Nestled in the Balkan Peninsula, Albania is a land of breathtaking landscapes, rich history, and a unique blend of cultures. Despite its undeniable charm, this European gem has remained relatively off the tourist radar, making it an ideal destination for travellers seeking unspoiled beauty and authentic experiences. Before you pack your bags and head to Albania, here are some essential tips to ensure your trip is memorable.
Rent A Car
Due to limited public transportation options, using a car is often the most practical and recommended way to get around. If you're an experienced driver, renting a car is also a viable choice. Alternatively, you can opt for buses or small vans for public transport.
Keep Cash Handy
When planning a trip to Albania, one should be aware that many restaurants and, in some cases, hotels may not accept card payments. You might also come across establishments with a "cash only" policy here. Therefore, it is recommended to carry some cash to avoid potential situations where card payments are not accepted.
Being close to Eurozone countries, Albania commonly accepts Euros for transactions. However, it's typical for visitors to receive an exchange rate when using Euros in the country.
It is essential to drive with great care. There are instances of encountering pedestrians on the motorway and motorbike riders without helmets on the road. It is advisable to pay extra attention while driving to prevent severe accidents.
See The Bunkers
One important fact to know before visiting Albania is the prevalence of numerous bunkers throughout the country. It's reported that between the 1960s and 1980s, Albanian dictator Enver Hoxha constructed over 750,000 bunkers to fortify the nation, anticipating potential invasions from the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Greece, and NATO.
Nowadays, these bunkers, mostly abandoned, have transformed into a popular tourist attraction across the country. Reportedly, two of the largest bunkers in Tirana have been transformed into museums that visitors can explore.
A Safe Country
Albania is considered one of the safest destinations in Europe. According to information from the UK Foreign Office, public safety is generally favourable, and crime targeting foreigners or tourists is rare, although pickpocketing does occur. Travelling to Albania can be done without significant safety concerns.
Language Is Not A Concern
The primary language spoken in Albania is Albanian, which is unique and different from others. Beyond basic phrases, attempting to communicate in Albanian may prove challenging. However, this is not a significant concern because most of the population has a good command of English.
An Affordable Country
Albania is considered an affordable destination, particularly in terms of lodging and dining. A meal at an average restaurant costs approximately €6 per person, and a night in a room with a private bathroom averages around €15 per person. Of course, prices can vary, offering options for different budget preferences.
Make Beaches A Priority
Most tourists who visit Albania are drawn to its beautiful beaches, and for good reason. The Albanian Riviera boasts some of Europe's most stunning coastal areas. Along its shores, you'll find a mix of pebbly and sandy beaches bordering clear, crystalline waters that rival the beauty of beaches in Italy, Greece, or Croatia. Among the top beaches on the Riviera are Drymades, known for its live music and beach bars. Ksamil Beach also offers clear-blue waters within the Butrint National Park
A Foodie's Paradise
In Albania, the best dishes are not only delicious but also budget-friendly. Visitors are advised to try as many dishes as possible during their stay. Some must-try options include fëgesë (a slow-cooked stew featuring peppers, onions, spices, tomatoes, and cottage cheese), tavë kosi (a lamb and rice dish baked with yoghurt and eggs), burek (flaky filo pastry filled with savoury ingredients).
Applying for an Albanian permit from India involves several steps. Since there is no Albanian Embassy or Consulate in India, applicants must submit their applications to the Embassy of Albania in Beijing, Istanbul, or Abu Dhabi. Before applying, make sure you qualify for the specific type of Albanian entry permit you need by checking the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Albania's website. Once your application is approved, you'll receive an email confirming acceptance and providing details on the next steps and associated fees.