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There are so many interesting things to do in Tirana!
WATCH: 2 Days in Tirana, Albania ~ Exploring Albania’s Fascinating Capital on Youtube
Tirana, Albania’s capital city, is a fascinating place. The food, the culture, the history, and the current development make this one of the most interesting capital cities in Eastern Europe.
We visited Tirana in January 2022, and Jen went back in April 2023. All information is based on our experiences during these trips. We have provided links when possible so you can double-check opening times and price information for your trip.
Please leave a comment or email us if you find that any of this information needs to be updated. Thank you!
Tirana Free Walking Tour
Of all the things to do in Tirana, we think the free walking tour of Tirana is a must. It’s perfect for those who want to learn a great deal of Albanian history in a short period of time, all while getting your steps in.
The tour runs twice a day, every day, at 10am and 2pm. You don’t need to book in advance. Simply go to the left side of the Opera House at that time (or a bit earlier) to meet the guide.
We had a fantastic local Albanian guide, Gazi, who was extremely knowledgeable about Albanian history. He was very open about sharing his experiences growing up in Albania during communism under dictator Enver Hoaxha and what life has been like since the fall of communism. His stories were fascinating and we felt privileged to hear his first-hand perspective.
Gazi led us through many of the main sites around Tirana, including several places we wouldn’t have known to go to ourselves. He also shared recommendations for places we could visit during our time in the city.
Of all the things to do in Tirana, we think starting your trip with this Tirana walking tour is well worth your time!
We even made some new friends during the tour, and we all went up the Dajti Ekspres Cable Car (the longest cable car in the Balkans!) together afterward.
Time: The Tirana Free Walking Tours run twice a day at 10am and 2pm
Meeting point: Left side of the Opera House
Price: The Free Walking Tour is…you guessed it…free! The tour is donation-based, so you pay what you feel is fair at the end.
Skanderbeg Square is located in the heart of Tirana. Many important historical sites are located at the square, including Et’hem Bey Mosque, the National History Museum, the Opera House, Albania’s national bank (Banka e Shqipërisë), government buildings, and the Clock Tower of Tirana.
There is also a monument to Skanderbeg inside the square. Skanderbeg is a Albanian heroic national figure from the 15th century.
The tiles of Skanderbeg Square come from stones from different regions all around Albania. You can see the names of the regions on the tiles in the center of the square.
Skanderbeg Square is used as a space for different events throughout the year.
All around Skanderbeg Square you can see new buildings being constructed, providing an interesting juxtaposition to the history of the square and of Albania with the present-day growth of the city and the country.
Et’hem Bej Mosque
The Et’hem Nej Mosque was completed in the early 19th century and is one of the few religious buildings in Albania that survived communism, when nearly all religious buildings and monuments in Albania were destroyed.
The mosque reopened on January 18, 1991 as a place of worship. This day was a historic event attended by over 10,000 people who came to worship without police interference, marking the onset of the fall of communism in Albania and a new beginning for religious freedom in Albania.
The decorations on the outside of the mosque are unusual for Islamic art depicting trees, waterfalls and bridges.
Anyone may enter the mosque, but be sure to respect the rules by removing your shoes before entering and remain quiet while people are praying. The decorations inside are well worth seeing!
The National History Museum in Tirana
There is so much more to Albania than just its communist past under dictator Enver Hoxha. The National History Museum takes you through Albania’s history from prehistoric times through the many periods of control by different empires throughout history.
It’s fascinating to learn about the long and complex history of this region of the world!
There is also a section of the museum dedicated to Mother Theresa who is highly revered throughout Albania because her family origin is Albanian.
There is also an area showing items that were unearthed after the revolution post-1991 from victims who were jailed and died under communism.
The signs on the first floor of the museum are translated into English well, but the translations on the second and third floor are more hit or miss. We recommend downloading the Google Translate app on your phone. You can choose the camera option and hold it up to the signs in the museum to translate the signs that are only in Albanian.
Opening Hours: 9am-4pm (closed Mondays)
Ticket Price: 500 Lek (about 4.66 USD) per person
Take the Dajti Ekspres Cable Car to Dajti Mountain
Spanning 4670 meters (about 15,321 feet), the Dajti Ekspres is the longest cable car in the Balkans! The cable car takes you from the heart of Tirana all the way up to the National Park of Dajti Mountain in just 15 minutes.
The views along the way are beautiful as you ascend to the top of the cable car to 1100 meters (about 3600 feet) in elevation.
At the top, there are a surprising number of activities you can do depending on the time of year you visit. This includes hiking, paragliding, mountain biking, and even mini golf! (Make sure you’re covered for these activities. Mini golf can be treacherous!).
