We left behind the peaceful Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia and headed towards the busy, noisy, colorful, and lively Tirana Albania‘s capital.
When we got to the border between North Macedonia and Albania, I was a bit worried about my passing, as I was the only one without a passport, just with an ID card, and Albania is not in the EU. But everything was OK, and I got over this stressful moment and enjoyed the Balkan road trip afterward.
The mountain scenery of Albania is beautiful: rocky, green, wild, and majestic. It made me think about the Carpathian mountains, actually and got me a bit homesick for a moment.
Is Tirana Albania worth visiting?
The capital of Albania, Tirana, is a thriving metropolis with a variety of tourist attractions and activities. The city is filled with fascinating museums, galleries, and historical places, and it has a long past and vibrant culture. With its numerous pubs, clubs, and restaurants, Tirana is also a well-liked nighttime destination. In conclusion, Tirana is unquestionably worthwhile for anyone interested in learning more about the city’s lively culture and rich history.
Is Tirana Albania cheap?
Tirana is typically regarded as a reasonably priced travel destination because of its costs. There are fantastic bargains to be had on lodging, food, and other expenditures, and Tirana’s cost of living is often cheaper than that of many other European towns. For instance, you may find inexpensive lodging in Tirana starting at about 25 EUR per night, and a dinner at a neighborhood restaurant can cost as low as 5 EUR. It’s always a good idea to prepare your budget in advance and to shop around to discover the best discounts because pricing in Tirana might vary depending on where you go and what you do.
10 best things to see in Tirana Albania
Tirana Albania is a dynamic and bustling metropolis with a diverse choice of attractions and activities for visitors. The following are some of the best things to see in Tirana:
1. The National History Museum
Anyone interested in Albania’s history and culture should visit the National History Museum. The museum is housed in a stunning structure in the heart of Tirana Albania and provides a fascinating glimpse at the nation’s colorful history.
A vast variety of items and exhibits from Albania’s past and present are part of the museum’s collection. The museum’s displays are interesting and well-organized, and they offer a fascinating look into the nation’s past. Ancient antiquities from the Illyrian and Greek eras, medieval armor, and communist-era items are a few of the highlights of the museum’s collection.
The National History Museum has an amazing collection in addition to a number of educational and cultural events. The museum is a busy and thriving cultural institution since it often holds temporary exhibitions, talks, and other activities. The National History Museum should definitely be at the top of your list of things to see in Tirana!
2. Skanderbeg Square
Skanderbeg Square, which is in the center of Tirana Albania, is a must-visit location for tourists. This bustling square, which bears the name of the national hero Skanderbeg, serves as the hub of political and cultural activity in Tirana.
The National Museum, National Theater, and Et’hem Bey Mosque are just a few of the stunning old structures that line the plaza. These structures provide the area with a rich cultural and historical ambiance, as does the statue of Skanderbeg in the square’s middle.
Skanderbeg Square comes alive in the evenings with street performers, hawkers, and people taking advantage of the outdoor cafés and eateries. It’s a terrific spot to get something to eat while people-watching or to participate in the vibrant atmosphere of Tirana Albania.
3. Et’hem Bey Mosque
Also in the center of Tirana Albania, the Et’hem Bey Mosque is a must-see attraction for tourists. One of the most recognizable structures in the city, this stunning mosque was constructed in the 18th century and has a rare fusion of Ottoman and Albanian architectural traditions. In my opinion, it’s one of the top things to see in Tirana Albania for all travelers, regardless of religious beliefs.
The mosque bears Et’hem Bey’s name, a well-known Albanian statesman and scholar who founded it. The mosque’s courtyard is a tranquil haven in the busy city center, and its interior is embellished with beautiful tile work and paintings.
The history of the Et’hem Bey Mosque is among its most intriguing features. The mosque served as a storehouse and even a sports arena during the Soviet era. It wasn’t used for its intended function as a house of worship until the fall of communism.
The Et’hem Bey Mosque is now a well-liked tourist attraction for both residents and visitors. The mosque’s gorgeous interior and additional information about its history and architecture may be seen by taking a guided tour. The mosque is a wonderful location to enjoy the serenity and beauty of Islamic devotion.
4. The National Art Gallery
Visitors to the Albanian capital of Tirana absolutely must see the National Art Gallery. This outstanding gallery, housed in a stunning neoclassical structure, is home to a collection of over 10,000 works of art that span many centuries and a variety of genres.
