Unfortunately famous for the sad historical events, the most recent date back to the nineties, Albania still today is a witness of those dark years, even if the ability shown by its people to start again and renew itself is surprising. Tirana, the capital of the country, is the symbol of a rebirth and, unlike what many believe, it is not only full of tourist attractions, but also offers the visitor neighborhoods with trendy restaurants and clubs to have fun .
A very lively, young and colorful city and therefore a fantastic economic and easily accessible destination from Italy, located just 30 kilometers from the sea. Here ‘s what to see in Tirana , with this guide with practical tips on the city!
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1 – National History Museum
Photo by Pasztilla aka Attila Terbocs. This museum, inaugurated in 1981, is today the largest and most important in Albania and is located in the main square of the city. On the main facade of the building there is a beautiful mosaic depicting the history of the country , from the Illyrian origins to the nationalistic days.
Inside it is possible to admire over 3,600 artifacts that trace the history of Albania and follow historical periods: prehistory and antiquity, the Middle Ages, the National Renaissance and independence and the Chamber of Icons. Particular and interesting then the pavilion dedicated to the Communist Terror, which houses inside images, documents and videos of the persecution suffered by the Albanians under the regime.

Relax on the colored benches : the visit of the museum takes at least 3 hours. Once you leave, rest and take some fun souvenir photos on the colored benches, located at the entrance.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Piazza Scanderbeg, in the center. It is less than a kilometer from the train station (10 min on foot). Nearby are the Bunk’Art (200m), the National Gallery (400m) and the Tirana Mosque (100m). Get directions
  • Hours: Tue-Sun 10 am-5pm, closed Mon
  • Ticket cost: 500.00 ALL (€ 4.00)

2 – Piazza Scanderberg
Photo by AwOiSoAk. Dominated by the large statue dedicated to the Albanian hero Scanderbeg who defeated the Ottomans, this square was the stage of the communist regime for many years . Before it was shot down by the crowd in 1991, there was also a monument dedicated to the dictator Enver Hoxha next to it.
Some institutional buildings also overlook the square, such as that of the town hall and some ministries, whose facades are painted in ocher and burgundy colors . In the highest part there is a fountain and the water sliding along the floors makes the colors of the stone pavement shine. In the eastern part, however, stands the minaret of one of the oldest mosques in the city, considered one of the most important cultural monuments, which saved it from being destroyed by the communist regime in the late 1960s.
It represents the heart of Tirana. It is less than a kilometer from the train station (10 min on foot). Nearby are the Bunk’Art (200m), the History Museum (300m), the National Gallery (400m) and the Clock Tower (100m) – Get directions

Learn a few words of Albanian : in 2019 A huge book has been installed, a vocabulary of the Albanian language, which allows you to search for the meaning of any word through a video to which it is linked.

3 – Clock Tower

Considered one of the main symbols of the city, the Clock Tower, also known as Kulla and Sahatit and visible from almost everywhere, is located in the immediate vicinity of Scanderbeg Square and the Et’hem Bey mosque. Its construction began in 1821 and finished thanks to the financial help offered by the wealthiest families of Tirana . In fact, it is part of the Muslim tradition that the richest families reserve a tenth part of their annual earnings to finance public works or charities.
As a modification to the original design, the Tower was further increased in height by 35 meters in 1928 and the clock from Germany was installed on top .

Enjoy a wonderful view: it is possible to climb the 90 steps of a spiral staircase that lead to the top, from where you can enjoy a beautiful panoramic view of the city.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Piazza Scanderbeg It is less than a kilometer from the train station (10 min on foot). Nearby is the Bunk’Art (200m), the History Museum (300m), the National Gallery (400m) and the Tirana Mosque (100m) – Get directions
  • Hours: Mon-Fri 9: 00-16: 00, Sat 9: 00-14: 00, Sun closed
  • Ticket cost: 200.00 ALL (€ 1.60)

4 – Moschea Et’hem Bey
Photo of Bjorn Christian Torrissen. Considered the most beautiful Islamic place of worship in all of Albania , the Et’hem Bey mosque dates back to the period 1794-1821 and is one of the best preserved buildings in the country.
Characterized by a typical Ottoman architecture, it has a unique style that can be admired in the tower and dome, as well as in the fine decorations on the outside and inside, where there are representations of landscapes and natural elements, unusual in Islamic art. During the communist period it was closed for years, to be reopened (without authorization), in 1991, by a crowd of people “armed” with Albanian flags: this gesture of protest was the prelude to the fall of the communist regime.

