Lake Ohrid in Albania
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Lake Ohrid in Albania

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Albania Travel Guide

Key Facts
Area

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

Population

2,937,346 (UN estimate 2019).

Population density

102.17 per sq km.

Capital

Tirana.

Government

Parliamentary republic.

Head of state

President Ilir Meta since 2017.

Head of government

Prime Minister Edi Rama since 2013.

Electricity

230 volts AC, 50Hz. European-style plugs with two round pins are used.

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.

Travel Advice

Coronavirus travel health

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Albania on the TravelHealthPro website.

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

International travel

Flights between the UK and Albania have resumed. The requirement for those arriving from the UK to self-isolate for 14 days has also been lifted. You should continue to liaise closely with your airline before travelling as the situation can change at very short notice. See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Albania

On returning to the UK, you will be expected to follow the rules to enter the UK from abroad.

Sign up for travel advice email alerts and follow the British Embassy on Twitter and Facebook.

Entry and borders

See Entry requirements to find out what you will need to do when you arrive in Albania.

Returning to the UK

When you return, you must follow the rules for entering the UK.

You are responsible for organising your own COVID-19 test, in line with UK government testing requirements.

Be prepared for your plans to change

No travel is risk-free during COVID. Countries may further restrict travel or bring in new rules at short notice, for example due to a new COVID-19 variant. Check with your travel company or airline for any transport changes which may delay your journey home.

If you test positive for COVID-19, you may need to stay where you are until you test negative. You may also need to seek treatment there.

Plan ahead and make sure you:

  • can access money
  • understand what your insurance will cover
  • can make arrangements to extend your stay and be away for longer than planned

Moving around in Albania

For information on entering Albania, see Entry requirements

If you’re in Albania, you should adhere to instructions and follow the advice of the local authorities.

The wearing of face masks is mandatory only indoors and whilst using public transport. Since 1 September, a night time curfew from 11pm to 6am is in place. Other than the night-time curfew, there are currently no restrictions on movement within Albania. Public transport and taxis are operating as normal.

Public places and businesses

Bars and restaurants must close by 11pm as per the curfew. However, delivery services remain available.

Night clubs remain closed. Outdoor gatherings of up to 50 people are allowed, provided the Institute of Public Health Albania rules are followed.

Sports championships, theatre, artistic and cultural performances, and conferences, are allowed with audiences but with a reduced capacity of up to 30% according to IPH protocols.

Health

For contact details for English speaking doctors visit our list of healthcare providers.

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. Read guidance on how to look after your mental wellbeing and mental health

View Health for further details on healthcare in Albania.

See also the guidance on healthcare if you’re waiting to return to the UK.

COVID-19 vaccines if you live in Albania

We will update this page when the Government of Albania announces new information on the national vaccination programme. You can sign up to get email notifications when this page is updated.

The Albanian national vaccination programme started in January 2021 and is using the Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines. The Government of Albania has stated that British nationals resident in Albania are eligible for vaccination if they choose to join the programme. Further information on the vaccination programme is available on the Government of Albania Ministry of Health website or by visiting your public medical clinic (known locally as “Qendra Shendetesore no.x”) in the area where you reside.

Find out more, including about vaccines that are authorised in the UK or approved by the World Health Organisation, on the COVID-19 vaccines if you live abroad.

If you’re a British national living in Albania, you should seek medical advice from your local healthcare provider. Information about COVID-19 vaccines used in the national programme where you live, including regulatory status, should be available from local authorities. For Albania residents, all teachers, students and medical staff must be vaccinated. Only children under the age of six will be exempt.

Finance

For information on financial support you can access whilst abroad, visit our financial assistance guidance.

Help and support

If you need urgent consular assistance, contact your nearest British embassy, high commission or consulate. All telephone numbers are available 24/7.

Further information

See the TravelHealthPro website for further advice on travel abroad and reducing spread of respiratory viruses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crime

Public security is generally good, particularly in Tirana, and Albanians are very hospitable to visitors. Crime and violence does occur in some areas, but reports of crime specifically targeting foreigners are rare. There have been occasional shootings and small explosions, but these appear to be related to internal disputes over criminal, business or political interests.

