Crime and Scams in Albania - How to Avoid Them

Albania's tourism has continued to flourish since the end of communism in the early '90s. Most locals are friendly, welcoming and willing to help. Is there anything to worry about?


Photo © GettyImages/Joel Carillet

While visitors need to be aware of their surroundings at all times and be careful regarding their personal property, this is generally a country where walking around is safer than the UK or USA.

Crime in Albania

It's pretty safe to travel around Albania with most locals being hospitable and welcoming. Violent crime rarely affects travelers unlike the questionable driving habits of the locals.

With tourism increasing each year, this will help lift locals out of poverty however pickpocketing does sometimes happen (significantly less than other major European destinations such as Paris or Barcelona) so always secure your belongings and be aware of your surroundings including on public transport.

Carjacking is rare in Albania but vehicle theft is widespread, so make sure it's locked. Better still park your rental vehicle in a secure car park with attendant.

Harassment of women in the streets rarely occurs.

Border Crime

The Albania- Kosovo border in the north east of the country is considered unsafe because Albanians are a heavily-armed people (there's been a lot of cross-border nastiness over the centuries)

In general, criminals leave foreigners alone however there have been a number of reports of travelers being robbed at gunpoint by armed gangs so keep your valuables secure and out of sight.

Adding to the lawlessness of the north, there are unexploded landmines from wars and conflicts in the region. This includes the cities of Bajram Curri and Tropoje. Stick to paths and marked trails to be safe.

The US travel advisory has highlighted the southern town of Lazarat with increased risk of crime. The situation has improved there in recent years however clashes between state police and marijuana growers do occur, so may be wise to reconsider your travel there.

Credit Card Fraud

Credit card fraud is common in Albania and you should exercise caution by not letting your card out of sight when making a transaction.

Visitors need to be very careful at ATM machines. Be alert for strangers looking over their shoulders at the PIN number and also for any interference with the machine itself that could indicate a camera or scamming machine inside the ATM.

The upshot is that these scams are unlikely to happen to you, but it pays to be prepared. Albania has its petty crime but no more than a big city would elsewhere.

Scams in Albania

Bar Scams

Travelers have reported being overcharged a lot for foreign beers especially when costs for food and drink in Albania are generally low (except for some parts of the riviera and the capital).

You may be asked to buy a drink for the bar owner or waitress of which you will get charged a premium. Don't do it.

It's also worth avoiding bars and nightclubs especially those which are associated with any type of prostitution or exotic dancing, as these are the spots where a lot of Albania's gun violence occurs.

Work Experience Scams

Many students and gap year travelers like to earn money while making their way around the world and find jobs in interesting places.

Unfortunately there have been reports of some Albanian agencies not being quite what they seem and potential employees have found themselves without a placement despite parting with a hefty agency fee.

Check the bona fides of any agency as best you can. Ask them for details of past employees and contact them yourself. Legitimate agencies will be happy to hand over details.

Firearm Use in Albania

It's estimated that across Albania there are around ~100,000 tonnes of stockpiled munitions in various depots. These ad hoc magazines present a significant danger from explosion and are only slowly being controlled and dealt with appropriately. In 2008, there was a major explosion close to a motorway just outside Tirana at an ex-military depot.

Guns are widely used in Albania and there is little security or attention to storage in the average domestic home.

Nightclubs are the sort of place where a bump becomes a shove and becomes a gang fight or shoot out with little notice and it's important to be vigilant at all times.

