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Travel in Albania

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Capital Tirana
Government Developing Democracy
Currency Lek (ALL)
Area 28,748 sq km
Population 3,600,523 (July 2007 est.)
Language Albanian (There are two dialects: Gheg and Tosk)
Religion Albanians are mostly atheist or do not follow any religion. All mosques and churches were closed in 1967 and religious observances were prohibited; in 1990, Albania began allowing private religious practices again. According to an official US Government Report: “No data are available on active participation in formal religious services, but estimates indicate that “only 30 to 40 percent of the population practices a religion.”
Electricity 230V/50Hz (European plug)
Calling Code +355
Internet TLD .al
Time Zone UTC +1

Albania (Albanian: Shqipëria) is a smaller nation inside the Balkans. It shares borders with Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro.

The relative majority on the men and women in Albania are of Muslim heritage (55-65%), based on the polls, about 35% from the Albanians are agnostics; 22% are atheists; 19% are Muslim; 15% are Orthodox; 8% are Catholics and 1% are of other religions. Mixed marriages are extremely popular and in some areas, even the rule.

Conventional Albanian culture honors the function and particular person on the guest. In return for this location of honor, respect is expected from the guest. Albanians get pleasure from the extended walks inside the city streets, drinking coffee, and amongst the younger generations, participating in nightlife activities just like cafe lounging and dancing.

Albania is really a poor nation by European requirements.

Background

Following the defeat from the Axis powers in the finish of Globe War II, a Communist government was established, presided more than by resistance leader Enver Hoxha. Albania became well-known for its isolation, not only from the market-run democracies of Western Europe, but from the Soviet Union, China, as well as neighboring Yugoslavia. Even because the Iron Curtain came down and Communists lost energy all through Eastern Europe, Albania seemed intent on staying the course, alone.

But in 1992, numerous years soon after the death of Hoxha, the Communist celebration relinquished energy and Albania established a multi-party democracy using a coalition government. The transition has verified challenging, as governments have attempted to take care of higher unemployment, a dilapidated infrastructure, widespread gangsterism, and disruptive political opponents. These days Albania is moving closer towards neo-liberalism, with EU integration as its target; Albania signed the SAA on June 2006, as a result finishing the initial key step towards joining. In 2008 Albania received an invitation to join NATO.

The weather

With its coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas, its highlands backed upon the elevated Balkan landmass, and also the whole nation lying at a latitude topic to many different climate patterns for the duration of the winter and summer time seasons, Albania features a higher quantity of climatic regions for so little an region. The coastal lowlands have generally Mediterranean climate; the highlands possess a Mediterranean continental climate. In each the lowlands as well as the interior, the climate varies markedly from north to south.

The lowlands have mild winters, averaging about 7 °C (45 °F). Summer time temperatures common 24 °C (75 °F). Inside the southern lowlands, temperatures common about five °C (9 °F) greater all through the year. The distinction is higher than five °C (9 °F) throughout the summer time and somewhat much less for the duration of the winter.

Inland temperatures are impacted additional by differences in elevation than by latitude or any other aspect. Low winter temperatures within the mountains are due to the continental air mass that dominates the climate in Eastern Europe as well as the Balkans. Northerly and northeasterly winds blow a lot in the time. Common summer season temperatures are reduce than within the coastal places and a great deal reduced at greater elevations, but day-to-day fluctuations are better. Daytime highest temperatures inside the interior basins and river valleys are extremely higher, however the nights are pretty much normally cool.

Typical precipitation is hefty, a outcome with the convergence from the prevailing airflow from the Mediterranean Sea along with the continental air mass. Simply because they ordinarily meet in the point exactly where the terrain rises, the heaviest rain falls inside the central uplands. Vertical currents initiated once the Mediterranean air is uplifted also trigger frequent thunderstorms. Quite a few of those storms are accompanied by higher nearby winds and torrential downpours.

Most important cities

Berat, the Town of a Thousand and One Windows.

