Renting a car to explore Albania’s picturesque landscapes and rich cultural heritage can be an exciting adventure. However, to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip, it’s important for foreign visitors to familiarize themselves with Albania’s unique traffic laws and driving conditions. In this comprehensive guide, we will cover the essential aspects of driving in Albania
A short guide on driving in Albania
Driving in Albania is on the right-hand side of the road, similar to most European countries. This means that the driver’s seat is on the left-hand side of the vehicle and you should stay on the right-hand side of your lane.
Albania’s speed limits vary depending on the type of road and location. Typically, urban areas have speed limits of 40 to 50 km/h (25 to 31 mph), while rural roads allow speeds up to 80 km/h (50 mph). On highways, the maximum speed limit is 110 km/h (68 mph). Always obey posted speed limits, which may vary from area to area. Violating speed limits can result in significant fines, so it’s important to obey them.
Albania uses traffic lights and drivers must obey their signals. The standard signals are red, amber and green, where red means stop, amber means caution and green means proceed.
Roundabouts are common in Albania. Remember that vehicles already in the roundabout have the right of way, so you must yield to them. Only enter a roundabout when it is safe to do so.
Right of way
In Albania, the general rule is that the vehicle on the right has the right of way. However, this rule is not always strictly enforced, so be careful, especially at busy intersections.
Seat belt use
The use of seatbelts is mandatory for all vehicle occupants, including front and rear seat passengers. Failure to wear a seatbelt may result in a fine.
Children under the age of 12 or less than 150 cm (4 feet 11 inches) must use a child restraint system appropriate for their age, height and weight. Drivers are responsible for child safety.
Although it is not mandatory to use headlights during the day, it is recommended, especially when driving in rural areas or in adverse weather conditions.
Using a cell phone without a hands-free kit while driving is prohibited. It is best not to use a cell phone at all while driving for safety and to obey the law.
Albania enforces strict alcohol limits for drivers. The legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit is 0.05%, which is lower than in many other countries. It is recommended that you abstain from alcohol if you plan to drive.
Road conditions in Albania can vary considerably. While major highways and urban roads are generally well maintained, rural roads can be narrow and poorly maintained in some areas. Drive with caution, especially in mountainous areas.
Albania does not have a widespread toll system. However, some tunnels and bridges may have tolls. Make sure you have some local currency in case you encounter toll booths.
Fuel is readily available in Albania, with gas stations in both urban and rural areas. Pay close attention to your fuel gauge, especially when traveling in remote areas, as gas stations can be scarce in some areas.
When renting a car in Albania, you will usually need your passport, driver’s license and a valid credit card for the rental deposit. In addition, non-European Union (EU) citizens are advised to carry an International Driving Permit (IDP).
In case of emergency, dial 112, the universal emergency number in Albania. For specific road assistance, contact local authorities or your rental car company.
Keep in mind that road conditions and regulations can change, so it’s important to check for the latest information before starting your trip in Albania. Enjoy your road trip, explore the beauty of Albania, and remember to drive safely and obey local traffic laws.
FAQs about driving in Albania
Do I need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in Albania as a foreigner?
While an IDP is recommended for non-European Union (EU) citizens, it’s not mandatory. However, having one can be beneficial as it provides a translation of your driver’s license.
Can I use my credit card to pay for fuel and tolls in Albania?
Credit cards are generally accepted at gas stations for fuel payments. However, it’s a good idea to carry some cash, especially in rural areas where card acceptance may be less common. Regarding tolls, as of my last update in September 2021, some tunnels and bridges may require cash payments, so it’s advisable to have local currency on hand.
Are there any special traffic rules or customs I should be aware of when driving in Albania?
In Albania, it’s common for drivers to use their horns frequently, not necessarily as a sign of aggression, but as a way of communicating on the road. Don’t be surprised if you hear honking and be aware of the local custom.
What is parking like in Albania, especially in the big cities?
Parking in Albanian cities can be challenging, with limited designated parking areas. On-street parking is often the norm, and you may be required to pay for parking in some locations. It’s important to follow local parking regulations and avoid blocking traffic or pedestrian routes.
Are there English road signs, or should I be familiar with Albanian road signs?
Road signs in Albania are predominantly in Albanian and English signs are not common. It may be beneficial to familiarize yourself with common road signs and traffic signals before you travel.
Can I rely on GPS navigation systems in Albania?
GPS navigation systems such as Google Maps and Waze can be used in Albania and are helpful for getting around. However, keep in mind that some rural and remote areas may have limited GPS coverage, so it’s a good idea to have a physical map as a backup.
What are the winter driving conditions in Albania?
In the mountainous regions, especially during the winter months, road conditions can deteriorate due to snow and ice. Be prepared for winter driving and it’s advisable to equip your vehicle with snow chains if you plan to explore these areas.
What should I do in case of a breakdown or accident in Albania?
In the event of a breakdown or accident, it’s important to contact the local authorities and, if applicable, your rental car company. Make sure you have emergency contact information and follow local procedures for reporting accidents and seeking assistance.
Is it safe to drive in Albania at night?
Driving at night in Albania is generally safe in urban areas, but caution is advised on rural roads where visibility may be limited. Animals, pedestrians and unlit vehicles can be a hazard, so drive at a moderate speed and use your headlights.