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 vast network of European roads by track.
Thinking of renting a car in Albania?
If the answer is yes, then this essential guide to rental cars in Albania contains everything you need to know.
You will learn where to get a rental car in Albania, how much you can expect to pay for car hire in Albania, plus my tried and tested driving tips for a successful and memorable Albanian road trip.
We’ve been to Albania three times, and we road-tripped from the rugged, untamed Albanian Alps of the north down to the stunning coast of the Albanian Riviera.
🚗 Find the cheapest deal on a rental car in Albania and book your vehicle safely with no hidden cost & generous cancellation policy through ➡️ Discover Cars.
With this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know in order to rent a car and explore all the amazing destinations that are waiting for you in Albania.
Is It Worth Renting A Car In Albania?
The short answer is yes – it is absolutely worth renting a car in Albania. The first time Mal visited Albania, she travelled around the country by the public buses known as “furgons”. Although Albanian 🌟buses are super cheap, they can be a nightmare, especially on longer distances. They rarely have air conditioning, and most of the time, they are incredibly uncomfortable.
Albania car rentals will 🌟give you the freedom to travel to your own itinerary and schedule. You can visit lesser-known off-the-beaten tourist track destinations or arrive at popular locations before the public bus or tour buses arrive.
If you are travelling with family or friends, your own rental car will make it 🌟easier to carry all your baggage and avoid the stress and hassle of securing everyone in your party a seat on a public bus. It will also save money on tours.
An Albania car rental will also enable you to stay outside the main tourist areas in places not accessible by public transport. This often results in 🌟cheaper accommodation and a more authentic Albanian stay.
Book your rental car at the best rate here:
Renting A Car In Albania At A Glance
We recommend picking up your car as soon as you land at Tirana Airport. Most travellers skip the capital city, and although we have visited it, if your itinerary is short, it is better to spend more time in other parts of the country.
For finding the cheapest car rental deals, we always use Discover Cars when we travel, including our trip to Albania.
Discover Cars is a time-saving comparison site which will show you all the cars that are available at your chosen pick-up location in Albania on your chosen dates. Useful filters such as the price and size of the car can further narrow your search, saving you time and stress.
One reason we like and use Discover Cars is that the quoted price is the price you pay; there are no hidden or add-on fees. Plus, the company offers free cancellation in case your trip plans have to change or decide that driving in Albania is not for you.
99% of the time, Discover Cars offers a lower price than the local rental shops. We actually tested it out in Albania! Another thing we love about Discover Cars is their full cover option, which protects you from accidents and even your access fee.
⚠️ 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.
Is It Safe To Hire A Car In Albania?
Car hire Albania is generally considered safe – or as safe as it is in most other countries.
If you prefer to rent a car from a recognised brand, both Alamo and Enterprise have depots in Albania and are listed on Discover Cars. Whether you are looking for the best luxury car rental Tirana has to offer, or the best cheap car rental Albania can offer, there will be a vehicle on Discover Cars for you.
When you pick up your car, do a quick safety check before you leave the depot and only set off on your Albania road trip after doing some research into driving rules, road conditions, speed limits and key road signs.
Driving in Albania is a different matter. It can be challenging at times and should only be attempted by confident and experienced drivers.
Despite the hair-raising reputation of driving in Albania, our experiences behind the wheel have mainly been positive. While we navigated the roads with relative ease, we did encounter the occasional heart-stopping moment, courtesy of some spirited local drivers who seemed to treat the traffic rules more like suggestions.
Book your rental car at the best rate here:
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 in the EU rules 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
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 £305 / $380 for a peak season week in August. The same-sized car costs from as little as £150 / $187 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 £800 / $997 for a one-week hire in August, dropping to £285 / $355 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 sightsee 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, I always use Discover Cars.
Book your rental car at the best rate here:
What Are The Best Places For Car Rentals In Albania?
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 Tirana Albania is that you will have to navigate your way out of the city.
Another option is Tirana city centre or Tirana Airport rent a car locations 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 or 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.
Book your rental car at the best rate here:
Tips For Your Rental Car In Albania
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 1 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 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 hire car could save 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.
Book your rental car at the best rate here:
Tips For Driving In Albania
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 £1000 / $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 county 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 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.
✔️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 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
If car hire or auto rental in Albania is not for you, there is a limited number of public transport options available.
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 catch a Furgon, which are 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 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
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.
Find the best rates on renting a car in Albania here:
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!
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