  • Tirana (Tiranë) – the capital. Trees and mountains surround the city. Mt. Dajt is actually a well known tourist web page to get a terrific view of your city.
  • Elbasan – A sizable, poor, intriguing industrial city that is definitely filled with life. The marketplace is fascinating, along with the breakfast “Bugace” legendary. The Through Ignatia, an old Roman road to Istanbul, runs by way of the city. The Lakes of Belsh close to Belsh may also be worth a take a look at.
  • Berat – Believed to become one of several oldest towns in Albania, it’s a new member from the UNESCO planet heritage list. Berat has lengthy been generally known as the “city of 1001 windows” on account of its exclusive Ottoman/Albanian architecture. It features a properly preserved castle with residents nonetheless residing inside its protective walls.
  • Fier – Lively seaside city, and only about eight km (five mi) away from the ruins on the ancient Greek city of Apollonia.
  • Gjirokastër – an additional UNESCO city, positioned within the south is recognized for its distinctive Ottoman period architecture. There exists a sizable castle on the hill inside the middle on the city which served as a jail for a lot of generations. A Military Museum and Art Gallery are now situated inside. Gjirokastër can also be the birthplace of former communist Leader, Enver Hoxha, along with Albania’s most internationally well-known author, Ismail Kadare, their houses now serve as museums.
  • Korce (Korça) – Positioned in southeast Albania, quite a few miles from the Greek border, this city is filled with life through the summer time once you can locate couples and households strolling by means of the city’s primary park, Parku Rinia. You may hike for the leading in the stunning mountain Moravia and view the city and its surrounding landscape. Do not miss the Korca Brewery (renowned all through Albania) which sponsors per week extended Beer Festival each August!
  • Kruje (Krujë) – ancient city from the national hero Skanderbeg. It consists of wonderful mountains; Skanderbeg’s castle is now a museum. Kruje also is made up of an old style bazaar with shops promoting classic goods amid cobblestone streets.
  • Pogradec – Overshadowed by its glitzy neighbors on the Macedonian side on the lake, the town of Pogradec has been encountering a revival just lately.
    Sarandë – a city in southern Albania recognized for its unforgettable beaches and colorful spring blooms.
  • Shkodra – the greatest town in Northern Albania. Shkodra is deemed the capital of Albanian culture. In Shkodra is situated “Migjeni” theatre, the very first in Albania as well as was held the very first cyclic race as well as the very first football match along with the initially photograph was created (by Marubi). The Rozafa Castle can be a main tourist attraction right here,but additionally “The Excellent Cathedral”, “The mosque Ebu Beker” ect.
  • Vlorë – Lively seaside city, good beaches south of town. Passenger ferries to and from Italy dock right here.

Landscapes

The Wild Albanian Alps in North Albania

  • Albanian Alps – This mountainous complicated on the north on the nation types the border in between Albania and Montenegro. Wealthy on rainfalls, sheep, bare rocks and scenic views it can be among the list of locations in Albania you must see. One of many locations exactly where you’ll be able to be much less than ten km away from the nearest village and nevertheless possess a day lengthy trip there.
  • Albanian Riviera – Featuring crystal clear waters, unspoiled beaches, and picturesque villages, this really is the Mediterranean coastline because it after was.
  • Butrint – Biggest archaeological internet site from Greek era in Albania. It lies on the coast inside the southernmost tip in the nation, close to the Greek border. Minibuses are obtainable from Saranda.
  • Bylis – second biggest archaeological web page from Roman era in Albania
  • Dhërmi – among the finest with the lots of beaches along the coastal road amongst Vlore and Saranda, best for camping.
  • Durres – is Albania’s principal entry port and among the most ancient cities. The town’s ancient amphitheater would be the greatest inside the Balkans.
  • Lura National Park – a 1,280 hectare national park with higher mountains, huge meadows, and glacial lakes.
  • Tomorr – Mountain ridge inside the southern portion of Albania, not far from Berat. This portion on the nation is formed by parallel mountain ridges (as much as about 2000-2500 m) separated by valleys. Even though the ridges usually are not really lengthy, they provide handful of days of hiking with huge scenic beauty and wonderful panoramic views. Tomorri is among the most identified ridges using a Bektash monastery and chapel on the extremely major. Just lately, a attractive waterfall was found close to Tomorr termed Sotira Waterfall that’s certainly worth a pay a visit to.
  • Ksamil – An absolute gem on the edge in the Butrint national park, this can be a coastal town encompassing 3 magnificent islands.
  • Shëngjin – A developing beach town positioned in northwest Albania identified for its Adriatic Sea views.

How to get in

Documents

There exists no longer a visa charge for just about any foreigners entering Albania.

