Things to do in Tirana / Travel Guide Tirana

Things to do in Tirana – A Complete Guide to the Most Underrated City in Europe

Whether you are visiting Tirana just a couple of days before seeing the rest of Albania, or you have decided to stay a little longer, this guide to the best things to do in Tirana is for you.

Here you will find all the information you need to visit Tirana, a truly underrated city in Europe. What to do in a day, in 2 days, in a week or in a month, how to get around, where to eat and where to stay. I wrote this post with a lot of love. Enjoy!


Many travellers spend just a day or two in Tirana. And although many claim you can see all the most important sights in 2 days, I beg to differ. I spent a whole week in Tirana at the start of my Albania trip and I loved it!

I also returned for a few days near the end of my 10-week-long travel in Albania. I wanted to end my time in this amazing country on a high note, and Tirana is truly one of my favourite cities in Europe.

I am not a city girl anymore. I like lakes, mountains, beaches and small-town living. But few cities in the world have captured my heart and I didn’t mind the traffic, tall buildings, noise, and even the lack of any body of water (which is absolutely essential to my happiness).

Tirana is one of those cities.

Top Things to Do in Tirana (In short)

  • Skanderbeg Square with the Et’hem Bej Mosque and a Clock Tower
  • Dajti Ekspres “Cable Car” 
  • Bunk’Art Museum 1 and 2
  • The Pyramid of Tirana 
  • Pazar I Ri Bazaar with Oda Restaurant
  • Blloku Neighbourhood with Enver Hoxha residency

For a capital city, Tirana is quite small and compact, but I have found that there are endless attractions, and there are just so many things to do!

I was also fascinated by the crazy architectural mishmash, and what others found strange, I found enduring. The colours, the strange buildings, the greenery, the cafes, and the cool vibe of Tirana stole my heart from day one.

And I appreciated it even more when I returned for the second time after escaping the gloomy Elbasan.

Things to do in Tirana / Where to stay in Tirana

So what will you find in this Tirana travel guide?

If you are only staying in Tirana for one or a couple of nights, in the first chapter I will list the top 5 things to do in Tirana – basically the Tirana must-dos! Just so you don’t miss out on any of the best stuff. I have got your back!

But if, like me, you decide to spend more time in this awesome city, further down this post, I will list all the other incredible things you can do in Tirana, including a few off-the-beaten-path places.

So without further ado, let me take you on a grand tour of Tirana!

Few Important Bits to Know Before Visiting Tirana

Tirana is a relatively young capital of Albania. Before Tirana, Korca was the capital of Albania. Although founded in the 17th century, Tirana was not officially declared the capital until 1925. During the communist regime of Enver Hoxha, many historical buildings and monuments were destroyed. The Old Bazaar or the Orthodox Cathedral were demolished and replaced by communist-style buildings.

Today Tirana is a curious architectural concoction that some find disturbing, but I love it! Nothing seems to fit together, and yet somehow everything does. You will probably notice how colourfully some of the buildings are painted, and wonder why. After the fall of the regime, the buildings around Tirana were painted in all colours to breathe life back into the grey city that Tirana was before 1991. But there were also not enough funds to repair the city’s dilapidated infrastructure. So the colourful paint had to do.

Tirana is a super safe city, as is the rest of Albania. It is a city that almost never sleeps and is always packed full of travellers. Even in the darker streets of Tirana, walking back to my hostel outside the centre in the evening, I never felt unsafe.

Tirana is very walkable and most of the sights are within walking distance. I strongly discourage you from driving in Tirana. You will see why when you arrive!

Unfortunately, you can no longer withdraw cash for free in Albania. Most ATMs charge between 500 and 800 Lek withdrawal fees. The 2 banks I found the cheapest were the green OTP and the red BKT.

How to Get to Tirana

How to Get to Tirana From the Airport

To get from Tirana Airport to the centre of Tirana, you can take a shuttle bus, a cab or a rental car.

The cheapest way to get from Tirana Airport to Tirana is to take the bus operated by the Luna company. It is a shuttle service operating 24 hours a day and leaves once an hour. A one-way ticket costs 400Lek. From Tirana airport, there are also direct bus connections to Durres and Vlore. The bus stop is next to the parking lot and the final stop in Tirana is behind the palace of OPERA. This is also where you can catch a bus if you want to go from Tirana to the airport.

The taxi from Tirana airport to Tirana costs about 30€/3000Lek.

How to Get to Tirana From the Regional Bus Station

If you are travelling to Tirana from the majority of the main cities in Albania (like Durres, Vlore, Berat or Gjirokaster) you will be dropped at the Regional bus station in Tirana. 

