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 (Turkish bath). On February 8, 1920 Tirana was made the temporary capital by the Congress of Lushnje, and it was proclaimed the permanent capital on December 31, 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 manners 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 itself 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.
- 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.
- Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (Rinas International Airport IATA: TIA), Airport Rd Rinas (17 km from the centre of town. - - Rinas Express operates an hourly bus between 6AM and 6PM from the airport to Skanderberg Square and vice versa. The bus costs 250 lek. A taxi to the centre costs around 2,000 lek and takes 20–25 minutes. merrTAXI.com, 0800 55 55 (toll free) and Airport Taxi Express offer transportation to and from Rinas International Airport.). - Airport facilities include free wifi 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/from Tirana: Adria Airways (Ljubljana), Austrian Tyrolean Airways (Vienna), Belle Air (Ancona, Athens, Bari, Bologna, Cuneo, Florence, Forli, Genoa, Heraklion, Milan-Malpensa, Milan-Orio al Serio, Parma, Perugia, Pisa, Pristina, Rhodes, Rimini, Rome-Fiumicino, Trieste, Venice-Treviso, Verona, Zurich), British Airways (London-Gatwick), Lufthansa (Munich), Olympic Air (Athens, Thessaloniki), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul-Atatürk)
- 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 are bused between Tirana and Kashar. The trains are operated by HSH sh.a. (map here [warning:PDF] ), (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 four hour trip makes a large detour via Durrës (not very scenic) while Elbasan is only 35 km away from Tirana.
By bus & van
- Bus station for mini vans to Elbasan, Rruga Papa Gjon Pali II (The surrounding space of the Pyramid).
- Buses to Durrës, Shkodra (Park Autobusash) (beside the train station - Rruga Karl Gega). Also furgons depart from here to Shkodra (07:00-16:00, hourly, 2 hrs, 300 lek), to Durres (06:00-19:00, twice hourly, 40 min, 150 lek),
- Furgons heading southeast for Elbasan, Pogradec and Korça (beside the Qemal Stafa stadium and trawl around on Rruga Elbasan).
- Furgons heading south to Berat, Vlora, Gjirokastra and Saranda, Nëshërak and Sheshi 21 Djetori? (west of the centre). To Berat (06:30-18:00, twice hourly, 2 hrs, 400 lek), Fier (06:00-17:00, twice hourly, 2 hrs, 400 lek), Gjirokastra (05:00-18:30, 4 hrs, 800 lek), Permet (twice a day at ~06:30, 14:00, 4 hrs 500 lek), Saranda (at 05:15, 07:00, 08:30, 09:30, 16:00, 22:00, 7 hrs, 1200 lek), Vlora (05:30-16:30, twice hourly 3 hrs 500 lek)
- Furgons heading to Pogradec and Korca (http://www.matinic.us/albania/furgon.php), near Qemal Stafa Stadium. Pogradec (07:00-16:00, hourly, 3 hrs, 500 lek), Korca (07:00-16:00, hourly 4 hrs, 600 lek)
- Furgons heading north to Shkodra, Kukës, Sheshi Zogu i Zi. to Bajram Curri (06:00-14:00, 6 hrs, 1000 lek), Peskopi (06:00-14:00, 5 hrs, 800 lek,- from Laprak, one traffic light beyond Zogu I Zi), Kruja (at 07:00, 10:00, 12:00, 15:00, 18:00, 45 min, 150 lek), to Kukës (a couple between 06:00-16:00, 2 hrs, 8000 lek), to Shkodra (07:00-16:00, hourly, 2 hrs, 300 lek)
- Rinas Express airport bus stop, ~Skanderbeg Square (beside the National Museum on Skenderbeg Square), ☎ . , Depart every hour 08:00-19:00. tickets cost 250 lek and the trip takes ~45 minutes.
Tirana does not have a central bus station, so you may be dropped at various locations in the city. Buses can be used to reach Tirana from other cities in Albania and internationally. There is daily bus service from Turkey, Serbia, 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 to and from Kosovo depart from downtown (behind museum where one also can find buses to Rinas airport)
Buses and furgons (minibuses) are generally the best method for traveling 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, or the international phone number +355 67400 6610.
