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10 Things to Know Before Traveling to Albania


I spent 2 months traveling around Albania, which has given me a wealth of insights and experiences. I'm excited to share some essential tips and must-know facts that will enhance your travels in Albania!

Whether you're exploring Albania for a few days or staying for a longer time, here's what you should know before traveling to Albania.

  1. Currency

  2. Language

  3. Weather & Packing

  4. Warning!

  5. Transportation and Getting Around

  6. Cuisine and Food

  7. Safety

  8. South and the Capital are two different worlds

  9. SIM cards & data

  10. Entry

Currency in Albania

In Albania, you use Albanian Lek (ALL). They are planning to join the EU, so this might change. Euros already are widely accepted throughout the country. While you can use Euros in Albania, you'll generally get a better deal paying in Leks.


I personally found most easiest to match Lek against USD. One USD is 100 Leks. So 1000 Leks will be 10 USD. (This is approximate of course as the currency rates these days change a lot every day)

While traveling through Albania, I saw exchange points and ATMs quite frequently so I wouldn't worry too much about the possibility of exchanging or withdrawing Leks. But, the more remote I traveled the less of those so better sort out cash in the city before you embark on your day trip!

Tipping is not traditionally expected in Albania, but it is appreciated for good service in restaurants and hotels. Around 10% of the bill is customary if you choose to tip.

Albanian Language

Albanian (Shqip) is the official language of Albania. It's unique and not closely related to other languages, though you may notice some Italian and Turkish influences. Albanian language is like no any other which is why I found it extremely difficult to learn. I usually tend to learn the basic phrases to communicate and show my respect to locals but I couldn't even pronounce 'Thank you' properly. This is the first language I found extremely difficult to understand and learn.

In cities and tourist areas, especially among the younger population, English is widely spoken. In these areas, you'll find that people working in tourism, hospitality, and young locals generally speak English quite well. In more remote or rural areas, mostly older people live so it did get quite difficult to communicate but you know the old good pointing and mimicking did the job :D

Here are a few basic phrases in Albanian that can be very helpful:

  • Përshëndetje - Hello

  • Faleminderit - Thank you

  • Po/Nuk - Yes/No

  • Ku është...? - Where is...?

  • Sa kushton? - How much does it cost?

I found it very interesting that they call Albania in their language completely different! - Shqipëria

Weather in Albania and What to Pack

The weather in Albania in general is wonderful! You get a very long warm summer and it doesn't get too cold in winter.

I traveled during October and November, spending October in the South and November in the capital Tirana. I could still go for a swim at the end of October! During November a few rainy days get in the way and sometimes the temperature drops during the night quite significantly but if you are packed right, you will also enjoy the autumn in Albania.

So how to pack to ensure you are all covered?

From May to September feel free to pack as light as possible. The temperature during the summer season is around 32 degrees. I was still wearing a T-shirt and shorts in October and used my jeans only when I went for dinner late.

If you are traveling any time from November to March, then you need to be ready for everything I would definitely recommend having a warm jacket and umbrella. During January you definitely will need a coat! But also, the sun is very strong all year round, so you might get very warm and sunny days. There were still a few days in November when the temperature went up to 20 degrees. And with the sun fully out, you will want to dress quite light, like jeans and a light long-sleeve shirt.

I personally think the best time to visit Albania is in September! You do not get the summer heat but it is still hot enough for the beach time. The kids are in school and you get fewer tourists visiting!


Be careful - no car ever stops before the pedestrian crossing! I have to mention it because it is to another extreme. You can be standing there for 10 minutes until someone lets you pass. Which is why I always preferred the crosswalks with traffic lights or you just have to be brave and cross and hope the best!

So no surprise another warning will be about driving in Albania! If you are not a confident driver I would not recommend renting a car. I needed a good 15 minutes to get used to the Albanian way of driving. Everyone tries to cut in all the time. Roundabouts are a mess. The drivers drive very aggressively. And sometimes people just decide to stop on a road, in the middle, so you can't pass. Driving in Alabina is definitely an experience but only for those who feel confident driving in other countries.

Transportation and Getting Around

Although you can travel around the country with the bus and routes are in place it is not as straightforward as in some other countries. In some cities, there is no bus station, just quite an unnoticeable bus stop which for foreigners might not be so obvious. Most tickets you can't purchase online only when going to the office ticket. Traveling yourself in Albania is not that easy, which is why most times I opted for renting a car.

The situation improves around Tirana. The bus system around the capital is better than in most other places. In Tirana public transport is cheap and it is easy to use it but in all honesty, if you are a tourist wanting to explore the city you will be able to walk everywhere. You do not need to use public transport in Tirana as everything is within walking distance, apart from the famous cable car. To get to the cable car, you will need to use the bus L11, or a taxi.

Taxis are widely available in cities and tourist areas. I would recommend agreeing on the approximate fare before starting your journey to avoid being overcharged.

Cuisine and Food

Must-Try Dishes:

  • Byrek: This savory pastry, filled with cheese, spinach, or meat, is a staple in Albanian cuisine.

  • Tavë Kosi: A traditional dish of baked lamb and yogurt, Tavë Kosi is comfort food at its best.

  • Fërgesë: A rich and hearty dish typically made with peppers, tomatoes, and cottage cheese.

If you like to try local traditional alcoholic drinks, you can't miss out on Raki! Which is a potent fruit brandy served as an aperitif.

When it comes to sweets, you have to try Baklava! Baklava is a sweet pastry made of layers of thin filo dough, filled with chopped nuts, and soaked in honey or syrup.

Along the Albanian Riviera, seafood is a highlight. Enjoy fresh fish, mussels, and other seafood, often grilled or served in flavorful stews.


I think the biggest misconception is that Albania is dangerous! I spent 2 months in Albania, in different areas, and never felt unsafe. I walked around the capital and beach towns in the late hours when it was dark and never worried. The people are very welcoming and nice. The things you might have heard about drug trafficking etc, happen far away from tourist areas and will never affect you. Of course, unless you look for troubles yourself.

South and the Capital are two different worlds

The beach towns in the South are very different from the capital - Tirana.

First, in Tirana in most places, you can pay with a card. In the South, in most places, you can't pay with a card.

Renting a car in Tirana is extremely easy and cheap. Renting a car in the South will be more expensive as a more touristic area.

People are way more friendlier, more polite, and offer better customer service in Tirana than in the South.

I hope these indications allow you to understand the difference.

SIM cards & Data

If you have a European SIM, it will not work in Albania. You will need to purchase a local SIM to be able to have data on your phone while traveling Albania.

There are 2 main companies that usually have offices next to each other so there really is no difference: One and Vodafone. The prices are very similar. I got my SIM with One as they offered a tourist deal.


Many nationalities, including EU, US, and UK citizens, can enter Albania visa-free for short stays, up to 90 days.

Some nationalities require a visa to enter Albania. You can check out if you need one here: Do I need a visa to enter Albania?

If you are planning to visit Tirana make sure to check out my Tirana Travel Guide!

If you are planning to spend some time in the South, check out my Saranda Travel Guide!


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