From there you can take a taxi (expensive) or hop on a city bus for 40Lek.

Getting from Tirana Regional bus station to the centre of Tirana so somewhat adventurous yet pretty easy. The bus stop towards Tirana centre is located on the opposite side of the street from the station (here is the location). It runs pretty frequently, so just make your way there and you should be on a bus in a few minutes. The ticket costs 40lek and you will pay with the guy that walks around the bus selling the tickets.

How to Get to Tirana From Shkoder

If you started your Albanian adventure in Shkoder, you might be wondering how to get to Tirana from Shkoder.

It is very easy to get to Tirana from Shkoder. There is a direct bus departing from the centre of Shkoder near the Neptune store, right here.

The ticket costs 400Lek and the journey takes around 3 hours although officially should be under 2 hours. You will arrive at the regional bus station in Tirana from where you can take a city bus to the centre for 40Lek.

Things to do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

How Many Days for Visiting Tirana

Although most travellers stay only one or two nights in Tirana before exploring the rest of Albania, I recommend you spend at least 3 full days in this interesting city. In those 3 days, you’ll have enough time to do a super cool free walking tour, visit a museum or two, take the cable car up Mount Dajti, eat and drink at some pretty awesome establishments and even take a day trip to Kruje!

Of course, if you’re short on time, you can see Tirana in a day or two, and I will help you with that too!


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How to Get Around Tirana

The best way to get around Tirana is on foot. Tirana is a very walkable city and most of the important landmarks are located within walking distance.

I walked all over the city and found nothing too far away.

There are also city buses in Tirana if you really don’t like walking. For example, you can take a bus to the Dajti cable car or to the International Bus Station. You buy the bus ticket on the bus. Ticket prices vary between 30 and 40 Lek.

Heading to the North of Albania next?

If you are visiting Shkoder, be sure to read my complete guide to all the wonderful things to do in Shkoder. And if you are planning a visit to Theth and hiking the Albanian Alps I have you covered too!

Are you dreaming of visiting the Shala River and Komani Lake? In this post, you will find all the information you need!

5 Must Do Things to Do Tirana

If you are only visiting Tirana for a day or two, here is the list of the most important and iconic things to do in Tirana you should not skip.

Take a Tirana Free Walking Tour

The best way to see all the most important landmarks of Tirana and learn about the city’s interesting history but also get some local insights is by taking the Tirana Free Walking Tour. 

The Tirana walking Tour is especially great as there is just so much to learn about the country and the city! It starts every day at 10 am and 2 pm from Skanderbeg Square.

Visit Skanderbeg Square and Explore Its Landmarks

Skanderbeg Square is Tirana’s most iconic landmark and the image most often associated with Albania’s capital.

This large and vibrant centre square of Tirana is definitely the beating heart of the city. Here you will find some great sights such as the monument of Skanderbeg on the Horse monument, the Clock Tower, the Et’hem Bej Mosque and the magnificent Opera House. You can visit the mosque outside of the prayer times and climb the clock tower for great views over the city. It is slightly obstructed by the surrounding constructions these days, but this might change by the time you visit.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

It’s a great place to hang out and people-watch, and you’ll often come across an event, street performers and other random happenings. There is even a small playground for children.

I loved coming to Skanderbeg Square just before sunset. It becomes even more colourful in the light of the setting sun. Skanderbeg Square is a must-visit place in Tirana!

Oh, and be sure to take a photo in front of the I Love Tirana sign!

Things to do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Visit One of Bunk’Art Museums

Bunk’Art1 and 2 are museums housed in famously converted Cold War bunkers that tell the story of Albania from the German occupation to the communist regime of Enver Hoxha.

Bunk’Art1 was built first but is located just outside the city. Bunk’Art2 is located right in the city centre, just a 5-minute walk from Skanderbeg Square. So if you don’t have much time, you should visit this one!

For those unfamiliar with the tragic history of Albania and the regime of Enver Hoxha, this is a must-do in Tirana. I wouldn’t call it an attraction because the history is pretty grim, but to really understand the country and its people, it’s almost mandatory.

If you prefer to see the original Bunk’Art1, you can combine it with a ride on the Dajti Cable Car as both are only 10 minutes apart.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Explore Blokku District

Blloku is one of the most vibrant and dynamic neighbourhoods in Tirana, full of great bars, restaurants, funky cafés and important Tirana landmarks.

