Tips for Travel Like a Pro

Traveling somewhere?
Check out these travel hacks to plan, pack, and go on holiday like a pro.

Travel insurance

When traveling to other country, everything can happen. Travel insurance is more than covering your personal things if they get stolen. The most important is your health, and if you get sick or injured during your trip, travel insurance comes to cover your back.
There are plenty of travel insurance companies you can check out. If you’re traveling in the Balkans, I recommend checking out our page.

Carry a water bottle with you

While you’re out exploring a new place, it’s easier to become dehydrated. You will often forget to drink water. So, keep a water bottle with you everywhere you go. This will also reduce your spending. Buying a bottle of water each time can add more cost to your budget.

Apps coming handy

  

Wallet app, transport and airline apps are the best thing to use when travel. These will reduce paper and come as handy for detail-keeping, etc. This way is much easier for you to get rid of more papers. Bu, in the of your personal documents, I recommend having printed copies for your serenity.

Clothing

You should think that wearing the same clothes during your travel away is nothing wrong with that. Chances are, if you carry much of your clothes, you won’t wear half of what you packed. Bring only what is essential to you for the trip. Pack neutral clothes that match with each other, and pack a small gear of detergents to wash them. Pack light baggage. Also, take a travel jacket with you. You never know how temperatures may vary at night.

Essentials in your hand luggage

First, make sure your passport, ID, and travel booking copies. Second, put into your carry-on bag small things like underwear, a spare change of clothes, money, a phone charger, headphones, a tablet, first aid items, and so on.

Handy portable battery pack and power adapter 

To keep your phone, tablet, and other electronics you might use, a portable battery will be the best thing to have with you. While an international power adapter will give you access to use your laptop in the country, you’re going to travel. Check the country first and be sure what sort of plug in is used there, and take the appropriate before you get on board.

  

Learn few words 

Learning a little of the local language is always important. If you want to immerse into the local life and learn the culture, knowing a couple of words goes a long way. This will make possible for you to experience closely the history and the life that develops within the country. It helps you with local interaction, meaning that you have more chances to find places and adventures that you can’t achieve otherwise. In some countries, knowing a few words, you can even get better prices when shopping.

Currency

Take some time and do research about the currency of the country where you’re planning to travel. Read newspapers, economic articles, or just type e.g., “Albanian currency” on the web and check information about the money they use, transaction rates, ATM transaction fee, etc. You don’t want to find yourself in difficult circumstances or even remain without cash when you’re are already there. So, better prepare yourself in advance, and make a list of your overall expenses including an extra amount for emergencies.

 

Final Thought

These are the main things that you need to make sure you do before and during your planned travel. Wherever the country is, these travel hacks are basic for everyone to follow. But it doesn’t mean that can’t include additional. This is up to you. Be wise though, your time there might end up tiresome.

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Europe Travel Packing List

Travel often can be difficult, apart from taking your documents with your backpacking is important too. I’m writing this Europe travel packing list hoping that’s for help from you.
When I remember my first travel in Scotland, the UK, I made the mistake of packing to weigh too much gear and the travel became quickly tiresome. So, I thought that writing about a packing list will help others before they travel – especially for beginners. Try to prepare yourself before what you need to bring with you while traveling in Europe. Pack what is essential for your time away, and your travel will be more enjoyable.

Personal Items & Toiletries

First, personal items are those things that you will need everywhere around Europe, also while moving on the way you’ll need them. Have with you only what’s essential, don’t overdo with your backpacking.

Essentials

Travel-sized toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant razor &. Pack liquids in sealable plastic small bags to avoid leaks.

Wet Wipes: Travel-sized stain remover wipes for getting rid of spots.

Washcloth: Many European hotels do not provide washcloths. I can say that you’ll find many shops nearby that sell something like this easy-drying microfiber travel washcloth. However, if you prefer to bring your own one with you, it makes things easier.

Tissues: Pop one or two small pouches in your carry-on or handbag. Place them to be easily accessible.

Earplugs & eye mask: Sleeping on trains/planes/buses/hostels isn’t always easy, so consider packing an eye mask. Earplugs are nice too (especially if there is someone who snores in your room), they are comfortable for sleeping.

First Aid Items: Antiseptic wipes & Band-Aids.

Medications: Bring any medications in their original containers. If you check your suitcase, bring them with you on your carry-on while you travel.

Glasses & Sunglasses in a protected case.

Water bottle: A basic water bottle works well. Don’t exaggerate with its size small one is perfect.

Tops 

I will recommend carrying with you 5 unique combination of tops such as short sleeves, long sleeves, and shirts/blouses. Combine the colors as you like.

Bottoms
It’s good to have with you 2 pairs of handy, such as lightweight trousers and a pair of jeans. However, this is up to you. Perhaps you’re a rockstar, two pairs of jeans are as perfect.

Warm Layers
Because the temperature may change drastically, is good to have with you a button-down cardigan and a pullover sweater or lightweight fleece. 

Socks & Underwear
A week’s worth. Lighter fabrics, such as synthetic blends, dry quicker than cotton.

Sleepwear
Comfortable T-shirts and elastic pants can be used as pajamas or loungewear.

Jacket
Bring a lightweight waterproof jacket.

Scarf or Tie
To add a splash of color, transition from day to night, or achieve a more polished appearance in an instant. A bright color or a pleasant texture is a great way to liven up neutral layers.

Shoes
Maximum of 2-3 pairs One pair of comfortable closed-toe walking shoes and one pair of flat sandals or an alternate closed-toe shoe. Bring along a pair of flip-flops to wear in your hotel room.

Electronics
Kindle or Tablet are awesome choices to computers, permitting you to do everything from browsing the web (when a Wi-Fi association is accessible) to perusing books, etc.

Remote Connector is the correct sort of adapter for the country you’re going to, so you’ll utilize your hardware abroad. Batteries & Chargers are also useful. Or consider an all-inclusive travel charger to charge numerous things at once. 

Digital Camera, Charger, and Memory Card.

In case you choose to bring an extra camera on an excursion, be beyond any doubt you’ll feel comfortable carrying it around with you all day. And don’t disregard the memory card and batteries/charger!
Cell Phone & Charger will not work exterior the US unless worldwide benefit has been enacted through your supplier. Be beyond any doubt that fees abroad can be very expensive. Prepare alternative ways. 

Money Matters When Traveling
Debit & Credit Card of your bank is requested to pay a transaction fee in Europe. Make sure you have enough funds into your card, charge your account with some extra credits. Have them as for emergencies.

Don’t Forget to bring with you – A List!
• Your Personal & Travel Documents
• Water Bottle
• Address List
• Sunscreen & Insect Repellant
• Sunhat
• Umbrella
• Book
• Foldable Tote Bag

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Unique Things to Do in Montenegro

Fortifications of Kotor

With the help of these ancient walls, the city within could withstand hundreds of years of occupations, sieges, and invasions.

Visiting the oldest town in Montenegro, Kotor, is one of the unique things to do in Montenegro. It has its origins in the ancient world and is situated on the Bay of Kotor (Boka kotorska in Montenegrin), a natural fjord close to the Adriatic Sea coast. Theoretically, has between 700 and 400 BCE on top of another city, however, archaeologists remain unsure.
The ancients exploited the hills’ natural slopes and steps as protection, but it’s also the built walls that are impressive; the bulk of them are recognized as defensive Venetian in build and design.
Invaders must have found it difficult to maneuver around the walls and crags of the hills as they sought to make their way through the confusing maze of Kotor’s streets. However, they purposefully constructed the city in this manner in order to prevent the intruders from determining their exact location. It’s also simple to understand why everyone wanted a piece of it because it protruded so prominently straight up out of the fjord.

War Memorial in Ulcinj

An amazing war monument statue overlooks the beaches below, from atop a resort town that dates back to the Bronze Age.

The resort town of Ulcinj in Montenegro has beautiful architecture to match its rich history. One monument in particular uses its design to convey the era it honors.
The Ulcinj War Memorial honors Montenegro’s involvement in the war, particularly the Yugoslavian air force, and is located on the outskirts of the mountaintop town. Its distinctive design mimics the wings of a bird or even an airplane and appears to be watching over the Mala Plaza (little beach) below. During the summer, Ulcinj is a particularly popular summer vacation destination for many Europeans of Albanian, German, and Italian descent.
Adapted with permission from Exploguide.com, a website for tourists searching for off-the-beaten-path and alternative travel.

Ostrog Monastery

A curious cave church constructed into a cliff.

In the Balkans, the 1600s were a turbulent decade. The tiny Principality of Montenegro was battling the vast Ottoman Empire for its very existence. Countless Orthodox Christians fled to the highlands when they were threatened by Ottoman raids.
The Ostrog monastery was hewn out of Ostroka Greda’s sheer slope. The cave-church was built by Vasilije, the Bishop of Herzegovina (after known as St. Vasilije of Ostrog), whose remains are preserved in a reliquary inside the church’s chilly, gloomy walls.
Even today, pilgrims continue to travel to Ostrog, where they are welcomed by people of all religions. On Pentecost, there is a significant celebration. The complex of cave monasteries underwent extensive refurbishment between 1923 and 1926, a result of a fire. Despite the fire severely damaging the monastery, two of the ancient cave chapels were fortunately preserved and are still in their original state.

Grahovo Memorial Park

Nature is gradually reclaiming this tribute to local World War II troops.

Grahovo, roughly nine miles from the far more popular Bay of Kotor, was fiercely assaulted and effectively razed to the ground by Austro-German forces during the early phases of the war. On July 13, 1941, however, a group of villagers led by future national hero Savo Kovaevi successfully fought and disarmed an invading German soldier detachment.
Today, just a few inhabitants remain in town, and the memorial park is losing ground to the neighboring park’s encroaching flora. With Montenegrin authorities showing little or no interest in regenerating the neighborhood any time soon, Grahovo remains a fading symbol of resistance, waiting for its next hero.

Cats’ Museum

In the cat sanctuary known as Old Town Kotor, there is a quirky small museum devoted to the hairy feline.

If you are a cat lover, you won’t find a better place like the town of Kotor in Montenegro. The medieval town was founded by the Romans in 168 BC and is known for its high cat population. Kotor served as a trading port for many centuries, and many of the cats, left behind from the ships arriving there, started populating the small town.
In Kotor, cats are an integral part of daily life, and they even have their own museum. The Cat’s Museum is a small structure located in the center of the Old Town. In fact, there is an entire part of the museum devoted to items from cats that were around before and throughout World War One. The care taken to maintain these unusual gems is obvious. They vary from war propaganda to postcards received by troops.

Gospa Od Skrojela (Our Lady of the Rocks)

A little chapel on an artificial island in the Adriatic.

One of two little islands, known as GOSPA OD SKRPJELA (OUR LADY of the Rocks), is situated in the inner Boka Kotorska harbor, close to the Perast ancient town.
These islands’ peculiarity is that they are virtually entirely man-made.
The island was once only a mass of rocks, but according to legend, two fishermen named the Moršić brothers found a picture of the Virgin Mary there on July 22, 1452. On the location, a little Orthodox chapel was built.
There is a tiny museum in Perast’s history behind the church. The “Place of Reconciliation” is the name of the courtyard in front. Today, the little island church serves as a sort of Boka Catholics cultural hub. In particular, it has been used to resolve blood feuds amongst the catholic families of Boka, ending many vendettas. It has also been used for public meetings.

