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Overview of Albania

Friendly and tolerant people, fascinating historical sites and settlements from the Ottoman Empire, magnificent mountain landscapes and romantic villages - all it has to offer the varied Albania.
Hikers will love the Albanian Alps and massif Tomorri, cyclists the many historic routes that crisscross the country. Lovers of archaeology can spend many hours in the vast archaeological site of Butrint and Byllis. Those who are interested in history, will want to visit historic castles, Ottoman fortresses and the Museum towns of Berati and Gjirokastra. Art lovers should not miss the still little-known medieval churches with its beautiful frescoes and icons collections of Tirana, Korça and Berati. Gourmets can enjoy delicious fish, seafood, mountain lamb, organic fruit and vegetables and of course the excellent Albanian wine.

History, language and culture in Albania

Culture in Albania

Religion
70% Muslims (mainly Sunni), 20% Orthodox and 10% Roman Catholic.
Rules of conduct
Welcome, giving the hand. Traditionally, men touch each other at the side with the heads. Title: Mr (Zoti) and woman (DREA) with academic titles. Detailed, multiple issues for the well-being of the interlocutor and the members of his family open the conversation and are common in encounters and each phone call. Knowledge of the Kanun (the traditional law) are indispensable in view of the revival of old customs.
It is not customary to bring flowers at home invitations. Small gifts on the other hand, discreetly submitted, gladly accepted. Gifts require usually a quid pro quo. Deaths are expected a condolence visit to the family.
» Yes «and» no «appears in Albania in a special way, and you should refrain from spontaneous gestures with his head.» Yes «: short side shaking.» No «: lifting of the head, underlined by a Schnalzlaut and, if necessary, accompanied by a movement of the index finger.» Any attempt to communicate, in the Albanian language is included with sympathy.
It is generally casual clothing worn. Skirt length and extravagance of womens clothing are no longer dictated by prudish morality. Shorts for men are acceptable both on the beach and in the city.
Public order and safety have normalized largely. However, you should be careful as a tourist. You should avoid conspicuous displays for example of expensive jewelry. Passports are extremely interesting for thieves, because Albanian citizens by entry restrictions on other countries can hardly leave their country. Watch also on currency, valuables, cameras, watches and jackets - everything that get easy money can take. Which include consumer goods, clearly demonstrate the flying dealers at the roadside and in the bazaars. You should not allow pieces of luggage out of sight, locked cars are not safe.
In wanderings through deserted streets and in remote areas or tourist attractions away from the general public traffic, the risk of being harassed or robbed, is high, especially in the dark. Women are victims of Zudringlichkeiten easily.

Language in Albania

The official language is Albanian. In the southern part of the country, a minority speaks Greek. In some schools, the teaching of Greek is held. Many Albanians speak Italian, some speak French or English.
Albanian belongs to the Indo-European language family, and is related to Greek and Armenian language. Descent from the extinct and little delivered Illyrian language is assumed.
For the spoken Albanian, there are two major dialect groups and the Tosk and Gheg. The two dialects differ both in their sound and their grammar and partly even in their vocabulary. The name E.g. "village" in the strategic katund and the Toskischen fshat. In the strategic, there are about 10 consonants, vowels and nasal vowels, which do not occur in the Toskischen. There is also no infinitive in the dialect of arvanitika.
The border of the two dialect groups runs approx. along the 41 degrees latitude. North of the Shkumbin River the Kyrgyz live speaking against, South Gegs speaking the Toskisch. Kyrgyz is spoken also in Kosovo, in southern Serbia, Macedonia and Montenegro. The Gifty spoken in southern Italy is a form of arvanitika dialect.
Toskisch was used in 1972 as the basis for the development of the Albanian literary language, also some gegische elements on the vocabulary and word formation increased influence.

