For many years, Albania didn't allow access to outsiders. Its lush forests, towering mountains, and sparkling waters remained a mystery to much of their world. Throughout the 20th century, the region bore the marks of several wars and grew to outlast them. With the fall of a particularly restrictive communist regime in 1991, Albania began to allow tourists to enter its borders. New visitors came the country with little idea of what they might find. They discovered a land full of majesty and beauty, regardless of the strict rules that still gripped the area.

As the years passed, Albania managed to shed the codes and standards that once gripped the country. Visitors have begun to trickle into the country and discover what exactly it has to offer. There are popular sites such as the ancient Greek and Roman ruins, legendary castles, and dynamic cities. Beyond those, however, are several sites and scenes that remain hidden from the casual visitor. In many cases, these are the areas that exemplify what makes Albania one of the most incredible countries in the Balkans and the world.

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old houses in historic landmark berat balkan town albania jackmalipan / Getty Images

When describing a site in countries like Albania, people will often say it's like something out of a movie. Though this may seem cheesy or overstated, it truly is the perfect description of the quiet, misty fortress on the outskirts of Berat. The castle peers over the surrounding village from its perch on the precipice of a large hill. During the spring and summer months, the scents of chamomile and wildflowers fill the air as you walk along the cobbled streets.