Things to do in TIRANA – One day itinerary

You only have one day in Tirana / Albania and still don’t want to miss any things to do and highlights during your city trip? No problem at all with the travel tips and BIG5 checklists from JOURNICATION! This Tirana travel guide shows you with maps the route to the best places within the Albanian capital. In addition to my personal experience report, you will receive recommendations on the best hotels, restaurants and photo spots in Tirana and an overview of the costs. You will see, in 24 hours in Tirana, there are more sights to discover than just the Skanderbeg Square and the Pyramide. Let’s go for a perfect day in Tirana in 2021!

What do you learn in this article?

BIG5 Things to do in Tirana

You don’t want to miss any sights? Find all the tips and your checklist for the city trip to Tirana here:

BIG5 Tirana- Speed Date

Outstanding:

The price level! Tirana is great for travelers on a budget, everything is quite cheap! Especially the delicious Albanian food.

Sucks:

Communication can sometimes be a bit difficult. Most Albanians speak Italian better than English. However, this can also be a lot of fun and make the Tirana city trip seem exciting – try Spanish in between.

DO:

Enjoy the positive vibe: the friendly people and the spirit of optimism amidst colorful architecture from Ottoman, Fascist and Soviet times make Tirana an exciting destination!

DO NOT:

Don’t be put off by the fact that Tirana, or Albania as a whole, isn’t at the top of everyone’s bucket list or Instagram feed.

Don’t tell your mother:

(Bag) theft increases sharply, especially in the high season! Remember: You are in one of the poorest countries in Europe, so do not brag unnecessarily with expensive items.
The story described below with the demonstration including Molotov cocktails I have also not told my mother…

BIG5 Tirana- Rapid Fire Q&A

  • What awaits me in Tirana? – In any case, an exciting city in a spirit of optimism. Surprisingly colorful, but also the shadows of the past.
  • Is it dangerous in Tirana? – The locals in Tirana are generally very friendly and helpful, not hostile to travelers. There are black sheep, of course, as everywhere. However, you should avoid some parts of the city, especially after dark.
  • How many days should I plan in Tirana? – You can see the highlights in one day, but it will be a tight program. You can’t go wrong with 2-3 days.
  • Do I need a rental car in Tirana? – No, not really! In the city center, most Tirana sights and activities are within walking distance. And if it is too far for you, you can take a very cheap cab.
  • What is particularly surprising in Tirana? – In Tirana you will find a variety of traditional cafes, but also many hip new openings with alternative drinks, especially in the Blloku district.

BIG5 Tirana – Orga

Best travel time for Tirana

Best travel time for Tirana is April – June and September / October. Avoid visiting Tirana in the summer heat of July / August and November, the wettest month of the year.

Arrival & Departure in Tirana

Visa: Check here whether you need a visa for Albania with your passport.

  • Flight: The International Airport “Nënë Tereza” (Albanian for “Mother Teresa”, IATA Code: TIA) is served by many airlines.
  • Bus:Ab Ohrid / Nordmazedonien bzw. Struga (einmal täglich, ~ 3 Stunden, 9-13 Euro)
  • Bus: Aus allen größeren Städten Albaniens fahren mehrmals täglich Busse nach Tirana

Next up is a trip to … Berat, the Albanian Riviera or Gjirokaster (all Albania), Ohrid (North Macedonia) or Montenegro

Accommodation / Hotels in Tirana

Recommended location: Central is the trump card! There is very central accommodation in Tirana in all price ranges. In the city center you can visit a lot on foot, so accommodation there is a good choice.

  • Budget:Hostel Albania (Njesia Nr.7 Rruga Kavajes Nr.80, Kat.5 , 1000 Tirana; € 8 in a dormitory, from € 20 in a double room) – great hostel in the city center with a roof top terrace for perfect views over Tirana
  • Budget: Tirana Backpacker Hostel (Rruga e Bogdaneve 3, 1001 Tirana; € 8 in a dormitory, from € 15 in a single room) – great location in the city center featuring a nice garden with hammocks
  • Medium: Hotel Boutique Restaurant Gloria (Rruga Qemal Stafa, 1000 Tirana; from € 53 in a double room) – great hotel with attached bar and restaurant in the heart of Tirana, especially popular with couples
  • Medium: SUN TOWER Luxury Suite 2019 (Rruga e Kavajës, Tiranë, 1000 Tirana; from € 60 in a double room) – whole apartments with view to the Skanderbeg Square
  • Noble: Xheko Imperial Luxury Boutique Hotel (Rruga Ibrahim Rugova 56H2, 1019 Tirana; from € 170 in a double room) – luxury hotel with a pool, Spa & wellness center plus attached restaurant
  • Noble: Maritim Hotel Plaza Tirana (Rruga 28 Nentori, 1001 Tirana; from € 150 in a double room, € 250 with amazing city view) – luxury 5* hotel in one of the most iconic buildings of Tirana

Price Level in Tirana

In Albania you pay with Albanian Lek (Lek)

Withdraw money: Around Skanderbeg Square there are many banks with ATMs, but in principle also in the whole city.

