When dreaming of a European vacation with turquoise waters, pristine beaches, delicious food and gorgeous weather, many likely think of countries like Italy or Greece.
However, a cheaper alternative exists in Europe where you can get the same quality of vacation, minus the costs (and crowds).
Albania, Europe's "last unturned stone," is gaining attention as a prime vacation spot for those looking for all the charms of a classic Euro-vacay without the soaring prices and extreme weather of some of the most popular tourist destinations.
Found along the Adriatic and Ionian seas, Albania features lush coastlines and gorgeous scenery, but generally sees very few foreign visitors compared to places like Rome and the Greek islands, which saw an influx of tourists this past summer.
The country's Mediterranean climate makes it a great spot to visit in summer, but also during the shoulder season, when temperatures are a bit milder. It also sees about 300 days of sunshine a year.
And it's not just the scenery that's drawing visitors -- the country has been described as an affordable travel destination compared to places like Greece and Italy, with the average cost of full-board hotel services for a day's stay ranging from €30 to €300 (about CA$43-437) this summer, according to Euronews.
Beach lovers should plan to head to the Albanian Riviera, where white beaches and turquoise waters have drawn comparisons with those in the Maldives.
Ksamil, a village in the southern Riviera, has been compared to the Maldives, with a number of beachy resorts resembling those found in the South Asian country with wooden villas built above azure waves.
Other notable beaches include Dhërmi, which some consider the best beach in Albania, Gjipe, a beach surrounded by high rocks that gives the feeling of being on a secret island, and Karaburun, a beach within Karaburun-Sazan National Park, a marine park where you'll find Roman ruins and wrecks from the Second World War.
There are also tons of other nature experiences to be had here, like horse riding, hiking, sailing and astrotourism.
The country has also been called an "under-the-radar food destination," sharing dishes and ingredients with its coastal neighbours, like Montenegro to the north and Greece to the south. Baklava, olives and meatballs are some of the classic foods to be tasted here.
Canadian tourists travelling to Albania aren't required to have a visa for stays of up to 90 days in any 180-day period. However, your passport must be valid for at least 3 months beyond the date you expect to leave Albania.
And while some European countries will soon start charging an ETIAS for Canadian travellers, Albania is not one of the countries where this will come into effect.
Before you get going, check out our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.2023-09-09T00:01:54Z dg43tfdfdgfd