Albania - Facts

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  • Albania (known as Shqiperia in Albanian) is situated in the western part of the Balkan Peninsula in southeastern Europe on the Adriatic Sea. It shares borders with Montenegro and Kosovo to the north and northeast, Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south. Tirana is the capital and largest city of Albania.
  • After World War II, Albania became a Stalinist state under Enver Hoxha, and remained staunchly isolationist until its transition to democracy after 1990. The 1992 elections ended 47 years of communist rule, but the latter half of the decade saw a quick turnover of presidents and prime ministers. Many Albanians left the country in search of work
  • Albania has now opened its doors to foreign tourists and the number of visiting cruising yachts is steadily increasing. Whilst the welcome may be warm, visiting yachts can still be treated with some suspicion by officials.
  • The population is approximately 3.2 million inhabitants.
  • The official language is Albanian, recognized for its two distinct dialects, “Gheg” and “Tosk”. The Shkumbin River, which divides the country into two almost equal parts, is the natural border of these two dialects. Gheg is spoken in the north, while Tosk is spoken in the south.
  • The monetary unit of the Republic of Albania is the “Lek”.
  • In Albania, the standard time is Central European Time (CET; UTC+01:00).
  • Albania has a Mediterranean climate with each season offering distinct, yet pleasant weather. Some features of the climate vary by region. On average, Albanians enjoy a great deal of sunshine, second only to Spain (in Europe) in average annual sunny days.
  • The main ports of entry, Durres, Vlore and Saranda (Sarandë) are all commercial ports with few or no facilities for visiting yachts. There is a new, basic marina at Orikum, near Vlore, a marina under constructions in Vlore port and a marina planned for Durres.
  • Albania doesn’t have a huge coastline – 155NMs – and it is exposed to any south or west winds, so cruisers should keep an eye on wind and swell conditions.
  • In southern Albania, apart from the marina in Vlore, there are only poorly protected anchorages. During the Summer these are popular with day-tripper party boats.
  • Cruising along the coast offers possibilities, although permission to do so must be obtained when clearing in. One of the main attractions inland is the remarkably well preserved Greek and Roman ruins at Butrint, which is best reached from Saranda. The capital Tirana is 38.6 kms (24 miles) inland from the port of Durres.

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Albania was last updated 3 months ago.

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  1. November 8, 2023 at 9:30 AM
    Robin Oakley says:

    I am British and thought I could get a temporary residency visa to stay the winter (in my yacht). However, they made it so we applied online (it took ages to do), getting an Albanian bank account, paying for police checks and the failed application. As it wasn’t possible they just ignored it but we had to hire an expensive local attorney to find that out.
    Visiting Albanian you get 90 days out of 180. It doesn’t seem self sufficient travellers/tourists can extend this. I have not met anyone who has managed to liveaboard through the winter.

    Visas only seem available for workers, or retired folks who have to pay their pension into an Albanian bank.

    I am staying at Orikum Marina, it has just showers/toilets; free WiFi, water and electric. Nothing else, despite what their website claims. NO crane, NO fuel (but it is planned), NO shop, NO chandlery, NO services, NO onsite customs clearance (agent has to come from Vlore).

    Apart from this marina south Albania consists of poorly protected anchorages. In season these are disturbed by trip boats with really loud sound systems blaring. There are discos at many anchorages too.The music does seem to stop around midnight, after the fireworks.

  2. July 23, 2023 at 7:54 AM
    Paul Griff says:

    Hello, I thought it important to share a very recent experience that anyone visiting Albania should be aware of. We are traveling on a USA flagged catamaran. While in Himare, ALBANIA I was detained by police for an imaginary infraction with zero evidence. I spent seven hours in the police station and was told they would be confiscating our boat. Fortunately a friend of a friend with considerable political power intervened and I was released.

    Once I arrived in Greece a former Greek and NATO military officer explained to me that this is shockingly common in Albania, particularly for US flagged boats. He says the usual pattern in that they put the captain in jail for two or three nights then demand €20k to make the problem go away.

    Be careful in ALBANIA and I’d highly recommend staying away from Himare, which is a shame because it’s a great little town. To close on a positive note, the corruption really is a shame because we found the Albanian people and the coastline to be fantastic.

