Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a native feudal lord from Mullet, established the city in 1614. His first constructions were a mosque, a bakery and a hamam or Turkish bath. On 8 February 1920, Tirana was made the temporary capital by the Congress of Lushnje, and it was proclaimed the permanent capital on 31 December 1925.
Tourists usually find Tirana a beautiful and charming city, where the cosmopolitan and small town feeling is intertwined with a lively night life. Tirana is where the old and new Albania meet. Unpaved streets host brand new Land Rovers, iPhone-toting youngsters rub shoulders with street vendors peddling all manner of items, and gleaming glass towers look down on abandoned construction projects. However, Tirana suffers from pollution problems mainly due to the rapid increase in cars in the city and continuous construction. Long gone are the days when Tirana used to be subject to power outages almost daily and this made Tirana a noisy city as the lack of power and lack of traffic lights had cars navigating by honking their horns.
Today the situation has dramatically improved regarding power outages. Tirana is undergoing a major renovation from its communist days. Many of the ugly dull buildings have been repainted, but a lot of work is left to be done. English is rapidly gaining steam as the second language of the city with the youth, but many older residents also speak Italian.
The main business and entertainment area (not by coincidence) has become "The Block" (Blloku) which is the area where in the past, the communist leaders used to live under strict protection. Tirana is a youthful and lively town resonating constant energy. Locals prefer to hang out at the many cafes and main parks. A popular retreat is by cable car to Mount Dajti where one can get a panoramic view of the city from above.
Albanians are very hospitable towards foreigners, despite media frequently portraying them unfairly as thieves and mobsters. Tirana is very approachable if you're the adventurous type - crime is rare, if ever directed towards foreigners and the costs are very low by regional standards. The worst experience you may have is with erratic driving style of Albanians.
- 1 Tourist information office, Rruga Ded Gjo Luli (just north of Skanderbeg Square (behind the National Historic Museum)). open M-F 11:00-16:00 (as of 2013). The English-speaking staff are very helpful and can provide maps and directions to hostels/hotels etc. Also free copies of "Tirana in your Pocket" guide, which includes vital information about bus and furgon schedules.
- 1 Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (Rinas International Airport TIA IATA), Airport Rd Rinas (17 km from the centre of town.). Rinas Express operates 06:00-18:00 an hourly bus from the airport to Skanderberg Square (behind the Opera) and vice versa. The bus costs 250 lek. A taxi to the centre costs 2,500 lek and takes 20–25 minutes. merrTAXI, 0800 55 55 (toll free) and Airport Taxi Express offer transportation to and from Rinas International Airport. Facilities include free Wi-Fi and an Adrion press shop. Beside the baggage carousel in arrivals there’s an ATM, a currency exchange office and the airport’s tourism information desk. The following airlines offer service to Tirana: Adria Airways (Ljubljana), Austrian Tyrolean Airways (Vienna Airport), British Airways (London-Gatwick), Edelweiss (Zurich), Lufthansa (Frankfurt Airport, Munich), Olympic Air (Athens, Thessaloniki), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul IST)
- 2 Tirana Train Station. Since September 2013 temporarily closed. Tirana has no international train connections. As of September 2013, the Tirana Train Station was temporarily moved to Kashar while a new multi-modal station is constructed in Tirana. The Kashar station was renovated and opened in May 2015. Passengers arriving at Kashar should walk to the main road, cross the footbridge and wait for the bus Vorë-Tiranë. The trains are operated by HSH sh.a. (map), (HSH Official Site) from the following cities: Durrës (100 lek, one hour, 8 daily), Shkodra (160 lek, 3.5 hours, twice daily), Elbasan (200 lek, 4 hours, 3 daily), Vlorë (210 lek, 5.5 hours, twice daily and only in the summer) and Pogradec (350 lek, 4 hours, twice daily - discontinued in 2012). Even though train services are poor, when compared to West Balkan standards, they may be more frequent, cheaper, and more scenic than taking the bus. Taking the train to Elbasan is not recommended: the 4-hour trip makes a large detour via Durrës (not very scenic) while Elbasan is only 35 km away from Tirana.
By bus & van
In anticipation of the construction of the two new Multi-Modal Terminals of Tirana near the Kamza Overpass at the western entrance of Tirana, and near TEG Shopping Center at the southeastern entrance of the city, the Municipality of Tirana has opened several temporary bus terminals mainly along Dritan Hoxha St and Student City to regulate the chaos of public transport between towns in Tirana:
- 3 Northern, Southern Albania & Durres Temporary Bus Terminal, Kamza Overpass (Kthesa e Kamzes) on the site of the future Tirana Multimodal Terminal.
- 4 Southeastern Albania Temporary Bus Terminal, Qyteti Studenti, Rruga Arben Broci (Student City at the Tirana Parking public parking).
- 5 Kosovo and International lines Temporary Bus Terminal, Pallati i Sportit Asllan Rusi, Rruga Dritan Hoxha (behind the Asllan Rusi Sports Center at the Tirana Parking public parking space). Kosovo and International-bound lines including the Balkans, Italy, and Greece.
- 2 Luna airport bus stop, ~Skanderbeg Square (behind the Palace of Culture (Opera) east of Skenderbeg Square), ☏ , . Depart every hour 06:00-18:00. tickets cost 250 lek and the trip takes ~45 minutes.
Buses can be used to reach Tirana from other cities in Albania and internationally. There is daily bus service from Turkey, Serbia, North Macedonia, Athens (Greece) and multiple services per day to Pristina (Kosovo) and other cities in Albania. Schedules change frequently so check the latest info in your place of departure.
Buses and furgons (minibuses) are generally the best method for travelling within Albania, but they are not in the best of shape. There are few bus companies; many are operated by individual drivers. Bus lines have schedules, but are often delayed until the coaches are full or at the whim of the driver.
Some international bus stations are far from the centre so it may be worth taking a taxi to the bus stop to save time and energy and avoid getting lost.