It also has a fascinating history. During the communist era under Enver Hoxha, Blloku was a restricted area where only high-ranking party officials and their families were allowed to live. Enver Hoxha’s former residence is also located here!

Ordinary citizens were denied access to this neighbourhood. Since then, it has changed a lot and is now one of the trendiest neighbourhoods in Tirana.

In Blokku you will find some of Tirana’s best restaurants, great bars and cool café. Visit N’dashni or the iconic Radio Bar for a cocktail in the evening and don’t miss Salt Restaurant, a very popular and excellent restaurant Piceri Era and my favourite The Rooms Restaurant. For vegan and vegetarian options head over to Gjelber!

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

But there is more to Blloku than just its restaurant and bar scene.

You’ll also discover great street art in this neighbourhood and you should definitely stop by the Enver Hoxha Villa.

Funnily enough, when the first KFC was built in Tirana, it was placed in front of Enver Hoxha’s residence, and the KFC face smiled directly into its gate. It represents the opposite of the control regime that once banned independent business and hated everything Western.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Climb the New Pyramid of Tirana

The Pyramid of Tirana has long been a relic of the communist era and a real curiosity of the city.

It has a complex history though. Originally built as a museum in honour of Enver Hoxha, it has witnessed various uses over the years. From a conference centre to a NATO base during the Kosovan War, and finally becoming somewhat of a ruin, the Pyramid has seen it all.

For a while, there were proposals to demolish the 17,000 square metre complex and repurpose the land. Some advocated demolition, while others, like historian Ardian Klosi, collected thousands of signatures against it. A 2013 survey found that most of Tirana’s citizens were against the demolition.

You’ve probably seen some older blog posts, articles and photos showing the sheer state of the building.

Best Things to Do in Tirana, Albania

In 2017, it was finally decided not to demolish the Pyramid but to convert the building into an IT centre for youth known as TUMO Tirana. This centre will focus on computer programming, robotics and start-ups.

On my visit to Tirana, I was lucky enough to see the new face of the Piramide and it was a pretty cool sight. Although I didn’t go inside, I climbed the illuminated stairs (best done in the evening) and admired the great view of Tirana.

The pyramid will house cafés, studios, workshops and classrooms where Albanian youth can learn technical subjects for free.

Ultimately, the Tirana Pyramid will symbolise Tirana’s aspiration to become a high-tech centre in the Balkans, transforming itself from a reminder of a brutal regime into a symbol of progress and innovation. That’s a pretty awesome transformation I say!

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
View from Tirana Pyramid / Best Things to Do in Tirana

Where to Stay in Tirana

Budget:

Tirana, as well as the whole of Albania, has several excellent hostels catering for budget travellers with the most popular being Trip’n Hostel, Red Goat and Tirana Backapackers.

Midrange/Affordable private rooms:

There is plenty of affordable accommodation in Tirana from budget guesthouses to hotel rooms. Check out the super affordable Sonce guesthouse or Friends Terrace. Or you can rent a one-bedroom apartment like this one.

Comfortable:

Moncafe Boutique Hotel Spa offers beautiful rooms, a spa, a fitness centre and a garden. Ambassador Skyline Apartments would be a great choice if you are looking for sleek and modern accommodation in Tirana.

Remaining Awesome Things to do in Tirana

Take a Dajti Cable Car

The Dajti Express is one of the most famous attractions in Tirana and one of the best things to do in Tirana if you have half a day.

With a length of 4,670 metres and a journey time of 15 minutes, it is one of the longest cable car rides in Europe.

Take the Dajti Express cable car up Mount Dajti and enjoy a breathtaking view of Tirana and the surrounding area. You can hike, play mini golf, dine in a revolving restaurant or just enjoy the natural beauty of the mountain.

The cable car station is located a 15-minute bus ride from the centre of Tirana. You can catch the bus near the new bazaar. It is a blue bus and the ticket costs only 30Lek.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Bus to Dajti Express / Best Things to Do in Tirana

Dajti Express runs between 9 am and 7 pm and it closes on Tuesdays. The return Dajti Express ticket costs €14 which I found pretty steep so I skipped this activity. But if the price is right for you, go for it! It’s a great thing to do in Tirana!

Visit a Museum in Tirana (Or More Than One!)

There are some pretty great museums in Tirana and I recommend you visit at least one of them. And that’s excluding the BunkArt, which is a Tirana attraction in its own right.

