Tirana, the capital during my 5-6 week Balkan trip that surprised me most. The city we ended our tour and where we flew back from. The capital you can’t miss when creating your Albania travel plan. There are plenty of reason why you should pay a visit to this quirky capital. I don’t like using the word quirky that much, but it suits Tirana very well in my opinion. A city full of history, a city with an interesting culture but also a city with an amazing cafe and bar culture that you can’t miss out on. This are my 5 reasons to visit Tirana, Albania.
Albania might not be highest on everyones list, probably also because of it’s history. The best way to learn more about it and a must do when visiting Tirana is to visit Bunk’Art. Bunk’Art explains parts of Albanias history, in different rooms within a bunker. After some reasons, I found that Bunk’Art1 was the most elaborate and impressive one. The first Bunk’Art is located a bit out of the city center and therefore harder to reach. Bunk’Art2 is located near Skanderbeg square and therewith very central. As we had enough time, we decided to take a bus (busses leave behind Skanderbeg square, where you can actually find Bunk’Art 2) and walk the way back. The walk back took us about an hour but gave the opportunity to also see less touristic neighbourhoods of Tirana. With a drink on a rooftop bar we passed by and some pizza (at Pizza house), walking was definitely a good decision.
The Skanderbeg square is the main square of Tirana, and it is big! The National History Museum is located on the square and it’s a great place to observe the city.
Okay, I didn’t really like the food here (and I have to admit I do like McDonalds). An interesting fact about Albania, is that you won’t find any McDonalds. The “Kolonat” is their replacement. The whole concept matches, just with a different name.
You’ll find the Pyramid of Tirana close to Skanderbeg Square. The Pyramid is seen as one of the main sights of Tirana. The pyramid has been used as a museum, nightclub and a temporary base for the NATO. Many different purposes. Right now it is mainly used to climb, not without risk as it is VERY steep. They are also redesigning the pyramid to become more fancy looking and including some stairs.
Actually, this fifth reason can be split in 2.
First, you have to visit Blloku, the modern neighbourhood of Tirana, where you’ll find many amazing bars and restaurants. That fact already leads to the second reason to visit Albania, the bar culture is amazing. There are so many great places to be found!
Food & Restaurants:
– Head to SALT for an amazing meal (lunch or dinner). Don’t forget to make a reservation. LOVED the food.
– We had some great breakfast (smoothy bowls) at the Funky Moustache, a very hip location that becomes a bar later during the day.
– Mulliri I Vjeter is a coffeshop / bakery that can be found all around Tirana. A safe choice voor a cup of coffee and a snack.
– Let’s start with probably the most poplar one, which is called Radio Bar. Located in Blloku and a must visit. During the day it is rather quiet, but in the evening it can become a real party. (pictured left)
– Another favourite is Komiteti Kafe which is styled as a museum and located near the Pyramid. Perfect for a drink. (pictured right)
– You, Me & Bukowski is a bar with a large terrace, perfect for enjoying some late summer night cocktails
– DaDa is another favourite! You feel like sitting a garden, covered with trees and amazing drinks.
– Nouvelle Vague is one of the places that was completely packed, every time we passed by in the evening. In the end we went on a late afternoon. Highly recommended!
– Biss Lounge is also located in Blloku and you could spend all day here. They serve lovely coffee and cold drinks.
Have these 5 reasons to visit Tirana convinced you to head to the capital of Albania? I hope so! Don’t forget to check out the complete 2-week Albania Itinerary when you do so.