Local traditions and culture in Albania

  • Local Customs
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  • Local Customs
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  • Local Customs
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Most Viewed Local Customs in Albania

  • No Problems at the border

    by Tobias_Plieninger Written Dec 4, 2005

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    If you want to travel to Albania the border will be no prolem at all.

    If you come by car you have to pay a road tax 1.- ? for one day.

    Alle foreigners have to pay an immigration fee of 10,- ? -> take single 10 ? note with you!

    After passing through the immegration you pass through the toll.

    If you come by car you need to show your card id and your green card.

    Than you will get a receipt for taking in your car and a notice in your passport.

    That means that you have to travel out with your car.

    The border procedure will take some time. So be patient.

    Don't be angry if Albanians will forwarded before you thats usual.

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    A portrait to help you understand

    by Marymarypod Written Nov 7, 2005

    I spotted this grandma walking through a dusty traffic jam on the outskirts of Tirana. The picture doesn't show it well, but she is talking on her cell phone and gesturing. To me, this portrait shows a lot about how Albania, isolated for half a century and now merging with the rest of the world, blends the old and the new ways of life...

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    Money Exchange

    by AndreSTGT Updated Oct 25, 2005

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    Albania might be the only remaining European country with a currency black market. The rates you get from the people in the street are better than those at the bank. The practice of changing money in the street seems to be semi-legal and it's done quite openly. The people in this business seemed to be quite honest but use common sense and don't try to change money at night or in front of a police station. Euros and Dollars are the only accepted currencies.

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    What else?

    by frockland Written Oct 5, 2005

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    Shaking heads: Like in Bulgaria Albanians shake their heads when they agree or say yes. It also happened to me when people realized that I was not aware about this that they switched over to the other head signs were shaking means “no”. This is even more confusing!

    Smoking: Are there non-smokers in Albania? I can´t remember that I have ever seen so many smokers in a country. Nevertheless smoking on public transport is forbidden!

    Domino seems to be favourite game. If you know how to play and feel like socialising, this your chance…

    Marriage: the day to get married is on Sundays. Many convoys were cruising through the streets of Tirana blowing their horns constantly!

    Locals enjoying Domino
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    get an albanain tatoo

    by cachaseiro Written Dec 23, 2004

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    i liked albania so much that i decided to get a tatoo while i was there.
    i ended up getting the double headed albanian eagle tatooed on my back.
    the guy who did it was very good.
    he's an artist that does tatoos aswell as paintings and the place was very clean.
    unlike most tatoo guys he was well spoken and really nice.
    not the criminal biker type who normally do tatoos in the western world.
    all together a very cool experience and i can only recommend the guy highly.
    the tatoo place is located in a small side street to a big road called suleyman delvina, right next to the post office.

    nice tatoo place.
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    The nodding of the head

    by Rushi23 Written Aug 24, 2004

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    One thing that is very confusing in Albania, is the nodding of the head. If you want to say say yes you shake your head side to side, if you want to say no then you nod your head in agreement. It's opposite to what we do in most other countries, so it gets very confusing, there was often times when I asked someone a question, especially if I asked could I use the bathroom, and they would shake ther head, I'd get really upset wondering why they wouldn't let me. The only way I remembered was if they said po or Jo which is yes or no.

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    yes, no and other trivialities

    by Firstlady Written Jan 2, 2004

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    Yes in Albania is much like the gentle lilting of Indian peoples from side to side.

    No is a sharp tut accompanied by a serious expression on the face.

    Shaking hands and kissing are approved forms of greeting.

    Blowing your nose in public is frowned upon, as is farting and burping!

    Generosity is the key. Kindness is rewarded with kindness.

    To decline an offer of generosity is an insult.

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    Skenderbeg Whisky

    by AndreSTGT Updated Jun 24, 2003

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    We were first introduced to this delicious, vanilla-flavored liquor by an ethnic Albanian waiter in Skopje , Macedonia. When we came to Albania, we couldn't resist buying some bottles to take home. Don't miss this national drink when you're in Albania, it's tasty and inexpensive.

    Caf�� in Durres
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  • The big one is that handshakes...

    by MrSpykie Written Aug 26, 2002

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    The big one is that handshakes especially between men should be strong and firm, and the hand held out level. Albania is a macho society so Albanian men will expect other men to be the same.

    Also it is polite to take your shoes of when visting someones house.

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    Crowds of Staring People

    by nmercury64 Written Aug 25, 2002

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    In Albania, don't be surprised to see large groups of men hanging out on street corners staring at you. Whereas in North America this might be taken as a sign of you being targeted in an impending riot, in Albania it means nothing. Albanian men seem to enjoy socializing in large groups outdoors and the sight of a tourist seems to provide nothing more than a simple diversion from the usual scenery.

