The coast of the great Mediterranean Sea has always been an irresistible place for tourists and Albania happens to be profiting from this as well. With scintillating shorelines, friendly people and majestic vistas, it has become a country that must not be left out by any means. Harbouring just over 2.8 million inhabitants and stretching upon an area of 28,748 square kilometres, it may appear like a small country; however, we must note that it is packed. So, without further ado, let us see what the homeland of Tirana (the capital city) has to offer!
This is kind of the elephant in the room as we all know that a large percentage of the tourists visiting the country are there because of its low prices. While this has already become canon when talking about Albania, it is important to know that you can hit steep prices if you want luxury treatment. But that about wraps it up as the rest of the country comes close to “dirt-cheap”. So, dear budget-savvy travellers, rejoice, for rarely are you going to visit such a fine place for such commendable prices!
No matter what your tastes might be when considering food, for Albania has it all – and all in an exquisite manner! Its cuisine is so varied and so colourful that you can go from heavy meat eater to vegan and still have a plethora of things to choose from. What we especially recommend that you try are the Mediterranean sea-foods that are seasoned in a specific Albanian manner (using rosemary, oregano and basil abundantly). Always be sure to check out the more “salad-like” dishes as well for their use of tomatoes, cucumbers and olives will make you drool (in the good way, of course)!
3. Language barriers:
Albania is a country where diversity is celebrated via the abundance of various languages spoken within its boundaries. Therefore, you are unlikely to hit nasty language barriers where you cannot get what you want. Countless locals speak Italian, Greek, French, German, or, of course, English. If you happen to be versed in either of these, you can travel safely, for all will be well. However, even if you are monolingual, the locals are still going to try and understand you to the best of their abilities – just make sure you use your majestic mimicking skills (wink)! Oh, and don’t forget the youth-rule – the younger the local, the more likely he/she will be multilingual.
Since Albania is such a popular country among tourists, it has become a standard to leave tips no matter where you might go. Restaurant tips should be between 5-15% depending on the quality of the service you get (tipping over 15% is quite unnecessary and it will make people think that you’ve left your money behind accidentally) while bartenders can be easily satisfied with the “lek” (the local currency) equivalent of a few cents or a Euro per drink (but even that is quite rarely practiced). If you have someone taking your order in a bar, then a 5-10% is recommended. Cab drivers are usually not tipped outside the “rounding-up-the-bill” standard. If you make them lug extra bags after you, then consider leaving a little extra as a token of gratitude.
Driving in Albania is so hectic that it can be compared to Greece and Italy. Impatience is like a plague that cannot be cured there and it is in the traffic that you are most likely going to see the nasty side of the locals. It is there that most of the nicety and warmth that they generally harbour turns into malice and agitation. Just stick to an acceptable speed and let the “hasty” people outrun you to their liking. Be sure to not cut them off and, most importantly, to not engage in arguments with them (wink).
We are happy to say that Albania is generally quite safe and tourists are very rarely targeted by local thugs. Petty crime may occur in crowded places but they are by no means something to be concerned about. All the more reason to fear nothing and enjoy your stay!
Did you enjoy our list? What experiences have you had in Albania and what can you share about it with the world? Hit the comment section below and leave nothing out! Safe travels and see you next time!