Weather, climate and geography in Albania

Weather & climate

Best time to travel
Typical Mediterranean climate, particularly pronounced in the Western lowlands of the coast: damp, mild winters and dry hot summers. Warm in the mountainous inland climate of continental coinage: In the summer, very cold in the winter. Major rainfall in the winter at higher altitudes snow. Best time to visit is May/June or mid-September to mid-October.

Geography

Albania is bordered to the North West to Montenegro, in the North of Kosovo, in northeastern Republic of Macedonia, in the South-East and South of Greece, in the Southwest on the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea to the West. Except the coastal lowlands, the country is traversed by rugged mountain ranges. Good sandy beaches, beautiful lakes and forests offer delightful contrasts.

Business & communication

Business life

Representative appearance and external indicators (of the selected accommodation up to the brand image) are complied with. Business cards are common. Timely appointment is recommended. Foreign visitors are set on punctuality. 'No' can nod and head-shaking can mean 'Yes'.
Office hours
Business hours: Mon-Fri 08: 30-13:00 and 14: 30-18:00 (authorities and banks before 12:00 noon). Lunch breaks are kept long in Commerce and industry. On Fridays the shops close more typically. Private shops have opened for the traditional times between 08: 00-15:00. Authorities have closed on the weekend.
Economy
Dhoma e Tregtisë (Federation of Albanian industry and chambers of Commerce)
Rruga Kavajes 6, AL-Tirana
Tel: (042) 302 84.
Internet: www.cci.al
Business contacts
Dhoma e Tregtisë (Federation of Albanian industry and chambers of Commerce)
Rruga Kavajes 6, AL-Tirana
Tel: (042) 302 84.
Internet: www.cci.al

Means of communication in Albania

Phone
Location codes: Tirana (04), Durrës (052), Elbasan (054), Gjirokastër (084), Kavaja (0554), Korçë (082), Samar (022).
Mobile phones
GSM 900 mobile network. The main providers are Albanian mobile communications (Internet: www.amc.al) and Vodafone Albania (Internet: www.vodafone.al). The reception / transmission range covers over 90% of the country. There are roaming agreements.
Internet
There are Internet cafes in all major cities. Some hotels, especially in Tirana, provide broadband Internet access or Internet access via WiFi.
Post
The delivery times have become much shorter. We recommend that you to abandon all shipments via registered letter. There are main post offices in Tirana, Durrës and in other large cities. Opening hours of the post offices: 07.00 - 17.00 Mon Fri and sat 08: 00-13:00.
Radio
Because the use of shortwave frequencies changes several times in the course of a year, it is advisable that the current frequencies directly to the customer service of Deutsche Welle (Tel: (+ 49) (0228) 429 32 08 Internet: www.dw-world.de) request.

Albania image gallery

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Accommodation possibilities

Accommodation in Albania

Hotels
The State tourist hotels are from Albturist (see addresses) administered. Many newer hotels are privately owned.
Camping
Campsites on the Adriatic coast offer 4 bed caravan in the summer. It is discouraged to camp freely.
Other accommodation
Information about the Albanian Youth Hostel Association (Tel: (04) 274 234. Internet: www.ayha.org).

Bless you

Health and vaccinations in Albania

The medical care is inadequate, and operations should be carried out - if at all - only in case of emergency. Given the scant medical supply situation, screening (E.g. teeth) before departure should be made after Albania.
Needed medicines in sufficient quantities and a well-stocked first-aid kit should be carried.
The travel insurance with emergency repatriation is highly recommended.
Culinary
Nationwide, there is an increased risk of infection, in particular for various intestinal infections. Therefore, a careful food and drinking water hygiene should be performed. If you have a sensitive stomach, should refrain from the consumption and buying food from cheap Street restaurants and markets. Tap water is usually not drinkable in Albania. It is recommended to rely on bottled water. It should be taken, that the original packaging is not broken.
Brucellosis and tuberculosis occur in Albanian dairy cows. Therefore to avoid unpasteurised milk and homemade cheese. In Cafés and restaurants UHT milk is always used, which can be drunk safely.
Other risks
Nationwide, the risk of transmission of Lyme disease/Lymekrankheit is from April to October by ticks especially in grasses, bushes and undergrowth. Skin covering clothing and insect repellent agents provide protection.
Professional occupation or leisure activities with possible exposure of ticks in endemic areas, a vaccination against TBE (tick-borne meningo encephalitis), whose pathogen already transmitted with the stitch on the host, is strongly recommended. For tick infestation in case of doubt the doctor.
Nationwide is an increased risk of infection for hepatitis A. A vaccination against hepatitis A is recommended. The vaccination against hepatitis B should be carried out for a longer stay and close contact with the local population, as well as generally in children and adolescents.
Psychodidae-borne leishmaniasis occurs in the coastal regions. Skin covering clothing and insect repellent agents provide protection.