: during prayer hours the entrance is closed. Being an Islamic place of worship, it requires total compliance with the rules, women must cover their bodies and heads and everyone must take off their shoes before entering.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Piazza Scanderbeg It is less than a kilometer from the train station (10 min on foot). Nearby is the Bunk’Art (200m), the History Museum (300m), the National Gallery (400m), the Resurrection Cathedral (200m) and the Clock Tower (100m) – Get indications
  • Hours: 8: 00-11: 00. No entry during prayer hours
  • Ticket cost: free

5 – Mercato Pazari i Ri
Photo by yeowatzup. The Pazari i Ri Market is the typical and colorful city market , and takes its name from a neighborhood in the historic center of Tirana. Created in 1931, it was renovated in 2016 and divided into a “green market”, covered by a roof that serves to shelter the local fruit, vegetable, cheese and alcohol stalls, and the “fish market” surrounded by walls that welcome fish sellers. and meat. In this area, however , there are also several cafes and restaurants .
A visit to this market is a must if you are in Tirana, whether you want to shop, but also if you just want to peek and savor the daily life of Albanian citizens . If you then pass by here on a lunch break, know thatsome fish stalls sell the products there and cook them there at the moment so that you can enjoy them seated at the tables located on the pedestrian square a few meters from the stalls.

Stop for lunch : it is an ideal place to stop for a typical lunch break, enjoying various traditional dishes and local products!
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Pazari I ri, in the center of Tirana, can be easily reached on foot from Piazza Scanderberg (800 m, 10 min). Nearby are the National Gallery (700m) and Bunk’Art (800m). Alternatively, near the market there is the stop of the green L1 bus – Get directions
  • Hours: every day 7: 00-15: 00
  • Ticket cost: free

6 – Bunk’Art 2 and Bunk’Art 1
Photo by Albinfo. In Albania and Tirana there are many bunkers built during the Hoxha dictatorship, to protect themselves in the event of an atomic attack. Two have been transformed into museums and we advise you not to miss them, especially the most recent one.
Bunk’Art 2 is the most recent museum in the city , opened in 2016 which is located in the center of Tirana, behind the Ministry of the Interior. This structure built from 1981 to 1986 with an area of ​​1000 square meters and with walls 2.4 meters thick, was used to house the elite police and ministry staffin case of nuclear attacks. Today a historical exhibition has been set up inside it with images and objects illustrating the crimes of the communist persecution of 100,000 Albanians until 1991.
The other famous is Bunk’Art 1, an imposing building in the north-eastern outskirts of the city, near the cableway. On 5 floors, with 106 rooms including those of the dictator, today you can follow a museum video itinerary that tells the story of the Albanian army and aspects of daily life during the dictatorship .

Combined visit : since Bunk’Art 1 is located a little outside Tirana and needs a transfer by bus, you can also organize a visit to the Mount Dajt National Park, which is nearby, on the same day.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: Bunk ‘Art 2 in Sermedin Said Toptani, near Scanderberg square; can be reached on foot and nearby are the History Museum (500 m) and the Clock Tower (200 m) – Get directions / Bunk’Art 1 out of town, can be reached by bus outside the Palace of Culture on Sheshi road Skenderbej leading to Linza. Ask the driver to stop at Bunk’Art – Get Directions
  • Hours: both bunkers from April to September every day 9: 00-21: 00, from October to March Wed-Sun 9: 00-16: 00
  • Ticket cost: 500.00 ALL (€ 4.00)

