Balkan nature holiday 2019 is a popular bucket list item, and rightly so.
In the previous post, we looked at the senior nature travel starting in Croatia continuing to Montenegro. From Balkan Croatian beaches and Split 19th-century SPAs to Croatia islands with legendary sights from Roman times in Brac islands, to the best European beach 2019 in Croatia Pasjaca beach.
- Split, Croatia
- Brac Island, Croatia
- Pasjača Beach, Croatia
- Vranjina, Montenegro
- Locven and Skadar Lake National Parks, Montenegro
In this article, we are continuing the travel through Balkans – you can visit Albanian and Greek nature parks, cities with Hellenistic and Roman heritage sites, with Adriatic Sea waters taking care of your health and Corfu and Patras in Northern Peloponnese being just in few hours reach to Athens. However, this guide is all about avoiding tourist crowds and getting the most out of Albania and Greece SPAs and nature parks with less populated yet still tourist-friendly infrastructure. The Balkan nature holiday 2019 road trip is starting from:
Albania and Greece Wellness and Health Itinerary
Albania is usually well known for its green nature, woods and blue pristine sea. But the health and wellness travel can go much further, as the country has lots to offer when it comes to pampering you, giving massages and world-class SPA experiences for a fraction you would spend elsewhere in Europe. As for Greece, the best way to take care of your mind and body to come back from vacation healthy and productive is to simply get enough vitamin D laying on the Greek island beaches, and diving in the pristine blue Ionian Sea.
Best Massage, Day SPAs and Wellness Centres in Albania for Balkan Nature Holiday 2019
As for the best wellness and day SPA centres in Albania, there are many to choose from. While quite many are located in the capital city of Albania, Tirana, there are several great relaxation possibilities in other cities surrounded by Adriatic Sea.
If you are about to have a massage or enjoy a beauty routine by professional cosmetologist, we suggest staying a little longer in Albanian Saranda, or Sarandë, and book a day or two at French Beauty & Massage or Kaonia Wellness & Massage.
As for other retreat options, there are many if you look beyond the Albanian cities and go for nature reserves and parks instead. Senior-friendly and accessible tourist wellness and spiritual meditation retreats are growing, but still hard to find. However, have a look at what the Italian and English-speaking Beachfront yoga retreat in Durres has to offer. Organic meals and yoga meditation practice daily can seriously up your tranquillity and make you ready to return home. Are you on the budget side? You can also go and volunteer in Albania to enjoy the luxurious nature without spending anything on accommodation.
Best Yoga and Spiritual Retreats in Greece
As for Greece retreats and wellness travel, travelling to the centuries-old health and wellness tourism spot may turn out to cost a little over what you would pay in Albania, but as long as you search well, there are many more offerings to English speaking people. Before booking your tickets for Greece, we therefore suggest checking out Corfu retreats with international yogini ashrams hosted every summer with travellers and yogis coming to achieve spiritual awakening from all over the world.
Balkan and Greek Unique Health and Wellness Travel Experiences
Although therapeutical bathing and wellness retreats date back to prehistoric times with Babylonians and Egyptians practicing bathing rituals already long ago, the earliest descriptions of Western bathing practice come from Greece. Public baths, showers were meant for relaxation and personal hygiene, but the natural springs and tidal pools had a sacred power of healing, as told in Greek mythology.
Therefore, one of the must-to-do things when visiting Albania and Greece is to enjoy the natural springs and tidal pools, and if possible, also dive into the millennia-old Greek balneum bathhouse practices.
Travel to Durres.
Durrës, Albania: Balkan Nature Holiday 2019 Hotspot
To continue the last Balkan nature wellness road trip ending in Virpazar, Montenegro, the next destination is Durres in Albania. However, there is a lot to see in between – you should visit Buna River – Velipoja protected landscape and then have some quiet time for meditation into Kunë-Vain-Tale.
Buna River-Velipoja Protected Landscape in Albania, Velipojë
The Buna River, or Bojana, of the South Western Balkans is an important river containing the most important wetlands in Eastern Medittarean. To get the best views, we recommend hiking on the coastal wetlands. Not only you will see the relaxing waters of the river, but also the estuary of Drin, and the lagoon of Viluni. The gulf of Viluni running across the city of Velipojë alongside the Adriatic Sea is one of the most beautiful ones you will see.
How to get from Skadar (Shkodër) to Buna River Protected Landscape – Balkan Nature Holiday Destination 2019
To get from Skadar to Velipojë in Albania, it will take 40 minutes by car. There is no public transport, as the area is far from the main cities, but renting car in Albania will allow you to experience one of the best views and peaceful road trips in vacation.
