What a tourist needs to know about driving in Albania – traffic, parking, roads, everything, and even more – I will tell you in this article. This information is especially useful for independent travelers and those renting cars.
Traffic Rules in Albania
I have already written a lot briefly in other articles, but I will provide more details here. The traffic rules in Albania are practically the same as ours. You will hardly notice any difference, making it comfortable for tourists to drive on local roads. Here are the main highlights of the Traffic Rules in Albania:
- Right-hand traffic.
- Left-hand drive cars.
- Speed limits:
- In urban areas: According to the rules, it’s 50 km/h, but in many places, you will find signs for 40 km/h or even lower.
- Outside urban areas: 80 km/h.
- There are two highways in the country where the speed limit is 110 km/h.
- Seat belts must be fastened for all passengers, both front and rear. However, the locals tend to ignore this rule, and the police do not enforce it.
- The permissible blood alcohol level is 0.1 per mille. Although the nation is not known for heavy drinking, locals easily get behind the wheel after a glass of wine.
- Child seats are mandatory for children under 12 years old. By the way, Albanians also widely ignore this rule.
Important:Speeding: Even exceeding the speed limit by 1 km/h is considered a violation. Although there are few radars in the country, they do exist.
Fines in Albania are very low, and for most violations, it’s 2000 Lek (20$). This includes:
- Running a red light.
- Overtaking in a restricted area.
- Speeding up to 10 km/h over the limit.
- Speeding up to 20 km/h over the limit – already 4000 Lek.
- Failure to yield the right of way.
However, there are a few violations with a 1000 Lek (10$) fine:
- Not wearing seat belts.
- Driving without low beam headlights on during the night or fog.
- Carrying children without a child seat.
- Talking on the phone while driving.
Important to know:If you rent a car, any fines captured by cameras or parking tickets will be sent directly to the rental company the next day. They will forward it to you on your phone, and it’s your responsibility to pay the fine at any bank and send the receipt back to the rental agency. In Albania, they offer a 20% discount if you pay the fine within 5 days from the violation date.
- Driving under the influence results in a 12-month suspension.
- For more information on Albania’s currency, where to exchange money, using cards, and more, check out this comprehensive article.
All About Roads in Albania
In brief, but to the point: 95% of the roads in Albania, if you avoid the most remote areas, are of excellent quality.
Useful to know:As of 2023, significant projects for road repairs are ongoing throughout the country. The main roads are in excellent condition. The road to the Cursed Mountains, which used to be challenging, now has new asphalt. The repair of the SH75 road section has begun, which is the most beautiful road in Albania. The road to the Blue Eye Spring has been improved. By 2025-2027, 99% of the roads in the country are expected to delight tourists.
As more than 70% of Albania is mountainous, the roads correspond to the terrain. They consist of continuous serpentine turns, ascents, and descents that might leave your ears popping.
- Tip: For such roads, it’s more convenient and easier to drive a manual transmission vehicle.
Important to know:There are no toll roads in Albania. Even the highways are toll-free. However, when entering the country with your car, like anywhere else, you will need to purchase a “green card.”
Traffic intensity on the roads outside major cities is extremely low. Traffic jams are mostly found in Tirana. Durres also experiences quite dense traffic. However, moving around the rest of the country by car is a pure pleasure. We will cover driving in Tirana separately below.
Traffic in Tirana: The Best Ways to Get Around the Capital
An important point: Traveling by car is essential in Albania. You simply can’t reach around 80% of the country’s attractions using public transport. However, when it comes to Tirana, having a car isn’t really necessary. It’s a compact city where most tourist spots are easily accessible on foot, except for two places. You can read more about Tirana’s attractions in detail here.
Advice:Are you arriving or departing from Tirana Airport and planning to rent a car? Then plan your itinerary so that you leave the airport by car to explore the rest of Albania, and spend the final 2-3-4 days of your vacation in Tirana, returning the rental car before exploring the city. You won’t need a car in Tirana at all.
- This article provides a link to help you create your perfect self-guided road trip in Albania.