Sveti Stefan

A tiny Balkan Island has been fully encircled by this upscale resort’s 5-star labyrinth of guest rooms.

The Sveti Stefan Resort is crammed onto a little offshore piece of land that was formerly home to a tiny community. The resort has turned the collection of old buildings into luxurious housing for its visitors.
Due to its small size (just over a mile around), the island off the coast of Montenegro is in high demand. The area was first used as a coastal defense but later developed into a little community with 400 residents who erected homes on every possible square inch of the island, giving the impression that they would just slide off the edge into the Adriatic.
Currently, the resort is a stunning private island that is only accessible to guests. The Sveti Stefan remains a type of fortification despite having been transformed into a recreational area; nonetheless, it now primarily serves to defend aristocracy.

Mamula Island

This island, a former military fort and location of unspeakable tragedies during WWII, might become the Adriatic’s next luxury resort.

The government of Montenegro has big plans for this unexplored island in the Adriatic Sea.
Malma’s original existence was that of an Austro-Hungarian military fort, which was built in 1853. During World War II, however, the island became most famous for the isolated concentration camp established atop the site of the former’s walls.

Fortress Gorazda

This World War I stronghold is an excellent location for viewing a Montenegrin sunset.

During World War 1, the Austrians used this Austrian-Hungarian fortress to swap artillery rounds with the Montenegrin soldiers. They originally built it between 1884 and 1886. The turret guns are long gone, but the stronghold and all its majesty remain.
During the mid-twentieth century, the stronghold was converted into a jail. It is now entirely abandoned on top of a mountain overlooking both the port of Kotor and the island of Tivat. Although it is currently covered with graffiti, it is still a fantastic area to explore. It’s also a great place to see the sunset. The views are likely to be among the nicest in the region.

Mausoleum of Petar II Petrovic-Njegos

A stunning mountainside tomb dedicated to a Montenegrin icon does not seem to please everyone.

Atop high, the Mausoleum of Petar ii Petrovi-Njego, on an otherwise untouched mountain in the European republic of Montenegro, recalls one of the region’s revered presidents with a contest-designed tomb that yet did not appease many detractors.
The freshly erected mausoleum is positioned atop one of Mount Loven’s two summits and is located within Loven National Park. The impressive structure is reached via a long route that twists up the mountain, followed by a 461-step trek. Inside the mausoleum, there is a massive granite monument of Njego, his grave, and a 360-degree stone viewing circle. From the peak, one can view more than half of the little nation, from the Bay of Kotor to Lake Skadar to Podgorica. On a clear day, Albania and Croatia may be seen. Despite the criticisms, few can argue that Petar II Petrovic-Njegos’ Mausoleum is not attractive enough for a national hero.

Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ

Its paintings represent Marshal Tito, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels as they burn in hell.

 universe of icons, golden backgrounds, and paintings fill the Podgorica Cathedral of the Resurrection. Among the abundant embellishments, as is customary in Orthodox churches, is a fresco that sparked debate when the church was inaugurated in 2013.
Near the vaults to the upper left of the altar, you’ll find an apocalyptic scene that, at first look, does not appear unusual. A terrifying beast swims in a scorching sea and devours humans dressed in religious garb. If you look closely, you’ll notice three individuals that many have recognized as Marshal Tito, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels burning in the same everlasting flames as Adam and Eve.

Brutalist Church of Podgorica

This nearly windowless monolith of flat concrete is the city’s lone Catholic church.

 short walk from Podgorica’s main commercial street exposes an intriguing architectural specimen, the Church of the Holy Heart of Jesus, the lone Catholic temple in this mostly Orthodox capital city.
The inside of the church is also kept basic and peaceful. Surprisingly, the bare concrete walls are not as onerous as one might expect. Despite the lack of windows, there is a brilliantly built skylight above the altar that provides a halo of sunshine to the main section of the church. Along the walls, there are also basic yet futuristic lights suggestive of a spaceship. The main attraction is an amazing backlit crucifix with an ethereal radiance.
This chapel is an interesting sight both inside and out, and not only for architecture buffs. It’s a curiously soothing and one-of-a-kind location.

Obadov Brijeg

On Obad’s Hill, a swan-like monument honors troops who fought the region from German invaders during WWII.

6th Montenegrin Strike Brigade defended the neighboring Danilovgrad Pass against a German onslaught in November 1944. The Obad’s Hill (Obadov Brijeg) monument sculpture honors the 6th Montenegrin Strike Brigade, a group of over 500 anti-fascist warriors that defended the hill.
Slobodan Vukajlovi, a Modernist architect, designed the memorial sculpture. It was finished in 1974 and dedicated on the 30th anniversary of Obad’s Hill’s defense. Its minimalism aesthetic is intriguing in various ways, including its shape and appearance, which resembles a swan-like bird.

Stara Maslina

One of the oldest olive trees in the world, maybe older than 2,000 years.

In Montenegro, next to Stari Bar, there is one of the oldest olive trees in the world. It is estimated that “Stara Maslina” is more than 2,000 years old and is a wonderfully breathtaking sight. Unfortunately, a lightning strike has entirely burned out one side of the tree.

Stay On a Winery and Enjoy the Local Wine.
Montenegro may not be the first country that comes to mind when discussing wine.

However, the lush grounds and particular microclimate make it a good location for wine production.
Their wineries are well-known for producing strong, dark red wines from Vrana grapes.
There’s a lot to choose from, including Montenegrin Vranac, Krsta, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Chardonnay.
Montenegrin vineyards may be found all along the country’s southern coast.
The winery where we stayed was named Winery Masanovic, and it was near Skadar Lake.
They produce excellent wine and have been run by a local family for over 10 generations.

Enjoy The Local Cuisine.
It goes without saying that the greatest way to learn about a country’s culture is to sample its food.

For such a tiny nation, Montenegro’s traditional foods are remarkably diverse.
Njegusi Prosciutto, an extremely tasty thin cut of beef from Njegusi hamlet, is arguably its most famous dish.
Buzara, a seafood meal with mussels, prawns, and shrimp in a delicious sauce prepared from red or white wine and herbs, is another example.
We also recommend Ispod saca, which is Montenegro’s version of a Sunday roast. It’s a filling meal of veal or lamb with slow-roasted veggies cooked over coals.

Overall, Montenegro is a wonderful nation to visit, with many natural sights and adrenaline-pumping sports. Despite its small size, it encompasses the rich culture and customs of the Balkan area. We think we’ve covered enough Montenegrin activities, particularly in Kotor, Budva, and Podgorica. Hopefully, you now have enough information to begin organizing your vacation.
Travel safely!

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Romanian Traditional Food

Chefs in Romania pay a lot of attention to the way how the food is presented.

From a rich and diverse cuisine, Romanian traditional food is heavily influenced by Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Turkey, Bulgaria, and Bosnia. Romanian savory dishes often are filled with veggies, herbs, olive oil, and spices. Whereas, their sweet food is decadent and delicious.
Chefs in Romania pay a lot of attention to the way how the food is presented. This is something just important as much as the taste of the food. 

So, if you don’t know much about Romanian cuisine, here is a list of 14 gorgeous, delicious dishes.

1. Romanian Cabbage Rolls (Sarmale)

Traditional Romanian food known as cabbage rolls has a variety of ingredients.
They are prepared using sour cabbage, ground pig, bacon, onions, rice, tomato juice, and spices. Although they take a few hours to cook, remember that perfection seldom occurs quickly. When done, they have a fantastic appearance and flavor. They get a gorgeous golden-brown color, are glossy from the tomato sauce, and have fresh parsley on top.

2. Romanian Tara Paine

Despite its slightly tough exterior crust, the inside of Romanian country bread is extremely soft and moist. It pairs well with soups and other things that we like to sop up with crusty bread because of its flavor, which is comparable to sourdough bread’s. This bread also requires many hours to prepare, but a significant portion of that time is spent waiting for the dough to rise and idling while it cooks. Only 20 minutes of actual effort are required.

3. Mamaliga

Mamaliga is the country’s national dish, made with porridge made from cornmeal. Another term for it may be polenta. This dish is incredibly creamy and thick. Contrary to polenta, which is occasionally consumed in its soft, porridge-like form, mamaliga is left to firm into a solid circle of deliciousness. Mamaliga just requires two ingredients: cornmeal and butter, in addition to water, salt, pepper, and a creamy side dish.

4. Stuffed Peppers

The Romanian stuffed peppers taste almost similar to Italian and Mexican ones. For sure, they taste and are similar to the stuffed peppers of Albania and Greece. The fillings include pork, or beef, rice, peppers (all kinds), and plenty of herbs with seasoning.

5. Cheese Pie

Cheese pies are very popular and traditional dishes around the entire Balkan. The Romanian one doesn’t differ much from other cheese pies that you can find in the Balkans. Romanian cheese pie is a flaky puffed pastry stuffed with two kinds of cheese. This pie is absolutely the best. It’s yummy, cheesy, with every bite tasting heavenly.

6. Mushroom and mayo Salad

This cold salad is typically served on New Year’s Eve in Romania, but you can have it any time of the year with some crackers or a slice of toasted bread.
It’s also simple to create. The only ingredients you’ll need are mushrooms, mayonnaise, garlic, and dill. It simply takes mixing and cutting.

7. Meatball Soup

This classic Romanian soup is a dish that every Romanian recipe collector should know. Romanian meatball soup is “the glory of the soups” and “the pride of every Romanian cook.” That’s a lot of pressure for one soup dish to handle. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to make and tastes great. It has a strong tomato and herb taste and is not too hot. Additionally, the soup is quite substantial and ideal for the winter months thanks to the thick, delicious meatballs.

8. Cozonac

Cozonac is a traditional, straightforward, sweetened yeast bread of Romanian heritage. This citrus-scented sweet dough is coiled around a nutty filling and baked to create a spiral pattern. It is often produced during Easter and Christmas. A celebratory loaf of bread with a delicate and supple crumb is the end product.

 

9. Sausage Stew

This recipe reminds me of the Romanian version of steak and potatoes, with the polenta acting in place of the potatoes. But really, it would be more fitting for breakfast. Of course, the polenta, sausage, and fried egg gave it away. This is the way to go if you want a filling, delicious breakfast that features all your morning favorites.

 

10. Zacusca (Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip)

Romanian Traditional Food also includes Zacusca , which combines roasted red peppers and eggplant, is sure to win you over if you like roasted vegetables in general. Even though it’s referred to as a spread, this traditional recipe that’s quite popular in Romania emphasizes using local foods.
Zacusca is a vegetable spread prepared mostly from roasted eggplant and red peppers, however it may also contain additional ingredients, depending on the chef, such as onions, tomatoes, oil, and spices. Although it might be described as a sauce or a salsa, it is thought of as an eggplant and pepper spread from Romania. The spread resembles ajvar, a well-known roasted pepper and eggplant sauce from Serbia, quite a bit.