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    Drinking Raki

    by nmercury64 Written Aug 25, 2002

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    If you want to make some instant friends in Albania, ask if you can try some of the local Albanian raki! Whenever I did this, smiles would usually break out all over. Everyone seems to brew their own and is usually very happy to share some with you. Don't expect it to be poured out of a store bought liquor bottle! Warning - the Albanian raki can be extremely potent! - much more so than straight vodka or gin, with a taste similar to Greek Metaxa. Anytime seems to be a good time for a drink in Albania so don't be concerned about asking for one at 9:00 a.m. on a rainy cold day as I did (and don't be surprised when they buy you a round afterwords)!

    Bread Delivery Southern Albania

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    The Albanian afternoon siesta...

    by nmercury64 Written Aug 25, 2002

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    The Albanian afternoon siesta (at least in Sarande) is quite long...lasting until about 5 or 6 in the afternoon with almost everything closed except for hotels and small snack places. If you happen to be on a package day trip from Corfu to Butrint, Albania do not expect to be able to buy anything 'Albanian' other than the odd postcard and t-shirt from the few ladies that hang out around the buses. Instead, use the 3 or so hours after lunch (and before the ferry leaves to go back to Corfu) to take a quick trip out into the Albanian countryside to see the Blue Eye Spring 'Syrin e Kalter' in Albanian (see writeup under 'Absolute Must See'), or to go to the fort at the top of the mountain just south of Sarande. The view from the fort of Sarande and the Albanian coastline is spectacular to say the least.

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    DID YOU KNOW THAT...-the...

    by Angjel Written Aug 25, 2002

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    DID YOU KNOW THAT...-the Albanian language, as one of the original 9 Indo-European languages, is one of Europe's oldest languages and is not derived from any other language. The other 8 Indo-European languages are Armenian, Balto-Slavic, Germanic, Hellenic, Indian, Iranian, Italic, and Keltic!
    - in 2000 BC, the Illyrians, from whom the Albanians are the direct descendents, held vast territories covering all of the western Balkans, approximately the territories of today's Albania , northern Greece, and former Yugoslavia!

    -the name 'Albania' is derived from the ancient Illyrian tribe called the Albanoi who inhabited the provinces of Durres and Dibra in today's Albania in 200 AD! -the earliest known king of the Illyrians was named 'Hyllus' who died in 1225 BC. His name remains in the Albanian language today as 'yll' meaning 'star.' -the emperors that Albania contributed to the Roman Empire were Diocletian, Julian, Probus, Claudius Probus, Constantine the Great, and one of its most famous emperors, Justinian the First!

    -the Byzantine Emperor, Anastasius (491-518 AD), was an Albanian who was a native of Durres on the Albanian coast!

    -the Grand Viziers who ruled the Ottoman Empire during the entire 17th century were all Albanians and came from just one family named Koprulu! Indeed, some 26 Grand Viziers or Prime Ministers of Albanian blood directed the affairs of the Ottoman Empire since the 1500s! -the Governors of Romania throughout the entire 19th century came from one Albanian family named Gjika! -Pope Clement VII of Rome (his reign: 1700-1721) was an Albanian as were numerous cardinals! -the chief builder of the incomparable Taj Mahal in India was an Albanian, Mehmet Isa! And that another Albanian, Sadefqar Mehmeti, is the architect credited with the design of the famous Blue Mosque in Istanbul! -Pashko Vaso, an ardent Albanian nationalist in Albania's drive to independence from the Turks in 1878, was once the Governor of Lebanon!
    -Karl Von Ghega, the builder of the famous Semmering railway in Austria that became the model for all of Europe was an Albanian (his last name, of course, stems from the Albanian word 'Gheg' signifying someone from the northern part of Albania. People of the southern part are called 'Tosks')!
    -Sir William Woodthorpe Tarn, a Fellow of the British Academy, regarded worldwide by historians as having written the definitive work on Alexander the Great, states in the opening paragraph of his book Alexander the Great that Alexander certainly had from his father (Philip II) and probably from his mother (Olymbia) Illyrian, or Albanian, blood!
    -the Albanians protected their own Jews during the Holocaust while also offering shelter to other Jews who had escaped into Albania from Austria, Serbia and Greece! And that the names of Muslim and Christian Albanian rescuers of Jews are commemorated as Righteous Among the Nations at the Yad Vashem Memorial in Jerusalem and are enscribed on the famous Rescuers Wall at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC! -the world's only living saint is an Albanian - Mother Theresa. Her real name is Agnes Bojaxhiu. 'Bojaxhi' in the Albanian language means 'painter!'
    Albania has a reputation as a land of great natural beauty and romantic remoteness. These two characteristics have made it all the more attractive, mysterious, forbidding, challenging, or exasperating to outsiders, be they travelers, scholars, diplomats, or merchants. For example, in a work he published in 1913, the Croatian scholar Milan von Sufflay called Albania regio mirabilissima, 'a most singular country' or 'a most marvelous country' (1). Others have referred to it as the 'Switzerland of the Balkans' or as the 'rock garden of southeastern Europe.' On the other hand, the country's uncommon isolation from the world, arising generally from its rugged, mountainous terrain, has led foreigners to speak of it as 'the Tibet of Europe' or as a country more mysterious than central Africa. It is an attitude that has had currency for centuries. We find it, for instance, in the writings of Edward Gibbon, the great eighteenth-century British historian. Speaking of Albania, Gibbon said that it is 'a country within sight of Italy, which is less known than the interior of America.' (2) The remoteness and isolation of the country became practically legendary and all too frequently gave rise to reports and descriptions of the land and of the people - even in books and encyclopedias - that were closer to legends than to reality. Perhaps because of its romantic remoteness and other reasons, Albania has exerted a continuous fascination on artists, including poets, playwrights, composers, and more recently film makers and producers of television programs. Shakespeare set his comedy Twelfth Night in Illyria - the name by which Albania was known in former times. Lord Byron, who visited southern Albania in 1810, wrote some stirring lines about her landscape in his poem Childe Harold.
    Morn dawns: and with it stern Albania's hills...
    Robed half in mist, bedewed with snowy rills.
    In Mozart's comic opera Cosi fan tutte the principal male characters, Ferrando and Guglielmo, appear for the most part as two 'Albanian noblemen' in clever scheme to test the love of their fianc?es. [The women fail the test when they succumb the charms of the Albanians but succeed nevertheless in winning back the love of their men.]


