Horse trekking holidays Albania

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Equestrian tours in Albania

ALBANIA MINI GUIDE

Idyllic beaches, warm weather, rich history, spectacular mountain scenery, and bargain prices; it sounds like an impossible wish list for a European destination. Yet Albania fulfills all of these criteria and more besides. Over the past quarter of a century, this Balkan land has gradually emerged from its austere communist cocoon and savvy travelers 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 remnants of Greek, Ottoman, and communist communities 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, pot hole-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 shores, engaging history, and affordable prices, Albania's once-unsung charms are now being shouted from the garishly-colored rooftops.

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.

Nationals not referred to in the chart above are advised to contact the embassy to check visa requirements.

Types and Cost

For visitors who do require a visa, short- and long-term visas are available. Costs vary according to the applicant's nationality; contact consulate or embassy.

Validity

Short-term visa: up to 90 days within a 180 day period; long-term visa: up to 180 days within a year.


Money

Currency

Lek (LEK)= 100 QindarkĆ«. Notes are in denominations of Lek5000, Lek1000, Lek500, Lek200, and LEK100. Coins are in denominations of Lek100, Lek50, Lek20, Lek10, and Lek5.

Currency Exchange

Currency can be exchanged at bureaux de change and banks; US dollars and Euros can also be changed on the street.

Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs

ATMs are widespread; every town of any size has at least one. Credit cards are accepted only by top-of-the-range hotels and restaurants.

Traveller's Cheques

American Express traveler's cheques can be cashed in Tirana, with a 2% commission charge. Traveler's cheques are not accepted by hotels or restaurants anywhere in the country.

Banking Hours

Mon-Fri 0800-1400.

Exchange Rate Indicators

Date

May 2018

£1.00=

144.89

$1.00=

106.75

€1.00= 127.54

 

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.

General



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.

Travel to Albania

Flying to Albania

British Airways (BA) (www.ba.com) has a year-round direct service to Tirana from London Gatwick.

Flight times

From London to Tirana- 3 hours.

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

Getting to Albania by boat

Main ports: Durres and Vlore.

Ferry Operators

Adria Ferries (www.adeiaferries.com) runs ferries from Durres to Bari (journey time- 10 hours), Ancona (journey time- 18 hours), and Trieste (journey time- 24 hours) in Italy.
Grand Navi Veloci (www.gnv.it) and Ventouris Ferries (www.ventourisferries.com) also run on the Durres-Bari route.
European Seaways (www.europeanseaways.com) covers the Durres-Bari crossing too, and operates ferries between Vlore and Brindisi, Italy (journey time- 5 hours 30 minutes).
European Ferries (www.albaniaferries.it) runs services from both Durres and Vlore to Brindisi.
Finikas Lines (www.finikas-lines.com) has a hydrofoil service (journey time- 30 minutes) and a ferry service (journey time- 90 minutes) from Sarande to Corfu.

Driving to Albania

Guarded parking is essential; mid-range hotels (and better) usually provide this to guests. If bringing your own car, make sure your insurance covers you for driving in Albania.

Weather and Climate

Albania has a Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and cool, wet winters in the lowlands. In the highlands, snow can fall from November to March; mountain towns are very cold at this time of year.

Required Clothing

Dependent on the time of year and regions of the country to be visited, and also on the activities planned. For outdoor activities in the mountains, good waterproofs and warm layers should be carried at all times of the year. On the coast in summer, long trousers and a light jacket will often be required in the evenings.



Embassies and tourist offices

Embassy of the Republic of Albania in the UK
33 St George's Drive, London, SW1V 4DG
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
1312 18th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20036
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
Rruga Skenderbeg 12, Tirana
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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