Useful information about Albania and the JTELSS 2018
May is generally sunny, with temperatures in ranging between 19 -26 degree Celsius and sea temperature ranging between 16-22 degrees Celsius. You should be able to swim in the sea and make sure you bring sun protection cream as the sun can be strong.
Please make sure that you have comprehensive travel insurance before you start the trip. This insurance could include cancellation of flights, medical expenses including repatriation, loss or damage of baggage etc.
Any visitor who holds a valid, multiple entry and previously used visa issued by a Schengen area country, United States, or the United Kingdom, or a residence permit in these countries can enter Albania without a visa for 90 days.
Detailed information about the visa policy of Albania for foreign nationals can be accessed at Ministry for Europe and Foreign affairs of Republic of Albania.
Full information of the Albanian visa regime can be also found in this document.
Transfers and getting around
You can arrive in Albania via Tirana International Airport from most international destinations, the Port in Durres from Italy, or via the Prishtina Airport in Kosovo where EasyJet flies, then take a bus to Durres.
Tirana International Airport is 38 km away from the hotel and taxi can cost between 30-35 Euros. There are many taxis standing in front of the airport 24/7. You might be approached by unlicensed drivers when you exit, but it is recommended to take one of the formal licensed taxis instead although they might be slightly more expensive. You are advised to agree a fixed price with the driver before you depart or ask to go by the taximeter.
There are shuttle bus options from the airport to Durres or Tirana from early morning until afternoon. For a detailed schedule and prices you can visit: http://www.tirana-airport.com/l/4/16/getting-here-parking/bus/
You are advised to pay cash to the driver when you board the bus and not try to book it online in advance. Securing a place in the busy is usually not a problem.
From the bus terminal in Durres where the airport shuttle bus stops you can take a public bus that stops is 20 meters from the hotel. To go in Durres Center it cost 0.5 Euro by public bus or 7-8 Euros by taxi.
You are allowed to bring in or take out 200 cigarettes, 1L of spirits or 2L of wine are permitted duty free to each individual over 18 as in many European countries.
There are three mobile phone providers in Albania:
- Vodafone Albania owned by Vodafone
- Telekom Albania (Formerly AMC) owned by Deutsche Telekom
- Albtelecom (Formerly EAGLE MOBILE) owned by Albtelecom
There is a Vodafone kiosk right when you exit arrivals in the airport. You can buy a SIM card with data for a week there for around 1500 Lek (11 Euros).
Money and Prices
Most transactions in Albania are done on a strictly cash only basis using the Lek. It is better to ask for prices in Lek. Credit cards are not widely accepted in Albania, but our hotel accepts them and so do many good restaurants and bars. You should be able to withdraw Lek cash from ATMs using your bank cards in other currencies.
Recommended currencies for exchange are Pound Sterling, US dollars and Euros cash. Exchange offices can be found in major towns and cities or hotels. ATMs are available in most large towns and the beach, and there is one about 10-15 min walk from the hotel. You are advised to withdraw some cash in Lek from the airport or port ATMs when you arrive.
Exchange rate: 1 Euro = around 130 Albanian Lek
Goods and services in Albania are cheaper than in most European countries, for example:
- Tea/Coffee: 70-120 Lek
- Soft Drink: 150 -200 Lek
- Bottled Water: 50-100 Lek
- Bottle of Beer: 150-350 Lek
- Bottle of Wine: 700-2000 Lek
More information and a comparison between Durres and Tirana can be found at: Numebo
In Albania the power sockets are European, types C and F. The standard voltage is 230 V and the standard frequency is 50 Hz. More information can be found at https://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/albania/
Albanian food is Mediterranean with a combination of Turkish, Italian and Greek influences, generally excellent, with largely organic and fresh ingredients sourced locally. Menus in restaurants won’t specify if the food is vegan, gluten free or give such detailed dietary information. It is better to make your own arrangements and be prepared to adapt, but there is usually a good range of salads and unprocessed options to choose from.
Drinking and Nightlife
In many towns except for the capital city Tirana nightlife begins with an evening walk with the family or friends along a busy pedestrian route. Near the hotel and in Durres this happens by the beach around sunset time. After that and dinner it’s to cafes or bars, where international and local beers, wine or cocktails are the order of the day. Smoking is not allowed indoors, but in some clubs you might experience that around midnight, although in the summer a lot happens outdoors so it should not be a problem. In Tirana the Blloku neighbourhood is where most of the nightlife. In the Durres area some resorts organise live-music events with local performers and music or invite DJ for a mix of local and international tunes.
- People are generally very friendly and helpful in Albania, they will try to give you all the assistance you need if you ask, but make sure you respect them.
- Do not photograph local people without asking first for their permission, or better be in the picture with them.
- Do not attempt to visit mosques during prayer time.
- It is normal for men to shake hands with each other when they meet. Do follow local cues when meeting people in rural areas; it may not be appropriate to shake hands with women if you are a man, simply great and acknowledge the person.
Tipping in Albania is at your own discretion. You will not be chased if you don’t tip, but it is normal to leave around 10% as a sign of appreciation for good service in bars and restaurants, less so with taxis, and subject to your own preference with tour guides.
The Albanian language belongs to the Indo-European family without any closer related language. Most young people speak English and Italian. A few useful phrases and words would be:
Përshëndetje = Hello
Sa kushton … = How much is …
Shumë mirë = Very good
Falemnderit = Thank you
Mirupafshim = Good bye