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  • Writer's pictureKrista the Explorer

What To Do in Tirana, Albania: A Complete Guide To Spending 2 Days in Tirana

Updated: Oct 24, 2023

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Albania is a beautiful country to explore with plenty of scenic landscapes, pristine beaches, and important historic and archaeological sites to visit. I was surprised to learn that a lot of people skip over the capital city though and use it predominantly for its international airport before moving on to other parts of the country. Tirana itself is certainly worth visiting, even if you only have time in your Albania itinerary to spend a day here. Compared to other capital cities in Europe you’ll find that there aren’t an abundance of tourist attractions in Tirana but there are more than enough things to see if you plan on spending 2 days in Tirana like I did.


As a modern city, the history of Tirana dates back to the 17th century when it was founded by a Turkish general who built a mosque, a bakery, and a bathhouse here in order to attract people. The small town grew in size and importance, eventually becoming an important trading centre. It wasn’t until 1920 that it was declared the capital of Albania though. To some visitors it may not look like it has the historic charm that many other European cities have but Tirana’s history runs quite deep and is interesting to learn about.


An important thing to note about Tirana is that it’s a very budget friendly city and almost all of the main attractions here are within walking distance of one another. If you’re planning to rent a car and go on a road trip while you’re in Albania I would recommend using a local company called Capital Car Rental who have offices at the airport as well as the city centre. Driving is a little crazy in Tirana so if you’re spending time in the city before heading elsewhere I would suggest picking up the car when you’re leaving the city.


Need help getting from Tirana’s airport to the city centre? There is a regular bus service that takes 40 minutes to get to the main square in Tirana. The cost is 400 ALL one way which is less than €4.00 (they accept euros onboard too). Before leaving the airport make sure you purchase a tourist sim card from Vodafone which is the most inexpensive way to use data in Albania.


Table of Contents


What To Do in Tirana

If you can’t decide on what to do in Tirana, here are some of the top attractions that I visited during my 2 days in Tirana. The majority of the points of interest here are either free or cost very little to enter which is great for any budget. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to take the Dajti Express cable car to the top of the mountains but this is considered a must-do in Tirana and it’s located only 15 minutes from the city centre.


Skanderbeg Square

Large iron statue on stones of man on horseback.
Skanderbeg Monument

Skanderbeg Square sits at the very heart of the city and is one of the best things to see in Tirana. It was only recently fully pedestrianized, initially having a circular shape to it rather than the one seen today, and the paving stones were brought in from different parts of the country to give it a multi-coloured look. The square was named after a national hero who led a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire and you can see the Skanderbeg Monument sitting across from the National Historical Museum.


National Historical Museum

Museum in Tirana with large mosaic above entrance.
National Historical Museum

The most important museum in Albania is the National Historical Museum (500 ALL entry fee) located in Skanderbeg Square. It was opened in 1981 and is split into eight pavilions, each focusing on a different time period in Albania’s history. If you don’t have time to go inside the museum there’s a very impressive mural mosaic above the entrance showing different figures from the country’s history.


Take a photo with the I Love Tirana sign

White and red statue spelling out I love t.
Opera & Ballet Theatre

Sitting next to the National Historical Museum is the largest theatre in Albania, the Opera & Ballet Theatre. The building is very impressive to look at from the outside, and if you have time I would recommend catching a show here. Just in front of the theatre is an I Love Tirana sign which is a great spot for a photo.


Et'hem Bey Mosque & Clock Tower

An 18th century mosque next to tall clock tower in Tirana.
Et'hem Bey Mosque

One of the top places to visit in Tirana is the Et'hem Bey Mosque. It sits at the far end of Skanderbeg Square and is the only remaining mosque out of eight that were built in the city between the 18th and 19th century. Today it stands as part of an architectural complex with the Tirana Clock Tower which was built in 1822. Entry to the Clock Tower costs 200 ALL and from the top you’ll get an incredible view of Skanderbeg Square. There weren’t any official opening times posted at the Clock Tower so if you see the door open you should make your way there quickly!


