Albanian Riviera

Albanian Riviera

David A. Andelman a former New York Times and CBS News correspondent, and the editor in chief of World Policy Journal recommends Albania as a cheap vacation destination.

While the Albanian seaside scenery is quite extraordinary, above all the area is cheap — easily one-tenth the cost of its French and Italian counterparts and half the cost of the Croatian coast. It differs sharply from its counterparts, the French and Italian Rivieras, by its cost — a week there could give you barely a few hours in its snazzier, snootier namesakes.

Seafood, caught that very morning, is served at beachfront cafes and grilled to perfection before your eyes for less than $8 per person. Fresh fruits and vegetables, grown in roadside fields, are for sale at stands for pennies. In the hills behind the charming little coastal villages are towns that date back to Greek and Roman times.

A half hour outside of Saranda is the UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint, whose impeccably preserved or restored remains span more than 2,500 years. Past the row of olive trees and a 16th-century watch tower, built by the Venetians, who then ruled the Adriatic, to ward off Ottoman attacks, we stumble into a 3rd-century B.C. Greek theater. The town spirals outward from there as it changed hands to the Romans, who built bathhouses and villas four centuries later. We stand at what would have been the theater’s center stage, my actress wife gazing up in awe at what might have been an appreciative audience.

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