If you’re thinking about visiting Albania and wondering about safety, let’s address that elephant in the room… ‘cause you probably saw the movie “Taken” and now you wonder… is Albania a safe country to visit?
Rest assured, fellow travellers, Albania is one of the safest countries for tourists from all over the world. In fact, petty crime on the streets is very low in Albania, and tourists are rarely, if ever, faced with criminal activity while in the country. Most Albanian crimes occur outside of Albania, so you, as a tourist, are very safe when you visit Albania.
In fact, Albanian people are friendly and some of the most kind and helpful people you’ll meet in Europe, especially those involved in tourism. Albanians themselves will complain about government corruption, but that is different from crime, and a complaint from many countries around the world.
That said, while you’re visiting, there are just a few points to be aware of regarding safety in Albania.
The most danger you’ll probably face is on Albanian roads, because Albanian drivers can be reckless and aggressive by international standards.
If you choose to rent a car, remember this fact and always drive defensively. If someone is in a hurry, it’s a good idea to slow down or pull over, and let them pass and be on their way.
Also, in the capital city, be aware that pedestrians don’t always have the right of way. Be cautious and aware when crossing busy streets, as drivers can be unmindful of pedestrians.
Local drivers also honk a lot and will park in the middle of the street at any time, and for any reason.
You may also notice potholes on city streets, uneven sidewalks, crumbled walkways and so forth, so be aware of your surroundings when walking through busy areas, especially where construction is ongoing. Unlike other areas of the world, repair work and construction goes on even within shop, stores, or cafes, while customers are being serviced.
Cities may experience temporary or even lengthy electrical outages, weekly or monthly. This tends to happen more often on the coast during extremely hot weather, but could happen anytime.
This is important when considering accommodation (like that 10th floor condo!), because if it happens unannounced, elevators may be non-functioning or stop while in use.
The outages don’t usually last for very long, but it can be unnerving, so choose your accommodation with this possibility in mind. Or at least be aware that it can happen.
Albania is in a moderate earthquake zone, but, although there are regular tiny quakes, only very rarely does devastation occur. In 2019 there was a large earthquake centred in the port city of Durres, on the northern coast, which, sadly, saw severe damage.
An earthquake tragedy like this had not happened in over 40 years and, in general, Albania does not suffer severe earthquakes with any regularity. That said, you could feel the earth tremble a wee bit on occasion.
Selling and dealing narcotics and cannabis are punishable crimes, although marijuana use was recently decriminalized. It is now legal for a person to possess a “single use” amount of cannabis. However, it’s always wise to consider your position as a guest in a foreign country before partaking of recreational drugs that could cause problems and/or put you at risk when in groups of people indulging in drugs.
Though it is not often an issue, if you are carrying prescription medication that could be considered a narcotic, you should also carry a letter from your doctor stating that the medication is prescribed, and the medication should always be carried in its original pharmacy container to avoid confusion.
Alcohol is quite popular in Albania, with bars and night clubs freely serving beer, raki, wine and spirits to those 18 years or older. That said, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your drink and don’t drink enough to get drunk in a foreign country.
Also, single men can be the target of a drinking scam (most likely in the capital city), so don’t get enticed by unknown women who are amazingly attracted to you, or you might end up with a huge bar bill by design.
Albania’s diverse cultural history contributes to its local customs. Behaving and dressing more conservatively will ensure that you do not offend anyone. Take the cues from your hosts or others that you see in the area, and try to adapt to the normal cultural behaviours that you see around you.
Also, public displays of affection between couples are not the social norm, so outward displays should be avoided out of respect.
Albania is quite a peaceful country, however, it’s a good idea to avoid any political gatherings and protests that may be happening where you are. You never know what could occur. As a guest to the country, you’ll be less equipped to respond to any violence or destruction.
Overall, Albania is a beautiful country, with a welcoming friendly local population that is happy to share their country and heritage with visitors from all parts of the world.
Planning a trip to Albania? Read our other Albania travel guides