In line with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, nationals on the following countries/territories can enter Albania with no a visa: Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia *, Austria *, Azerbaijan, Belgium *, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria*, Canada *, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus *, Czech Republic*, Denmark*, Estonia *, Finland *, France*, Germany *, Greece *, Holy See, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary *, Ireland *, Iceland *, Israel, Italy *, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia *, Liechtenstein, Lithuania *, Luxembourg *, Macau SAR, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta *, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands *, New Zealand *, Norway *, Poland *, Portugal *, Romania *, San Marino *, Serbia , Singapore, Slovakia*, Slovenia *, South Korea, Spain *, Sweden *, Switzerland *, Taiwan (Republic of China), Turkey, United Kingdom *, USA *, Ukraine, Qatar – inside the period 25 May – 25 September 2012. United Arab Emirates – within the period 25 May – 25 September 2012. Kingdom of Saudia Arabia – within the period 25 May – 25 September 2012.

(Visitors from those nations with an asterisk can enter with an ID card.)

There is certainly a €1 road tax for the initial 60 days of your stay. For just about every additional day it really is €1 per day. Be sure to receive a receipt and keep it with you, as guards may request it upon exiting the nation as proof of payment. The former €10 entrance fee per individual has been abolished. The Albania guards are extremely good and do their best to help out and will, on occasion, allow fees to become paid in dollars or will forget to charge you. It’s worth making sure you’ve got the Euros on you because the customs officers at Mother Teresa airport do not give change.

Be careful not to become charged the €1 road tax again when leaving the nation. In that case the border guard assumes that you didn’t pay the road tax when entering the nation.

Airlines

Tirana’s “Mother Teresa” International Airport is situated just 15 minutes away from the city. It really is served by numerous European flag carriers for example British Airways, Alitalia, Lufthansa, Austrian, and also the low cost carriers Germanwings and Belle Air. A brand new, larger and modern terminal was opened in 2007. A tourist information center was opened in 2012.

In the airport exit, there are numerous taxis 24/7 that can take you towards the city. The taxi fee for the city center is €15 (2000 Lek). Taxi fees to other locations are posted on a placard just outside the exit doors.

There’s a bus that runs as soon as an hour in between the airport and Skanderberg Square, named Rinas Express. It costs 250 lek each way and leaves on the hour from each the airport and from Skanderberg Square. It runs from about 8AM to 7PM. The trip takes about 25-30 minutes. From the airport exit doors, walk towards the parking lot past the taxi touts to come across the bus stop. At Skanderberg Square, the bus stop is situated about the northwest corner, close to other bus stops. The bus is not only punctual but sometimes even early, so plan to become there a couple of minutes in advance. Do not be intimidated through the signs not mentioning “airport” or any variation of it in the Skanderberg Square stop. “Rinas” means the bus goes towards the airport. If in doubt, ask the locals, who will be happy to point you for the correct bus.

Railway

It’s not possible to enter or leave Albania by way of train. There are, however, trains that operate within the nation. Though the service is limited, the price is inexpensive, as well as the line from Pogradec to Elbasan in particular is scenic.

Buses

It is possible to reach Tirana by coach from

  • Istanbul, Turkey (20hr, €35 one-way)
  • Athens, Greece (12 hr, €30-35)
  • Sofia, Bulgaria (22 hr, €25)
  • Tetovo, Republic of Macedonia (7 hr,€ 15)
  • Prishtina, Kosovo (2 hr € ten )

There exists now a everyday bus link involving Ulcinj in Montenegro and Shkoder. There is certainly also a shared taxi (mini buss) from the parking spot next towards the marketplace in Ulcinj. It goes at 1PM and costs €5 euros, it takes 1.five hr. The stop is not marked, a reservation can only be made by finding the driver within the cafe in the corner in the parking location. Ask about and be persistent, as not all the locals know about this. There are no scheduled buses from any other point in Montenegro into Albania.

There may also be buses running everyday from Ioannina for the border at Kakavia (9 day-to-day, €5.70, 1 hour). From there it’s a short walk amongst the Greek and Albanian checkpoints. Just make sure you do not delay, because the furgon (minibus) to Gjirokastra won’t wait for a single extra passenger and you will be forced to haggle with predatory cab drivers. In Gjirokaster it is possible to buy a bus ticket to Atens, Greece or anywhere in amongst. The Buses are new, cheap, air conditioned, and stop along some gas stations.

Ships

  • Ferries to Durrës arrive from Bari (9h, €50) and Ancona (19h, €70). A high-speed service operates from Bari (3h, €60).
  • There’s also a reliable overnight ferry service operated by Skenderbeg Lines from Brindisi to Vlore Skenderbeg Lines.
  • Ferries from Corfu to Saranda just about every day.

