Albania – Getting In and Around

Albania is located in southeastern Europe and borders with Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia and Greece. It can be reached via the land, air and sea. Europeans as well as citizens of the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and some other countries do not need visa to enter the country. You need only a passport that is valid for at least six months but all travelers who enter Albania without visa may be charged a fee up to 10 Euros at the entry. You are allowed to stay in Albania for 90 days if entering without a visa.

Albania has one international airport – Mother Theresa International Airport which is about 15 minutes from the Albanian capital of Tirana. It is served by many European airlines including British Airways, Lufthansa, Alitalia and many others including low cost carriers from most larger European cities. You can get to Tirana from the airport by a bus or taxi.

Albanian Airlines

Albanian Airlines

It is also possible to get in Albania by a bus from all the neighboring countries and Bulgaria and Turkey in 1 to 22 hours depending from where you departure. If you travel by car, you can enter through one of the major border crossings. From Greece, you can enter Albania at Kakavia/Ktismata, Krystallopigi/Kapshticë and Sagiada/Qafë Botë. Border crossings with Montenegro are at Sukobin/Muriqan, Bozhaj/Hani i Hotit and Gusinje/Vermosh. You can also enter Albania at four major crossing with Macedonia and six with Kosovo. Make sure that you have your International Motor Insurance Card valid for Albania and Vehicle Registration.

Mother Teresa Airport - Tirana, Albania

Mother Teresa Airport - Tirana, Albania

Another way to enter Albania is by boat from Italy to Durrës or Vlorë and from Corfu (Greece) to Sarandë. It is not possible to get in or out from the country by train. Trains do operate within the country but the service is limited. For that reason the best way to get around Albania is by a bus or better yet by a car. The roads in Albania are not comparable with other European countries, especially minor roads. They are being fixed and upgraded intensively but fifty years of communist regime and isolation have left their mark on the transport infrastructure. If you intend to drive around Albania on your own, make sure that you take a good road map along your guide to Albania.

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Practical Information About Albania

June 8th, 2013 by admin under General Information, History, Statistics

While planning your trip to Albania, there are several things to keep in mind some of which may not be found in your Albania tourist guide. Here are some practical information you better remember if you want to make your Albanian experience as pleasant as possible.

1. Language

Albanians, of course, speak Albanian language. It is a language isolate which means that there is no way to understand the word they are saying if you do not speak Albanian. In the southern region you can also hear Greek. Italian is the most commonly spoken second language, while English is relatively rare outside larger towns.

2. Water and Food Safety

It is recommendable to drink only bottled water while in Albania. Food safety is not a cause of concern but if having any doubts, eat thoroughly cooked meals and you will be just fine.

3. Currency and Credit Cards

Albania is a cash economy which means that cash is preferred method of payment. The Albanian currency is the lek but Euros and US Dollars are often accepted as well. ATMs are found throughout Tirana and larger towns, while credit cards are generally accepted only at major hotels, larger stores and exclusive restaurants. Travelers’ checks are rarely accepted but they can be changed at banks in larger towns.

 

200 lek = €1.4

200 lek = €1.4

4. Safety and Crime

Safety has improved significantly over the recent years although crime still represents a major problem in the country. However, foreigners are not targets of crime and you have nothing to worry about it if following the usual safety precautions. There are occasional reports about blood feuds in the mountainous areas but they are becoming increasingly rare and do not pose any risk to tourists.

5. Traffic Infrastructure and Road Conditions

Traffic infrastructure is still poorly developed, especially in compare to the rest of Europe and the country still has not completed all the planned highways. Be especially cautious when driving on minor roads and keep in mind that ignoring traffic signs is very common.

 

"The Nation's Highway" - A New Highway Connecting Albania to Kosovo

"The Nation's Highway" - A New Highway Connecting Albania to Kosovo

6. People

The Albanian people are very hospitable and friendly. According to the CIA factbook, about 70% of the Albanian population is Muslim but Albania does not have a history of religious extremism, while most people declare themselves either as atheists or agnostics. You will not see burkas in Albania.

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History of Albania

July 26th, 2011 by admin under General Information, Guide To Albania, History

A guide to Albania would be incomplete without a brief overview of the country’s unique history which is crucial for understanding the Albanian unique character and culture. The country is relatively young but it has a rich history that dates back to the 2nd millennium BC.

Albanian Hero - Skenderbeg

Albanian Hero - Skenderbeg

The Albanians trace their origin to the ancient Illyrians who inhabited the present-day Albania and the western Balkans long before the arrival of the Romans. Prior to the arrival of the Romans, the Illyrian tribes on the area saw the arrival of the Greeks who established their colonies at today’s Durrës, Butrint, Apollonia and many other places. All the mentioned cities continued to flourish under the Roman rule and the ruins of either ancient Greek or Roman settlements, or both still reveal their presence.

After the division of the Roman Empire at the end of the 4th century, the country was under the Byzantine rule until mid-14th century when most of Albania   became a part of the Serbian Empire. However, the Serbian rule was short lasting. Like the rest of the Balkans, Albania was faced with Ottoman invasions in the mid-15th century which saw the rise of one of the most celebrated Albanian national heroes – Skenderbeg. He successfully repulsed all Ottoman attacks but after his death the country could not resist the Ottoman pressure and was forced to accept the Turkish rule in 1479.

Ottoman Empire Map

Ottoman Empire Map

Albania was ruled by the Ottoman Turks for over four centuries during which most of its population converted to Islam. Decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century and the national awakening of the Balkan peoples encouraged the Albanian independence movement. Their struggle for independence reached its height with establishment of the League of Prizren in 1878 but they finally gained independence in 1913. Albania was declared principality and William of Wied as its prince. However, he was not accepted and left the country shortly after the outbreak of World War I. During World War II, Albania was occupied by Italy, while King Zogu I fled the country.

Enver Hoxha

Enver Hoxha

The World War II was marked by the rise of the Communist Party and Enver Hoxha who was the leader of Albania until his death in 1985 and virtually isolated the country from the rest of the world. The communist regime collapsed in 1992 and Albania entered the democratization process.

 

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