Albania is a mountainous country and the one of the smallest countries of Europe. The residents supposedly descended from ancient Illyrians.
The culture of Albania is majorly influenced by that of the mainland Greeks especially in the urban locality; nodding ones head means no where as shaking the head means yes. To greet someone, handshaking is preferred, though Shoku (Comrade) was used before, which has been long forgotten now. People dress informally here. Swim suits are meant for the beaches, otherwise women are expected not to dress in a revealing outfit. When addressing someone prefix Zoti(Mr) or Zonja(Mrs) before the name and always remember to carry some gifts when visiting someone, although flowers arent much acceptable. The guests are served with coffee, raki or sweets. Smokers dont have to worry much, but they should avoid it where they see a sign of Ndalohet Duhani or Ndalohet pirja e duhanit.
Travelling within the country
Buses with relatively cheap fares operate in the main cities of the country or taxis are another choice which provided service for some main hotels.
Visit Dajti Mountain and experience Dajti Ekspres Cable car for an unforgettable 15 minute ride passing through Dajt Oark to reach Tirana. The route is about 4.2 km long and the ride costs 6.5.Alpha Yachting provides crewed yacht which is a luxury in itself. Tirana Bank is the best place for withdrawing money as it allows access to Visa cards.
Restaurants are not always sufficiently heated, so always wear warm clothes if out in the night during winters. Foreigners are charged more than the locals. Both the entry fees as well as any merchandise will be on a higher scale, so its better not to reveal the fact that you are a foreigner when out on the streets.
If you enjoy canoeing, this is the right place to be. There are places right outside Tirana which is an amazing site for not just canoeing, but also rock climbing, hiking, and camping.
If you want a 5-Star ambience, try The Sheraton Tirana Hotel and Towers, which is situated in the middle of a shopping and entertainment center. There are about 151 rooms and 56 suites. So, along with the comfort, one can shop at once convenience here. Another hotel which provides all modern facilities is Hotel Mondial. It is located 1000 m away from the city and is also a good example of traditional architecture.
One of the best and the easiest means is to go by air. Albanian Airlines is the national airline which works in collaboration with Tyrolean Airways, and provides service to almost all the big European cities. The airport, Mother Teresa, is 16 miles or 26 km away from the capital. A tourist bus is available every 3 hrs to get to the city center and takes about 30 minutes to get there. Taxis are available round the clock. While waiting for any transport service, tourists can check out the duty free shops, bank, eateries and car hire at the airport. A departure tax of $10 USD is imposed on all foreign nationals. Check out www.flyalbanian .com for flight times and offers.
If trying to get there by sea, try the ferry services which are provided by Adriatic Line and Agoudimos. The main ports are Durres (has ferry connection to Italy, Bari, Brindisi, Trieste, and Ancona), Vlora (has ferry connection to Bari, and Brindisi), Saranda (has connection to Corfu), Shen Gjini (has ferry connection to Bari). Check out www.adriatica.it and www.aqoudimos-lines.com for more information.
Bus is another option. Buses start from Istanbul, Athens and Sofia. Internal passengers have lots of options with bus services provided. If traveling by road in a private car, there is road network to the Kosovo region, but they are too dangerous to use because of the political tensions within the region. Crossings at Hani I Hotit, Bllata, Oafa e Thaes, Tushemisht, Gorica, Kapshtica, and kakavija can be taken. If tired one can take halts at hotels or other designated areas. There is a network of 18,000 km, out of which only 7450 km are main roads, for local travelers. About 2138km stretch of these roads is in poor condition and has pot holes, and utmost safety precautions should be taken when driving on such roads. Speed limit should be strictly followed on highways as well as within towns. Driving at night should be better avoided because of the absence of street lights on the road except for urban areas. Traffic should drive on the right-hand. There is a shortage of gas stations in the countryside, so filling the gas tank completely when passing through urban area is recommended and since there is lack of national recovery system; travelers should be prepared for an emergency or breakdown before hand. One should carry necessary documents like International Driving Permit and national driving license.
Duty Free Items
Following are the items that can be carried without customs duty being levied on them:
1. 1liter of spirits or 2liter of wine
2. 250ml of eau de toilette
3. 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco
4. 50ml of perfume.
Things that are prohibited to carry are firearms, narcotics and ammunitions. Special export permission should be taken for precious metals, books, antiques, work of art, or material of national or historic value.