Here is the most important information to stay healthy and safe during your stay in Saranda and other places in Albania.
Emergency Phone Numbers
In case of any emergency, you can call the following numbers:
General emergencies – 112
Ambulance – 127
Fire – 128
Police – 129
Basic medical care is widely available throughout Albania and most medicine can easily be obtained from pharmacies. For more serious matters, it’s best to go to Tirana where you find the better private hospitals with English speaking doctors serving the large foreign community. Although health care is generally cheap for European standards, comprehensive health and travel insurance is recommended for your trip as private clinics are substantially more expensive.
The hospital in Saranda (Spitali in Albanian) is located on Rruga Onhezmi, at the corner of Rruga Studenti. Phone number: +355 (0) 85222312.
There are plenty of pharmacies in Saranda. You can find several in front of the hospital on Rruga Onhezmi and there are also a few on Rruga Flamurit.
No vaccinations are required to enter Albania, which is no more dangerous than any other county in southeastern Europe. Diphtheria, tetanus and polio vaccinations are recommended and are usually given together and last for 10 years. Other vaccinations to consider are hepatitis A, B and rabies. Hepatitis A is a viral infection transmitted via contaminated food or drinks. Taking care of hygiene and food intake greatly reduces any risk. This is off course more difficult when you plan to leave Saranda for a more rural area or camping spot. Hepatitis B is only transmitted via sexual contact or wounds infected with contaminated instruments. Rabies is not very common, but can be caused by an animal bite, scratch or lick.
Although tap water is generally safe in most places in Albania, we advise you to stick with bottled water as much as possible. Most Albanians also prefer drinking bottled water for safety concerns and because it tastes much better.
Tap water contains a high amount of chlorine to kill bacteria, but this makes it less tastefull, and drinking a lot of it can cause stomach cramps for some people. Using tap water for cleaning, cooking or brushing teeth should not be a problem.
The water quality also depends on the area. In some mountain areas the water tastes a lot better and you might see some locals filling up bottles from natural sources.
Smoking has been officially banned from bars and restaurants throughout Albania for years, but it’s still not always strictly enforced. Also in Saranda you might see the occasional sigaret being smoked in some bars and restaurants.
Albania is generally safe and welcoming to tourist visitors. Although corruption and organized crime are still common in Albania, you’re highly unlikely to get caught up in this as a tourist. Do however take care especially of pick pockets and theft, so don’t flash around with your valuables. Also take care of traffic, which might be more chaotic then you’re used to.
In 2010 Albania introduced extensive anti-discrimination legislation, but legalized same-sex marriage did not make it at that point. Gay and lesbian life is present in Albania but it is still rather taboo. The community keeps a low profile and is not yet very organized into clubs and organizations, so most contacts are made online. In 2017 the National Network for LGBT Rights was launched aiming to promote LGBT rights and political support. Although you’re unlikely to encounter any hostility or discrimination, as in most of the Balkans, discretion is usually the way to go.
Albania is a safe country for (solo) women travellers. You do however not see many Albanian women go out and sit in bars in the evening, so you might encounter some friendly curiosity.