Tirana: The Complete Guide
Tirana is Albania’s busy and prosperous capital located in the center of Albania. It is enclosed by mountains and hills with Mount Dajt rising above it to the east.
Although founded in the 17th century it was not until it was designated as the capital it changed from an unimportant small town into a European capital. Italian influence during this period helped create the huge new square, named after the countries national hero Skanderbeg, and typical wide boulevards. The capital blends this 1920’s Italian architecture with Soviet Bloc cement buildings with the occasional remnant from its Ottoman days. Following the 1992 elections Tirana has also been well known for its brightly painted buildings and apartments.
The religious buildings in Tirana are a wonderful mix of Christian and Muslim places of worship, and there are a number of museums and historic buildings to visit. There is also a growing nightlife scene and Tirana is famous for its all night cafe culture.
If it gets too hot in the summer, the Adriatic sea is an easy drive away…
Visiting Tirana for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Tirana on the first visit. Top help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!
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Discoveries in the Pellumbas Cave, near to Tirana has proved that the area has been inhabited since the Iron Age.
The area was inhabited by several Illyrian before being annexed by Rome and became an integral part of the Roman Empire. The remnants of a 3rd century Roman villa were found in Tirana.
After the Roman Empire split into East and West in the 4th century, the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I built the Fortress of Justinian.
While the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, was fighting the Ottomans, Tirane was still a small village. Under Ottoman rule the village developed into a small town with a bazaar and several watermills. In 1614 Sulejman Bargjini, who was a local ruler, built the Old Mosque, a hammam or Turkish bath and a bakery in order to attract settlers and founded the existing settlement of Tirana.
It was chosen to be the capital of Albania in 1920 by a congress at Lushnjë.
This complete guide to Tirana not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.
This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Tirana and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!
Skanderbeg Square also known as Sheshi Skënderbej in Albanian, is the best place to begin to witness the daily events of Tirana.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Skanderbeg Square!
| Hours: 24 Hour | Distance: 0.05km
Et’hem Bey Mosque
On one side of Skanderbeg Sq, the Et'hem Bey Mosque stands. It was one of the few buildings spared destruction during the atheism campaign of the late 1960s. Closed under communist rule, the mosque reopened as a house of worship in 1991.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Et’hem Bey Mosque!
| Hours: 08:00-11:00 | Distance: 0.05km
Clock Tower In Tirana
The Clock Tower was built in 1822 by the Ottoman court poet Haxhi Et'hem Bey and for a long time it was the tallest building in the city. The tower was extended to 35m in 1928 when a German-made clock was also installed. The current clock is Chinese and it the fourth clock in the tower’s existence.
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Address: Rr Luigj Gurakuqi, Tirana, Albania | Hours: 9am-4pm Mon-Fri, to 2pm Sat | Price: 200 Lek | Distance: 0.07km
Due to the success of Bunk'Art, on the outskirts of Tirana, the government decided to open another former top-secret nuclear bunker as a museum.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Bunk'Art 2!
Address: Rruga Sermedin Said Toptani, Tirana | Hours: Sun - Sat 09:00 - 18:00 | Price: 500 Lek | Website | Distance: 0.08km
Rruga Murat Toptani
Rruga Murat Toptani is a beautiful walkway between the National Art Gallery and the Parliament Building, a pedestrianized street in the center of Tirana. The street houses Reja (the Cloud), a modern art installation, National Gallery of Arts and the Justinian Fortress Wall.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Rruga Murat Toptani!
| Website | Distance: 0.14km
Palace of Culture
The White Stone Palace of Culture, which has a theatre, shops and art galleries, is located east of Skanderbeg Square. The Palace of Culture includes the National Library of Albania and the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania. The Culture Palace was built over Tirana's old bazaar and the historic mosque of Mahmud Muhsin Bey Stërmasi.
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Address: Sheshi Skenderbej 1000 Tirana, Albania | Website | Distance: 0.17km
Albanian National Art Gallery
This gallery traces Albanian painting's relatively brief history from the early 19th century to the present day. There are also temporary exhibits displayed in the building - see the museum website for more details.
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Address: Blvd Dëshmorët e Kombit | Hours: 10am- 6pm Mon-Sat | Price: 200 lek | Website | Distance: 0.21km
House of Leaves
The Hidden Surveillance Museum, also known as House of Leaves, so called because of the clambering plant covering its facade, is a historic museum situated in Tirana, Albania.
Read our full blog post on Visiting House of Leaves!
Address: Rruga Dëshmorët e 4 Shkurtit, Tiranë. | Hours: Monday-Sunday 09:00 - 19:00 | Price: 700 lekë | Website | Distance: 0.22km
REJA - The Cloud
Sou Fujimoto's art installation called 'REJA' or 'The Cloud' has recently moved to Tirana. The structure is made from white steel rods and resembles a soft cloud. Children and adults can you can climb on top or take a seat underneath and during the city’s warm summer evenings, the Cloud becomes an atmospheric stage for musicians and theater performances.