Beer indicator: Local beer in the restaurant ~ 150 LEK (1,25 Euro)

Cost of a taxi: 1 kilometer ~ 70 LEK (0,60 Euro)

Restaurants, Bars & Cafés in Tirana

  • In the street Rruga Luigj Gurakuqi and in general near the Pazari i Ri (bazaar / market ) there is a wide range of great and inexpensive restaurants where you will meet especially the locals
  • Kronos Fish Restaurant (Rruga Vaso Pasha, 1001 Tirana) – specialty is seafood – as the name suggests.
  • Mullixhiu (Big Park of Tirana) – cozy, authentic restaurant in the Big Park of Tirana, so a bit away from the noisy streets
  • La Gioia (Murat Toptani Street 1001 Tirana) – nice ambience near Justinian’s Castle
  • Mulliri I Vjetër – you can find stores of the local coffee house chain everywhere in the city

BIG5 Tirana – Activities

  • Visit Sheshi Skenderbej (Skanderbeg Square), the heart of Tirana.
  • Walk along Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit with the government buildings – you will hardly be able to miss the “Pyramid of Tirana”.
  • Stroll through the market halls of the “New Bazaar” and taste the local delicacies
  • Escape the hustle and bustle of the city by cable car to Dajti National Park – up to 1,613 meters!
  • Enjoy the local, very inexpensive cuisine
  •  Visit the exhibition Bunk’ART – gives a deep insight into the soul of Tirana, the sad past and the hopeful present.
    Tip: The second part of the exhibition is located outside the city center and can be combined with a visit to the Dajti National Park.

BIG5 Tirana – Photo spots

  • From the center of Skanderbeg Square: the statue of the hero with the mosque and the bell tower in one direction, or the mosaic couscous of the History Museum in the other direction
  • “From Tirana with love” street art in the Rruga Luigj Gurakuqi
  • Posing in front of the “Pyramid of Tirana”, not necessarily beautiful, but rare!
  • Mountain panorama from the cable car “Dajti Ekspress” or from the summit
  • View from the Skytower over the city

 

 

BIG5 Tirana- Things to do off the beaten track

  • Discover the many great “murals” of Tirana, i.e. wall paintings, some of which cover huge walls of houses. Find inspiration in this forum
  • Enjoy the panorama of Tirana from the bar of the Skytower
  • Explore the Kalaja e Tiranës (Tirana Castle) with a Roman-era archaeological site and hip restaurants / cafes.
  • Stroll through the hip Blloku district in the city center – there’s plenty to explore
  • Take a trip to the Theth National Park – hiking in the Albanian Alps

BIG5 Tirana – Culinary Journey

The “Kuzhina Shqiptare” (Albanian cuisine) is very varied and has a lot to offer:

  • Qofte – grilled meatballs served with raw onions and salad.
  • Zgara – grilled specialties of all kinds – taste the typical Balkan cuisine
  • Tavë Kosi – super tasty quiche-like dish made of lamb, yogurt and eggs
  • Byrek – typical Balkan cuisine, often with spinach, but also in many other variations. You can get Byrek in Tirana at almost every corner.
  • Birra Tirana – the local beer

BIG5 Tirana – Communication

Albanian is spoken in Tirana

  • thank you – falënderoj
  • yes – po
  • no – jo
  • hello – përshëndetje
  • goodbye – mirupafshim

BIG5 Tirana – Helpful Websites / Links

  • Official website of the city of Tirana
  • If you don’t want to take care of everything yourself, just enjoy your vacation and still don’t want to miss any sights in Tirana and its surroundings, great tours are offered locally:

 

BIG5 Tirana – Overview map for your city trip

Tirana is surprisingly colorful in many places

One perfect day in Tirana 🇦🇱 – here is your overview

Best suited for screenshots 📷📝

Your morning in Tirana

  • Skanderbeg Square
  • Bunk’Art
  • Pyramid of Tirana
  • Big Park

Your afternoon in Tirana

  • Blloku Quarter
  • View from Skytower
  • Optional: Dajti National Park
  • New Bazaar

Your evening in Tirana

  • Xhiro, the Albanian evening walk
  •  Castle of Tirana
  •  Authentic Albanian dinner

 

In addition to the BIG5, I have summarized the things to do in Tirana and the circular route for you in an overview map:

Click on the icon at the top left to use the full range of map options!