  3. August 4, 2021 at 12:28 PM
    oceanmaestro says:

    Sailed to Saranda which has a really excellent disco scene and a large bay to anchor in, we used Jelja is the agent, +355 69 485 9383
    Email: [email protected] very efficient, knowledgeable, helpful and all at a good price. Diesel is available in Saranda. We visited some lovely restaurants and the bakers here are excellent. Credit cards, bank cards are very rarely accepted anywhere. Minibuses to Tirana are available next to the ruins of the synagogue in the centre of town
    They do not stamp your passport in Albania !

  4. October 30, 2018 at 6:36 AM
    Lynda Lim says:

    On Sunday the 28th I left Corfu to check into Albania while transiting to Montenegro. Given various heavy weather systems around I was keen to be able to anchor on the cost of Albania. I had tried to contact but it seems they only work Monday to Friday so took a chance and turned up at Saranda. As I came alongside on the dock an agent was there to greet me. The Harbour Master had seen the AIS and rung an agent to help us. I confirmed the cost and was pleasantly surprised at 40 euros. Effectively you have to check into the port and country but also check out the port. 20 euros to check in and 20 euros to check out of the port. You can then Anchor along the coast but if you wish to go on land you need to check into the local port before doing so. The agent who was very good in Saranda was Jelja Serani +355 694 859 383 [email protected]

  5. September 6, 2018 at 7:06 AM
    Data Entry2 says:

    Seems like it’s not possible to haul out at all in Albania..? Send a request to Orikum Marina ( the one and only) for wintering on the hard for my 35ft Colin Archer, but they have no such possibilities. They send me an offer 390Euro per month in water. Staying in Greece 😉

  6. May 30, 2018 at 8:11 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    I just can confirm; is a very good agency. We arrived in Durrës in the afternoon and Florian was waiting there. He helped us with everything. The Harbour feeling is just great and unique…

    Also, the arrival around 18:00 in Orikum was without problem. Albania is really worth to go for a stop even with little kids on board.

  7. May 11, 2018 at 4:17 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    Visited Durres and Sarandë, used and received fabulous service. We arrive Durres late evening and our agent Florian was right there to assist us. Even the Port Captain gave us a warm welcome on VHF when calling in. Moorage is at the commercial port, so expect freighters loading around you.

    Florian recommended a day trip by bus to Tiranë which we thoroughly enjoyed. In Sarandë, arrived at a very warm welcome and again had an excellent agent in Romina. She recommended a traditional Albanian dinner/show at a local castle as well as another day trip by local bus to Butrint – not to miss.

    Agent fees, 1 weeks moorage, and all permits cost 200 EUR for a 14m sailboat. 777 cruising guide has lots of detail and gives Albania consideration if travelling in the area.

  8. April 2, 2018 at 8:54 AM
    Data Entry2 says:

    Hi Greg, it’s a well-traversed passage between Corfu and Albania and authorities are very tolerant if you stray inside the 12-mile limit.

    You may be approached by an Italian coastguard vessel when nearing the coast, as they patrol this area of the sea. If close to Albanian territorial waters, Channel 11 should be monitored as it is the working channel used by the Albanian Coast Guard.

    We have had reports from cruisers who have had to anchor overnight (for various reasons) in bays in Albania on that passage, and other than having their papers checked by the authorities, were left alone as long as they didn’t go ashore (of course experiences vary and others have been made to check in at the closest port of entry).

    Get familiar with the entry procedures for Albania here on noonsite before doing the passage should you need to stop for any reason. Most ports require you use an agent to do your homework in advance and you shouldn’t have any problems.

  9. March 14, 2018 at 2:27 AM
    Data Entry2 says:

    we are sailing past Albania from Montenegro to Corfu. Are there any issues sailing inside the 12nm limit when approaching the south of Albania with no intention of stopping? Cheers

  10. July 1, 2016 at 4:22 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    We spent few days in Saranda, well sheltered…as long as the Wind is not South. We rented a car and visited the country, beautiful!

    Saranda Tour (Jelja and husband Gasmend were very helpful and nice, they even brought a cake to the boat !)

    As you need an agent when getting in a port in Albania, I recommend them!

  11. May 23, 2016 at 2:57 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    We just left Saranda, and have only the highest praise for Jelja of Saranda Summer Tours. Formalities were handled quickly and flawlessly. We rented a car from them and valued Jelja’s and her husband’s advice on travel and restaurants. People in Saranda were friendly, the town is clean, pleasant and seemed very safe.

