Backpacking Albania

Looking for important travel information while backpacking around Albania? Here you will find information on working in Albania, entry visas, Albania hostels, and much more.

Table of Contents

Facts About Albania

Albania is a Balkan country in south-eastern Europe. It borders Kosovo to the north-east, Montenegro to the north, Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south. To the west and south-west are the Adriatic and Ionian seas respectively. It has been inhabited since prehistoric times.

The country currently has a population of around 3.5 million. After decades of turbulent government, Albania rebelled against almost 50 years of communist rule in the early 1990s and is now an emerging democracy.

Due to its chequered history, Albania is still relatively undiscovered as a tourist destination. There is a fascinating mixture of influences and cultures as well as stunning scenery and a range of outdoor activities.

  • Currency Lek (around 181 lek per UK pound)
  • Time GMT +1
  • Language Albanian
  • Telephone Services Country Code +355
  • Emergency numbers Police 19, Ambulance 17 and Fire 18.

Climate

Despite being a relatively small area of land, Albania has a number of different climatic regions. It has coastlines along the Adriatic and Ionian seas and to the northeast lies the vast mountainous landmass of the Balkans. Weather and climate are variable depending on region (particularly between north and south) and time of year.

Around the coast, the climate is Mediterranean. Winters are mild in the lowlands, with temperatures of around 7oC. In the summer, temperatures average 24oC (lower in the south) and humidity can be uncomfortably high. Average rainfall is heavy and higher in the north.

Things to do and see

Albania’s long history and varied relationships with other countries have left some fascinating material behind  Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian, Ottoman and more. In the south of the country near to the Greek border, Butrint is the largest archaeological site in Albania. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site and has remains stretching from the Bronze Age through to the Ottoman period.

There are a number of opportunities for hiking in Albania. The Tomorri Mountain Ridge in the south offers wild scenery and the Bektash (an order of Islamic mysticism) monastery at the top.

Dhermi, on the south-western coast between Vlore and Saranda, has one of the best beaches in the country and is great for camping.

Travel

Direct flights to Albania can be expensive, so it may be better value to fly to Italy and take a ferry across.

Mother Teresa International Airport (Albania’s only international airport) is located 16 miles north-west of the capital city of Tirana. Taxis are available throughout the day and night to shuttle you into the city centre for around 25 Euros. The airport is served by a number of airlines, including British Airways from London Gatwick.

It is not possible to enter the country by train, as there are no connections. Coaches travel to Tirana from Istanbul (Turkey), Athens (Greece), Sofia (Bulgaria) and Tetovo (Macedonia). Ferries serve several ports, including Durres from the Italian ports of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi and Trieste.

If you are entering by car, you will be issued with a certificate which you will need again to leave, as well as paying a charge of two Euros per day. Drivers can be aggressive and unpredictable (and possibly armed). Roads can be very poor, particularly in rural areas. Look out for potholes and don’t expect streets to be lit. Take all spares and repair equipment with you as there is no national recovery service.

Within the country, most people travel by furgons, private minibuses which go to destinations around the country. There is no set timetable and the drivers simply leave when they have enough passengers. Train services are limited and the trains themselves can be very basic.

Accommodation

Within Albania’s cities, hotels are easy to find and prices are generally low , starting at around 15 Euros for the most simple. They are usually clean and staff should speak English or Italian. Elsewhere, hotels are less common.

A list of hotels in Tirana can be found on the embassy website. A list of youth hostels in the country’s major cities can be found here.

Health care issues

Make sure you have valid medical insurance and a dated letter from your GP detailing any relevant conditions. Any medication you take should be clearly labelled. Doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash. Medical care is rudimentary and many essential supplies may not be available.

You will need a number of vaccinations before leaving for Albania. Everyone should be inoculated against Hepatitis A as well as having a current Tetanus-diptheria vaccination and Measles, Mumps and Rubella for those born after 1956. If you are planning to travel widely and eat anywhere other than major hotels and restaurants, Typhoid and Hepatitis B inoculation are recommended.

Water is not safe to drink unless it has been boiled or otherwise purified. Fruit and vegetables should be peeled and cooked before eating and it is probably best to avoid food sold by street vendors.

The northeast of the country can be dangerous, with land mines and armed gangs around the Kosovan border. Travellers are advised to avoid this region altogether.