Now, there are two interconnected problems in Tirana:
- Parking is a huge issue here, and there’s a catastrophic shortage of parking spaces. While in any other city, parking might be chaotic, and you can park wherever common sense allows, in Tirana, parking is prohibited along all main roads and throughout the city center.
- The second problem is that there are only buses available for public transportation in the capital. There’s no metro, trams, trolleybuses, or any other form of public transport.
- As a result, 100% of the population in Tirana moves around the city on roads—no underground or rail transportation—everything is done by car. Traffic jams are abundant, and driving in the city can become a nightmare.
Useful to know:The best way to get around Tirana is either by taxi when you need to go to the airport or to the outskirts to visit the Enver Hoxha Bunker. For all other cases, it’s easier to walk, as distances within the city are not significant.
- You can find information about public transportation in Albania, including Tirana, in this article. It covers how often the buses run, ticket prices, payment methods, and more.
Parking in Albania
We will address parking in two sections: parking in Albania in general and parking in Tirana. Let’s start with the simpler question.
Parking in cities in Albania
In 99% of cases, parking is free and chaotic in Albania. You can leave your car anywhere alongside the roads in the country. This is what everyone does, and you will do the same.
Paid parking in Albanian cities (excluding Tirana) can be found in:
- The city of Pogradec on the main promenade of the city, Lake Ohrid.
- Interestingly, parking is only charged during the high tourist season.
- From October onwards, parking is free everywhere.
- The cost of parking in this area in Pogradec is 50 Lek per hour.
- In Durres, Vlore, Saranda, and other resort cities, parking can also be a problem during the tourist season. In such cases, locals create chaotic parking spaces for tourists. They look like the ones in the photo below.
Parking in Tirana
In Tirana, the situation is entirely different. There is a shortage of parking spaces, and there are plenty of cars. In the city center, the streets open for parking have been designated as paid zones by the city authorities. It’s essential to understand that outside the center of Tirana, parking is free, but the problem remains colossal. There’s simply nowhere to squeeze in a car. Every inch seems occupied.
Moreover, parking is a highly sensitive issue in Tirana, and locals are quite emotional about it. If you see that a spot belongs to someone, don’t occupy it, even if it’s just a chair with a sign or someone has cordoned off the area with a rope. Yes, it’s illegal, but you don’t need that trouble.
So, let’s talk about parking in the center of Tirana:
- Zone A – 100 Lek per hour ($1).
- Zone B – 40 Lek per hour ($0.4).
- Private parking areas. These are spots purchased by local residents. Never take these spaces.
How to Pay for Parking in Tirana
Here, everything is straightforward. Parking meters and attendants have been absent in Tirana for many years. However, in other cities, you might still find parking attendants.
To pay for parking, you can only use SMS to a unified number 50500. Important points:
- The cost of one SMS equals one hour of parking.
- You must remember to send a new SMS every hour.
- Paid parking in Tirana operates from 7:30 to 20:00. Outside these hours, parking is free!
- In 90% of cases, Saturdays and Sundays are also entirely free, but not everywhere. Additionally, parking is free during holidays. You can find information about Albanian holidays in this article.
- Always check the signs where you park.
- E HENE – E DIEL (Paid from Monday to Sunday)
- E HENE – E PREMTE (From Monday to Friday)
- The Albanian language is complex; you can find detailed information about it in a separate article.
Important to know:You can pay for parking via SMS only from an Albanian phone number. In the article link, you can find all about mobile communication, internet, and Albanian operators. Remember that when you connect in a mobile shop as a tourist, you’ll receive only minutes and megabytes on your balance. There’s no money there. If you plan to pay for parking, immediately top up your balance on the spot, as foreign SIM cards cannot go into a negative balance.
Here’s a brief and positive overview of information for tourists:
- There are many police patrols on the roads in Albania.
- They rarely stop just for document checks, but it can happen.
- The police officers are respectful, courteous, and don’t engage in extortion, avoiding troubling tourists.
- The majority of patrols stand by the roadside merely observing the situation, meaning they might appear preoccupied, talking on the phone, etc.
- However, there are occasions when they set up speed traps or checkpoints, stopping everyone for document checks.
