Car rental in Albania – an affordable, enjoyable, and safe process. Public transportation in Albania is poorly developed, and having a car is essential here. However, like in any other country, I’m sure you have questions and concerns. I will tell you about all the pitfalls of car rental in Albania specifically. I will provide recommendations and advice. By the end of the article, you won’t have any questions left.
Where to rent a car in Albania?
First, the answer to the most important question in the article, and then, for those interested, I will talk about the pitfalls, road police, traffic rules, deposit, and security.
- DiscoverCars – the largest car rental aggregator in the Albanian market. Uniform conditions for everyone.
- LocalRent – all national and local small-scale rental companies. Extremely flexible conditions. Moreover, the remaining amount and deposit can be paid even in cash when receiving the car. Personally, I rent cars from them, very convenient.
Car rental in Albania: convenience or necessity?
If you have already read other articles in this guide, you know the answer. For the rest, I will explain in detail.
Often, a car is not a necessity during a trip, and many tourists have a certain fear of car rental. They worry about being deceived, being charged extra, having a high deposit, and they don’t trust the process. What if there’s an accident?
Important:If you have never rented a car abroad before, Albania is the perfect choice for the first time. This is your chance to look at the process from a different perspective and see that there is nothing complicated about it.
Main reasons for car rental in Albania
- The country is completely safe. There are no car scams, thefts, setups, or other such incidents.
- Low traffic intensity and good roads. Only Tirana experiences traffic jams, but overall, it’s the only place where a car is not highly necessary.
- High driving culture. Yes, indeed. I often see comments online claiming that Albanians drive horribly. Are you kidding? In our countries, there are many more idiots, “teachers,” and simply reckless drivers.
- Local drivers have a peculiar habit that surprised me greatly. They can simply stop in the middle of the road, turn on their hazard lights, and go about their business, like having a coffee, for instance.
- Or they can make a U-turn at a pedestrian crossing when pedestrians have the green light.
- But at the same time, no one will flash their lights, honk, cut you off, or try to teach you a lesson on the road.
- In Albania, all rental companies have standardized rental rules, which is very convenient, and the deposits are relatively low compared to the rest of Europe.
- And most importantly, rental companies have an extremely accommodating attitude towards tourists.
- They don’t see you as a walking wallet. This applies to all sectors, not just car rentals.
- There’s no aim to squeeze money out of you for every scratch.
- Most importantly, it’s crucial to immediately purchase the necessary insurance, but we’ll discuss that in detail later.
Car rental during a trip in Albania: it is primarily a necessity.
- Public transportation in the country is rated a minus three.
- A vast number of attractions are located not in the cities but in remote areas:
- Mountains and hiking trails
- Wild, beautiful beaches
- Hot springs
- Without a car, there is simply no way to reach all these places.
- Without a car, you will miss out on at least 30% of what you could see with one.
- Here, you will find ready-made car routes in Albania for independent travelers.
Traffic rules, roads, parking, police, gas stations, and more.
I’ll keep it brief since there is already a comprehensive article on this topic. It covers everything about traffic and parking on Albanian roads. But in summary:
- Traffic rules are practically identical to ours.
- In general, you may not even notice the difference. Just get in and drive, everything is the same as back home. However, there are slight variations in speed limits.
- Traffic moves on the right side, but the cars have left-hand drive.
- There is a significant presence of police on the roads, but they don’t stop people without reason and won’t bother tourists.
- Parking is free and chaotic everywhere, except in Tirana.
Good to know:This is another reason to choose car rental in Albania: the roads are in good condition, and the traffic rules are the same as ours.
Car rental in Albania: rental rules
In this regard, everything is easy and straightforward in Albania, which is a great advantage for tourists. All rental companies in Albania operate under unified standards.
- Unlimited mileage.
- Since the country is relatively small, there are no limits, neither daily nor any other kind. You can drive even a thousand kilometers a day.
- Cars are always provided with a full tank of gas, and you are expected to return them with a full tank as well.
- Usually, in any car, after a full tank, the fuel gauge doesn’t move for about 50-70 kilometers and shows a full tank.
- I try to refuel about 30 kilometers before returning the car. This way, I am confident that there won’t be any additional penalties.
- The largest selection of manual transmission cars.
