Blogger Robin renting a car in Albania.

Renting A Car In Albania: What You Need To Know In 2024

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Author’s Note: Robin is our car rental expert and a seasoned road-tripper who has expertly navigated everything from Vietnam’s Ha Giang Loop on a motorbike to the German Autobahns by track.

Planning on renting a car in Albania? 

Well, you’re in the right place; this comprehensive guide is your roadmap to all things rental cars in Albania.

We’ll not only cover the practicalities like where to pick up your vehicle and the Albania rental car costs but also share some of our own personal tips from our unforgettable road trips along the Albanian Riviera. We love Albania and have visited the country three times so far. (It is actually where we first met!).

Albania offers an array of experiences, from its dramatic northern Alps to the coastal beauty of the Albanian Riviera in the south. Whether you’re headed for the bustling life of Tirana or looking to lose yourself in the picturesque Byzantine towns hidden deep in the mountains, such as Berat and Gijrokaster, this guide has you covered.

So buckle up as we equip you with everything you need to make an informed decision for a remarkable Albanian adventure.

Renting a car in Albania: Quick Facts

🚗 QUICK GUIDE 🚗
  • Need a car? Browse Discover Cars (cheapest deals + no hidden costs)
  • Rental cost from $12* per day (*depends on various factors – check ⬇️)
  • Requirements: International, US, UK & EU driving licence + age restrictions
  • Most travellers collect their car at Tirana Aiport and spend about 7 days road-tripping through the country. 
  • Download offline Google Maps in case you lose your network. 
  • Have your lights always on, and drive on the right side.
  • Stay alert on the road, as local driving styles can be more aggressive than you might be accustomed to.

Is it safe to rent a car in Albania?

Renting a car in Albania is generally safe, especially if you go through reputable companies. At Tirana Airport, you’ll encounter well-known car rental agencies like Europcar and Avis, providing that extra layer of confidence.

We’ve had good experiences booking through Discover Cars, which we find to be an excellent aggregator for spotting the cheapest deals. However, sometimes, the reviews on Discover Cars can be different from Google and Trust Pilot reviews, so we recommend performing a secondary check. 

Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Enter your desired travel dates on Discover Cars
  2. Go to Google and enter the company name to cross-reference the reviews on Google Maps and Trust Pilot.
  3. Once you’re happy with the reviews, go back to Discover Cars to book a rental car in Albania, which offers the best value for money and has good reviews. 

We went with OTO Q Car Rental via Discover Cars, which offers cheap rates and has good reviews, and we had a very positive experience. Another good budget company with excellent reviews is Optimo Rent. 

Is it safe to drive in Albania?

Saranda Albania
Sarande, Albania.

You may be asking yourself – is it safe to drive through Albania? Driving through Albania is generally safe, but like any travel adventure, it comes with its own set of considerations. 

The main roads, especially those connecting major cities, are typically in good condition. However, venture off the beaten path, and you might find some roads less maintained.

The thing to keep an eye on is local driving habits. Albanians are known for a driving style that might come off as assertive if you’re used to more regulated traffic patterns. So, stay alert and maybe keep that reflex honk handy, just in case.

Also, while we enjoyed the awe-inspiring vistas of the Albanian Riviera from the driver’s seat (make sure you take Llogara Pass for jaw-dropping views!), it’s important to remember that scenic coastal roads can be narrow and winding. So, taking it slow and soaking in the view is the best strategy.

That said, if you’re an experienced driver and exercise caution, driving in Albania offers a rewarding way to explore this beautiful country.

Is It Worth Renting A Car In Albania?

Ksamil Albania
Make sure you add Ksamil to your Albania road trip itinerary.

Yes, renting a car in Albania is absolutely worth it!

🌟 Freedom to Explore: Albania is brimming with both popular and hidden gems, from the Albanian Riviera to the rugged Albanian Alps. A car gives you the liberty to craft the perfect Albania road trip and explore at your own pace.

🌟 Accessibility: While public transport exists, it doesn’t cover all the breathtaking sites Albania has to offer. With a car, you’re not restricted to bus routes or schedules.

🌟 Cost-Effective: Surprisingly, renting a car in Albania is relatively affordable compared to other European countries. Plus, you can split the costs if you’re travelling with friends or family.

🌟 Convenience: Especially if you’re travelling with luggage, a family, or both, having a car simplifies the logistics immeasurably.

🌟 Personal Experience: There’s nothing like taking control of your journey, from the playlist to the pit stops. Our own drives along the spectacular Albanian coastlines are some of the most memorable segments of our travels there.

