Everything about where to get money, the local currency, and paying in Saranda.
The official currency in Albania is the lek (plural: lekë). Banknotes are circulating in values of 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 lekë and there are coins of 5, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lekë. The euro is also widely accepted in many places, but since exchange rates can be somewhat unfavorable it’s usually cheaper to pay in lek. Be aware though, that it’s difficult to exchange Albanian lek outside of Albania, so do spend it or exchange it before your leave.
There are several banks around the town centre, most of which can be found around Nënë Teresa Square on Rruga Skënderbeu and Rruga Flamurit. Plenty of ATMs can be found throughout the town. If you arrive by ferry you can find ATMs to the right when exiting the terminal building. Due note however, that some ATMs are charging a fee for withdrawing money, which can also vary per ATM, while others don’t. At the moment the ATMs of Credins Bank are the only ones that don’t charge a fee for withdrawals in lekë. Do also check with your own bank for any additional fees for withdrawing a foreign currency abroad.
Cash Is King
Important to know is that cash is really still king in Albania. Cards are more and more accepted in hotels and some restaurants, but definitely not in smaller places and many shops. So it’s advisable to always carry some cash in case there is no alternative.
In case you are planning to pay by card where you can, we also recommend to check with your bank for their fees when paying in a foreign currency.
As in most European countries, tipping is not mandatory in Albania, but rather gratefully appreciated. In bars & restaurants rounding up the bill is common practice and if you were really happy with your experience a tip of around 5-10% is appreciated. For tour guides a normal tip would be around 10%. Taxi drivers normally don’t expect tips, but rounding up the amount is rather common.
Price haggling is acceptable at markets, souvenir shops and for longer taxi rides. At other places this is not common.