Paintings, sculptures, and other pieces by foreign and Albanian artists are in the collection of the National Art Gallery. Onufri, Shote Galica, and David Kalakula, three well-known Albanian painters, as well as works by world-renowned artists like Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso, are among the highlights.
The National Art Gallery also holds temporary exhibits that feature the work of modern artists from Albania and throughout the world in addition to its permanent collection. These exhibitions provide a rare chance to view the most recent trends and advancements in the art world.
The location of the National Art Gallery is among its best features. The gallery is surrounded by stunning structures and landmarks and is located in the core of Tirana’s historic district. The Et’hem Bey Mosque and Skanderbeg Square are also easily accessible from the gallery.
5. Bunk’Art Museum
For tourists visiting Tirana Albania, the Bunk’Art Museum is a must-see attraction. This intriguing museum, housed in a former subterranean bunker, provides a distinctive and thought-provoking look at Albania’s history and culture.
The country’s ruling class intended to use the bunker, which was constructed during the communist era, as a sanctuary in the event of a nuclear assault. It was maintained a secret for many years, and it wasn’t until the fall of communism in 1991 that it came to light.
The Bunk’Art Museum, a multi-level structure that chronicles Albania’s stormy history, was built inside the bunker in modern times. The museum’s collections contain images, records, and relics from the time of communism as well as modern works of art that examine the nation’s past and present.
The underground setting is one of the Bunk’Art Museum’s unique attractions. Visitors may tour the bunker’s passageways and rooms to personally witness the intricate precautions that were made to safeguard the ruling class from a nuclear strike. The underground setting of the museum contributes to its air of mystery and secrecy, making it a must-visit attraction when you visit Tirana Albania.
6. Tirana Castle
All travelers must go visit Tirana Castle. This castle, which was constructed on the site of an old fortification, has an interesting history and gives breathtaking views over the city and the mountains in the area.
Tirana Castle was constructed by the Illyrians as a stronghold to stave off invaders in the fourth century BC. Various kings and conquerors, including the Romans, Byzantines, and Ottomans, have added to and rebuilt the fortress over the years.
Today, both visitors and locals enjoy visiting Tirana Castle. In addition to seeing the city from the walls and towers of the castle, visitors may tour the remains of the structure and learn about its history. The museum of arms, which houses a collection of weaponry and armor from various eras in Albanian history, is also located inside the castle.
The location of Tirana Castle is among its most intriguing aspects. The castle is located in the center of the city and is encircled by lovely gardens, museums, and famous sites. The Et’hem Bey Mosque and Skanderbeg Square are easily accessible from the castle.
7. Pyramid of Tirana
Visitors to Tirana Albania, will find The Pyramid of Tirana to be a singular and intriguing attraction. The pyramid, which was constructed in 1988 as a museum to celebrate the nation’s communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, has a turbulent past and is today a representation of Tirana’s colorful culture and history.
The pyramid was created by renowned Albanian architect Pirro Vaso with the intention of honoring Hoxha’s legacy. A golden statue of the dictator was perched atop the structure, which was made of marble and concrete. The monument was taken down, and the pyramid was abandoned after communism fell in 1991.
Nowadays, the pyramid serves as a hub for culture and the arts. It is a well-liked hangout for artists, musicians, and other creative types and features galleries, exhibits, and performance venues. It is intriguing to visit and study the pyramid because of its distinctive construction and rich history.
The Pyramid of Tirana’s position is among its most intriguing features. The pyramid is located in the center of the city and is encircled by stunning gardens, museums, and other attractions. The Et’hem Bey Mosque and Skanderbeg Square are easily accessible from the pyramid in Tirana Albania.
8. Dajti Mountain
A must-visit location for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers is Dajti Mountain, which is situated just outside of Tirana Albania. Dajti Mountain provides a variety of excursions for tourists of all ages and abilities thanks to its lovely woods, hiking routes, and breathtaking views of the city and neighboring mountains.
Hiking the paths on Dajti Mountain is one of the greatest ways to explore it. There is plenty for hikers of every skill level on the mountain’s network of clearly defined routes, which range in difficulty from simple to difficult. The paths provide breathtaking views of the city and the surrounding area as they travel through the mountain’s lovely woods and meadows.
Horseback riding is another well-liked pastime on Dajti Mountain. A number of stables located on the mountain provide horseback riding excursions that let guests explore the paths and take in the breathtaking landscape from a new angle. The natural beauty and tranquil mood of the mountain are best experienced when riding a horse.
