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One of the Mediterranean’s unspoiled corners
Following decades of isolationist rule, Albania still doesn’t seem to fit into the grand continental jigsaw, with distinctly exotic notes emanating from its language, customs and cuisine.
With its jumble of rugged mountains fringed by pristine curls of beach, Albania’s south is the most appealing part of the country. The interior route boasts the rewarding towns of Berat and Gjirokastra, each home to whole swathes of Ottoman buildings.
Heading on down the Ionian Coast instead, you’ll find one of Europe’s few unspoilt sections of Mediterranean shore, a near-permanently sunny spot where the twin blues of sea and sky are ripped asunder by a ribbon of grey mountains – on a clear day you’ll be able to see Italy from the 1027m-high Llogaraja Pass.
Staring straight at Corfu, and even within day-trip territory of the Greek island, sunny Sarande is perhaps Albania’s most appealing entry point, it’s a great place to kick back, stroll along the promenade and watch the sun set over cocktails. There are beaches in town, but better are those near the archaeological treasure-trove of Butrint, some 25km to the south.