Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

,Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

The cool city of Tirana is one to watch closely as it’s becoming increasingly popular with travellers around the world.  The capital city of Albania has a lot of history, the coolest bars and great food at an affordable price.  It is a great city to spend a few days in and get a grip on the hub and beating heart of Albania.

The only airport in Albania (for now) is also located in Tirana making it the first stop for many on their travels. There are lots of things to do in Tirana, you may even end up extending your stay here!  I have written this ultimate guide to Tirana for you with all the information you will ever need during your stay here.  I have many articles on Albania already so if you would like more information about the country don’t forget to read these too.

Without further ado, here is your ultimate guide to Tirana!

 

Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

What to do in Tirana

Skanderbeg Square:  The national hero, George Castoit who stopped the Ottoman Empire from entering further into central Europe.  The square is a nice place to people watch and chill out when the sun is shining.  Near here you will find the National Museum, Clock Tower and Et’hem Bey Mosque.

Clock Tower: This tower was built in the 1820’s and still stands strong today.  From Monday to Friday you can visit from 9 am until 4 pm and on Saturday it is open from 9 am until 2 pm.  It’s worth the climb to get a great view of the square.

National Museum:  The national museum is the largest museum in Albania.  It’s a great place to learn more about Albanians past.  You must admire the impressive mosaic at the front of the building representing Albanians marching from ancient Illyria times to World War 2.

Et’hem Bey Mosque:  This 18th-century mosque was closed during the communist regime but opened back up in 1991.  The interior design and architecture are stunning and worth a look inside to marvel at the detail of the facades.

Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

House of Leaves:  This is one of the most interesting places to visit in Tirana.  The House of Leaves is the newest museum in the city.  Here you can get an insight into the national intelligence service, and the chilling history from when it was occupied by Germans in World War 2.  After the war, it was then regained by the Albanian government to spy on Albanians during the communist times and convict them of political crimes.

Visit Grand Park: This is a popular nature chillout spot for the locals.  Admire the artificial lake on a sunny and bright day or join the locals on a daily run or walk around the park.  It’s a nice place to hang out to get away from the hustle and bustle of the busy city.

Bunk Art: Bunk Art is an exhibition located on the outskirts of Tirana dedicated to the history of the communist army and what happened to Albanians during that time.  You will get to see Enver Hoxha’s luxury bunker and many other interesting exhibitions here.

Bunk Art 2: Bunk Art 2 is the former anti-nuclear bunker for internal affairs.  This is located right in the city, near Skanderbeg square.  There are 24 rooms, a great hall and an apartment for the former minister of internal affairs.

 

Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania  Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

PostBlloku (Open Air Museum):  Although it may be not as impressive as you would expect an outdoor museum to be I think it is worth a look.  In this small park you will find a fragment of the Berlin Wall, a bunker and remains from an Albanian labour camp during the communist regime.  During the communist era, tens of thousands were imprisoned for ‘political crimes’ and sent to labour camps.  Spaç Prison was a labour camp where many lost their lives.  It is often referred to as the Albanian Auschwitz.

Take a free walking tour:  What better way to start your day in Tirana by doing a free walking tour.  Every day at 10 am you can meet the guide outside the Opera House for a free 2-hour tour around the city.

Mount Dajti:  This mountain towers 1613meters high and 1000 meters of that can be reached via cable car.  From the mountain, you can get a great view over the city.  Note that the cable car is closed on Mondays.

Visit district of Blloku:  This district used to be home to rich and famous leaders of the communist regimes.  Nowadays it has been transformed into a trendy, hip district of Tirana.  There are plenty of good restaurants and bars to check out here.

Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

Visit Enver Hoxha’s house:  Although not open to the public, you can see the former communist leaders Enver Hoxha’s old house from outside the gates.  There are plans to open this as a sort of museum to the public in the future.

New Market:  This market is a new addition to Tirana.  Here you will find cafes galore, market treats and the like.

Visit the Pyramid:  This communism monument was built as a museum dedicated to the old communist leader, Enver Hoxha.  These days, however, there is only an Albanian broadcast company operating out of there.  Its crumbling façade is popular with graffiti artists and young people climbing and chilling out around what is now known as ‘The Pyramid’.

Watch the sunset from Skybar: If you are looking for an epic spot for sunset then head to the Skybar for a drink.  You get a great panoramic view of the city.

Tanner Bridge: This Ottoman-style bridge gives you a look into what the city used to look like dating back to the 18th century.  You can find the bridge near the Tanner Mosque.  This bridge was mostly used to bring livestock and produce into the city from Deber.

Take a look at the gypsy markets: I have to say, Tirana has some of the best second-hand markets I have ever been to!  For around 10 euro I got a mountain of new clothes and makeup.  For the best ones, it’s a good idea to ask the locals where they suggest going.  There are quite a few scattered around the city.