To calculate and book your journey you can use the Taxi Trip Calculator by MerrTaxi Tirana, which is the biggest taxi company in Albania, operates 24/7 in the capital city and they always use meter. To call a taxi use the national toll-free phone number ☏ 0800 5555 (in country only), or the international phone number ☏ .
Your hotel can also arrange a taxi to the border but it is usually more expensive. For example, a taxi from Tirana to the Macedonian border, a distance of 110 km (70 miles), will take 2½ hours and cost about 9000 lek with MerrTaxi Tirana. A metered Macedonian taxi from the border to Struga is €10 and to Ohrid about €16 (1000 denars) but you might get it for less if you haggle. The trip takes 15 minutes to Struga and 25 minutes to Ohrid (July 2018). Passport control will take about 30 min.
Tirana is not a port, so you can't get there directly by boat. There are, however, reasonable sea routes from Italy (from the ports in Bari, Trieste, and Ancona) to Durrës, the nearest port to Tirana from where you can take a bus or minivan to Tirana. You could also rent a car or take a taxi and be in Tirana in about 20 minutes.
Public transportation in Tirana consists of a number of intra-city bus lines. A single trip cost 40 lek (there are only single tickets available) (2016) and tickets are sold in the bus by a conductor. Buses marked 'Unaze' are for the ring road and travel in a loop around the city centre. There are also lines serving suburban shopping centers and Tirana Airport.
A useful web and Android application regarding Tirana's public transportation such as lines, directions, times and costs can be found at Tirana Bus Stations. An Android application is also available for download at GetJar.
The city centre is small enough to be explored through walking. Walking is a rewarding experience, but beware that there is no continuity in sidewalk width, construction material or condition. Sidewalks frequently end abruptly, have large holes or are very narrow. Pay attention while walking or you may end up spraining your ankle or falling in a hole. Street names are subject to change, so locals rarely know them. It is advised to learn a to navigate via landmarks instead of addresses or street names. You can orient yourself using the Lana River and "Dëshmorët e Kombit" street, which roughly bisects the central part of Tirana into four sections. At this intersection of the Lana River and Dëshmorët e Kombit is very recognizable "Pyramid" and "Taiwan Center".
The Ecovolis bicycle sharing program was launched in 2011. Bicycles can be rented from a number of locations at Rinia Park and along Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard. A full day ride costs 100 lek. The system is not electronic in that you must interact with a salesperson. Bicycles should be returned to the station of origin. Ecovolis also offers bikes for longer 24/7 rents at the shop. For all other bike equipment or repair, Rruga Qemal Stafa is Tirana's unofficial "bike street" with lots of little, inexpensive bike shops.
There are combined bus and bike lanes on some main streets. However, cycling in the street can be quite dangerous as lanes are narrow or occupied by parked vehicles (but car drivers have become more careful during the last years). There are bike-only lanes however on Skanderbeg Square, Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard and on sidewalks along Lana River and Kavaja Street. As of 2013, renting a bike is not possible on weekends.
A ride across town should cost 400 lek during the day, 600 lek at night. Negotiate a price before entering. merrTAXI offers authorized taxi reservation: 0800 55 55 (toll free within Albania).
Speed Taxi: This taxi company is also a good taxi company which has taxi fare meters, so you are sure that they won't charge you a random price. Speed Taxi's number is: ☏
Official taxis have a list with fare prices inside the vehicle. During the day flag-fall starts at 250 lek (as for MerrTaxi) and 300 lek during the night or holidays.
Most informal taxis or irregular ones do not use the taximeter. You can negotiate the price before entering the cab, or ask them to use the taximeter and save money.
Parking is a major problem. Driving offers an unique experience in Tirana for those willing to brave it. Driving aggressively and seizing opportunities will help you get around at normal pace. Timid and passive drivers should avoid driving in Tirana as they will likely be frustrated.
The city still misses road signs with directions (for example how to get out of the city). In case you have troubles just ask people (don't show them a map because Albanians are not used to seeing maps and even policemen don't know how to handle a street map.) Also, keep in mind that the word "car" sounds identical to the Albanian word for "penis" so do not be surprised if you get stared at if you say it. "Auto" or the Albanian word, "makina" are suitable stand-ins.
Car rentals in Albania are available from multi-national firms such as Hertz, Avis and Europcar, and can be booked online. However, local companies often have cheaper rates, examples include Noshi Rent-a-Car and Albarent.
- 1 Orthodox Church (Kisha Ortodokse), Rruga e Kavajës.
- 2 Catholic Church (Kisha Katolike), Rruga Mujo Ulqinaku (Rruga e Kavajës corner - 0.8 km W from center).
- 3 Et'hem Bey Mosque (Xhamia e Et'hem Beut), Skanderbeg Square (Centre). Daily 08:00-22:00 (summer), 08:00-19:00 (winter). Construction of this mosque took about 28 years and finished in 1821. It is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Albania with very interesting decorations and artwork within it. It is under repair.
- 4 Mosque 'Kokonozit' (Xhamia e Kokonozit), Rruga Thimi Mitko.
- 5 Saint Paul Catholic Cathedral (Kisha Katedralja e Shën Palit), Bulevardi Zhan D'Ark (across from ETC and the Pyramid). This modern cathedral features fascinating window murals.
- 6 Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral (Katedralja Ortodokse e Ringjalljes se Krishtit, Katedralja "Ngjallja e Krishtit" ne Tirane), Rruga Ibrahim Rugova (west of Skanderbeg Square nearby the Ministry of Defence). This cathedral features fascinating architecture and rich interior iconography. The church covered with a 23-m-high dome
- 7 Kapllan Pasha Tomb (Tyrbja e Kapllan Pashës), Rruga 28 Nëntori (0.2 km east).