Bunk'Art 2

Outside of a communist era bunker turned into a museum in Tirana.
Bunk'Art 2

A short distance from the main square is one of the city’s most popular museums: Bunk’Art 2. The museum itself sits underground in a communist-era nuclear bunker and tells the history of the Albanian History of Internal Affairs between 1912-1992 and information about the “Sigurimi” which were the country’s brutal political police force. There’s a lot of information to read and quite a few rooms to explore so I would suggest spending up to 90 minutes here if you can. Entry costs 500 ALL or there's a combination ticket for entry to Bunk’Art 1 as well for 800 ALL which will save you 20%.


Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral

Outside of a modern orthodox church in Tirana with tall clock tower.
Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral

The Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral is a unique attraction in Tirana and is the third largest structure of its kind in the whole of the Balkans. It was built in 2012 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the revival of the Albanian Orthodox Church and is impressive from the outside as well as inside. It’s completely free to enter but if there’s a service on you need to make sure you enter quietly and are respectful.


House of Leaves Museum

Collection of surveillance equipment used in communist era.
House of Leaves Museum

If you’re interested in learning about the communist-era of Albania then the House of Leaves Museum is a must-visit in Tirana. The building was once the headquarters of the National Intelligence Service, which was the equivalent of the Stasi headquarters in Germany. Inside you’ll learn all about the methods this secret service went to in order to spy on citizens who were against the regime. It’s also referred to as the House of Spies and costs 700 ALL to enter. It’s one of the most unusual things to do in Tirana and is a good option to pass the time if the weather isn’t the greatest.


The Cloud

White metal rod sculpture made in shape of a cloud.
The Cloud

The Cloud is a unique modern art installation in Tirana sitting opposite the National Gallery of Arts. It was designed by a Japanese architect and doubles as a cultural events space in the city. It’s not the most interesting thing to look at in Tirana but you’ll probably walk past it at some point so you may as well as take a quick photo.


Tirana Castle

Two gates in castle walls with art outside of them.
Tirana Castle

Did you know that Tirana has a castle? Also known as the Fortress of Justinian, Tirana Castle sits along Toptani Street and has a history dating back to the 14th century. Unfortunately all that you can see today of the castle is one of the main walls but you may come across some nice artistic souvenirs here if you’re lucky.


Pyramid of Tirana

A large white building in the shape of a pyramid in Tirana.
Pyramid of Tirana

Another unusual thing to see in Tirana is the Pyramid of Tirana. It was originally opened in 1988 as a museum dedicated to the former communist leader Enver Hoxha but following the collapse of communism in Albania in 1991 it ceased to be a museum and is now undergoing refurbishments to be a youth IT centre. It also seems to be a popular place for exercise since a lot of people were using the steps leading up to the top of the pyramid for a workout.


Namazgah Mosque

Largest mosque in Albania on a sunny day in Tirana.
Namazgah Mosque

The Namazgah Mosque, or the Great Mosque of Tirana, is now the largest mosque in the Balkans and is very impressive to look at from the outside. The construction of this mosque began following the fall of communism when Muslims in the country pointed out that they didn’t have a central mosque to pray at. The mosque is meant to lessen the crowds that gather at Skanderbeg Square during Islamic holidays to pray at the Et'hem Bey Mosque.


Admire the street art

Large painting of boy and girl on side of apartment building.
Street Art

One of the best free things to do in Tirana is to admire the street art. Tirana is an easy city to explore on foot and along the way you’ll come across numerous unique types of street art on the walls of buildings. Some of the biggest ones are located high above ground so don’t forget to look up as well


Walk across Tanners' Bridge

An old stone footbridge next to main road in Tirana.
Tanners' Bridge

If you have some spare time during your 2 days in Tirana, and want to see a small but unique part of the city’s history, head over to Tanners’ Bridge. This Ottoman stone footbridge was built in the 18th century and once formed part of the road where livestock and produce entered the city. It also crossed a stream where the leather workers and butchers were located and sits close to Tanners’ Mosque, which is where the name Tanners’ Bridge comes from.


New Bazaar

Open market with traditional rugs hanging from posts.
New Bazaar

If you’re looking for an outdoor market in Tirana to visit then you’ll love the New Bazaar. It’s located less than 10 minutes from Skanderbeg Square and it sits on the same location as the former market but with better and more modern conditions for selling goods and fresh produce. This is a great neighbourhood to buy fresh food from and there are also several souvenir stalls that may be worth checking out.