Take a food tour with a local:  Want to explore more of the food scene of Tirana?   Take a food tour with a local to learn more about the best cuisine in Tirana.  The tour starts at 10 am and explores some of the best spots in the city to eat and drink.  You can book here.

 

Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

Where to eat

The Tea Room: If you want to try some of the best homemade cakes and sweets then head here. It’s right on the river and is a nice cosy little café to try!

Birrari Ke Tori:  If you’re looking for a good hearty meal then pick this one.  It’s a great BBQ house with fantastic meat plates and chicken wings at an affordable price.

Duff Bar:  If you’re craving some American food like burgers and other greasy treats, then I can recommend checking out Duff Bar.  I go here whenever I need a fix of the fattiest food possible and it never disappoints.

Stephens Centre:  Also, another recommendation for American-like food.  They do a great eggs benedict and good coffee here.  It’s right next to New Market.

 

Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

Where to drink and party

Kometiti:  My favourite bar in all of Tirana is Kometiti!  They have oodles of different flavoured raki.  The bar is set in a type of museum style with lots of historic knick knacks to marvel at.

Radio bar:  If you’re looking for a great cocktail bar then Radio Bar is the one!  It’s worth a visit just to admire the eclectic interior design of this place.

Hemingway Bar:  This is another good bar in Tirana that deserves a visit whilst you’re here. They have a large selection of cocktails and other treats for you to try.  You will find the atmosphere of this place fantastic!

Folie Terrace:  During the summer this place is packed out.  If you’re looking to pull an all-nighter, then head here.  Note that it is only open during the summer months.

Arena Nightclub:  This modern club is a popular one and another great option if you’re wanting to party all night!  This is one of the best nightclubs in Tirana.

Lollipop:  This is probably the most famous nightclub in the city.  It’s known for its EDM and can hold hundreds of people.

Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

Where to stay

Trip’n Hostel:  If you’re looking for a good hostel to stay at there is no other option than Trip’n Hostel!  I absolutely loved my stay here.  The owners are super lovely.  If you’re looking for a fun and chilled hostel then make sure you choose this one, trust me, you won’t be disappointed!  The breakfast here is amazing, and they have their own bar where they also make their own beer.

book tripn hostel

Hotel Colosseo:  This is one of the top hotels located in the city.  Comes with a great free breakfast and is right in the city centre.

book hotel colosseo

The Plaza Hotel:  This luxury 5-star hotel is not to be missed on your trip to Tirana.  It’s got everything you would ever need including spa, gym, breakfast and 3 restaurants on site.

book the plaza hotel

Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

Where to from Tirana?

There are five different bus terminals in Tirana – Buses that go south, buses that go north, buses that go North-east, international buses and the bus that goes to and from the airport.

South Bus Station: If you are catching a bus down to the south to the likes of Berat, Dhërmi, Himarë, Vlorë, Durrës, Gjirokastër or Sarandë, then you need to go to the bus station that is located near the roundabout with the giant eagle.  It is the furthest away bus station from the centre.

North Bus Station: The bus station for the north buses is a bit closer to the centre.  You will catch buses that go to Shkodra, Kukes etc. from here.

It is only a 15-minute walk between the South and North bus terminals.  I also say the term terminals very loosely as it’s maybe not what a bus station would normally look like.  They are both giant carparks with tones of different buses in no order whatsoever.  When you turn up there will be a lot of men asking where you want to go.  Tell them the city and they will show you which bus to catch.  Don’t be afraid, they are very helpful! 

Buses to the South-East: If you would like to go to places like Elbasan, Pogradec, Korca or Permet then you need to go to the bus station located on Rruga Arben Broci (outside the University of economics).

The international bus station (Stacioni Qendrore i linjave Nderkombetare) is located near the Tirana Ring Centre and is more organised than the other two terminals.

Bus to and from the airport: If you want to get to the airport then you will need to catch the Rinas Express which leaves every hour from 7 am until 6 pm.  You can find the bus stop on Rruga Devijimi.

 

*Please be aware that timetables in Albania frequently change so the best way to find out when a bus departs is usually not online.  It is best to ask your accommodation hosts or even a local working at a café or restaurant.  Everyone in Albania is extremely friendly and is willing to help so one way or another you will easily find the time your bus leaves!

 

There’s your guide on not only what to do in Tirana, but where to eat, stay and drink!  It really is your ultimate guide on Tirana!  Make sure you read my other article on Albania including your ultimate guide to transport through Albania, a guide to Saranda and much more.

 

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Your Ultimate and Practical Guide to Tirana, Albania

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1 Comment

  1. April 25, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    Interesting how you note its increasing popularity Anita; I see Tirana popping up more on the travel blogging circuit, as does Albania. We considered Albania a few years back during our Istanbul trip but had to cut that foray short. Fam stuff. Noted for a future trip.

    Ryan

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