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Destination Pick of the Year: Water

Albania
Thanks to nearly five decades of Communist totalitarian rule, the quirky, coastal country of Albania missed out on most of Europe's post–World War II development. With democratic reforms in place, early bird visitors are flocking to the unspoiled white-sand beaches along the Adriatic coast and the slew of unique archaeological sites nestled in the nation's mountainous interior. Think Croatia before the boom.

YOUR PLAN: On a new 12-day trip from Geographic Expeditions, you'll hit inland highlights like medieval castles and palaces, then head north along the Adriatic coast, stopping at historic towns and empty beaches all the way into Montenegro ($5,995; geoex.com).

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