- 8 The Sheh Dyrri Teqe (Teqja e Sheh Dyrrit), Rruga e Barrikadave (NE 0.3km). This is a teqe (teqe or cemevi is a Turkish meeting house for communal worship service) in Tirana. It is a cultural monument of Albania?
- 9 Tanners' Mosque (Xhamia e Tabakëve), Rruga Shyqyri Ishmi.
- 10 National Historic Museum (Albanian: Muzeu Historik Kombëtar), Skanderbeg Square (northwest edge of the square), ☏ . Tu-Su 10:00-17:00. The main museum in Tirana, it is in the center of the city, easily recognizable because of a huge mosaic standing on top of its front facade. It contains many artifacts ranging from ancient times through Hoxha's regime. Repeated looting in the 1990s has robbed the museum of many artifacts, but it remains the best place in Albania to learn its history. The history between 1944 and 1991 is not yet covered but there is a harrowing exhibition about Albania's gruesome labor camp system during that time. There is enough information in English to follow the exhibition and there are guided tours in English from time to time. - Antichity pavilion, the exhibited objects start with the Late Palaeolithic and ends with objects pertaining to the first part of the Middle Ages (4th–7th centuries). Middle Ages Paviilon, the visitors have the chance to learn about the economic, social, political and cultural development of the Albanians, who have preserved their typical characteristics, also resistance against the ruling of Byzantines, French, Turks and Serbs. National Renaissance Pavilion, express a clear view of the economic, political and cultural development of Albania from the beginning of the 19th century. Pavilion of Independence, start with the activities of the National Government of Valona and the organization of the Albanian independent State. Iconographic Pavilion, in this section the visitors has the chance to know great masters of the Albanian iconography. Ethnographic Pavilion, in this pavilion are introduced the traditional garments of the various Albanian regions (19th and 20th centuries). Pavilion of the Anti-Fascist War, in this pavilion the vicissitudes of the War of Vlora (1920) are introduced followed by the events of 1920s and 1930s and of the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. 200 lek.
- 11 National Art Gallery (Galeria Kombetare e Arteve), Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit, ☏ . W-Su 9:00-19:30. 13th-century pieces, modern art, socialist art. 200 lek.
- 12 National Archaeological Museum of Albania (Muzeu Kombëtar Arkeologjik), Sheshi Nënë Tereza (Two block west from Qemal Stafa Stadium), ☏ . This museum features ancient artifacts from Illyrian to Roman and Hellenic times featuring wonderful mosaics, Roman statues and illustrative maps.
- 13 Natural Sciences Museum of Albania (Muzeu i Shkencave Natyrore), Rruga e Kavajës. This museum features the fauna and geological composition of Albania.
- 14 Tirana Mosaic (Mozaiku i Tiranes), Blloku pallateve Partizani, Lagja nr. 9 - Rruga Sandër Prosi (1.3 km W). - The mosaic was discovered following excavations for an apartment complex. Various artifacts point to the presence of a village in the area thousands of years ago. This is the only archaeological site in Tirana!
- 15 Bunk'Art (Enver Hoxha's Underground Bunker), Rruga Teki Selenica. W-M 09:00-18:00 during summer, 09:00-16:00 during winter. This is the underground bunker of Enver Hoxha featuring Cold War exhibits turned into an art gallery, with many corridors full of art works to admire. The most famous works of Albanian art are available here to witness and observe. 500 lek.
- 16 Bunk'art 2. This bunker was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' and mixes a bit of art with an interesting exposition about the building of a paranoid Stalinist dictatorship through systematic spying, arrests and torture. A small app can be downloaded to enhance the experience with VR. 500 lek.
- 17 House of Leaves (The Museum of Secret Surveillance).
- ZETA Center for Contemporary Art. M-F 11:00-18:00, Sa 11:00-14:00. a non-profit exhibition space founded in 2007. With its 150 m² area on the second floor of a mixed residential and commercial building at Abdyl Frashëri Street No.7 in the Blloku area of Tirana (zona Libri Universitar: between Santa Margherita Wine Shop and LC Waikiki Store), ZETA functions as an autonomous cultural venue for contemporary visual arts, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, sound, and performance. Besides exhibitions, ZETA also hosts educational programs, workshops and discursive events, in cooperation with local and international partners. Over the last 12 years ZETA has significantly contributed to the vitality and dynamics of contemporary art scene in Tirana, most notably with regard to young Albanian artists. Free entrance.
- The Museum of the Bank of Albania, Skënderbej Square, No. 1 (in the headquarters of the central bank in the main square). Tu W Th 09:00-15:00. The museum lies on two floors, each of which is conceived as an independent space from the other. On the first floor is presented the rich numismatic collection of the Bank of Albania from antiquity to the present day. The second floor of the museum presents the history of the central bank institution in Albania, its role in maintaining price stability and ensuring the country's financial stability, as well as its constitutional functions. Visitors can learn more about all aspects of money and economy, as well as better understand the function of Central Bank. Enter the building from Ibrahim Rugova street. To enter the Museum of the Bank of Albania, you must book your visit online and be provided with an identification document. Free.
- Bektashism Museum (in the Odeon (Great Shrine) premises at the Bektashi World Headquarters). 09:00 - 19:00. The museum presents, through documents, photos and original objects, the history of Bektashism on a world scale and in particular of Albanian Bektashism. It is organized in 12 stands of 12 showcases, observing the 12 Imams. A very important angle is the one devoted to religious tolerance and harmony, which has contributed and contributes greatly to the Bektashi World Bishopric. Part of the Bektashi Museum are three environments: Chimney - Coffee, Ashurja and Pilgrimage. An important place is the close connection of Bektashism in Albania with the Albanian National Renaissance. Along with the activity of patriotic clerics, a special stand is dedicated to Frasheri brothers, where Naim Frasheri's contribution is distinguished.
