CNN picked only 9 top destinations for travelers in 2011, and two Eastern European countries are on that list: Albania and Bulgaria. The list was made based on expert recommendations from Robert Reid, U.S. travel editor for Lonely Planet; Pauline Frommer, creator of Pauline Frommer’s guidebooks; and Martin Rapp, senior vice president of leisure sales at Altour. Other top 2011 travel destinations were New York, New Zealand, the Peruvian Amazon, Spain (Barcelona), Norway, Japan and Guatemala. Albania was ranked 6, and Bulgaria finished the list last.
Albania was also the top pick on Lonely Planet’s top ten countries for 2011, while Bulgaria ranked fifth. The two are the only Eastern European countries that got the media attention as potential travel destinations at the end of 2010, beginning of 2011. While Bulgaria has a strong tourism tradition, for Albania, the mention could be the beginning of a much needed trend.
In Focus: Albania
Albania gives travelers a taste of the Mediterranean without the crowds and the prices, writes CNN’s A. Pawlows, citing Robert Reid. Indeed, the country’s scenic beauty could make for an unforgettable romantic holiday. Its brave peaks are a challenge for hikers and backpackers, and the Albanian sea resorts rival in beauty with some of the best, and most popular in the world.
This is was the country Mother Theresa called home, and by the beauty of her heart you know the beauty of the people inhabiting these historic lands. Albania is a fascinating country, with friendly people, and a rich history.
Lonely Planet recommends that you visit Gjirokastra, a city whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage site. We tell you to adventure to Butrint as well, one of the world’s archaeological wonders – and a UNESCO World Heritage site.
On the Adriatic Coast, don’t miss Vlora, a sea resort with a rich history, known in antique times as Aulona. Beautiful beaches, a lively harbor, and the proximity to the Sazan Island and Karaburun Peninsula, make Vlora a destination not to be missed.
If you prefer mountain tourism, you cannot go wrong in Albania: here you’ll find the Western Alps, or Alpet Perëndimore. You’ll find the stunning Razëm, one of the most beautiful places, with lush meadows and pastures, and forests that complete its picturesque beauty.
Economically, Bulgaria may not be a rich country, but it is rich in natural beauty, and its travel industry is flourishing. With some of the finest ski slopes in Eastern Europe, and some of the most popular beaches in the Summer, the country has a lot to offer.
One of the most popular recreational activities in Bulgaria is yachting – and a chance to sail the Black Sea in style doesn’t come with a too high price tag. You can rent a cruiser for as little as 60€ per hour, fuel inclusive. For the posh, luxury yachts are available, with the corresponded price tag.
Consider Bulgaria’s wines as well, some of the best you’ll ever taste, and the indigenous cuisine that still respects traditional recipes. There are so many things that recommend this country as a top world destination – you just need to book your trip to discover them.