Automobiles

You’ll be able to reach Albania by car from anywhere crossing by way of key cities on the neighbour nations including:

  • Podgorica, Montenegro
  • Ohrid , Macedonia
  • Prizren, Kosovo
  • Thessaloniki, Greece
  • Ioannina, Greece

There’s a 10-euro/person tax, which must be paid upon entering Albania. Just after payment in the tax towards the police, the customs officer will issue a “road tax certificate”, which you must keep until you leave the nation. Any time you exit the nation, you’ll pay €2/day and return the certificate.

To enter the nation, ensure that your International Motor Insurance Card is valid for Albania (AL) along with the Vehicle Registration and a Energy of Attorney from the owner if the car is not yours. The border guards are extremely strict about allowing cars by means of without having these documents.

The road involving Ioannina, Greece and Tirana (E853/SH4) is of sufficient quality until Tepelenë. In between Tepelene and Fier there are numerous sections under construction and you ought to proceed with extreme caution (2011). The road is narrow in some areas, so travel with caution. This really is the primary North-South route in between Montenegro and Greece.

The road involving Struga, Macedonia and Tirana (E852/SH3) is of a sufficient quality. There are a lot of slow moving vehicles along the curvy mountainous route so extra caution must be exercised especially about corners or throughout over-taking. A brand new motorway is being constructed amongst Elbasan and Tirana (2011).

The road involving Prizren (Kosovo) and Tirana (Albania) (E851/A1) is for the levels of quality found in other parts of Europe. Extra caution ought to be exercised along some bridges close to the Kosovo border, as they have not been widened to dual carriageways. There are a lot of slow moving vehicles along the winding alternate mountainous road SH5 so extra caution must be exercised especially about corners or throughout over-taking.

The road among Shkoder (border of Montenegro) and Tirana (E762/SH1) is of sufficient quality for driving but there are a lot of slow moving vehicles and un-controlled access points so extra caution must be exercised especially for the duration of over-taking. A portion amongst Milot and Thumane has been widened to motorway standard as of 2012.

There are two border control points within the north of Albania with Montenegro. The narrow road from Ulcinj, Montenegro to Shkoder through Muriqan/Sukobin (E851/SH41) is used mainly by locals. As of 2012, the Montenegrin section is under construction. However, it can be worth a try to avoid heavier traffic on the key road (E762/SH1) to Hani i Hotit which has nearly finished (2012). Ask any police officer to point you inside the right direction from Shkoder. They are helpful, courteous and friendly.

Taxi

Albania is geographically a modest nation and as such it truly is possible to leave by taxi.

Your hotel will be able to arrange a taxi towards the border, exactly where you ought to be able to change to a taxi in the other side. For example, a taxi from Tirana for the Macedonian border, a distance of 70 miles, will take 3 hours and cost about €100. A metered Macedonian taxi from the border to Struga ought to no a lot more than €6 (December 2009) and take 20 mins, whilst a taxi on to Skopje would take 3 hours on a great deal better roads and would cost about €120 (Prices January 2008). Passport control will take about 30 mins.

A taxi from downtown Pogradec for the Macedonian border at Sveti Naum is about five euros (and much less than ten minutes). Just after Albanian exit procedures, walk about .5km down the road towards the Macedonian border control. The lovely Sveti Naum church is quite close by, and from there it is possible to get a bus north about the lake to Ohrid (110 denars). (prices April 2010)

A taxi from Ulcinj in Montenegro to Shkoder in northern Albania costs about €30. It takes 1hr. You do not have to change in the border, the taxi will bring you all the way. (price June 2010)

Some taxis can take you into Greece; however most will not go further then Ioannina.

Internal transport

Buses

Most folks in Albania travel by public bus or private minibuses (named “furgons”), which depart quite frequently to destinations about Albania. Furgons have no timetable (they depart when they are complete) and in addition to large cities provide access to some smaller towns exactly where busses do not frequently run. Furgon stations aren’t often in obvious locations, so you could ask about to discover them, or keep an eye out for groups of white or red minivans gathered together. Destination spot names are generally displayed on the dashboard, prices are never posted. Furgons are loosely regulated, and provide a real “Albanian” experience.

From Tirana, several furgons each day depart to Shkoder, Durres, Elbasan, Fier and Berat. Furgons departing towards the south like Gjirokaster or Saranda tend to depart fairly early inside the morning. Generally, furgons cost a little additional and go a little faster, but is often uncomfortable more than extended distances as a result of the close quarters with other passangers.