11. Feta Fried Bread

This thin bread has a crunchy outside and a very soft, gooey, and cheese-filled inside. You’ll use yeast, water, sugar, flour, and salt to produce the dough. Pure feta cheese makes up the stuffing. A cheese quesadilla would probably be the closest thing to feta fried bread, but that’s also not quite accurate.

12. Tripe Soup – Ciorba de Burta

Traditional Romanian soup called “tripe soup” is created with beef tripe, garlic, sour cream, eggs, and vinegar. It’s a meal that any serious food enthusiast must eat because of its incredible creamy texture. The soup is flavorful and somewhat spicy. Parsley’s vivid green color contrasts beautifully with the soup’s cozy golden hue. You may freeze it when it has cooled and it will keep fresh for up to 4 months.

13. Cheese Donuts

The finest doughnuts ever are these papanasi, or Romanian fried doughnuts! Every bite is a perfect treat, being soft but crispy, dripping with sour cream and blueberry jam. It is understandable why they are the most popular dessert in Romania.
Both kids and adults will like these since they are quick, simple, and extremely tasty to create.

 

14. Sweet Dough Rolls – Mucenici

The desert has the name of the Mucenici vacation in Romania. The Forty Martyrs of Sebaste are honored at this Christian feast. Emperor Licinius, who had been persecuting Eastern Christians for a while, murdered forty Roman troops close to Sebaste in 320. Since their martyrdom has been memorialized for generations, the Mucenici festival was born. To represent the human shape of the martyrs, the dough is twisted into a figure of eight in this manner.

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Best Destinations in the Balkans

A list of beautiful places to visit.

Albania

Theth and Valbona
 

This part of the Albanian north side is something that you can’t miss of the Balkans. The hike from Theth to Valbona is a three-days adventure that includes a ferry ride, staying with locals, and dragging yourself over the mountains.
After arriving on land, you’ll drive through the mountains to reach the village of Valbona. Some houses are smack bang in the middle of nowhere.
The next morning, you’ll throw on your hiking boots and make your way to the mountain Theth. Babbling creeks, heaps of pine trees, and some pretty epic views will accompany your way. Don’t forget to visit also the blue eye in Theth.

Riviera

One of the most beautiful places in the Balkans is the Albanian Riviera. Its beaches are brightened with turquoise waters located next to green mountains.
Some of the best beaches are settled near Himara, Vlora, Borsh, Jala, Dhermi, Saranda, and Gjipe. You can have delicious seafood and vegetable dishes mixed with grilled meat cuisine.

Berat

Berat is a must-see town in Albania. A UNESCO town that’s often referred to as the town of one thousand windows, due to its architecture.
Wander around the town and make sure you visit the castle. The city is set right next to the river, which is surrounded by beautiful scenery. Find the few wineries in the area and taste the Albanian flavors.

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra is known as the city of stones. A UNESCO listed because of the old-style houses that you can find throughout the city. Although the area has been inhabited since at least the Bronze age, most of the buildings are from the 17th and 18th centuries.


Saranda

Located south of Albania, with the Monastery of 40 saints, that shouldn’t be missed. Not too far away, you can find the ancient city of Butrint. You should visit the ancient place, walk around the park, and immerse yourself into the history. Another local recommendation it the archaeological site of Finiq.
If seafood is your thing, then you will enjoy your time around the city or head to the old port to find even better.

Tirana


Tirana is the capital of Albania, and the first stop for many tourists arriving in the country. This artistic and upcoming city in Europe has a lot of things to offer. There are great museums, fantastic restaurants and dozens of cafes to soak up the city culture. Tirana is full of events and extremely cheap as well for travelers coming from abroad.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Sarajevo

With a population of 275,000 and a metro area of 643,000 sq. meter, Sarajevo makes the most energetic city of B&H.
Surrounded by the Dinaric Alps and situated along the Miljacak river, Sarajevo lies within the greater Sarajevo Valley of Bosnia.
The city contains a colorful center with an eclectic collection of architecture and rich modern history.

Tuzla

Tuzla is located in northeast of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The town has long been associated with local deposits of rock salt. In the 10th century it was called Soli (Salts), and its present name derives from the Turkish word tuz, “salt.”
Tuzla is known for its site of thermal-power station, and the good rail and road system makes Tuzla a collection point for agricultural procedure. While large quantities of lignite are mined in the basin, and there is a mining institute in the town.

Mostar

The city of Mostar is an easy day-trip from Dubrovnik. Mostar is named after the Mostari takes its name from the bridge-keepers that guarded the city’s bridges in medieval times. The UNESCO-listed Old Bridge was built by the Ottomans in the 16th century and spanned the Neretva River for 427 years.
At the end of July, an annual festival sees brave drivers leap from the Stari Most to the frigid waters below. Visiting Mostar also offers the perfect opportunity to try Bosnian food and the rich and delicious local coffee.

Trebinje

Trebinje has a compact centre with a tiny walled Old Town bordered by a leafy market square. The Trebišnjica River is slow and passes through the town with its banks lined with swimming spots and replicas of waterwheels. Trebije mountains provide a sunbaked background, while hills topped with Orthodox churches scatter the outskirts.

Bulgaria

Pirin National Park

Pirin National Park is located in the Pirin Mountains, in southwest Bulgaria. The park includes seven municipalities in the district of Blagoevgrad: Bansko, Gotse Delchev, Razlog, Sandanski, Strumyani, Kresna, and Simitli.

The park includes one of the oldest reserves in Bulgaria – Bayuvi Dupki – Dzhindzhiritsa.
Within the park, there are more than 182 species of medicinal plants and 1,315 other plant species – roughly 1/3 of Bulgaria’s total. The park also harbors roughly 320 kinds of moss and lichen and 165 varieties of algae.
The wide variety of plant life supports many kinds of animals – more than 2,000 invertebrate species and more than 200 vertebrate species.

Plovdiv

Plovdiv is the second-largest city in Bulgaria. It is situated in the Upper Thracian Plain on both banks of the Maritsa River.
The town was built, since, around seven hills – the hills of Plovdiv (Plovdiv Tepes). Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe – the beginning of its history dates back to 4,000 years BC.
Numerous well-preserved artifacts, from the Roman times, had remained untouched so far. Cobblestoned streets, fortress walls, buildings, water supply and sewerage systems are still visible around Plovdiv.

Sofia

We can describe Sofia as one of the most overlooked capitals in Europe. Located in the Western part of Bulgaria and it is easily accessible. Sofia’s charm is hidden in its tiled streets, cozy restaurants and bars, delicious food and a beautiful view of the mountains nearby. It holds a mixture of communism and historical buildings. The major attraction of Sofia is the St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral.

Croatia

 


Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik looks like a fortified city with its ancient walls that protected the capital for centuries. The city is full of limestone streets, baroque buildings and an endless shimmer of the Adriatic Sea.
The city has sprung up with vigor, enchanting its visitors, since. Visit Dubrovnik is an experience filled with museums, arts, artefacts, and history.

Lokrum Island

Lokrum is conveniently located on a short ferry ride from Dubrovnik Old Town. Spending a day or just a half-day there can be a really refreshing experience, as the island has plenty of pine, cypress and olive trees as well as some other subtropical vegetation which offers tranquility and shade, especially during the hot summer days.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park, named after the Krka River, lies about 10 km inland from Sibenik in this part of Dalmatia. The National Park covers an area of just over 142 square km and includes two-thirds of the river itself. The top attraction of the park is its magnificent waterfalls. A boat trip through the park is a great way of seeing other highlights, including the small island of Visavac and Roski.

Istrian Penisula

Istria is the largest peninsula in Croatia, located on the very west part. It looks like a triangle and is a very popular destination for tourist and travelers due to its close vicinity to Italy, Slovenia and Austria, as well as its large coastline, full of small and larger bays with hundreds of places and villages offering tourist services.

Kosovo

Prizren

Heading to Kosovo? Try Prizren!
Prizren is a small city near the Albanian border but within easy reach of a host of other nearby Kosovan towns. Despite being popular with tourists, Prizren hasn’t tried to hide its cosmopolitan culture and history. The result is a town that’s bustling with life, history and architecture – even in the winter months.

Pristina

If you’re looking for a place to go and relax, Pristina is the place for you. The city has plenty of cafes, things to do and a rich history.
While you’re in the city, make sure you visit the Cathedral of Saint Mother Teresa. You can climb the stairs for 1 euro and get a nice view of the city. Another recommendation is to visit Germia Park, which is located not far from the center as is a popular hangout for locals in the summer.
If you’re a lover of street art, then make sure you visit Rruga B (Street b). There are over 1000 meters of wall covered in beautiful graffiti done by local artists. The wall is run by a non-profit organization which promotes art within the community.

Peja

Kosovo might be a small country in the Balkans, but it has plenty to offer. One of the most beautiful places to visit is the city of Peja. It’s a lively city with a bazaar and mosques that date back to Ottoman times, as well as some great shopping streets and restaurants.
Peja is also a perfect place to get a feel for Kosovo. You can stroll through its new shopping areas and explore its old part of town with its lively bazaar—or you can take a day trip up into the mountains to see Rugova canyon or head out on one of many hikes in the region.

North Macedonia

Lake Ohrid

Ohrid is one of the most popular spots in North Macedonia, and for good reason. The city has a beautiful setting on Lake Ohrid, with the church of St John perched on the hill above it. It’s one of the most photographed spots in the Balkans!
The city is small and easy to explore. You could easily spend a few days in Ohrid, enjoying the view, wandering the streets of the old town and checking out the medieval churches and ruins. The city is small and is one of many UNESCO protected places within the Balkans.

Shkup/Skopje

Skopje is an underrated gem, and there’s a lot that you can do here.
You’ll quickly realize that this is one-of-a-kind city: the center is full of weird and quirky statues and newish buildings that resemble ancient ones, the local bazaar is the biggest one in the Balkans (after Istanbul), and the brutalism architecture is a masterpiece here.
Skopje is also a perfect base for nature’s half-day trips. The nearby Mount Vodno and Matak Canyon are an ideal getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city. Skopje is also a perfect value for money, accommodation and food are really affordable here.

Bitola

Bitola is the southernmost city in North Macedonia. It sits on the Dragor River, and it’s at an elevation of 2,019 feet (615 meters). The city was founded in the 5th century by Slavic tribes who were later forced out by the Romans.
There were 60 mosques in Bitola, of which 12 remain today. In World War II, Bitola was occupied by German troops and suffered severe damage before being liberated by British forces at the end of 1944.

Montenegro

Kotor

The best thing to do in Montenegro is wander around the old town of Kotor and soak up the culture, architecture, and friendly people who call this place home. The cobbled-lined streets are absolutely gorgeous, and it’s easy to get lost among them.
If you want to stay a bit busier, though, check out the local zig zag path route back down—it’s a beautiful walk through several drink stalls made by the locals

Budva

Budva (Будва) is Montenegro’s most-visited destination, and it’s easy to see why. The seaside town has tons of atmosphere – it’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for a more tranquil vacation. It’s also packed with bars and clubs, which means it’s not nicknamed “the Montenegrin Miami” for nothing.
The Old Town is delightful: there are plenty of charming architecture and historic buildings to explore, as well as a number of museums that draw in visitors from all over the world. The beaches are also beautiful – The Budva Riviera is one of the best in the country. There’s something for everyone here!


