Balkan Pearls

Forbes: Albania is world’s cheapest 2017 destination

Forbes magazine has rated Albania as the number 1 cheapest destination to travel to globally for 2017.

In a video showcased on the prestigious business magazine portal, Albania is rated as the most affordable destination where the dollar goes far, beating destinations from Vietnam to Vegas.

“This forgotten corner of Europe is wonderfully off the beaten track, with accommodations as low as $5 a person,” says Forbes.

Featuring a picture of a waterfront in Saranda, the Forbes suggests southern Albania and the Albanian Riviera beaches for 2017 travelers.

“This forgotten corner of Europe is a wonderfully off-the-beaten-track budget destination in an otherwise very touristy and expensive continent. With fantastic beaches along its coastline, including the fishing port of Saranda, Albania gives visitors the chance to enjoy the Mediterranean waters for a fraction of the usual price,” says the magazine.

“Accommodation starts from as little as $5 per person and fishing trips or boat rides to the nearby islands are similarly well priced. There’s also some fascinating historical sites across Albania that are either free to enter or cost only $2-$5. From the mountainous medieval town of Gjirokastër to the Roman ruins at Butrint, this is a diverse and very different side of Europe, which is definitely worth visiting before the crowds do,” it adds.

The rating comes as Albania is already in its peak tourism season, with hundreds of thousands of tourists packing the country’s Adriatic and Ionian beaches, but also enjoying mountain and adventure destinations as well cultural heritage sites.

A recent report by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, has also rated Albania’s restaurants and hotels as Europe’s cheapest.

At 40 percent of the EU average, Albania’s price levels on restaurants and hotels are the lowest among 37 European countries, including 28 EU members, three EFTA states and six EU aspirants.

Earlier this year, U.S.-based Travel + Leisure magazine rated Albania as the top up-and-coming destination around the world, suggesting it as the number one destination to be considered for the next vacation.

Albania was rated as one of the top seventeen global destinations to visit in 2017 by the prestigious CNN news portal amid other renowned destinations such as the U.S., Canada, France, Denmark, China and Australia.

The tourism industry has been one of the country’s fastest growing in the past few years, attracting more than 4 million tourists and generating about €1.5 billion, about 8.4 percent of the country’s GDP, in 2016 alone.

The country boasts dozens of sandy and rocky beaches along its 476 km coastline stretching through the Adriatic and Ionian, the most famous of which are found on the Albanian Riviera south of the country.

Three UNESCO World Heritages, the Butrint archaeological park and the historic towns of Gjirokastra and Berat, in southern Albania, also unveil the rich cultural heritage in Albania, a gateway to the Mediterranean boasting a mix of Illyrian, Roman, Greek and Ottoman civilizations.

The communist past is also what fascinates tourists about Albania, which was cut off from the rest of the world under a Stalinist dictatorship for about five decades until the early 1990s.

Several former communist buildings and memorabilia have been put on display for tourists and younger generations in Albania to learn about the country’s communist past.

The House of Leaves museum of the notorious Sigurimi police surveillance in downtown Tirana, a Cold War bunker outside the capital city that the former communist elite had built underground decades ago to survive a possible nuclear attack and the Sazan Island military base south of the country all house the mystery and phobia of the country’s communist leaders for about five decades until the early 1990s.