Buses are extra comfortable and cheaper, run on a time schedule (though it’s just about impossible to come across a printed schedule anywhere within the nation) and are generally properly regulated. There are different bus stations in Tirane for North bound buses (Shkoder, Leizhe, Puke, etc), South bound buses (Saranda, Gjirokastër, Berat, Vlore, Fier, etc).

One particular publicly-edited list on the departure locations and times of furgons and buses in Albania may be found right here — but of course these really should normally be taken using a grain of salt!

Railway

Limited services operate in between Tirana and Shkodra, Fier, Ballsh, Vlorë and Pogradec. The train route from Lezhe to Shkodra has scenic beauty. The Tirana-Durres trains (and vice versa) depart as much as eight times each day. The train timetables are offered, and a system map (PDF). The trains in Albania are nonetheless in poor condition, despite the route from Tirana to Vlore looking convenient on a map, the far more wealthy Albanians never use trains and if not travelling in their own cars, use the a lot of mini-buses. On the other hand, trains provide far more space than often overloaded minibuses.

A train ride is usually a must-see, as there are couple of such enjoyments in Europe these days. Tickets are extremely cheap and also the journeys are extremely extended, however the views as well as the atmosphere are typically priceless. Amongst the things you will see in this unforgettable journey are individuals working their land with primitive tools, gorgeous landscapes and wild terrains, houses under construction with various things hanged on for the bad eye, and a chance to meeting some interesting passengers mainly from rural regions. On most stations you’ll locate people today promoting sunflower seeds, fruits, chewing gum and quite a few other different things – extremely unusual in Europe.

Note that the train from Tiranë to Pogradec inside the east of your nation initially goes west to Durrës, so that the trip from Tiranë to Elbasan takes about hours, whilst the actual direct distance is about 30 km. So you may consider to take a bus to Elbasan, also mainly because the western element from the nation is not nearly as scenic because the eastern element.

Automobiles

The roads among the important destinations have been lately repaved and fixed, and provide all the security measures a single would expect on a highway. There are no fees for using the highways.

Beware of minor roads. Road surfaces is often poor, deeply pitted, or non-existent, and sometimes a decent paving can suddenly disappear, necessitating a U-turn and lengthy doubling-back. This really is the case for the road among Tirana and Ghirokastër. It seems all the expensive cars in Albania are SUVs, rather than low-slung sports cars – and for good reason. Ask the locals in advance if travelling away from a highway.

Highways have frequent changes in speed limit (sometimes with little apparent reason). And there are frequent police mobile speed checks. Police will also stop you if you have not turned on your car lights. Ensure you travel with driving licences and insurance documents (ask your car hire company for these) to present towards the police.

Car-driving behaviour on the highways is not as orderly as elsewhere in Europe. Expect cars to pull out infront of you, little use of indicators, and hair-raising overtaking. Lanes on dual or triple carriageways tend to become observed. Also expect pedestrians, horses or donkeys cross highways or walk on them.

Navigation is pretty easy while some maps with the nation are out of date or contain errors.

Inside the cities, and especially Tirana, numerous roads are being upgraded and fixed. As a result of that, traveling by car inside the city will be slow. Be aware that especially Tirana suffers from good traffic congestion through mornings and midday.

A extremely good ride could be the Vlorë-Saranda mountain road. It’s a typical Mediterranean road and offers an amazing view of your sea from the mountains.
The road for the best of Dajti mountain is pretty bad, though does not (just about) require a 4×4.

Gypsy and beggar children may approach your car at important stop lights. Nudge slightly forward to get them off your car and if necessary go into the traffic intersection to get rid of them. The locals will understand.

Note that, about Greek holiday seasons, including Orthodox Easter, the roads leading to/from Greece is often crowded with cars with Greek plates of Albanian immingrants going to Albania or returning to Greece right after their holidays.

Renting a car can be a good option to choose, however the practice is fairly new within the nation. Rental companies are out there mainly in Tirana Airport, and Tirana proper. Various travel agencies may offer you such services at the same time.

Bicycles

There is certainly a lack of respect for men and women riding on bikes on the highways. Also there are handful of areas to put your bike. These and other challenges make Albania a challenging cycling destination, but a rewarding a single. Often asking about to see if it is possible to stay in somebody’s home / camp in their garden could be the only option. Food and water are easily accessible within the frequent roadside cafes and bars.

