Elite Travel DMC

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Albania is a small country in the west of the Balkans peninsula, sharing borders with Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. You might have heard of Albania as a country with a strong communist dictatorship that lasted about half a century, or you might have heard of Albanian places making their way up to top destination lists year after year in prestigious magazines or websites. Either a way, Albania still remains one of the least discovered countries in Europe, hiding behind that Mediterranean coastline it’s jewels.

If you are a summer person, then Mediterranean is the right area for you, and the Albanian coastline might just be the perfect pic for your summer vacations. Virgin unspoiled beaches, either small pebbles or white/golden sand is there to give life to your dreams of a beach paradise. The beauty of the land, combined with the clarity of the crystal clear blue waters of Adriatic and Ionian Sea, accompanied with a climate of more than 280 sunny days a year, will make you come in Albania every summer.

But maybe you are a mountain person? Then the rugged Albanian mountainous area is the your choice. The stunning view of the Albanian Alps makes everyone feel free and embraced by the nature. And speaking of nature, gorgeous view you can also get in the Easter Albanian Mountains, where the thick forests makes you wonder if you are lost in it’s mids. Or either you would prefer mountains that go directly to the sea? Maybe kayaking in the rushing waters surrounded by the Canyon of Osum? All you have to do, is to choose.

And if you would prefer to check out some history spots, then you will have a harder time making you pick. The history of Albania goes quite far back, with the first settlements around 500 BC from the Illyrian tribes. From the history, Albania has inherited a vast number of castles, historical and archaeological sites, all waiting for you to discover.

So, from which part of Albania do you choose to be amazed?

 

  • skanderbegWhen you think of a European capital, on your mind crosses Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and other special cities like these. But, if you haven’t heard of Tirana before these lines, then this is your lucky day. Besides that the Albanian capital is located in the same time zone as the above capitals, the city has been taking a more and more European apparence in the past years but still it has it’s own distinctive elements of the Albanian culture and from it’s communism period.

    Being the country’s capital since 1920, Tirana has been enlarging ever since, from a humble small trade town almost a century ago, to a busy metropolitan city hosting almost over half a million “Tiranas”, where you can get something from everything. And while in Tirana, don’t miss your chance to take a picture of some landmarks like: Scanderbeg Monument, the Pyramid, the Clocktower, Et’hem Beg Mosque, etc.

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    Berat, with an ancient history from 2400 years ago, is located along the stream of river Osum and in the middle of the great mountains of Tomorr and Shpirag. It is located on the side of a rocky hill and in the same place was settled the ancient town from the Illyrian tribes. It has been conquered many times but its castle has always been famous of being very difficult to invade as it was situated in a hilltop overlooking the whole area. Today it has the nickname of the city of a thousand and one windows, coming from the panoramic view of the houses on the hill. It is a part of UNESCO World Heritage List with the well preserved houses of original Ottoman architecture. Besides the warm atmosphere that the city itself offers to you, you will also get a glimpse of the Albanian tradition here, starting with the cheerful welcoming.

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    Gjirokastra, the stone city, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site is situated in the southern part of Albania, on the slope of the hills of (Mali I Gjere), overlooking river Drino. The first traces are to be found in the 1st century A.D. It became an urban centre by the 13th century. Gjirokastra is mentioned for the first time in a document of 1336, under the name Argyropolihne (the township of Argyro). Later the town became known as Argysokastro. Gjirokaster had been under the Byzantine dominion till late 14th century, when it passed under the control of the Albanian feudal Prince Zanebisha. Gjirokaster was captured in 1432 by the Ottoman Turks, who called it Erigeri. In 1811, the Great Ali Pashe Tepelena, after bombarding the fortress with artillery, forced the town to capitulate. Later Gjirokastra played an important role as the cradle of the patriotic movement of the Albanians for freedom and independence.   Nowadays Gjirokastra is one of the most attractive towns in Albania. Gjirokastra or so called “the town of one thousand steps” or “the stone town” is of particular interest for its native architecture.

