26 Incredible Things to do in Tirana, Albania
The lively capital city of Tirana is one not to be missed on your Balkan trip. The city has had a major overhaul in the last few years and now it’s a haven for travellers who are looking for a city that’s different from every other European city out there.
Tirana has a lot to offer. From learning about communist history to checking out the many nature sites, it’s a great idea to come here for at least a few days!
Let’s get into the best things to do in Tirana!
1. Visit bunk art 1 and 2
Both bunk art 1 and 2 are a great start to any trip to Tirana. Bunk art 1 is located just outside of the centre and is the bunker of the former communist leader Enver Hoxha. You will see rooms upon rooms built for the war that never happened!
Bunk art 2 is right in the centre on Skanderbeg square and was the underground bunker for the ministry of internal affairs. They are both eerie and very interesting to see and learn about Albania’s dark communist past.
2. People watch at Skanderbeg square
A must-do in Tirana is to check out Skanderbeg square and do a good ol’ dose of people watching. There are plenty of chairs and loungers to relax whilst you people watch. In the winter around Christmas time, you will find some nice Christmas markets. It’s very beautiful!
3. Hang out in Blloku
Blloku is the ‘cool’ area of the city. You will find many restaurants and hip cafes. It’s where the rich and famous live and hang out but it can also be chilled too. One of my favourite places is the Duff Bar (yes, a rip off from The Simpsons). It’s an American bar that does the best burgers which can sometimes be hard to come by.
You will find many colourful cafes too so be sure to check out this neighbourhood if you aren’t already staying in this part! There are some great Airbnb’s in this area. Click here to get your $29 free travel credit when signing up.
4. Walk around the artificial lake
The lake of Tirana is a great place to chill, go for a run or just simply people watch. The artificial lake was created in the 20th century and is a popular spot for locals to do their daily exercise.
Within the park, there is also an open-air theatre, various courts, a swimming pool and Tirana zoo.
5. Visit the house of leaves
The house of leaves is another one of Albania’s best museums and investigates communism Albania from the angle of the spies. You can look at various equipment that was used in the years of communism to spy on the locals and which made many political prisoners over the years. It’s a unique museum and must-do in Tirana.
6. Eat at salt
Salt is arguably one of the best restaurants in Tirana and Albania. It’s set in a beautiful building and there’s so much variety on the menu. From vegan options to delicious seafood and even sushi, this restaurant is a must!
Every Monday they also have all you can eat sushi. For 2000lek per person, you can eat as much sushi as possible!
7. Have a drink at Komiteti
Komiteti is by far my favourite bar in Tirana! It’s unique because it’s a museum bar so it has so many old treasures around the place.
They also have many flavours of Rakia here so if you would like to taste some of the strong Albanian rakia, this is the place to do it!
8. Take the cable car up to Mt Dajti
One of the best things to do to get an epic view from above and get out of the bustling city is to take a cable car up Mt Dajti. This is by far one of the best things to do in Tirana! The cable car is open 6 days a week (Tuesday is closed for maintenance) and takes 15 minutes to reach the heart of the national park.
When you have arrived, you can opt to go to the restaurant, stay at the hotel or check out the number of adventure activities such as hiking, mountain climbing, rock climbing and even paragliding.
9. Check out the mosque
The Et’hem Bej Mosque was built in the 18th century and is one of the most beautiful historical monuments within Tirana. With its beautiful architecture and frescoes, it’s a unique mosque but it’s currently being restored so you are not able to go inside. But you can marvel the mosque from the outside.
10. Take a day trip to Kruja
One of my favourite places within Albania is the city of Kruja. Kruja is an important city in Albania’s history as this is where the national hero Skanderbeg fought against the Ottoman Empire and helped overturn their rule. But this city is not only a favourite for history buffs but also people looking for a unique city break.
Kruja is situated on top of a mountain and has the most beautiful bazaar in all of Albania which is over 400 years old. Here you can find unique and very beautiful souvenirs which you won’t find elsewhere in Albania. Here’s a great day trip tour from Tirana to Kruja.
11. Do a food tour
One of the best ways to learn about a country and culture is through food. You can experience that through a food tour with Albanian food tours. They will take you to the best places within Tirana, many you may not have heard of if you hadn’t of done the tour.
They also have lots of different options like a walking tour, nightlife tour and food and wine tours. Each tour is customizable depending on what you’re wanting to see and do!
