Pix of the trip: Albania
Chalkmarks: Ksamil, Albania, September 2023

GRAB your phone, and get on TikTok for this one, we’re off to Albania! This country had its moment in the sun last summer. It surprised everyone… especially the Albanians. There it was hiding in plain sight the whole time – right opposite Italy and Corfu – but no one saw it. Then, a beach pic of Ksamil (see above) with a hashtag “Maldives of Europe” was posted on the socials and Gen-Z was dribbling with desire. So, yes we followed the algorithm and went. We’d liked to say the journey there was easy but it wasn’t. You don’t get that bit on TikTok. You see, there are no trains in Albania, so travelling around is by bus or coach. After a four-hour flight from London, and several hours more on a bus from Tirana we finally arrived, in Sarande. Ta-da, the bus dropped us right in the centre. It was beautiful. There was the beach with its large bay and promenade filled with bars and restaurants. Ksamil though was another 30minutes away. In the end we didn’t mind the trip and almost forgot all about it until it was time to go back home. There were plenty more surprises to come: It’s not called Albania, it’s a cash-only country, the port city of Vlorë is a little America, and there’s not always a shower curtain in the bathrooms! Overall, the best part about staying on Albania’s amazing Adriatic coast is that it’s affordable. It won’t empty your bank account – eating and drinking is pretty cheap. If beach holidays were like restaurants Albania is casual dining. There are no airs and graces. A double espresso at the very grand-looking Opera Cafe on Skanderbeg Square in Tirana costs no more than a coffee anywhere else. It’s guaranteed to be the summer capital of 2024. It’s the best place you’ve never been! Here’s our best pix of the trip. 

It might be trending but it’s not yet trendy!

Chalkmarks: Ksamil, Albania, September 2023
Sea breeze: Wind down the windows!
Chalkmarks: Sarande, Albania, September 2023
Hot hols: Where to sunbathe?
Move over Hollywood: This Sunset Boulevard is in Albania!
Chalkmarks: Looking out to Corfu, Sarande, Albania, September 2023
So close: It’s Corfu
Chalkmarks: Vlore Old Town, Albania, September 2023
How to have an American mini break in Albania? Visit Vlorë!
Press play! Live outdoor music in Vlorë
Chalkmarks: Cloud installation by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto, Tirana, Albania, September 2023
It’s art: The cloud installation by Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto in Tirana
Chalkmarks: Tirana, Albania, September 2023
See it? It’s the shape of Albania in the architecture of the building
Chalkmarks: Tirana, Albania, September 2023
On the horizon: Tirana’s skyline is changing
Chalkmarks: Tirana, Albania, September 2023
Colourful buildings: Not the drab, grey, ex-communist capital city you might expect
Chalkmarks: Tirana, Albania, September 2023
Paint job: As Tirana mayor, Prime Minister Edi Rama ordered buildings get a glow-up
Chalkmarks: The Pyramid, Tirana, Albania, September 2023
Spectacular views of Tirana: Climb the Pyramid
Chalkmarks: Tirana, Albania, September 2023
Long lunches: Best spot in the city
Chalkmarks: Grand Park, Tirana, Albania, September 2023
City life: The Grand Park of Tirana
Chalkmarks: Gyros, Tirana, Albania, September 2023
Dig in! This is gyros
Chalkmarks: Skanderbeg Square, Tirana, Albania, September 2023
Falling in love: The Opera Cafe on Skanderbeg Square
Chalkmarks: Ksamil, Albania, September 2023
Sea you there: Ksamil, The Maldives of Europe

Where will TikTok take us next?