7 Issues To Know Earlier than Touring To Albania
Written by By Maria from NorthernAlbania.com
Typically dubbed as “Europe’s forgotten nation”, Albania has remained underneath the radar for a lot of, normally on account of adverse, deceptive stereotypes.
Generally known as ‘Shqiperia’ within the Albanian language, this nation holds a few of the most beautiful and various nature in all of Europe. There’s intense historical past, unbelievable meals, and a wealthy, cultural heritage to study whereas visiting Albania.
It’s additionally known as the “land of Eagles” – you possibly can simply acknowledge the Albanian flag by the double-headed eagle. In the identical regard, if you happen to meet Albanians and ask them about their heritage, they’ll make the eagle image with their fingers to show their cultural pleasure.
Prime Ideas For Visiting Albania
After living in Albania for nearly two years, I wish to provide the greatest inside ideas for visiting this beautiful, however quirky Balkan nation.
Albania remains to be pulling itself from the grips of latest communism whereas coping with ongoing authorities corruption. Touring isn’t essentially the most easy since issues change quickly and differently from how most are used to in Western nations. There was fairly a little bit of progress to make issues simpler for vacationers.
Listed here are 7 up-to-date ideas you want to know earlier than visiting Albania.
It’s Tough To Journey Quick
One of many largest errors I see vacationers making is that they assume Albania is much like different locations they’ve visited. That is merely not the case. It’s not potential to journey Albania shortly, however that’s additionally the great thing about it. This is because of many components just like the slower tempo of life, infrastructure, and geography.
Albania follows the everyday Mediterranean way of life, which suggests issues function slower. This implies you possibly can’t squeeze as a lot right into a day. Albanians prefer to take their time to take pleasure in a protracted espresso, afternoon naps, and naturally lengthy, social meal instances.
Infrastructure in Albania remains to be growing. The latest surge in tourism has helped get the wheels transferring however corruption within the authorities concurrently places the brakes on. In the meantime, locals adapt the very best they’ll. When visiting, it’s vital to maintain this in thoughts, so you possibly can decrease expectations and have an open thoughts.
Geography performs an enormous function in making issues slower. Albania is a really mountainous nation, making touring round extra time-consuming. There are many superb canyons, waterfalls, sizzling springs, historic ruins, and castles to go to, however they’re deep in rural areas. Plus, most issues aren’t well-known or ‘found’ so generally discovering these cool locations takes a little bit of time exploring.
Attempt To Hike In Various Areas
Climbing is likely one of the greatest methods to see Albania, particularly since sights truly require you to hike to them. The ‘Albanian Alps’ in northern Albania are recognized for being a mountaineering paradise.
Sadly, most vacationers go to solely two specific cities within the Albanian Alps as a result of that’s what huge bloggers go to and advocate of their guides. Also called the Accursed Mountains, this vary covers a big space so there’s tons extra to find. I’d encourage you to take a look at alternatives to Theth village, particularly since your tourism cash can do a world of excellent for households in different villages. Plus, it’s going to assist to curb the over-tourism difficulty that Theth is beginning to face.
Studying About Albania’s Historical past Is Vital
A part of Albania’s more moderen historical past, consists of virtually half a century of the communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, making life for the Albanian individuals very troublesome.
Whereas within the capital of Tirana, ensure to pay a go to to a few of the museums. The Home Of Leaves museum particularly exhibits how Hoxha’s authorities spied on the Albanian individuals by means of issues like listening units, checking mail correspondence, and even commissioning residents to be informants. At the moment, anyone might be an informant – your husband, spouse, brother, sister, or good friend, which created numerous mistrust amongst individuals. The ‘punishment’ from Hoxha’s authorities was excessive, in the meantime, they confirmed propaganda to the skin world making it look like life in Albania was good.
I’d extremely advocate the Home Of Leaves museum to study these items, particularly since it’s arrange within the authentic constructing the place this surveillance occurred. Bunk’Artwork 2 and the Nationwide Historic Museum are different nice locations to study extra.
Accessibility Can Be An Concern (Particularly In The Off Season)
Although most guests in the summertime months, Albania has been rising in recognition so tourism is choosing up and changing into 12 months round. Many journey guides advise you based mostly on experiences from visiting throughout heat climate.
Winter means fewer buses and a few locations can’t be reached.
Albania is kind of various with 6 completely different climates. Theth Nationwide Park is within the subarctic local weather, so even in April, it won’t be accessible on account of snow and unsafe street situations. Equally, the southern city of Korce could be onerous to entry on account of climate. Throughout these instances, buses received’t be as frequent so it’s vital to totally examine the ‘low season’ bus schedule earlier than departing. If there are just one or two buses per week to a spot, you would go with out realizing it and be caught there for some time.
At the least, by taking the bus, you don’t have to find out about driving on unfamiliar roads in unknown situations, because the native drivers know what to anticipate. Earlier than renting a automobile, ensure to talk with locals about street situations in your desired locations. Even in the very best of situations, there are lots of roads not appropriate for normal ‘metropolis’ automobiles. So to keep away from paying for damages, get an acceptable car if you wish to take rural roads.
Pssst – Driving wasn’t permitted for most people throughout communism. This significantly restricted street growth and upkeep for half of the 1900s. That is largely why you’ll discover poor street situations these days, and likewise loopy driving practices.