    Supë qengji me majdanoz / Lamb soup with parsley
    Supë me mish viçi / Veal soup

    Sallatë e përzier / Mixed salad
    Sallatë me speca të mbushur / Salad with filled peppers
    Tarator me kos / Tarator with yogurt

    Main Course
    Qebap qengji / Lamb kebab
    Musaka me patate / Musaka with patatoes
    Troftë e zier / Boiled trout
    Fasule / Boiled beans
    Patë e egër e pjekur / Roasted wild duck
    Pulë e pjekur me oriz / Roasted chicken with rice

    Gjevrek me susam / Cracknel with sesame


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    Polyphony is a southern...

    by vicky_cannae Written Aug 24, 2002

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    Polyphony is a southern Albanian tradition dating back to ancient Illyrian times, involving blending several independent vocal or instrumental parts. The songs usually have epic lyrical or historical themes, and may be slow and sombre with beautiful harmonies or include yodelling when it really starts whooping up. There is little Albanian cinema, but the most notable recent film is Lamerica, a stark portrayal of post-communist Albanian life. Before written Albanian was standardised in 1909, there was very little literature. Fan Noli, who died in 1965, was the giant of 20th century Albanian literature. Many of his own works were based on religious themes, but the introductions he wrote to his translations of Cervantes, Shakespeare, Ibsen and Omar Khayyám established him as the country's foremost literary critic. Albania's best known contemporary writer is Ismail Kadare, who fled the country's police state in 1990. His work has been translated into 40 languages.

    Albanian (Shqipja) is an Indo-European language with many Latin, Slavonic and modern Greek words. It has two main forms, Tosk and Gheg, which diverged about 1000 years ago. In 1972 the Congress of Orthography established a unified written language, which is now universally accepted for both languages. Italian is useful for travel in Albania; many Albanians learned it before 1943, but others have picked it up by watching Italian TV stations or through recent trips to Italy.

    Traditionally, Albania has been 70% Sunni Muslim, 10% Roman Catholic (mostly in the north) and 20% Albanian Orthodox, making it the only European country to have a Muslim majority. From 1967 to 1990 it was also the only officially atheist state in the world, and many churches were converted into cinemas and theatres. The spiritual vacuum left after the fall of communism has in part been filled by US evangelists, but new churches and mosques are springing up all over the country.

    Albanian food has been strongly influenced by Turkish food. Grilled meats like shishqebap (shish kebab), romsteak (minced meat patties) and qofte (meat balls) are common dishes. Popular local dishes are çonlek (meat and onion stew), fërges (a rich beef stew), rosto me salcë kosi (roast beef with sour cream) and tave kosi (mutton with yoghurt). Lunch is the main meal, although eating out in the evening in Tirana is increasingly common. Ice cream (akullore) is very popular, and the coffee is either kafe turke and strong enough to walk over to your table by itself, or kafe ekspres (espresso). The white wine is usually better than the vinegary red, and other local drops are raki (brandy), konjak (cognac), uzo (an aniseed flavoured liqueur like Greek ouzo) and various fruit liqueurs. If you're taken to a bar, always offer to pay. Your Albanian host will rarely let you, but your gesture gains your host 'face' in front of others.

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Albania Hotels

See all 88 Hotels in Albania
  • Sheraton Tirana Hotel and Towers

    Having spent approximately 5 months in the Sheraton-Tirana, I know the "ins" and the "outs" of the...

  • Hotel Berati

    Rr. Veli Zaloshnja, Berati Lakes, Berat, 1233, Albania

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 2 out of 5 stars

  • Grand Hotel Europa

    Sheshi 2 Prilli, Shkoder, 1233, Albania

    Satisfaction: Average

    Good for: Business

    Hotel Class 5 out of 5 stars

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