If you think you know Albania, think again. This addictive country has a myriad faces. In the rugged north, the Alps are so fierce they're 'accursed', while the south enjoys one of Europe’s least known and most beautiful coastlines. Tirana is filled with craziness, from its traffic to its nightlife, but on its doorstep are mosques, citadels, Ottoman architecture and a stunning dose of medieval Balkans. The real surprise of Albania is the people. Their warmth to strangers is infectious and you’re bound to find yourself swapping stories over a glass of raki or three.
Albania Tours & Travel
At a glance
|Capital city:||Tirana (population 300,000)|
|Time zone:||(GMT+01:00) Sarajevo, Skopje, Warsaw, Zagreb|
|Electricity:||Type C (European 2-pin) Type E (French 2-pin, female earth)|
Best time to visit Albania
While the interior of the country sweats it out, summers along Albania’s Riviera are warm, fresh and bustling. When winter arrives so does the rain, but with temperatures above freezing for most of the country, it’s still easy to get out and about. November to March can mean heavy snowfalls in the Alps, so if you’re a fan of the white stuff it’s a great time to head to the hills.
Geography and environment
Top 5 Albanian Citadels
Albania's most charming medieval town is home to an amazingly well-preserved citadel. Surrounded by ancient stone walls, the citadel encloses dozens of churches and historic buildings while the white Ottoman houses clambering up the hillside to the castle have earned the town the nickname ‘City of a Thousand Windows’.
This 13th-century citadel is hammered into the mountain top and boasts beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture. Explore the kules and the fortress once used as a prison by the Nazis. Don’t forget to look at the views of the valley plunging below and say ‘Ohhhhh…’.
Once the headquarters of Skanderbeg, Albania's national hero, Kruja Castle dates back to the 4th century, but it wasn’t until the 15th century that it really started to earn its keep. For 30 years it resisted the advances of the Turks, before finally falling to the Ottomans. Now it’s a little more peaceful and a nice spot to take in the views of olive groves, goats and the sprawling landscape.
Like all good citadels, Rozafa once rose imposingly over the region. Now in partial ruins, it’s still impressive. A stroll along its walls will transport you back to Illyrian times.
Perched on a rocky hill near Tirana, the fortress of Pertrela was part of the signalling and defense system for Kruja Castle during the 15th century. Today, it’s one of Albania's best preserved fortifications with spectacular views of the valley and surrounding mountains.
FAQs on Albania
Beer in a bar or restaurant = 200 ALL
Simple lunch = 300 ALL
Dinner in an inexpensive restaurant = 750 ALL
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Mar 7 Orthodox Christmas Day
Mar 15 Summer Day
Mar 21 Nowruz (Persian New Year)
Mar 29 Good Friday
Apr 1 Easter Monday
May 1 Labor Day
May 5 Orthodox Easter Sunday
Aug 8 Lesser Bairam
Oct 15 Greater Bairam
Oct 19 Beatification of Mother Teresa Day
Nov 28 Flag and Independence Day
Nov 29 Liberation Day
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/albania/public-holidays
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Albania Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Albania
1. Be considerate of Albania’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Instead, fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
5. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
6. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
8. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
|Hidden Macedonia||Christopher Deliso|
|Gypsy of the Sea||Helen Dean Brewer|
|Chronicle in Stone||Ismail Kadare|
|The Three-Arched Bridge||Ismail Kadare|
|Out of Albania||Lawrence O. Abbott|