Useful to know:In general, there isn’t much to say to tourists about the police. Unless you violate any laws or get involved in an accident.
Petrol Stations in Albania: Everything You Need to Know About Fuel:
Here are some facts about petrol stations in Albania:
- The country has a vast number of petrol stations.
- However, there are only a few major chain networks, with the largest being Kastrati.
- In Albania, there are thousands of petrol stations operated privately. So, you don’t need to remember the names or signs.
- Albania’s standards allow for petrol stations with only one pump, even on the ground floor of residential buildings.
- There are three types of fuel in the country:
- Benzine (equivalent to our 95-octane) – 160-190 Lek per liter ($1.8).
- Diesel – priced the same as benzine.
- Gas – around 85 Lek per liter ($0.85).
Important to know:Fuel prices vary at different petrol stations. Smaller stations usually have cheaper prices, while larger ones are more expensive. The price difference can be around 10-20 Lek per liter. Gas is available only at larger petrol stations. Every petrol station has an attendant, so you don’t need to leave your car; they’ll handle everything for you. At bigger petrol stations, you can pay for fuel with a card, which is relatively rare in Albania.
You might come across tourists claiming that during their week-long vacation, they only refueled once at major petrol stations, as they believe the fuel there is of higher quality and no one tampers with it. I chuckle at such people. They are used to their fellow citizens trying any means to deceive each other. And they transfer this stereotype to other countries.
- In Albania, you can refuel at any petrol station, as the fuel quality is the same everywhere. There’s no deception or scamming happening.
- The price difference arises because at extremely small petrol stations, only a father and son might work there. And they are willing to operate on smaller margins due to lower expenses.
- By the way, read the article about spirits and wines in Albania.
Driving Style of Albanians:
In conclusion, let’s talk a bit about the Albanian mentality.
I often read on the internet that driving in Albania is awful, and the drivers are simply “out of their minds.” They say that even thinking of driving in this country will lead to your demise in six minutes. I don’t know who writes such things. Yes, the driving style in Albania is different from ours. You might even encounter daredevils overtaking on solid lines. But let me tell you this:
- The number of idiots, teachers, rude drivers, and inadequate individuals on our roads is tenfold.
- No driver here will even think of teaching you how to drive. Even if you’re crawling on a narrow road, they’ll follow behind calmly, and when there’s a chance, they’ll pass and disappear on the horizon.
- Nobody flashes their lights or tailgates closely here.
- The driving style of Albanian drivers is very calm, measured, and without abrupt movements.
The differences between Albanian drivers and ours for the worse
However, there are some aspects that set Albanian drivers apart in a negative way.
- Turn signals are entirely unnecessary in cars here. No one needs them.
- The majority of roads in Albania are narrow. It’s okay here when two familiar drivers meet. They stop and chat for about 30 seconds. Everyone waits patiently; no one honks. In our country, someone would swear at you from head to toe for such behavior. Here, it’s normal, although it frustrates me. Well, you can move away, get out of your car, and have a conversation, but no.
- For example, in traffic jams in Tirana, they might slowly turn around on a pedestrian crossing when pedestrians have a green light. They won’t run over your foot or drive over your hood. But the fact itself is astonishing.
- Or, the most common situation that amused me as a tourist but became infuriating when I started living here.
- In the evening, during peak traffic, two lanes in each direction, everyone is moving slowly.
- A driver can comfortably stop right in the lane, turn on the hazard lights, and go have coffee.
- Everyone will pass them, and traffic will become even slower, but no one will honk.
- This is normal in Albania. In our country, someone would throw a brick at them.
In conclusion:The driving style here is unique. However, I must reiterate that it is calm, without aggressiveness, teachers, and other idiots on the roads.
In summary: roads in Albania, like the people, the fuel, and the police, are of good quality. Driving on Albanian roads is safe, enjoyable, and comfortable. Nobody is rushing anywhere here. Everyone finds pleasure in life. Yes, there are difficulties with parking in Tirana, but that’s probably the only challenge in Albania when it comes to driving.
Wishing you pleasant journeys on the beautiful Albanian roads!
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