Money & duty-free shopping in Albania

Exchange rates:
Lek
€1 = Lek140. 8

Money & currency

Currency information
1 Lek = 100 Qindarka. Currency code: Lk, ALL (ISO code). There are 200 and 100 Lek; banknotes at the rate of 5,000, 1,000, 500, Coins in the Nennbeträgen of 1, 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 Lek. Qindarka are no longer in circulation. In addition to the official means of payment, the Lek, US dollars and euros, commonly accepted.
Credit cards
Only limited use. MasterCard, Diners Club and American Express, but only in larger hotels and some banks are accepted. Details of the respective credit card issuer.
EC / Maestro-card/savings card
Cash withdrawal is possible in major cities with credit card and sometimes with debit card and PIN number, if the Maestro sign at the ATM.
Caution: Travelers who want to pay and withdraw money with your banking card overseas should consult before travelling with your institution about the possibility to use their card.
Traveller's cheques
Take recommended by travellers cheques in US dollars and euro.
Opening hours of the banks
Mon Fri 08: 30-14:30.
Exchange control regulations
The import of foreign currency is unlimited; Duty of declaration. The export is 5000 us $ or limited the amount declared on arrival. The import and export of local currency is prohibited.
Currency exchange
Currency exchange is possible at the official rate on the bench. The Exchange in exchange offices in the major hotels is convenient, but the rate is slightly worse. To get a better rate at the legal money changers on the street, which are mostly in the vicinity of banks. Here is to note that often counterfeit money in circulation.
Cash is still the most important means of payment. Only smaller amounts should be changed according to need. In addition to the official means of payment, the Lek, usually accepted foreign currency (preferably USD). It is advisable to take foreign exchange in smaller collations, because the change is missing frequently even in the airport in cash and departure tax, in bureaux de change, taxis, etc.

Duty free shopping in Albania

The following articles may be imported duty-free for Albania (persons aged 18 and over):
200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250 g of tobacco;
1 litre of spirits and 2 litres of still wine;
250 ml Eau de Toilette or 50 ml perfume.
Input and export ban is for weapons, ammunition, drugs, narcotics and pornography.