7 – Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ
Photo by Photo: Daniel. The original Orthodox Cathedral of Tirana dates back to 1865, but was destroyed to make way for the construction of the Hotel International . It was thus rebuilt in 2011 and consecrated on 24 June 2012 on the occasion of the anniversary of the consecration of Archbishop Anastasio Primate of Albania and dedicated to the Resurrection of Christ.
The building, the third largest in Europe for Orthodox worship , has a 32-meter-high dome and a golden bell tower of over 40 meters. It has a circular shape and the entrance doors are in decorated bronze, while inside several spectacular mosaics represent some religious and historical scenes. Inside the cathedral there is also a small museum, a library, an exhibition hall and an amphitheater.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Rr. and Kavajes 151, 150 m from Scanderberg Square, in the center of Tirana. It can be reached on foot and nearby are Bunk’Art (200m), the History Museum (500m), the National Gallery (300m) and the Tirana Mosque (200m) – Get directions
  • Hours: every day 9: 00-14: 00 and 16: 00-19: 00
  • Ticket cost: free

8 – House of the Leaves – Museum of the secret services
Shtepia and Gjetheve and the so-called house of the Leaves, that is the Museum of the Albanian Secret Services, located in a building of 1931 and built at the behest of an illustrious doctor. Originally, it had the function of a gynecological clinic but over time it had other purposes; it was occupied by the Nazi Gestapo during the German invasion and then became the headquarters of the investigation services for the security of socialist Albania.
The name House of Leaves is a reminder that these not only grew like vines on the walls of the house, but also hid the horrors of this place.. Furthermore, the leaves recall the rustle of papers, of whispered news, of the faint noise of someone spying in the woods. A cold and disturbing place inside an otherwise anonymous villa, where many innocent citizens, in fact, have been spied on, arrested, tried and sentenced as well as executed, due to the communist regime.
We recommend a visit to this museum divided into 31 rooms and 9 sectors , where it is possible to view the documents and tools used by the secret police such as microphones, recorders, cameras and much more.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Rr.Ibraim Rugova, 100 m from the Scanderberg Square in the center of Tirana. It can be reached on foot and nearby are Bunk’Art (200 m), the History Museum (500 m), the National Gallery (300 m), the Clock Tower (200 m) and the Tirana Mosque (200 m). m) – Get directions
  • Hours: Tue-Sat 9: 00-17: 00, Sun 9: 00-14: 00, closed Mon
  • Ticket cost: 700.00 ALL (€ 5.60), free on 29 September (National Cultural Heritage Day) and the last Sunday of each month (except June, July and August)

9 – National Art Gallery
Photo by Sailko. Considered the most important national exhibition, the Art Gallery collects many paintings and is one of the Albanian museums with the most international character . Inside it contains over 4,100 works by national and foreign artists covering a period ranging from the thirteenth to today.
Divided into two areas, the main one and the one dedicated to the permanent exhibition with collections belonging to the period of the National Resistance , Independence, anti-fascist resistance, socialist realism and Albanian contemporary art. The other area is more limited and is used for temporary exhibitions of contemporary art.
Among the most important works,the large canvases illustrating episodes from partisan life and scenes from life in the countryside, construction sites and factories of the Socialist Republic of Albania. In the courtyard behind the building there are statues of Stalin and Lenin, where you can take a souvenir photo of the trip.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in Shetitorja Murat Toptani 2, in the center of Tirana, 400 meters from Scanderberg Square. It can be reached on foot and nearby are Bunk’Art (200m), the History Museum (500m), the House of Leaves (300m) and the Clock Tower (200m) – Get directions
  • Hours: Tue-Sun 10: 00-18: 00
  • Ticket cost: 200.00 ALL (€ 1.61)

10 – Cattedrale di San Paolo
Photo by Dori. This building, at first glance, can be mistaken for a hotel rather than a Cathedral . Built in 2001 and consecrated in 2002, this is perhaps one of the most modern religious buildings in all of Tirana , characterized by very simple exteriors and triangular interiors with a very unique architecture.
The structure of the cathedral is rather particular and fascinating, designed by combining two different geometric figures , a triangle and a circle, which respectively represent the Trinity and the Eternity of God. Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II. This churchit perfectly mixes past and modern , managing to clearly express the strong sense of religiosity of a people that has had to undergo a harsh political pro-atheism.
In Bul Zhan D’Ark, in the historical center of Tirana. It can be reached on foot from Piazza Scanderberg (600 m, 5 min). Nearby the National Art Gallery (300m), the Pyramid of Tirana (450m) and Bunk’art 2 (500m) – Get Directions

