You’ll find a blend of traditional and modern practices when greeting people in Albania.
While a firm handshake is standard in business settings and among new acquaintances, don’t be surprised if you’re greeted with a warm hug and a kiss on both cheeks among close friends and family—a genuine gesture of affection.
Here’s a unique twist: Shaking your head from side to side actually means “yes” in Albania, while nodding up and down means “no.”
It may initially seem counterintuitive, but this small detail can help avoid confusing mix-ups.
Known for their hospitality, Albanians may stand closer than you’re accustomed to during conversations.
However, respecting personal space remains important. Pay attention to cues from the person you’re speaking with to maintain a comfortable distance.
When invited to dine in an Albanian home, bringing a small gift or token of thanks is thoughtful.
Wait for the host to begin eating before you start. And remember, it’s polite to finish everything on your plate.
In business settings, punctuality is greatly valued. But don’t be surprised if meetings open with friendly casual chat.
It’s a way of building rapport before getting down to brass tacks.
Albania has various religious communities, so dress and behave respectfully when visiting places of worship.
For instance, women may need head coverings in mosques, while men should avoid shorts in churches.
The Art of Conversation
Albanians relish lively dialogue. Soccer, family, and current events are always solid topics but avoid sensitive subjects like politics unless you’re well-informed.
A Silent Code of Honor
Besa is Albania’s deeply-rooted code of honor that emphasizes keeping one’s word no matter what.
This solemn promise is integral to Albanian culture and identity and serves as a moral compass for Albanians in all aspects of life.
Tipping and Gratuities
Tipping isn’t required in Albania, but it shows appreciation for good service.
Around 10% is considered an appropriate gratuity at restaurants and for service staff.
An Enriching Cultural Immersion
Mastering the social nuances of Albania may seem daunting initially, but making the effort expresses true respect.
The connections and hospitality you’ll gain will be worth stepping outside your comfort zone.
So immerse yourself in the culture, and let Albania’s spirit enrich your perspective.