Driving In The Balkans – What You Need To Know

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

This is your guide to driving in the Balkans. After 20 years of driving through the Balkans, we’ve got lots of hints and tips to make your Balkans road trip easy-peasy. 

Balkans Travel Blog_Driving In The Balkans

Driving through the Balkans sounds scary to many – but trust us, it’s not. That is if you know a few things like what car insurance you need in Balkan countries, road rules in the Balkans, and all the nitty-gritty about road rules. 

This Balkan driving guide will help you prepare for a road trip in the Balkan in the following Balkan countries. Click on any country to jump ahead:

  1. Albania
  2. Bosnia-Herzegovina
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Croatia
  5. Greece
  6. Kosovo
  7. Macedonia
  8. Serbia
  9. Turkey

With info on Montenegro, Slovenia, and Romania coming soon.

We love driving around the Balkans; road trips for us are easier than flying in some ways – we are such over-packers and hate the whole airport security thing. Plus, there is the added bonus of all the little cities and villages you get to see along the way like this:

No Balkans road trip would be complete without a fine – or is that just us? We always seem to get a parking ticket or a speeding fine; if you want to know about the cost tolls, driving the Balkans, the best Balkans travel route, the Green Card insurance system, and how to avoid getting into trouble, keep reading.

Is It Safe To Drive In The Balkans

Yes. That’s the short answer.

Though after 20 years of traveling Europe, I can tell you that you’ll come across some super dodgy roads with giant potholes, no asphalt at all, and/or a bunch of animals. I often encounter sheep and cows…

Speeds will most surely be your biggest safety issue – Balkan drivers are ruthless; they never do the speed limit. They also pass on fixed lines and around bends, so stay alert. 

The other thing you may not be used to is how narrow the roads can be and how often you have to pull off the bitumen to pass another car coming in the opposite direction.

Hint: hire the smallest car you can if that’s the case.

Green Card Balkans – Insurance System

Driving through the Balkans - Your Guide to Driving In The Balkans - Transalpina and the Carpathians at sunset
Transalpina Road, Romania

A green card is given to you in Europe when you insure your car as proof of insurance. The Green Card will show you the specified countries you’re insured to drive in.

You’ll not often be asked for it, though you must have it – so get it from your friends if you borrow a car or from your car rental agency. You will need to show this card to cross borders, and police may ask you for this if you are pulled over. 

The Green Card is often included with the car hire cost, but if the car rental agency asks you to pay for it, don’t be a fool and decline it or argue about the little 20 euro extra. Be sure that you tell the car rental place (or check with your friends) about what countries are covered – give them a list of the Balkan countries you plan to drive through to ensure you’re insured. 

Driving In The Balkans In Winter

During wintertime in the Balkans, you’ll need to drive with care, which can range from chilly to icy cold. In each Balkan country, we are required to swap the summer tires for winter tires – when this should happen varies from country to country, as your rental car company about it. 

Driving in the snow takes some getting used to, but it is easy enough to do. The worst part of snow is cleaning it off your car, so keep a little shovel the vehicle if you’ll be in areas that are likely to be snowy. 

Brands We Use And Trust


Balkans Road Trip Itinerary

Long Road to Pozega Slavonia
Pozega, Croatia

Oh my! I have so many Balkans road trip itinerary ideas that I could write a whole book of possibilities. Luckily for you, we have some posts with some cool Balkan road trip ideas. 

8-Stop Road Trip In The Balkans

This one works only if you have a few weeks, preferably a month. We have the whole month mapped out here for you. 

  1. Split, Croatia
  2. Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  3. Dubrovnik, Croatia
  4. Kotor, Montenegro
  5. Podgorica, Montenegro
  6. Pec/Peja/Peje, Western Kosovo
  7. Prizren, Kosovo
  8. Skopje, Macedonia

Epic 20-Stop Balkan Road Trip


Again, if you have a month plus, this Balkan road trip idea is just what you need:

  1. Zagreb, Croatia
  2. Zadar, Croatia
  3. Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
  4. Una National Park, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  5. Split, Croatia
  6. Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  7. Mostar, Bosnia & Herzegovina
  8. Dubrovnik, Croatia
  9. Kotor Bay, Montenegro
  10. Durmitor National Park, Montenegro
  11. Bosnia & Herzegovina
  12. Belgrade, Serbia
  13. Sibiu, Romania
  14. Bucharest, Romania
  15. Sofia, Bulgaria
  16. Varna, Bulgaria
  17. Seven Rila Lakes, Bulgaria
  18. Lake Ohrid, Macedonia
  19. Skopje, Macedonia
  20. Lake Skadar, Albania

Romania In 6 Days – Brasov to Bucharest

Driving through the Balkans - Your Guide to Driving In The Balkans - Transfagarasan Pass
Transfagarasan Pass

This 6-day road trip will take you from Brasov to Bucharest and explains what to see and where to stop along the way. 

