View of Saranda. Photo: Kristin Conard

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Albania

Albania was a communist country until the 1990s, which meant it was closed to most foreign visitors. With a speculation crisis in the late 90s, you’re likely to see many half-built buildings throughout the country as well as UNESCO World Heritage sites like the city of Berat and Butrint, where climbing around the ancient ruins can make you feel like Indiana Jones.

The southern coast of Albania, where the Adriatic and Ionian seas come together, is a popular honeymoon spot for locals. Much of the country is mountainous, and some good hiking trails can be found in the northern part of the country.

Though the buses may be a bit treacherous – the drivers often hand out plastic bags to use if you get sick – it’s the best way to get from place to place. Keep an eye out for the abandoned bunkers – one was built for every four people, and since they were built to withstand tank attack, the concrete structures can be seen dotting the countryside.

Matador has written about the Balkan tradition of the “evil eye” in Albania, which explains the teddy bears tacked to many of the half-built buildings, and Saranda, the coastal town with views of Corfu.

Albania Articles
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Teddy bears and talismans: Warding off the evil eye in Albania

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Surprise encounter in Saranda, Albania

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5 next big travel destinations

by Tom Coote