- As it is a mountainous country, automatic transmission is not popular here.
- Cars with automatic transmission are usually of higher class and significantly more expensive.
- About 95% of economy-class cars have manual transmission.
- You don’t need to wash or vacuum the car upon return.
- The car is provided to you clean, and there are no penalties for returning it dirty after use.
- Of course, if the interior is spilled or damaged, requiring professional cleaning, then there may be questions.
- There are no road restrictions.
- You can drive on roads of any significance and with any type of surface.
- Essentially, as long as the car is moving, you can go.
- But remember, as they say, the better the 4×4, the farther you’ll have to walk to find help.
- A unified set of documents is required. For any driver, three documents are needed:
- Driver’s license. Important note: the license must have been issued at least 1 year before the rental start date. And for some premium-class cars, it may require 2 or even 3 years.
- Credit card. The requirement is simple: your name must be embossed on the card as it appears in your passport and driver’s license.
Important to know:Plastic driver’s licenses with all fields duplicated in English are valid in Albania. An international driver’s license is not mandatory.
Differences in rental company rules in Albania
However, there is one aspect that varies from company to company, and if you are under 27 years old, pay attention to it. Those who are older can skip this point.
Important to know:Car rental in Albania is officially allowed from the age of 18.
- But some car rental companies only provide cars to individuals who are 21 years old or older. There are a couple of others that have an age limit of 23 years.
- There are rental companies that offer cars to those who are 18 years old, but they charge an additional fee of 3-5 euros per day if you are under 27 years old.
And there are many such variations. Each company has its own age requirements. Therefore, always inquire about the age limit when making a reservation if you are under 27 years old.
Car rental in Albania: options for tourists
For any traveler, there are essentially three options for car rental in Albania. Each of them has its pros and cons, with some having more and others having fewer. I will tell you about all three, but the decision is ultimately up to you.
On-site car rental at the offices of major international companies
For example, you arrive in Albania, decide to rent a car, and go to the rental company offices to find a suitable option. Or if you are at Tirana Airport, there are offices of around 7 rental companies there.
To find them, note that they are not located in the main airport building. For everything you need to know about Tirana Airport, including the rental offices, please refer to the article linked.
Pros of this option:
- Convenient for those who don’t have a fixed travel plan and timing.
- Usually, the rental offices are well-located, such as at the airport or in the center of Tirana, as well as in major cities.
- You can inspect the offered cars on the spot. You will know not only the transmission type and engine specifications but even details like the mats in the interior and the color of the car. This is a great option for those renting a premium-class vehicle.
- 24/7 roadside assistance.
Now, let’s discuss the drawbacks, unfortunately, they exist:
- This is one of the most expensive options.
- Pricing is often unclear. They will quote you a price, and you won’t have other options for comparison right in front of you.
- In the high season, economy-class cars are almost always unavailable. You will have to settle for a higher class of car.
Tip:For this option, I recommend international car rental chains such as Hertz, Avis, Europcar, Sixt.
Car rental with local rental companies
This is the most ambiguous rental option. What you need to know about this method. These are small local companies, some of which may have a fleet of just 5 cars. Typically, they are family businesses or closely related to families. You will be dealing directly with the owner or their son, brother, or relative.
There are actually only one or two significant advantages:
- You can leave the deposit in cash, and they will return it to you in cash. In the first and third options, the deposit is only accepted by card. This is convenient for those who don’t have 400-600 euros available on their card. This is the standard deposit amount in Albania.
- You can reserve a specific car, not just a car class.
However, there are many more disadvantages:
- The condition of the cars is below average. Private individuals squeeze out the maximum from them.
- Low customer loyalty. In small companies, they try to maximize their gains from customers. There is a chance that they won’t return 50-100 euros for a scratch or chip that you didn’t notice during the car handover.
- There won’t be 24/7 roadside assistance. God forbid, if something happens while you are 300 kilometers away from Tirana, for example, you’ll have to wait for assistance until the morning.
Tip:There’s no point in recommending specific companies here as there are many throughout Albania. Generally, I would advise considering this option only if you don’t have a credit card. For everyone else, it’s better to choose either the first or the third option.
Car rental in Albania through online booking with major market players
This option is suitable for those who have a clear travel plan and know for how many days they need a car and when they will be ready to return it.
