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Experience the unspoilt beauty of the Mediterranean’s best kept secret

Albania is a young travel destination, that is still playing catch up to the more popular Mediterranean destinations. A south-eastern Balkan country, it became non-communist in 1991 and has a natural beauty that remains unspoilt in terms of tourism.

If you’re looking at holidays in Europe and want something a bit different, Albania hits the spot. It has 265 miles of stunning coastline, that touches both the Adriatic and Ionian seas. Coastal regions are peppered with laid back beach resorts, whereas inland you’ll find more mountainous landscapes, with UNESCO world heritage sites and tranquil national parks to explore.

Culture and history

Albania is known locally as Shqiperia, meaning the land of the eagle. It is named so after the popular legend, that depicts the story of a young man who killed a snake at the edge of an eagle’s nest, to stop him from eating the egg. The eagle showed his gratitude by rewarding the man with his powers and proclaiming his people ‘sons of eagles’.

Albania’s heritage has seen rulings from Christians, the Ottoman empire and Polytheists. This is reflected in the country’s archaeological sites, which show evidence of all three having existed there. Nowadays, there is no prominent religion, but rather a mix of Muslim, Catholic, Orthodox, Atheist and other minority religions.

Albania’s food, literature and music culture suffered greatly during Stalinist dictatorship. What exists in this post-communist country, is a relatively new and emerging scene to discover. The most iconic historical figure from the country is Nobel Peace Prize winner Mother Teresa, who was born to Albanian parents as Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu.

Things to do

Albania is a land of stunning and unspoilt scenery waiting to be discovered. From areas of outstanding natural beauty in the mountains, to a stunning coastline that boasts some of the best beaches in the Mediterranean, you can take in the beauty of this country at your leisure, without hordes of tourists.

Tirana

Tirana is the capital of Albania. It’s beautifully colourful architecture dates back to the Ottoman, Fascist and Soviet eras. The main attraction in the city is Skanderbeg Square, where you will find the monument dedicated to hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu. Other places of interest include Bunk’Art – a museum and art gallery inside a bunker, as well as Et'hem Bey Mosque and the Pyramid of Tirana.

Butrint

The UNESCO world heritage site of Butrint is an archaeological site that has historically had settlements from the Greeks, the Romans, Byzantine’s and the Venetians. It has ruins from each of these settlements over time, set in a beautiful landscape.

Gjirokastra

In the very south of Albania, you can visit the city of Gjirokastra, set in a valley between the Gjerë mountains and Drino. Here you will find places of interest including Gjirokastër Fortress – a 12th century castle, as well as Zekate House, reflecting original Ottoman architecture.

Berat

Located on the Osum River, Berat is an old town 120km from Tirana, famous for its 13th century fortress, Berat Castle and its Ottoman architecture. Berat is a UNESCO site and is known as ‘the city of a thousand windows’ after its apparent never-ending display of windows from the town’s houses, that are set on the side of a mountain.

Flight time

The flight time from London to Tirana is around 3 hours.

Currency

Lek -

The currency of Albania is the Albanian lek.

Passports and visas

Visitors to Albania must hold a passport valid for at least 3 months from their return date to the UK.

You may enter Albania as a tourist without a visa.

For more information, visit the GOV.UK website.

Phrases

Hello – Përshëndetje

Good morning – Miremengjes

Good afternoon – Mirembrema

Please – Ju lutem

Thank you – Faleminderit

Goodbye – Lamtumirë

Yes – Po

No – Jo

Timezone

Albania is 2 hours ahead of GMT/UK time.

Electricity

The standard voltage in Albania is 230 volts. The frequency is 50Hz. You can use UK appliances in Albania, if your appliances are between 220 volts and 240 volts.

Albania uses the standard Euro plug and the Schuko plug, both two-pin. You will need an adapter.

Language

Albanian -

Albanian is the country’s official language, with around 98% of the population speaking it. There are two main spoken dialects of Albanian, southern Tosk and northern Gheg. Minority languages include Greek, Romani, Serb and Bulgarian.

Tipping

Tipping is not expected in Albania but it’s commonplace to round up the bill in restaurant if you are happy with the service.

Climate

Albania enjoys a Mediterranean climate, with long hot summers and cool, wet winters. The terrain is mountainous, with some snow falling in the highlands in winter and rain in the lowlands.

Health

We recommend you visit your health professional at least 4 to 6 weeks before your trip to Albania, to check whether you need any vaccinations or other preventive measures.

Country-specific information and advice on possible health risks is also published by the National Travel Health Network and Centre, and The British Foreign and Commonwealth Travel Advice Unit provides important health and safety information for British nationals travelling abroad.

Population and size

The population of Albania is 2.9 million. Around 66% of the area is urban.

The total land area is 27,400 Km2 (10,579 sq. miles), with Greece, Montenegro, Kosovo and Macedonia as its bordering countries.

Smoking

Smoking indoors is forbidden in Albania and anyone doing so will face a hefty fine. Smoking outdoors is freely allowed.



Climate