Welcome to Albania
Albania is a country situated in the southern Balkans. It is boarded by Greece in the south, F.Y.R.O.M on the east, Kosovo in the northeast, Montenegro to its northwest and its west by the Adriatic Sea. The formation of this country is dated in 1190 AD then called the principality of Arbanon, but its people can trace their roots as far back as antiquity. Called the Land of the Eagles, because of its many mountains and because the language that the Albanians speak is called Shqip in their tongue, which means eagle speak and on their national flag is a black double-headed eagle on a red field.
Regarding scenery and sight-seeing, Albania has it all. Are you a beach lover? Well, the beautiful Albanian Riviera has you covered. Albania is one of those rare countries that have a straight line of beach stretching from its most northern city Shkoder down to its border with Greece. Lucky enough to be a hostess to two seas, the Adriatic and Ionian seas, it has a mixture of rocky and sandy beaches for you to pick from. Maybe you are more of a hiker, no problem, Albania is known for its picturesque mountains. You can visit the Albanian Alps in the northern villages of Valbona or Theth and take a very long hike through the rugged terrain towards the countries south. It could be that you prefer a more urban or historical scenery, well you are in luck because Albania has some ancient historical sites dating as far back as the Neolithic age and its capital Tirana is a vital city full of pubs, cafes and bustling nightlife.
The Albanian territory can find traces of human life as early as the Stone Age. The ancestors of the Albanians were the ancient Illyrians, a people whose dwelling stretched from Slovenia and all the way down to Epirus. History can be found in every corner of the country, from the classical age and down to the modern. The most glorious part of Albania’s history can be found in the medieval period. The Ottoman invasion was tearing apart the Balkan countries, but Albania and its people resisted for twenty-five years with the guide and leadership of the legendary commander George Kastriota aka Skanderbeg. As the heir to a mighty Albanian prince, Skanderbeg was sent as a hostage to the court of Sultan Murad the second of the Ottomans, as an assurance that his father would not rebel. George Kastriota grew up in the sultan’s court and was forced to convert to Islam and study all the aspect of Ottoman warfare. He grew up to be a military genius and diplomat and was given the name Iskandar (Alexander in Turkish) a reference to his military prowess and lineage as a descendant of the Illyrians, kins of Alexander the Great. Skanderbeg rebelled against the Ottomans, and in the year 1444 formed the league of Lezhe with the other Albanian princes and for 25 years defied the Ottomans and won 25 battles against armies that numbered above 60 thousand, while he had fewer than 14 thousand. You can visit the grave of Skanderbeg in Lezha Albania.
Hospitality is God
The word for a friend or guest in Albanian is Mik. Mik comes from an ancient Illyrian god Mikon, who according to the Illyrians would dress like a poor man or woman and ask for hospitality and refuge at a house. If the people accepted the poor traveler, Mikon would deem the house worthy and shower them with blessings, if not, then with curses. The old Albanian code, the canon of Lek Dukagjini (a mighty Albanian prince from the time of Skanderbeg) states that the guest is sacred and that they must be treated like royalty no matter what their standing. The host will secure the guest with food, shelter and a warm bed and when the guest leaves, the host must provide for his wellbeing as far as the host’s village or city entrance. The Albanians have the notion of Besa, it is a hard notion to explain, but in general terms, it translates to “the given word.” If an Albanian has given their word that they will do something, it has to be done, or else they will not be considered a just human being in the eyes of his countrymen and god himself. To question an Albanian on his given word is to insult them deeply. The Besa was essential in guarding the Jewish population during World War 2 in Albania. The Albanians did not hand over a single man, woman or child of Hebrew descent when ordered by the Nazi’s. Their Besa (given word) would not permit them to hand over their Mik (guest) once they had accepted them into their homes.
Interesting Facts & Important Information
Is travel in Albania expensive?
Traveling in Albania is quite inexpensive. Hotels, inns and hostels are very cheap, ranging from 10 to 30 dollars a night. Bus rides from city to city can vary from 1.5 dollars to 10 dollars depending on how far your destination is. Food and drink are very cheap too as you can have a full Mediterranean lunch or breakfast for as low as $5 bucks.
Is Albania safe?
Albanians and Albania get a bad reputation because of its portrayal as a dangerous country and people, but it is probably one of the safest places to visit. Foreigners are seen as guests and friends in Albania and to hurt them is considered a national shame. The people are friendly and always ready to be of assistance. The only danger you might face in Albania is when you cross the street, drivers there can get carried away with their driving, so only cross at a zebra crossing. That’s as dangerous as Albania gets.
Are Albanian people friendly?
Albanians consider foreigners as guests and to treat them with disrespect is a national shame to them. They will do their utmost best to make you feel welcome and safe. They are, as the great English poet Lord Byron put it “Friends for life and enemies until death.”
Do Albanians speak English?
After the communist regime fell in Albania in 1990, foreign languages started entering en masse. Albanians are almost fluent Italian speakers, followed by English and German. You will always find an Albanian that can speak Basic English and almost all the time one that understands English very well.
Do I need a visa to visit Albania?
If you are from a country in the EU, you won’t need a visa, neither those of Canada or the United States. Other countries might require a visa, but they are reasonably easy to obtain. You can check online if your country has visa restrictions with Albania.
What is Albanian cuisine like?
Albanian cuisine mostly consists of a Mediterranean diet, meat (goat, pork, sheep or cow), fish, olives and olive oils, green salads and many other types of cuisines blended together like Turkish, Greek, Italian. Some popular Albanian dishes include; Byrek (kind of pie), Laknor/Fli (a type of lasagna style pie) etc.
What countries border Albania?
Albania borders Kosovo to the northeast, the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia to the east, Greece to the south, Montenegro to the northwest and the Adriatic Sea to the west. The many highways and reconstructed road network make it relatively easy to travel to these countries.
Does Albania have mountains?
Albania is 70% mountainous. It is known as the Land of The Eagles because of the many mountains where Eagles reside. It has many different types of mountains to explore, ranging from rocky, highlands, forest mountains, Alps, etc.
What currency does Albania use?
The currency of Albania is the Albanian Lek. 100 Albanian Lek or ALL is equal to 1.05 USD. The prices in Albania are much lower when compared to Western Europe. You will get your money’s worth when traveling in Albania because the cost of living is very low.
What is the best place in Albania to visit?
Well, that can be very subjective as different people like different things. If it’s Alps and mountains you want to see, you might travel to the north where the mountain views are breathtaking. If you like the Riviera and rocky beaches, then the south is for you. If you like lakes and tranquillity, you may visit the southeast, which is home to the oldest lake in Europe, lake Ohrid or Oher in Albanian, or you may visit the lake of Shkodra in the north. If you are more of a city person, then the middle of Albania is for you, especially the capital Tirana. Albania is not a very big country. You can visit all of it in a short time.
Albanian Hotels & Hostels
Albania has very low-priced hotels. You can stay in a 5-star hotel in Albania for as little as 100$ a night, and you can find great, cozy hotels and inns for as low as 15$ a night. If you are on a budget, you can find hostels and inns that range from 10$ a night down to as low as 8$ a night.
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