Activities in Albania

Enterprises

Albanian Riviera
The Albanian Riviera is a steep stretch of coast in the southwest of the country between Saranda and Llogara pass. The coast road to Saranda in the South, which runs through the Albanian Riviera with the small towns of Dhërmi, Himara and Borsh, and through the citrus groves of lukova is very appealing. Saranda is today one of the most important seaside resorts in Albania. Beach and sea, as well as the Llogara pass, which is located in the homonymous nature park provide recreation. Bathing is not recommended due to the water quality at the beaches of Saranda.
Ancient ruins of Apollonia
The ruins of Apollonia can be reached via the 12 km away city of fieri. It was founded by the ancient Greeks and (two cult pillars are preserved) named after the God Apollo. Apollonia has a commercial port at the mouth of the Vjosë. The Romans used the city as a starting point via Egnatia. The Roman city centre is dug out, parts of the city wall, the amphitheatre and street installations can be seen. A sightseeing Museum in the former Orthodox monastery from the 13th century.
On hiking trails
In Albania, there are many good hiking routes. While the Albanian Alps are just for risk-taking adventurer with good condition, the holy mountain of Tomorr in the southern Albania is a popular hiking area. It consists of two main peaks, which lie over 2400 m above sea level. In the National Park on the mountain massif, including wolves, deer and wild goats, as well as Golden Eagle and Falcon are native.
The town of Ohrid
Ohrid is the largest city on Lake Ohrid and is located near Ohrid airport. It belongs to the UNESCO world cultural heritage. Due to its well preserved old town, its medieval fortress, many churches, monasteries and mosques and the Ohrid Lake is a popular destination for national and international tourists. Attractions include the Voska Hammam (Oriental bath house), an Ottoman clock tower (sahat Kula) 1725 and the Türbe (a mausoleum).
Port city of Durrës
Durrës is the second largest city in Albania with the most important port in the country. From the Venetian tower at the port, the medieval city walls leads to the Amphitheatre from the 2nd century BC There is a Christian Funeral Chapel with a rare mosaic in this theatre. The collection of the archaeological museum is worth a visit. The town's beaches were popular with tourists before the pollution.
Capital city Tirana
founded in 1614 by Sulejman Bargjini, Tirana became capital of Albania until 1920. Mosque, Hamam (Turkish bath) and bakery formed the nucleus of the ancient city. The today's landmark Ethem Bey mosque and the 35m high clock tower, created 200 years later in the early 19th century. The old Bazaar had to yield 1961 the Palace of culture, where the Opera, the ballet, and the national library are housed. Today Tirana is political, economic, cultural and intellectual Centre - as well as location of the most important national museums of archaeology, history and fine arts.
Historical city Gjirokastër
The city Gjirokastër is situated in the far south. Its centre is one to the UNESCO world cultural heritage. The historic old town of Byzantine origin (around 1200) is under monument protection. The narrow streets have been stylishly restored. The mighty fortress from the 13th century, 1811 extended by Ali Pasha of Tepelenë, offers a beautiful view. The Museum housed here presents the culinary history of the city.
Coastal town of Vlora
In antiquity, the coastal town of Vlora in southern Albania was a famous port town with significant bitumen and salt. Vlora is one of the tourist centers of the country today. The Hill of Kusbaba offers the best views of the city. From here, you can see the Muradiye mosque (built in 1538-42 by the architect Mimar Sinan), the independence monument and the port up to the salt pans on the lagoon of Narta. The water quality at the beaches of Vlora is questionable to be classified as.
Medieval city of Kruja
«Kruja, the» balcony of the Adriatic "(600 m above sea level. d. M.), perched high on a mountain range North of Tirana.» The medieval town was once the headquarters of the national hero Skanderbeg, who successfully defended it against the invading Ottoman armies until his death (burial in Lezhë). In the castle of Kruja is the Skanderbeg Museum and the Ethnological Museum is housed. In the castle grounds, there is also a reconstructed town house and a Turkish bath.
Berat Museum city
«Berat bears the nickname "town of a thousand Windows", and belongs to the most important attractions of Albania and to the UNESCO world cultural heritage. The picturesque old town of Turkish origin is situated on the mountain slopes along the river Osum and is connected to parts of the city by a siebenbögige bridge. Berat, the oldest city in Albania, is under special protection, which prevents new buildings between the historic, white houses in the Centre. The castle is a private sightseeing district with many sacral buildings. The Onufri Museum has well restored icons in an Orthodox Church.
Progadec, Lake Ohrid and Drilon
The charming vacation site Pogradec near the Macedonian border is deep - and therefore cool - Ohrid Lake with its fishing (trout and CARP). The Ohrid Lake belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage. The tourist village Drilon is located around 5 km further East. A visit is recommended especially in may or June, when the flowers are in the extensive gardens in full bloom. A detour to the Sveti Naum Monastery complex across the border is possible through the opening of the border crossing of Tushemisht.
Ruins of Butrint
To reach the old city of Butrint, which belongs to the UNESCO World Heritage of Saranda. Theatre, altar of Dionysos, Asclepius Temple, Nymphäum, Roman houses and swimming pools, early Christian basilicas and a Paleo-Christian baptistery, with one of the most beautiful ever exposed mosaics belong to the excavations of the ancient world. In Butrint, city walls from all eras are especially impressive are the lion's Gate, the Venetian fortress on the former Acropolis with beautiful views of the Vivar Canal and the fortifications of Ali Pasha Tepelena.
Featured town Korça
The 1510 first written mentioned Korça is regarded as the "cradle of Albanian culture. Worth seeing the Mirahor mosque (1466) is oldest mosque of hitching the country; continue to the National Museum of medieval Albanian art, the archaeological museum and the heritage-listed, but decaying Bazaar with the many Hans (Persian/Turkish hhan, "House"), the former Oriental hostels. The architecture of the city is characterized by Aromanian, Ottoman and French influences. The mix of boulevards, surrounded by tree-lined avenues, lush parks, city markets, monuments, mosques and churches is beautiful.
Samar and the Rozafa castle ruins
Samar is one of the oldest cities of the country, if not Europe. It is located on Lake Scutari and is cultural, economic and political center of Northern Albania. The city is dominated by the ruins of Castle of Rozafa. Its founding legend, but also the stone witnesses and documents from Illyrian period with their kings and later feudal families, the crews and liberation movements, offer Albanian history maintains. The Castle offers a magnificent panorama with views of the Lake and the lead mosque.

