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Experience the Best of Tirana: Top Places to Visit

Updated: Nov 27, 2023

Since the moment I arrived in the city, I have fallen in love with this place! This city has everything - loads of history, many amazing food places, an incredible large park where to go for long strolls. Most importantly it is a great value for money location. I couldn't recommend this place highly enough for short and long-term stays!

If you have decided to travel to Tirana, let me share with you some of the best places to visit:

  • The main square - Skanderbeg Square

  • Et'hem Bey Mosque & Namazgjah Mosque

  • Shëtitorja Murat Toptani Street

  • The Pyramid

  • Old and New Bazaar

  • Do a free walking tour!

  • Grand Park of Tirana

  • Take a ride with Cable Car by Mount Dajti

I will also comment on a few other places and where best to stay when visiting Tirana!

The main square - Skanderbeg Square

Skanderbeg Square, located in the heart of Tirana, is not only the city's main plaza but also a significant symbol of the nation's capital. A lot of interesting events have happened there that have influenced Albania's history.

We now are actually quite lucky because during the last renovations in 2017 the square was made pedestrian only. The square is now designed from different tiles that were brought over from different parts of Albania. So now we can enjoy an amazing ambiance in the heart of Tirana.

At around 40,000 square meters, it's one of the largest squares in the Balkans, offering ample space for both everyday leisure and large public events.

The square is surrounded by important buildings, showcasing a blend of architectural styles, from Italian Fascist to Soviet-era to modern Western influences. At the square, you will find the Palace of Culture, Et'hem Bej Mosque, and the National History Museum.

I went to the National History Museum and I am not sure why foreigners recommend it!? Only 10% is in English. So it was a fairly pointless visit.

Outside the Palace of Culture, you will find a few lovely cafes from where to enjoy the vibrant square life.

Et'hem Bey Mosque & Namazgjah Mosque

Namazgjah Mosque

The Et'hem Bey Mosque is quite a significant landmark in Tirana. It stands not only as a place of spiritual significance but also as a testament to Albania's religious tolerance and the resilience of its cultural landmarks. During the communist era, Albania declared itself an atheist state and many religious buildings were destroyed or closed. The Et'hem Bey Mosque, however, survived this period, though it was closed to the public. The mosque is renowned for its stunning frescoes and paintings, which cover the walls and ceilings. Despite being an active place of worship, the mosque warmly welcomes tourists outside prayer times, offering them a glimpse into Islamic art and Albanian history.

For a more modern version, I recommend checking out the new mosque - Namazgjah Mosque. It is actually referred to as the 'new mosque'.

Shëtitorja Murat Toptani Street

Shëtitorja Murat Toptani Street

A great little escape from city life is the Shëtitorja Murat Toptani Street. The street is shaded by tall trees, which makes it a green haven in the middle of the city's urban landscape. It's a favorite place for a leisurely walk or a coffee break, especially during the warmer months.

The street is named after Murat Toptani, a prominent Albanian figure from the early 20th century, who was a poet, patriot, and one of the signatories of the Albanian Declaration of Independence in 1912.

Today, the street is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. It's known for its cafes and artisan shops making it a lively place to stroll, shop, and relax. The street often hosts various cultural events, art exhibitions, and street performances, contributing to the dynamic cultural life of Tirana.

The Pyramid

The most significant landmark that many might recognize straight away is the Pyramid! It is a unique building that was first created as a museum but over the years has gone through several transformations and now serves as an educational center. It even served as a temporary NATO base during the Kosovo War in 1999. The best part - you can walk up and enjoy lovely views of Tirana!

Old and New Bazaar

The original bazaar was destroyed during communist rule in the 1950s. It has now been revitalized in recent years as the 'New Bazaar', preserving its historical essence. Now, it's a vibrant area filled with artisan shops, cafes, and traditional Albanian restaurants. It's a place where visitors can find handcrafted souvenirs, antiques, and local products.

This area is located just 5 minutes walk away from the main square which I find fascinating, because the moment you enter the bazaar it seems such a different world. Feels like it is far from all the big city life but it is just there, a short walk away!

Do a free walking tour!

Almost all the above you can see by joining a free walking tour in Tirana. It is hosted by local guides so tips are highly encouraged. A tour like this will not only allow you to see many sites but also find out interesting details about the city. I did mine with Tirana Free Tour and highly recommend them! Our lovely guide Aurora not only covered the sites and history but also shared some very interesting facts and insights about the communist time in Albania.

Grand Park of Tirana

My favorite part of the city! I understand this might not be the Top 1 site on the list but for anyone staying longer than 3 days, I highly recommend visiting the park! It is a wonderful place where to go for a walk or have a coffee. The park is very well done, offering visitors a 5km walking path!

The Grand Park of Tirana was created in the 1950s and has since been a vital part of Tirana's urban landscape. The park is centered around a large artificial lake, which was constructed during the park's initial development. Over the years, it has been developed and expanded, offering residents and visitors a serene escape from the bustling city.

Take a ride with Cable Car by Mount Dajti

The Dajti Express Cable Car is a significant attraction in Tirana, offering a unique way to experience Mount Dajti and its stunning surroundings.

The Dajti Express Cable Car station is located just outside the city center of Tirana. It’s easily accessible by public transport, taxi, or car. If you do not have your own rented car then you can either take the bus L11 that goes from the city center, near the main square, or a taxi that will take around 15 minutes and will cost around 10 Euros.

Spanning approximately 4.7 kilometers (about 2.9 miles), it's one of the longest cable car routes in the Balkans. The journey offers breathtaking panoramic views of Tirana and the surrounding landscape. The ride lasts around 15 minutes each way, offering plenty of time to take in the beautiful views of the city and the mountains around. From the top, you can then venture on your own via many hiking paths, play minigolf, or enjoy a meal at the restaurant. There is also a space for having your own picnic.

The cable car has specific operating hours, which might vary by season, so it's advisable to check the schedule in advance. Most importantly - on Tuesdays, the cable car is closed! Tickets can be purchased at the cable car station.

2 places that were on my list but unfortunately I couldn't visit, due to them going under renovation are:

  • National Museum of Fine Arts - for all those who enjoy checking out the art scene in a country when traveling there

  • Rotating Sky Restaurant & Panoramic Bar - a unique restaurant that spins up in the air. During 40 minutes you get 360-degree views of Tirana. Unfortunately, I can't comment on the food and drinks quality as I wasn't able to visit and try myself :(

Talking about food! I have prepared a foodie guide in Tirana! It covers all the best restaurants, coffee shops, breakfast, and cocktail places. It covers different types of foods for everyone's taste, including some local goodies to try!

The best areas to stay in Tirana

When exploring Tirana you do not need to worry much about logistics, as the city is walkable. From the main square to the park is 30 minutes, within that area, you can see and visit everything!

So just so you have a clearer view of where exactly to stay you need to know 2 main areas - The Blloku area (dark blue) and the area around the man square (light blue).

I personally think Blloku is the best area as it is full of amazing food places, close to the park, and also next to the city center, so a great balance overall. But I would also say that Blloku will be ideal if you stay in the city for a longer period of time.

For all those visiting for a day or two, I definitely recommend staying around the main square as that ensures you will be 5-minutes walk away from all the major sites.

The orange area is also alright to stay. Close to Blluko so all the restaurants and bars you will attend and all the must-see sites!

To catch the vibe of the city, check out my Tirana Video:


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