Don’t want to miss any highlights? Find all tips and your checklist for your city trip to Tirana with all sights here.
The price level! Tirana is great for travellers on a budget, everything is quite cheap! Especially the delicious Albanian food
Absolutely do it:
Enjoy the positive vibe: the friendly people and the spirit of optimism amidst colourful architecture from Ottoman, Fascist and Soviet times make Tirana an exciting destination!
Don’t be put off by the fact that Tirana, or Albania as a whole, isn’t high on everyone’s bucket list or Instagram feed
What can I expect in Tirana?
Definitely an exciting city with a spirit of optimism. Surprisingly colourful, but also the shadows of the past.
Is it dangerous in Tirana?
The locals in Tirana are generally very friendly and helpful, not hostile to travellers.
What is particularly surprising in Tirana?
In Tirana, you will find a variety of traditional cafés, but also many hip new openings with alternative drinks, especially in the Blloku district.
Arrival & Departure to Tirana
Visa: Check here if you need a visa for Albania with your passport.
Flight: The international airport “Nënë Tereza” (Albanian for “Mother Teresa”, IATA Code: TIA) is served by many airlines.
Bus: From Ohrid / Northern Macedonia or Struga (once daily, ~ 3 hours, 9-13 Euro)
Bus: There are buses to Tirana several times a day from all major Albanian cities.
Price level in Tirana
In Albania, you pay with Albanian Lek (LEK).
Withdraw money: There are many banks with ATMs around Skanderbeg Square, but in principle also throughout the city.
Beer indicator: Local beer in a restaurant ~ 150 LEK (1,25 Euro)
Cost of a taxi: 1 kilometre ~ 70 LEK (0,60 Euro)
Restaurants, Bars & Cafés in Tirana
- In the street Rruga Luigj Gurakuqi and in general near the Pazari i Ri (bazaar/market) there is a wide range of great and cheap restaurants where you will meet mostly the locals
- Kronos Fish Restaurant (Rruga Vaso Pasha, 1001 Tirana) – speciality is seafood – as the name suggests
- Mullixhiu (Big Park of Tirana) – cosy, authentic restaurant in the Big Park of Tirana, so a bit off the noisy streets
- La Gioia (Murat Toptani Street 1001 Tirana) – nice ambience near Justinians Castle
- Mulliri I Vjetër – you’ll find shops of the local coffee house chain all over the city
Top 5 Activities – Tirana
- Visit Sheshi Skenderbej (Skanderbeg Square), the heart of Tirana
- Walk along the Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit with the government buildings – you will hardly be able to miss the “Pyramid of Tirana”.
- Stroll through the market halls of the “New Bazaar” and enjoy the local delicacies
- Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by cable car to Dajti National Park – up to 1,613 metres!
- Enjoy the local, very inexpensive cuisine
- Visit the Bunk’ART exhibition – gives a deep insight into the soul of Tirana, the sad past and the hopeful present.
Tip: The second part of the exhibition is outside the city centre and can be combined with a visit to the Dajti National Park.
Top 5 Photo spots – Tirana
- From the centre of Skanderbeg Square: the statue of the national hero with mosque and bell tower in one direction or the mosaic artwork of the National Museum in the other direction
- Posing in front of the “Pyramid of Tirana”, not necessarily beautiful, but rare!
- Mountain panorama from the cable car “Dajti Ekspress” or from the summit
- “From Tirana with love” street art in the Rruga Luigj Gurakuqi
- View from the Skytower over the city
Top 5 Sights off the beaten track – Tirana
- Discover the many great “murals” of Tirana, i.e. wall paintings, some of which cover huge walls of houses.
- Enjoy the panorama of Tirana from the bar of the Skytower
- Discover the Kalaja e Tiranës (Tirana Castle) with its Roman archaeological site and hip restaurants / cafés.
- Stroll through the hip Blloku district in the city centre – there’s plenty to discover
- Take a trip to Theth National Park – hiking in the Albanian Alps
Top 5 Culinary experiences – Tirana
- Qofte – grilled meatballs served with raw onions.
- Zgara, i.e. specialities of all kinds from the grill – try your hand at typical Balkan cuisine
- Tavë Kosi – super tasty quiche-like dish made of lamb, yoghurt and eggs
- Byrek – typical Balkan cuisine, often with spinach, but also in many other variations. You can get byrek on almost every corner in Tirana.
- Birra Tirana – the local beer
Communication – Learn a few phrases to get around
Thank you – faleminderit
Yes – po
No – jo
Hello / Good day – përshëndetje
Bye / Goodbye – mirupafshim
Tirana sightseeing in the morning
You can easily see the Tirana sights in the city centre in one day. If you don’t want to do it alone and want to hear exciting stories about the country and its people, a free walking tour is a good way to get in the mood. Of course, you can also discover the sights around Skanderbeg Square by yourself!
And that’s exactly where it starts! Start on Skanderbeg Square at the monument to the famous commander and national hero of Albania, who also greets us from his horse in the centre of Priština. The square is lined with many important buildings: here you will find the opera, the Et’hem Bey Mosque and a historic bell tower. Tirana’s city hall is also located here, as is the tourist information office. The mosque in particular is something special in a former communist country: usually places of worship were demolished or misused. Fortunately not here, so you can still admire the great frescoes on the outside façade – trees, bridges and waterfalls. The interior with its colourful dome is also worth a visit!