Your hotel will 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 70 miles, will take three hours and cost about €90 with MerrTaxi Tirana. A metered Macedonian taxi from the border to Struga should no more than €6 (December 2009) and take 20 mins, while a taxi on to Skopje would take 3 hours on much better roads and would cost about €120 (Prices January 2008). Passport control will take about 30 mins.
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 mini van 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 30 leks (there are only single tickets available) (2013) 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 (approx. $1USD as of 2012). 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. New combined bus and bike lanes have been opened recently 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). Bike only lanes however are located 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, approximately 4-5 euro. 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: +355 4 2222555
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.
If venturing out with a rented car be advised that 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 and can be booked online:
Local rentals are often cheaper:
- Noshi Rent-a-Car
- Orthodox Church (Kisha Ortodokse), Rruga e Kavajës.
- Catholic Church (Kisha Katolike), Rruga Mujo Ulqinaku (Rruga e Kavajës corner - 0.8km W from center).
- 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 art-work within it.
- Mosque 'Kokonozit' (Xhamia e Kokonozit), Rruga Thimi Mitko.
- Saint Paul Catholic Cathedral (Kisha Katedralja e Shën Palit), Bulevardi Zhan D'Ark (Across from ETC and the Pyramid). Recently constructed, this cathedral features fascinating window murals.
- 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 is brand new featuring fascinating architecture and rich interior iconography. The church covered with a 23 m high dome
- Kapllan Pasha Tomb (Tyrbja e Kapllan Pashës), Rruga 28 Nëntori (0.2 km East).
- 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
- Tabak Mosque (Xhamia e Tabakëve), Rruga Shyqyri Ishmi.
- National Historic Museum (Albanian: Muzeu Historik Kombëtar), Skanderbeg Square (northwest edge of the square), ☎ . 10:00-17:00, closed Mondays. 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 Valona (1920) are introduced followed by the events of years `20 - `30 and of the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. 200 leks.
- National Art Gallery (Galeria Kombetare e Arteve), Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit, ☎ . W-Su 9:00-19:00 (M, Tu closed). 13th century pieces, modern art, socialist art. 200 lek.
- 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.
- Natural Sciences Museum of Albania (Muzeu i Shkencave Natyrore), Rruga e Kavajës. This museum features the fauna and geological composition of Albania.
- Tirana Mosaic (Mozaiku i Tiranes), Blloku pallateve Partizani, Lagja nr. 9 - Rruga Sandër Prosi (1.3km 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!
- Bunk'art (Enver Hoxha's Underground Bunker), Rruga Teki Selenica. 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.
- 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 6m-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
- 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.
- Piramida (International Centre of Culture), B.Desmoret e Combit/B. Bajram Curri. The pyramid was built in 1987 according to the design of Enver Hoxha's daughter and was originally a museum of 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 new designs are worked by architectural firm associated with Hoxha's daughter.
- 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 best 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.
- 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
- National Library of Albania (Biblioteka Kombëtare e Shqipërisë), Sheshi Skënderbej, ☎ , fax: +355 422 23843, e-mail: 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.
- Clock Tower (Kulla e Sahatit), Skanderbeg Square (city centre). Sa-M, W 09:00-13:00, 16:00-18:00. Closed Tu, Th & F. 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.
- 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.
- Tirana Zoo (Kopshti Zoologjik Tiranë), Rruga Liqeni i Thate (SW 1.6km). 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 located the Botanical Garden featuring the best of Albania's fauna. 50 lek.
- 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 12m 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. Below are some venturing suggestions:
- Murat Toptani Street. Murat Toptani Street is a recently opened pedestrian only street east of Rinia Park constructed with stone and located nearby Tirana Castle walls. Traditional houses, cafes, and a local park are found here.
- 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.
- 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.
- Taiwan Complex (Kompleksi Tajvani). 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.
- 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.
- 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 located 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 junglejim, 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.
- 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.
- Preze Castle (Kalaja e Prezës), Fushë Prezë (North-West 22km). This 15th century castle is located on the picturesque hills of Preze village west of Rinas airport.
- Mount Dajti (Mount Dajti National Park, Parku Kombëtar i Malit të Dajtit or Parku Kombëtar i Dajti), Dajt, SH54 Road (16 km east of the capital). 1,612m 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. 700 lek (up and down by cable car).