Here are some of the most interesting museums in Tirana I recommend:

National Historical Museum – Located on Skanderberg Square, the building of this museum is impossible to miss. With its imposing structure and a fresco reminiscent of communist propaganda, it’s interesting to look at from the outside. With its imposing structure and a fresco reminiscing communist propaganda, it is interesting to look at from the outside. Inside, however, you’ll find a collection that offers a comprehensive overview of the country’s history from ancient Illyria to the post-communist era, with each room and object labelled in English and arranged in chronological order.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

The House of Leaves – Housed in the former Sigurimi building (Albania’s secret police), the museum offers insights into surveillance and espionage activities during the communist regime and is considered one of the most fascinating museums in Tirana.

Featuring spy equipment, real embassy and home camera footage, even from unexpected places like kitchens, along with recorded conversations and testimonies from those who lived through communism, this museum is a must-see attraction in Tirana.

Tirana National Archaeological Museum – Founded in 1948 and is one of the oldest museums in Albania. It was established to preserve and showcase the rich archaeological heritage of the country and its collections span thousands of years of Albanian history, from ancient Illyrian and Roman times to the Middle Ages. 

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Head to Toptani for Shopping and to Discover More of Tirana

I really like this part of Tirana. Tirana seems to have so many faces that when I first found myself here I was truly surprised. It’s a bright and colourful part of Tirana boasting wonderful pedestrian-only parts, a shopping mall and a nearby Tirana Castle.

Around here you will come across the stunning building of the Namazgah Mosque, pedestrian Murat Toptani Steet and Friendship Monument. Dont miss this part of Tirana!

I also found a few cool vintage and second-hand shops here too!

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Tirana Castle

No its not what you expect. 

The original Tirana Castle ( Fortress of Justinian) Dating back to the 14th century is a Byzantine-period fortress, which served as a crossroads of the main streets in the heart of Tirana.

Today, all that remains of it is a 6-metre high wall covered with vines from the Ottoman period. It was rebuilt and the remains of the castle were incorporated into the modern version of the traditional bazaar and pedestrian Murat Toptani Street.

Here you can find stores with handicrafts and restaurants with traditional cuisine. Although it can be a very atmospheric place to visit, I was very much underwhelmed by this place and although it is nice to walk around, I would not put it on the list of top things to do in Tirana

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Ponder Over Namazgah Mosque (With a Crazy Modern Building Right Behind It!)

Namazgjah Mosque is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable landmarks in Tirana. It was finally completed in 2023 and now holds space for 4500 worshippers and is the largest mosque in Albania. It is truly magnificent to look at and in the regular Tirana fashion, you will notice a modern building right behind it.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Pazar Ir Ri

This is another of my favourite parts of Tirana and an area that I ventured to more than once.

Pazar Ir Ri means a new bazaar but it doesn’t come across as a modern one and the whole area has a great local feel. I loved out around there, checking out the fruit and species, enjoying very affordable restaurants and the colours of Tirana.

At Pazar Ir Ri you will also find the most iconic Tirana restaurant – Oda Garden. It did not disappoint, I will tell you that!

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Take a Rest at Parku Rinia – So Called Taiwan Park

Parku Rinia is a small park in the heart of Tirana, only a 5-minute walk from Skanderbeg Square.

You will undoubtedly pass this park on your way to the square or BunkArt2 museum but spend some time there as it’s a great spot for people watching. The fountain illuminates in different colours in the evening, there is a nice cafe/bar with a terrace and even a casino if you are inclined.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Chill at the Grand Park of Tirana And the Lake

If you are looking to spend some time surrounded by greenery and just have a chilled day in the city, one of the best things to do in Tirana is to head over to the Grand Park of Tirana. I was truly surprised as I arrived at the park by its vastness and beauty!

There are endless paths and walks, and the artificial lake is pretty beautiful too, and closer the the ‘bridge’ you will find some cafes, restaurants and food stalls. 

If you are travelling with kids you will find few playgrounds and endless picnic spots by the lake.

It’s also an awesome spot for a run (there is even a running track) or you use the outdoor exercise park too. In the summer there is even an Open Air Cinema

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Go Vintage and Second-hand Shopping

Vintage and second-hand shopping in Albania is just awesome! I bought more pieces of clothing that I should for as little as 100 or 200 Lek. Tirana is no different!

For the super cheap second-hand pieces (you will have to sift through it though) head to Bajram Curri Blvd where you will find sellers set up on the street but also a few second-hand shops where you will find some cool gems too!

Around Toptani you will find a few vintage shops as well. The one I really liked is located somewhere around here.

The best vintage shops in Tirana include awesome Hey Jude Vintage, The Vintage God and Vintage&More.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Spot Tirana’s Street Art

Tirana is indeed a very colourful city and to top it up you will find some excellent murals and street art randomly spread around the town.