- Undoubtedly the most affordable option, especially for those who book not just a couple of days in advance but two weeks or more before their trip.
- Clear pricing and a wide selection among dozens of companies and hundreds of offers.
- For those who have made an advance booking, there is no waiting in line. This is especially relevant if you are renting a car at the airport. Sometimes, two or three planes land at once, you go through passport control, arrive at the rental company, and there’s already a queue of eight people. That can easily take an hour.
- Your car will be prepared and waiting for you according to your flight schedule.
- A significant advantage is that if the car of your reserved class is not available, they will provide you with a higher-class car for the same price. This is particularly useful during the high season when there is a shortage of cars for all the tourists.
- A fantastic network of rental locations: you can pick up a car in one city and drop it off in another. Small rental operators generally do not offer this option at all.
Cons, and they do exist:
- The deposit for the car is usually around 400-600 euros for an economy-class car.
- It’s important to understand that you are reserving a car class, not a specific vehicle.
- Even if you reserved a VW Polo hatchback with an automatic transmission and air conditioning, they can give you any other car without even asking, but it will be guaranteed to have an automatic transmission, air conditioning, and a hatchback.
- It’s important to understand that you are reserving a car class, not a specific vehicle.
Tip:For this option, large car rental aggregators are ideal. They have compiled offers from all international rental companies operating in Albania. Firstly, you can see all the prices and market players at once, and secondly, the aggregator guarantees the safety of the rental process. There are no scammers or fake companies there.
Car rental aggregators:
Here’s a brief but relevant overview. There are several major aggregators operating in the Albanian market, offering the largest car rental databases. I will mention two of them. You can search everywhere and book where you find the best price or the most appealing options. Both aggregators are completely safe and only work with reputable companies.
- DiscoverCars – an international aggregator and the largest one covering the Balkans and Albania.
- LocalRent – focuses on national rental companies. It offers a user-friendly and intuitive search function and a wide selection of economy-class cars. They accept credit cards for prepayment, and the remaining amount abd deposit can be paid in cash upon pickup.
Author’s recommendation:Personally, my favorite companies are Sixt and AutoUnion. They have the most customer-friendly policies, and I’ve never encountered any issues with them. I’ve rented cars from them more than 10 times. However, note that Sixt tends to be slightly more expensive.
Security deposit, Insurance, and Accidents: All the intricacies and pitfalls
This chapter is crucial and interesting. At the very least, it will help you understand the topic, and in case of an accident, it will save you a lot of money. So let’s go through each point in detail.
Car Rental in Albania: Everything about the deposit
Regardless of which car rental option in Albania you choose among the three, you will be asked to leave a deposit for the car, also known as a security deposit. The standard deposit for economy-class cars in rental companies is around 400-600 euros. It doesn’t depend on the rental duration, whether you take the car for one day or two weeks, the deposit will remain the same.
Useful to know:I often hear tourists express their outrage about why the deposit is so large when all rental cars are insured. To some extent, I agree with this sentiment.
But put yourself in the shoes of the rental company: you are an entirely unknown person to them. They are entrusting their property to you, and not just a scooter but a car worth tens of thousands of euros. They need guarantees that you won’t abandon their car in a field or swamp (by the way, there are no swamps in Albania). They need assurances that you will return the car. Otherwise, where can they find you? You are a citizen of another country, and in case of any mishap, it would be difficult for them to hold you accountable.
That’s why a deposit is always required. Reputable companies only accept deposits by card. The amount is simply blocked on the account and not physically deducted. However, small local rental companies may accept cash deposits.
- The higher the car class, the larger the deposit. By the way, in Italy, for example, deposits start from 1000 euros. So, in Albania, it’s still quite reasonable.
Insurance or Full Coverage
Insurance in car rental is a confusing topic for any tourist. Now I will explain everything to you.
When renting a car in Albania, there are only two types of insurance.
- Basic insurance.
- It is always included in the car rental cost.
- You will never be asked to pay extra for it.
- The basic or standard insurance covers the following:
- Car theft
- Damage caused by natural disasters: fire, flood, earthquake, and so on.
- In case of an accident, but only if the other driver is at fault
Useful to know:If you rented a car without full insurance, only with basic insurance, then the deposit will be fully refunded to you only in the event of one of the above scenarios. Or if you return the car in the same condition as you took it. As for the coverage provided by full insurance, see below.