It’s OK to camp in all not strictly private locations, and in some cases if the locations are private there really should be no problems with your stay, ask if you are in doubt.

Be aware that it’s really hard to get parts or repairs for modern bicycles.

Landmark

Seaside town of Saranda across from Corfu

There are several things to do in Albania. A lot of roads are paved; however they are extremely windy

  • The coastline is constantly a spot to go, with its clear turquoise seas, and its a lot of islands cast upon it, like in Saranda, the southern most coastal city in Albania. Note that a lot more than half on the coastline stretching for the north of Vlore and as much as the Montenegrin border is made up of sand beaches whilst the Albanian Riviera stretching south of Vlore is made up of rocky beaches. Along the Albanian Riviera, from Vlore to about Qeparo there exist mainly wooden villa complexes, bed and breakfasts, camping sites and a handful of beach resorts as accommodation facilities. Llogara Pass is really a mountain pass positioned close to Llogara National Park offering a majestic view of your riviera from above. Nearby is found Cesar’s Pass, the location exactly where Julius Cesar passed in his pursuit of Pompey.
  • Dajti Mountain, a well-liked sight in Tirana allows you to get a whole green view on the capital.
  • A walk about southern cities like Butrint, a UNESCO globe heritage web site, is normally ideal and memorable. Butrint is home to several ancient ruins.
  • Castles are in a lot of cities in Albania. Their beauty reminds anyone in the ancient times of Albania, and also the globe. There’s Petrela Castle close to Tirana, Rozafa castle in Shkodra, the inhabited castle of Berat, and Skanderbeg Castle in Kruje, (named immediately after the national hero and now a well-known museum holding his belongings).
  • Palasa, Close to Himara. Palasa is usually a gorgeous village in Himara with excellent beaches and amazing nature. This really is the location exactly where Julius Caesar rested his legion in the pursuit of Pompey. There are no touristic resorts, but you are able to ask for an apartment in the regional caffe. The apartments ordinarily are with two rooms and a toilette, but typically clean, safe and comfortable.

In southern Albania you may see the influence of Turks and Greeks. In northern Albania you may see numerous ancient Illyrian ruins and incredibly little foreign influence.

Language

Albanian will be the official language. Other useful languages include Italian, which can be often viewed because the de facto second language due to various Italian occupations, by far the most well-known being in the course of Globe War II. English is understandable in Tirana and to a lesser extent in frequented tourist cities. Inside the southernmost locations from the nation, you might also encounter minority speakers from the Greek language. Note that from a nation of 3 million, there have been about 1.2 million emigrants, and numerous of them have returned to Albania from nations for instance Germany, France, Greece (especially those inside the south of Albania) and Italy so you’ll discover a lot of individuals who speak the respective languages. Note that as Albania features a lot of immigrants in Greece, from which about 200,000 men and women have returned back and now live in Albania, Greek can also be understood. Macedonian can also be occasionally understood in locations close to Pogradec and Korca.

Shopping

The national currency would be the lek (ALL). There are 138.30 lek for the euro (9 February 2010).

Notice that some Albanians write prices with an extra zero. They are certainly not trying to charge you ten times the going rate; they are merely using the old currency.

Hundreds of new ATMs have been installed in most important cities. Use the MasterCard ATM Locator or Visa ATM Locator to uncover them. The ATMs accept most international VISA and Mastercard Credit/Debit cards.

Quite a few rural convenience stores will not accept any other method of payment other than cash (currently in Albanian lek). However supermarkets, the better bookstores plus the better boutique stores will accept Credit or Debit Cards. Essentially the most widely accepted cards are VISA, Mastercard, and Diner’s Club.
In all the Albanian cities you could locate numerous shops, which provide different goods, of nicely recognized brands, Glasses, antique objects, etc. Of terrific interest for the tourists are the conventional bazaars of Kruja, Korca, Shkodra, Gjirokastra dhe Tirana, exactly where you are able to uncover the artisan works produced by Albanian men and women in the course of th years. You are able to buy woody carved objects, ceramics, embroiders with common motifs dhe also cooper objects. Albanian shops are open at 09:00-20:00 normally, and until 22:00 at summer season. Most of your shopes stay open on Sunday.