Things to do in TIRANA – One day itinerary

Albania… after Kosovo a few days before again such a white spot on the tourist map of Europe. But already the bus ride from Ohrid to Tirana makes everything seem much more positive than expected. A great mountain panorama near Elbasan, big rivers and green valleys are waiting for us. Not to be overlooked, however, are the many bunkers along the way. Like black teeth in the white, shy smile of the emerging country, they only hint at how tense the situation was not so long ago in the Balkan state.

In terms of traffic, Tirana is in no way inferior to Skopje, the capital of the neighboring country of Northern Macedonia. 4, 5, 6 lane roads into the city, lots of traffic, sometimes traffic jams. Yes, with over 400,000 inhabitants a real metropolis.

“Welcome to Tirana – Bienvenidos a Tirana” Oh no, that was something with Miami… Damn, the wrong song in my head again….

Things to do in Tirana: Fall in love…

I fell in love. In the middle of the street Rruga Luigj Gurakuqi in the center of Tirana, not far from the Skanderbeg Square. Her bright red hair with roses in it, her brown eyes – awesome! At the same time she smiles at me joyfully. She is … a true work of art! In my eyes, this huge street art – artwork sums up the new attitude towards life in the city. Modern, friendly, future-oriented. The pretty woman with her bright red hair. Makes you want to see more!
From Tirana with love” – Come along and get your head turned in Albania’s colorful capital!

Tirana Albania things to do highlights one day itinerary travel tips hotel recommendation: From Tirana with Love - the Albanian capital is full of colorful murals / street art

Things to do in Tirana in the morning

You can easily experience the best things to do in Tirana in one day. If you don’t want to do it alone and want to hear exciting stories about the country and its people, a free walking tour is a good way to get in the mood. For examples you can recommend the Tirana Free Tour. Of course you can also discover the sights around Skanderbeg Square by yourself.

And that’s where it starts! Start on Skanderbeg Square at the monument of the famous commander and national hero of Albania, who also greets in Prishtina  prominently in the city center from his horse. The square is lined with many important buildings: here you will find the Opera the Et’hem Bey Mosque and a historic bell tower. Tirana City Hall is also located here, as is the tourist information office. Especially the mosque is something special in a former communist country: usually places of worship were demolished or misused. Fortunately not here, so you can still admire the great frescos on the outer facade – trees, bridges and waterfalls. The interior with its colorful dome is also worth a visit!

 

 

Across the square, the heavily communist-influenced mosaic “Shqipëria” (translates to “Albania” in the local language) above the National Historical Museum shows a brief outline of Albania’s far-reaching history. From Illyrian warriors to Greeks and Romans to hardworking peasants and artisans – the working class rises and such.

Tirana Albania things to do highlights one day itinerary travel tips hotel recommendation: Visit the National Museum with the impressive mosaic Shqipëria

Learn about the Albanian history with Bunk’Art 

A real recommendation is the exhibition Bunk’Art. In the former nuclear bunker you experience a great exhibition that gives a deep insight into the soul of Tirana, the sad past and the hopeful present. The torture cellars of the former Albanian secret police Sigurimi are particularly oppressive. Artistic installations take you on a journey into the past, revealing the experiences and events behind the sometimes new, colorful facades in the city center. The Bunk’Art exhibition is definitely one of my recommendations for Tirana in case of rain and bad weather.

Visit the sights along Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit

Leave Skanderbeg Square past various ministries and head south across Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit. Here you will pass Rinia Park and the Reja the Cloud. A huge sculpture made of white rods, which somehow looks like a giant climbing frame. Well, art.

As soon as you cross the river Lana, it catches your eye. No, beautiful is definitely something else… The “Pyramid of Tirana” was once planned as a museum and monument to dictator Enver Hoxha, who led the country into 45 years of isolation. The striking building is controversial: “Demolish it immediately” say some, “Restore it as a monument to the reign and memorial” say others. Make your own picture. In any case, the sight is unique.

Tirana Albania things to do highlights one day itinerary travel tips hotel recommendation: The Pyramid of Tirana - formerly built as a monument to dictator Enver Hoxha

We had a special experience during our visit to Tirana: on every critical page of the Foreign Office with travel warnings you can read: “Avoid crowds!” No sooner said than done… Big demo in Tirana, and we accidentally in the middle of it! On the days of our visit, the entire boulevard was closed to traffic and prepared as if for a gigantic concert – which later turned out to be a large-scale demonstration by the opposition party against the government. We had a feeling that Molotov cocktails would fly later and tear gas would be used, so we left early for quieter side streets…

 

 

In front of the Polytechnic University of Tirana you will find the colorful Mother Teresa Square (Sheshi Nënë Tereza), right next to the Archeological Museum. From here, there are footpaths to a small parallel world away from the hectic and crowded capital: the Great Park of Tirana!

Stroll along the lake of Tirana. The park is a very popular recreation area for the inhabitants of Tirana. So you will find here countless joggers, walkers, picnic groups, … simply everything.

