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Tourism in Albania is characterized by archaeological heritage from Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman times, unspoiled beaches, mountainous topography, delicious traditional Albanian cuisine, Cold War era artifacts, unique traditions and hospitality, and the wild and peculiar atmosphere of the countryside. In 2014, the New York Times ranked Albania fourth among 52 destinations to be visited. Although still underdeveloped, Albania is set to prime its debut on the world scene as it celebrates a century of independence. Lonely Planet ranked Albania as the no. 1 destination to be visited in 2011. A Huffington Post article outlined 10 reasons for visiting Albania in 2013. Recently, Albania has been officially dubbed as "Go Your Own Way". Previously, it was dubbed as "A New Mediterranean Love" and "Europe's Last Secret".
The bulk of international tourists going to Albania are from Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, Greece, and Italy. Foreign tourists mostly come from Eastern Europe, particularly from Poland, and the Czech Republic, but also from Western European countries such as Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Scandinavia, and others. To better enjoy ones's stay and for useful information, first time travelers to Albania are strongly encouraged to consult online/print publications and travel forums on specific tips and itinerary or can simply book a tour with a local tour operator. Backpackers are common and prefer resting at hostels, camping in the countryside or along the coast. Organized groups visit the numerous archaeological sites and historic towns. A growing trend has become canyon rafting, cycling and mountain biking, hiking, or off-road touring in the countryside. The latter can also be explored through the adventurous Albanian railway system. Recently, car rental agencies, tour operators, and tourist information centers have opened branches in the capital and other towns. Dental tourism has become popular as local dentists offer services with much lower prices. Local delicious cuisine can be tasted at traditional Albanian restaurants located near tourist attractions and scenic spots throughout the country.
However, tourism is hampered by local management issues such as poor road and public utilities infrastructure, unregulated waste disposal, illegal construction and hunting, uncertain land ownership, and an unqualified hospitality sector. Despite such setbacks, most coastal, some mountainous roads, and water supply and treatment facilities are being reconstructed mainly through IPA pre-accession funds to the EU. The private sector and foreign donors are heavily investing in accommodation and renovations at historical sites, while others are expressing interest in building tourist resorts and marinas.
Stemming from a rich history of civilisations, Albania holds a mix of interesting artefacts. The most visited towns are:
The most visited archaeological sites are
Albania is known for its breathtaking landscape. Some increasingly popular features include:
Albania is a rural and agricultural oriented country. The main emerging agritourism destinations are:
Albania has a Mediterranean climate with each season offering distinct, yet pleasant weather. Some features of the climate vary by region: The coastal areas have a Central Mediterranean climate with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers. The alpine areas have a Central Continental climate with cold, snowy winters and temperate summers. The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7°C, and summer temperatures average 24°C. Lowland rainfall ranges from 1,000 mm to more than 1,500 mm annually, with greater rainfall in the north. Nearly 95% of rainfall occurs in the winter and rainfall in the upland mountain ranges is heavier. Despite the rain, Albanians enjoy a great deal of sunshine, second only to Spain in average annual sunny days. The overall climate is pleasant and favors outdoor activity.
Due to the varying geographic elevation, Albania features endless panoramic routes with the main being:
The Albanian culture is known for its rich folklore and unique traditions showcased in various forms:
In Albania, there is a peaceful coexistence of those practicing a variety of religious faiths. Muslims, Orthodox, and those following the teachings of the Catholic Church comprise the majority of people adherent to religion. In 1967, religious worship was prohibited and the country became the world’s only official atheist state. Since the end of the Communism, Albanians have been guaranteed the freedom of religion and have exercised that freedom in various ways.
Albania is home to two World Heritage Sites (Berat and Gjirokastër are listed together)
The main problem to a viable tourism industry is the lack of a clear strategy. By far, tourism is not seen as the main economic industry of the country. Some problematic issues include spatial planning such as illegal construction, unregulated waste disposal, poor road and public utilities infrastructure, illegal logging and hunting, noise pollution, and unclear land ownership. On the education aspect, there lacks a clear accommodation classification system and qualified hospitality sector personnel.
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