Currently lots of, if not all, Albanians accept the Euro

Souvenirs: raki, alabaster bunker ashtrays

Food

A table with Albanian traditional food

Restaurants are extremely easy to obtain. Albania, like the Balkans in general, features a primarily Turkish influence in its cuisine. This influence stems from more than 400 years of Ottoman rule within the region. Recent influences right after the fall of communism within the early 1990’s have been from Italy and Western Europe in general. Most of what is offered in neighboring nations for example Greece and Italy will be readily available in Albania, particularly inside the larger cities.
Lots of persons grow fruits and vegetables about their houses, most popularly all kinds of grapes, (red, black, green), that are used to make raki.

Albania is actually a extremely mountainous nation, and these mountains have scattered olive trees that influence Albanian cuisine. Salads are normally made with fresh tomato and onion. Most Albanian people today make their own bread, but going out for meals is extremely widespread.

Some sort of hearty stew is commonly included in Albanian dinners. These stews are easy to make, and flexible with ingredients. They include potatoes, onion, rice, etc.

  • Byrek – a type of savory pie can also be prevalent, and is made in different ways. 1 way is with spinach and feta cheese. A different is with ground meat and onion. Baklava is often a preferred desert and is often made as a desert throughout New Year’s Eve. If going to Albania, expect lamb to become the major meat in several areas. Lamb there is certainly naturally fed, and does not have any odor like it does in North America. Two byreks and an ayran is actually a incredibly typical breakfast, so try it to understand why.
  • Cheese – lots of different types but mostly feta cheese. In village shops be prepared that you’ll get the cheese in much less hygienic way then in supermarkets but it’s worth to try as it’s ordinarily delicious and in pretty good price (try those greater priced very first). The “Gjirofarma” feta cheese is similar for the Greek feta cheese, though a bit extra expensive. However, most on the restaurants, especially in Tirana along with the southern element of your nation, use this cheese. Its incredibly delicious, and its among the couple of cheeses that are exported from Albania.

Lastly but not least, do not forget to check out the lots of pastry shops (pastiçeri) offering a wide selection of tasty pastry including delicious cakes.

Drink

The preferred alcoholic hard drink is raki that may be locally produced in smaller towns in addition to in quite a few houses inside the countryside; in some instances you may run across men washing down breakfast having a handful of shots. Try the mulberry rakia – Albanians are the only folks inside the globe that produce this drink with mulberry and plum, and its pretty delicious, especially about Gjirokaster. The quantity of homemade beers, wines and raki is as varied because the population itself; the quality of those drinks is as varied because the quantity out there. Non-alcoholic drinks range from the well-known international and regional soft drink brands for the locally produced ones. You are able to discover any type of soft drink in Albania, together with natural mineral water,energy drinks, etc. Trebeshina water is especially good, and found in a great deal on the nation. Boza , a well-liked sweet drink made from maize (corn) and wheat is often a common Albanian drink, and Albanians have been generally known as the best boza makers inside the globe.

Accomodation

Inside the cities, hotels are abundant and prices per night start as low as €15. Hotels are normally clean and their staff in significant cities generally speak English and/or Italian.

Outside the large cities, hotels are much less popular, but in locations like Gjirokastra is usually excellent value (e.g.: 1000 lek). If, for almost any reason, you obtain nowhere to sleep, the Albanian persons have normally been recognized for their hospitality, and will treat you like royalty as you stay with them.

Warnings

Take the usual precautions. Foreigners are generally not targeted through the nearby crime scene, though pickpocketings do occur.

It’s best to drink bottled water, but potted water is generally drinkable too. The food in Albania is mostly healthy anywhere you go inside the nation. You’ll be able to walk about to stay fit, as several individuals do inside the capital, but be aware that the city suffers from severe air pollution. At summer time, insect repellent must be taken because the mosquito season is incredibly active especially close to former swamps and along the Western lowland. Be careful in the beaches for the reason that shards of glass and sea urchins are widespread on the sea floor. Also, pharmacies and other stores are closed from about 12PM-4PM; so, bring all necessary medicine with you. Also, a lot of Albanians smoke cigarettes. It’s a normal thing and expect it everywhere. The government has banned smoking in restaurants but this really is not really observed.

Culture

Albanians are extremely hospitable. Even much more so than the rest in the Balkans, elder males expect to become shown respect on account of their age. Men on the family have to become respected in particular. Shake hands with them and do not argue about topics just like religion and politics. Certain topics are strictly taboo, despite the fact that they may be fine within the United States or other nations. Homosexuality is 1 good example. Do not speak about gay rights, no matter what. Just remember that the situation changes a lot in line with the location (village or city) as well as the persons with whom you speak at the same time. Of course, within the hidden north, avoid topics that go beyond regional understanding, but be sure that in Tirana you will uncover really cosmopolitan folks that are as open to new ideas because the citizens of Western Europe. There’s nothing particular to worry about; all you need to remember is to respect neighborhood folks as considerably as you do back home.

