- How comfortable is Albania?
Albania’s tourism is a long way from being developed so we wouldn’t recommend it as a destination for high-maintenance princesses. On the tour you should expect basic, clean accommodation, unless you on a tailored made tour in which we can cater for luxurious tastes. You should also be prepared for possible electricity shortages (bring a torch), lack of hot water, squat toilets, smoking everywhere (even in restaurants), signs of poverty and random access to services. Also anticipate that you will be stared at quite a lot as Albanians are not at all used to seeing people from other countries; your equivalent to an alien to the curious locals. After 47 years of self imposed communist isolation and limited immigration or visitors, it really isn’t surprising. You should be ready for a bit of a culture shock.
If you’re easy-going and approach to your travels in Albania with humour and respect for the locals, you’ll get the most out of the experience and have lots of entertaining stories to take home.
- Is it safe for tourists in Albania?
The answer is a definite yes. It is more likely that you will be overwhelmed by the hospitality offered to you by the Albanian people than be a victim of organised crime or corruption. Expect that if you ask for directions, you are more than likely be escorted to the destination to make sure you get there even if it means the local jumps in your car and travels 20km out of their way to show you exactly where to go. It is always a good idea wherever you travel to apply some simple strategies: stay alert at all times, hide valuables or leave them at home, don’t wander around unlit areas at night. Crime against tourists has effectively been deterred by harsh punishments imposed by the government. The poor road conditions and limited driving experience of Albanians pose the biggest risk, which is mitigated by our experienced driver. Also for your health you should only drink bottled water and UHT milk.
For added comfort, check out your government’s regularly updated views and tips on safety and security in Albania:
- Now I know where Albania is, how do I get there?
Due to the prime location of Albania, there are a number of methods of transport and departure points across Europe to get you here.
Flights from most capital cities in Europe fly to Mother Theresa International Airport (www.tirana-airport.com.al), located 25 km northwest of Tirana, the Albanian capital city Tirana. Low cost carriers Germanwings and Belleair fly directly but also European flag carriers such as British Airways, Alitalia, Lufthansa and Austrian.
For the cheapest flights and options it's best to use a flight comparison website to get you the best deal or through the airline directly. We recommend:
To give you an idea of some your options direct to Tirana:
- From London, BelleAir and Albanian Airlines flys from Stansted and British Airways leaves from Gatwick.
- Olympia Airlines flys from Athens and Turkish Airways is a carrier from Istanbul.
- There are lots of flights from all over Italy - Rome, Milan, Venice – try flying to Italy with RyanAir or EasyJet and then taking a flight to Tirana with AirItalia or BelleAir.
Another popular option during summer is to fly direct to Corfu (with a budget airline like Easy Jet) and then catch the less than half an hour ferry to Saranda in Albania.
By car, taxi, bus or furgons (local van/mini-bus), you can travel quite easily from all neighbouring countries.
- Through Hani i Hotit, leads to the Northern City of Shkodra and Lake Shkodra.
- Through Murriqan-Sukobina, which links Shkodra with Ulcinj Montenegro.
- Through Vermoshi, which links the region of Kelmendi in Albania with Plava and Gucia (Gusinje) in Montenegro.
- Through Qafe Thana pass leading to Pogradec, Librazhd and Elbasan.
- From Tushemisht, at the Southeastern end of Lake Ohrid, leading to Pogradec.
- From Bllata, leading to Peshkopi or Bulqiza and Burrel.
- From Gorica the road leads to the northern shores of Lake Prespa.
- Through Morina pass, which links Kukes, Albania, with Pristina, Kosovo, Morina which links Tropoja with Gjakova and Qafë Prushi, which links Kruma with Gjakova.
- Through Kapshtica leading to Korça.
- From Kakavija Leading to Gjirokastra.
- At Qafe Boti Konispol is connected to Filat, and at Tre Urat, connecting Permet with Konica.
There are options to go directly on transport to a place in Albania or to catch transport to the border, walk over the border and then catch one of the many taxis waiting for business to your preferred destination. Although there are no passenger trains into Albania, you can get buses from a number of European cities to Tirana including:
- Istanbul, Turkey (20hr)
- Athens, Greece (12hr)
- Sofia, Bulgaria (22hr)
- Tetova, Macedonia (7hr)
- Prishtina, Kosovo (5hr)
The main ports in Albania and ferry services to neighbouring countries are:
- Durrës: the Italian ports of Ancona, Bari, Brindisi and Trieste
- Vlora: the Italian port of Brindisi
- Shëngjin: the Italian port of Bari
- Saranda: the Greek Island of Corfu
For details on the Italian ferries a helpful website is Ferries Online. The fast ferry from Durres and Bari is only 3 hours. From the ferry from Corfu to Saranda, look at Ionian Cruises for details. There is a fast ferry of 25 minutes at 9am every morning, returning to Corfu at 10.30am each day and a slower ferry from Saranda to Corfu of 75 minutes at 4.15pm on each day except Monday.