The mosque is one of the oldest preserved buildings in Tirana.
Across the square, the heavily communist-influenced mosaic “Shqipëria” (translates to “Albania” in the local language) above the National Historical Museum shows a brief outline of Albania’s far-reaching history. From Illyrian warriors to Greeks and Romans to industrious peasants and artisans, the working class rises and so.
Learn about Albanian history with Bunk’Art
A real recommendation is the Bunk’Art exhibition. In the former nuclear bunker, you will experience a great exhibition that gives a deep insight into the soul of Tirana, the sad past and the hopeful present. The torture cellars of the former Albanian secret police Sigurimi are particularly oppressive. Artistic installations take you on a journey into the past and reveal the experiences and events behind the partly new, colourful facades in the city centre. The Bunk’Art exhibition is definitely one of my recommendations for Tirana in rainy and bad weather.
Visit the sights along Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit
Exit Skanderbeg Square past various ministries and head south along Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit. Here you will pass Rinia Park and the Reja – the Cloud. A huge sculpture made of white rods that somehow looks like a giant climbing frame.
As soon as you cross the Lana River, it catches your eye. No, beautiful is definitely something else… The “Pyramid of Tirana” was once planned as a museum and monument to dictator Enver Hoxha, who led the country into 45 years of isolation. The striking building is controversial: “Demolish it immediately” say some, “Restore it as a monument to the reign and memorial” say others. Make up your own mind. In any case, the sight is unique.
In front of the Polytechnic University of Tirana, you will find the colourful Mother Teresa Square (Sheshi Nënë Tereza), right next to the Archeological Museum. From here, there are footpaths to a small parallel world away from the hectic and crowded capital: the Great Park of Tirana!
Stroll along the shores of Lake Tirana. The park is a very popular recreation area for the inhabitants of Tirana. You will find countless joggers, walkers, picnic groups, … everything.
Tirana sightseeing in the afternoon
Sightseeing in the city centre of Tirana can easily drag on into the afternoon! Don’t stress, take your time.
Immerse yourself in the Blloku district
Hardly any other quarter is so representative of the country’s transformation. In the past, it was a closed-off district reserved only for the communist elite. The country is bravely breaking away from the past, which was marked by dictatorship, strict isolation and economic hardship. In the old villa district, you will also find the former home of the dictator Enver Hoxha.
Everywhere in the city, you will find colourful street art, so-called “murals” on walls or the walls of houses.
Soak up the post-communist vibe and the hopeful atmosphere, preferably in one of the many street cafés. Do as the locals do, order a delicious coffee speciality, chat with your companion and relax a little.
Look at Tirana from above! This is best done from the bar of the Skytower! Recommended during the day rather than in the evening to see the colourful Albanian capital in all its glory.
Escape the hustle and bustle to Dajti National Park
Around 25 kilometres east of Tirana lies Dajti National Park, a perfect recreation area for stressed-out city dwellers. If you have enough time, it’s a great alternative to the metropolis.
A bus will take you there from Skanderbeg Square (departure near the bell tower), the ride costs no more than 40 lekë. You have to walk a bit (about 1.5 kilometres) to the starting point of the cable car, but that’s OK! If that’s too far, there’s a free shuttle every 30 minutes. The cable car “Dajti Ekspress” takes you quickly to lofty heights, and you only have to walk a short distance to the summit at 1,613 metres.
Great views and a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the city await you!
Visit the market halls of the “New Bazaar” and enjoy the local delicacies. The name “New Bazaar” is somewhat deceptive, as the market halls were opened in 1931.
Tirana sights in the evening
It’s slowly heading towards evening, time for a xhiro! This special Albanian tradition consists of an evening walk along the many pedestrian streets. You might have a chat along the way or just walk in a relaxed manner. Take a leisurely look around Tirana’s old castle, a beautifully decorated area with many restaurants and cafés. Enjoy the local, very inexpensive cuisine!
After an exhausting day under the Albanian sun, I recommend the restaurants at the Sheshi Avni Rustemi roundabout or at the bazaar / market around the corner (street: Rruga Shemsi Haka). Here, mainly locals take a seat. Food straight from the grill, great beers, tasty side dishes – and all extremely cheap.
The old Justinian Fortress / Tirana Castle is now a modern place full of restaurants and cafés.
Albania, like the whole Balkans, is known for its barbecue specialities
Tirana is known for its inexpensive, good cuisine – also appreciated by the locals
Immerse yourself in the colourful nightlife of Albania’s lively capital. The Blloku district also offers many opportunities for this!
Take a rest from a long day in Tirana and enjoy the local drinks – Albanian wine, Raki or beer 🙂
Got more than one day in Tirana?
Wonderful, because there are more Tirana sights to discover!
Experience centuries of exciting history – The National History Museum
Albania has a very eventful history – and the largest museum in Albania offers exciting insights!
The striking building opposite Skanderbeg’s statue on the square of the same name already gives an insight into what awaits visitors with its impressive mosaic façade: Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and finally Albanian partisans in the Second World War inhabited this land. The mosaic artwork has an unmistakable communist influence.
Many exhibits from different eras await in the museum, often very well explained in English.
A fairly new exhibition is dedicated to life and persecution under the communist regime.