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Though it fell behind the Iron Curtain for years, Albania has been rediscovered over the past decade as one of the most fascinating, historic destinations in the world.

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In ancient cities like Berat and Butrint, you can climb among ancient ruins and learn of civilizations from millennia past. Or you can spend some time relaxing on some of Albania’s beaches, little-known stretches of sand that, somehow, haven’t gotten clogged with tourists.

Beyond the beaches and ancient ruins, the land quickly rises into mountains, untouched land rife for high-elevation off-gridding. Then there’s underground — you’ll find wartime bunkers all over the country. The buses here can be hectic, which is why many choose to make Albania part of a Balkan road trip instead. No matter how you choose to visit, budget more than a few days. Just make sure to avoid the evil eye.

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