- 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.
- Dajti Castle ruins (Albanian: Kalaja e Dajtit), SH47 Rd (From Dajt Xhori 1.5km S).
- Ndroqit Castle ruins (Kalaja e Ndroqit), Çoçaj, Varosh (~20km West from Tirana - North of SH56 Road). Located on a pyramid-shaped hill. A cobblestone paved pass lead to the castle.
- 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.
- Persqopi Archeological Site (Qyteti antik i Persqopit), Rruga Durishtit (near the castle Petrelë - South from Tirana). Persqopi was an ancient city. Loceted 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
- 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.
- 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 WW2. 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 internatioanl contemporary art. It was last held in 2009 at the historic Hotel Dajti building.
- Tirana Jazz Fest.
- 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).
- Adrion International Bookshop, Palace of Culture, Skanderberg Square (Center), ☎ . 08:30-21:30. Magazines and newspapers from around the world. English books available.
- Unique, Rruga Ibrahim Rugova, Blloku. This shoe shop has fancy shoes such as Dsquared, Fendi, Moschino, etc.
- Kiosques, Rr. Barrikadave and Rr. Durresit (North of Sulejman Pasha Square and across from the Tourist Info Center). Souvenirs.
- Central Market (Pazari i ri), Sheshi Avni Rustemi. daily early morning. Fresh fruit and vegetable
- 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. 50+ shops, bars and cafés
- Kristal Shopping Center, Rr. Frang Bardhi, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 09:00-21:00. centre with a Conad supermarket and a cinema complex
- QTU shopping centre (Qendra Tregtare Univers), Tirana-Durrës highway, km 6 (6.8km NW), ☎ . has a supermarket, electronics store. - phone=+355 4 2380103
- 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, ☎ .
There are many excellent, inexpensive restaurants in Tirana serving all kinds of food. Traditional cuisine can be found at:
- 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.
- Sarajet restaurant, Rr. Abdi Toptani (Center), ☎ . Owned by artist Paskal Prifti, you will enjoy homemade bread, a variety of local wines and the local firewater, Raki. Prifti invites friends to sing traditional polyphonic songs from the south!
- 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.
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.
- Albanian Fried Chicken, Rruga Ibrahim Rugova? (in Bllok near the Sky Tower,), ☎ . 09:00-24:00. The Albanian version of KFC, specializes in fried chicken and burgers. 500 lek.
- AFC fast food restaurant, ?. serves a lot of things and you can have a lunch or a dinner there.
- Big Bite fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri 16 (in Blloku). 24hrs. good taste of Albanian fast food.
- Mr.Chicken fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri (in Blloku). 9:00–24:00. good taste of Albanian fast food. Freshly cooked rotisserie chicken
- Gjiro Kamara fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri (in Blloku, Next to Slovinian Embassy), ☎ . good taste of Albanian fast food.
- 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. Albanian'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.
- Marion Restaurant (Mensa Marion), Rruga Pjeter Budi, Tirana University student's campus (E 1km), ☎ . 8:00-23:00. Budget self service restaurant in the Central Campus. Very popular among students. Under 10USD per meal.
- Gloria, Rruga Qemal Stafa. Excellent food (Italian and Albanian) with good service.
- 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.
- Gurra e Perris, Mali Dajtit (Dajti Mountain) (After you get off the cable car, restaurant's micro-buses will take you directly to the restaurant), ☎ . 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.
- 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.
- Vila 12, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti 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.
- Juvenilja Castelo, Sheshi Italia (Close to hotel Sheraton, At the Big Park,), ☎ . 24/7. Mainly serves Italian food but Albanian as well. 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.
Budget options in Tirana are hindered by a government 1000 lek per-person tax levied on all the hotels.
- Freddy's Ho(s)tel, Ground Floor, 75 Bardhok Biba St (200m from the National History Museum), ☎ . Rooms are passable, usually with ensuite. No true dorm rooms. WiFi €35 for a double.
