Albania might be Europe's best-kept secret, but it's got the goods to be your next great destination. Hop a plane to this southeastern European gem—what you do next is up to you.
How to Get There
Pictured: Llogara Pass, one of the highest paved roads in Europe.
When to Go
April through October, though highs can reach 90 degrees in summer.
Pictured: Cool off near the Ionian coast at Himara.
Who to Go With
Outdoor Albania organizes rafting, canyoneering, hiking, sea kayaking, cycling, and visits to historical sites like Butrint, a fourth-century B.C. port and Unesco World Heritage site (rates vary). Row Adventures, out of Idaho, offers nine-day sea-kayaking trips to places like Kruja (pictured) and Himara (from $2,890).
See It By Foot
The Karabarun Peninsula holds some of Europe's longest stretches of undeveloped Mediterranean, with about 50 miles of cliffs, coves, and beaches near Vlora, about 90 miles south of Tirana. Set out from the Hotel Alpin, a warm wood and stone mountain inn deep in Llogara National Park, on a four-mile hike along the Saint Thanas Ridge (from $20; 011-355-69-20-55-936).
Pictured: Overlooking Vlora.
Hit the Mountains
For a more alpine experience, head to the stone hamlet of Valbona, in the rugged Bjeshket e Namuna mountains of the north, where you’ll find dozens of hiking options among Albania’s most impressive peaks. Try the White Circle Trail, which climbs about 2,300 vertical feet from the Kol Gjoni guesthouse to a cirque below 8,280-foot Mount Ros.
Pictured: The Southern Albanian Highlands.
Paddle the Coastline
The village of Dhermi, a few miles south of Llogara National Park, is one of Albania’s rowdier beach towns, but the clear water and scrappy coastline make it great to kayak. Outdoor Albania can organize custom trips to places like Grama Bay on the Karabarun Peninsula, where Roman and Greek sailors left etchings in the rock. Spend the next few days village-hopping along the coast, paddling between towns like Jal, Himara, and Qeparo (from $620).
Pictured: Paddling near Qeparo.
Cycle to Your Heart's Content
Ride about 50 miles a day along the coast from Llogara National Park to Lake Ohrid, on the border with Macedonia, rising over misty mountain passes and zipping down the country’s most scenic roads (nine days, $975). Along the way, rest your legs at seaside cafés and cultural sites, including the ruins of Butrint.
Pictured: Local guide Gent Mati having a rainy bike ride.
Grab a Raft
For whitewater, the Vjosa and Osum rivers are Albania’s top options. Both are daylong runs down Class II–IV rapids. The Vjosa from Stremvec to Permet can be a bit wilder than the Osum, with bigger waves and holes, though about two hours from Permet the Osum courses through a tight, waterfall-blasted canyon with 300-foot cliffs on either side (from $50 per day).
Pictured: The mighty Osum.