Kunë-Vain-Tale Nature Park: Balkan Nature Holiday 2019 Destination
The nature reserve Rezervati Kunë-Vain-Tale is something you do not want to miss on your way to Greece either. From the beautiful Illyrian deciduous forests to Mediterranean woodlands, the nature reserve is one of the most biologically diverse areas in Albania. With more than 277 species of plants, 23 species of mammals, 196 species of birds, and many more insects and fish, there is always something new to see and learn. Take your yoga mat, hiking boots, a warm sweater and a hammock, and go explore the beautiful nature with lakes, walking paths and hardly any people in sight. After all, upon returning to work, you ust relax your mind. As Spanish proverb claims, How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterward. Except for… afterwards you go to the beautiful Durres city in Albania!
Durres in Albania is surely one of the most beautiful and historically rich cities you should visit in Albania. Being the second largest city, and the summertime resort paradise, it also has the largest port in the Adriatic Sea, and connects well with Italy and Greece. No matter your destination, when coming to Durrës, you should visit the ancient remains. Although there are not many left from the Ancient Roman times, the Durrës Amphitheatre built in the 2nd century AD is definitely worth a visit, but you will find all types of architecture in Durres. Starting from Illyrian to Greek, Roman and even Italian architecture, Durres is definitely worth a stay for a day or two. Make sure to go to Royal Villa of Durrës, among other museums.
Durres SPA scene is offering many different possibilities, from Palace Hotel & Spa, Durazzo Resort and other luxurious options, to more laid-back, natural atmosphere of Durres beach and nearby city guest houses where you can relax and take a bath in the Adriatic Sea,
Vjosë-Nartë – Balkan Nature Holiday 2019 Destination
To go further from Durres and arrive at Vjose Narte, you will ride through the beautiful Divjaka-Karavasta National Park. The nature park has the largest lagoon in Albania, and one of the largest ones in the Mediterranean Sea. The Karavasta Lagoon, in Albanian: Laguna e Karavastasë is the must-see for birdwatchers in Autumn, and definitely a good place to camp and enjoy nature in October.
Once in Vjose Narte, though, you will find the Narta Lagoon, and the famous “Land of Eagles and Castles” at its brightest. Ecotourism is huge in Albania, and Balkans overall, but it is even more important for the Bjose Narte and other coastal regions. Still unspoiled by tourism wave, the region is the best place to go for eco-tourism enthusiasts and slow travel supporters.
Without Vlora or Vlorë , the Albania travel destination guide would not be complete. Lying on the foothills of the Ceraunian Mountains at the Strait of Otranto, the city was founded long ago as an Ancient Greek colony and was the birthplace of Albania in 1912. While you are welcome to visit and see museums, and lie in the beach to catch some sun, the Gijpe Canyon, Zvërnec Island and House if Ismail Bej Vlora will add to your experience of Vlora. The bay of Vlora is also considered the frontier between Adriatic and Ionian Seas. The island of Sazan so close, it may be a good idea to go there for a couple of hours. Vlora weather is one of the best in Albania, and you cannot really go wrong when there are 300 sunny days per year.
Travel to Sarande Albania for Balkan nature holiday 2019.
Sarandë Albania Travel
To get to Sarande, we first recommend you pass the Mount Cika close to Vlora city. Hiking Llogara National Park to the peaks if Cika Mountain Maja e Çikës, at 2,044 will give you great views to the surrounding area and Albanian Riviera.
Arriving at Sarande, however, you should start with some historical sights. From the medieval
Lëkurësi Castle to Monastery of 40 Saints, there are many things to do in Sarande apart from taking a stroll around the beach or booking a yacht to see the city from far away in the sea.
Travel to Corfu Greece.
From Sarandë to Corfu Greece
Getting from Sarandë to Corfu island in Greece is more than affordable when you go from Albania. The service is run every day and takes no more than 30 minutes costing you EUR 24. You can book your ticket via Ionian Seaways before going.
Corfu in Greece will present much different way of relaxation, and you can expect to be one of the many tourists here, but enjoying slightly different health and wellness retreat in Corfu will make take your wellbeing trip to the next level. Massages, day spas and wellness centres in Corfu Greece are widespread, and you can get one of the best saunas, massages and SPA services in Europe for a good price on the idyllic coastal SPAs. From naturopathy to yoga and massage, the healthcare in Corfu is as diverse as its past.
Travel to Patras, Greece for your Balkan nature holiday 2019.
From Sarandë to Patras Greece
If you struggle with seasickness, but visiting Greece in October 2019 is on your bucket list, then there are both buses available. You can get to Patras from Sarande in 4-hour drive. The fuel cost 45€ – 65€ will surely cover and beat the cost of tickets to Corfu island, especially if you are going on vacation with your family. However, Patras city is quite large, and while you may relax visiting museums and remains, the beachside and nearby area are metropolitan. However, you can go to Roman Odeon and visit Voundeni Mycenaean Cemetry. By the way, the three skeletons have lain there for at least 3,500 years!