- Full insurance or SuperCover or complete protection – it’s all about the same insurance.
- It is always purchased additionally and requires an additional payment, so it’s optional for the client.
- In Albania, full insurance costs an average of 6-12 euros per day, depending on the car and the company.
- Full insurance covers:
- Punctured tires or a stone breaking the windshield
- Scratches on the car caused by someone in the parking lot
- Damage to the interior upholstery
- Being involved in an accident where you are at fault
- Lost keys
- Broken side mirrors
- Damage to the paintwork from a stone/curb, etc.
Important to know:If you purchase full insurance, in order to have your entire deposit refunded, you simply need to return the car within the agreed-upon rental period as per the contract, and not abandon it in a field. Even if there are any damages, there won’t be any issues. However, if you leave the car in a field and fly home, even with full insurance, the deposit will not be refunded.
What is not covered by full insurance?
Two more important points for renting a car with any insurance:
- In case of any incident, even a minor accident, you need to call the rental company and report it. They will provide you with a contact number. You should also send photos of the damage via WhatsApp. This way, there will be no issues during the car return.
- And don’t forget that parking fines and speeding tickets captured by cameras are paid separately by you or deducted from the deposit.
Car Rental in Albania: Budget for a Week
A brief section for general understanding. Remember that prices can sharply increase during the peak season. Below is the approximate cost of renting a car for 1 week in Albania during the high season (but not the peak). This price will help you plan your travel budget.
In the link, you will find a comprehensive article on the overall travel cost for two people in Albania, including all expenses.
So, the budget for a 7-day car rental:
- Economy-class car – 25 euros/day or 175 euros/week
- Full insurance – 8 euros/day or 56 euros/week
- Roads in the country are toll-free, and in 99% of cases, parking is also free.
- Gasoline is expensive, but the country is small, and your mileage will only be a few hundred kilometers. Within a week, circling around Albania, you will cover about 500 km. This is around 35 liters of gasoline or 60 euros.
Total car rental budget:291 euros per week. This is for unlimited use of the car. The expenses are not exorbitant. The mobility you gain will allow you to see three times more amazing places compared to traveling by bus. In the rest of Europe, car rental rates are much higher.
And remember, early bookings often come with juicy promotions and discounts from major market players! Additionally, during autumn, winter, and spring, prices are even lower than the ones mentioned.
Car Rental in Albania for Traveling to Neighboring Countries: Montenegro, Greece, Serbia, Kosovo, etc.
If you want to cross the borders of Albania with a rental car and then return, you need to inform the rental company in advance. They arrange special insurance for border crossing and require additional documents, which the rental company will handle.
In fact, the rental company takes care of all the necessary paperwork; you only need to let them know which country you plan to visit.
- Depending on the rental company and the destination country, you may need to pay an additional fee of 60 to 100 euros.
The most important thing:In this matter, it is crucial to notify the rental company in advance or choose one that explicitly allows their cars to be taken outside Albania. All international companies listed in the links above definitely offer this option to tourists. However, with smaller local rental companies, it’s not guaranteed, so it’s best to inquire individually.
Regarding travel to Kosovo:There are certain difficulties when traveling from Albania to Kosovo, and if you plan to continue from Kosovo to Serbia and then to Montenegro, there are even more complexities.
The political situation is such that Kosovo is currently an unrecognized republic, while Serbia considers these territories as its own. However, some countries, such as Albania, have recognized Kosovo. So, if you enter Kosovo, for example, from Albania, it is considered an illegal border crossing for Serbians, leading to various consequences. Remember: if you enter through Kosovo, travel through Serbia (as there are no borders between them), and return via Kosovo.
- To learn how to cross the borders of Albania by car, you can read more here.
In conclusion: Renting a car in Albania is a truly simple, affordable, and safe process. Albania is an excellent country for your first-time visit 🙂 And without a car, you won’t truly experience the country. It will provide you with a level of mobility that no bus can offer.
Traveling around Albania by car is awesome!
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania
- Flights at the best prices with juicy discounts
- Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
- Hotels and apartments throughout the country: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card in Albania
- Taxi and transfers: Intui.Travel