Durmitor National Park

Durmitor National Park in Montenegro is one of the Balkans’ most beautiful natural reserves. With its gorges, plateaux, and mountains, the park transitions from a Mediterranean to an alpine environment in a matter of kilometers.
The village of Zabljak serves as a base for visiting Durmitor National Park. It has the atmosphere of an alpine resort and is mostly utilized for winter skiing in the Alps. However, I believe that staying there in the summer and going trekking, climbing, or wildlife spotting is much better.
Crno Lake (Black Lake, in English) is one of the park’s most picturesque places, surrounded by pine forest and spectacular mountains. On a hot day, it’s a great place to go canoeing or swimming.

Lake Skadar

The lake that Montenegro shares with Albania, Skadar Lake, is among its most stunning features. You can drive around it and take in the scenery, but if you want to take a boat tour, you can get a somewhat greater sense of the lake.
There are several businesses in the town of Virpazar that may provide you with a personalized or group tour. We had a great time traveling on our reed boat with the other four passengers.

Serbia

Belgrade

Serbia’s capital city is Serbo-Croatian Beograd, also known as the “White Fortress.” It is located in the north central region of the nation near the meeting point of the Danube and Sava rivers.
Three historically significant routes connecting Europe and the Balkans meet in Belgrade: one that runs east-west along the Danube River valley from Vienna to the Black Sea; another that runs west along the Sava River valley toward Trieste and northern Italy; and a third that runs southeast along the valleys of the Morava and Vardar rivers to the Aegean Sea. The Pannonian Basin, which contains the significant grain-growing area of Vojvodina, is to the north and west of Belgrade.

Subotica

Subotica, a significant cultural hub in Vojvodina and one of Serbia’s most stunning cities, even served as the heart of a fantastical empire in the sixteenth century.
Only 10 kilometers separate the Serbian-Hungarian border from one of Vojvodina’s most picturesque cities. The development of this city has been greatly affected by its location on the border between two powerful empires—the Austro-Hungarian and the Ottoman Empire—between Europe and Asia. The city has been inhabited by people of many nations and religions throughout antiquity.

Nis

Nis is one of the oldest cities in Europe and the third-largest city in Serbia. A large portion of Nis’ inhabitants were either massacred by the Germans during World War II or transferred to the adjacent concentration camp at Crveni Krst.
Both the Ottomans, who built the skull tower, and the Romans, who left the fortress’s Roman remains, both occupied this city (a literal tower made of actual skulls). As you can see, Nis has a rich and fascinating history!

Tara National Park

Legend has it that the Illyrian gods frequented Tara, a peak in Serbia. The supreme deity Tar chose (and named) Tara as the location for the construction of his throne due to its special allure. Tara National Park is one of the most beautiful sites to visit in Serbia as a result, therefore you should give it top priority on your travel schedule.
It is worthwhile to spend a day at Tara National Park if you are traveling to western Serbia, even if you are only passing through.

Slovenia

Lake Bled

Lake Bled is one of the most beautiful places that I’ve ever visited. The town is popular year-round for its photogenic qualities and outdoor activities. Take a trip out to the island in the middle of the lake, which has been a popular pilgrimage site for centuries.

Piran

The Gulf of Trieste encircles the ancient harbor town of Piran, which is situated on a small peninsula. The town bears the scars of Venetian control for half a century. Walking and cycling are made easy along the long, broad trails that follow the shore from north to south.

Ljubljana

Ljubljana is brilliantly, defiantly, itself, a modern hub where the local farmers’ market stocks vegetables grown just a stroll away by old women in their allotments. While the architecture and delectably in the remarkable local cuisine may be replete with spectacular international influences. With a sizable student population, this charming city on the banks of the willow-lined Ljubljanica River has a hustle and vibrancy that is unmatched by any other. Ljubljana is the place to go if you want to experience a seductive urban area that nevertheless has a true feeling of who it is.

Caves of Slovenia

There are a ton of breathtaking views in Slovenia that simply appear in front of you while you create priceless campervan memories. However, some are genuinely concealed beneath the surface of the soil and require a little more work to find.
The scenery of Slovenia’s south-west is unique because it is more varied, uneven, and devoid of most visible water surfaces. Grounds are made of soluble rocks, primarily gypsum, dolomite, and limestone. Due to their lack of water retention, these boulders disintegrate when rainfall that is somewhat acidic seeps through their pores and fractures, leaving behind some amazing natural formations.
In Slovenia, there are more than 10.000 recorded caves, with roughly 100 being found year.

Turkey

Istanbul

Travelers love Istanbul because there is so much to see, see, and eat there. Additionally, it has two airports with reasonably priced flights, making it a wonderful place to begin a trip to Turkey. Visit the blue mosque, the largest mosque in the city, as soon as you can.
Even if you are not religious, the beautiful architecture of this cathedral will wow you. Don’t forget to dress appropriately; if you don’t, you won’t be able to enter. If you’re not dressed appropriately, you can don one of their cloaks.
Getting a pickle juice and a fish sandwich from the Bosporus and enjoying them there is another fantastic thing to do in Istanbul.

Cappadokia

The region with the most unique sceneries, maybe ever! The historical region of Cappadocia is distinguished by rock formations that resemble chimneys. They are known as fairy chimneys, and they are present all across Cappadocia. Multiple volcanic eruptions in the region led to the development of the rocks.
Cappadocia’s history is also quite intriguing. Make sure to go to the Goreme Open Air Museum so you may experience life within a chimney firsthand. Houses, monasteries, and cathedrals are in ruins. One of the most visited places in Turkey and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is Cappadocia. Taking a hot air balloon flight above the area is one of the most popular activities for visitors.

Pamukkale

The Pamukkale white stone terraced hot baths are another well-known and stunning natural attraction. Nature created these hot springs. You can see why Pamukkale is called cotton candy when you get there!
These pools have sustained a great deal of damage over the years, to the point that parts of them have turned yellow. Fortunately, they are being preserved now, and maybe with time, they will recover. While you’re on vacation in Turkey, I strongly suggest going to this UNESCO monument.

Romania

Maramures

The great majority of tourists to Romania choose to stay in the country’s more well-known regions, with Transylvania being the most well-liked. Even while it’s a beautiful area to visit, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. However, up in the very north of the nation is the gorgeous county of Maramures, one of our favorite destinations to travel in Romania. It’s like traveling back in time when you visit the magnificent Maramures region.
The entire area is made up of undulating hills and twisted valleys that are populated with sheep and haystacks. Every dozen or so kilometers, the highway, which is really just a skinny, two-lane road, goes through a little rural community.

Sighisoara

Sighisoara is a charming old city that is well worth the journey, I promise! This charming medieval village is unlike any other. Explore the historic cobblestone alleys while admiring the vibrant homes that border the confined lanes.
To obtain a beautiful view, make sure to go to the church in the old town at the top of the hill.
For a wonderful perspective and insight into the city’s history, you may also climb the clock tower in the center.

Bucharest

The capital city of Bucharest exudes a particular allure. Numerous individuals fall in love with Bucharest since there are so many things to do there, such as exploring the old town, learning more about the communist past, sitting in one of the numerous cafes and people-watching, or admiring one of the many stunning cathedrals.
The cuisine scene in Bucharest is also growing, with several excellent restaurants located all around the city. There is a wonderful combination of hearty Romanian food and a burgeoning international dining scene. An excellent approach to explore the city’s culinary culture is to go on a food tour!

Greece

Thessaloniki

The 34-meter-tall “Lefkos Pyrgos” (“white building/tower”), which is situated just by the seaside, is the most recognizable and distinctive feature of Thessaloniki. It once made up a portion of the city’s protective walls. A popular and active promenade also stretches the length of the seashore from the White Tower to the port.
Our favorite area in Thessaloniki is this one; it’s a well-liked gathering place with lots of great cafes and pubs to hang out in.
The historic portion of the city, which lies farther from the seaside, features many adorable cobblestone lanes adorned with orange trees. Some of the greatest traditional Greek eateries may be found here, including “Prytanio,” “Kanoula,” and “Tripia Potiria.”
There are regular flights from Thessaloniki to much of Europe from its international airport. The city’s primary train station is situated right in the middle of the city for visitors coming by train.

Aegina

You may travel there for as little as $8 if you choose one of the daily few boat alternatives. When you visit Aegina, you’ll be happy to learn that the fish is excellent and that the island’s biggest export is pistachios. The only site in Greece where pistachios are grown is on the island of Aegina, which is recognized by the European Union.
The Temple of Aphaia, which was constructed on Aegina in or about 500 BC, is another attraction worth seeing. Since the island is not very big, it is easy to travel throughout it by taxi or rental vehicle. If you’d prefer to journey there more slowly, there is also public transit accessible.

Athens

Athens is one of the locations you really must see if you are traveling through the Balkans. With a population of just under 4 million, Athens is a thriving city that provides a variety of historic buildings, Byzantine cathedrals, contemporary districts, lots of street art, and a dynamic atmosphere at all hours of the day and night. Athens won’t let you down whether your interests are in history, shopping, nightlife, or cuisine.
For stunning views, climb Areios Pagos, Filopappou Hill, or Lycabettus Hill. Alternatively, have a drink at one of the many rooftop bars near Monastiraki or Acropolis Metro Stations.
You will discover that Athens has a distinct, vibrant atmosphere when it comes to contemporary culture. There are several marketplaces and shopping districts to discover, including the Monastiraki flea market, the Plaka neighborhood’s gift shops, and the central market in the Psirri neighborhood.
Make sure to include items in your schedule if you want a peek at everyday life in the area. Last but not least, savor some delectable Greek cuisine.

Chalkidiki

The area of Chalkidiki is one of the least recognized in Greece while having so much to offer tourists all year long. Thessalonika is a significant and vibrant Greek city that air, train, automobile, or sea can reach. The Sithonia and Kassandra peninsulas in the Aegean Sea, known for its incredibly picturesque islands and the small but very endearing population. This historic region on the outskirts of Central Macedonia has important tourist attractions such as the sacred Mount Athos (only accessible to men, although everyone can appreciate its beauty from one of the tourist boats that daily are as close to their coasts.
Aegean Sea is renowned for its breathtakingly beautiful islands, and Stageira, a small yet quaint island that was home to numerous people, including the Greek philosopher Aristotle.

Ioannina

The Epirus region’s capital, Ioannina, is centered on the lovely Lake Pamvotida. This body of water, which serves as the region’s unmistakable emblem, characterizes the town’s natural setting, climate, and personality. The lake is a natural landmark around which the entire region revolves, with its calm waters and little island. Visitors get the chance to learn about the origins of Epirus’ intellectual life thanks to the town’s rich cultural traditions, which have produced many notable authors and poets, as well as the artistic and intellectual events that are held all year long.
A stroll around the city has the air of a bygone period, full with undiscovered locations and living stories. Wonderful structures like the House Matei Hussein, the Veli Pasha Ottoman Mosque, and the entire town’s historic center are distinctive attractions.

