Albania


Albania is a small Mediterranean country in southern Europe. To its north are Macedonia and Serbia, to its east is Montenegro, to the south is Greece, and across the sea to the west is Italy. From the end of World War II until 1992, Albania was a communist country. However, after the death of its communist leader Enver Hoxha, the communist party finally relinquished power and this led to the establishment of a multi-party democracy in Albania.

More on Albania

After years of isolation, Albania is working towards closer integration with the EU, and hope to be invited to join NATO in 2008. Travellers to Albania can expect a country that is pristine, or rather locked in time. Most visitors come to Albania to enjoy its coastal resort, though some venture further inland.

There is only one international airport in Albania, and it’s located in the capital of Tirana.

Fast Facts about Albania

Official Name: Republic of Albania
Capital: Tirana (353,000)
Population of Albania: 3,079,000
Currency: Lek
Languages spoken: Albanian (official), Greek
Religions: Islam, Albanian Orthodox, Roman Catholic
Size: 27,400 sq km (10,579 sq miles)

When to visit Albania

Albania is best visited in late spring or early autumn, when it is neither too hot. September is the best month to visit Albania, when fruits are in season, and the coastal resorts are less crowded than say July or August.

Climate
It is hottest in July (31 deg C) and coldest in January (6.7 deg C). The driest months are July and August while the wettest are November and December. Annual rainfall is 47 inches.

Getting into Albania

The only international airport for Albania is the Tirana International Airport (TIA). This airport, renamed Nena Teresa in 2001 after the late Mother Teresa, has a new terminal opened in 2007. The airport has connections to Ancona, Athens, Bari, Bologna (Forli), Brussels, Budapest, Cologne/Bonn, Florence, Frankfurt, Genoa, Istanbul (Ataturk, Sabiha Gokcen), Ljubljana, London (Gatwick, Stansted), Milan (Malpensa, Orio), Munich, Naples, Palma, Perugia, Pescara, Pisa, Pristina, Rimini, Rome (Fiumicino), Sofia, Trieste, Turin, Venice (Treviso) and Verona. You need to pay a 10 euro entry/exit fee – make sure you have 10 euro with you as change is not available.

Tirana is 25km from the airport. Taxi is the most effective form of transport. It costs 2,500 Lek (app. 20 euro) and takes 30-45 minutes, depending on traffic. Buses are also available, hourly round the clock, between the airport and the National Museum, at the centre of town, for only 200 Lek one way.

Getting Around in Albania

Hekurudha Shqiptare is the train operator in Albania. You can get more details of train schedules at www.hsh.com.al.

Major Cities and Towns of Albania

1. Tirana
Capital and biggest city in Albania.

2. Durre”s
The second largest city in Albania is also the most ancient and economically important.

3. Korc,e”
City in southeastern Albania, also the capitel of Korc,e” District.

4. Elbasan
City in central Albania, located on the Shkumbin River.

5. Shkodra
City on Lake Skadar in northwestern Albania.

6. Gjirokaste”r
Described as the City of Stone, Gjirokaste”r is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

7. Berat
Described as the City of A Thousanhd and One Windows, Berat is also inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

8. Vlore”
The second largest port city and developing beach destination in Albania.

9. Kuke”s
A town in the mountains of northern Albania.

10. Kruje”
Hometown of Albania’s national hero Skanderbeg, Kruje” is a picturesque mountainous town which is becoming a tourist attraction..

11. Pogradec
City in southeastern Albania, famous for having produced many Albanian writers and poets.

12. Sarande”
City near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint, popular as a honeymoon destination in Albania.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Albania

1. Butrint
2. Historic_Centres_of_Berat_and_Gjirokastra

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