‘Europe’s answer to the Maldives’ for cheap holidays in 2024

It might feel as though summer 2023 has just passed, but for those looking ahead to their summer holidays next year, there’s an “underrated” European gem that is on track to become a trending destination in 2024. According to Booking.com’s annual Travel Predictions research, Britons are likely to set their sights on cheaper alternatives to some of the world’s most popular holiday hotspots.

The Maldives is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious, tropical destinations in the world, it’s one that can come with a hefty price tag and a long journey.

While flights to the Maldives typically take between 10 and 11 hours from London, experts from Booking.com suggest holidaymakers can enjoy similarly stunning beaches and sparkling waters much closer to home. And that’s why they’ve named the coastal city of Vlorë in Albania as one of their top trending destinations for 2024.

Nestled within reach of Greece and Italy, the destination offers similar ocean views and toasty summer temperatures, but a somewhat smaller price tag.

“The jewel of the Balkans, Albania is the trending beach escape for 2024 due to its azure waters, impressive mountains, and affordability for all types of travellers,” said Booking.com.

“Tucked away in the southwest is the underrated seaside gem of Vlorë, the starting point of the Albanian Riviera and a great base for road trips to explore up and down this sunny coast.

“Home to some of Albania’s most beautiful beaches, the glistening shoreline provides visitors with Europe’s answer to the Maldives – a welcome option for the 43 percent of UK travellers who will be searching for luxe-for-less copycat holidays to reduce costs.”

If you’re looking to reduce costs on your next overseas holiday, Jet2 has some incredible flight and holiday deals right now and British Airways has a number of discounts on holidays into 2024

How to get to Vlorë

While you can’t fly directly to Vlorë, the closest airport is just over two hours away by car in Albania’s capital city, Tirana. There are plenty of cheap flight options that can fly you directly from the UK to Albania – in some cases for less than £70 per person each way.

If you’re looking ahead to 2024, we found some great flight deals from British Airways and Ryanair.

For a wintery escape to Albania, fly with British Airways from just £69 per person each way on select dates in January 2024.

Or if you’ve set your sights on a sun-soaked summer holiday, perfect for making the most of those beaches, you can fly direct to Tirana with British Airways from £94 per person each way in July 2024.

Ryanair has return flights to and from Tirana for even less, with return flights available from just £61 on select dates in June, according to Skyscanner.

Hiring a car is probably one of the easiest ways to get to Vlorë, and you can compare the cost of hiring a car for your holiday with companies such as Holiday Extras.

When we conducted a quick, independent search, we found car hire for one week in June 2024 for as little as £204 when picked up from and dropped off at Tirana International Airport.

Alternatively, a shuttle bus service runs between Tirana Airport and Vlorë or, if you venture into Tirana Central, you can catch a bus to the coast from Tirana City Centre bus terminal.

However, if you do want to take things a little slower, spending a night in the capital won’t cost you much – you can rent an apartment from just £20 a night. Travel reporter Esther, who visited in the summer of 2023 managed to secure an Airbnb for just that. She said: “I stayed at an Airbnb in the Blloku neighbourhood at a cost of just £119.64 for two people for three nights.

“This meant that it cost us just £60 each, or £20 per night, which I felt was great value.”

Where to stay in Vlorë

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Given its popularity among holidaymakers looking for a seaside escape, Vlorë is home to an array of hotels ranging from the luxurious to the budget-friendly. And, according to booking.com, a stay in one of the region’s top-rated luxury hotels starts at just £44 per night. That’s a hefty saving when you compare it to the cost of a one-night stay in one of London’s most popular luxury hotels, which can cost as much as £483 a night.

Situated in Vlorë, 600 metres from Vjetër Beach is The Central View Boutique Hotel. The four-star hotel has received a score of 9.1 from Booking.com reviewers, who describe it as “superb”. Melanie, a holidaymaker from Ireland, said: “Perfect location, close to beach, port, town and old town. Bicycles available free of charge. Good breakfast”.

  • A one-night stay at Central View Boutique Hotel starts from £44

Or, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly stay, Serene Stay is a cosy apartment-style complex which has been given a score of 9.2 by Booking.com customers and described as “superb”. A stay here also includes breakfast. Madeline, a previous guest who visited from Australia, commented: “Comfortable bed and facilities, staff were so friendly and welcoming with great recommendations, good value for our short stay.”

  • A one-night stay at Serene Stay starts from £16

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