Sprawling eastwards from the doorstep of Western Europe, the Balkan region has had a long, convoluted and fascinating history. Read on to learn about the region’s history, starting with the problem of the ‘Balkans’, and…
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Albania tours for seniors.
Albania sits on the Ionian Sea and Adriatic Sea in southern Europe, bounded by Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Greece. This small and mountainous country in the Balkan peninsula had roots in ancient Illyria, and existed in relative isolation for many centuries until its transition to democracy in the 1990s. What was once “Europe’s enigma” now welcomes curious travellers who want to behold Albania’s picturesque mountains, beaches, and ancient cities.
Many tourists visit Albania to experience its natural beauty and view the ruins of monuments left behind by the Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, who once ruled the country as part of their respective kingdoms. Albania is a worthy stop in a trip to the Balkans, which usually includes trips to nearby Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia.
The 2400-year-old city of Berat, originally an Illyrian settlement, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a highlight of your trip to Albania. Another World Heritage Site is the Archaeological Park of Butrint, located in the southernmost part of Albania. Butrint, known in ancient times as Buthrotum, was an important settlement for the Greeks and the Romans as it was near the Greek island of Corcyra (present-day Corfu) on the route from Italy to Greece down the Ionian Sea. The coastal town of Saranda, known for its deep, blue waters and bustling nightlife, is a popular entryway to Albania for travellers coming from Greece, and a great jump-off point for nearby beaches.
On our small group tours, you will learn more about this long and fascinating Albanian history whilst exploring its famous sights and hidden gems.
An escorted tour A Journey that commences in Rome and takes in 12 destinations along its journey to Athens. This is an off season small group journey with like minded people. A small group tour across Southern Europe with local guides sharing authentic in-country authentic experiences for mature couples and solo travellers.
The Human History of the Balkans The aptly-named Balkan region comes from the Turkish word for “mountain“. It was so named because of the vast number and expanse of the mountain ranges that have been…
Uncovering Albanian History Albania sits on the Ionian and Adriatic Seas in southern Europe, bounded by Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Greece. This small and mountainous country in the Balkan peninsula had roots in ancient Illyria,…
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Buses are cheap and commonplace in Albania, and are a fairly convenient way to get around. Furgons (privately run minibuses) are also common, though they tend to become crowded and and timetables are not always strictly followed by drivers. The rail network is quite limited, so taking the train might not make the best option for transportation.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography, Environment, & Weather
Much of Albania is comprised of hills and mountains, with several mountain ranges, such as the Albanian Alps, the Sharr Mountains, the Pindus Mountains, and the Ceraunian Mountains running down the length of the country. Numerous rivers run through the country, the longest of which is the Drin, which flows for 285 kilometres. Despite being a relatively small country, Albania is home to a diverse array of wildlife, with 799 protected areas in Albania.
Albania experiences variations in climate, depending on the region – the coastal areas tend to experience hot summers and cool winters, while the mountainous areas feature short, mild summers and cold winters. Depending on when and where you intend to travel, check the weather reports and dress accordingly.
World heritage sites
Albania has 3 properties listed on the World Heritage List, with a further 4 listed on the Tentative List. You can view the listed properties here: (https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/al). The listed properties include:
Butrint, an archaelogical site containing the ruins of previous settlements of Greeks, Romans and Byzantines
Historic Centres of Berat and Gjirokastra, which preserve the architectural styles characteristic of the Ottoman period
Ancient and Primeval Beech Forests, which stand as a prime example of undisturbed temperate forests and the remarkable ecological patterns characteristic to this tree species
Festivals & Events
Albania celebrates its heritage and cultural traditions through several festivals and events throughout the year. Every year, the National Festival of Urban Folk Songs is held in March, with the traditional folk songs and music of Albania celebrated through the staging of live performances and recitals. The Gjirokaster Folk Festival is another event of national significance – held every 5 years, it showcases traditional Albanian clothing, music, dance, and arts. More contemporary-minded events include the International Festival of Modern and Contemporary Dance and the Tirana International Film Festival.
Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy in Europe, by Fred Abrahams
The Albanians: A Modern History, by Miranda Vickers
Albanian Folktales and Legends, by Robert Elsie,
Broken April, by Ismail Kadare
Eating & Drinking
Dairy, seafood, and meat feature prominently in Albanian cuisine. Yogurt, whether sweet or sour, frequently appears in Albanian dishes, including tavë kosi, which is lamb baked in an earthenware dish with eggs and yogurt. Seafood is widely available and consumed along Albania’s coastline, with mussels, shrimp, fish and grilled octopus featuring prominently in Albanian coastal food. Meats are important part of Albanian cooking, whether grilled and skewered, cooked as a stew or ground up and eaten as meatballs (kofta). Perhaps the most popular dish in Albania is byrek, which is made from sheets of filo pastry layered over spinach, cheese, and meat.
Like elsewhere in the southern Balkans, rakia (fruit brandy) is popularly consumed and is served as an apertif. Coffee remains a central part of social life in Albania, with Turkish coffee being particularly popular.
Health & Safety
Generally speaking, Albania is safe to travel in, though always exercise common sense while travelling.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. Albania’s electricity supply runs at 230V and 50Hz. Albania uses Type C and Type F electric plugs, so make sure you have the right travel adaptor with you.
Albania has a single time zone, Central European Standard Time (UTC+1). Daylight savings in Albania commence on the last Sunday of March, and conclude on the last Sunday of October.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is not particularly common in Albania, though is appreciated. That said, it is reasonably common to round up the bill for restaurants or taxis.
Wi-fi should be freely available in most hotels, cafes and restaurants.
Albania has a Mediterranean climate with warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters, but this varies depending on where you are in the country. The western part of Albania, including the capital Tirana and coastal towns, is influenced by the warm air from the Adriatic and Ionian seas, while the eastern part of the country has higher elevations and have mild summers and cold winters. On average, Tirana experiences a high of 12 degrees Celsius in January and 31 degrees Celsius in August.
Articles about Albania published by Odyssey Traveller.
For all the articles Odyssey Traveller has published for mature aged and senior travellers, click through on this link.
External articles to assist you on your visit to Albania.
Responsible travel tips for Albania
- Learn at least the local greetings to break the ice. Although some locals speak English, the more you know of the native language, the greater your experience of the country will be.
- Carry a business card in your wallet or purse from your local hotel, to assist you with the return journey if you do become lost.
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of lekë in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees, and it makes tipping a breeze.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Before departing on your trip, contact your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.