- Hostel-Albania, Rruga Beqir Luga 56, Rruga Vehbi Agolli (Close to the Centre. From Skenderbeg Place take Luigj Gurakuqi Street 400m passing the intersection, until you reach the roundabout Sheshi Avni Rustemi. Take 2nd left onto Hoxha Tahsim Street, past the fruit market. Turn right unto Beqir Luga Street. Take the 1st left and 50m on the left is the entrance gate), ☎ , e-mail: Claas@hostel-albania.com. New Hostel, opened in 2009. Old Tirana Villa with about 350m². Very spacious rooms and a large garden. Dorm Bed`s 11€ / Room Beds from 12€.
- Hotel Briker, Rruga e Barrikadave (close to the centre (5 min walking)), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 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 .
- Star Hotel, Rruga e Dibrës, 73 (from Skanderbeg Square walk past the Tirana International Hotel, it'll take one minute), ☎ +355 42231950/+355 696415459, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Clean, safe, private rooms with private bathroom and shower, well maintained, friendly, staff speak English. Double/twin: €30 .
- Hotel Viktoria, Rruga e Elbasanit (2 km South), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Newly renovated (June 2011) and family-owned hotel, situated in a new residential area that offers quietness and fresh air. Sgl: €22; Dbl/Twin: €34; Tpl: €44; Quad: €54..
- Tirana Backpackers Hostel, Rruga Elbasanit 85/Rruga e Bogdanëve (0.5 km W of Skanderberg Square). Small hostel, with just 25 beds, situated 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.
- Hotel Verzaci, Rinas (15 km N). Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The hotel is on 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).
- Hotel Baron Tirana, Rruga Elbasanit (near Mother Albania Statue, Qemal Stafa Stadium, and University of Tirana), ☎ . Meeting facilities include conference rooms, a ballroom, and banquet facilities. Sgl €35; Dble/twin: €50; Triple: €55; Quad: €65.
- Hotel City Tirana, Rruga Ismail Qemali, Nr8/1, ☎ , fax: +355 4 2247799, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Family-owned hotel with exquisite service. Sgl €34-€50; Dbl €75.
- Hotel Meg Klaus, Hotel Meg Klaus (in a courtyard, street off Rr.Mine Peza), ☎ , fax: +355 4 2259236. 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. singles €30, doubles €40.
- Hotel Airport Tirana, Rinas Tirana International Airport Mother Teresa (near the Rinas (Tirana) Airport), ☎ , fax: +355 4 48300191, e-mail: email@example.com. Grand hotel with every modern amenity. Sgl 8,850 lek; Dbl 11,800 lek.
- Hotel Brilant Antik, Rr. Jeronim De Rada, No. 78 (Just across the Parliament), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Excellent rooms and helpful staff. €70, breakfast included.
- Hotel Grand, Rr. Ismail Qemali 11 (close to the centre). A small, 3 star standard hotel. Sgl €120; Dbl €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), ☎ +355 4 2273766 / 689. Boutique hotel. Sgl €70 to €100; Dbl/Twin: €90 to €130.
- President Hotel. Small hotel located in the Bllok area.
- Rogner Hotel Europapark, Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit. Part of the Rogner chain of hotels, this modern hotel is located 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. Sgl €152 to €176 +tax; Dbl/Twin: €170 to €201 +tax.
- Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Sheshi Italia (Near the stadium). One of Tirana's newest, largest, and most modern hotels. Sgl from €161; Dbl from €216.
- Tirana International Hotel (In Skanderberg Square). Centrally located, this hotel was built during communist times and has recently 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.
- 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.
Being victim of a crime is not a major concern in Tirana. Petty thefts or scams do exist, but in no larger scale than in many other cities. Beggars will approach people in the central areas, but simply ignoring them is usually enough to make them go away. In suburban areas, groups of stray dogs may intimidate foreigners. The best advice is to simply ignore them and keep walking.
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.
- Universal Hospital Tirana (phone=). A 120-bed private hospital offering medical services. Service available 24/7. Universal Hospital Tirana is the largest, most comprehensive private hospital in the country. English, French, Russian, Turkish and Italian-speaking doctors. Consultation: US$20.
- ABC Family Health Centre. M-F 8AM to 4PM. 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), ☎ . Mon-Sat: 9AM to 18:00pm. English, French and Italian-speaking doctors. Consultation: US$20.