- Historical Museum of the Armed Forces (Arms Museum) (in the premises of the Doctrine and Training Command (former United School)), ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 08:30 - 16:00. This museum contains more than a thousand museum objects, from the Middle Ages to the 19th century, decorated with gold and silver, a range of display cases with rifles of various types of Medieval, Renaissance, Skanderbeg's swords, of Ali Pasha Tepelena, aircraft, helicopters, tanks, four silhouettes, ground artillery, anti-aircraft of various calibers, as well as transport vehicles of different types. The two main pavilions are: the historic era pavilion 1470-1945 and the pavilion of 1945-1990. On the second floor are part of the uniforms used during the years by the Armed Forces to the newest uniforms. The first pavilion, besides the historical values, is also a testimony of the Albanian artisanship in this area. Domestic visitors need an identity card. For foreign visitors, 3-4 days prior to the day you want to visit the museum send a request by email accompanied by the ID card.
- Studio House "Kadare" (on the third floor of a palace in Dibra Street). 1 May-15 Oct: Tu-Sa 09:00-19:00, Su 10:00-17:00; 15 Oct-1 May: Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00, Su 10:00-15:00. This apartment was the residence of Kadare, an important writer, from 1974 to 1989, and his work place. It was designed by architect Maks Velo in 1972, was declared category II Culture Monument in 2015. The modernist and cubist building was called at that time "the palace with cubes", and represents the aspiration of Albanian architecture to be in step with time and in particular with the West. The Kadare Studio House will foster a deeper understanding of Albanian history during the dictatorship. It shows original documents, objects, books and furniture. Adult 500 lek, family (two or more persons) 250 lek, student 80 lek.
- 18 Fortress of Justinian or simply Tirana Castle remains (Albanian: Kalaja e Justinianit, Kalaja e Tiranës), Shëtitorja Murat Toptani. This is a castle in Tirana. Its history dates back before 1300 and is a remnant from the Byzantine-era. The fortress is the place where the main east-west and north-south roads crossed, and formed the heart of Tirana. About all that's left of the fortress above ground is a 6-m-high Ottoman-era wall, covered in vines. The recently uncovered wall foundations were incorporated into the pedestrianised Murat Toptani Street, while a mosaic commemorating the 100th Anniversary of Albania's Independence was unveiled near the Albanian Parliament
- 19 Bush Street (Rruga Presidenti George W. Bush) (across from Parliament Building and Murat Toptani Street - take bus to 'Rruga e Elbasanit' than walk through the bridge). This street was named after US President George W. Bush in honor of his 2007 visit.
- 20 Piramida (International Centre of Culture), B.Desmoret e Combit/B. Bajram Curri. The now-derelict pyramid was built in 1987 according to the design of Enver Hoxha's daughter and was opened as a museum dedicated to her father. In 2007 US President George W. Bush gave a speech in front of this building. The building was the most expensive erected under communism, and there are plans for future changes into it. The more adventure-minded can climb its side to get a view of the surrounding city center.
- 21 Blloku or Ish-Blloku (The Block), Mainly Rr. Ismail Qemali and nearby streets. Limits from West Rruga Sami Frashëri, from North Bulevardi Bajram Curri, from East Bulevardi Desmoret e Combit , from South Rruga Lek Dukagjini (take the bus signed 'Tirana e Re'; get off at the namesake station). Among the apartment blocks, one can find some of Tirana's trendiest cafés, shops, and restaurants. Here is also located the villa of the former dictator, Enver Hoxha. During communism, the area was reserved solely for government officials and was not allowed to be entered by the commoner. It was opened to the public in 1991 and since became the number one spot for Tirana's youth. At night the area gets full of people especially on weekends when most night clubs are full. The streets, especially in summer afternoons, are filled with Tirana's citizens and expensive cars cruising around. From the Block you can go almost anywhere for less than 10-15 minutes. If you need to have a coffee or relax while taking a look at the parade of trendy and elegant people, the block is a perfect place for you. In the Block you can buy trendy clothing items and French delicacies. You can also get taxis.
- 22 Tanners' Bridge (Tabak Bridge, Albanian: Ura e Tabakëve), Rruga George W. Bush and Bulevardi Zhan D'Ark corner (SE). This is an 18th-century Ottoman period stone footbridge. The bridge was once part of the Shëngjergj Road that linked Tirana with the eastern highlands. The Shëngjergj Road furnished the city with agricultural produce and livestock. The bridge went across the Lanë stream and was adjacent to the area of butchers and leather workers. The Lanë was rerouted in the 1930s and the bridge was neglected. In the 1990s the bridge was restored to its former glory and is now used by pedestrians only. The Tanners' Bridge is composed by a main arch, on which the bridge raises in a back shape. This arch has the light span of 8 m and is built with two ranks of sideway arches which are 1 meter thick. The height from the water was 3.5 m. The pavement of the bridge with 2.5 meters in width, constructed with river stones and placed without any apparent order. In the two sides of the main arch, there are two arches in the shape of circular segments with a small space
- 23 National Library of Albania (Biblioteka Kombëtare e Shqipërisë), Sheshi Skënderbej, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 08:00-20:00, Sa Su 08:00-14:00. The library holds over a million books and is known for its ancient collections.
- 24 Clock Tower (Kulla e Sahatit), Skanderbeg Square (city centre). Sa-M W 09:00-13:00, 16:00-18:00. This tower has become a symbol of Tirana. It is one of the oldest constructions in Tirana, built in the 1820s. Don't forget to visit the nearby Clock Towers of Albania Museum featuring Clock Towers from around Albania, and traditional costumes from Tirana region. The stairs have 90 steps that go in a spiral fashion. It is 35 metres (115 ft) tall and was the tallest building in Tirana at the time. 10 lek.
- 25 Sali Shijaku's Traditional House (Shtëpia Sali Shijaku), Rr. Vildan Luarasi (A few blocks east of the Train Station), ☏ . 09:00-17:00. This well-preserved traditional house owned by painter Sali Shijaku features art displays, traditional house emnities, and a restaurant.