11 – Blloku District and Sky Tower
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski. The Blloku district is certainly the district that most represents the rebirth and renewal of the city. His lively character makes him the favorite destination of young people, thanks to the trendy restaurants, bars and clubs, shops. Here once lived the officials of the Communist regime and access to the neighborhood was forbidden to the rest of the citizens, a prohibition clearly highlighted by a security cordon.
To date, the district represents in an excellent way the desire of Tirana, but also of the whole country, to be an active part of Europe. Center of nightlife and entertainment , and an ideal neighborhood to stay for young people, a little less recommended for families!
Here is also the Sky Tower, a tall skyscraper with a terrace bar and revolving restaurant, which allows a 360 ° view of the city. Inside it also houses a hotel. Open all day, the best time to relax and enjoy the view is the sunset . You go up with a very fast lift and the bar prices, unlike other similar places around Europe, are very affordable.

Immerse yourself in the nightlife of Tirana : here are some of the best clubs in Tirana, ideal for spending the evening or all night! If you are looking for something quiet we recommend Charl’s Bistrot, Lounge Bar with live music and excellent cocktails. Rum lovers should head to Hemingway
Bar, where you will find more than 100 types, as well as excellent cocktails. Finally, Radio Bar Tirana is one of the most loved by the locals and the one that many will suggest you visit at least one evening.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: between Bulevardi Bajaram Curri in the north, Rruga Sami Frasheri in the west, Rruga Abdyl Frasheri in the south and Rruga Deshmoret and 4 Shkurtitest in the east. From the central square within walking distance (700 m, 9 min) – Get directions
  • Hours: district always accessible / Sky Tower always accessible for hotel guests, consult the official website
  • Ticket price: district free / Sky Tower free, you pay for the drink, a beer 200.00 ALL (€ 1.60)

12 – Bulevardi Deshmoret and Kombit
Photo of tirane. The Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit is a long avenue that runs through the city and leads to the National Art Gallery and is dedicated to the Martyrs and Fighters . It passes many of the main attractions just outlined and on nice days it fills with people, both locals and tourists, strolling and enjoying the sun.
Designed by the architect Gherardo Bosio and built during the Italian occupation of the country, it is one of the most important streets in the city and houses some important buildings, such as banks and universities.
The boulevard is easy to locate and also intersects with another boulevard, Bajram Curri Boulevard, near the Rinia Park. You can start walking it from the National Art Gallery – Get Directions

13 – Hoxha Pyramid
Photo by Kroll Markus. This structure is one of the most controversial testimonies of the architecture of the communist period , built in 1988 on a project by the daughter of the dictator, Pranvera, who wanted it as a mauseoleum of the eternal rest of her father, Enver Hoxha. Shaped like a pyramid, the building is built on a series of platforms and stairs that appear to act as a pedestal; the aspect is not casual but linked to the idea of ​​power of the Labanese socialist period. Furthermore, if viewed from above, the pyramid has the shape of a double-headed eagle which is the symbol of the country.
When the dictator’s body was transferred (he only stayed here 2 years), the mausoleum was converted into a private TV base, then into a NATO base during the Kosovo war and into a nightclub called “La mummy”.
After years of uncertainty about its fate, today the Hoxha pyramid is home to a technology center for young people, and hosts events .
It is located at the intersection of Bul Bajram Curri and Deshmoret and Kombit, 700m south of Scanderberg Square. It can be easily reached on foot. Nearby the National Gallery (600m, 7 min), the Castle (500m, 5 min) and the Sjy Tower (550m, 6 min) – Get directions

Ring the peace bell: When visiting the Pyramid, don’t forget to ring the peace bell, the nearby art installation, built in 1999 with thousands of cartridges fired during the 1997 riots.

