Albania

While its neighbors Croatia and Greece are pretty established on the tourist radar, Albania somewhat remains a mystery to most travelers. But, those who explore it will find mesmerizing UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the ancient Greek city of Butrint. Furthermore, Albania boasts gorgeous mountain lakes, pristine beaches, Ottoman architecture and friendly folks who’ll gladly show you the way, when you are in need of direction.  Make a trip to Albania, one of the most underrated countries to visit in Europe, before the rest of the globe realizes what they are missing.

The first traces of human presence in Albania, dating to the Middle Paleolithic and Upper Paleolithic eras, were found in the village of Xarrë close to Sarandë and Dajti near Tiranë. The objects found in a cave near Xarrë include flint and jasper objects and fossilized animal bones, while those found at Mount Dajt comprise bone and stone tools similar to those of the Aurignacian culture. The Paleolithic finds of Albania show great similarities with objects of the same era found at Crvena Stijena in Montenegro and north-western Greece.

Several Bronze Age artifacts from tumulus burials have been unearthed in central and southern Albania that show close connection with sites in south-western Macedonia and Lefkada, Greece. Archaeologists have come to the conclusion that these regions were inhabited from the middle of the third millennium BC by Indo-European people who spoke a Proto-Greek language. A part of this population later moved to Mycenae around 1600 BC and founded the Mycenaean civilization there.