- 26 Tirana Zoo (Kopshti Zoologjik Tiranë), Rruga Liqeni i Thate (SW 1.6 km). 09:00-18:00. Visiting this zoo is an odd experience; there are few animals but you will see them at remarkably close range. Nearby is the Botanical Garden featuring the best of Albania's fauna. 50 lek.
- 27 Martyrs' Cemetery (Varrezat e Dëshmorëve të Kombit), Rruga Dr Shefqet Ndroqi (SE 2km). This is the cemetery where the remains of 900 partisans that fought for Tirana are buried. Here one can also find the 12-m statue of Mother Albania built in 1972 (Monumenti Nëna Shqipëri). Hoxha was buried here in 1985 but exhumed in 1992 and moved to the other side of the city.
Go for a walk in the evening along the main streets or at one of the several parks and sit for a coffee or drink. Take part in the vibrant nightlife by visiting one of the numerous nightclubs. If you are adventurous and brave enough, try the peculiar experience of driving in the city's streets by renting a car, or rent a bicycle from a bike renting station. You can also cruise the city with a limousine or venture out in the picturesque suburbs either south or northeast/west of Tirana.
A free walking tour starting daily at 10:00 (10:00 and 18:00 during the summer period) in front of Tirana's Opera house is a good start to discover the city and learn more about its history, art and daily life.
Below are some venturing suggestions:
- 1 Murat Toptani Street. Murat Toptani Street is a pedestrian-only street east of Rinia Park constructed with stone near the Tirana Castle walls. Traditional houses, cafes, and a local park are found here.
- 2 Sheshi Skënderbej (Skanderbeg Square). Tirana's city centre. A statue of Albanian hero Skanderbeg stands in the square with the Albanian flag on the side. Renovations have made the square pedestrians and public transportation friendly. Government buildings featuring Italian architecture and some structures outlined below are all right off this square.
- 3 Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard (Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit (Nation's Martyrs Boulevard)). A panoramic boulevard built by the Italians in the 1930s similar to the Champs de Elysee extending south from Skanderberg Square. The boulevard features Fascist, Communist, and modern architecture of government buildings, business centers and hotels. Many local parks are found here.
- 4 Taiwan Complex (Kompleksi Tajvani), Parku Rinia, Rruga Ibrahim Rugova, ☏ . 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. This beautiful place in the heart of downtown Tirana. It includes restaurants, casinos, bars, a club, etc. It is surrounded by a huge lit water fountain with a glowing bridge that reaches to the restaurant, and is an ideal place for all ages. Children enjoy gourmet ice cream and iced European soft drinks, whilst adults and teens can enjoy fun casinos. This is an excellent tourist attraction, and many Albanian celebrities can be found in the area.
- 5 Mother Teresa Square. Located at the southern side of Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard, this square features typical fascist architecture. Buildings include the University of Tirana, Archaeological Institute, Academy of Arts and the National Stadium.
- 6 Grand Park along the Artificial Lake (Parku i Madh) (southern part of the city). People have picnics and have fun, and the natural beauty allows it because of the huge trees, open spaces, and mountains surrounding them. An artificial lake lies in the middle of the Park. It is popular with locals and tourists as a place to walk around and enjoy a lunch or coffee at one of the restaurants or cafés. Over 120 types of plants. A popular swimming pool complex is nearby.
- Ali Demi Skate Park (go north-east on the Bulevardi-Bajram-Curri, and then take a right on the Ruga-Ali-Demi. You should go about half a mile on that road. Then the skate park will be directly on your right. You can’t miss it; its right next to a park with a fountain in the middle of it and a café with a jungle gym, there are many green ramps). The Ali-Demi skate park is a great place to go with your family because there is a nice park on one of the sides next to the skate park, there are markets, and a beautiful café shop with a playground for small children with typical swings and benches and soccer fields in the back. The skate park is full of people on bikes, roller skates, and skate boarders. The Skate Park is very good for beginners, the ramps are all cement (there is coping on the ramps). The ramps have a good variety—there are small ramps along with big ones. Almost all the ramps are shaped like a plateau they are good for caching air. There are many places to do ollies and 180s off of and other places to grind if you are an experienced skate boarder. The skate park is slightly below the rest of the park so you shouldn’t go when it’s raining because it fills up with water. There are quarter pipes along the sides of the skate park. This skate park is very fun for skaters, bikers, and rollerskaters.
- 28 Petrela Castle (Petrelë Castle, Albanian: Kalaja e Petrelës), Rruga Petreles (South 15km). 11:00–23:00?. This is one of Albania's best preserved castles. It is known as an ancient settlement 2000 years old and was commanded by princess Mamica, the sister of the national hero, Skanderbeg. free.
- 29 Preze Castle (Kalaja e Prezës), Fushë Prezë (North-West 22km). This 15th-century castle is on the picturesque hills of Preze village west of Rinas airport.
- 7 Mount Dajti National Park (Mount Dajti, Parku Kombëtar i Malit të Dajtit), SH47, Rruga Mali Dajti, Fushe Dajt (16 km east of the capital). 1,612-m-high (getting to the topmost point is not possible because of a restricted area with antennas and a military zone). Offers great views of Tirana. A very relaxing area, mount Dajti can be reached through an Austrian-built express cable car (one ride takes more than 15 minutes so is worth the cost even if you don't stay atop the mountain). To get to the bottom station of the cable car, take the bus line "Qender - Linze" that starts east beside the Skanderbeg place behind the mosque. In the bus tell the conductor "Teleferik" and he will show you the station to get out of the bus. From there it is a short 5-minute walk guided by direction signs (the cable car is closed on Tuesdays). In the top station of the cable car, there is a hotel (€30 for a double room ) and a tourist agency offering various activities like horse riding, trekking, excursions, sky sports, ski etc. The area has a limited number of hotels and restaurants, but it is great for taking a breath of fresh air, mountain sports, or to just get out of the city for a while.