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The Delicious Balkan: Taste of Mediterranean Cuisine

Balkan cuisine is extremely diverse and serve as a symbolic marker of boundaryless unity!

What is Balkan Food?

Balkan cuisine is extremely diverse and serve as a symbolic marker of boundaryless unity between regions’ nations, religious rituals, traditions and holidays.

It is a fact the Balkan food is actually a combination of several cuisines of Mediterranean, Eastern and African. Different flavors, intense aromas and a great variety of colors have been adopted by local communities and developed with them.

Best of the Balkans
Starters

1. Dips – Ajvar, Pindjur and Lutenitsa

In the delicious Balkan cuisine, sauces, dips and condiments are common ingredients. Someone typically serves them as starters, either with meat dishes or as salads. It may also serve them as starters. The most well-known sauce is ajvar, which is made with roasted red bell peppers and eggplants and served throughout the autumn months.
They used different names in Bulgaria’s national dish, Lutenitsa and Pindjur in North Macedonia.

Balkan countries are always home to these popular dips and spreads. You can sample them and ask what ingredients were used in creating them. With cheese and meat dishes, you can snack on these dips and spreads.

Food in the Balkans

2. Meze

Meze is an appetizer enjoyed throughout the Balkan Peninsula, Western Asia, and North Africa. Made with a variety of different ingredients and has spicy taste. It is frequently consumed with alcoholic beverages.

In Serbia, Bosnia, and Montenegro, for example, meze can be prepared with kajmak, ajvar, salami, suho or suvom mesom (cured meat), kulen (paprika-flavored sausage), and various pastries.

Southern Croatia, Herzegovina, and Montenegro, on the other hand, are home to more Mediterranean fare such as pršut and pancetta.

In Bulgaria, they often serve meze with lukanka (spicy sausage), sujuk (spicy sausage), sirene (white brined cheese), kyopolou, and Shopska salad.

3. Kajmak

Kajmak is an unripen cheese made from water buffalo, cow, sheep, or goat’s milk. It is popular in Albania, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Serbia, where it is often eaten as meze with bread.

4. Yogurt

Have you ever tried Balkan yogurt? It is an unsweetened and sour yogurt. It is produced in countries across the Balkan region. Yogurt is frequently consumed as a savory drink in various regions of the Balkans.

5. Burek/Byrek

Bureks are the most well-known street foods in the Balkans. This flaky pastry is made from phyllo dough and is filled with meat, cheese, spinach, or jam. They originated from the Ottoman Turks, who first introduced them in the region.

Meat Dishes

Sarma

It’s difficult to describe the taste of sarma, which is referred to as wrapped in Turkish, and signifies grape leaves or stuffed cabbage throughout the Balkans. Sarma is stuffed cabbage stuffed with rice and minced meat and pork. In Albania is called japrak or dollma in Greek. Sarma is traditionally prepared at home, but some restaurants may serve it in the winter.

Grilled

The Balkans have grilled meat dishes as an essential part of their cuisine. Although pork is the most typical, chicken, lamb, and veal are available, too. You can find grilled meat on several Balkan menus. Grilled meat is found in several menus around Balkan countries. This meat is usually prepared in a variety of styles, including slow-cooked stew, cabbage, and peppers stuffed with it. They are grilled and served as street food, too.

Cevapi/Llukanik

Cevapi, Ćevapi, Cevapcici, and Ćevapčići are all common Balkan sausages. They are made up of pork, beef, and lamb, with varying proportions. Cevapi sausages are made by hand and do not contain sausage casing. They are served grilled as a street food.

Lamb cooked under the bell

The Balkans have a traditional way of cooking Lamb meat under a bell. This bell-shaped lid is known as sač or saç and is used to cook Lamb or any other meat. It is buried in hot embers and cooked slowly for several hours until it falls apart. This method gives to the meat a juicy taste, spread of flavor and aromas. It has its origins in Ottoman cuisine and is widespread in Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and others.

Gulash

Originated in Austro-Hungary, Goulash is the Balkans’ staple food. In the Balkans, it is a thick stew made from beef, veal, pork, lamb, or sometimes wild game meat. Gulash is filled with onion, pepper, tomato, and carrots. It is eaten as a primary meal with pasta, potatoes, or polenta in Albania, Kosovo, Greece, Bulgaria and Serbia.

Pljeskavica

In the Balkan, every country has its own way of serving a burger. Milovan Mića Stojanović, Tito’s personal chef, is credited with developing the pljeskavica recipe.

The burger is served with sliced onions, shredded cabbage, and ajvar sauce. The patties are slightly charred, giving them a nice crunch.

Kebap/Cevapi

You must eat kebap if you aren’t a vegetarian. Kebap is a grilled meat mixture, similar to a meatball, but longer. The main ingredients are pork, beef, and lamb, along with garlic, baking soda, paprika, salt, and parsley. Sometimes you may find it filled with white cheese (kajmak). It is typically served with bread and onion, or with pita-bread in Greece. It is a popular street food in Albania, Kosovo, Greece and Serbia. In Albania, they may serve it with bread and salad for dinner.

Gyros

A gyro is a well-known and favorite Greek dish made with grilled spiced meat shaved off a vertical rotisserie. Gyros are typically served with pita-bread, fried potatoes, tomatoes, onions, and tzatziki.

It is similar to the Turkish, Lebanese, and Mexican versions of this dish, respectively. Pork and chicken are common choices for gyros, but it may serve beef and lamb sometimes depending on the region. This dish can be served also on a plate with pita-bread, fried potatoes, vegetables, tzatziki, and lemon on the side.

Best Fish and Seafood in The Balkans

Lake Fish – Fresh Trout and Carp

The Balkans’ local cuisine is heavy with fish from the rivers and lakes. One of the most common fish we ate in the Balkans is crap. Trout, from Lake Ohrid which is a Macedonian-Albanian shared lake, is a very popular too. In Montenegro, sampled carp is popular. This fish grows in the Lake Skadar, which is Europe’s largest lake.

Octopus salad

Octopus salad is a classic example of how a simple recipe can be elevated to something special. The octopus is cooked until tender and then dressed with lemon juice, olive oil, and salt. A few slices of red onion add some color and crunch while the garlic adds a subtle flavor. The result is a delicious salad that’s perfect for summer entertaining.

Mussels

Mussels are a prized food in the Mediterranean region. In Greece, they are called mydia (Greek: μύδια) and they are often eaten raw or lightly steamed.

Black Squid Ink Risottos

Black Squid Ink Risottos are a specialty of Albania and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The name comes from the fact that the risotto is colored black with squid ink.

Seafood Stew

This is a hearty soup that is made with a combination of seafood, including shrimp, mussels, clams, and scallops. Something traditionally made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, olive oil, and herbs.

Fish Soup

Fish soup is a rich soup that is made with fish, vegetables, and seasonings. It’s a typical Greek dish.

Grilled Octopus

Grilled octopus is a popular appetizer that is made from octopuses that have been marinated in lemon juice, oregano, and salt. They also served this dish as primer.

Vegetarian dishes

Grilled vegetables

Balkan regions are known for their rich natural vegetation and curative herbs. Vegetables have always a place on the table, especially in Albania, Kosovo, Greece, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and North Macedonia. As a result, you will find lots of different types of vegetable dishes that range from salads to grilled ones. Below are some of the most popular veggie dishes that you can order at a restaurant in the Balkans:

• Cabbage (njoki) – A traditional Bosnian cabbage dish. It is basically shredded cabbage cooked with onions, tomatoes, and spices. It’s best eaten raw or lightly steamed.

• Eggplant (brukirica) – An eggplant dish similar to baba ghanoush, it’s made by frying slices of eggplant until crispy, then seasoning them with salt, pepper, and chili flakes.

• Peppers – Paprika is a condiment made from dried peppers. It comes in various colors, including red, yellow, green, purple, and black. It’s great sprinkled with potatoes, pasta, or even eggs.

• Tomatoes (brinza) – Brinza is a tomato-based sauce that’s made from tomatoes, onions, and vinegar. It’s great over pasta, pizza, or simply on its own.

Risottos

Risottos are rice dishes that vary widely across the Balkans. From Greece, to Albania, to Serbia, to Croatia, to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and so on, each country has their own unique style.

Tarator

Tarator is an unusual soup served as cold. Made from cucumber and natural yoghurt with garlic and dill to add flavor, it is refreshing in the hot summer months, similar to gazpacho in Spain. Tarator soup is popular in Bulgaria, Albania and Greece.

STUFFED PEPPERS/ DOLMA

This is a very popular dish you find throughout the Balkans in different variations. Most of the cooked peppers are stuffed with white cheese, long with a mixture of other herbs and ingredients. Some variations are stuffed with rice and meat too, which is very common. Stuffed peppers can be a great option if you are vegetarian, although some use meat inside, so always double-check.

Pasulj/Grosh/Fasoli

Pasulj is a common Balkan food which is bean soup. This is the perfect winter food as it’s warming and very cheap to make. It’s sort of like baked beans which are commonly eaten in western Europe. You can find this dish in the likes of Croatia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Albania, Greece and Slovenia.

Blitva and potatoes

Blitva and potatoes are typically served as a side dish with fish, though it can be a meal in and of itself. Found along the Adriatic Coast, this dish combined blitva (a cross between spinach and swiss chard) with boiled potatoes. Fresh garlic and onions may be added for a simple, yet delicious veggie-friendly dish!

Drinks

Coffee culture in the Balkans is huge, to the point where coffee is pretty much a food group in itself.

Brought into the region in the 16th century by the Ottomans (the first coffee shop in Europe was in Belgrade!), the most traditional type of coffee in the Balkans is what you may know as ‘Turkish coffee,’ but you will hear it referred to as Bosnian coffee, Greek coffee, Albanian coffee, or simply just domestic coffee in Serbia.

Unlike espresso in Italy, which is gulped down while standing at the bar, coffee in the Balkans is savored, and it can take hours to drink a single cup, so sacred is the coffee culture there!

Rakija (or rakia, rakiya, raki) is the collective term used for a family of fruit spirits widely consumed in the Balkans. It’s made using a variety of fruit like plum, grape, apricot, or mulberry, and typically contains an alcohol content of about 20% ABV. When produced at home, which is common, it’s often higher.

In Croatia, a type of herbal rakija called travarica is often served at the start of meals with dried figs. Depending on where you go, you’ll find rakija flavored with different ingredients like anise, myrtle, walnut, mistletoe, honey, plum, and pear.

In Albania, rakia is deeply rooted in tradition. It’s produced everywhere with one of the most famous rakia-making regions being Skrapar in southern Albania. Skrapar rakia is considered the best and a must at many Albanian festive ceremonies.

Boza
Boza is one of the most surprising traditional drinks we discovered in the Balkans. It is a fermented non-alcoholic drink that can be traced back to the Ottoman Empire.
Depending on the country, the ingredients differ. It can be made from corn, wheat, fermented wheat, or millet. And, the taste can vary from slightly sour to sweet.
It is consumed as a refreshing drink. And, in Bulgaria, it is consumed as a popular breakfast beverage.

