Albania’s recent history is a sombre tale of solitude and separation. Isolated by ideology and paranoia, the land laid forgotten for decades. Even after freedom returned to its sandy shores and verdant valleys, most of the world remained oblivious towards this small Balkan nation.


However, as more intrepid souls seeped into the country, the walls of stigma and prejudice that had belted Albania began to crumble. Word travelled, and soon tales of intoxicating hospitality and dramatic beauty swept across the globe, replacing the demons of the past. In the south of the Balkans an extraordinary nation was opening up again.   


As the concrete remnants of her darkest hour rest derelict in the countryside and the barbed wire rusts away in the ground, Albania’s future looks promising. Her eyes firmly set on Europe, the country is once more ready to receive the world. Those who venture there will find a land steeped in history and tradition.


Albania has awoken from her slumber, and above lofty peaks the double-headed eagle proudly soars anew.



Tugged away into Albania's remote northeast, the Albanian Alps easily rival their central European namesake.


Rising hundreds of metres above the picturesque Theth valley, the snow-covered summits alone would be enough to warrant a visit.


Add waterfalls, turquoise springs, mountain streams, and quaint villages and you got yourself a hiker's dream.


Mainly known for its thermal springs, said to possess curative properties for various diseases, Lengarica Canyon is a spectacular destination for adventurers.


Located near the village of Permët in southern Albania, the gorge stretches for several kilometres and can be explored in its entirety.


River crossings, cliff jump opportunities, hidden hollows, and looming scarps included!


Honoured a UNESCO heritage site, Gjirokastër is one of the finest examples of Ottoman architecture in Albania.


Winding cobblestone streets, an imposing castle, and the stunning abodes of former landowners tell the "City of Stones'" rich past.


A town as picturesque as they come, its beauty only rivalled by her sister city Berat.


VISA | Albania grants visa-free entry for all European countries, with the exception of Russia, for up to 90 days (30 days for Belarus). Russians may apply for an eVisa. If you are a resident of a non-European country check Passport Index for a quick overview.


Although the country is not part of the European Union, the Albanian authorities do not seem to stamp (at least) EU passports. Neither upon entering nor leaving did I get a stamp in my passport, a fact that was confirmed by other travellers. So don’t be surprised if the same happens to you.

MONEY | Currency: Albanian Lek (ALL). Euro is also widely received, however, keep in mind that you will most likely pay more if you use Euro instead of Lek.


ATMs are available throughout the country, however, bring enough cash if you venture out to the more remote corners of the country (e.g. Theth). Be aware that most banks will charge a (sometimes audacious) transaction fee when using ATMs. The only bank that doesn’t impose extra costs on tourists seems to be “Credins Bank”. You should be able to find their stores in every larger settlement.


All the common credit cards (Mastercard, Visa, etc.) will be accepted, nevertheless cash is still pretty much king in Albania, and is especially needed for public transport, markets, and smaller shops. In general, restaurants and cafés in touristic areas accept cards.

PUBLIC TRANSPORT | Buses are the main mode of transportation in Albania. They are cheap and surprisingly reliable (at least in my experience), however, you won’t find any information regarding their schedule online.


The main bus station in Tirana is the hub for Albanian bus travel and you will find rides to pretty much anywhere in the country from there. Since the station is simply a huge, dusty square cramped with dozens of buses it might appear a bit overwhelming at first, however, don’t be afraid to just ask the next best person and let them point you in the right direction. Albanians are an extremely friendly bunch and more than happy to help you!


Also, do not expect to buy your tickets online or at a ticket booth. Simply rock up to the bus station and pay for the ticket directly on the bus.



7th century BCE
Greek arrivals

Greek settlers arrive at the shores of Albania, initially inhabited by Illyrian tribes, and found important harbours such as Apollonia (Vlorë) and Epidamnos (Durrës).

