Albania the Balkans’ best-kept secret, and here’s why. It’s home to some of the best beaches in Europe, and whether you like them sandy or secluded, or lively or laid-back, you’ll find one to suit you. The country’s Mediterranean climate varies in the highlands and lowlands, so it's best to avoid the colder mountainous regions in winter. To experience the best of Albania’s beaches, head to the seaside towns of Ksamil or Saranda. From there, you can easily reach the historic site of Butrint and its Roman ruins. The cosy hillside towns of Berat and Gjirokastër showcase the stunning architecture from the Ottoman period, as well as traces of Illyrians, Greeks, Romans and Byzantines also evident. The capital, Tirana, is a hive of activity with its traditional restaurants, late-night bars and colourful buildings. For the best views over the city, head to Mount Dajti National Park. Just 25 kilometres east of Tirana, its cable cars take just 15 minutes to reach the top. Once there, you’re free to explore the surrounding beech and pine forests, picnic spots and restaurants serving typical roast lamb. For a stay along the Albanian Riviera, you can choose from hotels and apartments in Ksamil, Himara, Dhermi or Saranda. Tirana also offers a good choice of accommodation, including hostels.