Dhalla/Ayran
This is a popular drink in Turkey, as well as Albania and Kosovo. Ayran or Dhalle, is a salty yoghurt drink! It may sound disgusting but try having it with a meat dish or something spicy and it’s delicious. This is a popular drink with a meal to ‘help with digestion’. It’s mostly consumed in the summer when it’s hot and you need something super refreshing.

Desserts

Cozonac

There’s nothing quite like Christmas in the Balkans. However, Cozonac takes the cake (pun intended) for one of the most beloved desserts around the holidays. This is a traditional Romanian sweet bread made with raisins, Turkish delish, nuts, and cocoa cream. 

Baklava

Baklava is one of the most iconic desserts in the Balkans. You can find this treat layered with thin pastry, nuts, and honey throughout the Balkans and Middle East today. It is extremely sweet, unlike some of the other Balkan deserts!

Tulumba is the closest you’ll get to churros in the Balkans. This fried dough dates back to the Ottoman Empire, and today you can find it throughout the Balkan region, but especially in Albania and North Macedonia. The dough is fried and then soaked in syrup, sometimes with sugar and cinnamon added.

Mekitsa/Petulla

Next on our Balkan food list, we have mekitsa, another Albanian, Greek and Bulgarian breakfast. They make it from balls of kneaded dough that are deep fried. In Albania, they are called petulla. Imagine donuts and you get the idea what petulla is like.
Also found in North Macedonia and Serbia. They usually dusted mekitsa with icing sugar and served with jam, honey, or white cheese.

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Vjosa River: Wild Source for Life

Natural Heritage!

The river isn’t only stunning, Vjosa is a source which many wild beings and their existence depend on. The river is one of Europe’s last living wild rivers. Vjosa River is a natural heritage, and a source that plays a significant role in conveying social, cultural, and economic values. The damage of its waters, the surrounding nature and the life that springs out from the pathway of the river will be a significant loss for Albanian nature and social-economic development.

Vjosa is an untamed river that flows freely, and its course is about 270 km long. The river’s passage is characterized by beautiful canyons, plaited river sections, islands, oxbows and meandering stretches. Some areas of the river are over 2 km in width. What makes Vjosa River really outstanding is the fact that almost all its tributaries are free-flowing and intact as well. These tributaries create a network of streaming rivers that you can’t find in other European rivers.

The river’s source begins in Greece, near Vouvoussa village. Vouvoussa is the ancient name for Vjosa. About 80 km of the river flows through Greece and it’s named Aoos. In Albanian territory, the name Aoos turns to Vjosa. The meandering lower part opens up into a valley with extensive wetlands, providing habitats for spawning fish, migratory birds and others. Finally, it meets with the Adriatic Sea, north of the Narta lagoon.

Biodiversity

The Vjosa River in Albania represents one of the last intact large river system in Europe. It hosts all different types of ecosystems: from narrow gorges to wide braided river sections in the middle part. While, natural delta spreads near the Adriatic Sea. When it comes to the biodiversity, the river is one of the least explored rivers in Europe. Very few studies are at hand so far. However, these few existing studies underscore the importance of the river valley as Albania’s biodiversity hotspot, providing ideal aquatic habitats for numerous species.

[1] The free flowing Vjosa is of substantial importance for various migratory fish species, i.e., the critically endangered European Anguilla as well as sub-endemic fish species like the Ohrid loach and the Pindus stone loach. In terms of bird populations, the area provides breeding ground for Stone curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), Little ringed plover (Charadrius dubius) and others, foraging ground for the Little tern (Sterna albifrons), Egyptian vultures (Neophron percnopterus), and the Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni), as well as an important habitat for the near threatened otter (Lutra). Due to the lack of knowledge, the status of some species is unclear, for example, the Little tern (Sterna albifrons), which is regularly seen in the Poçem area and below, but nesting sites have not been recorded yet. The undisturbed morphodynamical processes with its enormous sediment shift led to a constant natural regeneration of these habitats, as well as to a lateral erosion, producing large-scale, steep riverbanks. These provide breeding grounds for thousands of Sand martins (Riparia riparia), for Kingfishers (Alcedo atthis), and Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster).

[2] The flora of the Vjosa ecosystem is also impressive. The uppermost river section hosts a variety of endangered endemic plant species, such as the endangered Solenanthus albanicus. The lower valley is characterized by mixed Oak forests (Qurecus sp.) and Strawberry trees (Arbutus andrachne); for the latter the Vjosa valley represents the only habitat in the country. This braided river system is characterized by large gravel banks with pioneer vegetation, islands, side arms, oxbows, ponds, and alluvial forests with Platanus orientalis, Willows (Salix spp.).
In order to bridge the knowledge gap, about 30 scientists from 4 countries and various expertise participated in one week of research in April 2017 on the previously almost unexplored Vjosa river in Albania – in the area of the planned Poçem dam. All experts were amazed by the complexity and sheer size of the river system and every expertise found something at the Vjosa – species, habitat types, dynamic river processes – that has been long lost on all regulated rivers in central Europe. An extensive, 3-year research program is in preparations.

Adventure

In the aspect tourism, Vjosa River offers the best rafting trip in Albania, and Europe. The trip takes you through unique experience of narrow passages and waves that go up to four feet with the water gushing over the sides of the boat. 

Vjosa river’s course is wild and untamed, full of beautiful canyons, braided river sections, islands and oxbows. Rafting in the Vjosa River is an experience of the beautiful wild nature that shouldn’t be missing from your life.

Artc.-Sources:
1, 2 – Sovinc, A. (2021). Protection study of the Vjosa River Valley based on IUCN protected area standards, Belgrade, Serbia: IUCN. iv+40pp

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7 Days in Albania: Summer in North.

You may think of Albania as a country with few places to visit due to its small territory and because it’s newly known in the industry of tourism. But, if you’re going to delve deeper, you’ll discover history, places, and experiences that you don’t expect for Albania.

A naturally formed country with a diverse beauty. On the one side, its coastline with sandy beaches and the popular Albanian Riviera. While, mountains and hills covered by a diverse vegetation and wildlife, sizing up the other side of Albania. Therefore, it offers a two-sided tourism experience for those who visit it.

Below are two itineraries that can be experienced within a week. If you want to see the entire country, then you better expand your visiting days in Albania.

Day 1: Tirana

Your trip will probably start at Tirana. If you’re going to visit the north side of the country, better start it from the capital.
Tirana is full of restaurants and cafe-bars serving up coffee less than €1. The city has interesting open-air markets, vibrant street art, a National Museum, a National Opera and its castle in the Pedonale area. You can find these cultural attractions are nearby the centre of the capital at the Sheshi Skanderbeg.
– Highlights of Tirana
Skanderbeg Square (Sheshi Skënderbe)
The area is around 40.000 sq, found in the centre and assembles the major sights of the city. The National Opera, the Palace of Culture, the National Historical Museum, the famous Clock Tower, and the City Hall are just to name a few. Walking around the streets of Tirana is a pleasant experience.

Et’hem Bey Mosque
A stunning landmark of the city, the little Et’hem Bey Mosque, depicts waterfalls, trees, and other motifs not usually shown in Islamic art.

Mountain Dajti
The mountain is 15 minutes ride and offers the best view of the capital. Zou can do hiking and rest for a while in the beautiful green nature.

Grant Park’s Lake of Tirana
The Artificial Lake of Grant Park in Tirana is the most frequented lake due to its location. Activities you can do here are: boat riding, canoeing and kayaking. You can take your bike and cycle around the lake or enjoy a walking path around the lake.

Bunk’Art Museum
Albania is full of surprises! In Tirana you can visit a real bunker – if you ever wanted had that desire. The Bunk’Art Museum is a highlight when visiting the city. It is a 3000 sq meters underground on the surface from a Cold War Concrete Bunker. The Museum hosts an exhibition of contemporary art, a dark tunnel and private chambers to discover.

At the end of your first day, you can go out to some of Tirana’s fantastic restaurants – there’s something for everyone!

Next days of your trip, should be Shkodra. The most convenient way to get to the city is by rental car. Start early in the morning if you want to avoid traffic and catch up a full day in the Albanian city of culture and poetry.

Day 2 and 3: Shkodër

Shkodra is broadly the most known city of Albania. Also, it’s one of the oldest cities in Europe. Shkodra will quickly enchant you with its cultural heritage. Many poets, artists, musicians, and photographers were born there, and it serves as the gateway to the Albanian Alps.

What to visit on your first day in Shkodër?

– Go to Rozafa Castle

The Rozafa Castle is a special place and a must-see attraction in Shkodër. There is a legend it of a woman that had to be sacrificed in order to build it.
There was an Illyrian stronghold here 2,500 years ago and elements of it were adapted for later fortresses. The Romans also left their mark, but most of the ruins are from Venetian times when the castle was sacked after a siege by the Ottomans in 1478. The castle saw action right up to 1912 when it was defended by the Ottomans against Montenegrin and Serbian forces.

– Visit the Historical Museum
This astonishing museum is located on a steep hill overlooking the city. The building is a former Venetian merchant’s house, even including authentic stone fortifications. The exhibits of the museum are compact and provide detail about ancient activity in the region, the Byzantine era, and Ottoman times, right up to the oppressive regime under Enver Hoxha. In the garden, you will find an original Venetian stone-well and the remnants of a Roman tomb.

– Delight yourself in the open-nature of Shkodra Lake
This expansive lake, the largest in the Balkans, forms a natural boundary between Albania and Montenegro. You could rent a bike in Shkodar to get out there, or catch a bus to the western edge of the city and complete the remaining five kilometers on foot. Not far from the border with Montenegro is the Lake Shkodra Resort, which is a campsite with chalets and camping grounds offering tent rental right on the shore where the lake is set off by the Albanian Peaks in the distant background. You can hire kayaks here or set off on a hiking trip around the beautiful perimeter of the lake.

– Next day (3) start from visiting: Marubi National Museum of Photography

The National Museum of Photography ‘Marubi’ was established as an absolute need to identify and promote the photographic archive created by the Marubi Dynasty and other city of Shkodra photographers, a cultural heritage unique in its kind.

– Ride to Mes Bridge
Spanning the Kiri River five kilometers northeast of Shkoder, is this magnificent Ottoman bridge. For starters, the environment is almost idyllic, framed by the hills of the Maranai Nature Park, and with evergreen vegetation on the banks of a shallow river that draws swimmers in summer. The river has been crossed at this spot for as long as humans have been here, and was on the trade route between Shkodra and Pristina in Kosovo.

– Visit the amazing nature of Shurdhah Island
In the summer, you can catch a boat out to Shurdhah Island, almost 400 metres in length and covered with dense vegetation. Climb onto shore for a small adventure, discovering the last remaining fragments of Sarda, an ancient city. This was an Illyrian settlement, and later a Roman citadel. In medieval times, it was a city famous for its 365 altars and being the seat of Bishops of Sarda and Sapa.

Day 4 to 6: Valbona and Theth

From Shkoder, it is time to start the famous Valbona to Theth hike.
The journey to the alps is a bit of a process but every step is worth it. The first of those steps is taking the most epic ferry ride you’ll ever have.
Really, you cannot leave Albania without at least going on this ferry ride.