12. Check out the street art
Amazing street art is popping up throughout Tirana! Just walking through the city, you will see many beautiful pieces of art. If you would like to see some specific art pieces of just know what areas to look in, then check out this google map with all the murals recorded.
13. Visit the pyramid
The pyramid of Tirana was originally built by Enver Hoxha and was a museum of Enver Hoxha, the former communist leader but after the fall of communism, the museum closed. After that, it became a conference centre and then in 1999 NATO used it as their headquarters during the Kosovo war. Once the war had ended it was used for various events but then the officials were confused as to what to use it for.
It was going to be demolished but many citizens protested it so it’s still standing today but derelict. But lately, there have plans to turn it into a museum of culture, art and technology which is super exciting!
14. See the bunker/piece of the berlin wall
Right opposite Enver Hoxha’s house is a small park with a bunker, remains from a communist camp, a sign of Tirana and a piece of the berlin wall. It’s possibly the most random park of all time but worth a look! You can go inside the bunker too although, prepare for the stench of urine.
15. Walk down Toptani street
Toptani street is a beautiful pedestrian-only road covered with overlapping trees and many cute cafes and houses. Have a stroll down the street and enjoy the serenity away from noisy cars and traffic.
16. Visit the national history museum
The national museum is well worth a look if you want to learn more about Albania and it’s turbulent past. There’s also an upsetting gallery which displays images of people who suffered prosecution under Enver Hoxha’s regime.
There are lots of important pieces on display here so it’s worth a look if you have the time.
17. Do a walking tour
A walking tour is a great introduction to any city. There is a good walking tour run by a local in Tirana. This can be a great thing to do in Tirana when you first arrive so you can learn a little bit more about the city, the best local recommendations and to get your bearings around the city.
18. Find Enver Hoxha’s house
You can see Enver Hoxha’s house which is in the Blloku district. Unfortunately, you cannot go inside but there are talks about setting his house up as a museum so look out for that in the future. Enver Hoxha was the old communist leader in Albania.
19. Visit new market – pazari i ri
The new market is a great place to buy your fruit and vegetables. It’s set within a courtyard which has some great cafes and restaurants. There’s an amazing American restaurant nearby. The market is a newer style and it is a little more expensive than if you went to a local market. It’s set up more for tourists than for locals but it’s worth the look.
20. Radio bar
This retro-style bar is inspired on the communist period and is filled with…you guessed it, radios! Radio bar is such a fun little hangout to have a cocktail or two! It’s located with the cool neighbourhood of Blloku.
21. Climb the clock tower
To get another great view of the city, you climb the 60+ steps to the top of the clock tower. It’s open from Monday to Friday and it’s 100lek to climb. The clock tower was built in 1822 and it has been repaired and extended a few times since then.
22. Get a 360 view of Tirana
Another great view spot and place to enjoy views of the city is from the Sky restaurant. From there you get a 360-degree view of the city and surroundings. The restaurant and bar have good food and is of great value. The Sky restaurant and bar is located just out of the centre and is just one of the many great things to do in Tirana!
23. Tanner bridge
Tanner bridge is remains of the Ottoman empire and a reminder of the history of Tirana. This small stone bridge was built in the 19th century and can be found at the end of Rruga Presidenti George W Bush.
24. Take a cooking class
Remember how I said that learning about a culture and country through food is a great way to learn? Well go one step further and take a cooking class to learn how to make some popular Albanian dishes!
Go as Local have an incredible cooking class which is in Tirana. You will learn how to make Tave Kosi as well as for Albanian desserts, Rakia and taste some other Albanian food!
The tour costs only €30-40 and goes for around 4 hours.
25. Have a traditional meal at Oda
If you want to taste traditional Albanian food instead of learning to cook it then why not eat at Oda?! It’s a traditional-style restaurant with lots on the menu to try. The decor is even set up like a traditional house, so you get the real experience of a traditional meal here in Tirana!
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26. Have a cocktail at Hemingway bar
This bar is a Hemingway/Cuba themed bar with lots of homely decor options. It’s a unique bar and has over 100 types of rum! On Fridays, you can come to enjoy live music and on the other days, you will hear a constant stream of jazz! The bar is located just off Skanderbeg square.
So, there’s a big list of things to do in Tirana, tell me below which ones you would like to enjoy first!
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