Enver Hoxha's Former Residence

Old residence of a former communist leader of Albania.
Enver Hoxha's Former Residence

As you make your way around Tirana you’ll probably find yourself in the popular Blloku neighbourhood. Before you choose which restaurant or bar to visit though, you can catch a glimpse of the country’s former communist leader’s house. Enver Hoxha's Former Residence gives visitors a unique insight into the lavish lifestyle he led up until his death in 1985. Unfortunately it was closed when I visited but I still managed to take a photo from the gate.


Explore the Blloku neighbourhood

Nightlight area of Tirana with bars and clubs colourfully decorated.
Blloku neighbourhood of Tirana

The Blloku neighbourhood in Tirana is the trendiest area of the city. It’s where you’ll find plenty of popular nightclubs, bars, restaurants, and cafes and is one of the more expensive parts of the city to stay in. During the communist-era this area was only accessible to the communist elites with no access given to regular citizens. Once communism fell it grew in popularity though and is now a thriving part of Tirana.


Take a stroll around the Grand Park of Tirana

A small lake in the middle of a park in Tirana.
Grand Park of Tirana

If you only have one day in Tirana to spare, you may not be able to visit the Grand Park of Tirana since it’s a 30 minute walk from the city centre. However, if you’re spending 2 days in Tirana or more then this should definitely be added to your itinerary. This wooded park sits around an artificial lake, with several walking trails available to the public which are nice to stroll along during the warmer months. This is also one of the best free things to do in Tirana if you want to end your trip on a leisurely note.


Bunk'Art 1

Inside a bunker museum with table and posters on wall.
Bunk'Art 1

Bunk’Art 1 is high on the list of the best things to do in Tirana but I’ve left it until last in this blog post since it takes the most effort to get to. If you have a car it should take around 20 minutes to drive to (without traffic) or you can hop on a bus which takes approximately 55 minutes. Alternatively you can take a taxi but I’m unsure how much that would cost.


Like Bunk’Art 2, this unique museum in Tirana focuses on Albanian history during the communist regime. It’s centred around the lives of everyday people during this time and the history of the Albanian communist army. It’s quite significant in size and will take at least 90 minutes to walk around fully - especially if you plan on reading everything. Entry costs 500 ALL or you can get a combination ticket with entry to Bunk’Art 2 as well for 800 ALL.


Best Places To Eat in Tirana

Are you looking for the best places to eat in Tirana? Tirana isn’t typically known for its food scene, but in my opinion it should be! The city has a fantastic mixture of modern restaurants and more traditional ones, and wherever you decide to eat you’ll find that they’re all very budget friendly. Don’t be afraid to venture outside of the main tourist areas either because that’s where you’ll find some of the best eateries.


Mullixhiu

If you’re on the hunt for traditional Albanian dishes that have a modern flair to them then Mullixhiu is the place to go! It sits just outside of the Grand Park of Tirana and is situated inside a mountain cabin-like building that resonates warmth from the inside. The restaurant’s name relates to bread being one of the oldest man-made foods and in Albania bread is a core part of their hospitality. Even the smallest detail is thought of at Mullixhiu, with the drawers of the wooden dining tables pulling out to reveal your cutlery.


What about the food at Mullixhiu? To try the best dishes that this fantastic restaurant in Tirana has to offer I would recommend ordering the Tasting Menu which is only available at dinner. It costs just 3000 ALL (less than €30.00) for several courses which are all prepared in-house using seasonal farm-to-table produce. We tried dishes such as Baby Goat Pie, traditional Qifqi, and Ali Pasha Soup - just to name a few.


You won’t find another dining experience like it, and since this is a relatively new restaurant in Tirana serving a modern twist on traditional Albanian cuisine its popularity is only growing - so book in while you can!


Oborri

Oborri is a beautiful hidden gem in the city and is a great spot for brunch in Tirana. We enjoyed it so much that we went back two days in a row! It’s open early for breakfast and late into the evening since it also doubles as a cocktail bar. The restaurant itself is set within a covered yard which is a nice little oasis to escape the noise of the city from.


The Garden Omelette was my favourite choice on the brunch menu, and if you want something a little more filling the Dirty Breakfast is a great alternative. Or on the lighter side you can try their unique take on French Toast. Since Oborri is also a cocktail bar you can’t leave without trying at least one of their cocktails. The prices here are very reasonable for the portions that you get so it’s a great budget friendly restaurant in Tirana that not too many tourists will know about (yet).