  • DSC_0087The ancient city of Butrint is much preferable to be visited as an archaeological centre, where antiquity and beauty intertwine. The archaeological excavations show that Butrint has been an important center of the Kaonian Illyrians, one of the big tribes of southern Illyria. According to discoveries made in the area, it has been proved that the site was inhabited as early as Paleolithic period. In the 6-th century BC Greeks from Corfu settled here, alongside with Illyrians and the new colony prospered as the result of the trade. By the fifth century BC, Buthroton was an Illyrian fortified city. In the fourth century BC Butrint had fallen to Epirus, and in 167 BC it was taken by Rome. It was a seat of a Byzantine bishop in the 10-th century. Butrint was captured by the Normans in eleventh century and passed to Venice from 1690 to 1797, when Ali Pasha Tepelena captured it. With the fall of the Pashallek of Janina, in 1822, Butrint passed under Ottoman rule until 1913. Several excavations dating from the 1-st and 4-th centuries AD can now be visited, among them the Old Amphitheatre, the temple of Asclepiads or Aesculapius, the Baptistery, Nymphaeum and the ancient city walls. Do not miss the Baptistery, with a floor of colorful mosaics. An old fortress housing a small museum watches over the whole site.

 

  • General Information

    Surface area: 28.750 km2

    Time zone: GMT + 1, GMT + 2 (during summer)

    Population: Over 3.200.000

    Capital: Tirana (The administrative, cultural, academic and communication centre of the country; population: over 700.000)

    Coast line: Its total length is 427 km. (Adriatic coast line 273 km and Ionian coast line 154 km.)The largest island Sazani.

    Climate: The Adriatic & Ionian Coast has a typical Mediterranean climate with hot dry summers and mild winters. It is one of the sunniest and warmest coasts in ELITE and an average summer temperature of 29°C. The inland part has a typical continental climate

    Religions: Coexist peacefully, predominantly Islam, Orthodox and Catholic.

    Official language and alphabet: Albanian language and Latin alphabet

    Political system: Parliamentary Republic

    Monetary unit: Albanian Lek (LK). Banknotes come in denominations of 100,200, 500, 1000 and 5000 and coins in Lek 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100.

    International telephone code for Albania: ++355

    Electricity: 220 volts

    Pets: Allowed, is better to have a vaccination record and veterinary certificate.

    Customs formalities: Expensive professional and technical equipment should be declared at the border crossing.

    Traveling documents: To enter Albania you need a valid passport depending on international agreement between the countries.

    Visa: If required, please check with the nearest Albanian Consulate or Embassy

    Currency: Foreign currency can be changed at Banks, Exchange Offices, Post Offices, Tourist agencies, hotels etc. All major cards (American Express, Visa, Euro/MasterCard, Diners) are accepted for a wide range of services.

    Medical services: Medical care for foreigners can be provided at hospitals and clinics in all major cities in Albania.

    Drivers: Valid documents for themselves and for the vehicle, as well as the green insurance card.

    Rent-a-Car & Taxi: Cars and Taxi can be rented at the airport, in towns and in all major tourist centers.

    Cellular phone range: Communication by cellular phone is possible throughout Albania. AMC and Vodafone Albania.

    Postal services: Postage stamps are sold at post offices, hotel receptions and newspaper stands. FedEx, EMS and DHL air-express carrier services are also available. For international calls, besides using hotel and post office services, phone cards (for sale in all post offices) are used in all public phone booths.

    Important telephone numbers: Police 129
    Fire brigade 128
    Ambulance 127
    General information 124

  • Top Ten facts about Albania

    Fact #1

    Mother Teresa (Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu) is generally celebrated as the only Albanian to win a Nobel Prize, though born in Skopje in 1910 (now in Macedonia but then in the Ottoman Empire).

    Fact #2

    Between 1950 to 1985 around 600,000 bunkers were built in Albania, they are nearly impossible to destroy so many are still in existence.

    Fact #3

    Nodding your head in Albania is a disagreement while shaking the head means “yes”, so it can get pretty confusing for tourists.

    Fact #4

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    Fact #5

    At its closest point Albania is only 10km away from Corfu across the Ionian Sea.

    Fact #6

    Hoxha’s official title was ‘Comrade-Chairman-Prime Minister-Foreign Minister-Minister of War-Commander in Chief of the People’s Army’ – quite a mouthful!

    Fact #7

    Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha, Albania was declared the world’s first atheist state in 1967.

    Fact #8

    Xhiro is the name for an evening walk in Albania. Some of the towns close roads to cars at certain times of the evening so locals can talk their daily stroll.

    Fact #9

    Norman Wisdom was a cult figure in Albania where he was one of the few Western actors whose films were allowed in the country under Hoxha’s dictatorship.

    Fact #10

    Officially 70% of Albanians are Muslim but the number who actively practice is much lower.

  • Top Ten famous Albanian people

    Gjergj Kastrioti Skenderbeu

     

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    Mother Teresa

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    Ismail Kadare

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    Gjon Mili

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    Ferid Murati

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    Pope Clement XI

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    John Belushi

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    Fan Noli

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    Eliza Dushku

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    Ermonela Joha

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