    The only negative thing was the surge in the harbour, mainly a problem because we were alongside a sharp-cornered concrete dock. I would advise checking in while docked and then anchoring in the harbour. The surge wouldn’t be an issue at anchor, but it was unpleasant next to a rough concrete dock.

    All in all though, a very pleasant and economical experience.

  12. May 12, 2016 at 8:45 AM
    Data Entry2 says:

    I am a sailor from Italy. I have heard about Albania very often from my friends who had been there and I was really curious to visit it.

    So, we left Bari on 10 April 2016 and sailed to Corfu where we stayed for 2 nights. We had been there a couple of times before that’s why our visit was short.

    After that, we decided to stop in Saranda, which is the closest port to Corfu. We got contact with an agent there. Her name is Jelja Serani and she promised she would arrange everything for us. Jelja and her staff were waiting for us on the dock. They helped us to moor and prepared paperwork.

    They also gave us a map of the town marked with all the interesting sites and good traditional restaurants of the town. We were surprised when they offered us a delicious local dish on the boat.
    The next day we visited the Roman ruins and the Blue Eye.

    In the evening Jelja took us to a very nice restaurant outside the town named “Karahaxh” where we ate paidaqe. After two days we left Saranda with the best impressions and a promise to come back again.

  13. July 30, 2015 at 1:53 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    Sarande to Vlore: Port of Refuge
    Posted on behalf of Tony Olin

    Port of Palermo: We came in here in a thunderstorm on passage to Vlore. It’s an old military disused port. We dropped anchor off the old submarine Penn to the north of the port but were chased off by armed soldiers to the other side of the port where we took up a mooring buoy in 5 meters that held us overnight in up to 35 kts of wind.

    This is an ideal port of refuge along this coast, no need of an agent if you don’t go ashore, although I did the next morning and was invited for Albanian coffee by a couple of local fishermen who were glad of the visit.

  14. June 15, 2015 at 3:39 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    Albania has a custom rule regarding foreign flagged boats. Stay less than 6 months inside the country or you will have to pay customs duty, abt 22% of the value of a boat.

  15. June 15, 2015 at 3:37 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    Himare is for a time of writing no port of entry.

  16. June 14, 2015 at 9:03 AM
    Data Entry2 says:

    We visited Vlore June 2015. I contacted Sail Albania ( and rec dived an immediate response from Orion, one of the two sailors listed on the website. He met me the next day at the dock in Vlore and handled all paperwork for our US flagged yacht. He was very kind and courteous.

    We then spent the night at Marina Orikum. Again, we were met with kind service. The facilities are very nice. We had a fine dinner at a nearby seaside restaurant. We will return on any trips North in the Adriatic.

    Note that we were also contacted by Captain Irene Cop, from the same website to make sure we had been contacted and were being taken care of. Orion’s mobile is 355 69 7710739, and Captain Cop’s mobile is 355 69 7324138, and, again, the website is

  17. May 9, 2015 at 6:02 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    A very professional and helpful port agent in Saranda is Jelja Serani, from Saranda Summer Tours. She will give you all the necessary information and advice on sailing to Albania. She can also organize sightseeing tours. Find important nautical information on her website

  18. September 14, 2013 at 6:27 PM
    Data Entry2 says:

    Visited Vlores Sept 2013 direct from Greece and wasn’t allowed to go direct to Orikum. Agent Nino cost Euro55. Only stayed a couple of hours at Vlores moored alongside tug boat-boat continually beset by youths begging so didn’t feel secure to leave a boat for any length of time.
    Anchored north of Cape Porto Nuovo. Very sheltered from Southerly winds for shallow draught- 1 metre ish.

    Durres much better. Agent Beni. 00355 672082061 very helpful- cost Euro50 plus Euro 10 per night. Quay very secure but can be covered in coal dust/ grain.Harbourmaster and dock staff very helpful. Needed new rudder made EXCELLENT SERVICE from Henkel +355 665680386. (was difficult to track down any repair facility in Durres) Made new rudder wood and GRP within 48 hours for less than Euro 200.

    Was very professional from small repairs to whole boat moulding- workshop 10-minute drive from Durres on Tirana dual carriageway- difficult to find.