Tirana Albania things to do highlights one day itinerary travel tips hotel recommendation: The large city park of Tirana is a green oasis - stroll along the Tirana lake

Things to do in Tirana in the afternoon

The sightseeing tour of Tirana in the city center can easily drag on into the afternoon! Don’t stress, take your time.

Immerse yourself in the Blloku district

Hardly any other neighborhood is so representative of the country’s transformation. In the past, it was a closed-off neighborhood reserved only for the communist elite. The country is bravely breaking away from the past, marked by dictatorship, strict isolation and economic hardship. In the old villa district you will also find the former residence of dictator Enver Hoxha.

Everywhere in the city you will find colorful street art, so-called “murals” (wall paintings) on walls or walls of houses. This makes Tirana look surprisingly colorful in many places. Inspiration for the best locations can be found in this forum.

Soak up the post-communist vibe and hopeful mood – preferably in one of the many sidewalk cafes. Do as the locals do, order a delicious coffee speciality, chat with your companion and relax a bit.

Take a look at Tirana from above! This is best done from the bar of the Skytower! Recommended during the day instead of the evening to see the colorful Albanian capital in all its glory.

Escape the hustle and bustle to Dajti National Park

About 25 kilometers east of Tirana lies the Dajti National Park, a perfect recreation area for the stressed big city dwellers. If you have enough time, it’s a great alternative to the metropolis.

A bus will take you there from Skanderbeg Square (departure near the bell tower), the ride costs no more than 40 lekë. You have to walk a bit (about 1.5 kilometers) to the starting point of the cable car, but fits! If that’s too far, there’s a free shuttle every 30 minutes. The cable car “Dajti Ekspress” brings you quickly to lofty heights, to the summit at 1,613 meters you have to walk only a small piece itself.

Great views and a welcome change from the hustle and bustle and traffic of the big city await you!

If your one-day trip to Tirana is too stressful for you, you should definitely plan another one in the Albanian capital.

Take a day trip from Tirana to Dajti National Park

Visit the market halls of the “New Bazaar” and taste the local delicacies.
The name “New Bazaar” is somewhat deceptive, the market halls were opened back in 1931.

Discover local delicacies in the market halls of the new bazaar

Things to do in Tirana in the evening

It’s slowly heading towards evening, time for a “Xhiro“! This special Albanian tradition consists of an evening walk along the many pedestrian streets. Maybe you hold a wee while doing so, or just walk in a relaxed way. Take a look around the old castle of Tirana, a great area with many restaurants and cafes. Enjoy the local, very inexpensive cuisine.

 

 

After a busy day with surely some burnt calories under Albania’s sun, I recommend the restaurants at the Sheshi Avni Rustemi traffic circle or at the bazaar / market around the corner (street: Rruga Shemsi Haka). Here mainly locals take a seat. Food straight from the grill, great beers, tasty side dishes – and all extremely cheap.

Don’t miss one of the most fun things to do in Tirana: Dive into the colorful nightlife of Albania’s lively capital. The Blloku district also offers many opportunities for this!
For example, we recommend Bunker1944, a hip themed bar.

Rest from a long day in Tirana and enjoy the local drinks – Albanian wine, raki or beer 🙂

You have more than one day in Tirana?

Wonderful, because there are more Tirana sights to discover!

Experience centuries of exciting history – National History Museum

Albania has a very checkered history – and Albania’s largest museum offers exciting insights! The striking building opposite Skanderbeg’s statue on the square of the same name already gives an insight into what awaits visitors with its impressive mosaic facade: Illyrians, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and finally Albanian partisans during World War II inhabited this land. The mosaic artwork has an unmistakable communist influence. Many exhibits from the different eras await in the museum, often very well explained in English.

A fairly recent exhibition is devoted to life and persecution under the communist regime.

What are the best day trips from Tirana?  

Tirana is a great starting point for day trips or tours to all of Albania

 

More destinations for your Balkan road trip

You are on a Balkan round trip with backpack or rental car and wonder how it could go on from Tirana? First get an overview with the article Balkans Road trip – Itinerary, Travel Guide & Tips

During your Albania round trip, the next destinations are the Albanian Riviera, Gjirokaster and Berat, the “city of a thousand windows”. Read more about it in my article Things to do in BERAT for a perfect day

From Tirana there are good bus connections to Ohrid in Northern Macedonia. If the “Lake Garda of the Balkans” sounds interesting to you, read on here:
You can also comfortably travel further to the north of Albania and from there to Montenegro. Here you will find great beaches, untouched nature and world famous highlights like the Bay of Kotor.

 

 

1 Comment

  1. Daniella

    Such a comprehensive guide! I’ve never considered visiting Tirana but now I’ve added this amazing city to my list.

    Reply

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