Take into account Albanian Riviera Options
Simply essentially the most visited area is the Albanian Riviera. With a few of the greatest seashores in Europe, the beautiful stretch of shoreline has risen in recognition at an alarming fee. This has triggered numerous unsustainable tourism, with little to no laws.
Throughout communism, Albanians have been stored in horrible circumstances and even now, there usually are not many alternatives to pursue. This has compelled a big portion of Albanians to depart and search higher training and wages elsewhere. Many who stay see this tourism burst as a approach to pull them and their household from struggling. Since that is condensed a lot in a single space of the nation, it has created some points.
Visiting the Albanian Riviera remains to be great, I’d extremely advocate it. Remember the fact that it will likely be extraordinarily congested and overpriced in July and August. It’s additionally not the top all, be all of Albania. There are such a lot of different nice locations that might do with the inflow of vacationer income.
Listed here are a couple of swimming options:
- Go to some seashores north of the Riviera like Rana E Hedhun Beach (Thrown Sand Albania) or the Cape of Rodon.
- Cool off within the mountains – swimming at Prekal Canyon (close to Shkoder) or Syri i Ciklopit (Cyclops Eye close to Tirana), white-water rafting close to Berat, visiting Nivica waterfalls and canyon.
- Discover the thermal sizzling spring close to Permet (temperature can differ, however normally it’s heat, not sizzling) – the very best time to go to is in colder months.
What To Know About The Consuming Water
There’s numerous conflicting details about whether or not you possibly can drink the water in Albania. The principle difficulty that retains vacationers and locals alike from consuming the water is just not bacterial. This can be a widespread difficulty within the likes of Asia so many vacationers assume that when locals say you shouldn’t drink the water it’s the similar cause. 90% of the time that isn’t the case.
Water high quality within the Balkans can vary from superb to horrible inside 30 minutes of driving or much less. That is primarily as a result of the water coming from the mountains is nice for consuming. Once you go nearer to the ocean or *most* cities, the water is over-treated, which means that the chemical substances are very harsh in your physique.
Some individuals get abdomen aches immediately and a few get it after per week or a month. Both method, it’s not good whether or not you are feeling it instantly or not as a result of the surplus chemical substances can truly dehydrate you the extra you drink, and who is aware of what different points.
Many vacationers have instructed me they boiled their faucet water, so that they didn’t have to spend the cash on shopping for it – besides boiling solely helps with killing micro organism. It doesn’t take away the extreme quantity of chemical substances.
To economize and plastic, you should purchase a big 5L or 8L for 100 lek or 10L for 200 lek.
Generally visited areas:
- Tirana – it’s suggested to purchase water
- Shkoder – water comes from the mountains so it’s okay to drink, examine the person constructing although
- Seaside cities (Sarande, Himare, Vlore, Shengjin, and many others.) – it’s suggested to purchase water
When unsure, ask the locals. They are going to be updated on the consuming water requirements. Extra importantly, ask somebody from the place you’re staying. Even when water high quality is sweet within the space, if the constructing is previous, the pipes is likely to be contaminating the water for consuming.
The one time you may run right into a bacterial difficulty is in case you are within the mountains and the water supply degree is low – however it’s not widespread. What do I imply by this? In case you are mountaineering within the extraordinarily sizzling months of July, August, or September, water ranges are decrease than regular which suggests there’s a larger threat of micro organism from the bodily backside of the water supply. This was my private expertise staying at a guesthouse in Valbona in September. Myself and different hikers have been getting sick due to the water, whereas locals weren’t as a result of they have been used to the water.
As foreigners, you may discover some issues that appear uncommon or ‘quirky’. One in every of these is that Albania has an intense staring tradition. It could possibly take a bit to regulate to the staring, particularly since somewhere else, impolite conduct typically follows somebody staring. In Albania, it’s seen as a standard approach to assess somebody and it’s not interpreted as impolite by any means.
Although it’s widespread amongst all ages, the older generations are recognized for lengthy stares. This could do with rising up underneath the Hoxha dictatorship – not having the ability to belief these round you and being lower off from any overseas affect. There are lots of older Albanians which have by no means met foreigners earlier than, so the staring is out of curiosity, not malice.
For ladies, it’s vital to notice that guys will stare, however received’t do anything. It’s not widespread for guys to method you or comply with you. They may say the Albanian equal of “OMG” to their good friend if you happen to stroll by a restaurant however that’s about it. In contrast with my expertise dwelling within the US and Western Europe, I really feel far more respect and security. I’ve traveled throughout Albania on my own and by no means felt unsafe. Albanians of all ages have helped me, like discovering the best bus cease, gone with me to purchase medication, given me instructions, let me use their cellphone hotspot, and a lot extra!
I hope the following pointers aid you plan your go to and make you extra assured in touring to Albania. Although there are some vital issues to recollect, the entire great issues about Albania really outshine the small negatives. It’s an ideal place to discover and loosen up, particularly if you happen to’re searching for a chill, Mediterranean getaway.
Writer’s bio: Initially from the US, Maria has been dwelling overseas for the final 5+ years in Scotland, Eire, and now Albania. After falling in love with the Balkan area of Europe, she based Northern Albania, the place she relies full-time. Observe Maria on Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest, and Facebook.
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