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We’ve explored every part of Europe in search of the under-the-radar destinations most deserving of your attention this year. Read on to discover our top 10 list of places to add to your wishlist. The only question is: where to go first?

10 Tirana, ALBANIA

You’d be hard-pressed to imagine a better-placed travel hub than Tirana, which sits between the Adriatic Coast and the Albanian Alps. But this is no gateway town; rather, it’s a vigorous metropolis that has undergone a transformation thanks to its former mayor Edi Rama (now Albania’s prime minister). Bland, concrete-grey buildings are now canvases for a Pantone rainbow of creativity, while commuters are encouraged to pedal rather than drive. Green spaces have reclaimed their rightful prominence amid the city’s eclectic architecture, and reminders of an iron-fisted, post-WWII communist legacy are scattered around streets peppered with farm-to-table restaurants and cocktail bars. The result is compelling.


■ The conversion of Bunk’Art – from a massive Cold War bunker into a history and contemporary art museum – is Albania’s most exciting new sight. The bunker was built for Albania’s political elite in the 1970s and remained a secret for much of its existence. Now it hosts exhibits that combine Albania's modern history with contemporary art.

■ The Austrian-built Dajti Ekspres cable car whizzes you from the suburbs of Tirana high up onto the mountainside in 15 minutes. The views are fantastic at the top, and there are plentiful eating and drinking opportunities, plus activities and hiking trails to enjoy.

■ Named for the owner’s collection of antique Albanian radios, Radio is a multifaceted dream with décor that includes vintage Albanian film posters and even a collection of communist-era propaganda books to read at the bar over a cocktail. It attracts a young, intellectual and alternative crowd. It’s set back from the street, but well worth finding in otherwise rather mainstream Blloku.

Rr Ismail Qemali 29/1

■ Uka Farm was founded in 1996 by former Minister of Agriculture Rexhep Uka, who started organic cultivation of agricultural products on a small plot of land. His son Flori, a trained winemaker and standout amateur chef, is now the driving force behind the excellent restaurant, which opened in 2014. Guests can enjoy fresh, flavourful vegetables and locally sourced cheese, meat and quality homemade wine. Bookings essential.

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Find the complete article and many more in this issue of Lonely Planet - July 2018
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