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  • Gaz said

    Albania is safe country is tru and people are nice and trust it the only risen Albania has bad repitation and crime issues because Albania is run by gangsters like Sali Berishe and Edi Rama with his gangster behind them only 5% of Albanian are bad and the only risen they are bad is because they parents have lost the traditional Albanian thats why i will recomend to any one to go to albania is safe dont be afride you will love it

  • Gaz said

    And yes i for gate te tell you all as wellAlbania was so happy to get out from Communism thats what they thought but no din't happen Albania is still run by Communist people because Sali Berisha was Communist with diploma in that tome

  • +Xhes9* said

    Albania has a bad reputation. Face it, it really does. Look at Top Gear, for example. They had an episode where they went to Albania, looking for a suitable car for an Albanian Mafia, Drug, Weapon Smuggler Boss. Who was called Normadsky or something. Albanian? More like a Polish Guy. Or Bad Education on BBC THREE. Jack Whitehall (Or Alphie Wicker in the show) says this "I have a gun. It's a Glock. Got it off some Albanians down the pub. The sell me all sorts of Black Market s**t down there. Guns, Drugs... " when he realises he is talking to a police officer he admits he was lying about the gun but does say they gave him a Pirate Version of the movie 'The notebook'. Your'e right Gaz, it is down to the Communist rule, evryone had to make a living, crime being an easy route. And tropoja is a little harmless village, for Gods sake!

  • erd said

    wtf is wrong with u guys.. i live in albania and there is nothing like this.
    This is bullshit.. OK i admit that there are bad albanians and good albanians like everywhere else .. but in general albania has changed and become better ......... :)

  • Cepheus said

    Albanians are all dodgy wankers. Full of crims and gangsters. I would never want to get to know an Albanian.

  • Angelin said

    Ok wow... First of all I'm from Albania, I live in London and I go back there quite often. There are certain things that some Albanians would do that don't make sense to a westerner, for example:

    - stand up for a lady in public transport; whatever age (or figure ;) )
    - protect someone they just met within an inch of their lives
    - judge everyone they see and concluding that person being unfavourable or idiotic for the most part
    - try to cut corners wherever possible, including benefit fraud or tax evasion
    - they see an application form for anything as a silly formality
    - a father would risk his earnings and family support with the slightest convincing that there is an easier way (like stealing electricity)

    Now this would rage many Albanians but I must state that this kind of mentality is mainly among Albanians in rural areas where education is poor; this makes up 80% of Albania. There is a huge gap between Albanians that have educated and productive parents and those that are just plain backwards (kind of gave up there).

    In albania there is no such thing as transparent when it comes to the money handled by the government, hence many rich politicians and -until recently- hardly a road to drive on.

    Visiting Albania will go a little something like this:

    -at the airport you will have immediate attention from taxi drivers (normal if you've ever been abroad)
    -for the most part it is and seems civilised (although the taxi driver might try to squeeze a little more out of you when you've reached your destination -possibly because he thought you meant the Main Street not the side road right next to it
    - going for lunch? Service is second to none and portions are excessive so try ordering one thing at a time
    - if you're at a resort you might be charged a little more than the locals or even given a different menu with higher prices (because my friend you already gave yourself away by wearing a flowered shirt)
    - want to go clubbing? Try not to go up to a girl... At all. She could be there with her friend which might be a guy (doesn't have to be her boyfriend its still offensive to him)
    - want to go to live music bars? Now you can take off your running shoes and relax because its so western it makes the club next door look ancient.
    - buying anything from the shop will mainly consist of... Yes you've guessed it, increased prices for you so always haggle and for gods sake don't flip out your wallet full of cash cause the price just went up.
    - it is not likely that you'll ever be approached by a mugger with a gun unless you're driving in the country and you see a broken down car with a person waving for help (that car might be in better shape than yours, so leave your heart at home and keep driving)
    -Police! Now there's a gang woth mentioning. If you are driving at night and you see two officers on the side of the road waving you to stop. Keep driving cause they finished their shift long time ago, now they're on their second (unauthorised) shift, trying to fine you for not having extra light bulbs in your car.
    - did I mention the good things? In general everyone will be nice and welcoming, you will make friends quite quick and don't hesitate to ask for directions (if you're on foot and ask someone on a car you'll most likely get a free lift)
    - you'll notice a lot of stares if you end up in a town outside the touristic zones, but don't take offence they are just curious and have not much else to do
    - for the most part you'll enjoy it but don't book for too long cause you'll run out of things to do. The best thing about Albania is relaxing in the beach with a drink on your left and a cigarette on your right (if you don't smoke, start when you get there cause it's a national sport and you'll fit right in)
    - if you've ever been to South East Asian countries you would knot that the street food is amazing, well the same applies to Albania, if you see a kiosk try it out -you'll love it.