Shopping and night life in Albania

Shopping in Albania

Albania has old handicraft traditions in the weaving of carpets (calledQilim , also known as the Kelim of the table runners up to major formats such as tapestries, for example) and fabrics, filigree works in silver and copper, wood carving and pottery, embroidery and sewing. Most of the art workshop and glass factories stopped work. In all tourist places, hotels and tour local artisans or children offer to hand work (from the musical instrument about carving up the crochet border). Use ceramic are there in each market.
1 hour is the best place to arts and crafts to buy of Kruja, drive from Tirana. Felt makers, carpet weavers and antique dealers offer their goods at the local bazaar. Many shops in Kruja offer souvenirs, such as Albanian flags, copper plate and ashtray in the form of a bunker. In Tirana, there are few more souvenir shops, an artisan cooperative in Gjirokastër and a stall for souvenirs at Butrint.
Haggling at a reasonable price is not resented tourists, however, their ignorance is often exploited. Street vendors also offer antiques (see Duty Free). Beware of tempting offers and business proposals.
Opening hours of shops: The shops are generally open Mon-Sat 08.00-12.00 and 15.00 - 19.00. Many shops are open also on Sundays. Bazaars, stalls along the country roads and flying dealers in the towns have their own sales times.

Night life in Albania

A special treat is the evening stroll on the main boulevards of cities. In some places, the streets are blocked extra on this occasion for a couple of hours for the traffic. In Korça, the bazaar on the typical craftsmanship is offered, should be opened in the future also in the evening.
Albania has a high standard in classical music. The cultural offer includes theatre, Opera and concerts. The most important locations include Migjeni Theater in the northern Albanian city of Shkodra, the Theatre Andon Zako Çajupi and the Vangjush Mio culture Centre in the southeastern Korça and the Palace of culture in the capital city of Tirana.
There are restaurants and bars in all major cities, but the capital Tirana has most to offer for night owls. The former Uptown Ish-Blloku, which was an abgeperrte housing estate for higher leaders such as Enver Hoxha as before the transition to democracy, is today a popular nightlife district with numerous Cafés, trendy bars and chic restaurants. In Tirana, there are also some clubs are in open late into the night. Sometimes the music is played live, especially on the weekends. Nightclubs of less are common outside of Tirana. In the coastal towns music and dance events in the major hotels take place during the tourist season in the summer.
The local cinema company Millenium maintains film demonstration houses in all larger towns. Usually, Hollywood movies with Albanian subtitles are shown.