Sometimes, if you stay to get a night or so at someone’s house, do not be suprised if you see a large, old AK-47 Kalashnikov staying in the wall. It’s pretty normal for Albanians to keep guns within the house.

Traditions

In Albania it’s typical to kiss cheeks of males of your age or younger (if you are a man), even the extremely 1st time you meet them. This can be especially for the regions of Fier, Tepelena, Vlora and Gjirokastra. In Northern Albania, you will simply touch each others cheeks, but not kiss them. Women also do kiss a single an additional, sometimes from the extremely very first time they meet, but men and women do not kiss each inside the cheek unless they are friends to get a extended time. Kissing cheeks among young men and women, 15-20 years old, is however quite typical. If a baby is inside the family, often ask to see him or her, and do not forget to add a compliment (ordinarily “qenka i shendetshem, me jete te gjate” or “what a sweet baby” works best). If you are a man, or a woman using a group of men, do not compliment females, unless they are under 10-12 years. If you dont speak English, but a language exactly where “you” in singular and “you” in plural will not be the same (like Italian, Greek, German, etc.), be aware that some Albanians do not use the plural form in their language. Sometimes, even the prime-minister is adressed with “ti” (you in singular, “tu” in Italian, “Du” in German or “Esi” in Greek), if the journalist is often a friend of him. However, when meeting people today for the initial time, its better if you adress them in plural, while they will shortly soon after ask you to adress them in singular. Policemen in Albania are often polite. They typically never stop foreign cars, but if you rent a car, they may stop you. However, when they see you are a foreign tourist, they will immediately tell you to go on (typically having a “ec, ec, rruge te mbare” which is usually translated in “go on, possess a good trip”). When this happens, it’s extremely polite if you respond using a “faleminderit” (thank you in Albanian).

Albanians love dancing, especially for the duration of weddings. If you are attending a celebration, do not be afraid to dance! Maybe you do not know the regular dances, but try to learn.

Energy

Official electricity is 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 “Europlug” types. Generally speaking, U.S. and Canadian travelers must pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Albania.

Unexpected energy outages devoid of prior warnings are prevalent in Albania. This really is largely dependent on the amount of rainfall the nation receives in any given year, as virtually all of electricity is generated from hydro plants in Albania. However this really is becoming far more and a lot more rare.Only in Tirana you will not have energy outages but expect so in other cities.Though all key cities and most with the towns have back-up generators, however it really is best to err on the side of your caution and ask whether the location features a generator or not beforehand in order not to, say, get stuck in an elevator.

Mobile

You could buy a community sim card for 600 Lek (Vodafone). You need to provide ID (passport) and give an address in Albania.

How to get out

You’ll be able to go from Shkoder in northern Albania to Ulcinj in Montenegro by taxi or vans. Fares may be negotiated involving €15 and €20, it takes amongst 1 and 2 hours. From Ulcinj you could take busses to some with the most important cities in Montenegro, including Bar, Budva, Kotor and Podgorica. You may leave by plane from Rinas international airport. You are able to go to Greece by Gjirokaster in the border crossing at Kavavi. It is possible to leave for Italy from Durres or Vlora. From Saranda you are able to go to Corfu, Greece. You’ll be able to go to Kosovo from Kukes on the new highway. There may also be border crossings into Macedonia.

Crossing into Macedonia in the border in between Pogradec and Ohrid, Macedonia is fairly straightforward. From Pogradec, 1 can take a taxi for the border – this will likely cost about €5 and take about ten minutes. As soon as you get for the border, it’s possible to walk into Macedonia, but do not expect to locate taxis on the other side in the border. Instead, hire a taxi on the Albanian side (€25, 40 minutes to Ohrid) or wait for the minibus that turns about in the border. This bus comes every single couple of hours and would be the same bus that services the Sveti Naum Monastery, which lies a couple of kilometers from the border. If the bus does not show up, your best option would be to head to monastery’s parking lot a couple of kilometers distant to obtain the bus(check Google Earth 1st to get a fix on its location).

Learning the Albanian language

You could go to Shkoder in northern Albania and study Albanian language. There are language courses for foreign students to learn Albanian. They are present in English, Italian, French, German and Spanish language.

Images

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikitravel.

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