Is It Safe to Travel to Albania?

Is it safe to travel to Albania?

Streets of Gjirokastra

Since returning from an extended stay in Albania and publishing my guide to visiting the country, I’ve been receiving regular emails from readers wanting to know more.

Surprisingly, for me, one of the most common questions I’m asked is whether it’s safe to travel to Albania. I admit to finding this question a little perplexing. Aside from a brief period of unrest in 1997, Albania hasn’t been in a conflict since WWII.

Even during the Communist period when the country was mostly closed to outside visitors, it was still possible to safely travel around the country.

Random acts of violence are practically unheard of and even pickpocketing is uncommon.

As with all European nations (with the current exception of parts of Ukraine) Albania is completely safe and welcoming of tourists. To answer certain reader questions, Albania is safe for children and safe for dogs.

You might find it reassuring that Albania will likely join the EU in the next few years. The only reason they are late to join is due to issues of corruption, not safety.


RELATED: Albania Travel Guide


Ksamil Beach

In some ways I feel like Albania is safer than most other European nations. Albanians are not always used to seeing tourists in their country. This spurs a certain curiosity and questions as to what you’re doing there. This is often followed by offers of help and invitations for drinks or meals. It’s not unusual for locals to come and say hello and make sure you’re getting the best out of your visit.

Butrint National Park

That’s not to say you should take unnecessary risks.

The biggest risk in Albania comes from the driving conditions. Albanian drivers aren’t exactly known for their patience and adherence to the law. But to be honest that’s a problem in much of the Balkans and Southern Europe.

Driving in Albania

Another issue faces adventure travellers who don’t take enough water and other supplies or those climbing in remote mountain areas. There have been a few incidents but these have mostly been caused by unprepared or inexperienced travellers.

Dodgy taxi drivers is a worldwide phenomenon and although annoying can easily be avoided by taking metered taxis.


RELATED: 5 Glorious Beaches in Southern Albania


What about solo women travellers? Admittedly I have never travelled solo in Albania although I know many who have. Most were in their 20s or early 30s but some baby boomers too. All had great experiences and encourage others to travel independently in Albania.

So what is it that makes travellers fear Albania? It could be their reputation for drug smuggling, human trafficking and the mafia. All of which exist in other countries and none of which affect tourists.

I guess more than anything it’s the fear of the unknown. Albania doesn’t often come up in top travel destination lists and many people couldn’t even point it out on a map. Where is Albania? What are the people like? Is it dangerous?

I can’t think of any other reason why people would think Albania isn’t safe. Albania is European. It’s safe.

For more information on travelling to Albania, read my free travel guide and stay safe in my recommended hotels.


READ NEXT: 50 Photos to Tempt You to Visit Albania


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Is it safe to travel to Albania?

About Andrea

Andrea Anastasakis is the founder and author of road trip blog Rear View Mirror. She is currently driving her Fiat 500 around Europe. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram.


Comments

  1. Lee hamilton says:

    Hi Andrea I love the article about Albania and I want to visit in the near future.I have a question do you need a Visa to get there from Europe.And is it easy to change money there or can u get the Albanian currency before you arrive there.So if they seem silly and trival questions but I am considering going there as what you have written and said about Albania has got me thinking and I am really fascinated about going there.All thanks to you talk soon Andrea

    • Dear friend…
      You do not need a visa to get there if you are a part of the European Union, or from any other country in Europe. It is easy to exchange rate, personal suggestion is to use Euros mostly and not British Pounds or US Dollars as this currencies usually fluctuate and Euro is more stable to ALL (Albanian Lek).
      Best
      LA

    • violeta balla says:

      No you do not need to have a visa to enter Albania, just your passport. No need to convert dollars in the USA. You will find exchange booths as soon as you land in Mother Theresa airport. I am glad you want to visit my country.

