Horse trekking holidays Albania

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Equestrian tours in Albania

ALBANIA MINI GUIDE

Fast becoming one of the world's most remarkable tourist destinations and nestled in the heart of the turquoise blue Ionian and Adriatic Seas, the little Balkan gem of Albania is relatively unspoilt by globalisation and plenty of its culture is still firmly intact. Home of Mother Theresa and great 15th century hero Skanderbeg, and known for its isolation and totalitarian Communist government, the curious thing was that even after the Iron Curtain came down, Albania decided to go it alone. That was until 1992 when the Communist party finally relinquished power and Albania established a multi-party democracy with a coalition government.

Albania boasts stunning beaches, snow peaked mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests and some of the most hospitable people in Europe. Not only that, it also features Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the world's archaeological wonders. It provides visitors with a glimpse of Mediterranean civilization from the Bronze Age through the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman periods. And if that wasn't already impressive enough, all of this is situated on top of a cliff overlooking Corfu!
In the leafy capital city of Tirana, tourists can enjoy the breathtaking views over the city from Mount Dajt or head to one of the many sidewalk cafes to sample some traditional Albanian fare, which has a primarily Turkish influence.
Saranda in the south is known for its unforgettable beaches and colourful springs while Shkodra features the Rozafa castle, a major tourist attraction. Orchards burst with ochre, burnt oranges and yellows in autumn while spring sees apple and cherry blossoms carpet the roadsides. These seasons are the best time of year to visit Albania, as even in September it is still warm enough to swim on the southern coast.
With both coastal and mountain holidays on offer, as well as a cultural experience of lifetime, Albania is guaranteed to knock the socks off all its first time visitors, ensuring a return visit in the not too distant future!

Passport/Visa

Passport Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

1

Visa Required?

British

No

Australian

No

Canadian

No

USA

No

Other EU

No

Return Ticket Required?

British

Yes

Australian

Yes

Canadian

Yes

USA

Yes

Other EU

Yes

 

Passports

A valid passport or (1) ID card is required by all nationals referred to in the chart above to enter Albania.

Visas

Not required by all nationals referred to in the chart above for up to 90 days.

Note

There are numerous ATMs in Tirana and main towns, as well as bureaux de change where Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are widely accepted for exchange. Although street money changers operate openly, they do so illegally. Credit cards are not as widely accepted as one would expect, except in a few of the most up-market hotels and restaurants. Travellers' cheques are not accepted as payment by hotels or anywhere else but it is possible to cash them outside Tirana. Foreign currency can be changed in banks at exchange offices (kambim valutor). The most commonly accepted currencies are the US dollar and the euro. Banks are open only on weekdays from 8.30am to 2.30pm.


Money

Currency

Lek (LEK)= 100 Qindarkë. Notes are in denominations of Lek5000, Lek2000, Lek1000, Lek500, and Lek200. Coins are in denominations of Lek100, Lek50, Lek20, Lek10, Lek5, and Lek1.

Currency Exchange

Foreign currencies and traveller's cheques can be exchanged at all banks, savings banks and exchange counters at airports and railway stations at the official exchange rates.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

Major credit cards are accepted in large cities. However, some smaller hotels may require bills to be paid in cash.

Traveller's Cheques

These are widely accepted. To avoid additional exchange rate charges, travellers are advised to take traveller's cheques in a major currency (Euros, US Dollars, Pounds Sterling).

Banking Hours

Mon, Tues, Wed and Fri 0800-1230 and 1330-1500; Thurs 0800-1230 and 1330-1730. Different opening hours may be kept in the various federal provinces. The exchange counters at airports and at railway stations are generally open from the first to the last flight or train, which usually means 0800-2200 including weekends.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

May 31

£1.00=

178.49

$1.00=

123.78

€1.00= 138.40

 

Health

Vaccinations

 

Special Precautions

Diphtheria

Yes

Hepatitis A

Sometimes

Malaria

No

Rabies

No

Tetanus

Yes

Typhoid

Sometimes

Yellow Fever

No*

 *A certificate of vaccination is required from travelers over one year of age coming from infected areas.
Inoculation regulations can change at short notice. Please take medical advice in the case of doubt. Where 'Sometimes' appears in the table above, precautions may be required, depending on the season and region visited.



Food and Drink

Mains water is chlorinated and is fine for brushing teeth. However, bottled water is advised for drinking, especially outside Tirana.

Brucellosis and tuberculosis are present in Albanian dairy cattle. Unpasteurized milk and homemade cheese should be avoided; however, in cafes and restaurants the milk is always UHT, and therefore safe.

Other Risks

Rabies is rare in Albania, but medical treatment should always be sought following an animal or bat bite.

Tick-borne encephalitis is spread through the bites of infected ticks; the vaccine is usually given only to forestry workers. Hikers should check for ticks at the end of each day.

Immunization against hepatitis B should be considered by those who will be working in healthcare or with children.