Dajti Mountain provides a variety of food and entertainment opportunities in addition to its recreational pursuits. Visitors may stop by one of the mountain’s restaurants or cafés for a meal or a drink, or they can stay at the Dajti Mountain Hotel, which has cozy rooms and breathtaking views of Tirana Albania, and the mountains.
9. National Theater of Opera and Ballet
For fans of classical music, a must-visit location is Albania’s National Theater of Opera and Ballet in Tirana. The theater, which is housed in a stunning old structure, presents a variety of opera, ballet, and classical music performances by some of the top artists in the nation.
The theater, which was established in 1948, has been crucial to the growth of Albania’s classical music culture. Its outstanding repertoire consists of both modern compositions by Albanian and foreign artists as well as traditional masterpieces by Verdi, Puccini, and Mozart.
The yearly Tirana International Film Festival, which takes place in November, is one of the major events on the calendar of the National Theater of Opera and Ballet. The festival offers special screenings, workshops, and other events in addition to a selection of the top movies from across the globe.
The National Theater of Opera and Ballet in Tirana Albania, a stunning specimen of neoclassical architecture, also provides guided tours of its ancient structure in addition to its regular performances. Visitors may view the theater’s stunning interior, including the great auditorium and the backstage spaces, and learn more about its history.
10. University of Tirana
International students and education tourists must visit the University of Tirana Albania. The university, which was founded in 1957, is the biggest and most prominent institution of higher learning in Albania and provides a comprehensive selection of programs and courses in several subject areas.
The University of Tirana is known for its high caliber of instruction and research. Some of the top academics and researchers in the nation are on its faculty, and the university collaborates with eminent institutions all over the world. The institution has a strong emphasis on globalization and collaboration and provides programs at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctorate levels.
The University of Tirana’s stunning campus, which is situated right in the middle of Tirana Albania, is one of its best features. The campus is home to a variety of contemporary structures and amenities, including libraries, labs, and sporting venues. A variety of cultural and creative groups have their headquarters on campus, and they often conduct events and exhibits.
The University of Tirana welcomes international students and provides a variety of support services to aid in their adjustment to life in Albania. Language lessons, housing aid, and cultural orientation services are among these. The institution also maintains a specific office for overseas students, which offers guidance and assistance to such students during their studies.
Arriving in Tirana Albania
In Tirana, we were taken by surprise by all the traffic and noise. Ana, who was driving, found it quite tiring, and slightly annoying at times. Apparently, being a woman driver made my friend a very interesting traffic participant. Therefore all the male drivers on the street would lean over their steering wheels or their windows to stare at her. It was funny in the beginning, but a bit disturbing after a while.
Eventually, we found a place to park the car (quite difficult to find a spot). While the guys went looking for accommodation, we had a really good coffee and rested a bit in the shade on some random terrace.
The hostel from the Lonely Planet guide no longer exists, but the new owner still rented rooms, at a higher price than the offered quality, and he didn’t have the best manners, either. But we were tired, Ana didn’t want to look for another parking spot and we didn’t know where else to look in the area, either. So we decided to stay, unpack, and go see the actual city a bit.
Discovering Tirana Albania
We ended up spending most of our time in Tirana visiting the National Museum of History, which was very interesting. And we passed by the former residence of Enver Hoxha, a well-known historic building in Tirana.
The former residence of Enver Hoxha
History buffs must visit the old home of Enver Hoxha, which is situated in Tirana Albania. The palace, which was built in the 1950s and served as the communist ruler of Albania’s home, provides a singular and intriguing window into the recent history of the region.
The house, also known as the Enver Hoxha Museum, is a sizable, imposing structure that is encircled by gardens and a high wall. It included cutting-edge security systems and other opulent facilities and was built to be a symbol of Hoxha’s might and control.
The house is now a public museum that has undergone a conversion. Visitors are welcome to examine the structure and its surroundings, as well as the dictator’s personal spaces, including his office, living room, and bedroom. A variety of Hoxha’s personal items, including his clothing, literature, and presents from other global leaders, are also on show in the museum.
After the Enver Hoxha Museum, we walked a bit more on the streets, staring at all the brightly colored buildings.
Why is Tirana Albania so colorful?
Toward the end of our trip, when I was in Dubrovnik (Croatia), I met a girl in a hostel. She was an artist and told me that Albania’s capital used to be a grey city, and Tirana got repainted to lower the crime rate. And guess what: it worked!