Is Albania Safe to Visit?

Is Albania Safe to Visit?

“Is Albania safe to visit?” “Don’t they have lots of guns?” “People at my work said they’ll kill you for your organs” “They have a terrible history of mass murders in Albania”

These are all legitimate comments and questions made by our friends and family when we said we were off to Albania.

Admittedly before planning our trip around Europe on the way to London we’d never actually heard of Albania, but when we talk to people who grew up a little closer it seems to have a bit of a stigma. Why Albania is dangerous seems to vary dependant on the source. Sometimes its run by the mafia. Others they have a big part to play in illegal harvesting of organs. And others say that every man and his dog carries a gun. But one thing everyone agrees on is that you’re crazy if you holiday in Albania!

So is Albania safe to visit? After returning from our trip (alive) the answer is simple. Yes, yes, yes. Albania is certainly safe to visit. It’s not only safe, its incredible. We haven’t found people more friendly, welcoming or willing to help anywhere else on our travels. From our AirBnB host through to the supermarket checkout operators and the teenagers encouraging us to jump off cliffs, everyone made an effort.

Albanian Riviera

Albanian Riviera

Based on the incredible week we had there I would dispute every single reason people gave us that they wouldn’t visit. We happily walked the streets at all hours, drove the roads, left our belongings on the beach as we swam and generally just let our guards down.

Besides from a small bump in the road in 1997 Albania hasn’t actually seen any unrest since WWII. (And if we are making judgements on that then half the world is still unsafe!?) Pickpocketing and random acts of violence are also extremely uncommon. In fact we found that since English speaking tourists are so uncommon Albanias were actually extra friendly and inquisitive about us. English are still so uncommon that one restaurant we went two only had two english menus!

The only stories of bad experiences that we could find online about Albania could have happened in any European country. There are dodgy taxi drivers – they’re everywhere. The public transport is unreliable – it is in Greece too. I got overcharged in a bar – shit happens.

Admittedly though, the one complaint that we did think was justified was the driving conditions. Albania has a reputation for bad roads, and worse driving. Prior to 1991 there were only 600 cars in Albania, so they’ve got a little catching up to do! We rented a car in central Sarande and never really ventured too far off the main roads to Ksamil, Butrint and Borsch. Even still we encountered enormous potholes, unpaved roads and every farm animal that you can imagine. Who knows what we would have found if we’d gone down a side road?

v

The biggest reason that people are scared of Albania is that they don’t know about it. People always fear the unknown. You wont find it advertised in a glossy magazine, its not yet insta famous and theres no option to book an all inclusive trip! Most people who warn you against it couldn’t even point it out on a map.

Give Albania a chance though and you’ll find that it has beautiful beaches, picturesque countryside and really cheap cocktails! After spending a week there we couldn’t recommend it more!

Mike

Is it safe to visit Albania?

Is it safe to visit Albania?

9 Comment

  1. Garth says: Reply

    Such an interesting read, you’ve certainly put Albania on my radar, love the fact it’s not touristy and it looks so nice. Your first photo looks like the small fishing villages of Spain years ago, before the high rises got built. Looks like you had a good time too!

  2. Albanioa is somewhere I’ve wanted to visit for a while and I keep hearing great things about the stunning scenery as well as the changing face of the country. Admittedly, I never assumed it was dangerous per se – just off the beaten path! Sounds like you guys had a great time though and got to experience local life. Thanks for sharing

  3. Anna says: Reply

    Oooh I haven’t heard much about Albania before, but I’m glad you were able to prove all those stereotypes wrong! I still believe that humans are generally kind. I’m glad you guys met nice friendly people there! It looks absolutely beautiful too. I’ll have to look more into it, should I ever go back to Europe!

  4. This is good to know, it looks so beautiful there! We will add it to our bucket list 🙂 Thank you for the beautiful post! #feetdotravel

  5. I will confess that, although I have heard of Albania, I didn’t know anything about it at all … anything! Which includes how “dangerous” it is … nope, never even knew that or considered it but you have given such a good account of this country I want to visit it! I am not afraid of the unknown or visiting places I have been advised against, maybe I should be … but I have learnt from past experience that one person’s trip to a destination can vary greatly to another’s so you should do your research and follow what you want to do. I have also learnt first hand that, a place that is considered dangerous to visit isn’t as bad as it is made out (found this out when I went to Mabul in Borneo for the first time as there are kidnapping pirates in the area … I have been back 3 times!!). Great article, loved it, pinned for the future! #feetdotravel

  6. I wasn’t that familiar with Albania, but your pictures look amazing. I love unspoiled areas.

  7. Glad to know that Albania is safe! It looks so beautiful. And the cheap cocktails wouldn’t hurt either 😉

  8. Great post, love your pics. There are quite a few cruises that call in Sarande and have often wondered about visiting 🙂 I love Croatia and Montenegro, hope you saw those too on your trip 🙂

  9. Kreete says: Reply

    I used to have a few coworkers from Albania and they were the nicest! I have actually never heard it to be dangerous, then again I haven’t heard much about Albania at all. Your photos look incredible, make me consider visiting! Good to know it’s like any other place with people trying to rip off unsuspecting travellers haha! I think you have to be careful whereever you go. Thanks for sharing your insight!

Leave a Reply