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Is Albania Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Is Albania Safe? | Travel Tips & Safety Concerns

Albania is a country that borders Greece, Montenegro, Kosovo, and North Macedonia. The coastal country has beaches along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, making it an ideal destination for those who want nothing more than to lie in the sand and bask in the sunlight.

A trip to Albania can be tempting, given everything the country offers.

But is Albania safe? To help you plan your trip, we have compiled a list of travel tips and safety concerns that you should be aware of in advance of your vacation. 

Is Albania Safe to Visit in 2022?

Downtown Shkodra pictured for a piece on the areas to avoid in Albania to help answer is the country safe

A Daily Odyssey/Shutterstock

Many aspects of life and tourism in Albania make it safe for tourists. The country is on the up and up, with a steady decrease in poverty levels and more citizens residing in the middle class.

Having increased welfare assists in keeping crime levels lower in the country. However, with that being said, there are elements of the country that can bring hesitation to travelers.

Much of the anxiety stems from the history of Albania, including an in-country civil war that was followed by more conflict in neighboring Kosovo. Albania also had many years where landmines were present within the country.

As is the case with any country and destination you visit, one should be aware of their surroundings due to petty theft activity targeting tourists.

In Albania specifically, the crimes are minor and sporadic. However, some of the more critical concerns surround the quality of the roads, the safety of rental equipment, mafia presence, and political demonstrations and rallies.

Crime in Albania

Thankfully, Albania is a country with a positive mentality and persona regarding foreigners. While some places throughout the world don’t have this type of appreciation for tourism, Albania is quick to lend a helping hand and welcome visitors to their country.

Because of this, the number of crimes that target tourists is minimal. Although there are cases of pickpocketing, bag snatching, and even fraud in some places, these situations are infrequent.  The history of Albania gives hesitation to tourists.

The primary focus is on the civil war that took place in the late 1990s and the presence of landmines until 2009. However, those occurrences have been resolved for many years, without a hint of any problems returning in the future.

To avoid being a victim of petty theft while in Albania, there are a few safety guidelines you can follow to reduce your chances. 

  • Travel in groups or with another person
  • Keep your items close to your body (a fanny pack or under-clothing belt)
  • Be mindful of your surroundings
  • Don’t walk outdoors at night

In addition, be sure to research ahead of time and know what a typical cost is for goods, services, and attractions.

While the country is very kind and welcoming to tourists, some will charge a higher price based on your foreigner status. This situation pertains to taxis, restaurants, sightseeing attractions, and souvenir shops.

Avoiding Bad Neighborhoods

Bad neighborhood in Albania pictured for a post on Is Albania Safe to Visit

Yuliia Gornostaieva/Shutterstock

As an individual, you want to be conscious of what is happening around you. Doing this is one of the best paths to take to maintain a high level of safety. However, another route is avoiding bad neighborhoods in whatever city or country you travel to on your vacation.

Being that tourists are new to the area, it’s understood that they won’t know which places are considered unsafe.

One of the best ways to determine this information is to speak with the hotel staff at the front desk. Conversation with them will help you understand what precautions you should take while on your trip. 

With this being said, the organization Global Initiative has identified a subset of cities within Albania that maintain a higher level of crime than others. These locations include:

  • Tiranë
  • Shkodër
  • Durrës
  • Sarandë
  • Fier
  • Lezhë
  • Elbasan
  • Vlorë

When visiting these areas, following the precautions highlighted above is best. Additionally, knowing the local emergency phone numbers is recommended if you are in trouble or your safety is threatened.

Road Conditions

An area of concern throughout the country of Albania is the road conditions. This element brings anxiety in two directions: the roads’ physical safety and reckless driving habits. 

When visiting Albania, you will quickly see an overwhelming amount of potholes that have never been tended to and pose a safety threat. Additionally, the roads do not have adequate lighting at night.

As a result, dentifying the potholes in advance is problematic. While construction is sometimes done on roads, it isn’t readily identified where the work zones are located. You can be driving down the road and accidentally enter an area under development.

At night this is even more dangerous, as the lack of lighting and notification means you can find yourself in unsafe construction zones without a way to leave.

If you are considering renting a vehicle during your trip to Albania, try to stick to the main roads and talk with residents about any construction they know of in the area. It will also be wise to drive only during daylight hours to avoid accidents.

Regarding careless driving, the danger associated with everyday traffic is immense. In one city alone, residents reported 654 people for reckless driving in the span of one week. Previously the authorities didn’t have a system in place for following up on reports.

As a foreigner, it’s critical to avoid crossing streets if possible. If you must, it’s best to wait until a local person comes to the intersection and follow their lead.

Traveling in groups is suggested due to the added visibility that comes with multiple people. Having someone familiar with the traffic patterns and behavior within that group adds another level of safety.

Regulation Upkeep

SARANDE, ALBANIA, SEPTEMBER 26, 2019: Boats mooring alongside seaside promenade at Sarande, Albania

SARANDE, ALBANIA, SEPTEMBER 26, 2019: Boats mooring alongside seaside promenade at Sarande, Albania/Trabantos/Shutterstock

Being that Albania has an extensive coast that aligns with the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, it’s understandable that there would be a surplus of water activities for locals and tourists to participate in daily.

For those traveling to the coast, many local businesses offer watercraft rentals. However, there is a great deal of concern surrounding the quality of the rentals. It’s been said that some companies don’t keep their equipment at the correct level of regulation.

