If you are visiting Albania, the best way to see the country is by car. There are so many great places in Albania that are not easily accessed via bus or furgon (minibus). I love travelling around the country by car. It gives you so much more freedom to see some of the real gems around the country.
One of the most common questions that I get is ‘How can I hire a car in Albania?’. In this article, I will cover tips on driving and how exactly you can hire a car in Albania!
Companies to rent from
There are several different companies you can try. Some recommendations are:
- EuroCar (They have an office in Tirana and Saranda and is one of the most popular companies for tourists)
- Hertz Albania
- Drive Albania (4×4 for hire)
There are lots more companies that hire cars. Within Tirana airport, you can see many offices. In Saranda, the main companies are located near the port. I have rented off ‘Buy Home Albania’ which is a Saranda office in the centre. It’s a real estate company but they also hire cars and scooters for a very reasonable price.
Obviously, prices vary from company to company and depending on which month you are renting it. You can rent a car for as low as €13 and as high as €100 per day. I would say the average would be between €15-30 per day. It will also depend on whether you want a manual or automatic and what kind of car you would like.
Driving on the roads in Albania
The roads of Albania can be quite a hassle as some of the roads can be in bad condition. There’s often a lot of potholes and usually, if there’s a big hole in the road, they will stick an object in it. In Saranda, I have seen a chair in place of a hole. Yes, a chair. Always keep an eye on the road and don’t go so fast that you cannot stop in a hurry.
Road rules in Albania
- Always carry your licence
Make sure you always have your licence on you. For Albanians, there are harsh penalties for not carrying your license. Being a foreigner, you are in an even more vulnerable position so don’t risk it!
- Drive on the right side of the road
In Albania make sure you always stick to the right-hand side of the road!
- Give way to the right
You should always give way at intersections to the person on your right. The person entering a roundabout has right of way. The person already in the round-about should be aware of others entering and give way.
- Keep your lights on
When driving in Albania make sure you have your headlights on, all the time, at every part of the day.
- Keep to the speed limits
This is an obvious one but keep to the speed limits. Take notice of the signs. Albania has some strange speed zones. For no reason, the speed might change to as low as 30 Km an hour for absolutely no reason in the middle of nowhere. Police will look for any excuse to pull you over so always keep to it, no matter how ridiculous. I have heard that police have pulled people over for not having snow chains available, in the middle of summer.
- Keep off your cell phone
It’s illegal to drive whilst using a cell phone in Albania.
- Wait for the Police
If you are in an accident you are obliged to wait for the police.
Beware of the erratic drivers
There are a lot of people in Albania who don’t go by the rules. There’s a lot of excessive speeding, overtaking on blind corners and erratic driving. There’s nothing that you can do about it, just be aware when you’re driving and what others are doing around you. Keep your distance to the cars in front of you and always make a note if the car in front of you has his brake lights working, a lot of the time they are broken.
Always carry cash for petrol
Most petrol stations do not have a card machine. You will usually pay cash to the person who will put the petrol in your car. Just pull up, tell them how much Lek worth of petrol you want, wait and then pay the person directly.
You may notice that a common thing Albanians do is not park properly. They will pull over, put their hazard lights on and run into a store, or go have coffee. In cities around Albania, long-term parking can be hard to come by and you might find yourself driving for a while to find a car park.
Don’t trust google maps
I have found on numerous road trips that what google maps say is different from reality. The best way to combat this is to use google satellite and see in real time what the road looks like, or if it’s even a road! Another tip would be to ask the locals. The word for car is ‘Makena’ and the word for the road is ‘Rruga’. Put those two words together, point in the direction you want to go and see what happens!
Can you hire from one place and drop in another?
In Albania, there are not plentiful offices of the same company. A company in Tirana will probably not have an office in Saranda or Shkoder where you want to drop it. Always check with the car company first. Maybe they will let you but with a big fee. The only recommendation I have heard from tourists is the company ‘EuroCar’.
Check with the company if you want to take it to other countries
If you do want to visit one of Albania’s neighbours, then always check with the company if this is allowed. You will need to get extra car papers if you do wish to take it overseas.
Take pictures and videos of the car before you leave
Before you leave for your road trip ALWAYS take many pictures and videos of the car to have evidence just in case, they accuse you of scratching or denting the car when you bring it back. If there are any minor damages to the car when you get it, be sure to document that and talk with the car company and confirm that they see these damages before you hire it.
Police and bribes
Police may pick on international number plates or if they can see a foreigner driving. It’s always best to stick to the rules. If you do get pulled over for something you didn’t commit, always ask for evidence. Police can also give on the spot fines of up to 5000 Lek but that’s if you do something wrong! Bribery used to be obvious but now they don’t try with foreigners so much as the penalty for them getting caught doing this is high.
Other things to note:
- Tirana centre traffic is always bad and an absolute headache. If you can void driving within Tirana, then do it!
- Hitchhiking is very common in Albania with foreigners and locals
- If you are coming to Albania in the winter be aware of the weather. Flash-flooding and ice on the road can happen in an instant and can be very dangerous.
Other articles you will love:
- Visiting the Beautiful Blue Eye, Albania (Syri i Kalter)
- Albania Itinerary: 1 week in Albania (7 days)
- Visiting Butrint, Albania: One of Albania’s Best UNESCO Sites
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