Read our full blog post on Visiting REJA - The Cloud!
| Distance: 0.23km
Albanian National History Museum
Dominating the square is the Albanian National History Museum. Above its entrance is a large mosaic mural called 'The Albanians' which shows victorious and proud Albanians from Illyrian times through to the Second World War.
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Address: Skënderbej Square, Boulevard Zogu I, Tirana , Albania | Hours: 9am-7pm | Price: 200 lekë | Website | Distance: 0.24km
Kapllan Pasha Tomb
The Kapllan Pasha Tomb or in Albanian the 'Tyrbja e Kapllan Pashës' is a Muslim Türbe located in the center of Tirana. A türbe is the Turkish word for 'tomb', and this would be a Bektashi shrine marking the burial place of a Ottoman royal or other notable person.
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Address: Rruga 28 Nëntori, Tirana 1000 | Distance: 0.24km
Fortress of Justinian
Justinian's Fortress, is also known simply as the Castle of Tirana. The fortress is where the main east-west and north-south roads crossed at one time, forming the city's heart as it was then. The history of the castle dates back to before 1300. The walls are six metres high and a remnant of the Byzantine era. It is located not far from Skanderbeg Square, near the Parliament and the Academy of Sciences. The foundations of the recently exposed wall were incorporated into the pedestrianised Murat Toptani Street.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Fortress of Justinian!
Address: Shëtitorja Murat Toptani, Tiranë, Albania | Hours: 07:00 - 02:00 | Website | Distance: 0.29km
Pyramid of Tirana
An Albanian monument to the Communism that nearly crushed the country is now a crumbling wreck.
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| Distance: 0.53km
This café-museum is the labor of love of Arbër Çepani, who founded this part museum and part cafe bar. Arbër has created a relaxed but popular hangout spot since its opening, four years ago.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Café-Museum Komiteti!
Address: Rruga Fatmir Haxhiu Tirana Albania | Distance: 0.53km
New Bazaar, Tirana
The New Bazaar or 'Pazari i Ri' is one of the oldest and most historical residential neighborhoods in Tirana, Albania. The name of the neighborhood stems from the local farmer’s marketplace which is situated in the area. The covered stalls sell variety of dried and fresh fruits, nuts and locally grown vegetables, fish and meat, Albanian wine and raki.
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Address: Rruga Shenasi Dishnica Tirana Albania | Distance: 0.54km
This incongruous stone bridge dates back to the 1700s and is a fascinating well preserved part of the Ottoman history of Tirana. The bridge gives an impression of how the city went about its business 300 years ago. The bridge, built near the Tanners' Mosque, was once part of the Saint George Road that linked Tirana with the eastern highlands and was the main route for farmers to take their livestock to the butchery and leather working district. After the Lanë River was redirected in the 1930s, the bridge fell into disrepair but was restored for use by pedestrians in the 1990s.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Tanners' Bridge!
Address: Bulevardi "Jean D'Arc" Tirana Albania | Hours: Open 24 hours | Price: Free | Website | Distance: 0.61km
Postbllok - Checkpoint
Postblloku - Checkpoint, is a memorial to Communist Isolation and commemorates the country’s political prisoners who suffered under the communist regime.
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Address: Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit, Tirana | Hours: 24 hours daily | Price: Free | Distance: 0.73km
Former Residence of Enver Hoxha
For decades, this small three-floor villa was home to Albanian leader Enver Hoxha. During this period, the whole area around Hoxha’s house in Albania’s capital city, Tirana, was sealed off by police and secret agents. Known as the Blloku, the district functioned as a kind of wall-less Kremlin in the heart of Tirana, reserved for the party elite and their families.
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Address: Rruga Ismail Qemali | Distance: 0.75km
Palace of Congress
The Palace of Congresses is a venue in Tirana which was developed architecturally by the daughter and son-in-law of Enver Hoxha. The Palace of Congress square is situated on the central ceremonial avenue of Tirana. While it no longer serves the function of government, it is used instead for various ceremonies and activities, including the Festivali I Këngës and Kënga Magjike and the Tirana Book Fair.
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Address: Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit Tirana Albania | Distance: 0.94km
Tirana National Museum of Archaeology
Opened in 1948 the museum displays the archaeological discoveries from within Albania. One of the most important museums in the country, the National Archaeological Museum in Tirana contains some of the most famous treasures of Albanian archaeology.
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Address: Sheshi Nënë Tereza, Tiranë, Albania | Hours: Everyday 09:00 - 16:00 | Price: 300 All | Distance: 1.05km
Colorful Buildings of Tirana
Functional grey concrete buildings dominated the landscape across Tirane during the days of the Communist regime.
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| Distance: 1.06km
Mother Teresa Square, Tirana
The square has the name "Mother Teresa" in honor of the Albanian Catholic nun and missionary. Mother Teresa was born in Skopje, now the capital of Northern Macedonia, to a Kosovar Albanian family. She left her home when was 18 years old, moved to Calcutta where she spent the rest of her life devoted to looking after the poor.