    • Hi Lee, as the others mentioned, you don’t need a visa and you can get Lek at the airport either from an ATM (which I recommend) or the exchange booth. I don’t think it’s possible to get Lek outside of Albania (maybe in neighbouring countries) so make sure you change any Lek back into your currency before you leave. I would take euros as a backup currency as a lot of places take them.

  2. As soon as I started reading this I was thinking that these questions came from a general fear of the unknown. I’ve had a few people ask me if Latvia is safe 🙂

  3. My love of Albania has continued to grow from visiting there for the first time In 2006. In 2010 I purchased 2 beautiful apartments in the city of vlore, a beautiful coastal city between Fier and saranda; in the South of the country. The hospitality of Albanian people is second to none, people are always willing to help you, but never in your face like in most foreign countries you visit. There are beautiful places to enjoy and visit on days out, and fantastic places to enjoy Albanian cuisine. Since buying property in Albania I’ve travelled by car on numerous occasions from the capital Tirana to vlore by car; along this route I’ve never witnessed any foul behavior on any of the road networks, only some crazy drivers; as you would expect in Balkan countries. Good luck on your visit! It’s a great place!

  4. I’m from a small town in Finland, I’m used to extremely safe life and I think Albania is even more safe to tourists than locals. It is an honor to Albanians and also the government to have the country safe for visitors. Of course the traffic is really something but if you want to cross the road safely, just follow the locals. I as a female was going around quite much alone with my 2 teenage kids and we were definitely safe and treated with lots of respect. Of course in Albania we also looked like tourists extremely much as blond Scandinavians but still.

    What comes to changing money, they have many little shops for exchange in all cities, perfectly safe also. They probably give little bit nicer rates. 🙂

    Loved the country, I’ll go back as soon as possible 🙂

    • Glad to hear you had a great time. 🙂 I agree that it’s a matter of pride for most Albanian to know that visitors are treated well and have a good time in their country.

  5. Great article. As a person who knows the region well, I would suggest to all of those wanting to visit Albania, please do visit all the Albanian lands in Balkans (Albania, Western Macedonia, Kosovo, Southern Montenegro…), because it`s not just the place, it`s the Albanian people that are the most welcoming, charming and fascinating stories and history.

  6. My husband and I visited Southern Albania last September…we are a mature couple, had only a vague itinery, no knowledge of the language and no map. To say the Albanian people went out of their way to be helpful would be an understatement. It is part of their traditional culture to show hospitality and we had a wonderful visit, swimming in the sea,eating out in style, visiting historical unspoilt sites. We used cheap local buses for transport and even managed a train ride.

    When I unfortunately fainted…just due to overdoing it! An ambulance was called and arrived in about 10 mins, I was checked over, offered transport to the hospital if I wished…feeling much better the ambulance then delivered us to our wonderful guest house in Girokaster…where our hosts made me chamomile tea and gave me home grown pomegranates to revive me! There was no questions or bureaucracy. Would I feel safe travelling in Albania? Put it this way…we will be back in May to visit the North. I loved the country, hospitality and, of course it is very affordable for us lucky Europeans.

    • How nice to hear how well you were treated but of course I’m not surprised. I have always found the Albanians to go out of their way to be helpful on each of my visits. Enjoy your next trip, I hear the north is incredible!

    • Adnan Ramadani says:

      I am so glad reading all these positive opinions about my beloved Albania. North of the country offers as much beauty as does the south. The beautiful sandy beaches of Velipoja in Shkoder (the cultural capital city of Albania) the mountains of Tropoja, Diber and others are amazing.

  7. I really don’t like this misconception that traveling in Central and Eastern Europe is dangerous! Actually it is quiet the opposite! I feel so much safer in places like Sarajevo, Kiev or Skopje than in let’s say London! And this might be the reason that you’ve mentioned: this part of Europe is still pretty new in the whole tourism industry and seeing travelers bring curiosity and doesn’t come with too much danger.

