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Albania travel guide

About Albania

Idyllic beaches, warm weather, rich history, spectacular mountain scenery and bargain prices; it sounds like an impossible wishlist for a European destination. Yet Albania fulfils all of these criteria and more. Over the past quarter of a century, this Balkan land has gradually emerged from its austere communist cocoon and savvy travellers have been taking note.

The capital, Tirana, is a curious and cosmopolitan place. Its countless communist-era apartment blocks have been enlivened with licks of brash, bright paint, and in parts of the city these sit shoulder-to-shoulder with Ottoman and Italian architecture. It is haphazard and disorderly, but wildly alive, with the constant whir of traffic and cacophony of voices adding to the buzz.

Leading down to the Greek border is Albania’s greatest asset: the Adriatic coastline (touted as the “Albanian Riviera”). It would be disingenuous to call it undiscovered; the beaches here draw significant sunbathing crowds during July and August. Even so, these heavenly stretches are fresh to foreign tourists - and among the best in the Med. If you can tear yourself off the towel, there are also interesting remnants of Greek, Ottoman and communist history to be explored in nearby towns. Of particular note are the now deteriorated and occasionally repurposed domed bunkers, paranoid follies ordered by the isolationist ex-ruler Enver Hoxha.

Further inland, stony hiking trails weave among the lunar, sun-bleached mountains, where remote rural villages offer up a warm welcome to any inquisitive visitors. With unpaved, pothole-strewn roads and unreliable bus routes, just getting to the country’s interior can be an adventure in itself. But when the logistics of travel prove taxing, there’s always the dangling carrot of lovingly-prepared meals, tasty wine and ever-hospitable locals to spur you onward.

With its winning combination of sandy beaches, engaging history and affordable prices, Albania's once-unsung charms are now being shouted from the garishly-coloured rooftops.

Key facts


28,748 sq km (11,100 sq miles).


2,937,346 (UN estimate 2019).

Population density:

102.17 per sq km.




Parliamentary republic.

Head of state:

President Bajram Begaj since 2022.

Head of government:

Prime Minister Edi Rama since 2013.

Travel Advice

Before you travel

No travel can be guaranteed safe. Read all the advice in this guide and any specific travel advice that applies to you:

Travel insurance

If you choose to travel, research your destinations and get appropriate travel insurance. Insurance should cover your itinerary, planned activities and expenses in an emergency.

About FCDO travel advice

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) provides advice about risks of travel to help British nationals make informed decisions. Find out more about FCDO travel advice.

Follow and contact FCDO travel on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this advice is updated.

This information is for people travelling on a full ‘British citizen’ passport from the UK. It is based on the UK government’s understanding of the current rules for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Albania set and enforce entry rules. If you’re not sure how these requirements apply to you, contact the Albanian Embassy in the UK.

COVID-19 rules

There are no COVID-19 testing or vaccination requirements for travellers entering Albania.

Passport validity requirements

Your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave Albania.

Check with your travel provider that your passport and other travel documents meet requirements. Renew your passport if you need to.

You will be denied entry if you do not have a valid travel document or try to use a passport that has been reported lost or stolen.

Visa requirements

You can visit Albania without a visa for up to 90 days in a 180-day period, for tourism or business.  

If you want to stay longer than 90 days, you must apply in advance for a long-stay visa or apply for a residence permit from within Albania.  

Vaccine requirements

To enter Albania, you must have a certificate to prove you’ve had a yellow fever vaccination if you’re coming from a country listed as a transmission risk.

For full details about medical entry requirements and recommended vaccinations, see TravelHealthPro’s Albania guide.

Customs rules

There are strict rules about goods you can take into or out of Albania. You must declare anything that may be prohibited or subject to tax or duty. 


There is a high threat of terrorist attack globally affecting UK interests and British nationals, including from groups and individuals who view the UK and British nationals as targets. Stay aware of your surroundings at all times.     

UK Counter Terrorism Policing has information and advice on staying safe abroad and what to do in the event of a terrorist attack. Find out how to reduce your risk from terrorism while abroad.

Terrorism in Albania

Terrorist attacks in Albania cannot be ruled out.

Attacks could be indiscriminate including in places visited by foreigners. Stay aware of your surroundings, keep up to date with local media reports and follow the advice of local authorities.

Political situation

Relations between the majority Muslim population and other ethnic groups in Albania are generally good. The expression of extremist or anti-western views is very rare.    

Political and other demonstrations have been held in central Tirana, with some reported incidents of violence. Demonstrations can cause traffic diversions and other disruption. Demonstrations could happen elsewhere, and may take place outside the capital city.

You should:

  • check local media for the latest information
  • avoid any demonstrations, large-scale gatherings or political rallies
  • follow the advice of the local authorities


There is crime and violence in some areas, but reports of crime targeting foreigners are rare. There have been occasional shootings and small explosions related to internal disputes over criminal, business or political interests.    

Protecting yourself and your belongings

Take sensible precautions to protect yourself from street crime, particularly in larger cities and late at night.

Watch out for pickpockets and bag thieves in tourist areas, on buses and trains and major public transport hubs, including airports.

Laws and cultural differences

Illegal drugs and prison sentences

Penalties for drug-related crimes are severe. Possession of illegal drugs could result in a prison sentence of 5 to 10 years. The penalty for supplying drugs is up to 15 years in prison.     

Being arrested

The Albanian authorities do not always inform the British Embassy when British nationals have been arrested. If you are detained, you may insist on your right to contact the British Embassy in Tirana.

LGBT+ travellers

Same-sex relationships are legal in Albania. Anti-discrimination and anti-hate-crime legislation is in place. Tirana has several gay-friendly bars and a number of LGBT+ support groups.

Read more advice for LGBT+ travellers.