    Did you know that before 1990 most people people that left Albania were scholars that studied in universities such as Oxford and Harvard.

    I know this is about the reputation of Albanians rather than a tour guide but I thought I'd show it from a different perspective.

  • Non said

    I have met a few here who are on the face of it nice people, but boy are they clever with benefit fraud, and trying to get out of paying bills, even boasting about it whilst being good liars... It's quite tiring w

  • VQ said

    I am Shqipetar, born and raised in Shqiperi but for a good 13 years i have been living here in the UK. Every year i go back to the place where i was born and visit the soil of the land i was born in. I'm proud to be a Shqipetar.

    When it comes to say Albanians are all bad, yes, I 100% agree, because being Albanian means being like a gypsy. Albanians are a mixture of various nationalities, whether they be Greek, Turkish, Italian or anything else. Most Albanians are not Shqipetar as their ancestors were Turks or from other surrounding countries. Therefore i do not look at these people as being from our land they are just people who have settled there, and claim to be Albanians.

    Being Albanian and being Shqipetar are two different things. So yes i agree...

  • vm said

    I've been to Albania plenty of times and nothing negative has ever happened. The food is great and albanians which are Shqiptar are very loyal people that will protect their friends and family no matter what. I've been living in the US for awhile now, and its difficult to find people that are genuinely your true friends. Although I have not had the luxury of meeting many albanians in the US, i'd say my two albanian friends will always be there for me no matter what, and I can't say the same for any other ethnic groups I associate with...there is a lot of negative propaganda about albanians in the media, and it may be true that those who do the crimes are more from the North or Kosove, but that's probably because of the bloodshed/killings/suppression that these people have endured from Serbs and other opposing nations over the course of history. Albanians are the native people of Europe and they have not been given the respect they deserve, but instead their land has been stripped from them and their people suppressed outside the borders of main land albania. I can't speak for albanians outside the albanian border, but as a born child of main land albania, there is nothing terrible about my people. They are family oriented and very hard working. Most of these people unfortunately have emigrated for better opportunties which has held Albania back by leaving selfish people in office for many years, with no progress or hope for the country. Albania needs leaders who work to serve their people and not themselves. Unfortunately, corruption is everywhere. It's the people that suffer. There is nothing Gypsy-ish about albanians, but Albania does have a Gypsie population that live there and speak our language. There is nothing negative about this. And as for mixing of other races, it is inevitable in a biological perspective. There has been mixing of races everywhere in the world, but that doesn't mean that other races are 100% bad. People are so ignorant. I am an educated Albanian and I am proud to be Shqiptare, and at the same time, I respect all beings and judge them on their individual actions, not as a whole. I don't believe that we deserve the bad reputation, as we've been victims throughout history.

  • Caroline mills said

    i once taught an Albanian to drive, he worked at a local car wash run by his cousin, as it turned out he was married to an older very shall we say well rounded British woman of 43 he was 21. He used to get me to drop him at the shop at the corner of his street in his own words ( to get his protection for the weekend lol ) to cut a long story short he got removed from the uk ( not deported the difference being he was asked if he wanted to return to work ) he was found to be having an affair whilst married to his bungalow ( she said she didn't have much up top ie brains) well she was brainy enough to find him out and have him lifted while his visa ran out.expired due to telling immigration he was a liar...he has since returned to work which is unbelievable of the uk to let him back here, fascinating story and one I KNOW has been the case in so many of these foreign romances.

  • Greg said

    I have been there multiple times and have not had any issues at all .. It is a lot safer than Baltimore or St Louis .