The Pellumba Cave in the area is worth a visit. Unfortunately, litter is becoming a problem on Mount Dajti. This detracts from the experience somewhat, but the beautiful scenery still makes the trip worthwhile. Don't forget to visit the spectacular Erzeni Canyon along the Erzeni River south of the park near the dam.
A new tourist information center was opened by the Albanian Agency of Protected Areas (AKZM) near the TV and Radio antennas in Fushe Dajt. The administration of the national park is shared between AKZM and Tirana Municipality Parks and Recreation Agency. 800 lek (return ticket to the cable car).
- 8 Brar Canyon and Bridge (Albanian: Ura e Brarit), Brar village (follow Myslym Keta Street, northeast of Tirana inside Mount Dajti National Park). A panoramic canyon and Ottoman bridge just steps from the capital. Spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and Tirana. A cave and a beautiful waterfall is found near Shengjergj village.
- 30 Dajti Castle ruins (Albanian: Kalaja e Dajtit), SH47 Rd (from Dajt Xhori 1.5km S).
- 31 Ndroqit Castle ruins (Kalaja e Ndroqit), Çoçaj, Varosh (~20 km west from Tirana - north of SH56 Road). Located on a pyramid-shaped hill. A cobblestone paved pass lead to the castle.
- 9 Southeast of Tirana (Tirana's Garden (Bahcja e Tiranes)), Rruga e Elbasanit (SH3) Berzhite, Farka (south-east of Tirana along SH3). Many small resorts and restaurants are located in Tirana's greenbelt areas of Berzhite, Petrela, and Farke along Rruga e Elbasanit and SH3. One locality features shooting range facilities, a modest golf club and horse riding, while others traditional food, wooden villa accommodations, and swimming pools. The area includes some gated communities with luxury villas and amenities. Additionally, you can visit Farka Artificial Lake Park in Farka where you can enjoy a splendid view of the Tirana Mountain Range.
- 32 Persqopi Archeological Site (Qyteti antik i Persqopit), Rruga Durishtit (near the castle Petrelë, south of the city). Persqopi was an ancient city. It's on the Viles Hillside (malin e Vilës). The outer wall was 7 m high, the Bastion 12 m high. The city is built using more than 2 m long and 1 m high stone elements. Take a tour around the hill
- 10 Lalzit Bay Beach (Gjiri i Lalzit), North of Durres near Hamallaj around Rodon Cape (on the SH2 exit at Maminas, follow road and then turn left at Hamallaj). Popular weekend beach retreat where small seaside resorts can be found. This is also where Albania's wealthy rest. Visit Skanderbeg Castle along the cost, and a small church at Rodon Cape nearby.
- 11 General's Beach (Plazhi i Gjeneralit), Southwest of Kavaje at Bardhor village, Synej, ☏ . A popular seaside weekend retreat. The name stems from an Italian general who used to rest at this beach during World War II. Accommodation is available in form of wooden villas. An international resort is also being build nearby at Kalaja e Turres. Visit nearby Bashtova Castle and Shenepremte Church.
Some of the most popular events are Summer Day celebrations in Mid-March, and Independence Day festivities on November 28. Recently, a number of prestigious festivals have become a tradition in the city's calendar of events:
- Tirana International Film Festival (Tirana Film Fest). This annual film festival held at the end of November and beginning of December highlights the work of ethnic Albanian artists.
- Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (Tirana Biennale), ☏ . This biannual art festival features the best of international contemporary art. It was last held in 2009 at the historic Hotel Dajti building.
- Rally Albania, Mother Teresa Square, ☏ . The event features an international competition in the rough Albanian countryside roads.
There are plenty of ATMs accepting Cirrus/Maestro and Visa around the city (and there is one at the airport).
- 1 Adrion International Bookshop, Palace of Culture, Skanderbeg Square (Center), ☏ . 08:30-21:30. Magazines and newspapers from around the world. English books available.
- 2 Unique, Rruga Ibrahim Rugova, Blloku. This shoe shop has fancy shoes such as Dsquared, Fendi, and Moschino.
- 3 Kiosques, Rr. Barrikadave and Rr. Durresit (North of Sulejman Pasha Square and across from the Tourist Info Center). Souvenirs.
Food & market
- Central Market (Pazari i ri), Sheshi Avni Rustemi. daily early morning. Fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as traditional cooking utensils.
- 4 Natyral & Organik, Rr. Vaso Pasha 3 Tiranë, ☏ . M-F 09:00-21:00, Sa Su 09:00-14:00, 17:30-21:00. The shop works directly with producers and sell local organic olive oil, raki, wine, honey, and dried herbs.
- Citypark Albania, Tirana-Durrës highway, km 8 (Just beyond the airport turn-off), ☏ . A large shopping centre has some 180 shops, a Mercator hypermarket, food court, skating rink
- Coin department store (Rr. Papa Gjon Pali II) (ABA Business Center).
- Galeria Mall, Blv. Bajram Curri (European Trade Centre, behind the Pyramid), ☏ . Daily 09:00-20:00. More than 50 shops, bars and cafés
- Kristal Shopping Center, Rr. Frang Bardhi, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-21:00. Has a Conad supermarket and a cinema complex
- QTU shopping centre (Qendra Tregtare Univers), Tirana-Durrës highway, km 6 (6.8 km NW), ☏ . Has a supermarket, electronics store.
- QTU City mall, Rruga Abdyl Frashëri. Daily 09:00-22:00.
- Sheraton Plaza, Sheshi Italia (At the Sheraton hotel). The mall has a café, a food court, a good little supermarket and several upmarket shops.
- Tirana East Gate (TEG), Autostrada Tiranë – Elbasan, km 0, ☏ .
- Toptani Shopping Center, Rr. Abdi Toptani, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Splashy new shopping mall right in the city center.