Picture towering Norwegian style fjords on all sides of you as you sail across a turquoise river. It’s something special and no picture can embrace it exactly!

The ferry ride is only two hours, but you’ll wish it lasts longer. After arriving at Fierze, it’s a simple drive to Valbona.

Theth to Valbona
Theth and Valbona are two national parks located next to each other in Albania’s north. Theth to the west and Valbona to the East. They are only connected by foot, meaning there are no roads connecting these two national parks. Therefore, many travelers make the trek by foot and it’s one of the most epic hikes you can do.

However, this is only possible in the summer months, as snow often blocks the way. This 6–7-hour hike can only be done between the months of May-September.

– Explore Blue Eye of Theth – day 4
Theth is the most known natural attraction in north Albania. The Blue Eye is the most frequented wild green spot. Approximately 8 km from Theth, you can find the Kaprre village. Here is where the amazing source of natural water springs continuously. The Blue eye is secluded with rocky and green slopes forming a fascinating landscape of natural scenery.


– Go for hiking in Valbona Valley Natural Park – day 5 to 6

Located in the northern part of the country, amidst the Albanian Alps, is the Valbona Valley National Park. The park is around 80 km2 formed by the Valbona River, mountains, alpine landscape, glacial springs, rock formations, waterfalls, and the Valbona Valley. The valley is surrounde by coniferous trees within a dense forest. Valbona is characterized by very remote areas with a large untouched ecosystem and with pristine quality. This vast natural environment is the centerpiece of what has been referred to as the Albanian Miracle of the Alps.

Day 6 and 7: Lezha

Drive backwards through Shkodër to arrive in Lezhe and settle here for one night.
There are 34 natural monuments and 21 cult objects, museums, archeological and historical in the Lezha district. The tourism is the most promising branch for the economic development of this region. Ecological purity of the terrestrial, aquatic and air environment, floral presence with forests, meadows, diverse fauna, suitable climate and other factors, shows that there are all possibilities for the development of a modern and sustainable tourism of all kinds.

– Walk highly up to Lezha Castle
The castle is built on the foundation of the ancient Acropolis about 8th century. The castle has known many phases of construction, all the way to the last one of 1520, by Sultan Selimi I. In the historical and archeological literature, the castle of Lezha is known for a long time as the Castle of Elison. In 2002, after the restoration of the foundations of the Medieval Castle, it was noticed that the thickness of the walls reached up to 14 ft (4.30 m). Until today, 12 gates and 48 defensive towers have been discovered.

– Ancient City of Lissus (Illyrian Stones
Lissus includes the medieval castle, the tomb of the Hero “Gjergj Kastioti” Scanderbeg and some other objects of historical value. The fortification walls of Liss are stronger than those of Apollonia, making this ancient city one of the most prominent in the Illyrian times. The city had two sea ports, a sea man, that of “Nympheum”, today’s Shengjin and the River Port, near Oldrin (today’s Drini)

– The memorial of Scanderbeg
Skanderbeg (Gjergj Kastrioti), was an Albanian nobleman and military commander who led a rebellion and successfully resisted the Ottoman Empire for 24 years.
When he died of malaria in 1468, he was buried in what was the Cathedral of Saint Nicolas in Lezhë. Unfortunately, soon after he dies the Ottomans occupied Lezhë and ransacked the tomb and the Cathedral was converted into a mosque. When the country became a communist state, the building was transformed into the memorial of Skanderbeg with its minaret removed.

– Bird watching in the lagoons of Kune-Vain
These two lagoons lie between the city of Lezha and the Adriatic Sea, on both sides of the river Drini. Three watchtowers have been built for visitors, one in Kune and two in the Vain area. They serve to explore the area as well as to observe the numerous birds. If in Kuna you go for the wonderful beach, in Vain you go for the tranquility of the forest or for sport hunting. In both lagoons are located some of the best restaurants in the area. Explore the lagoons of Kune-Vain for their biodiversity, attractive and relaxing nature.

– Spent your last day in ‘Rana e Hedhun’ Shëngjin
Drive to Shëngjin and rent a room where you desire. The beach there is sandy and forms a long wide coastline. About 3-4 kilometers away from Shengjin, you find a rare geo-monument called Rana e Hedhun. The place has taken its name from the sand that looks like has hit the mountain nearby. While its beach is majestic and surrounded by green hills. Go for a unique experience on one of the most beautiful Albanian beaches. You can travel by speedboat or by car to Rana e Hedhun.

Back to Tirana and Safe travel!

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Best Beaches in Albania

Albanian and its beaches are an experience that makes you fall in love!

Albanian Riviera – Riviera Shqiptare

Albanian Riviera (Riviera Shqiptare), is the country’s coastline along the North-eastern Ionian Sea in the Mediterranean Sea. The Albanian Riviera encompasses the District of Sarandë (Sarandë) and Vlora, found in the Southwestern part of the country.

This part of the Albanian Coast is one of the most popular spots in Europe. There is an abundance of stunning beaches, beautiful scenery and shiny waters accom-panied by delicious local cuisine that has taken its place at the top of the world must-see travel list. Albanian Riviera and its beaches are an experience that makes you fall in love!

Best beaches of Albanian Riviera

Mirror beach – Plazhi i Pasqyrave

Mirror (pasqyrë) Beach is known about its crystal-clear water that seems like a mirror as the sun reflects into it. That’s why it is called mirror beach, or as locals call it – the beach of mirrors (plazhi i pasqyrave).
Mirror beach is located between Saranda and Ksamil, and is isolated by rock for-mations and scenic green surroundings. People rate it as highly beautiful natural attraction.
To get there, you can take the bus from Saranda. Once you arrive at Plazhi i Pasqyrave bus stop, walk to the beach in about 15 minutes downhill.

 

Ksamil 

Ksamil mainland has a white sandy beach meeting with three nearby islands. The crystal waters of the beach are absolutely stunning. The color-clear waters stream alongside a long sandy beach that is made up of many coves that wrap around the ragged landscape.
Ksamil is a village 20 km away from Saranda and very close to Corfu, Greece. The Islands nearby are uninhabited, with two of them positioned so close that you can swim right out to them from the mainland beach of Ksamil.

 

Pulëbardha (seagull) beach

Another hidden gem of the Albanian Riviera is Pulëbardha Beach. The beach is a narrow coastline squeezed between the rock and the turquoise waters of the Io-nian Sea. From the rock on the top, you have can enjoy the most spectacular views at the beach on one side and the shore of Saranda on the other side.

Summer morning sea coast (near Pulebardha beach, Saranda, Albania).

 

Grama Bay

This is the most secluded and hardly accessed beach of the Albanian Riviera. You need to walk around 8 hours to get there or reach on by boat. Grama Bay it’s a newly discovered beach located in Karaburun National Park, and a great option for tourists. It makes one of the most incredible looking beaches.

 

Palasa Beach

Descending the scenic LLogara Pass, the first beach that welcomes you is Palasa Beach. A glorious stretch of white sand spread with a handful of low-key local eateries. Palasa remains the perfect spot for beach bums wanting to avoid crowds, camp alone on the beach and swim in primeval waters.

 

Jalë

Jala beach is known about its profound azure colors. The beach is nestled in the Albanian Riviera and is a secluded-like one. Hills covered in olive groves surround Jala. The beach is a great location for snorkeling, swimming, diving or taking a boat trip.

 

Livadhi (meadow) beach

Livadhi beach is large and placed within the municipality of Himara. Located right down the hill from the old town of Himara Fshat, the beach is popular for its natu-ral sand and scenic surroundings. On the top of the hills, there is the castle of Himara towards which you can do some hiking, including hike to Jala beach in the north.
Livadhi beach is a white stone beach, long and wide, and great for swimming.

 

Borsh

Located in front of the town Borsh, this beach is the largest one on the Albanian Riviera. Stretched over a length of about 7 km, surrounded by green fields and mountains, Borsh beach is characterized by a quietly peaceful environment.
Despite its significant community and olive-oil production popularity, Borsh is barely touched by the tourism and is littler backed by few stopgap restaurants and bars.
Borsh beach has an authentic and natural environment with clean waters that vi-brate under the amazing view of the Ionian Sea. You can experience the most beautiful sunset after a day full of swimming activities.

 

Bunec

The beach is quiet and somewhat unusual, with a river running from above and dividing the pebbly white shore of Bunec. The river runs from the mountains that seclude the beach while it’s comforted by the sea waves and cosmic silence. Bunec beach is located away from any town, in a remote area, and it offers you a scenic view of the hills that surround it. Something that few of Albanians know: the word bunec derives from Latin and is used in the language of the Albanian Vlach population. Bunec in the Vlach language means the beauties and virtues gathered together into a one. [bonus = buono / Vlach, bunë = (blessing) the good as a virtue]

Gjipe

Gjipe Beach tops many lists of best beaches and is not without a reason. The vir-gin beach is quietly located in the natural environment of the Gjipe Canyon, away from any town. To get to Gjipe Beach, you need to take a bit of a hike from the nearby parking lot for about 25 minutes, but it’s well worth the effort to reach this paradise.

 

Adriatic Sea coast

The Adriatic beaches are sandy with low waters, making them suitable for family holidays. The main beaches are those of Velipoja, Shën Gjin, Durrës, Golem, Spille, Divjakë, Vlorë, among others. This part of the Albanian coastline is full of natural ecosystems and rich in lagoons. Adriatic coastline provides wonderful op-portunities for those who’re enthusiastic about the study and observation of birds, as well as those who are interested in ecotourism.

Best beaches of the Adriatic Albania

Durrës & Golem

The beach of Durrës, is located only 39 km from Tirana and is largest and most visited beach in the country. It’s always crowded, and it offers a great and color-ful cuisine. Sea depth increases gradually, meaning the beach is safe for families and children. Durres is the second largest city in Albania and hosts the main port of the country.

Golem beach is located southern of Durrës. Nearby you can find also Mali Robit that is another beautiful sandy shore. Here, the and is white and the sea is filled with crystal waters. There are also some natural monuments, opportunities for walks, or fun with water sports.

 

Shëngjin (“Saint” Shën Gjini)

The beach of Shëngjin is another sandy beach near the Lezha district, located 8 km from the historic city of Lezha. Known for its sand and the fact that here you will find the Sun in 300 days of the year. A very populated area, especially in summer, the Shëngjin area is popular throughout Albania for both the sea and its famous cuisine.

Velipojë

Velipoja beach is the northernmost beach of the country, located 22 km from the city of Shkodra and is one of the favorite destinations for those who love the sea. The beach is characterized by 14 km of coastline which is rich in iodine. A place loved by those who want to practice water sports.

 

Rana e Hedhun

In the north of Shëngjin, there is a wonderful beach called ‘Rana e Hedhun’, which is well protected from the winds of that area. This beach is called in this way because of its high hills overlooking the sea and covered with sand. Rana e Hedhun means Thrown Sand. The beach has the most scenic hills found around Shëngjin, is wide and long while filled with white sand and washed by a blueish sea.