Serendiville

Did you know you can get some delicious Mexican food in Tirana? Serendiville is a unique Mexican restaurant located a short walk from the Blloku neighbourhood with a large outdoor courtyard designed to look like you’ve been transported to Mexico. They have an enormous menu with all of the classics such as tacos, fajitas, and quesadillas but they also offer plenty of other unique dishes, with a strong focus on chicken and meat. You can, however, get a great vegetarian meal here too.


I opted to try some of their vegetarian options. The vegetarian tacos came with a base of guacamole and were topped with a variety of thinly cut seasoned vegetables in a slaw-like texture. I also ordered the vegetarian fajitas which had a few mixed vegetables added to the traditional beans, rice, and grilled veggies. All of this paired with a freshly made margarita turned out to be the perfect dinner on my last night in Albania. But of course I couldn’t leave without trying a massive slice of their cheesecake - it’s a must if you have a sweet tooth.


Falafel House

Two halves of falafel wrap in a brown paper bag.
Falafel House

Fast food in Tirana isn’t necessarily unhealthy and if you need something quick to take on the go with you then you may want to consider Falafel House. This vegan-friendly restaurant in Tirana predominantly serves falafel wraps which are prepared in front of you. Even the falafels are freshly fried using their own special blend. You can choose which size of wrap you want as well as the toppings for inside it. I ordered one of their larger wraps and it was enough to fill me for the next few hours! Falafel House is located on the same street as the House of Leaves Museum so it’s in the perfect location for lunch or a light dinner in the city centre.


Fustanella Farm

Fustanella Farm is one restaurant near Tirana that you’re going to need a car to get to, but the short 20 minute drive is definitely worth it to eat farm-to-table food. It’s located in the town of Petrelë which is famous for its medieval castle perched high on a cliff. The restaurant itself is based around an organic farm which is where they get all of their ingredients from. The menu changes on a regular basis depending on what’s in season and is handwritten in Albanian so make sure you have Google translate ready (or ask your waiter to translate).


This is a very popular restaurant, especially on weekends, so I was pleased to have it all to myself when I visited for lunch mid-week and could enjoy the stunning countryside views from the table. Since I was dining by myself I ordered a small selection of dishes from the menu such as the leek pie, beetroot hummus topped with walnuts, and the vegetable croquettes. All of this came with a basket of freshly made bread as well. The flavours of all three dishes were incredible and I could taste the freshness of the ingredients in every bite which isn’t something that can be said with every restaurant. It’s definitely a must-visit while in Albania!


Where To Stay in Tirana

Square INN Modern Studio City Center

I only spent 2 days in Tirana so it was important for me to be centrally located. Square INN has a big selection of apartments and studios available for rent throughout the city and they’re all modern and luxurious inside. I stayed in their Modern Studio City Center accommodation which was ideally located less than a 10 minute walk from Skanderbeg Square and only a 20 minute walk to Tirana’s bus station. On your day of arrival you’ll be given details about how to enter the building and retrieve your apartment key.


The studio apartment is beautifully designed with modern furnishings and a large balcony with city views. Although I didn’t end up using the kitchen it included a small oven and stove for cooking as well as ample kitchen equipment. The large double bed was very comfortable and there was fresh bedding in the wardrobe so you could make the bed to your liking. The studio also included a large couch where you could sit and watch TV, a nice sized bathroom with a walk-in shower, desk space, and air conditioning. It really was the perfect studio apartment for my short visit to Tirana and the location couldn’t have been better.


>> Click here for the most up to date prices at Square INN Modern Studio City Center <<


There’s much more to Tirana than meets the eye. The Albanian capital is worth visiting for more than just a few hours and I would recommend spending at least 2 days in Tirana in order to see all of the city’s main attractions and try out some of its incredible restaurants. And if you use Tirana as your base to explore other parts of Albania from places such as Durres, Berat, Gjirokaster, and Vlore are a short drive away and are all great options for day trips from Tirana.


Have you spent time in Tirana yet? If you have any questions about visiting Tirana or want any tips regarding other places to visit in Albania please feel free to reach out via email or get in touch through Instagram where you can check out some of my recent posts about Albania too.


 

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