Strolling along the main boulevards of the cities in the evening is a particular pleasure. In some places the streets are closed to car traffic for a few hours especially for this occasion. In Korça, the bazaar, where local handicrafts are on offer, will in future also be open in the evening.
Albania has a high standard of classical music. The cultural offerings include theater, opera and concerts. The most important performance venues include the Migjeni Theater in the northern Albanian city of Shkodra, the Andon Zako Çajupi Theater and the Vangjush Mio cultural center in Korça to the southeast, as well as the Palace of Culture in the capital Tirana.
There are restaurants and bars in all major cities, but the capital Tirana has the most to offer night owls. The former residential area of Ish-Blloku, which before the turn of democracy was a cordoned-off housing estate for senior leaders such as Enver Hoxha, is now a popular nightlife district with numerous cafes, trendy bars and chic restaurants. There are also some discos in Tirana that are open late into the night. Sometimes the music is played live, especially on the weekends. Outside of Tirana, discos are less common. In the coastal towns, music and dance events take place in the larger hotels during the summer tourist season.
The local cinema company Millenium has projection houses in all major towns. Usually, Hollywood films are shown with Albanian subtitles.
The local cuisine is Balkan cuisine with a Turkish twist and borrowed vocabulary (Byrek, Qofte, Shishqebab ), but also with many different variants. The menu includes vegetables and meat, and bread is part of every meal. Well-known specialties are Fërgesë Tirane, a hot pan dish made from pieces of meat and liver with egg and tomatoes, as well as Tavë Kosi or Tavë Elbasani, mutton baked in yogurt. The Koran, a species of salmon trout from Lake Ohrid, is also popular, and Shkodra carp is also worth a try. Kukurec, Stuffed sheep intestines (particularly popular in the south) and baked mutton heads are a tribute to the guest. Tarator, a cold yogurt and cucumber soup, is refreshing in summer.
A special dessert is oshaf, a fig and sheep milk pudding from Gjirokastra. In general, Albania is an Eldorado for friends of sweet cakes, honey-soaked cakes, puddings and ice cream or (especially in the south) candied fruit, Reçel.
The usual hotel breakfast, usually not included in the room rate and to be paid separately to the waiter, is based on the continental breakfast. A rustic local breakfast such as pilaf (rice dish) or paca, a hearty soup made from offal, is not for everyone and is not offered in hotels.
Tipping is expected in restaurants and for services, and is important for local residents given the low wages and salaries. It is common to round up the invoice amount by around 10%.
Many drinks are imported, from Austrian canned beer, Macedonian wine, to imitation cola and aniseed schnapps from Greece. The good local wines have become rare. The connoisseur will particularly enjoy the raki, a clear pomace schnapps (Raki Rrushi), whereby the privately offered and (legally) self-distilled is of course the best. Mulberry schnapps (Raki Mani) has always been a rare specialty, and is only found in the area around Korça as a home-made drink. In some hotels, both Albanian brandies, Konjak Skënderbeu and the Ekstra from Korça with its special aroma, are offered. Finely ground, cooked with sugar to taste Kafe Turke (Turkish coffee) vies with the Italian Ekspres (espresso) for the public’s favor. Usually only men sit in the coffee shops.
Minimum age for consuming alcoholic beverages
In Albania you can drink alcohol from the age of 18.
The state tourist hotels are administered by Albturist (see addresses). Many newer hotels are privately owned.
Campsites on the Adriatic coast offer 4-bed caravans in summer. It is not recommended to camp freely.
Other accommodation options
Information about the Albanian Youth Hostel Association (Tel: (04) 274 234. Internet: www.ayha.org).
Best travel time
The climate is different in the individual parts of the country, a country located in Europe according to searchforpublicschools.
Coast: Typical Mediterranean climate, particularly pronounced in the western coastal lowlands: humid, mild winters and dry, warm summers.
Mountains: In the mountainous inland, continental climate: hot and dry in summer, sometimes very cold in winter. Main precipitation in winter, at higher altitudes a lot and very long snow.
The best travel time is May / June or mid-September to mid-October.