🌟 Road Conditions: While you should always exercise caution, the main roads are generally well-maintained, making for a comfortable drive.

How to rent a car in Albania?

Taking our rental car to Velbona in Albania.
Ferry crossing through Lake Komani in Velbona.
Komani Lake, Velbona.
Komani Lake, Velbona.

If you’re looking into car hire in Albania, we recommend booking it well in advance via Discover Cars; here is why:

🚗 Full Coverage Option: This is the number 1 reason why we always use Disocver Cars. Discover Cars offers protection against all accidents and even covers your access fee.

🚗 Generous Cancellation Policy: Life happens, and plans change and having the freedom to cancel without penalty really eases the stress when we’re planning our road trips.

🚗 User-Friendly Filters: Discover Cars allows you to apply filters like price and car size to simplify your search, making the entire process less overwhelming.

🚗 Know What You’re Getting: Detailed specs on each car help you decide the best fit for both you and your luggage.

🚗 Transparent Pricing: The price quoted is what you pay.

🚗 Cost-Effectiveness: We’ve done the legwork and can confirm that 99% of the time, Discover Cars gives you a better deal than local rental shops and a much more comprehensive full insurance option!

⚠️ Although the site prioritises the cars in order of best reviews, we recommend cross-checking the reviews of your selected company with Trustpilot and Google reviews. This way, you’ll protect yourself from a bad experience.

Rent A Car Albania: Requirements

Can I rent a car in Albania with US license?

It is possible to rent a car in Albania with a U.S. license. You must be at least 21 years old and no older than 70 years to rent a car and have held your U.S. license for at least one year. 

Drivers under the age of 25 may be asked to pay an additional charge. 

However, according to the International Drivers Association, an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) is an additional requirement for visitors to drive and rent a car while in Albania. 

You do not have to take any additional tests to gain an IDP; it is merely a translation of your home country’s license. This is a useful and essential tool to eliminate any potential language barrier if you are stopped by police in a foreign country such as Albania. 

More than 150 countries around the world recognise the International Driver’s Permit, so as only a few countries will allow you to hire and car and drive using only a U.S. license, it is well worth travelling with an IDP.

Drivers over 18 years old with a full and valid U.S. license can apply for an International Driver’s Permit online or at an AAA office in the United States.

It is law in Albania to drive with your driver’s license, so make sure you always travel with yours in the rental car. 

Can I rent a car in Albania with a UK licence?

Yes, you can rent a car in Albania with a UK licence, but according to the UK government website, you will also need a ‘1968’ International Drivers Permit

A 1968 type IDP lasts for 3 years, or until your UK driving licence expires, whichever comes first. Do not apply for a 1926 or 1949 IDP, as these only last for one year and are not accepted in Albania.

Albania is not currently part of the EU, so the usual driving rules in the EU don’t apply. 

You can apply for an IDP at any UK Post Office branch as long as you are over 18 years old and hold a full, valid UK driver’s licence. 

To apply for an IDP, you will need your UK driving licence, a recently taken passport-sized photograph and a valid passport (if your driver’s licence is the old paper style licence). An IDP currently costs £5.50. 

Again, it is a requirement under Albanian law to always drive with your driver’s licence in the car, so make sure you have your UK licence plus your IDP with you at all times. 

Car Rental In Albania: Logistics

Blogger Robin on an Albanian road trip.
Navigating momentaneous roads can be a little challenging but rewarding.

How much does a rental car in Albania cost?

Renting a car in Albania is cheaper than in many other countries. However, an Albania rental car will cost more in peak season than in low season, and prices vary according to the size of the car you are renting.

For example, an economy-sized five-seat Citroen C3 with air conditioning costs from €355 / $384 for a peak season week in August. The same-sized car costs from as little as 174 / $188 for a low season week in November. 

If you are going to do a lot of driving in Albania, it is advisable to hire a 4×4 for the country’s rural and mountainous roads. A large SUV car with 4×4 capability (such as a Dacia Duster or equivalent) will cost €930 / $1,000 for a one-week hire in August, dropping to €330 / $357 for one week in November. 

On our recent trip, we rented a small economy car and were able to drive it everywhere without problems. We visited Berat, Gjirokaster and various coastal towns in the south where roads are reasonably decent. We discovered there is also a newly built road connecting Saranda with Gjirokaster!

Shall I rent a car in Tirana Airport?

There are several Tirana airport car rental companies based at the airport, and Discover Cars has car rental Tirana airport options that are very well-priced. 

