Albanians tend to go out of their way to welcome foreign guests – partly due to 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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Albania features

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7 things you didn't know you could do in Albania

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Albania often doesn’t get the kudos it deserves. The country still suffers from the echoes of its Communist past: few people travelled in or out for decades d…

26 Oct 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
An Instagram journey through Albania: 11 beautiful pictures

An Instagram journey through Albania: 11 beautiful pictures

During two weeks researching in Albania for the Rough Guide to Europe on a Budget, Web Editor Lottie Gross took over our Instagram account to document her trav…

16 May 2016 • Lottie Gross insert_drive_file Article
10 reasons why you need to visit Tirana

10 reasons why you need to visit Tirana

Albania’s capital used to regularly top lists for Europe's worst city. Decades of Stalinist rule left Tirana grey and grim, lacking in both infrastructure and…

27 May 2015 • Garth Cartwright insert_drive_file Article
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