Croatia Road Trip From Dubrovnik to Zagreb

Find out about all the stops between Dubrovnik and Zagreb and how to make the most of your road trip.

Chasing Dracula

Go on a 4-Day Road trip from Bucharest To Transfagarasan.

Trogir To Dubrovnik

This road trip itinerary is short but not too shabby, from Trogir to Dubrovnik. 

Two-Week Balkans Road Trip Itinerary 

Fourteen days of the very best of the Balkans await you on this two-week Balkans road trip itinerary. 

Balkan Road Trip 10 Days

If you have more than ten days, you can use this guide to the top things to see on a Balkan road trip. 

Southwestern Balkans Road Trip Itinerary

This trip covers Montenegro, Albania, Greece, & Macedonia

A Dubrovnik To Mostar Day Trip

Head from the home of Game of Thrones, Dubrovnik, to Mostar, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. 

Border Crossing In The Balkans

The Chedi Lustica Bay_Road
Lustica Bay, Montenegro,

Crossing the border from one Balkan country to another is very easy, though read this guide if you’re traveling between Kosovo and Serbia.

Be sure to have your car papers, insurance, passports, and visas ready. Don’t expect smiles and chit-chat, and be prepared for long delays between popular borders, like between Croatia and Montenegro, during the summer months and holidays. 

Renting A Car In The Balkans

Hiring and driving a rental car in the Balkans is easy to do – though you will need to be sure you’re permitted to cross all the borders on your itinerary. When searching for a rental car in the Balkans, I highly recommend using the website below. This website aggregates several offers and allows you to compare rental offers and prices from various car rental agencies in the Balkans.


Parking In The Balkans

Nikola Tesla Electric Vehicle Rally - Marko Juras

Balkan parking is not fun. Sorry.

Spots are hard to find, cost a tonne of cash, and are very close together, so it leaves your renal car vulnerable to dents and scratches. Instead, You’re better off booking hotels on the outskirts of town and parking at the hotel garage or local parking center. 

Driving In The Balkans Guides

Here we have the guides to the following countries; in each driving guide are all of the road rules, car hire agencies that service the country, and hints and advice about driving in that specific country.

  1. Albania
  2. Bosnia-Herzegovina
  3. Bulgaria
  4. Croatia
  5. Greece
  6. Kosovo
  7. Macedonia
  8. Serbia
  9. Turkey

Montenegro, Slovenia, and Romania are coming soon.

Comments (14)

  1. Hi, is there a way to hire a car and driver to take your through the most countries in the shortest amount of time???

  2. Greetings,
    I am writing to see if this site is still active and if you guys would be available to chat. My wife and I are looking at being in the Balkans perhaps this fall and wanted to pick your brain a bit.

      1. We are planning a long road trip along the following route. Hire car in Sarajevo. Drive Sarajevo – Mostar – cross border to Montenegro – Kotor – cross border to Albania – Shkoder – Sarande – back to Tirana. Fly out from Tirana.
        Our car rental agency says we can cross border for both Montenegro and Albania. Of course they are charging me a big fee as my pick up and drop point for the car is in two different countries. However my doubt it whether it is safe to drive a Bosnia registered car in Albania? Anything we should be mindful of as we will be driving with a 6 yr old child.

        P.S we have driven the Sarajevo- Kotor – Sarajevo route last year and familiar with the driving there. We will be driving through Albania for first time.

        1. What a fun trip! Ahh yes, those one-way fees are a b!tch for sure. There is no animosity between Albanians and Bosnians on a national or ethnic level – so no reason to worry. Enjoy the road trip.

  3. We are traveling with 2 big moving vans from germany to greece. Unsure which route to take. Croatia/albania or serbia/macedonia? What’s your advice?

  4. We recently got a parking ticket in Montenegro. we have left Montenegro and are now traveling in other Balkan countries. is there a simple way to pay this ticket either in Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia or Croatia? Thank you very much for your help

    1. Hmm, good question. I have never seen a ticket for Montenegro – does it not have an IBAN that you can pay it via online banking? You could take it to a bank and show them, they’d be able to assist if so. Good luck.

  5. Hi there,
    Can I drive the rental car from Croatia to Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia ?
    Many Thanks!

    1. Whether you can drive a rental car from Croatia to Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia largely depends on the policies of the specific car rental company you use. Some won’t allow you to go to some of those places.

  6. Hi,
    Great article, it is very helpful.
    We are renting a car from Dubrovnik, Croatia. Will we have any problems driving a car registered in Croatia driving in to
    Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina?
    We know that we are allowed to driving the cars to those countries from our car rental, our concern was more about if we could experience any animosity from people.

    1. You might in Serbia, maybe. It happens sometimes. But your car will have rental car stickers so it could also be good. Enjoy your trip.

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