Albania is a country situated in Southeastern Europe, bordering with Greece, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro, with a coastline facing the Adriatic and Ionian seas within the Mediterranean Sea. The country counts about 3 million people and its capital is Tirana. Albania is a place that offers a real unique European adventure to any tourist. Albania is one of those countries where you never know what you’re going to get, it is full of surprises and located a bit off the beaten track, and all this together makes way for a unique experience.
When it comes to Tirana, it is a colorful European capital, much more bright and green than people usually expect. Unfortunately, Albania has a bad reputation in Europe as a crime ridden nation. However, in spite of this bad reputation, it is relatively safe to travel to Albania.
Warnings & Dangers in Albania
OVERALL RISK : LOW
Albania is a relatively safe country to travel to. There are mild threats, nothing that should stop you from traveling there. In the main cities (Tirana, Durres, Vlore) there are no major issues, and the only area you should avoid is Albania's border with Kosovo.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
Means of transportation are various in Albania but not very reliable. Just because there is a schedule, doesn't mean there actually is a schedule, so you can count on waiting for buses, trains, etc. However, it is mostly safe, but be careful for pickpockets on buses and trains.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
Petty crime involving pickpocketing is common, especially if you're using public transportation. Also, cell phone thefts and wallet thefts do happen, so keep your valuables in a safe place and take basic precaution measures.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : LOW
Albania lies in a seismically-active zone, and minor earthquakes and tremors are common. Serious earthquakes are less frequent but do occur.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Mugging, cell phone thefts and carjacking do happen, however, these cases are not too common. Albania is not known for kidnapping, so you should be fine, but use common sense and be vigilant for any dangers at all times.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
There haven't been terrorist attacks in Albania's recent history, but they shouldn't be ruled out.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Albanians are mostly warm and hospitable people, but there's always the risk of getting scammed if you're a tourist, and this also applies to Albania. Tourists have been overcharged for beers and street food, or given the wrong change, so try to avoid street vendors and negotiate everything in advance and check your change twice. Credit card fraud is also an issue in Albania and visitors should exercise caution by not letting the card out of their sight. As a tourist, be vigilant for strangers looking over their shoulders at the PIN number or for any interference with the machine itself that could indicate a camera or some kind of a scamming machine inside the ATM.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : LOW
It is safe for women to travel alone in Albania, and most people will probably go out of their way to help in any way, but you should avoid walking in remote areas and alone at night.
So... How Safe Is Albania Really?
Albania’s bad reputation is hard to shake, although it is really a relatively safe place to visit. This country does have some issues but they are mainly in the north of the country, on the border with Kosovo (a part of Serbia), since, over the years there have been many political incidents and quarrels with Serbia regarding the territory of Kosovo. Albanians are mainly considered heavily armed people, so this is the reason why it is not safe to travel to those parts of the country. Also, there are some unexploded mines left over from wars and conflicts in the region, so don’t go wondering around unmapped areas.
Another danger in Albania is that it is a country with around 100.000 tons of piled up munitions in various warehouses and depots. These warehouses and depots represent a serious danger from explosion, and are not sufficiently monitored and dealt with. In 2008 there was an explosion on a motorway near Tirana originating from one of these depots.
As for petty crime, pickpocketing and cell phone theft, as well as luggage theft are the most common forms of crime you’ll find on the streets, and they are relatively common. Carjacking is rare in Albania but vehicle theft is common so be sure to lock your vehicle before leaving it, and do not leave any valuables in a visible place in the car.
- Visas - As a tourist, you don't need a visa to enter the Republic of Albania. You may stay up to one year in Albania without applying for a residency permit, and your passport should be valid for at least three months beyond your stay in Albania. If you are not sure about your visa status, visit www.doyouneedvisa.com which will let you know whether or not you need visa based on your nationality and the country you want to visit.
- Currency - Albanian lek is the official currency in Albania. Some say that Albania is a little more expensive than Skopje or Bucharest, but it is still cheaper than most European countries. Use ATM's with caution and exchange your money in banks.
- Weather - Albania has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters in the lowlands. In the highlands, it is cold from November until March, and snow is a regular occurrence. Cities near mountains are very cold, and even during the summer nights can get very chilly.
- Airports - Albania's main and busiest international airport is Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza, commonly known as Rinas International Airport.
- Travel Insurance - Just like anywhere else, we recommend getting travel insurance when traveling to Albania, since it covers not only the costs of medical problems, but also theft and loss of valuables.