Tirana Airport is the first point of entry for many travellers, so to fly into this Albania airport rent a car and go seems like the sensible option but if you are staying in Tirana for a few days, we would not recommend hiring a car at the airport when you land. 

You do not need a car to go sightseeing in Tirana. Plus, driving in busy Tirana is not for the faint-hearted and parking in the city is a nightmare. 

Do all your Tirana sightseeing first, and then hire a car when you are ready to leave Tirana and explore Albania. 

You can choose between renting a car in Tirana city centre or back at the airport before setting off on your road trip.

What kind of car should I rent in Albania?

Albania’s roads vary in quality, particularly if you are driving outside urban areas or the main tourist locations. Whatever you choose to rent, we would recommend renting a car capable of withstanding potholes.

Plus, as 70% of Albania’s land is mountainous, it’s worth hiring a car with a strong enough engine to get you up the steep hills that you will inevitably encounter driving through Albania.

If you are going to be doing a lot of driving and exploring rural areas away from the main tourist areas, you should definitely hire a 4×4

What Are The Best Companies For Rental Cars In Albania?

If you are thinking of renting a car in Albania, there are lots of companies to choose from. These include well-established names such as Hertz, Enterprise or Alamo, as well as lesser-known companies such as Tirana Car Rentals and iRent Albania

Whichever company you choose, make sure they have recent, good reviews and check other websites, such as Tripadvisor, for reviews, not just the company’s own website. 

And remember, if a deal seems too good to be true, it usually is! To avoid rental car scams and stress, we always use Discover Cars. 

What Are The Best Places For Car Rentals In Albania?

You can rent a car in Albania 's capital Tirana.
One of the most popular places to rent a car in Albania is Tirana Airport.
Renting car in Albania allows to visit places like Gjirokaster.
We also recommend adding Gjirokaster to your itinerary.

If you do not use one of the car hire Tirana airport companies, there are several other locations in Albania where you can rent a car. 

Rent a car in Tirana

As to be expected from the country’s capital, if you want to rent a car in Tirana Albania, there are lots of options for you to choose from. More options usually mean a wide choice of cars and more competitive prices. 

You will find Sixt, iRent Albania, Select, Albania Car Rentals, plus several other companies in city centre locations near the major tourist hotels.

The major downside of car rental in Tirana is that you will have to navigate your way out of the city. 

Another alternative to Tirana city centre or Tirana Airport rent-a-car shops is to take a local bus to the neighbouring coastal port of Durres and rent a car there. 

If you choose this location to rent a car, Durres offers easy access out of the city on the major SH2 or SH4 state highways. 

Rent a car in Saranda

It is also possible to rent a car in Saranda, Albania. This southern coastal town on the Albanian Riviera is the entry point for visitors from Corfu. 

If you are arriving from Greece and want to rent a car, Saranda has several options. 

You will find well-known companies such as Enterprise as well as lesser-known names such as Select and Optima. Leka, Aris and Easy Go Rentals have rental depots close to the ferry port. 

You can find your perfect hire car in Saranda with Discover Cars here

Rent a car in Shkoder

Shkoder in northwest Albania is the 4th largest city in Albania. It is the most likely point of entry if you are coming from Montenegro. If you want to visit the Albanian Alps, Valbona, or Theth National Park, you will likely pass through Shkoder.  

If you are newly arrived in the city and want to rent a car Shkoder has several options. Discover Cars has Shkoder rentals available with Select, Green Motion and Sur Price. 

One point to note is that unless you plan on driving your hire car in a large loop around Albania back to Shkoder, you will face a one-way drop-off fee, which can be pricey. 

Tips For Your Rental Car In Albania

You can get a rental car in Albania Kruje.
Renting a car will allow you to visit incredible places like Kruja.

Renting a car in Albania means following the usual tips for safely hiring a rental car anywhere in the world. 

✔️ Book your car in advance

There is not an endless supply of rental cars in Albania, so book early with Discover Cars to secure the car you want to hire. Robin can drive any car – automatic or manual, but if you require an automatic, definitely secure it at least one month before your trip.

✔️ Get a full insurance cover 

Driving a rental car in Albania has an element of risk to you, other road users and your rental car. In fact, Albania has one of the highest road traffic death rates in Europe. 

Third-party liability insurance is mandatory by law in Albania, and it is usually included in the cost of your hire car. However, to fully cover yourself and your rental car, it is essential to purchase full insurance cover, in addition to any personal travel insurance you may already have. 

Full insurance cover is not cheap, but it could save a huge bill and an enormous amount of stress and hassle should you be involved in an accident. It provides much more comprehensive cover than third-party liability insurance.

