Emerging in the early 90s from nearly 50 years of isolationist Communist rule, this wild and picturesque land still feels suspended in time. Although gaining popularity with European travelers, it remains largely untouched by mass-tourism. You'll find all the natural enticements of its popular neighbors—Croatia to the north and Greece to the south—without the disadvantages of being a "destination." Albania's Ionian coastline offers long stretches of white-sand beaches, clear waters, and charming Mediterranean villages. Inland, unspoiled forests, lakes, valleys, and rugged mountains harbor historic towns and traces of cultures long past. The country's pristine beauty and old-style hospitality easily make up for its occasional lack of up-to-the-minute conveniences.
- Gjirokastra Wander through a bustling bazaar and the 13th-century Ottoman atmosphere at this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Ksamil Islands These Mediterranean islands promise endless beaches, shimmering waters, and blessed solitude.
- Berat Called the "town of a thousand windows," its ancient Ottoman houses form a charming mosaic as they sidle up the hill.
- Siri Kalter An entrancing turquoise-blue spring, the richest water source in the country, is too deep even for divers to fathom.
- Ionian Coastline Underdeveloped and unspoiled—hurry before the rest of the world arrives.