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Albania Off the Beaten Path: Hidden Gems to Explore by Car


Albania, a land of rich history and diverse landscapes, offers more than just its popular tourist spots. For the adventurous traveler, renting a car in Albania provides the perfect opportunity to explore the country’s hidden gems. This guide provides essential car rental tips, a detailed itinerary of lesser-known destinations, and practical travel advice for an unforgettable road trip through Albania’s off-the-beaten-path treasures.

Why Choose a Self-Drive Tour?

  1. Flexibility: Enjoy the freedom to create your own schedule and explore lesser-known destinations at your own pace.
  2. Cost-Effective: Renting a car can be more economical than organized tours, especially when traveling with family or friends.
  3. Comfort: Travel comfortably with your belongings and take breaks whenever needed.

Car Rental Tips

  1. Book in Advance: Ensure the best rates and availability by booking your rental car in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
  2. Choose the Right Vehicle: For driving through mountainous and rural areas, consider renting an SUV. A compact car is suitable for city driving and coastal routes.
  3. Understand Rental Policies: Familiarize yourself with the rental policies, including insurance coverage, mileage limits, and fuel policies.
  4. Vehicle Inspection: Before driving off, inspect the car for any existing damage and ensure it is documented by the rental company.
  5. Navigation: Equip yourself with a reliable GPS or download offline maps for areas with poor mobile signal.

Itinerary: Hidden Gems to Explore

1. Theth: A Secluded Mountain Village
  • Traditional Village Life: Start your journey in Theth, a remote village in the Albanian Alps. Experience traditional Albanian mountain life and explore the local culture.
  • Theth National Park: Discover the stunning landscapes of Theth National Park, with hiking trails leading to the Blue Eye of Theth and Theth Waterfall.
2. Përmet: The Land of Thermal Springs
  • Thermal Baths: Drive to Përmet, known for its natural thermal springs. Relax in the warm waters of the Benja Thermal Baths, set in a picturesque canyon.
  • Vjosa River: Explore the pristine Vjosa River, ideal for rafting and kayaking, surrounded by unspoiled nature.
3. Korçë: A Cultural Hub
  • Old Bazaar: Visit the charming town of Korçë, with its well-preserved Old Bazaar offering traditional crafts and local delicacies.
  • Cultural Sites: Explore the rich cultural heritage of Korçë, including the National Museum of Medieval Art and the Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection.
4. Përshkopi: Rugged Wilderness
  • Korab Mountain: Head to Përshkopi, a gateway to the rugged wilderness of Korab Mountain, the highest peak in Albania. Ideal for hiking and mountaineering.
  • Thermal Springs: Enjoy the therapeutic waters of the Llixha Thermal Springs, nestled in the scenic landscape of the region.
5. Karaburun Peninsula: Untamed Beauty
  • Pristine Beaches: Discover the wild beauty of the Karaburun Peninsula, with its secluded beaches and crystal-clear waters. Accessible by boat or a challenging drive.
  • Diving and Snorkeling: Explore the underwater wonders of the Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park, perfect for diving and snorkeling enthusiasts.
6. Apollonia: Ancient Ruins
  • Archaeological Park: Visit the ancient city of Apollonia, an important archaeological site with well-preserved ruins, including a theater, library, and temples.
  • Monastery of St. Mary: Explore the nearby Monastery of St. Mary, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Practical Travel Advice

  1. Currency: The official currency is the Albanian Lek (ALL). Ensure you have enough cash, especially when traveling to remote areas.
  2. Language: While Albanian is the official language, many people speak English, particularly in tourist areas.
  3. Emergency Numbers: Keep emergency numbers handy. The general emergency number is 112.
  4. Accommodation: Book your accommodation in advance, especially during the summer months when tourist influx is high.
  5. Local Cuisine: Don’t miss out on trying local dishes like Byrek, Tavë Kosi, and fresh seafood along the coast.


Exploring Albania’s hidden gems by car is an adventure that promises unique experiences and unforgettable memories. From the secluded village of Theth to the ancient ruins of Apollonia, each destination offers a distinct perspective on Albania’s rich heritage and natural beauty. By following these car rental tips and travel advice, you can ensure a safe, comfortable, and enriching journey through Albania’s lesser-known treasures. Just remember, it is better to rent a car from the Airport of Tirana, so you dont spend money in a taxi to get into the city.


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