Culture and Etiquette in Albania

Albanians tend to go out of their way to welcome foreign guests – partly because of the low number of visitors – and generally do a fine job of eroding popular misconceptions.

Religious practice was largely stamped out following the 1967 Cultural Revolution, meaning that although seventy percent of the population is Muslim, the majority are non-practising; the same can be said of the Christian remainder.

One cultural nicety is that the body language used to imply “yes” and “no” is the diametric opposite of what you may be used to – a shake of the head (actually more of a wobble) means “yes”, and a nod (actually more of a tilt) means “no”. Younger folk and those used to foreigners may well follow international norms, which adds to the confusion.

Tipping at restaurants is generally an exercise in rounding up to the nearest lekë note, but with bigger bills ten percent is the norm. Smoking has been officially prohibited in public places since 2007, though the police are too busy smoking to fine anybody, and you’ll still see ashtrays on every restaurant table.

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