After spending a month driving in Albania, we can say for certain, this is the best way to experience the country!
With limited and often unreliable public transport options, renting a car and heading on a road trip offers you so much more freedom and will save you so much time that you can spend exploring instead!
We’re here to share with you our first-hand experience of driving in Albania, including everything you need to know, from how to rent a car, to the rules of the road, and useful things to know before you set off.
Renting A Car In Albania
Renting a car in Albania is super easy. There are several well-known companies which operate in Albania, including Europcar and Enterprise.
We opted for a small car which made navigating the narrow winding roads super easy, though we did have to be careful on a couple of unpaved roads heading down to the beach (more on that later!).
If you’re planning on heading off-road a lot, consider opting for a 4×4. However, for most people, an ordinary 4-wheel drive car is just fine.
The legal driving age in Albania is 18, though most rental companies require you to be over 21 years of age, and you may incur an additional fee for being under 25. Always make sure to read the fine print so you know where you stand!
You must have a valid UK/US driving license, or an international driving license, a credit card in your name, and your passport read when you pick up your car.
Where To Rent A Car From
There are several rental locations in Albania, though we recommend picking your car up from Tirana Airport when you land, purely because it’s easiest and you can get straight on with your road trip!
Other locations include Tirana city centre and the port at Sarandë.
We would highly recommend booking in advance to secure the best deals and the type of car you require.
Is It Easy To Drive In Albania?
Despite what you may have been told, driving in Albania is a pleasure the vast majority of the time. The roads are in generally good condition, the scenery is stunning, and, outside of the major cities, there is very little traffic.
Driving in Albania’s cities is a little more tricky, with a lot of traffic, impatient drivers, and you’ll often find 5 lanes worth of traffic squeezed into the space of three. The key to city driving is just to be confident and follow what the locals do.
However, driving in Albania is certainly no more difficult than in any other European country.
Driving In Albania: Everything You Need To Know
If you’re still a little worried, (and honestly, I get it – I heard so many horror stories before leaving and was so nervous) we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of everything you need to know before jumping in your hire car for the first time.
They Drive On The Right-Hand Side
It may seem obvious if you live in most places in Europe, however, for those from the UK, it’s worth noting that they drive on the right-hand side of the road.
This is not something to worry about as you will get used to it really quickly, I promise you.
Stick To The Speed Limits When Driving In Albania
The speed limits in Albania can seem a little crazy and they threw me at first, I’ll be honest. You’ll be cruising along a main road, then suddenly hit a 20kph sign, before speeding back up to 90kph. I honestly questioned if they were real or not at first!
However, despite how crazy they may seem sometimes, and no matter how fast the locals drive, ALWAYS stick to the speed limit. Speeding carries a very hefty on-the-spot fine in Albania, and it’s normally when the speed limit suddenly drops that you’ll find police waiting to pull you over.
Don’t risk it and always follow the speed limit. Locals will overtake you, but just leave them to it and don’t risk a fine.
Always Carry Your Documents And A First Aid Kit
When you rent your car, you’ll be given a set of hire documents that you must keep with you at all times. This should include your green card, showing you have insurance (which is legally required in Albania), your rental agreement, and drivers license.
It is very unlikely you will be stopped, but if you are, it is a legal requirement to be carrying these documents. Keep your drivers license on you and the other documents in the car at all times and you’ll be fine.
Watch Out For Traffic Police
As we mentioned earlier, traffic police are surprisingly present on the roads of Albania, particularly at busy junctions, or when the speed limit changes drastically.
At least once every 20-30 minutes on your journey you’re bound to encounter traffic police, so make sure you’re careful and follow all the rules so they don’t pull you over.
There Are Very Few Traffic Lights
Yep, there are very few traffic lights. In fact, I’m pretty sure we were driving in Albania for just over two weeks before we saw our first.
