Tirana, the capital of Albania should be on the bucket list of anyone who is bored of European cities such as London, Paris, Amsterdam, Madrid and wants to see a place that is both close and a little different. In this post, we will tell you about the places worth seeing in the city. Let’s get started.
Here Are The Best Places To See In Tirana:
Actually, Tirana, or rather the whole of Albania, is one of the unlucky countries in Europe. The city, which was founded in the 1600s, has not experienced many glorious periods.
After surviving the Second World War, it was ruled by Communist Leader Enver Hoxha for a long time, closed to the outside and under pressure. The Balkan War of the 90s made things even worse.
On the other hand, the city that has not seen the face of the day is now a modern, lively and entertaining capital. Or at least, let’s say it’s on track to be.
In this list, we will talk about places to see in this city, item by item, but to make a general definition; it is a very affordable alternative for those who want to enjoy the streets of Tirana, drink delicious coffee in its cafes and watch the surroundings, taste a little nightlife, experience a little cheap, high quality and delicious local cuisine, and continue on.
Skanderbeg, an Albanian soldier and commander, is an extremely important figure in the country. The name of the commander, who also led the uprising against the Ottoman Army, was given to the most central square of the city due to its importance. And in Tirana, almost all roads somehow lead to Skanderbeg Square.
Therefore, this place is the center of tourism, social life and the administration due to the important government offices around it.
The Skanderbeg Statue on a horse in the square is one of the most photographed places in the city.
Ethem Bey Mosque
Ethem Bey Mosque is one of the Ottoman legacies in Tirana’s places to visit. Ethem Bey Mosque, the construction of which was started by Molla Bey in 1789 and completed by Ethem Pasha in 1823, is the most important mosque in Tirana.
Ethem Pasha Mosque was also closed since all religions were banned during the communist era under the leadership of Enver Hoxha, but on January 18, 1992, when ten thousand rebels filled the mosque, the fire, which was the beginning of the end for communism, sprouted.
In addition to its historical importance, the mosque is also remarkable with the calligraphy and illumination works used in its interior decoration. Because it contains figures inspired by nature, which are not often seen in Islamic works.
The clock tower, located right next to the Ethem Bey Mosque, was built in 1822 by Hacı Ethem Bey. The peculiarity of the watch is that it has changed several times since it was made.
In the tower, which had a Vienna design clock when it was first built, this clock was later replaced with a German design, and later with other clocks.
National History Museum
What is certain is that Tirana’s history is somewhat complex. So if you’re a bit of a history lover, the National History Museum is ideal to satisfy your thirst for knowledge.
Each hall in this museum has artifacts from a different period of the city and the country.
National Gallery of Art
The museum, which hosts temporary exhibitions from time to time as well as its permanent exhibition consisting of Albanian painting art from the 19th century, or works depicting the daily life of Albanians, is an interesting stop for art lovers.
Bunk’ Art 2
Bunk’ Art 2, which is located in one of the underground bunkers (to protect from the enemy or nuclear attacks) built by the dictator of the country, Enver Hoxha, in various places (it is said to be 700 thousand in total), is the actual Bunk Art Museum. It is small but hosts rich documents and visuals on the perception and role of the police and security forces in society during the tense periods of the 20th century.
Rruga Murat Toptani Street (Pedonalja)
Rruga Murat Toptani Street, which is closed to vehicle traffic and located between the Parliament Building and the National Art Gallery, is a street where you can walk with pleasure with its cafes, shops and trees surrounding the street.
Blloku (or The Block District) has always been the region where the wealthy and elite of the city lived in the history of Tirana. Today, it continues to be the most luxurious and wealthy area of the city. In the Communist Era, in addition to the elite, the area was also closed to the entrance of ordinary people, only Communist Party members could enter Blloku.
Today, the center of Tirana’s social life, the region full of cafes, art galleries and trendiest shops, where both locals and tourists are eager to say “we were there too”, is one of the most indispensable stops on the Tirana Places to Visit list. In short, do not return from Tirana without seeing Blloku and enjoying one of its cafes.
The Pyramid of Tirana
The glass pyramid, which was built as a museum by Enver Hoxha’s daughter and son-in-law to honor him during the Communist Era, is one of the interesting places in Tirana Places to Visit.
The Tirana Pyramid, built in 1987, was wanted to be demolished because it symbolized the bad days of the country after the collapse of Communism in the 90s, but it was abandoned after being used for different purposes for a while.
The historical pyramid, which is empty today and has not yet been decided on what to do, is aesthetically ugly with its ruins and randomly drawn graffiti, but it is a valuable structure as it is proof of the dark days of the country.
Another place we would like to mention in the Tirana Places to Visit list is Dajti Mountain, which is a little outside the city and actually stands like a soldier guarding the city.
You can climb the 800-meter-high mountain on foot, by car, or by a one kilometre long cable car, which offers uniquely beautiful views.
There are also various trekking routes on the mountain, which is a great opportunity for nature lovers.
Another underground shelter at the foot of Mount Dajti is one of the largest in the country. The bunker, which is reserved for the use of high-ranking soldiers during any nuclear danger, has 5 floors and approximately 100 rooms, one of which is a hall large enough to hold 200 people.
Today, the bunker, which has been converted into an art and history museum under the name Bunk’ Art, displays mostly images, objects and documents that give information about the communist period of the country.
This is a place of Ottoman heritage in Tirana. The Tanners Bridge, built in the 1700s when the country was in the Ottoman Empire, is also one of the oldest structures in the city.
In fact, the bridge spanned the Lana River and was one of the main arteries of the commercial life of the city at that time. However, at the beginning of the 20th century, when the city planners changed the direction of the river, the bridge remained as a historical monument on a dry stream bed.
Although the Tanners Bridge is not very long, it is recommended for travelers who want to see Tirana in its entirety.
Located 50 kilometers west of Tirana, Durres is the oldest city established in Albania. The city, which has a 3000-year-old history, is home to the largest amphitheater in the Balkans from the 2nd century, the Arapaj Basilica, the Byzantine castle walls, the castle walls from the Ottoman Period, a Venetian Tower and the Byzantine Forum Area.
This coastal city, which can be reached in half an hour by car or bus from Tirana, is also ideal for swimming and sunbathing in summer with its long and wide beaches.
Where to Stay in Tirana?
There are 3 regions where you can stay in Tirana:
- Zone 1 – City Center
- Blloku (The Block)
- Komuna e Parisit
Whether you went to Tirana for business or touristic purposes. There are three areas suitable for accommodation in this small, modest and beautiful city. Of course, they are also very close to each other.
How to travel within Tirana?
As we mentioned at the beginning of the article about places to visit in Tirana, this is a small city. Therefore, it is possible to go everywhere on foot, and it is very easy and quick. However, you may still want to use public transport if you are accompanied by the elderly or children, perhaps if you are tired or if you have a physical ailment. Therefore, we would like to briefly talk about the transportation options in the city.
Urban transportation in the city is provided by buses. All buses covering the city with 20 lines pass through the common point behind the National Museum in the city center. Therefore, it is possible to reach all parts of Tirana from here and ticket prices are 40 Lek (about $0.37).
If you ask where you want to go at the bus stop, they will help you and tell you which bus you should take. Apart from this, taxis are another affordable and fast option for urban transportation.
So that was a look at the best sights to see in the Albanian capital city of Albania. Hopefully, it serves as a good guide for your trip to Tirana.