’s most incredible and cheapest destinations for digital nomads.
Nomads are especially fond of Shkodër in Northern Albania a smaller, less noisy town bordering Montenegro, Vlori, a resort area on the Adriatic coast, and Girokastri, an Ottoman-era gem and UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its ethnic pan-Balkan cuisine and medieval heritage.
According to other World Tourism Organization findings, Albania boasts one of the best recovery rates after COVID, with both arrival figures and tourism receipts easily surpassing 2019. In other words, he successfully overcame a health crisis and came out on the other side. much stronger and much more popular than before.
If you want to experience Albania while tourism is under control, you’d better get there fast, although it’s no longer a hidden gem and it’s only a matter of time before the general public is allowed to discover Europe’s best kept secret. .
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com