Safety and security
Public security is generally good, particularly in Tirana, and Albanians are very hospitable to visitors. Crime and violence does occur in some areas, but reports of crime specifically targeting foreigners are rare. There have been occasional shootings and small explosions, but these appear to be related to internal disputes over criminal, business or political interests.
In December 2009 Albania officially declared it had met its ‘Ottawa Convention Article 5’ obligations and had reached mine-free status. However, when visiting hill towns on the northern border with Kosovo you should take care, particularly if hiking and follow the signs warning about unexploded landmines and other unexploded ordnance. Demining is ongoing on the Kosovo side.
Driving can be very hazardous. Roads are poor, especially in rural areas. Street lighting in urban areas is subject to power cuts. Elsewhere, even on the major inter-urban arterial routes, there is no street lighting. If you are travelling at night, watch out for unmarked road works, potholes and unlit vehicles. Four-wheel drive vehicles are often more practical on rural and minor roads.
Albanian driving can often be aggressive and erratic. Deaths from road traffic accidents are amongst the highest in Europe. Police have taken some measures to decrease the number of accidents. Minor traffic disputes can quickly escalate, especially as some motorists could be armed. Avoid reacting to provocative behaviour by other road users. If you are involved in a traffic accident, even a minor one, you are supposed to wait until the police arrive. This will usually happen quickly in built-up areas.
If you are intending to import a vehicle into Albania, make sure you have all the necessary papers on arrival at the border. Consult the Albanian Embassy in London before you leave. The British Embassy will be unable to help anyone attempting to bring a vehicle into Albania without the correct paperwork.
An International Driving Permit (IDP) is recommended.
The FCO can’t offer advice on the safety of individual airlines. However, the International Air Transport Association publishes a list of registered airlines that have been audited and found to meet a number of operational safety standards and recommended practices. This list is not exhaustive and the absence of an airline from this list does not necessarily mean that it is unsafe.
A list of incidents and accidents can be found on the website of the Aviation Safety network.
In 2014 the International Civil Aviation Organisation carried out an audit of the level of implementation of the critical elements of safely oversight in Albania.
There are some local press reports that jet skis and boats being rented along the coasts may lack adequate safety precautions and equipment.
The Albanian National Environment Agency reported in 2016 that 83% of beaches in Albania are of a very good or good standard but the report raised concerns over a small number of beaches including beaches in Durres, Vlore and Saranda which are polluted as a result of inadequate sewage disposal and treatment.
The two main opposition parties held a major demonstration in central Tirana on 27 January 2018. On 31 March a demonstration on the highway to Kukes turned violent and led to injuries amongst protestors and police. Further large-scale protests are possible. Opposition parties have announced that they will hold a major anti-government protest in central Tirana on 26 May. You should check the local media for the latest information, remain vigilant and avoid any demonstrations.
Tension between religious groups and expression of extremist views is very rare, and attitudes to western countries are overwhelmingly positive.