Landmines

In December 2009 Albania officially declared it had met its  ‘Ottawa Convention Article 5’ obligations and had reached mine-free status. However, when visiting hill towns on the northern border with Kosovo you should take care, particularly if hiking and follow the signs warning about unexploded landmines and other unexploded ordnance. Demining is ongoing on the Kosovo side. 

Road travel

You can drive in Albania with a valid UK driving licence for up to one year. You can also drive in Albania with an International Driving Permit (IDP). You can only get IDPs over the counter from 2,500 UK Post Offices. You will not be able to buy an IDP outside the UK, so get one before you travel.

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

A green card is proof that you have vehicle insurance when driving abroad. You need to carry a green card to drive in Albania.

If you’re planning to hire a car, check with your car hire company for information on their requirements before you travel.

Driving can be very hazardous. Roads are poor, especially in rural areas. Street lighting in urban areas is subject to power cuts. Elsewhere, even on the major inter-urban arterial routes, there is no street lighting. If you are travelling at night, watch out for unmarked road works, potholes and unlit vehicles. Four-wheel drive vehicles are often more practical on rural and minor roads.

Albanian driving can often be 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, you are supposed to wait until the police arrive. This will usually happen quickly in built-up areas.

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

Air travel

The FCDO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.

A list of incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.

In 2014 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safely oversight in Albania.

Sea travel

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

Swimming

The Albanian National Environment Agency reported in 2016 that 83% of beaches in Albania are of a very good or good standard but the report raised concerns over a small number of beaches including beaches in Durres, Vlore and Saranda which are polluted as a result of inadequate sewage disposal and treatment.

Political situation

You should avoid any political rallies or demonstrations and follow the advice of the local authorities as there is always a possibility they could turn violent.

Tension between religious groups and expression of extremist views is very rare, and attitudes to western countries are overwhelmingly positive.

Terrorist attacks in Albania can’t be ruled out.

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 more about the global threat from terrorism.

Attacks could be indiscriminate, including places visited by foreigners. Terrorists may target religious sites, including churches.

There’s a heightened threat of terrorist attack globally against UK interests and British nationals from groups or individuals motivated by the conflict in Iraq and Syria. You should be vigilant at this time.

English is not widely spoken but it is increasingly spoken by younger people.

Homosexuality is decriminalised. Anti-discrimination and anti hate-crime legislation is in place. Tirana has several gay-friendly bars and a number of LGBT support groups. See our information and advice page for the LGBT community before you travel.

Penalties for drug-related crimes are severe.

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 a British consular officer.

This page reflects the UK government’s understanding of current rules for people travelling on a full ‘British Citizen’ passport, for the most common types of travel.

The authorities in Albania set and enforce entry rules. For further information contact the embassy, high commission or consulate of the country or territory you’re travelling to. You should also consider checking with your transport provider or travel company to make sure your passport and other travel documents meet their requirements.

Entry rules in response to coronavirus (COVID-19)

All land borders are open. However neighbouring countries may have different entry and exit restrictions on their side of the border. You should check before travelling.

Keep up to date with information from your tour operator, transport or accommodation provider on the impact on any existing travel plans. If you need further information about entry requirements, contact the local immigration authorities or the nearest Albanian Embassy/Consulate. You should also check with your airline or travel company for the latest information.

Entering Albania from the UK

British nationals, aged six and above, travelling to Albania from the UK and elsewhere, must demonstrate one of the following:

  • proof of COVID-19 vaccination. The second/final dose of vaccine must have been administered at least 14 days before arrival. (See ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 status’)
  • negative PCR COVID-19 test performed up to 72 hours ahead of arrival
  • rapid Antigen (COVID-19) test performed no more than 48 hours ahead of arrival
  • evidence proving that you have recovered from COVID-19 within the last six months

These requirements also apply to those travellers who transit through Albania. Those who cannot provide such evidence may not be granted entry to Albania. For more detailed information, check the information provided by the Albanian Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs.