We highly recommend having a drink or a meal at the Ballkoni Dajtit restaurant at the top. The restaurant has big panoramic windows with sweeping views over Tirana. It is an excellent place to watch the sunset.
Ticket Price: Return cable car tickets are 1000 Lek (about 9.31 USD) per person. Tickets can only be purchased at the lower station of Dajti Ekspres. Check ticket price info and opening hours.
Getting there: Take the blue bus that says “Porcelain” that departs behind the Opera House near the Et’hem Bej Mosque. From the last bus stop, it is just a short walk up a hill to the Dajti Ekspres cable car station.
Bunk’Art 1 is the former atomic bunker of Albania’s communist dictator Enver Hoxha. It has been converted into an art and history museum.
It is located close to the Dajti Ekspres cable car station, so it makes sense to do these on the same day if possible.
According to the Bunk’Art website: “BUNK’ART 1 is dedicated to the history of the Albanian communist army and to the daily lives of Albanians during the regime.”
We were told that Bunk’Art 1 is extremely interesting to visit. Unfortunately, we were visiting Tirana during the two days of the week it is closed.
Opening Hours: Bunk’Art It is open from 9am-4pm Wednesday-Sunday (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
Ticket Price: 500 Lek (about 4.66 USD) per person
Bunk’Art 2 is located in Tirana’s city center just outside Skanderbeg Square. The bunker was made for the communist regime’s top officials and secret police in the event of a nuclear strike.
According to the Bunk’Art website: “BUNK’ART 2 reconstructs the history of the Albanian Ministry of Internal Affairs from 1912 to 1991 and reveals the secrets of “Sigurimi”, the political police that was the harsh persecution weapon used by the regime of Enver Hoxha.”
We spent about two hours going through the museum. There are English translations throughout and the exhibits are uniquely done with video, light and sound effects, and multimedia displays. This is a truly unique museum experience in an unexpected setting.
Opening Hours: Bunk’Art 2 is open 7 days a week from 9am-6pm.
Ticket Price: 500 Lek (about 4.66 USD) per person
The House of Leaves museum
Also known as the Museum of Secret Surveillance, The House of Leaves Museum was opened in 2017. The musuem is inside the very building that served as the Sigurimi’s headquarters during Albania’s communist era.
Unfortunately, the museum was closed the day we wanted to visit. We were told that the contents of the House of Leaves are similar to Bunk’Art 2’s, so you may want to combine a visit here with Bunk’Art 1 instead.
Opening Hours: The House of Leaves is open from 9am-4pm (Closed on Mondays)
Ticket Price: 700 Lek (about 6.52 USD) per person
Tirana Castle (Fortress of Justinian)
The Tirana Castle dates back to the 13th century and is a remnant of the Byzantine era. The structure was at the heart of Tirana at that time and was a gathering point for people selling their wares as well as travelers passing through.
Renovations are still in progress on what remains of the structure.
Inside the fortress, there are modern restaurants, shops, and hotels. There are also public restrooms inside.
It is an interesting place to walk through or to stop for a coffee or a meal.
Pedestrian Street in Tirana
The Tirana Castle is located just off the pedestrian street, which is lined with restaurants, shops, and a movie theater. One of Tirana’s biggest malls is also located just off the pedestrian street close to the Tirana Castle.
You’ll notice at the end of the pedestrian street there is a large treble clef and running along the street are white lines representing a music sheet with the potted plants representing music notes.
Nearby the pedestrian street in front of the National Gallery of Arts in Tirana is a public art installation known as “The Cloud.”
The Cloud was designed by the Japanese artist Sou Fujimoto and was initially created for the Serpentine Pavilion 2013 in London. In 2016, it was brought to Tirana.
The Cloud is a large three dimensional space made up of steel rods. It is open as a free social space and has seating built within it. Sometimes events are held inside such as film screenings or performances.
Pyramid of Tirana
This unique structure was created as a museum for Albania’s communist dictator Enver Hoxha in 1988.
The pyramid has lived many lives since the fall of Communism. It has been a conference hall, served as a base for NATO during the War in Kosovo, an event space, and even a nightclub at one point.
The pyramid lay abandoned for over ten years as the city struggled on a unified decision for what to do with it.
In 2018, construction began to turn it into an IT center for Albania’s youth, funded by the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF). You can see more about the construction plans here.
Unfortunately, you can’t visit the pyramid as it is currently a building site, but you can still view it from outside the construction walls if you stand on your tippy-toes.
This list only scratches the surface of all there is to do in Tirana! We will return to the city later in 2022 and will add more for you.
In the meantime, head to our YouTube channel to see our Tirana video which includes an itinerary for two days in Tirana in the description box.
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