    I was only for 2 days in Albania so I’m far from being an expert here. But there wasn’t a single situation when I felt unsafe! Actually I found the country to be one of the safest I’ve been to. And I’m so looking forward to return!

    • Me too I feel safer in Central and Eastern Europe. Someone told me they were going to cancel their trip to Albania due to a small incident in Tirana. But I don’t hear anyone cancelling their plans to visit Paris or Copenhagen after recent events there.

  8. I am so glad reading all these positive opinions about my beloved Albania.

  9. HI Andrea! Great post as always! Hubby and I really want to do a week-long vacation to enjoy some of Albania’s beaches, perhaps in September. Figure the water would be warm then and fewer tourists. We’re even talking to my in-laws about joining us too! I love exploring lesser-known places! 🙂

    • Please note that as a local I would say that in September the weather in the south might not be that good!
      It is true that the number of tourists drops, but still I would recommend to you End of August. Rent a Car and have a great time!

  10. William says:

    I am thinking about visiting Albania. But like most people who don’t know something you began to think of being unwelcome especially for Americans. I like to visit countries that and cities that most American don’t want to. Could you please tell me about Albania and some cities to visit?

  11. Thank you Andrea for your kind report end amassing images…..Albania is safe and any traveler will find very god food and beautiful places to visit.

  12. Andrea, what do you think of a solo woman traveller of baby boomer age driving around the country? I’m aware that some drivers are a bit crazy, but you can get that anywhere. It’s more the condition of the roads and the isolation of some areas that are my main concern.
    Is hiring a car a safe option, or should I aim for catching buses and trains to see the country?
    Thanks, Judi.

    • Honestly, I think it’s 100% completely safe and would be much easier than catching the bus (there are no trains). I’ve heard many of the roads have been re-done since I was there last year so I wouldn’t worry too much about that, just let the crazy drivers pass you. If you have any problems or need directions etc, the locals are so friendly with foreigners, you’ll always have someone to talk to or get help from. I know of someone your age who travelled in Albania independently and she had a great experience which you can read about here: http://blog.women-on-the-road.com/tag/albania/
      Enjoy your trip Judi!

  13. Nicky crane says:

    good to have positive press. But optimististic over pickpocketing and mugging. I had my pocket picked, as have others. A friend of mine was mugged right in the town centre, after changing money, and had to have stitches in her head. Inthen heard that Albanians have also been robbed in broad daylight. Though I was surprised when an English friend asked if I needed an escort tomwalkmback 100 metres from the Atm to my car on an earlymSaturday evening. I realised that in that respect Albania is safer than some parts of England.
    And walking in the market in Korça after the market had shut down was such an unpleasant experience I now go the long way round.
    Safe for tourists, yes. But take precautions.
    One serious problem around our village is dogs. Having been badly bitten by a neighbour’s dog, I am now frightened of dogs, which naturally makes me more likely to get bitten.
    If a foreigner driving in Albania is involved in a car accident, the foreigner may be blamed, even if innocent. A friend of mine spent months in prison for hitting a child who ran across the road,muntil it was eventually proved that he had avoided the child, who was then hit by an Albanian driver coming in the opposite direction.
    In the early 1990s, justbafter the country had opened up, itnwas not safe to visit, as many aid workers could tell you. Again in 1997 it was dodgy, thoughnthe villagers in our area putnup roadblocks to prevent looting. Lots of accidents from children and others playing with guns, gunpowder etc. now it’s advisable to stay clear of crowds that might be staging a demonstration.
    And quite safe for a solo woman if she acts and dresses sensibly

  14. Andrea, you’re being far too nice. I’m albanian and even i can admit that it’s basically a shithole. Every part of the country is undeveloped, including the people who are very prone to criminal behavior, especially against tourists. The infrastructure is atrocious and the place stinks. I’m sorry to say that i would not recommend anyone to go there. There are so many better places like the hellhole that is my home country. Stay away for your own safety!

  15. Great article!

    Is Albania still safe if your e.g black or just not white?