Food and beverages in Albania

Private restaurants enliven the General culinary offer. In Tirana, the number of international restaurants and restaurants increasing especially in the former residential area Ish-Blloku. Except for the» restaurant Berlin «there is some Italian restaurants, two French and a Chinese. Most imported food and beverages are offered here. You should reserve a table and appear on time. Restaurants are rare outside the capital.
Specialties
The local cuisine is Balkan cuisine with Turkish captive and entlehntem vocabulary (Byrek, Qofte, Shishqebab), but also with many variants. Vegetables and meat are on the menu, bread is part of every meal. Popular specialties include Bilal Tirane, a hot pan dish of meat and liver pieces with egg and baked tomatoes and Tavë Kosi and Tavë Elba Insani, lamb in yogurt. The Koran, a salmon trout species in Lake Ohrid is still popular, also the Shkodra carp is worth a taste. Kukurec, stuffed sheep casings (in the South particularly popular) and baked mutton heads are regarded as tribute for the guest. Tarator, a cold yoghurt and cucumber soup is refreshing in the summer.
A special dessert is Oshaf, a fig and sheep's milk pudding from Gjirokastër. In fact, Albania is an Eldorado for lovers of sweet cakes, honey-soaked cakes, puddings and ice cream or (especially in the South), candied fruits, Reçel.
What you should know
The usual hotel breakfast, usually not included in the room rate and separately for the waiter to pay, is oriented towards the continental breakfast. A rustic local breakfast like Pilaf (rice dish), or Paça, a robust soup made of offal, is not for everyone and is not offered in hotels.
Tips
Tipping is expected in restaurants and services and is important given the low wages and salaries for the locals. It is usual to round the invoice amount to about 10%.
Local beverages
Many drinks are imported from Austrian beer cans, Macedonian wine, Cola imitations and Anisette from Greece. The good local wines have become rare. Particularly enjoy is the Raki, a clear grape brandy (Raki Rainbow), where the (legal) and privately offered self-burned is of course the best of the experts. Always been a rare specialty was mouth Berry liquor (Raki Mani), found only in the area around Korçë as home-brew. In some hotels both offered the Ekstra from Korçë, Albanian brandy andSkënderbeu Konjak with its special flavor. Finely ground, cooked to taste with sugar Kafe Turke (Turkish coffee) competes with the Italian Ekspres (espresso) to win the favor of the audience. Usually only men sitting in coffee shops.
Drinking age
In Albania, you may drink alcohol from 18 years of age.

Transportation on the spot

Mobility on the ground in Albania

Road
From approximately 18,000 km 7450 km are main streets. A large part is paved, however, is in poor condition. Four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended especially for roads. Highways are planned, increasingly widen existing roads. Pedestrians, animals, cyclists, ox-drawn carts, horse-drawn vehicles and land vehicles use the road equally. Visitors should drive very carefully. There are no roadside assistance. The fuel quality is problematic.

Bus: Still the most important means of transport in Albania. Of Tirana from the main routes (Durrës, Shkodra, Peshkopia, Korça, Gjirokastra, Saranda) only be used daily or several times a day by private bus companies.

Taxis can be found from international hotels or in Tirana at the Central taxi rank on the Sheshi (» place «») Avni Rustemi.

Car rental , as well as representative vehicles are in Tirana with rental companies, internationally known. A private chauffeur with car is the most convenient and reliable alternative which book is good organizers before the Albania trip.

Traffic regulations: Strict speed limits, depending on the type of vehicle and road type, as well as within communities. Gas stations can be found everywhere in the Interior of the country. It is pointed out that vehicles with foreign number plates are often stopped by the police. Night rides and rides on little-used routes should be avoided. Legal relations.
Documentation: International or national driver's license and insurance green card required.
Published for educational purposes

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