All passengers who are allowed to enter the territory of the Republic of Albania, in addition to complying with the protocols of airline international standards worldwide, must also adhere to the rules listed below:

  • only travelling passengers can enter the airport building
  • passengers must maintain social distancing of 1.5 meters during their entire time in the airport
  • priority is given to the elderly, people in need and families with minor children
  • for more information, see the Tirana International Airport website

Demonstrating your COVID-19 status

Albania will accept the UK’s proof of COVID-19 recovery and vaccination record. Your NHS appointment card from vaccination centres is not designed to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to demonstrate your vaccine status.

Quarantine and testing requirements if you’re travelling to neighbouring countries from Albania

If you are a British national travelling from Albania to Kosovo, you must provide a negative RT-PCR test that is less than 72 hours old or a serological antibody test less than 30 days old or a positive RT-PCR test between 21 and 180 days old, or evidence of a vaccination. British nationals transiting through Kosovo who leave within 3 hours of arrival are exempt, as are British nationals passing through Kosovo by organised transport (ie regular bus line), provided they leave within 5 hours.

If you are a British national travelling from Albania to North Macedonia you must provide a full vaccination certificate, or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before arrival or a certificate of recovery from Covid-19 in the last 45 days. Transit through North Macedonia within 5 hours will be possible by signing a statement at the border.

If you are a British national travelling from Albania to Montenegro you must provide at least one of the following: a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of travel, a negative rapid antigen test recognized by the European Commission issued by an authorised laboratory and taken within 48 hours of the time of entering Montenegro, a positive PCR test or rapid antigen test issued by a registered laboratory, which is older than 14 days and not older than 90 days from the day of arrival at the Montenegrin border, demonstrating recovery from COVID-19 infection or proof of having received either one or two doses of a vaccine against COVID-19 (see ‘Demonstrating your COVID-19 vaccination status’). Children under the age of 5 do not require a test or proof of vaccination to enter Montenegro.

If you are a British national travelling from Albania to Greece you can enter it only by the following land borders: Kakavia and Qafë-Botë. Travellers must fill in a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) no later than 11:59pm (Greek local time) on the day before arriving in Greece. You must provide either: proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test, undertaken within the 72 hour period before arrival into Greece; proof of a negative COVID-19 rapid antigen test from an authorized laboratory, undertaken within the 48 hour period before the scheduled flight; or proof of two COVID-19 vaccinations (i.e. complete vaccine) completed at least 14 days before travel. Travellers with proof of either are exempted from the need to self-isolate on arrival in Greece. Failure to provide proof of either will likely result in the Greek authorities refusing you permission to enter Greece.

Regular entry requirements

Visas

British citizens can enter and remain in Albania for a maximum of 90 days in every 6-month period without a visa. The Albanian authorities require anyone staying longer than 90 days to apply at a local police station for a residence permit.

As of 9 September 2021, British citizens who have a valid residence permit in the Republic of Albania can apply to be issued with a Biometric Card for foreign citizens. The design of this card is very similar to the National ID Card issued to Albanian citizens.

Holding this card enables registration on the e-Albania platform, providing access to the services that the platform offers for foreign citizens.

In order to apply you should buy a coupon at the nearest Albanian Post Office and visit the ALEAT office located at the Border and Migration Directorate (the same office which issues residence permits) to submit your application in person.

You can find further information on the Albanian Ministry of Interior website.

Passport validity 

Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 3 months from the date of entry into Albania.  

Yellow fever certificate requirements

Check whether you need a yellow fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.

UK Emergency Travel Documents

UK Emergency Travel Documents are accepted for entry, airside transit and exit from Albania.

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Check the latest information on risk from COVID-19 for Albania on the TravelHealthPro website

See the healthcare information in the Coronavirus section for information on what to do if you think you have coronavirus while in Albania.

At least 8 weeks before your trip, check the latest country-specific health advice from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC) on the TravelHealthPro website. Each country-specific page has information on vaccine recommendations, any current health risks or outbreaks, and factsheets with information on staying healthy abroad. Guidance is also available from NHS (Scotland) on the FitForTravel website.

General information on travel vaccinations and a travel health checklist is available on the NHS website. You may then wish to contact your health adviser or pharmacy for advice on other preventive measures and managing any pre-existing medical conditions while you’re abroad.

