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Albania

Albania is a small Mediterranean country once known as the world’s most closed-off and controlled countries. Today, it welcomes visitors to relish in country’s rich cultural traditions and heritage. 

Numerous beaches, snow-covered mountains, pristine river valleys, fabled warm hospitality of the Albanians make you feel at home. Rich cultural heritage throughout the country enables you to explore Illyrian and medieval castles, Byzantine monasteries, Ottoman cities.

The Albanian language is one of the oldest living languages in the world. Albanian cuisine offers a blend of Mediterranean and Oriental flavours in its many traditional dishes. The UNESCO World Heritage Sites include Butrint and historic centres of Berat and Gjirokastra. The list of national parks is a longer one, Butrint, Mount Dajti, Divjake-Karavasta being just a few of them.

In the country whose shores are washed by the Adriatic and Ionian Seas visitors can explore its ancient past and watch the present dynamic development in action.

National holidays

January 1 – 2 New Year’s Day
March 14 Summer Day
March 22 Nevrouz day
---  Easter Monday
--- Orthodox Easter Monday
May 1 Labour Day
October 19 Day of Beatification of Mother Teresa
--- Eid al-Fitr (End of Ramadan)
--- Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
November 28 Independence Day
November 29 Liberation Day
December 8 National Youth Day
December 25 Christmas Day  

Basic facts

Electricity

The plug of choice is 220 Volts, AC, 50 Hz, two-pin socket supply.

Money

The Albanian currency is the lek (plural lekë). The exchange rate is pretty stable at: €1 = 137 lek, £1 = 160 lek, US$1 = 104 lek (July 2013). Banknotes come in denominations of 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 lek, while there are coins of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lek. Although hotels and some other businesses quote prices in euros or dollars, payment is mostly required in lek.

Credit cards

Larger cities will take credit cards, especially MasterCard and Visa but make sure to have enough change when travelling to smaller towns and countryside.

Religion

The most common religions practised in Albania are Islam and Christianity.

Safety

In Albania you are more likely to be overwhelmed with hospitality since besa, meaning the well-being of honoured guests, is a tradition that has been honoured since the Illyrian times. Still, the best advice may be to employ your common sense and stay alert.

Smoking

Smoking is officially prohibited in restaurants, bars and offices, but Albanians generally enjoy sitting in clouds of smoke.

Visas

Citizens of the EU, most other European countries, US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Japan can enter Albania without a visa. Other travellers need to get a visa from an Albanian embassy or consulate abroad before travelling to Albania.