Outdoor activities and adventure tourism

Water sports and swimming safety   

There are some local press reports that jet skis and boats being rented along the coasts may lack adequate safety precautions and equipment.

If you are considering taking part in water sports activities, do so through a licensed water sports centre and make sure paperwork is completed before starting the activity.

See watersports safety abroad from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents.

Take note of warning signs, follow instructions from lifeguards and observe the flag indicators on beaches. Take local advice if jellyfish or urchins are present.

The 2023 European Environment Agency report noted that a small number of beaches are polluted because of inadequate sewage disposal and treatment.

See water safety on holiday from the Royal Life Saving Society.

Transport risks

Road travel

If you are planning to drive in Albania, see information on driving abroad and check the rules of the road in the RAC’s Albania guide. The guide lists driving regulations and other legal requirements you need to be aware of.

You may find it useful to have a 1968 international driving permit (IDP) as well as your UK licence. The 1949 IDP is not accepted any more. You cannot buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

You must carry a green card as proof of vehicle insurance to drive your car in Albania. If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.

Check if you need a UK sticker to drive your car outside the UK.

If you stay longer than one year, or live in Albania, you will need to apply for an Albanian driving licence.

To import a vehicle into Albania, make sure you have all the necessary papers on arrival at the border. Consult the Albanian Embassy in the UK before you leave. The British Embassy will be unable to help anyone attempting to bring a vehicle into Albania without the correct paperwork.

Dangers of driving in Albania

Driving can be very hazardous and often aggressive and erratic. Deaths from road traffic accidents are amongst the highest in Europe. Police have taken some measures to decrease the number of accidents.

Minor traffic disputes can quickly escalate, especially as some motorists could be armed. Avoid reacting to provocative behaviour by other road users.

If you are involved in a traffic accident, even a minor one, remain at the scene until the police arrive. This will usually happen quite quickly in built-up areas. Failing to wait could result in charges under the Albanian Penal Code and you could get a fine.

Road conditions

Road surfaces are poor, especially in rural areas. If you are travelling at night, watch out for unmarked roadworks, potholes and vehicles without lights. Four-wheel drive vehicles are more practical on rural and minor roads.

Power cuts can affect street lighting in towns and cities. Elsewhere, even on the major routes, there is no street lighting.


There are still unexploded landmines in some remote areas around hill towns on the northern border with Kosovo. Take care, particularly if hiking, and follow any warning signs. Do not walk on uncultivated land or step off the marked paths. If in doubt, seek local advice.    

Extreme weather and natural disasters     

Find out what you can do to prepare for and respond to extreme weather and natural hazards.


There is a risk of earthquakes – tremors are common. Serious earthquakes are less frequent but do happen.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency website has advice about what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Flooding and snow

From December to February, severe weather may cause flooding, particularly in northern Albania. Heavy snowfall in mountainous areas can lead to disruption to transport and services. Monitor local and international media for the latest information.


During especially hot and dry periods, there is a danger of forest fires. Intentionally causing a fire is illegal in Albania and you could be imprisoned.

Properly extinguish cigarette ends and do not leave any rubbish behind, particularly empty bottles, as these are known to start fires.

Before you travel check that:

  • your destination can provide the healthcare you may need
  • you have appropriate travel insurance for local treatment or unexpected medical evacuation

This is particularly important if you have a health condition or are pregnant.

Emergency medical number

Call 127 and ask for an ambulance.

Contact your insurance company quickly if you’re referred to a medical facility for treatment.

Vaccine recommendations and health risks

At least 8 weeks before your trip:

See what health risks you’ll face Albania.

Altitude sickness is a risk in parts of Albania. Read more about altitude sickness on TravelHealthPro.

Air pollution

There can be high levels of air pollution in Albania. You can find further information and advice on air quality on the World Health Organization (WHO) website and check air quality levels on the World Air Quality Index website.

Tap water and milk

Do not drink the tap water in Albania, as it may cause illness. Only drink bottled water. If you drink milk, make sure it is UHT (ultra high temperature) or pasteurised milk.


The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or bought in the UK can be different in other countries.

Read best practice when travelling with medicines on TravelHealthPro.

Healthcare in Albania

Medical and dental facilities, including accident and emergency facilities, are very poor, particularly outside Tirana. Make sure you have adequate travel health insurance and accessible funds to cover the cost of any medical treatment abroad, evacuation by air ambulance and repatriation.

FCDO has a list of list of medical providers in Albania where some staff will speak English.

Travel and mental health

Read FCDO guidance on travel and mental health. There is also mental health guidance on TravelHealthPro.

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) cannot provide tailored advice for individual trips. Read this travel advice and carry out your own research before deciding whether to travel.

Emergency services in Albania

Ambulance: 127

Fire: 128

Police: 112

Contact your travel provider and insurer

Contact your travel provider and your insurer if you are involved in a serious incident or emergency abroad. They will tell you if they can help and what you need to do.

Refunds and changes to travel

For refunds or changes to travel, contact your travel provider. You may also be able to make a claim through insurance. However, insurers usually require you to talk to your travel provider first.

Find out more about changing or cancelling travel plans, including:

  • where to get advice if you are in a dispute with a provider
  • how to access previous versions of travel advice to support a claim

Support from FCDO

FCDO has guidance on staying safe and what to do if you need help or support abroad, including:

Contacting FCDO

Follow and contact FCDO travel on TwitterFacebook and Instagram. You can also sign up to get email notifications when this travel advice is updated.

You can also contact FCDO online.

Help abroad in an emergency

If you are in Albania and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the British Embassy in Tirana.

FCDO in London

You can call FCDO in London if you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad.

Telephone: 020 7008 5000 (24 hours)

Find out about call charges

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