It could be argued that, when it comes to travel, there are few mysteries left in western Europe. A continent so trawled, trusted and trammelled by tourist footfall has long since given up its last hidden corners. Especially those corners which abut the seafront.
But if you take another glance at the map, one remaining pocket of the relatively unknown may just stare back at you. Albania is like a missing piece in an otherwise completed jigsaw – the final portion of the landmass along the Adriatic which has not become a beach-holiday stalwart.
Its absence on this score is glaring. Immediately to the south, Greece is as reliable a short-haul European sunspot as anyone could want. Directly above, Montenegro has made plenty of progress in the last decade, quietly establishing its 183 miles of shore as an ever-more chic option for a coastal getaway. A little further to the north, Croatia now seems to have been at the forefront of travellers’ thoughts for a long time, its 3,626 miles of waterline (if you include its numerous scattered islands) playing regular host to visitors from across the planet.
Albania is already an intriguing country to visit – Tirana is an increasingly cosmopolitan city, while the country’s wealth of ancient archaelogical sites (including the likes of Apollonia and Butrint) might almost rival Italy. But in a time when question marks linger over traditional beach destinations such as Egypt and Turkey, it could be that, in the next three or four years, its main appeal will be as a place in the sun. Mystery solved.
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