Tirana is loud, lively and filled with colour! Albania’s capital city has emerged from a grim past and this once grey and stoic setting is now awash with bright colours and a vibrant (and sometimes chaotic!) atmosphere. The city is the cultural, political and entertainment capital of the country and is steadily growing in popularity with travellers. We have put together a helpful guide on how to spend 24 hours in Tirana – this way you can fully enjoy this captivating destination on your next visit!
Much like the rest of the country, Tirana is a city transformed. It is redefining itself after years of isolation from the rest of the world during Albania’s years under communist rule. Luckily for travellers, the city is relatively small and the city centre and highlights can easily be explored in a day!
Here is everything to see when you have 24 hours to spend in Tirana, Albania:
Kick your day off in the heart of the city at Skanderbeg Square. This main boulevard is at the centre of the city. Take yourself on a history lesson while you visit; you could spend the morning visiting the National History Museum, the Et’hem Bej Mosque and the National Theatre which all border the square. Visitors can also explore the nearby House of Leaves which is an intriguing museum dedicated to communist Albania’s secret surveillance.
Explore more of the square and see the Skanderbeg Monument depicting Albania’s national hero who defeated the Ottomans in the 15th century. Take a walk to the Pyramid of Tirana – this curious monument was originally built as a museum dedicated to the former dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha, and was once the most expensive structure built in the country. After the fall of communism, it was largely unused. Today, there are plans to turn it into a youth-culture hub.
Before your morning in the city centre is complete, pay a visit to Tanners’ Bridge. This elegant Ottoman footbridge was built in the 18th century and is remarkably well-preserved today.
Make the most of local hospitality and enjoy a meal at one of the restaurants dotted around the square. You can also make your way to the New Bazaar which is a few minutes walk from the city centre, located at Avni Rustemi Square. Browse the stalls and soak up the atmosphere. Wherever you are in Tirana, don’t forget to include a cup of coffee! Coffee culture is super popular in Albania, so you will no doubt find a great cuppa in Tirana!
After the hustle and bustle of this morning’s activities, why not slow it down and appreciate the beauty of nature this afternoon? Mount Daji stands tall on the edge of Tirana, sitting 1,613m above sea level. Catch the Dajti Ekspres cable car to the upper station and enjoy the spectacular views across the city and its surroundings. The 15-minute cable car trip travels across quaint landscapes and a trip to the top is one of the best things to do in Tirana! The Dajti Ekspres cable car station is located about 20 – 30 minutes from the city centre.
Enjoy more of Tirana’s outdoor spaces at this wonderful public park. Relax next to the magnificent artificial lake, enjoy a stroll, embark on a run or peruse the monuments and memorials found in the park. There are even a few restaurants where you can enjoy a leisurely late lunch!
You’ll find this fascinating history and contemporary art museum on the outskirts of the city. This sprawling bunker was originally built in the 1970s as a fallout shelter for dictator Enver Hoxha and his political elite. Today, visitors can explore the various rooms that are now a museum depicting Albania’s modern history. The space also functions as a contemporary art gallery. To enter and exit, you’ll need to proceed down a long, dark tunnel – it makes for an eerie and exciting experience!
Visit Bunk’Art and Bunk’Art2 located in Tirana.
As the sun sets, it’s time to explore the Blloku neighbourhood! During the days of communism, this area of the city was restricted; it was only for high-ranking officials and the political elite. Nowadays, Blloku is brand new! Discover trendy restaurants, cafes, bars, lounges and designer boutiques in this neighbourhood. This lively destination is the coolest neighbourhood in Tirana! It’s definitely the place to enjoy a night out or a great sit-down meal. Did you know that Albania embraces the “slow food movement”? You’ll find a strong ‘farm to plate’ philosophy at many of the restaurants across Tirana and the rest of the country. Albanian food is generally fresh and delicious and similar to Mediterranean cuisine. Don’t miss out and tuck in while you’re there!
Now you are ready to spend an exciting 24 hours in the lively city of Tirana! If you haven’t planned your next tour to Europe or a visit to Tirana yet, now is the time to start! Out experience tour leaders are ready to show you the best of the Balkans and beyond. See it on an Expat Explore multi-country Europe tour.
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