The legal status and regulation of some medicines prescribed or purchased in the UK can be different in other countries. If you’re travelling with prescription or over-the-counter medicine, read this guidance from NaTHNaC on best practice when travelling with medicines. For further information on the legal status of a specific medicine, you’ll need to contact the embassy, high commission or consulate
of the country or territory you’re travelling to.

While travel can be enjoyable, it can sometimes be challenging. There are clear links between mental and physical health, so looking after yourself during travel and when abroad is important. Information on travelling with mental health conditions is available in our guidance page. Further information is also available from the National Travel Health Network and Centre (NaTHNaC).

High levels of air pollution can occur 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.

Medical and dental facilities (including those for accident and emergency use) 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.

The tap water in Albania may cause illness - you should drink only bottled water. If you drink milk, make sure it is UHT (pasteurised).

If you need emergency medical assistance during your trip, dial 127 or 04 2222 235 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance/medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. 

Earthquakes

Albania lies in a seismically-active zone, and tremors are common. Serious earthquakes are less frequent but do occur.

A series of earthquakes occurred in western Albania in the early hours of 26 November 2019. The largest quake, registering 6.4 on the Richter scale, was centred north of the port city of Durres (approximately 20 miles from the capital, Tirana) and caused loss of life and extensive damage to property.

To learn more about what to do before, during and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Winter weather

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.

Major credit and debit cards are accepted in most banks, large supermarkets and international hotels. Smaller businesses and taxis often only accept cash. There are numerous ATMs in Tirana and the main towns, as well as bureaux de change where Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are widely accepted. Although street money-changers operate openly, they do so illegally. Only use banks or established bureaux de change. There have been some cases of credit card fraud.

If you’re abroad and you need emergency help from the UK government, contact the nearest British embassy, consulate or high commission. If you need urgent help because something has happened to a friend or relative abroad, contact the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London on 020 7008 5000 (24 hours).

Foreign travel checklist

Read our foreign travel checklist to help you plan for your trip abroad and stay safe while you’re there.

Travel safety

The FCDO travel advice helps you make your own decisions about foreign travel. Your safety is our main concern, but we can’t provide tailored advice for individual trips. If you’re concerned about whether or not it’s safe for you to travel, you should read the travel advice for the country or territory you’re travelling to, together with information from other sources you’ve identified, before making your own decision on whether to travel. Only you can decide whether it’s safe for you to travel.

When we judge the level of risk to British nationals in a particular place has become unacceptably high, we’ll state on the travel advice page for that country or territory that we advise against all or all but essential travel. Read more about how the FCDO assesses and categorises risk in foreign travel advice.

Our crisis overseas page suggests additional things you can do before and during foreign travel to help you stay safe.

Refunds and cancellations

If you wish to cancel or change a holiday that you’ve booked, you should contact your travel company. The question of refunds and cancellations is a matter for you and your travel company. Travel companies make their own decisions about whether or not to offer customers a refund. Many of them use our travel advice to help them reach these decisions, but we do not instruct travel companies on when they can or can’t offer a refund to their customers.

For more information about your rights if you wish to cancel a holiday, visit the Citizen’s Advice Bureau website. For help resolving problems with a flight booking, visit the website of the Civil Aviation Authority. For questions about travel insurance, contact your insurance provider and if you’re not happy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Registering your travel details with us

We’re no longer asking people to register with us before travel. Our foreign travel checklist and crisis overseas page suggest things you can do before and during foreign travel to plan your trip and stay safe.

Previous versions of FCDO travel advice

If you’re looking for a previous version of the FCDO travel advice, visit the National Archives website. Versions prior to 2 September 2020 will be archived as FCO travel advice. If you can’t find the page you’re looking for there, send the Travel Advice Team a request.

Further help

If you’re a British national and you have a question about travelling abroad that isn’t covered in our foreign travel advice or elsewhere on GOV.UK, you can submit an enquiry. We’re not able to provide tailored advice for specific trips.

Visa and passport information is updated regularly and is correct at the time of publishing. You should verify critical travel information independently with the relevant embassy before you travel.