It will cover serious or minor injuries sustained by you or your passengers and damage to the rental car, plus it also extends cover to any other cars, passengers or property involved in the accident.

Make sure you read the full insurance cover policy carefully before buying it, including the boring but essential small print. You must know if there are any restrictions that could invalidate your policy, for example, where you park or if you drive on unpaved roads.  

We found that most car rental shops in Albania do not provide full cover, so we always get the one available through Discover Cars

✔️ Pay with a credit card

Most car hire companies take a holding deposit as security against future damage. If you pay with a credit card, this money is not taken from your account, as holding the credit card details is enough protection for the company. 

However, if you pay with a debit card, the money will leave your account to be refunded once you return the car. This can cause a nasty and unexpected hole in your trip finances and cash flow.

✔️ Record the condition of the car

We are always surprised to see how few people record the condition of the car before leaving the rental depot. Just a few minutes spent accurately recording the condition of your hired car could save you a lot of money and stress when you return the car. 

Start by examining the paperwork you have been given by the rental car company. It should include an up-to-date, annotated record of any damage to the car – no matter how small.

Check any damage noted on the paperwork. Is the paperwork accurate, or is the damage worse than the paperwork led you to believe? If you are in any doubt, make sure the paperwork is changed and signed off by a rental car company employee. 

Then, take a few minutes to record the condition of the car yourself accurately. Take photos or video as evidence of the outside and inside of the vehicle (especially if you are travelling with kids). Take extra care in vulnerable areas such as the windscreen and bumpers.

Record any damage you see on the official paperwork and get the changes signed off by the rental car company. 

Tips For Driving In Albania

When renting a car in Albania you can visit places like Berat.
Berat.

It is essential to learn the rules of the road in Albania before setting off on your road trip.

You will see traffic police throughout Albania, and if you are caught committing a driving offence, don’t expect to be let off because you are a tourist. 

Instead, expect on-the-spot fines, which are the equivalent of around €1156 / $1250

Should you encounter any problems during your road trip, dial 112. This number can be dialled from anywhere within Europe, and the bi-lingual operators will connect you to local emergency services. 

✔️Roads in Albania

Roads in Albania are not as in good condition as roads elsewhere in Europe. Urban roads are poorly lit (and those that are lit regularly suffer power cuts), and both urban and rural roads are riddled with potholes

There are very few traffic lights in Albania, and stop signs are almost non-existent. Be aware that roads are also used by pedestrians and animals, including herds of goats and cattle.

Paved roads can suddenly turn into dirt tracks, and mountain roads can be steep and winding with hairpin bends.

For all these reasons, it is best to avoid driving in Albania at night. 

However, with the recent uptake in tourism, roads between the main tourist locations and to and from the border crossings have seen improvement, and hopefully, this will extend further around the country. 

It is important to know that driving in Albania requires hypervigilance and being alert every moment you are in the car. There is a reason why the country has one of the highest road traffic death rates in Europe.

Driving in Albania is totally doable, but it is not for inexperienced or nervous drivers.

✔️ Car horn is used a lot

You will quickly notice that drivers in Albania like to use their car horns a lot! 

However, you should only use your car horn in an emergency or when overtaking on rural roads. 

✔️ Download offline maps

You cannot rely on the phone signal or WiFi connections to follow online maps during your Albanian road trip.  

Prepare in advance by downloading offline Google Maps and map apps (such as Maps. Me). Don’t forget to download driving directions and, even better, print off paper copies in case your phone battery dies. 

✔️Be aware of Over Assertive (crazy) drivers

Unfortunately, some Albanian drivers have a reputation for erratic, aggressive and dangerous driving. It is not uncommon to see dangerous overtaking on blind bends, cars turning without indicating or cars driving without lights at night. 

Be aware of the cars around you and leave plenty of space between vehicles. 

Avoid driving at night, and should you be involved in an accident or an altercation, stay in your car and wait for the police to arrive. 

✔️Have your documents always with you

As previously mentioned, it is required by law to drive with your driver’s licence in Albania. You should also carry your IDP, your rental car contract and car insurance documents. 

Velbona, Albania.

✔️Stay within the speed limits

Traffic police in Albania will be watching for speed violations, so make sure you know the speed limits in Albania before you travel. 

It is important to note that speed limits vary across Albania, but generally speaking, drivers are limited to 40 km/h (25 mph) in built-up urban areas and 80 km/h (50mph) outside of built-up urban or residential areas. 

The speed limit on Albania’s highways varies between 90 km/h (56 mph) and 110 km/h (68 mph). 