- Do I need a visa to enter Albania?
Most foreign visitors (Australians, New Zealanders, Americans, Canadians, South Africans and EU citizens) do not require a visa and will be automatically be given 30 days to visit. There is no longer a cost to enter Albania as we have seen described elsewhere, nor is there an arrival card for you to fill in to go through customs. Please note that this was correct at the time of publication. It is your responsibility to ensure that your passport and the visa requirements are satisfied. A good reference point is the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- What is the best time of the year to visit Albania?
Albania is one of those places great to visit any time of the year for any traveller wanting to explore this remarkable country for knowledge, beauty and enlightenment. You could come anytime of the year as the weather is mild and sunny most of the year round. Sunbathers in search of Mediterranean beaches will prefer to come in June, July and August. We have designed our tours for plenty of time for cooling off in the pristine waters and have air-conditioned transport to cope with the heat.
In winter, the lowlands at the coldest are 5-10 degrees but still mostly in high teens or early twenties. The Alps get down to -5 degrees. During winter, we will make the most of the snow by arranging ski trips.
- What are some cultural differences in Albania that I should be aware of?
Although Albania is predominately of Islamic faith, it is very rare to see women wearing a burqa or hijab. However, it is also extremely rare to see women wearing singlet tops, short skirts or showing their midriff, nor is there is any nudity allowed at the beach. We would recommend that you dress conservatively but you do not need to go to length of covering your arms and legs as you would most Middle Eastern countries.
Albanians shake hands not only when being introduced but also when greeting people they already know for the first time everyday and when they part for the day. There is also usually a hand on the shoulder. Friends greet each other (men and women alike) with kisses on the cheek. Although the Albanians are affectionate in this regard, you will not see passionate kissing in the streets so PDAs should be avoided.
Albanians usually remove their shoes in their own homes and in other people’s houses – when you are a guest you will be often offered a pair of slippers or plastic sandals while you are indoors. If you do visit someone's home, it is customary to accept any raki or sweets offered to you on your arrival but it is acceptable for you to turn down cigarettes.
Albanians are always keen to engage in conversation especially with international visitors. You may find their questions are very personal such as how much money you earn or details of your relationships. It can feel quite intrusive for those of us not used to it, but they do not mean offence. We suggest that if you feel uncomfortable about revealing too much about yourself than be prepared with some polite responses.
If you are female and go to a coffee shop (called "bars") be aware that you may be the only female there and be the subject of staring, but you are still more than welcome.
- Are there limitations on age on Juicy Tours?
We suggest that you can have great time at any age on Juicy Tours, however our group organised tours have been designed for those that are active, adventurous and seasoned travellers. In view of that, we think it would appeal more to those that are between round about 22 and 40 years of age. If you acknowledge this and are out of this age bracket, you are more than welcome to join us. We do require that those beyond 70 do have confirmation of health from their medical practitioner and you can not be younger than 18 on group tours. See our Booking Conditions for more details.
- How much additional spending money should I bring?
From our experience, spending habits vary greatly so this question is difficult to respond to with any certainty, but Albania is a relatively cheap country so it would be difficult for you to spend $50 AUD a day each. The price of the tour covers the most expensive items of accommodation and transport. You should factor in at the very most $10 per meal including drinks and additional funds of about another $20 for personal expenses (such as laundry), shopping and optional activities. To give you an idea, a coffee or beer is about 100-150 leke which works out to be about $1-$1.50. Street snacks of burek is about 30 cents, a large pizza $3 and a main meal at good restaurants are about $5. The most expensive optional activities such as rafting are about 50 euro. Museum entry fees range between 2 and 4 euro. You are also required to have access to monies apart from your spending money in case of an emergency. Please see our Booking Conditions for more detail.
- Do I need a particular level of fitness?
We require that you have a standard level of fitness - you need to be able to walk short distances with your backpack, get up and down stairs and on and off our transport with ease. Any especially physical activities are always optional. If you have a particular medical condition or disability, please let us know prior to booking so that we can ensure you can be accommodated.
- How many people need to be booked for the tour to be guaranteed to leave?
We aim to operate our group organised tours if we have 6 travellers booked, however we use our discretion as to whether it will operate with less. If you would like to know details of numbers prior to departure or like to book the tour exclusively for a group of friends of any size, please contact us.