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Car Rental in Tirana: the Capital and Heart of Albania
Albania’s capital city is a vibrant, busy, and exciting place from which to get acquainted with this incredible part of the world, marked by some of the Western world’s most impressive civilizations. Tirana’s inhabitants have responded to the most recent change in civilizations – with their emergence from communism in 1990 – by painting the city’s housing vibrant primary colors and reclaiming streets as pedestrian areas. Rent a car to see as much of Tirana and its beautiful countryside as possible.
The best time to visit Albania is during the summer months, spanning from May to September, when the weather is warm and dry. An added benefit of spending your summer vacation in and around Tirana is that few other tourists do!
Albanian, a unique Indo-European language, is the official language of the country and is also the language most spoken by its inhabitants. However, many Albanians also speak Greek, Italian, German, French, or English, so try your hand at any European language if you’re in need of assistance.
Albania is located in the Central European Time Zone, UTC+1.
The currency is the Albanian lek. ATMs serving both Maestro and Visa are available throughout Tirana; one is also available at the airport. Albania still has a cash culture, so it’s a good idea to have local currency on hand.
If you are arriving by air, you’ll likely land at Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza, also known as Rinas International Airport. Located 17 kilometers from central Tirana, this is a great place to book and pick up a rental car. You can also pick up a rental car at various points throughout the city, particularly along the main road, Rruga Dritan Hoxha.
Tirana is ideally located for day trips to the Albanian countryside or coast. Dajti National Park is a beautiful place to get acquainted with Albanian flora and fauna around Mount Dajti and is located less than an hour’s drive outside the city. A 40-minute drive east will have you at the historic port city of Durrës, Albania’s second largest city, and home to one of the Balkans’ largest amphitheaters.
Citizens of over 80 countries can enter Albania without a visa for a stay of up to 90 days, though a passport is required for all entries. Double-check requirements for your nationality, as some people will have to apply for a visa from an Albanian diplomatic mission before they arrive.
Driving in Tirana
Roads are hit and miss in Tirana, so be on the lookout for quickly changing road conditions, even from pavement to gravel in unexpected places. Damaged roads – including on the highways – are unlikely to be marked. Drive defensively and react quickly and you will be driving like a local in no time.
- Traffic drives on the right-hand side of the road in Albania and overtaking or passing occurs on the left.
- Vehicles approaching from the right have right of way, unless the intersection is otherwise marked by a sign or traffic light.
Speed Limits throughout Albania
- On motorways or highways: 110 km/h
- On main intercity roads: 90 km/h
- On local roads and other intercity roads: 80 km/h
- In cities: 40 km/h
- Traffic has gotten quite bad in Tirana in recent years, not least because the population of the city is growing rapidly. Avoid driving in the hours around morning and evening rush hours!
- Parking is a challenge in Tirana, so ask your hotel about off-street parking facilities before you book a room. You may find street parking in places where cars appear to be curiously double- and triple-parked. If this is the case, you’ll be asked to pay a parking fee by an attendant. If you’re at all unsure whether parking is permitted in the area you’d like to park, play it safe; vehicles are towed quickly in Tirana.
- Your headlights must be on at all times; turning them off while driving can warrant the police pulling you over.
- You will need an international driver’s permit in addition to your valid domestic license in order to rent and drive a car in Albania.
- At the time of writing there were no toll roads in Albania, though some are in planning stages.
- The minimum driving age in Albania is 18, and typically you will have to be at least 23 years of age in order to rent a car. Drivers under the age of 25 are likely to be issued an additional surcharge.
- Streets are unlikely to be lit consistently at night, so night driving is not recommended. Some petrol or gas stations will be open 24 hours in and around Tirana, though some of them may not accept credit cards. Others will only be open from 8am to 8pm.