"And you're not afraid there?!?"
By far the most frequent question we get about Albania.
The second most common is - "Isn't it expensive there?" (it isn't, which you will find out in our article What are the prices in Albania?)
The answer to the first question is very simple - no, we are not afraid there.
We have traveled all over Albania and have never been in a situation where we were afraid. We have been traveling to Albania with children since 2015 and have not had a single negative experience.
Even statistically, Albania belongs to safe countries. For example, in 2020 it recorded only 3.7 thefts per 100,000 inhabitants. For comparison, in the Czech Republic it is 11.7 and the EU average is 40.8 cases of theft per 100,000 inhabitants (figures from 2020).
Why does Albania have such a negative reputation?
This is partly due to the 1990s, when there were many active mafia groups from the Balkans in the Czech Republic. Among them the Albanian mafia. Fortunately, those days are long gone.
So why, even 20 years after the headlines mentioning the Albanian mafia, do we still feel that Albania is dangerous?
In my opinion, it is because Albania is still a rather unknown country for us, which is mostly written about only when something is happening there.
Two significantly negative events have occurred in Albania in recent years - in 2001, 3 Czech tourists went missing in the mountains in the north, and in 2015, a psychopath shot a Czech couple, again in the north of Albania.
The second case in particular had a strong response in Albanian society. People brought candles to the Czech embassy in Tirana, and there were reverent meetings. You can find more in this article.
These two cases confirmed to many people that Albania is a dangerous country. The experiences of thousands of tourists who have returned safe and enthusiastic about Albanian hospitality are of course not so interesting for the media, so you usually don't hear about them in the media at all.
By the way, most Albanians remember the case of the Czech couple mentioned above, and if you mention it, they will apologize for this crime. After seven years and for a crime they have nothing to do with personally. In their eyes, there was a violation of hospitality, one of the highest values that Albanians profess.
Areas and situations where it is appropriate to think more about security
As in any country, of course there are areas in Albania where you need to think about security more than in the rest of the country.
In Albania, these are mainly:
- The mountains in the north that form the border with Montenegro and Kosovo. There are active smuggling groups in these mountains and I would not recommend traveling by car or on foot in these areas, especially at night. By the way, it is very likely that one of these groups got in the way of the mentioned trio of Czechs who disappeared in 2001.
- Suburbs of larger cities, just like everywhere in the world. Before you set out to discover the evening atmosphere of the suburbs of Tirana, you'd better ask at the hotel reception where it is safe.
In general, I do not recommend traveling at night in mountainous areas. Mainly because the roads in the mountains tend to be broken and what you can see in the light, you can easily miss in the dark. Such prickly rubber at night in the mountains is not exactly a pleasant event. And what about a punctured oil pan or radiator...
It's simply better to drive with lights in the mountains.
Who is ready is not surprised
If you are going to Albania and don't want to underestimate anything, contact us. We will be happy to plan your vacation so that you feel safe. You can find more in our section of tours to Albania.