✔️Have your lights on

It is mandatory in Albania to drive with your headlights on, even during the day. If you do not use your headlights, you run the risk of being pulled over by traffic police and issued with a hefty on-the-spot fine. 

✔️Drive on the right side

If you are not used to driving on the right, this simple fact is surprisingly easy to forget – especially if you are driving in rural areas where there are few other cars or if you are tired. 

It helps to stick a ‘drive on the right’ note on the dashboard or on the steering wheel to remind you when you get into the car or start the engine.

✔️Book accommodation with parking space

Parking can be a nightmare in Albania, particularly in urban areas which have restricted parking zones. In Tirana, vehicles that are parked illegally will be towed.

Save yourself time, stress, and worry by booking accommodation with parking, preferably in an allocated space. 

You will save time each day by not having to find a parking space or having to walk to where you last parked the car, and you will feel happier leaving the car at night. 

✔️ Key rules to remember when driving in Albania

In addition to carrying your documents, using your headlights and keeping within the speed limits, it is mandatory for all car passengers in Albania to wear a seat belt. 

Drivers are not allowed to use a phone whilst driving. Plus, as the legal alcohol limit is just 0.01mg/ml (much lower than in many other countries), avoid drinking any alcohol before driving in Albania. 

How To Get Around Albania Without A Car

Livadhia Beach

If car hire or auto rental in Albania is not for you, there is a limited number of public transport options available. 

Buses

Public buses in Albania are very cheap, but they can be erratic and unreliable. Buses do not run frequently and do not travel to all parts of the country. 

Buses between major tourist destinations tend to be of better quality, but from our experience, it is not uncommon to board a bus with broken seats and no air conditioning. We once found ourselves on a bus with a driver who lit up a cigarette for the entire journey – talk about a smoke-filled adventure we could have done without!

You can also use Furgons, which is a privately owned, unlicensed minibuses. The minibus will have a card on its windscreen showing its destination and can be flagged down by waving. These minibuses can get quite cramped, so they are best suited for shorter journeys. 

Taxis

Taxis are plentiful in Albania, and although they are much more expensive than taking a public bus, a taxi can work out cost-effectively if there are a few of you in the taxi. They are also a lot less hassle than the bus and more comfortable!

Tirana Airport Taxis runs licensed taxis between Tirana and the airport, but they also offer fixed-price journeys to other locations around the country. 

Their website displays how much each journey will cost, and the good quality taxis can be pre-booked online in advance. 

Other reputable companies include Speed Taxis and Merr Taxis, both of which can be booked in advance online or by phone. 

Rent A Car In Albania: FAQ

Ksamil Albania
If you decide to rent a car in Albania, make sure you also visit Ksamil!

Is it easy to drive in Albania?

If you are used to driving on the right-hand side of the road, driving in the main tourist locations in Albania is relatively easy as long as you stay alert to other drivers.

The biggest challenge you will face is the uneven road conditions and the erratic, often incomprehensible driving of other road users

If you are visiting from the UK or one of the few other countries in the world that drive on the left, you will have this to contend with, too. 

However, driving outside of the main tourist areas is a different matter. You will have to negotiate unpaved roads, blind bends and herds of animals suddenly appearing before you. 

Our drive to Valbona was quite the adventure, with its fair share of challenges since we drove a standard car without the 4×4 capability but also filled with breathtaking scenery.

The general advice is that you should only rent a car and drive in Albania if you are an experienced and confident driver and, ideally, rent a 4×4.

Can I cross the border with a rental car in Albania?

The answer depends on where you are travelling to and which company you hire your car from. 

Most rental companies in Albania will allow you to cross the border into Montenegro or North Macedonia

However, you must notify the company in advance of your intention to cross the border. If they agree, they will issue you a letter of authorisation; without it, you cannot cross the border. 

Be prepared to pay an additional cross-border charge, and you may also be required to take out additional insurance

However, if you want to cross the border into Greece, you will find it much harder as not many rental agencies in Albania allow their cars to travel into Greece. 

Renting A Car In Albania: Final Word

In conclusion, having navigated the country’s diverse landscapes ourselves, we can confidently say that renting a car in Albania is your ticket to freedom and adventure. It unlocks the hidden corners of this breathtaking country and allows for impromptu detours and discoveries.

Sure, it comes with its quirks – navigating can test your skills and patience, and the local driving style may raise an eyebrow or two. But the Albanian people are also super welcoming and helpful. They’ve come to our rescue more than once during our trips, and perhaps this is one of the reasons why we keep coming back to this fascinating country!

Safe travels! 🚗🗺️👫

Robin & Mal