Who knows, maybe strolling the city’s streets and spotting all those great murals is in fact one of the best things to do in Tirana!

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

And Tirana’s Crazy Architecture and Colours

On my first day in Tirana, I was just walking around with my eyes wide open and a smile on my face. I just loved this concoction of random buildings, not matching anything yet somehow fitting in. There is a pretty good amount of brutalist architecture in Tirana if this is what you are interested in. 

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Take a Day Trip From Tirana

If you are staying in Tirana for a little longer or perhaps you are a digital nomad basing yourself in the city, you should definitely take a day trip or two from Tirana.

The best day trip from Tirana is one to Kruja. Located only 20 minutes away from Tirana, Kruja is an ancient town and was home to the national hero Skanderbeg. It features a beautiful castle and citadelle, ottoman Ottoman-style bazaar and excellent restaurants serving traditional Albanian dishes.

Another one on the list of the best things to do in Tirana is a trip to Bovilla Lake. Bovilla Lake is one of the most impressive hidden gems of Albania. Unless you drive the best way to visit the lake is by taking an organised hiking trip to Bovilla Lake like this one. 

If you fancy a beach that you can enjoy on a day trip from Tirana then head to Durres. A part of me regrets skipping Durres. I was told it is a very touristy town filled with resorts for vacationers and it really put me off. Yet, then I read that it is in fact the oldest city in Albania and has a lot of history and culture to offer apart from its not the most glorious beaches. Visit Durres and let me know what you think!

Finally one of the best possible day trips from Tirana is visiting the UNESCO town of Berat. Although I definitely recommend spending a few days in this wonderful town, it can be visited on a day trip from Tirana if you are short on time.

Considering renting a car in Albania? If you are travelling in high season, book early. Prices increase the later you book a car. Of course, you can also rent a car at the airport. There are several car rental agencies outside the arrival terminal. You can also negotiate the price. You can also search for the best prices and pre-book online on Expedia or Discover Cars website. 

Have a Coffee, or a Cocktail in One of Tirana’s Most Iconic Cafes

One of the best things to do in Tirana is enjoy its vibrant cafe and bar scene. Some are great to visit just for the interior and atmosphere but you can of course enjoy excellent coffee. Many cafes will turn into cocktail bars in the evening and often serve delicious food too. The full package.

Some of the most iconic cafes and bars in Tirana include the Radio Bar (excellent cocktails), Komiteti Cafe Muzeum (my favourite!) or Small (very cute and serves the best coffee in Tirana!).

City Art is a great spot if you need to get some work done. Nouvelle Vague is definitely worth checking out too and so is Coko Bar & Bistro if you are hungry!

Finally, if you are looking for a cafe in Tirana where you can work for a very long time without being kicked out, head to Mon Chery in this location. It has a whole table dedicated to work (like many other Mon Cheri’s around Albania) and many other spots around the cafe floor. I noticed that probably around 80% of the people in there were on their laptops. 

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

Venture to Tirana’s Less Touristy Parts

One of my favourite things to do in Tirana was getting lost around the city and discovering places where not many tourists venture. I really liked the neighbourhood of Brylli, surprisingly vibrant yet very local. 

Liqeni i Thate is located not far from Tirana Park and is also a great neighbourhood to discover. It is also worth getting lost around Komuna e Parisitand and once there have a traditional meal at the excellent Lakrone ‘Ane restaurant.

Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide
Best Things to Do in Tirana / Tirana Travel Guide

I hope you found this guide to the best things to do in Tirana helpful and I really hope you will enjoy Tirana as much as I did. Give it more than just a couple of days and let it surprise you!

Please let me know in the comments what are your thoughts and ask questions if you think I missed something.

Until then,

Happy travels!

Pati

This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

Exploring more of Albania?

Heading to the beach? Great idea! Here is the list of all the most beautiful beaches near Himare! Wondering if Vlore is worth visiting? In this post, you will find my honest opinion about Vlore.

There are two towns you just need to add to your Albania itinerary – both Berat and Gjirocaster are wonderful UNESCO sites equally worth visiting!

For more of Albania, visit my Albania guides page!

2 Comments

  1. Pati,

    I love your Tirana article thank you. We are going for New Years Eve for 7 days and I will explore on foot. I love new places, brutalist buildings and small cafes do i cant wait.

    Cheers,

    Alan

    1. You will love Tirana! So many great cafes and so much to discover! I am happy you found my article useful 🙂 Have an amazing time and Happy New Year!

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