Vlorë
Vlora hosts the second largest port in the country and is one of the Albanian most known centers of tourism. Its beach is one of the most popular in the district of Vlora, especially because it is as center to those who want to dive into the small and rocky beaches of Vlora Bay or visit the port of Orikum.

Gjiri i Lalzit


One of the most attractive beaches of the Albanian Adriatic coast is the Gulf of Lalzi in the north of Durres. Pure crystal water, fine sand and a dense pine forest make this place suitable for those who want to relax in the sea. The beach is only 25 kilometers from the capital of Tirana and is easily accessible.

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Travel in Albania

Albanian, a small country with many gems to discover.

A little known internationally, Albania is a country with a large history, culture and tradition. Since the ancient times, its history has seen substantial changes with the last one in 1992 that brought the collapse of the dictatorship regime. Nowadays, Albania is more open to the world and the tourism industry is developing faster. New ways and info structure related to tourism are modernizing the country. However, Albania has still a lot of places untouched by human hand, something hard to find in other European countries, that are best for adventurers.

Albania is the last frontier of Europe, which is found in the southwest of the Balkans. The country’s life is a mixture of eastern and western world. However, its culture is unique and dominating. You can see this in the country’s cultural heritage and traditions that are still alive even today. Another uniqueness in Albania is the warmth welcome and people’s will to help all foreigners that come to pass through their lands.

Other uniqueness of the country is that you can find the diversity of the enchanting mountains and bright beaches wrapped by the Mediterranean clime. The potential in a small country that can offer warm Ionian seas, Adriatic coast line, cold rivers, mountain and natural parks, fresh food, cheap hotels and friendly population is certainly as great. This is like an all-inclusive package of tourism of all kinds. And the best is that you find these close to each other, meaning that you can build a diversified travel experience or change your plans on the go.

Language

Albanian language, although technically is an Indo-European language, is unique and not related to any other language in the world. Croatian and other Serbo-Slavic languages will not help to communicate with Albanian people. This ancient language has its own branch on the linguistic tree. They call themselves Shqiptar who speak Ship. However, with all historical changes that have happened in the country, from the Roman empire to Byzantine, Slavic expansion and Greek influences, the language is slightly populated by non-Albanian words, too.
Albanian are proud of their language, so try to learn few words as they will really appreciate it. Some basic words you can learn: përshëndetje (hello), faleminderit (thank you), mirë (good or ok), mirëmëngjes (good morning), natën e mirë (good night), ju lutem (please) and mirupafshim (goodbye).

Interesting fact to know

We said above that Albanian are known for their friendly culture and very kind hospitality. If you delve into the history of Albania (Shqipëria) you will encounter that the country has been conquered, burned, disrupted and used as war strategic base by other nations and emperors of the time. Also, people of Albania have been forced to change their beliefs and ancient culture by conquerors over the ages. The fact to know is that Albania has never done such a thing to other nations or populations in its entire history.

A Short list of Best Things to do in Albania

• Hike from Theth to Valbona – in the Alps
• Visit Blue Eye of Theth
• Take a guide to Grunas Waterfall
• Visit Lock-in Tower in Theth
• Visit Valbona and walk around the villages
• Take a ride to Lake Koman – try the ferry
• Visit Marubi Museum of Photography – Shkodër
• Have a golden time at Rana e Hedhun, in Shëngjin
• Swim and camping at Cape of Rodon
• Visit castles of Albania
• Have a day around Durres and the Roman Amphitheater
• Must visit Ethnographic Museums of Albania
• Grama bay for camping
• Ride a car and follow the Albanian riviera, one stop every day-night
• Try delicious and fresh Albanian cuisine
• Drink raki, local wine and become part of everyday life
• Look for agrotourism spots around the country

 

18 Best Places to Visit in Albania

1. Apollonia

Apollonia is an ancient town found on the central coast of Albania. It is found 14 km away from the Adriatic Sea. Apollonia is built on top of a hill nearby to the Vjosa river that connects it with the sea. Unlike other ancient towns of Albania, Apollonia was built within the mainland and 12 km far from it you find the city of Fier. Archeologists refer it as the Albanian Pompei, and they say the Apollonia had played a significant role as a trade intermediary between Hellenes and Illyrians of that time. In the town, at some point, there was also a school for philosophy.

Travel in Albania

 

2. Butrint National Park

Albania’s Butrint National Park is a 9,400-hectare oasis of natural beauty. With its proximity to Greece, the park is also home to numerous historical sites dating back to the Iron Age through the Middle Ages. A guided tour is the best way to explore all that the park has to offer, from ancient ruins to beautiful scenery.
The astonishing archaeological wealth of Albania’s Butrint National Park is world-renowned. In addition to the remains of a basilica, a Roman theater, and a late-antique baptistery, the park is home to two castles. Butrint’s natural beauty has also been recognized by UNESCO, which designated the park a World Heritage Site.
Whether you’re looking to explore history or simply take in some breathtaking scenery, the Albanian National Park is definitely worth a visit.

Travel in Albania

 

3. The city of Berat

Berat is a historic city located in central Albania. The city is known for its many churches and mosques, as well as its castle, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its stone and alabaster buildings form the unique character of the city.

Berat is home to many fig trees and is split by the Osumi river. The city has a reputation for being The City of a Thousand Windows, due to the evenly spaced portals that are cut into the stone facades. Berat is an ancient Illyrian settlement that was turned into a Byzantine frontier town. Nearby the city you can go for hiking to one of the most gorgeous mountains of Albania, Mali i Tomorrit.

 

4. Theth National Park

Theth National Park is one of the most beautiful places in Albania. With its Grunas Waterfall, stunning scenery and the Lock-in Tower, Theth is a designated area of outstanding natural beauty. The mountain peaks of Theth, Boga, Razma and Vermoshi are some of the most unforgettable experiences you can have in Albania. If you’re a hiker or nature lover, Theth should definitely be one of the places you visit during your trip to Albania.

 

5. Valbona Valley

Valbona, a place that has been called ‘the Good-valley’ by its inhabitants, is a valley and river that runs through it. The main village in this area is Valbona, which can be found at the bottom of the valley. A wild, high mountainous region inhabited by reliable and fiercely independent people called “Malesorë” (highlanders) exists here.

The district, bordering with Kosovo to the northeast and Montenegro to the northwest, and Theth National Park in the southwest, is part of the Accursed Mountains and is one of many such regions in Albania. It has been called “Europe’s last wilderness” by some travel guides because its civilization has not touched an unspoiled this natural treasure.

 

6. Lake Koman

If you’re looking for the most breathtaking scenery in the entire Balkans, visiting Lake Koman in Albania should be on your bucket list. Often described as one of the world’s great boat trips, the journey takes visitors from the hydro-electric dam at Koman to the port of Fierza.

While the locals that use the boat regularly may now take this rugged beauty for granted, any first-time visitor will find the sights from this trip to be truly jaw-dropping. The trip on the ferry is also a great opportunity to see what life is like for many Albanians in remote areas.

 

7. Përmet

City of Përmet is known for its thermal springs and its roses spread around the houses of locals. Its springs are highly curative and recommended by doctors. They are located on the banks of the Langarica Canyon. This site of the city attracts hundreds of tourists from all over the world every year. Through the rocks of the canyon flows the Langarica river, known by locals as the blessed river.
One of Përmet’s most distinctive features is its roses, which are found throughout town and in historic houses. If ever heard about Gluko Permeti, this is the place you can find the original.

 

8. Syri i kaltër

Looking for a breathtaking swimming spot in Albania? Then look no further than Syri Kalter, also known as the Blue Eye. This gorgeous river is situated near Saranda and gets its name from its stunningly fountain clear waters. You can enjoy a refreshing swim here during the summer months surrounded by beautiful mountains and lush greenery.

 

10. Gjirokastër

Gjirokastra is one of the most beautiful and unique cities in Albania. It is known for its amazing Ottoman period architecture, with houses that look like small castles. The city also has a great military museum and art gallery in its castle, which dominates the skyline.
Gjirokastra is a beautiful city in Albania that is known for its Ottoman bazaar. Every five years, the city hosts a folklore festival that attracts visitors from all over the country. The last festival was held in 2015 and featured traditional music, dance, and food.

 

11. Llogara National Park

Llogara National Park is a place where you can find some of the most magnificent creatures on Earth. The golden eagle, European wildcat and fallow deer all call this park home.
Ranging from the alpine peaks of the Ceraunian Mountains covered in snow in winter to the sunny Ionian Sea Coast in summer, the Riviera offers something for everyone. Don’t miss the Llogara Pass, which provides a stunning view of tall mountains overlooking the Riviera and several islands in the sea. 

 

12. Tirana

For many visitors, Tirana, the capital city of Albania, can be as a starting point. The city is home to few must-see locations. The people here, like the majority of Albanian locals, are exceptionally friendly. Tirana will surprise you with excellent food and drinks to offer.

The most important place of Tirana is the Skanderbeg Square, where the National Historical Museum can be found. Tirana is the most energetic city of Albania, with cultural activities happening around the city every month. There are galleries, museums and music that bring a sense of artistry to the core of the capital.

 

13. Kruja

Kruja is located a short trip from Tirana. It is home to the national enthographic museum and the Skanderbeg National Hero’s Museum. The museum is located in the Kruja castle which makes the most popular tourist attraction.

The castle is known as the fortress that Skanderbeg – George Kastrioti – defended the country from Ottoman invasion over a period span of three decades. The castle also offers amazing views of the Adriatic Sea.

 

14. Ksamil

Ksamil can be called as the highlight of the Albanian Riviera. It is a remote group of three small islands. They are located just off the coast and can be accessible only by boat.

The Islands are the best example of the untouched and unspoiled nature-kind of Albania. 

 

15. Durrës

Durres is the oldest city in Albania. It is home to the main port of the country and to the biggest amphitheater in the Balkans. In the northern part of the city stretches the coastal bay of Gjiri i Lalzit, one of the most beautiful places to visit.
Tourists should take time and schedule to visit the Durres Archaeological Museum, the Aleksander Moisiu Theatre and the Royal Villa of Durres.

 

16. Shkodër

The Albanians consider Shkodra as the city of culture. It is the largest city of Albania which hosts events such as Carnival, Lake Day, Jazz Fest and Children’s Festival. Is a city full of history that played a special role during the Balkans war.

Shkodra is also the city where many poets, musicians, and legends of Albanian culture were born. The famous Migjeni theatre is in Shkodra with the Marubi Museum that hosts works by earlier Albanian photographers.

 

17. Pogradec

Pogradec is found not for away from central Albania. One of the most up-and-coming places to visit built alongside the shores of Lake Ohrid in the east of the nation.
Lake Ohrid is the deepest lake in the Balkan region. The city is famous for its rich folklore and its hosts the Puppet Theater Festival, one of the most interesting on the calendar.

 

18. Vlora

Vlora is the most popular coastal city in Albania. Located in to the south-west of Albania, Vlora has long been best known for its olive production.
In Vlora, you will meet with many important historic sights. The most famous of them is the Albanian Independence Proclamation Building, which is where Albania declared independence.
The area of Uji i Ftohtë (cold water) in Vlora is popular with younger tourists due to the variety of hip bars and restaurants.

 

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