This just means you have to be extra vigilant when pulling out and constantly watch for pedestrians crossing. A little confidence also goes a long way at T-junctions, when you might have to quickly pull out into traffic.
Road Quality Is Generally Good When Driving In Albania
When researching our trip, almost everyone said there are lots of unpaved roads, but we actually only encountered 1 in the entire month we were there, and that was going down to a little hidden beach.
The Albanian government is investing a lot of money into improving its infrastructure and this is reflected in the quality of its roads.
All the main towns and villages are connected with smooth, easy-to-drive-on tarmac surfaces, including the road to Theth that was previously only driveable by 4×4.
Road quality should not be an issue when driving in Albania.
Tyre Shops Are On Every Corner
If, however, you do encounter an unpaved road and blow a tyre, there are tyre shops on every corner. Literally. You only have to drive for 10 minutes to find one.
When driving down to the beach near Ksamil, along a bumpy, rocky road, we got quite a large chip in our tyre and had to get it changed.
In Albania, you will generally be offered a second hand tyre, as new ones are incredibly expensive. We were offered a second hand tyre for 5000 leke, or a new tyre for 11,000 leke. Needless to say, we went with the former.
Plus, the people in Albania are super friendly. Any tyre shop will pump up your tyres for free if you ask them, and will help you as much as they can.
Be Confident And Ignore Other Drivers
This has to be our number one tip. Confidence is everything when driving in Albania!
Other drivers might beep at you, overtake you, drive way too close, but you really just have to ignore them and make sure you’re driving safely. That’s the most important thing.
Watch Out For Wildlife
This is another biggy. At some point, you are bound to encounter animals in the road.
Whether it’s a few donkeys, a shepherd and his heard of goats, or the odd cow lying by the edge, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll come across them.
Always watch for animals and be prepared to slow right down if you see them. Remember, animals can be unpredictable so don’t try to overtake at speed.
Plus, if you’re in the middle of the countryside, it’s unlikely that the animals will move for you, and any shepherds present are unlikely to clear the road either – it’s their road and you have to respect that!
Car Parking Is Sparse
This is one thing that surprised us. Albania really is not geared up for lots of cars in towns and cities.
Throughout the country, you’ll find very few car parks, even in the more popular tourist locations such as Sarandë and Himara. It can be difficult to find anywhere to park at times.
If you’re planning on going out for the day, arrive early to make sure you can get a parking spot, or consider walking if at all possible.
Views From The Side Of The Road
The Roads Are Incredibly Scenic
What really makes driving in Albania so enjoyable is how scenic the country is! Over 70% of the country is mountainous which means you’re constantly driving through beautiful scenery.
One of the major main roads in Albania follows the coastline, meaning you’ve got sea views on one side and mountain views on the other. You will never tire of it.
People Use Their Horn A Lot
Similar to many other places in Europe, you’ll find people use their horns a lot when driving in Albania, especially in cities.
Honestly, just ignore it and continue to drive safely. There’s no malicious intent behind it, it’s more a way of life than anything else.
Road Rage Is Common When Driving In Albania
Road rage is relatively common in Albania, though to be honest we only really encountered it once when a car in front of us decided to have an argument with the driver of a van next to him.
These arguments can get pretty heated pretty quickly, so whatever you do, don’t get out of your car, don’t get involved, and do not provoke other drivers yourself.
The Sat-Nav Will Under Predict Your Journey Length
If Google Maps says it will take 2 hours, allow 2.5. Maps seem to struggle to accurately predict journey lengths in Albania, so allow yourself extra time.
Plus, the views are always so epic that you’ll want to stop a million times anyway.
Wrap Up: Driving In Albania
Driving in Albania is honestly a pleasure. The roads are beautifully smooth (for the most part), the scenery is stunning, and it’s easy to get from A to B.
Renting a car gives you so much more freedom and is one of the best ways to explore Albania.
If you’re nervous, don’t be. As long as you’re confident and stick to the rules above you’ll have the best time.