Last updated: 5 Jan 2018

Albania

About

Albania has something to offer almost everyone. Hikers will enjoy the Albanian Alps or the Tomorri massif, whilst cyclists will find a network of ancient tracks criss-crossing the country. Those who are interested in archaeology can spend hours in the complex sites of Butrint and Byllis. History lovers can explore ancient castles, Ottoman fortresses and the museum cities of Berati and Gjirokastra.

Outdoor Albania organises hiking, skiing and mountain-biking tours throughout the country. Take the ferry up the jade waters of Lake Komani, hemmed in on both sides with towering cliffs. Look out for pygmy cormorants, herons and golden eagles. Sunbathe or swim at one of Albania's beautiful beaches. They slope gently into the Adriatic and are more rugged further south. The lakes have beaches too. But be warned: in high season, all but the most remote beaches are crowded and dirty.

Go white-water rafting through the spectacular canyons of the Osumi River. Birdwatch in the coastal wetlands of Karavastaja, the westernmost breeding site of the Dalmatian pelican, or Kune-Vaini, home to spotted eagles, spoonbills and herons.
Local Name: Shqiperia
Historical Name: Illyria
Capital:  Tirana (TIA)
Currency:  Lek (ALL)
Language:  Albanian. Greek, Italian, French and English may also be spoken.
Dialling code from SA:  + 355
Time Zones: UTC / GMT +1 (1 hour behind South Africa)
Daylight Savings Time: From last Sunday March to last Sunday October: UTC / GMT +2 (same time as South Africa)
Public Holidays 2018:  Jan 1, 2; Mar 14, 22; Apr 1, 8; May 1; Jun 15; Aug 22; Oct 19; Nov 2, 29; Dec 8, 25
Side of the Road: Right. 
Best Time to Go: May to September
Best for: Archaeological Sites, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Architecture
Plugs: 220 volts AC, 50Hz
Drinking Water: All water should be regarded as being potentially contaminated. Bottled water is available. 
Health: Medical facilities are very limited.  Comprehensive health insurance is recommended and it should include emergency air evacuation coverage.
Customs: Dress should be conservative, particularly in the rural areas. Men take much pride in their appearance.  Although not illegal, homosexuality is not widely accepted and public displays of affection should be avoided. In Albania, nodding the head means no, and shaking the head means yes. Albanians usually remove their shoes inside their homes or other people's houses.
Local Offences / Laws: Smoking is not allowed on public transport. Penalties for drug related crimes are severe.
Travel Tips / Warnings: Water cuts and electricity blackouts are fairly frequent.
Duty Free: The following items may be imported into Albania without incurring customs duty:
• 200 cigarettes or 100 cigarillos or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco.
• 1L of spirits with an alcoholic content of 22% or 2L of spirits containing less than 22% alcohol and 2L of wine.
• 250ml of eau de toilette or 50ml of perfume.
• Personal goods, gifts and souvenirs up to a value of Lek30,000 (up to Lek15,000 for children under 15). Tobacco allowances apply to travellers aged 15 or over. Alcohol allowances apply to travellers aged 18 or over.
Prohibited Imports: Prohibited and restricted imports include weapons, radioactive materials, ozone-depleting substances, narcotics, and endangered wild flora and fauna.
Prohibited Exports: You need to obtain a permit to export precious metals, antiques (including coins and maps) and books or works of art which form part of Albania's cultural and historical heritage.

Visa Requirements

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SA Representative

Ambassador accredited from Rome, Italy.

Travel Health

Compulsory:  None
Recommended Travel Vaccines:  Hepatitis A & B, Tetanus, Polio