Money and exchange rates, the Albanian currency
The currency in Albania is the Lek. The smallest unit is 1 Lek and there are no cents. In the summer of 2014 the exchange rate was as follows:
- 1 lek = 0,008 € / 0,009 CHF.
- 1 € = 125 lek
- 1 CHF = 110 lek
If your trip includes a stopover in Kosovo, the currency is the euro. In Macedonia, the national currency is the denar (MKD). In the summer of 2014 the exchange rate was as follows:
- 1 MKD = 0,016 €
- 1 € = 62 MKD
- 1 CHF = 55 MKD
Albanian, Kosovar and Macedonian exchange offices do not convert each other currency. You won’t be able to convert lek or denar in other countries rather than Albania or Macedonia.
You cannot pay by credit card in every store or restaurant in Albania, so it’s better to have a small amount of cash in Lek with you so you can pay in small shops. There are also ATMs everywhere in big cities.
Do not be surprised if the price climbs a zero ! The great majority of Albanians still speak in old lek. If the seller asks for 2000 lek generally he is asking for the banknote of 200.
- French Embassy in Albania :
Adress : Rruga Skënderbej, 14 - AL - 1000 TIRANA / Tel. +355 4 238 9700
In case of emergency : +355 68 90 42 895
- Albanian Embassy in France :
57, Avenue Marceau 75116 Paris / Tel. +33 1 47233100
No particular vaccine required. It’s your own responsibility to be updated on basic vaccines.
No need for a converter, the current flows in 220V as in France.
- France / Albania : 00.355. remove (0), and your phone number
- Albania / France : 00.33, remove (0) and your phone number
You will easily find an Internet connection in your hotels or bars in most major cities. However wireless connections are not always strong and sometimes it’s needed a strategic position to connect. To use a computer, you will also easily find Internet cafes.
No time difference between Albania and France!
Shops and opening hours
Everything is open from 8-9 am, food shops are generally open until 10 pm in the city, while others close earlier, maximum 8 pm.
To buy something
You do not see the price tags on what you want to buy? This doesn’t mean that there is going to be a different price for different costumers. You should not forget the 500 years of Ottoman invasion of Albania. So you can easily notice some practices of East in terms of negotiating for the price. It’s not difficult to discuss for the price. Also remember that Albanians are correct in terms of money, so you don’t have to be suspicious when they are giving you the change.
Safety rules in Albania are not different from those anywhere else : it is not good to leave valuable things in your hotel room, where they are easily noticed, pay attention to your wallet when it’s in the back pocket of you pants. Otherwise, there is no need to worry.
Albania respects both Christian and Muslim religions so there are quite a lot religious holidays in Albania. Anyway you don’t need to worry. Only the closing days of the museums may impact your holidays. Museums usually are closed on Mondays. In each case we will offer you another choice.
Tourism and lifestyle
Do not be surprised if someone tries insistently to sell you a good or service. This is quite usual in Albania, so you don’t have why to consider their insistence as a bad intention.
Regarding begging, it is quite present in large cities and can sometimes be insistent. Again, do not lose patience and make the choice to say no or ignore respectfully.
- An expresso : 70 lek (0,5 €), tip : 10 lek
- A full meal at the restaurant for 2 persons, drinks included : 2500 / 3500 Lek (20 – 30 €), tip : 200-300 lek.
What do I have to put in my suitcase ?
It depends on what you plan to do. Here is a list of items you would probably need during your trip:
- Hiking? Good hiking boots are needed. The hiking trails are marked but not always maintained and Albania is mountainous, the roads can be strewn with small pebbles rocks. You may need long pants if you decide to do trekking in the South, because these areas are inhabited by snakes or scorpions.
- A flashlight. The entire country has access to electricity, even in remote areas, but the power cuts, though infrequent can happen. Sun lotion and a hat to protect from the sun, especially in high altitudes.
- First aid kit for minor injuries and in some regions you may also need a lotion against mosquito bites. There isn’t any particular disease in Albania that you should be afraid of. In case you didn’t bring any specific medicine with you, you can buy it in the drug stores in Albania, since they have almost the same medicines as the European countries. The quality is also the same.
- A French/Albanian pocket phrasebook, you can find it for less than 10 euros.