  • Ida said

    If you haven't been to Albania don't say anything, you've never experienced it. And why believe the Internet? You know what they say, the Internet sometimes lies. It's true some Albanians are bad, but look at the U.S., there are more bad people here then there are in Albania, trust me I've been to Albania a lot, and frankly it's not that bad. And what makes you so sure those people who are bad are Albanian? Just because they live there that doesn't mean anything. There are not as much shqipetars as there used to be but I'm proud to say I'm one of them 🇦🇱🇦🇱🇦🇱 Do I make my point?

  • Charlie Chandler said

    I have been to Albania it,s safer there than a lot of places in the USA.

  • Lost Soul said

    I met an Albanian guy who was my life saver. He was kind and sweet.
    It is too bad that he died.
    Then I met another Albanian guy.
    I gave him all my heart. We were supposed to get married
    I'd known this guy for a long time.
    Yes this Albanian guy was VERY family oriented.
    So much that when his little brother went to jail for shooting someone, my former friend thought nothing of getting into my suitcase and stealing ALOT of MY MONEY and also going thru my wallet and jotting down my debit card number and hacking me
    He went to his family using my money for the bus, and using my credit card on the way.
    I didn't figure out that it wasn't that his apartment was not broken into as he had claimed, and no I don't think he really turned in a police report.
    I didn't figure out it was actually him until his relationship status on Facebook went from In a Relationship to Single, and the coward will not answer his phone.
    Coward with no balls!
    So here is the just of it with Albanians
    They can either be an angel who would do anything for you
    One of Satan's own.
    So be careful until you are positive what type you have in your life.
    I learned the hard way. On his turf. Now all I can do is hope his karma gets him real good and he finds Big Bubba being his roommate real soon!

  • Noneed said

    Po shoh qe fjala Shqiptar eshte shkruar :- Shqipetar...
    Shume probleme jane krijuar me gjuhen shqipe pas renies se komunizmit...

    Duhet shkruar Shqiptar dhe jo Shqipetar. Degredimi i gjuhes shqipe ka ardhur si pasoje e vakumit qe u krijua me ikjet e "trunit" jashte territorit dhe per fat te keq gjuha e sotme shqipe po humbet. Fjale te tilla si "pershendetje" jane te sajuara keto vitet e rremujes, analfabetizmit, dhe te konfuzjonit dhe jo tradicionale. Kadare nuk ka ba aq shume per te kritikuar injorantet qe kane ngelur neper zyra dhe qe mendojne se ata kane te drejte te bejne gjuhen shqipe. j

  • Marthabe said

    Here in Europe nearly every prostitute is run by Albanians, of course these other comments are defending their country but I see first hand everyday Romanians, Bulgarians and Albanian girls working for these animals

  • Citizen said

    I live in London and I meet A LOT of Eastern Europeans every fucking single day as I work in customer service and I NEVER meet an Albanian person to make me believe that Albanians are nice people, not even a single one. All are rude, messy and treat everyone with superiority. Not to say that they look that they have just escaped from a jungle and don't have any idea what to do next. I can see an Albanian from hundreds of meters away by how is walking and looking around. Believe it or not stupidity can be seen with the eyes and Albanians are fucking stupid peasants, every single one of them. I still expect the Albanian to prove me that I'm wrong but I don't think that this will happen in this life.

  • Ben G said

    I'm deeply disturbed that this website allows such racist, hateful and inappropriate public comments about Albanians such are all dodgy wankers.

  • Andi said

    Im Albanian 🇦🇱🇦🇱🇦🇱😜But seriously though when there is one small mistake in Albania everyone exaggerates like Shuuut Uupbwhat about your country they make some mistakes we dont put fire up are arse and also wtf is this article talking about its full of BS.