Health Care

Medical facilities (including accident and emergency) are basic and there is a lack of both supplies and doctors. The private or faith-affiliated clinics in Tirana provide the best standard of care. There are also some western-trained dentists in Tirana. Travellers are strongly advised to take out full medical insurance before departure.



Time: Local time in Albania is GMT + 1 hour (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).

Electricity: Electrical current in Albania is 220 Volts, 50Hz. Round pin attachment plugs and Shuko plugs and receptacles with side grounding contacts are in use. Voltage fluctuations are common.

Language: The official language of Albania is Albanian but Greek is also spoken in many areas. English is not widely understood but is spoken in some of the hotels and restaurants.

Travel Health: Medical facilities (including those for accident and emergency use) are very poor in Albania, particularly outside Tirana. Comprehensive medical insurance, including evacuation by air ambulance is essential before travelling to Albania. There are high levels of Hepatitis in Albania and rabies is also a matter of concern as there are large numbers of stray dogs. Tick borne encephalitis has been reported in the north of the country and it is advisable to receive vaccinations for these diseases. Tap water is not safe to drink and travellers should only drink bottled water. A Yellow Fever vaccination certificate is required for all travellers older than one year of age arriving from a yellow-fever infected area in Africa or the Americas.

Tipping: Standard tipping rules apply in Albania. It is customary to tip waiters and taxi drivers around 10 to 15 percent.

Safety Information: Albania boasts a very low crime rate and the area around Tirana, and most of the larger cities are relatively trouble-free, but visitors should avoid travelling at night. It is also prudent to bear in mind the widespread ownership of firearms. Crime against tourists is virtually non-existent although there have been recent incidents of luggage being stolen from hotel rooms and public transport, particularly in the coastal resorts of Vlore and Saranda. Travellers should therefore remain vigilant about their personal security.

Local Customs: The attitude in Albania towards women is still highly conservative, especially in the countryside with modest clothing and behaviour the norm. Homosexuality is not illegal but is not accepted as a cultural norm and public displays of affection should be avoided. Visitors should note there may be some confusion as many Albanians nod to indicate no. Penalties for drug related crimes are severe.

Communications: The international access code for Albania is +355. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (eg. 0044 for the United Kingdom) and city codes are in use (eg. 04 for Tirana and 052 for Durres). Internet cafes are widely available. Vodafone and AMC are the two mobile phone companies, which have agreements with most other European companies. Travellers with European cell phones and roaming enabled should be able to use their cell phones in Albania.

Climate
Albania has a mild, Mediterranean climate with a good deal of sunny weather with rain very unusual in the summer. Most of the annual rainfall occurs in the mountainous regions of the country during last autumn and early spring. During the summer months the temperatures can reach up to 104°CF (40°C) while during the winter months the temperature sometimes drops below freezing at night. During the summer the sea breeze keeps the Ionian coast slighter cooler with temperatures averaging around 73°F-86°F (25°C-30°C) while in the winter months it cools to 46°F-50°F (8°C-10°C).

Tirana International Airport (TIA)
Location: Tirana International Airport is located 10 miles (17km) outside Tirana and is easy to reach via the new access road from the Tirana - Durres motorway.
Time: Local time is GMT/UCT + 1 hour (GMT +2 from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October).
Contacts: Tel: +355 42 381 800.
Getting to the city: Rinas Express operates 12 hours (6am to 6pm) as an hourly bus service between the Airport and the National Museum in the centre of Tirana. Taxis are also available outside the terminals.
Car rental: Sixt, hertz, Avis and Europcar are available.
Facilities: Tirana International Airport a small duty-free shop, ATM (in arrivals terminal), restaurants, newsagents, souvenir kiosk and cafe.
Parking: Long and short-term parking is available.
Departure Tax: US$10 is levied on all foreign nationals. Nationals of Albania pay Lek1,000.
Website: www.tirana-airport.com.al

Flights to Albania from the UK:
There are regular flights to Tirana International Airport in Albania from the UK. The flight from London takes approximately 3 hours. Tirana International is Albania's main airline hub and is located 10 miles (17km) outside Tirana city.

Which airlines fly to Albania?

Albanian Airlines offer cheap flights to Albania's Tirana International Airport from Stansted.
British Airways flies to Albania from Gatwick and Jersey.

Embassies and tourist offices

Embassy of the Republic of Albania in the UK
Telephone: (0207) 828 8897.
Website:
http://www.albanianembassy.co.uk

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 0900-1200.

Embassy of the Republic of Albania in the USA
Telephone: (202) 223 4942.
Website:
http://www.embassyofalbania.org/

Opening times:
Mon-Fri 0900-1700 (embassy); Mon-Fri 0900-1200 (consular services).

British Embassy in Albania
Telephone: (4) 223 4973.
Website:
http://www.ukinalbania.fco.gov.uk

Opening times:
Mon-Thurs 0830-1300 and 1400-1700, Fri 0830-1430.


 

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