Useful Links

Embassy of the Republic of Albania 24 Buckingham Gate London SW1E 6LB Tel: 0207 8288 897 Fax: 0207 8288 869 Email: amblonder@hotmail.comhttp://www.albanianembassy.co.uk

National Tourism Organisation
Tel: +355 4 273 281
E-mail: info@albaniantourism.com
www.albaniantourism.com

Mother Theresa Airport Tel: + 355 4 379 063 / 4 Lost and Found: +355 69 20 666 26 E-mail: info@tirana-airport.com www.tirana-airport.com.al

Entry Visas for Albania

Most European nationals, UK citizens included, will not need a visa to enter Albania (for a list of requirements for other countries see the embassy website). You will need a valid passport. There is a 10 Euro entry and exit fee. This is enforced rigidly if you are travelling by air, though other borders are less strict. Guards may allow you to pay in US dollars or will waive it altogether. Officials at Mother Teresa airport won’t give you change.

Foreigner Work Permits in Albania

Albania is one of the poorest countries in Europe. Many Albanians are unable to find work and are leaving to look for it elsewhere. Prospects for visitors are extremely limited. On the other hand, there are a large number of charities active in the country and many opportunities for volunteer work. There are conservationprojects, those involved with peace work and UN volunteer projects.

How to Say Common Albanian Phrases

A form of the Tosk dialect is the official language of Albania. Many Albanians speak Italian as a second language, having learned it from the TV. A few may also speak some English.

Meeting People

English
Albanian
Hello
Tungjatjeta
How are you?
Si jeni?
Well, thanks
Jam mirë, faleminderit
What is your name?
Si quheni?
My name is…
Quhem…
Pleased to meet you
Jam i lumtur t’ju njoh
Please
Ju lutem
Thank you
Faleminderit
You’re welcome
S’ka përse
Yes
Po
No
Jo
Excuse me
Më falni.
I’m sorry
Më vjen keq
Goodbye
Mirupafshim
Do you speak English?
Flisni Anglisht?
Help!
Ndihmë!
Good morning
Miremengjes
Good afternoon
Miredita
Good evening
Mirembrema
Good night
Naten e mire
I don’t understand
Nuk kuptoj

Directions

English
Albanian
How do I get to…?
Si mund te shkohet…?
Can you show me on the map?
A mund te me tregoni ne harte?
Street
Rruga
Turn left
Kthehu majtas
Turn right
Kthehu djathtas

Transport

English
Albanian
How much is a ticket to…?
Sa kushton nje bilete per ne…?
One ticket to…, please
Nje bilete peër në…, ju lutem
Where is the train/bus to…?
Ku është treni / autobusi për të …
When does the train/bus for… leave?
Kur niset treni/autobuzi për…?

Time

English
Albanian
Now
Tani
Later
Më vonë
Morning
Mëngjes
Afternoon
Pasdite
Evening
Mbrëmje
Night
Natë

Accommodation

English
Albanian
Do you have any rooms available?
Keni dhoma të lira?
How much is a room for one person/two people?
Sa kushton #një dhomë për një njeri/dy njerëz?
Does the room come with…
A ka dhoma…
May I see the room first?
Mund ta shoh dhomën?
OK, I’ll take it
Dakord, do ta marr
I will stay for … night(s)
Do të rri për … natë/netë
Is breakfast/supper included?
A përfshihet mëngjesi/darka?

Places

English
Albanian
Train station
Stacioni i trenit
Bus station
Stacioni i autobuzit
Airport
Aeroporti
Youth hostel
Hosteli i të rinjve?
Hotel
Hoteli
British/American/Australian consulate
Ambasada #Angleze/Amerikane/Australiane

Shopping

English
Albanian
How much does it cost?
Sa kushton?
New leks/old leks
Lek të reja/lek të vjetra
Do you have anything cheaper?
A keni ndonjë gjë më të lirë?

 

Albania Hostels

Hostels are a cheap form of accommodation, and so they are essential to backpackers and other budget travelers. We have compiled a list of hostels in Albania to help you plan your journey. If you are looking for a hostel in Albania, you’ve come to the right place.

Shkoder

There you have it, the ultimate Albania backpacking guide. We hope you have found all the information you need for backpacking around Albania.

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