This isn't one for claustraphobes: our favourite caves from around the world.Read more...
Calendar - A view from our expert author
See in the New Year on Skanderbeg Square
Fireworks and live music welcome the New Year in Tirana’s main square. During Albania’s Communist past, New Year was the big winter holiday and Skanderbeg Square is still the place to be as December ends and January begins. Albanians of all ages flock to the city centre to enjoy the fun with their friends and families.
Ski or snowboard in the mountains of the north
Good snow in northern Albania usually lasts until March or even April. Skiing is possible at several locations, but Puka has the country’s best-organised winter sports resort. After your day on the slopes, enjoy delicious traditional meals and local chestnuts roasted on the open fire.
Welcome the spring in Korça
Every 1 March fires are lit around Korça to drive away the evil spirits of winter. The Gastronomy Fair showcases traditional food and drink, including lakror (a filo pastry pie) and kërnaca (a kind of meatball). The Korça region produces good wine and various types of raki, with the local speciality distilled from mulberries.
White-water thrills in the Osumi Canyons
The best time to try rafting or white-water kayaking is when the rivers are high with snow-melt, in April and May. The spectacular Osumi Canyons, south of Berati, are a series of narrow gorges which wind through towering, multicoloured cliffs. Rafting and kayaking trips can also be arranged to other beautiful Albanian rivers, such as the Vjosa and the Devoll.
Explore the traditional handicrafts of the north
St George’s Day on 6 May is the focus of the Artisans’ Exhibition in Shkodra. This gives craftspeople from all over northern Albania the chance to demonstrate their skills and display their products.
Listen to chamber music surrounded by history
The International Festival of Chamber Music (http://chamberfestdurres.com) brings together soloists and ensembles from Albania and abroad, for a week of recitals in venues around Durrësi, including the Archaeological Museum and the Roman amphitheatre.
Two and a half millennia of drama
From your seat in a theatre where people first watched plays in the 3rd century BC, you can enjoy performances by theatre companies from around Europe. The ancient city of Butrint plays host to classical and modern theatre in the International Theatre Festival every summer (http://butrinti2000.com). Take insect repellent!
Highland traditions in the mountains
The Tournament of the Alps (Logu i Bjeshkëve), in Kelmendi district, is a great opportunity to enjoy traditional music and dance in spectacular surroundings. The highlight of the weekend is the crowning of ‘Miss Alps’, Bukuroshja e Bjeshkëve. August is also the perfect time for hiking in the high mountains – how about walking into Kelmendi from Thethi, two days away?
Watch a movie in a Roman amphitheatre
The International Film SummerFest in Durrësi (http://ifsdurres.al) is Albania’s main summer film event, highlighting local and international productions. Some of the movies are screened in the 2nd-century amphitheatre, the largest in the Balkans.
The cream of Albanian folk song and dance
Peshkopia’s Oda Dibrane is the most significant annual festival of Albanian folk music, bringing together artists from the Albanian-speaking lands and the Albanian diaspora. The final day of the festival sees singers and dancers parading along the town’s boulevard, dressed in traditional costume and performing as they go.
Celebrate Albania’s Independence Day in Vlora
Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire on 28 November 1912. Where better to celebrate the anniversary – Flag Day, as it is known – than Vlora, where that declaration was made? The building where Albania’s first government met, in Vlora’s port area, is now the Museum of Independence.
Discover traditional Albanian handicrafts
The weekend before Christmas sees Albania’s National Handicraft Exhibition, held in Tirana. Artisans from all over the country proudly display the best of their work – ceramics, musical instruments, and textiles such as rugs, traditional costumes and feltwork.