Food is generally inexpensive in town, even in the more upscale places. The Italian influence is everywhere and most places will offer pizza and/or pasta along more elaborate dishes. A good rule of thumb is that the priciest or fanciest places rarely are the best ones, particularly in the Blloku. Notable dishes that exemplify the local cuisine include fërgesë (baked vegetables and cheese) and tavë dheu (fërgesë with the addition of liver).
- 1 Oda restaurant, Rr. Luigj Gurakuqi (Past Sheshi Avni Rustemi towards Skanderbeg Square), ☏ . noon-late. Situated inside a Tirana traditional house, this restaurant features delicious traditional cuisine. 500 lek.
- 2 Sofra e Ariut, Nd. 54 H.1 Njësia Bashkiake Nr. 1, Rruga e Elbasanit, (inside Tirana's Big Park), ☏ . Specializing in traditional Albanian cuisine, the interior is decorated with traditional ornaments.
- 3 Tek Zgara Tironës 2, Rruga e Kavajës (from Skanderberg square walk ten minutes west along Rruga e Kavajës. It will be on your right), ☏ . 09:00-23:30 every day. Good traditional Albanian cuisine with massive servings. Mains 200-700 lek.
Small shops and roadside vendors throughout the city sell foods such as sufllaqe, doner, and gjiro for less than 200 lek. Also try the local specialty, byrek.
- AFC fast food restaurant, ?. It serves a lot of things and you can have a lunch or a dinner there.
- 4 Big Bite fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri 16 (in Blloku). 24hrs. good taste of Albanian fast food.
- 5 Mr.Chicken fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri (in Blloku). 09:00–24:00. good taste of Albanian fast food. Freshly cooked rotisserie chicken
- 6 Gjiro Kamara fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri (in Blloku, next to Slovenian Embassy), ☏ . Good taste of Albanian fast food.
- 7 Kolonat Fast Food, Sheshi Italia (in Bllok, near Nene Tereza Square, At National Archaeological Museum), ☏ . M-F 09:00-22:00, Sa 08:00-14:00 and 16:00-20:00. Albania's version of McDonald's. Specializes in burgers and pizza. Also on Blv. Bajram Curri, and on Rruges Elbasanit. 500 lek for sandwich, fries, and drink.
- 8 Marion Restaurant (Mensa Marion), Rruga Pjeter Budi, Tirana University student's campus (E 1 km), ☏ . 08:00-23:00. Budget self service restaurant in the Central Campus. Very popular among students. Under US$10 per meal.
- Gloria, Rruga Qemal Stafa. Excellent food (Italian and Albanian) with good service.
- 9 King House restaurant, Rruga Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit (at Bank of Albania ?), ☏ . Combination of excellent Albanian and Italian food. Always very popular with expats and locals.
- Yamato restaurant, ? (Blloku). A more formal restaurant than other Blloku eateries, children-friendly Yamato has a big selection of Japanese foods prepared by a Filipino chef.
- 10 Gurra e Perrise, SH47, Mali Dajtit (Dajti Mountain) (after you get off the cable car, restaurant's micro-buses will take you directly to the restaurant), ☏ . Daily 11AM – Midnight. Traditional restaurant in a marvelous place, with fantastic view of the city. Fresh meat, fresh trout (you can also catch it by yourself there). 1000 lek.
- 11 Bar Restaurant Patricia, Rruga Fortuzi (Going up the Durresi Street turn right at the Ministry of Education, - near the school Jeronim De Rada), ☏ . 09:00-24:00. A fancy and comfortable restaurant. Its specialty is the Italian food. 1000 lek.
- 12 Vila 12, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti 12 (in front of Birrila's building), ☏ . 11:00-23:00. A gourmet fish restaurant that has some very fishy combinations indeed. The chef likes to experiment; try the raw fish with radish, grapes and strawberries, or the potato-cake with cod and mozzarella. Thankfully there's also traditional grilled fish and lobster. The hot choc fondant cake is a worthy dessert.
- 13 Juvenilja Castelo, Sheshi Italia (close to hotel Sheraton, at the Big Park,), ☏ . 24/7. Mainly serves Italian and Albanian food. A 5-star restaurant. 1000 lek.
Raki is Albania's national alcohol; try Boza for something non-alcoholic, the most famous of which is Pacara Boza, ☏ . 1 bottle of 1.5 l ~ 100 lek.
- Sky Tower Rotating Bar. (Rr. Ibrahim Rugova) This is a must! The rotation is a bit jerky and may leave you slightly seasick.
Blloku is the main nightlife spot in the city.
- Grand Cafe, Blloku. Frequented by elites of the city for a good cup of coffee.
- Lizard, Blloku. There is often live shows performed by bands from all over Albania, when prices for drinks drop a little. Lizard is known for the cocktails their experienced bartender prepares.
- Shakesbeer Bar, Blloku. Good place offering beers.
- Converse, Charls, Steel Wings (Bikers club), Unit, Mos Fli. Clubs in Blloku frequented by die hard rock and metal fans.
- Brauhaus Shallvare (Shallvare Brewpub), Rruga Reshit Çollaku 38 (Pallati Tuborg), ☏ , . The first brew pub in Tirana, Albania, with beers (Blonde, Rose, Dark, Bock) brewed few meters away from the seating tables. Fermented in open view tanks and poured from tank, fresh into the mug, unfiltered and unpasteurized without added CO2 or any adjuncts. Live music €1 a beer.
Budget options in Tirana are hindered by a government 1000 lek per-person tax levied on all the hotels.
- 1 Freddy's Hostel, Ground Floor, 75 Bardhok Biba St (200 m from the National History Museum), ☏ . Rooms are passable, usually with ensuite. No true dorm rooms. Wi-Fi. €35 for a double.
- Hostel-Albania, Rruga Kavajes 80, ☏ .
- 2 Hotel Briker, Rruga e Barrikadave (close to the centre (5 min walking)), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean, safe, nice private rooms with private bathroom and shower, well maintained, friendly, all of the staff spoke English, they take credit cards. Double/Twin: €40 .