3rd-2nd century BCE
Illyrian Wars

The Ardiaei conquer most of the Illyrian tribes and become the dominant regional power. Following the death of King Agron, his second wife Teuta provokes conflict with Rome, and for six long decades Illyria transforms into a bloody battlefield, ultimately resulting in the region's integration into the emerging empire.

168 BCE-395 CE

The province of Illyricum establishes itself as an integral part of the realm, apparent from the coronation of several Illyrian emperors in the ensuing centuries. Christianity also seeps into the region, slowly replacing the ancient pagan believes.

395 CE
Rome divided

The Roman Empire splits into a western and eastern half, and Illyricum falls to Byzantium (East Rome).

Middle ages

5th-7th century CE
Migration period

Countless "barbaric" tribes (Goths, Huns, Slavs, etc.) sweep across the Balkans, significantly weakening the political power of the Romanoi in the Albanian lands.

9th-10th century
Byzantine decline

The rise of independent Bulgarian and Serbian kingdoms further diminishes the Byzantine influence in Albania.

End of Roman dominion

Following the sack of Constantinople by Latin crusaders during the Fourth Crusade and the subsequent (temporary) dissolution of the Byzantine Empire, Albania falls to the newly established Despotate of Epirus. In the ensuing centuries, various local and foreign powers vie for supremacy over the Albanian territories. 

Skanderbeg's forlorn fight

Skanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti), a rogue Ottoman general of Albanian origin, unites the warring Albanian aristocracy and mounts a heroic defence of his homeland against the seemingly unstoppable Ottoman forces. For 25 years, Turkish armies vanish in the shadows of the Albanian mountains but ultimately his valiant fight is in vain, and the country is subjugated.

Modern era

Venice yields

Venice surrenders Shkodra and Lezhe. The entirety of Albania is now under Ottoman control.

Ottoman rule

The Albanian population gradually converts to Islam, and many carve out a career in the Ottoman administration, army, and even government. Contrary to other parts of the empire, Albania accepts Turkish rule and remains faithful to the sultan. 

Declaration of independence

In the aftermath of the Balkan Wars and the foreshadowed collapse of the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans, Albania gains independence, albeit paired with substantial territorial losses to her neighbours.

World War I

Domestic resistance against central rule and foreign occupation characterise Albania during the war. Facing partition at the hands of the victorious Allies during the Paris Peace Conference, the Congress of Lushnje successfully defends the country's sovereignty at the last minute.

Divided politics

Instability, division, and foreign influence characterise the political landscape after World War I.

Rise and fall of Ahmet Zogu

Ahmet Zogu comes to power and ends years of political strife. Elevated by his initial success, he first serves as prime minister, then president, and finally self-proclaimed king.

Italian invasion and rising resistance

Italy enters World War II by occupying Albania, however, faced with massive repressions by the invaders, Albanian resistance quickly forms. In 1944, the communist National Liberation Front (NLF), led by Enver Hoxha, emerges victorious, both ousting the fascist foes and eliminating any domestic rivals in the process.

Contemporary history

Communist dictatorship

The communist "liberators" establish one of the most brutal and horrific dictatorships in post-war Europe. Thousands of "enemies of the state" are incarcerated, hundreds executed. Driven by Enver Hoxha's paranoia, Albania completely isolates herself from the rest of the world, and millions are pumped into military spendings while the population starves.

First democratic elections

Six years after Enver Hoxha's death, the first multi-party elections are held in Albania and won by the Socialist Party, under the helm of Enver Hoxha's successor Ramiz Alia.

Constitutional changes

The country adopts a new constitution, guaranteeing a democratic system and basic human rights, taking another important step away from the autocratic days of the communist era.

1990s and early 2000s
Political instability

Despite reforms, political instability prevails, evident by multiple uprisings, flawed economic programs due to the country's inexperience with capitalism, and the assassination of Azem Hajdari, a leading figure of the Democratic Party.


Orientated towards the West, Albania joins NATO and becomes an accession candidate for the EU the same year.

Three in a row

The majority of parliament is controlled by the Socialist Party, under the aegis of Edi Rama, the party's third victory in a row.

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