  • G said

    I'm Albanian and although it can be dangerous it's just a lil rough around the edges ya kno once u go it's super fun and awesome and I'm so glad to be apart of such an uniquely amazing country kuq e zi♥️🖤

  • Luka Zekic said

    I despise Albania and its people, the nationalist Albanians are truly a shitstain, they claim to own Montenegro, and as a Montenegrin, I don't like Albania, I want reunited Yugo

  • Jessica said

    I went on holiday to Albania multiple times, and I can say that when they find out you are a foreigner they knock up prices, that's why my mother, who is Albanian even tells me not to speak english when we are in an Albanian shop. My father, whilst driving us to the beach, went to stop for petrol and it was so expensive for not even alot of petrol! My parents are both Albanian and they have no problem speaking out about the horrors of this country, because nobody can deny it... It's not a perfect country, but the beaches are perfect, they care for their animals, they have special bonds and everybody loves to visit Albania.

  • LE said

    omg what am i reading. Let me tell all of you something. Ive been in Germany, France, Italy ecc and everywhere i met the worse people in theworld but this means nothing to me. I cant say that all people of Germany, France,Ita ly ecc are bad people. I also met the kindest people in the world. You guys know nothing. Go there live there and meet there the worst politions and lets talk again. Albanian people love the family and take care of it. And when we grow up or married we never let our parents alone, like u do,we live together and respect them till the end. We have our mistakes like everyone could but we have lot of others good thinks that i dont want to explain to people that doesnt matter. I ha ve lot of foreign friends that love to hear me speaking for Albania. Also me i hear them with love about their countries. Im not racist i respect every person who is good, no matter or he/she is from. Im 100% Albanian and damm very proud. Respect

  • Ryan said

    I'm Albanian... And I agree. Not only are they criminals, but the people in general are stupid. The wages are seriously low (200 dollars a month for one of the most high paying jobs) which I seriously think even working at McDonald's would give you more money than that crap, but people honestly don't give a shit about that because they like showing off with the newest iPhone because they have nothing else to do with their lives. And oh, before anyone gets triggered saying "I've been to Albania for 2 months blah blah" well you know what? It's easy for you to say that from a tourist's standpoint, but you should really try living there for a year or more and see how miserable you get. The schools are awful, in fact most of the teachers are straight communists and same goes for 99.9% of principals, not only do they barely even teach anything but even if someone literally fucking beats you up and throws you to the ground, they still blame you for it because they're secretly being paid by the bully's family. Most stuff here is just wrong.
    But hey, there's still good things on the horizon.
    Except for the people, the tourist attractions are very nice. Sure, the socialists who run this country have destroyed some very irreplaceable landmarks, but in general the tourist attractions are beautiful. Going to Durres or the Beach of Durres feels shiny and fresh, even if you go there every year like I do. There's very awesome tourist landmarks like the Sphinx stairs in Durres (which are SO good, especially if you visit them in the afternoon).
    So yeah, this is pretty much my opinion on Albania.

  • Paulo said

    I travelled in Albania and felt scared the whole trip. Myself and 2 other guys. Got to the Yugoslav/Albania border at around midnight and got told that for our own safety we would have to wait till morning to be let thru. This was due to the risk of car jacking, robbery or even worse being murdered. Once thru, we saw van loads of people with guns out the windows. Poverty everywhere, dirty and dodgy people. Roads were run down and so many in road worthy cars. Was a happy day the day we got to the Greek border!

  • Tj said

    I traveled through Albania last summer with my daughter, two women roaming from Tirana to Vlore to Sarande to Himara, hiking through the Valbona valley, over the border into Kosovo, took a bus through Macedonia to Bulgaria. Never had one problem. I realize traveling a country is different than living in one but as two women tourists we felt very safe and had a great time.
    I would highly recommend it.

  • klaus reci said

    You are just a joke man!Total bullshit.Albania is absolutely safe for everyone and crime rate is lower than Athens,Paris,Rome,Budapest,Prague,Milan,Madrid.Your are just a jooooke man.Just like your blog.

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