14 – Mount Dajti National Park
Photo by TorbjornS. In the south-east of Tirana there is this green area, with an artificial lake and open-air theaters, ideal for spending a few hours outside the chaos of the city . The Dajti National Park covers an area of ​​3,300 hectares and is famous not only for various excursions but also for admiring a panorama of Tirana; in fact, his nickname is Tirana’s natural balcony .
Characterized by dense vegetation with forests of pine, oak, beech and plane trees that develop along the Dajt river, in the lower part it is formed by the typical Mediterranean scrub. There is also no lack of fauna : bears, wolves, foxes, wild boars, hares, eagles and several other species live here.

Reach the top by cable car : the best way to reach it is with the Dajti Ekspres cable car, one of the attractions of Tirana which in a few minutes allows you to climb to the top of the mountain starting from the outskirts of the city. Once at the top you will find restaurants and hotels that offer accommodation to tourists.
Practical info: directions, timetables and prices

  • How to get there: in the southwest of Tirana. From the center, blue line bus from Skenderbeg square to the Teleferiku stop (20 min). From here Dajti cable car. The cable car departure is located near the Bunk’art (less than 2km) – Get directions
  • Hours: National Park always accessible / Cable car May-October every day 9: 00-21: 00, November-April 9: 00-19: 00 except Tues
  • Ticket price: full 800.00 ALL (€ 6.00), reduced 500.00 ALL (€ 4.00)

Other attractions to visit
Among other things to see , we recommend Mother Teresa Square in the center of Tirana, where the University, the Archaeological Museum, the Congress Palace and the Academy of Fine Arts are located; moreover, in the extreme vicinity you can see the new stadium. Also interesting are the Botanical Garden (free), the Giustiniana Fortress whose walls have been exposed and incorporated into the pedestrian street Murat Toptani, the Catholic Church of Santa Maria and the large i Madh Park, south of the city.

Among the museums to visit , based on time and interests, there are the Archaeological Museum (200.00 ALL, € 1.60), the Museum of Natural Sciences (free) and the Mezuraj Museum (400.00 ALL / € 3 , 00). Externally visit the Prime Minister’s Residence, along the Lana River, near the Pyramid, the former villa of Mehemet, the Congress Palace and the Tomb of Kapplan Pasha.

5 things to do in Tirana
Look for the houses of the communist period

Photos on the bridge of the tanners

1/5

  1. Sky Tower Sunset : This is definitely one of the best places to watch the sunset in the city
  2. Cafe at Taiwan Complex : This complex is one of the most popular places for citizens and tourists. Here you can enjoy a good coffee surrounded by wonderful fountains. In the evening the two terraces are filled with people who find themselves having an aperitif
  3. Look for the houses of the communist period : the city is full of classic tall and gray apartment blocks, a hallmark of communist architecture. Mayor Edi Rama then decided to have them painted, to give the city a little color
  4. Photo on the Tanners’ Bridge : from the Ottoman era, this bridge represents a fascinating fragment of Tirana’s history. Today it is a simple stone pedestrian bridge, but it is worth passing by for a photo
  5. I love Tirana : here too you can find the famous writing that occurs in many cities. Then take a souvenir photo in front of the large writing “I love Tirana”, inside the Parku Rinia

Plan your stay in Tirana: tips, flights and hotels
Tirana can be reached easily with direct low cost flights of 1.5 hours from the main Italian cities (compare flights).
The best period is from April to October , when the days are longer, sunnier and the least rainfall. The city is very cheap , so even for accommodation, it is better to choose a structure in the center (compare the accommodation on booking). Staying here, you can always move on foot , or alternatively by taxi and bus. If you are looking for nightlife , the best neighborhood is definitely Bkllo, full of clubs of any kind.

If you are traveling with children, know that the Albanian capital is also suitable for them; we recommend you to visit the Youth Park but above all the Parku i Madh with the lake, where you will find not only long shaded avenues but also a wonderful playground called Rruga and Qershive, or “La Strada delle Ciliegie”. Near the lake there is also a funfair with rides for young and old.

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