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Address: Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit Tirana, Albania | Distance: 1.08km
Mosaic of Tirana
The Tirana Mosaic is thought to have been the remnants of a 3rd century Roman. Some of the ancient Roman mosaics discovered at the site have diverse geometrical patterns and depict poultry and fish. It is referred to by local archeologists as the 'Villa rustica' - which would usually refer to a villa set in the open countryside often as the hub of a large agricultural estate or latifundium.
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Address: Rr. Naim Frashëri | Hours: Open 08:00-17:00. Closed Sun. | Price: Free | Website | Distance: 1.26km
Tirana Grand Park
Just south of the prestigious district of Blloku is Tirana's Grand Park, the top spot for fresh air and some exercise in the city centre. It covers 230 hectares and is surrounded by a large artificial lake which dates back to 1957–1958. The park contains and outdoor theater, which was rebuilt in 2018.
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Address: Rruga Herman Gmeiner, Tirana 1000, Albania | Hours: Open 24 hours | Website | Distance: 1.77km
Albanian Royal Palace
The Royal Palace is also known as the Palace of Brigades and the Presidential Palace. This is not to be confused with the other Presidential Palace, which is off the Mother Terasa Square, which is the 'Office of the President'. The Royal Palace is currently the official residence of the president of Albania.
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Address: Rruga e Elbasanit , Tirana | Hours: Only on weekends - 09:00 to 16:00 | Distance: 2.13km
Bektashi World Centre
The Bektashi World Centre is a religious complex and is the recognized home of the Bektashi order, in the north-eastern part of Tirana about 1 km from it's center. It is made up of Teqe, museum and gift shop.
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Address: Rruga Agush Gjergjevica Tiranë Albania | Hours: 10:00-13:00, 17:00-19:00 | Website | Distance: 2.59km
The Martyrs ' Cemetery is the final resting place dates for some 900 Albanian partisans who gave their lives fighting to free Albania from occupation during the Second World War. It is located on a hill overlooking Tirana, it the high point is the statue of a 12m-high white Mother Albania. It represents the country as a mother watching over those who gave their lives for her.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Martyrs' Cemetery!
Address: Rr Elbasanit | Distance: 2.75km
This remarkable attraction brings the recent past of Albania into context. This fantastic converted Cold War bunker lies on the outskirts of Tirana. It is now a museum of history and contemporary art. Originally the bunker was built for the Communist-era politicians and military top brass of Tirana in the event of a nuclear war. It is amazing in its scale and detail - set across five levels and has over 100 different rooms including a 200-seat meeting hall. It remained a secret for much of its existence. The entrance is a dark tunnel on the hillside near a still-active Albanian military base.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Bunk’Art!
Address: Street Fadil Deliu, Tirana, Albania | Hours: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm | Website | Distance: 4.28km
Dajti Ekspres Cable Car
This cable car is a fun day out for the family and a great introduction to the city, taking you to the dramatic mountain on the eastern edge of Tirana by gondola.
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Address: Dajti Mountain, Tirana, Albania | Hours: Winter: 9am to 7pm - Open everyday except Tuesdays. Summer: 09:00 to 21:00 | Price: 800 Lek | Website | Distance: 4.36km
Castle Petrelë is a castle in Petrelë, central Albania. rich in history, The castle is rich in history with a tower built in the 6th century A.D and the rest of the castle being built by Eastern Roman emperor, Justinian I, the 15th Century. The castle is situated on a rocky hill above the town of Petrela.
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Address: Rruga Petreles, Petrelë, Albania | Hours: 10am-8pm | Website | Distance: 8.59km
Dajti Mountain National Park
The National Park of Mount Dajti is located 26 km east of the capital. A narrow asphalted mountain road leads to Dajti Mountain onto an area known as Fusha and Dajtit. This was a summer camp location, but it is now home to many restaurants and radio and TV broadcasters. There's an excellent view of Tirana and its plain from here which is why this place was named 'Balcony of Tirana'.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Dajti Mountain National Park!
| Distance: 11.97km
Cave of Pellumbas
This day trip is designed for adventurous people who like to visit caves and the Mount Dajtit National Park around Tirana. The village of Pellumbas is located approximately 27 km southeast of Albania’s capital city, Tirana, along the Elbasani road.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Cave of Pellumbas!
| Distance: 14.51km
Preza Castle is a 15th century Castle ruin. It lies on the hill northwest of the Preza town, between the plains of Tirana and Durrës in central Albania.
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Address: Prezë, Albania | Distance: 16.81km
Qafshtame National Park
Qafë-Shtamë or Qafshtame National Park was established in 1996 and is situated north of Tirana and east of Kruja. The park is named after the Qafë-Shtamë Road and has an area of 2000 hectares, with beautiful mountain scenery consisting mainly of pine forests and oak, several tiny lakes and major water springs. The park is home to brown bears, wolves and foxes.
Read our full blog post on Visiting Qafshtame National Park!
| Distance: 22.34km