It's best to drink bottled water, but potted water is usually drinkable too. The food in Albania is mostly safe anywhere you go in the country, but in the summer be aware of possible high temperatures and inadequate refrigeration. You can walk around to stay fit, as many people do in the capital, but be aware that the city suffers from severe air pollution. In summer, insect repellent should be used, as the mosquito season is very active, especially near former swamps and along the Western Lowland. Be careful at the beaches because shards of glass and sea urchins are common on the sea floor. Health clinics in small towns or village areas are not well equipped, so trips to nearby cities can be expected. The government banned smoking in bars and restaurants in August 2014.
There is no longer a visa charge for any foreigners entering Albania.
According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (http://www.mfa.gov.al/ind...), nationals of the following countries/territories can enter Albania without a visa:Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia *, Austria *, Azerbaijan, Belgium *, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria*, Canada *, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus *, Czech Republic*, Denmark*, Estonia *, Finland *, France*, Germany *, Greece *, Holy See, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary *, Ireland *, Iceland *, Israel, Italy *, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia *, Liechtenstein, Lithuania *, Luxembourg *, Macau SAR, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta *, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands *, New Zealand *, Norway *,Philippines, Poland *, Portugal *, Romania *, San Marino *, Serbia , Singapore, Slovakia*, Slovenia *, South Korea, Spain *, Sweden *, Switzerland *, Taiwan Republic of China, Turkey, United Kingdom *, USA *, Ukraine,Qatar - in the period 25 May - 25 September 2012.United Arab Emirates - in the period 25 May - 25 September 2012.Kingdom of Saudia Arabia - in the period 25 May - 25 September 2012.
Visitors from those countries with an asterisk can enter with an ID card.
States which citizens may enter without visas due to their visa liberalization with Schengen area: Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Brunei, Guatemala, Honduras, Costa Rica, Mauritius, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, El Salvador, Seychelles, St. Kitts and Nevis, Uruguay, Venezuela, Macao China. For staying more than 90 days within the period of six months, they need to get visa type D.
There is a €1 road tax for the first 60 days of your stay. For every additional day it is €1 per day. Be sure to receive a receipt and keep it with you, as guards may request it as proof of payment upon your exiting the country. The former €10 entrance fee per person has been abolished. The Albanian guards are very nice and do their best to help out and will, on occasion, allow fees to be paid in dollars or will forget to charge you. It's worth making sure you've got euros on you, as the customs officers at Mother Teresa Airport don't give change.
Be careful not to be charged the €1 road tax again when leaving the country. If you do, the border guard will assume that you didn't pay the road tax when entering the country.
Officially 220V 50Hz. Outlets are the European standard CEE-7/7 or the compatible, but non-grounded, CEE-7/16 "Europlug" types. Generally speaking, US and Canadian travellers should pack an adapter for these outlets if they plan to use North American electrical equipment in Albania.
Unexpected power outages without prior warnings are common in Albania. This is largely dependent on the amount of rainfall the country receives in any given year, as virtually all of electricity is generated from hydro plants in Albania. However this is becoming more and more rare.Only in Tirana you will not have power outages but expect so in other cities.Although all major cities and most of the towns have back-up generators, however it is best to err on the side of the caution and ask whether the place has a generator or not beforehand in order not to, say, get stuck in an elevator.
Albanian is the official language. Other useful languages include Italian, which is often viewed as the de facto second language and is spoken mainly in the western part of the country which received Italian TV and radio broadcast stations until the bandwidth was occupied by local Albanian stations. English is widely understood in Tirana and to a lesser extent in cities frequented by tourists. In the southernmost areas of the country, you might also encounter minority speakers of the Greek language.
From a country of 3 million, there have been about 1.2 million emigrants, and many of them have returned to Albania from countries such as Germany, France, Greece especially those in the south of Albania and Italy, so you'll find a lot of people in Albania who speak those languages. Of the large number of Albanians who have emigrated to Greece over the years, around 200,000 people have returned and now live in Albania, Greek is widely understood. Macedonian is occasionally understood in areas near Pogradec and Korca.
You can buy a local sim card for ALL600 Vodafone. You need to provide ID passport and give an address in Albania. Though you may need to find a storefront as opposed to Vodafone cards readily available from street vendors Eagle cards work well and have very good coverage. Eagle is the mobile branch of the government owned AlbTelecom. As a result, Eagle cards offer significant savings when calling land based phones in Albania. Being the "Government" carrier, be prepared for a bit more formality when getting one of these cards. You will still need your passport, but you will also need to sign several forms.
In Albania it's common for men to kiss the cheeks of other men their age or younger, even the very first time they meet. This is especially true in the regions of Fier, Tepelena, Vlora and Gjirokastra. In northern Albania, men touch each other's cheeks but do not kiss them. Women also kiss one another, sometimes from the very first time they meet, but men and women do not kiss each other on the cheek unless they have been friends for a long time. Kissing on the cheeks is very common among young people 15-20 years old. If there is a baby in an Albanian family, always ask to see him or her, and don't forget to add a compliment usually "qenka i shendetshem, me jete te gjate" or "what a sweet baby" works best. If you are a man, or a woman with a group of men, don't compliment females unless they are under 10-12 years of age.
If you don't speak English, but a language where "you" in informal and "you" in formal are not the same, be aware that some Albanians do not use the formal form in their language. Sometimes even the prime minister is adressed with "ti" if a journalist is a friend of his. However, when meeting people for the first time, it's better if you address them in formal form, although they will shortly after ask you to address them in an informal way.
Policemen in Albania are often polite. Police at checkpoints will very often stop foreign cars, many of which are owned by returning Albanians or Kosovars who are good targets for extortion. When police see that you are a foreign tourist, they will usually tell you to go on usually with a "ec, ec, rruge te mbare" which can be translated in "go on, have a nice trip". When this happens, it's very polite if you respond with a "Faleminderit" thank you in Albanian.
Albanians love dancing, especially at weddings. If you are attending a party, don't be afraid to dance! Maybe you don't know the traditional dances, but try to learn.
Albanians are very hospitable. Even more so than in the rest of the Balkans, elder males expect to be shown respect on account of their age. Men of the family have to be respected in particular. Shake hands with them and do not argue about topics such as religion and politics. Certain topics are strictly taboo in Albania despite the fact that they are fine in the United States and other countries. Homosexuality is one good example: Don't speak about gay rights, no matter what. In the north, avoid topics that go beyond local understanding. On the other hand, rest assured that in Tirana you will find very cosmopolitan people who are as open to new and modern ideas as citizens of Western Europe are. Perhaps the most important thing to remember is to respect local people at least as much as you respect people back home.