- 3 Star Hotel, Rruga e Dibrës, 73 (from Skanderbeg Square walk past the Tirana International Hotel, it'll take one minute), ☏ , , ✉ email@example.com. Clean, safe, private rooms with private bathroom and shower, well maintained, friendly, staff speak English. Double/twin: €30 .
- 4 Hotel Victoria, Rr. Dibrës Nd. 331 H. 1 (2km south), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Family-owned hotel in a new residential area that offers quietness and fresh air. Single €22, double/twin €34, triple €44, quad €54.
- 5 Tirana Backpackers Hostel, Rruga Elbasanit 85/Rruga e Bogdanëve (0.5 km W of Skanderberg Square). Small hostel, with just 25 beds, in a beautiful villa built in 1940. Dorms are spacious and well lighted, back garden. Bikes can be rented for city tours. Dorm bed: 1,770 lek.
- 6 Hotel Verzaci, Rinas, SH60 (15km N), ☏ . Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The hotel is a ten-minute walk from the Tiranë airport terminal building, very convenient for early departures or late arrivals. While there are hotels even closer to the airport, this hotel provides very good value for its price. €25 (single).
- 7 Jolly City Centre Hotel, Avni Rustemi, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. A small hotel in central Tirana with a 24-hour front desk and friendly staff. Modest buffet breakfast is included in price. If arriving by plane, catch the Rinas Ekspress airport coach (250 lek) which terminates behind the Opera, 500 m from the hotel. €23 single.
- 8 Hotel Baron, Rruga e Elbasanit 274 (near Mother Albania Statue, Qemal Stafa Stadium, and University of Tirana), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Meeting facilities include conference rooms, a ballroom, and banquet facilities. Single €35; double/twin €50; triple €55; quad €65.
- Hotel City Tirana, Rruga Ismail Qemali, Nr8/1, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Family-owned hotel with exquisite service. Single €34-€50; double €75.
- Hotel Meg Klaus, Hotel Meg Klaus (in a courtyard, street off Rr.Mine Peza), ☏ , fax: . 11 rooms. TV, air-con and bathroom worked fine. No restaurant (and no breakfast included) but a hotel bar. Some staff had trouble speaking English. Single €30, double €40.
- Hotel Airport Tirana, Rinas Tirana International Airport Mother Teresa (near the Rinas (Tirana) Airport), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Grand hotel with every modern amenity. Single 8,850 lek; double 11,800 lek.
- Hotel Brilant Antik, Rr. Jeronim De Rada, No. 78 (Just across the Parliament), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Excellent rooms and helpful staff. €70, breakfast included.
- Hotel Grand, Rr. Ismail Qemali 11 (close to the centre). A small, 3-star standard hotel. single €120; double €160.
- Hotel Mondial. Prestigious 4-star hotel. 28 rooms. Also a bar and a restaurant.
- Hotel Theranda, Rr. Andon Zako Cajupi, Villa 6 & 7 (two minutes from the centre, Blloku District), ☏ , fax: . Boutique hotel. Single €70 to €100; double/twin: €90 to €130.
- President Hotel. Small hotel in the Bllok area.
- Rogner Hotel Europapark, Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit. Part of the Rogner chain of hotels, this modern hotel is where the headquarters of the communist party were planned to be built before the fall. Very luxurious. Beautiful gardens and an outdoor swimming pool that is always freezing. The comfort has five stars. Security is unsurpassed. Single €152 to €176 +tax; double/twin €170 to €201 +tax.
- Tirana International Hotel (In Skanderberg Square). Centrally located, this hotel was built during communist times and has changed hands. There are plans for drastic changes in its appearance, and it still remains one of the major and best hotels in Albania. If you have the time have lunch on the covered balcony of their one restaurant, the food and service is excellent. Weekend: single €60, double €70; weekday: single €112, double €124-€142.
- Xheko Imperial Hotel Tirana, Rr. Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit. 48 luxurious rooms, equipped with all the modern amenities. Restaurant with Albanian traditional cuisine.
It is a good idea to buy a local Vodafone or ALBtelecom prepaid sim card for staying connected to the Internet. Prices start at around 600 lek for a calling plan. For slightly over 1,000 lek you can get a calling plan with 5GB or more data traffic. Additional data is 500 lek per 4Gb, with occasional bonuses. You must provide a passport to purchase a prepaid SIM. There is a Vodafone shop at the Nënë Tereze Airport right after the customs.
- 3 Main Post Office & Telephone Centre, Sheshi Cameria. M-F 08:00-20:00.
- Centre Internet, RR Brigada e VIII (Look for the yellow sign down the laneway). 24 hours. 100 lek per hour.
- Internet Point, RR Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit, 7. 24 hours. 100 lek per hour.
Gun violence has been an issue in the nightclub district of Blloku. Extortion (and other types of crime that relate to slavery) is common in prostitution areas of Tirana. Unemployment is high for young adults in all areas of Albania, and there are large networks of available people on the street to identify, track, and harass tourists across the city. Drug-related crime and drug traffic also occur, though they are not as visible in the city as in some remote rural and resort areas
You should take some precautions when walking around the city. The main advice is to simply watch your step. Although many parts of the city are maintained, there remain holes and worn-down street parts. Cars also seem to drive more recklessly than in most European cities, and assume a right-of-way, so care is needed in crossing the street. Not even a green light is always a guarantee of safety! Try to see when the locals cross the street and cross with them.
- ABC Family Health Centre. M-F 08:00-16:00. English-speaking doctors. Run by Baptists. Consultation: US$20.
- Klinika IRMA, Rruga Dora D'Istria, Pall Triss, Kati 3 (large physician-owned multi-specialty clinic in the city centre, near Bllok), ☏ . M-Sa 09:00-18:00. English, French and Italian-speaking doctors. Consultation: US$20.
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