Italy, Greece, France, Spain…
These are all coveted cruise destinations that steal the spotlight when it comes to European summer holidays. But hidden on South-eastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula is a different kind of gem. A pint-sized nation with coastlines on the Adriatic and Ionian seas, Albania is quickly emerging as an ‘off the beaten track’ cruise destination for lines wanting to offer their passengers an alternative taste of Europe.
Oh, and for all you football fans out there, Albania has made quite the name for itself at Euro 2016. It’s the first time the nation has competed in a major football tournament, with Albanian prime minister Edi Rama rewarding the team with €1m in extra funding, as well as the new diplomatic passports. Go team Albania!
A nation of culture, scenery and historic allure
The country may be small, but when it comes to variety, Albania shines bright. With luxurious beach resorts, lively nightlife and gorgeous weather, the Albanian Riviera is renowned as a Mediterranean holiday hotspot. Head inland, and the country’s interior is divided by the towering Albanian Alps – a mecca for adventure seekers. Plus, thanks to its rich history that stretches back to ancient times, Albania is peppered with fascinating castles, archaeological sites and other cultural points of interest.
As one of Albania’s oldest and most historic cities, the port city of Durrës is perched on a small peninsula that sits on the Adriatic Sea. Stunning beaches, warm water and stunning architecture have made it one of the country’s most popular tourist destinations. The Ancient City Wall, the Byzantine forum, the Archaeological museum, the Venetian tower, the Monument of Resistance and the Ethnographic museum – just a few of the many unmissable attractions you will find here.
Celebrated as the gateway to southern Albania, Sarande sits in a picturesque horseshoe bay, fringed by mountains on one side and the Ionian Sea on the other. A jewel in the Albanian Riviera, its chic main promenade is lined with stylish hotels, cafes and restaurants, watched over by the city’s majestic castle. Make the climb for stunning panoramic views over Sarande Bay, or day trip to the Ksamili Peninsula to see Butrint, a Graeco-Roman UNESCO World Heritage Site. The 12th century Mesopotamian Monastery and the dazzling Blue Eye spring are other popular ways to spend a day in port.
Ready to expand your perceptions of Europe and explore the allure of Albania? Get in touch with one of our highly experienced Cruise 1st agents today to chat about upcoming Albanian cruises with leading brands like Holland America Line, Azamara Club Cruises and P&O.