Summer holiday in Albania? What you need to know before you travel

Albania is developing into a holiday favourite, attracting tourists with its long coastline, pleasant climate, and budget-friendly prices. SOS International shares its best advice on what you should be aware of before your trip.

Albania has been called Europe's Maldives, an untouched gem and the capital Tirana has been nicknamed the Balkans' new in-place. More and more Nordic travellers have caught sight of the country, which is located between Greece and Montenegro.

At SOS International, Albania is also moving in the statistics. Favourite destinations are Spain, Greece, and Turkey, but cases from Albania are becoming more common at the alarm centre, where Nordic travellers can get help when they are injured or fall ill on their journey:

- We have observed an increase in cases from Albania, which may indicate that we will see even more of Albania in our case processing in the future, says Karin Tranberg, EVP for Travelcare at SOS International.

From July 2022 to July 2023, the number of cases from Albania has increased by 47 percent.

Travel insurance is a must
The quality of the Albanian health care system is quite far from what you are used to as a Nordic welfare citizen. Therefore, otherwise uncomplicated disease courses or injuries can develop when the country of injury is Albania.

- Our experience is that the relatively poor quality of the healthcare system means that the treatment process and the assistance management itself can become more complex. This may mean, for example, that the patient must be transported home for treatment instead of being treated on site, says Karin Tranberg.

Therefore, travel insurance is a necessity if you are on holiday in Albania.

It can be expensive to get treatment if you get sick or injured abroad. Albania is outside the EU, and the blue EU Health Insurance Card therefore does not provide access to treatment in the public health system. 

Take the tourist stomach seriously
SOS International has registered many cases of "tourist stomach" in Albania. Despite the somewhat innocent name, stomach infections can develop seriously if not treated properly.

- It can ruin a large part of the holiday if you don't nip a stomach infection in the bud. You can quickly become dehydrated, which can result in dizziness and headaches, among other things. You should be especially careful if it is the elderly or children who are affected. We recommend that you call the alarm centre and get treatment immediately instead of waiting, says Karin Tranberg.

Fortunately, you can do a lot yourself to prevent tourist stomach by focusing on, among other things, good hygiene.

Here's where Nordic travellers needed help:
Top 3 countries of injury in the summer of 2023

  1. Spain
  2. Greece
  3. Turkey

Source: SOS International, the alarm centre for travel assistance in the period June-August 2023. In total, SOS International helped Nordic travellers almost 30,000 times during this period.

SOS International's good advice for your holiday in Albania:

  • Prevent tourist stomach with good hand hygiene. Use hand sanitizer.
  • Do not drink tap water.
  • Be mindful of what you eat. Fried and cooked food reduces the risk of stomach infections.
  • Make sure you have travel insurance that covers medical care and repatriation.
  • Contact SOS International's alarm centre if you become ill or injured – and you will receive the right guidance immediately.
  • Be aware that Albanian traffic takes some getting used to.

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