Because of this, some safety concerns come into play. Several situations can leave a person or family in danger due to a lack of follow through with equipment regulation standards.

Individuals being stranded on the water is one of the most severe outcomes. However, there is also the potential for drowning or death due to watercraft malfunction. 

Mafia Presence

While it’s primarily unseen, Albania has a strong mafia presence. Mostly, they collude with politicians on international relations to increase their reach to other notable countries. Among many others, these include Israel, the United States, and Belgium.

There are roughly 15 mafia families throughout the small country. It’s been speculated that they’re behind a great deal of sex trafficking that occurs globally. The groups are also behind many drug operations and banking fraud schemes. 

It’s improbable that an ordinary tourist will come up against any member of the mafia or that their foreigner status will make them a target of the groups.

However, because of the crimes that the mafia operates behind the scenes, there is a concern about human trafficking. Travelers to Albania should take proper precautions, and it’s also a good idea for women not to travel alone in the country.

Political Demonstrations

As a tourist, if you happen upon an event that appears to be protesting in any way, regardless of the subject, it’s recommended that you avoid that area at all costs. Since 2018, political rallies have been on the rise.

The groups have vocalized anger over corruption and price hikes, among many other things. Inserting yourself in these demonstrations opens you up to many safety issues.

These outcomes include minor violations like pickpocketing and bag snatching or more severe problems like assault, arrest, or even death. 

Like many political rallies, participants can reach high levels of anger and despair and may turn to violence. For those who are present, falling victim to those behaviors is possible. 

Things to Consider

When planning a trip to the beautiful country of Albania, keep the following highlights in mind:

  • Review all applicable laws and regulations within the country before leaving.
  • Carry all personal information close to you while out and about. It’s best to have them in a fanny pack that is situated on the front of your body or within a belt that sits underneath your clothing.
  • Have emergency numbers for the area you are staying handy in the event of an emergency.
  • Travel in groups when possible, especially when crossing the street.
  • Be aware of your surroundings at all times.
  • Know the costs of goods, services, and attractions before traveling.
  • Use cash as often as possible in place of credit or debit cards.
  • If driving, stick to main roads and drive during the day.
  • Females should not travel solo. However, if they do, they should let others know of their whereabouts for accountability and carry a fully charged cell phone with proper reception when they’re out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Boho style traveler sitting on the edge of a mountain for a post titled Is Albania Safe to Visit

Michaela Komi/Shutterstock

With the detailed planning that goes into a vacation comes many questions. Below we answer some of the most commonly asked inquiries about travel to Albania to help you get the most out of your trip.

Is it safe for tourists in Albania?

In general, Albania is safe for all tourists. However, the United States has given it a Level Two advisory with the guidance for travelers to exercise increased caution due to crime within the country.

Many of these crimes are considered petty crimes, but there is a possibility of more elevated situations such as human trafficking or assault. If you decide to travel to Albania, be sure to abide by all safety precautions.

Traveling in groups with proper emergency phone numbers and avoiding bad neighborhoods are recommended. Tourists should also keep personal items close to their bodies to keep them secure.

Is Albania safe for solo females?

Although the advisories in place by the United States and the United Kingdom do not explicitly state that females should not travel alone to Albania, there is a level of concern due to human trafficking.

The mafia has been known to engage in human trafficking operations, which are typically targeted at females and children. Therefore, if females are traveling alone, they should stick to being out during daylight and carry a fully charged cell phone with adequate reception at all times.

Females should also make other individuals aware of their travel plans for a level of accountability. Additionally, female visitors to Albania should avoid bad neighborhoods at all costs.

Is Albania in danger?

No, Albania is not in danger. While the country experienced some difficult times, those issues have been rectified. Although the land isn’t in trouble, there are instances within the country that can pose a threat.

Among these situations are the political rallies that take place, as well as a mafia presence within the country. Previously, Albania was in danger due to an influx of pyramid schemes that destroyed the country’s financial economy.

Because of this, a civil war broke out in the late 1990s. However, the situation was remedied within a few years, and there have been no issues since.

Is Albania a poor country?

Historically, Albania has been recognized as one of the poorest European countries. However, recent years and policy changes have increased the level of personal welfare in the country. Many families reside at the middle-class level instead of the lower class, as was the norm in the past. 

Because of the increased middle-class level, the amount of crime within the Balkan country has dramatically decreased. This change has brought about safer cities and fewer thefts.

Is Albania a corrupt country?

Unfortunately, the country is considered corrupt due to the collaboration between the government and the Albanian mafia families. While politicians often side with the mafia for their own safety and personal gain, this is disadvantageous to the country’s citizens. 

These actions come to a head as political rallies and demonstrations in city centers and in front of political offices. The number of events has risen steadily since 2018. Some have turned violent due to the amount of anger among the participants.

Why is Albania not popular?

The country of Albania is not high on the list of tourist destinations due to there being many unknowns about the destination. Its history precedes it and gives pause to tourists considering travel to the area because of past wars and land mine activity. 

Additionally, airfare to Albania is more pricey than in other European countries. Because of its remote location and reduction in demand, there aren’t as many flights that go in and out of the country daily.

As more people become aware of the many benefits and attractions of an Albanian vacation, more travel will occur to the area.

So, Is Albania Safe to Visit?

Overall, Albania is a safe country to travel to if you are looking for an escape to a beautifully landscaped area in the Balkans with easy access to an extensive coastline.

If you decide to visit, it’s critical to follow safety guidelines to have the best possible experience during your vacation. Happy travels!