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Best Things to Do in Tirana, Albania

Visitors to Albania’s friendly capital can rest assured- there are tons of great things to do in Tirana! From medieval castles to Communist-era landmarks, immersive exhibition spaces and even a nearby national park, there’s plenty to keep you occupied.

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Skanderbeg Square

Skanderbeg Square is the main plaza and the pulsating heart of the city. Named after the national hero, Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, this square is a true testament to Tirana’s history and modernity. It’s also home to the iconic Skanderbeg Statue, which stands proudly in the centre, paying homage to Albania’s Skanderbeg himself.

Surrounded by elegant government buildings, trendy cafes, and vibrant shops, Skanderbeg Square is the perfect place to start your Tirana adventure. There are a number of attractions within walking distance, including the Et’hem Bej Mosque, Bunk’Art, and the Pyramid of Tirana.

Et’hem Bej Mosque

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the enchanting beauty of the Et’hem Bej Mosque. Located just a stone’s throw away from Skanderbeg Square, this architectural masterpiece is a must-visit for history and culture enthusiasts. Built during the 18th century, the mosque is one of Tirana’s oldest and most beautiful landmarks.

Et’hem Bej reopened in 1991 after being closed under Communist rule, and is now a thriving place of worship. It proudly showcases stunning frescoes and intricate woodwork, providing a glimpse into Albania’s Islamic heritage. Don’t miss out on taking a moment to soak in the peaceful atmosphere and marvel at the craftsmanship that went into creating this cultural gem.

Bunk’Art

Delve into the intriguing history of Albania by visiting Bunk’Art, a unique museum located in a former nuclear bunker. There is also Bunk’Art 2, another former nuclear bunker that’s been converted into an interactive museum space. Built during the communist era, these underground labyrinths offer a captivating journey through Albania’s tumultuous past.

Showcasing the harsh realities of life under communism, both Cold War exhibitions provide an opportunity to educate yourself in an immersive environment, and visiting them is therefore one of the most popular things to do in Tirana. From propaganda films to personal stories, the Bunk’Art museums provide a thought-provoking experience that will leave you with a deeper understanding of Albania’s recent history.

National Historical Museum

For a comprehensive exploration of Tirana’s history, make your way to the National Historical Museum. Located in the heart of the city, this museum houses a vast collection of artifacts, spanning thousands of years. From ancient Illyrian artifacts to exhibits on the Ottoman and communist eras, the National Historical Museum offers a fascinating journey through time.

The museum itself is housed in a huge Communist-era building in Skanderbeg Square, and is the largest museum in Albania. Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Tirana’s heritage as you wander through the various exhibits, gaining insights into the city’s past.

Tirana Walking Tours

To truly discover Tirana, take a walking tour led by knowledgeable local guides. Tirana walking tours are the perfect way to immerse yourself in the local culture and gain a deeper appreciation for the city, with plenty of options available on platforms such as Get Your Guide and Viator.

As well as touring the historic city centre with its historical landmarks, you can explore other colourful neighbourhoods. Blloku is particularly noteworthy, an upscale residential area which was once restricted to the Communist party elites. Bustling local markets such as the New Bazaar are also popular tour stops, where you can taste traditional Albanian delicacies and mingle with friendly locals.

Museum of Secret Surveillance

Step into the intriguing world of espionage at the Museum of Secret Surveillance, also known as the House of Leaves. If you visited Berlin and were a fan, you’ll also appreciate Albania’s version of the Stasi Museum. A former secret police headquarters, this museum offers a chilling insight into Albania’s surveillance state during the communist era.

Explore the various rooms, filled with surveillance equipment, documents, and photographs, which give a glimpse into the lives of both the spies and the spied upon. The House of Leaves sheds light on a dark period in Albania’s history, as well as showcasing the resilience of its people.

Dajti Mountain

Dajti Mountain is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts and provides a refreshing retreat from the urban buzz of Tirana. Just a short cable car ride away from Tirana, this majestic mountain, which is part of Dajti National Park, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the surrounding landscapes.

The cable car can be boarded from the Dajti Ekspres station, and it takes fifteen minutes to reach the top of Dajti Mountain (it’s the longest cableway in the Balkans). At the top are numerous restaurants and facilities, as well as Dajti Adventure Park. You can also explore the lush forests, go hiking along the scenic trails, or even enjoy a picnic during summer.

Pyramid of Tirana

Love it or hate it, the Pyramid of Tirana is an architectural landmark that cannot be ignored. Built as a museum to honour Albania’s communist dictator Enver Hoxha (1908-1985), the pyramid has undergone various transformations over the years. Today, it stands as a controversial symbol of the country’s past, attracting both curious visitors and passionate debates.

Back in the nineties when it had been decided to turn the pyramid into a youth focused cultural hub, teenagers used to climb to the top and slide back down. Nowadays it’s slightly safer, with staircases both inside and out. Climb to the top for panoramic views of Tirana, or ponder the complexities of Albania’s history as you observe this unique structure.

Cooking Classes

Indulge in the flavours of Albania by joining a cooking class and learning how to cook traditional Albanian cuisine. Under the guidance of a local chef, you’ll discover the ingredients and techniques that make Albanian food so special.

From preparing mouth-watering dishes like byrek (a savoury pastry) and tavë kosi (baked lamb with yogurt) to savouring delightful local wines and raki (traditional brandy), a cooking class will leave you with lasting memories (and skills). If you’d prefer to limit food-based activities strictly to eating rather than preparing, take a food tour.

Tirana Castle

Travel back in time and explore the remnants of Tirana Castle, a historic fortress that offers a glimpse into the city’s medieval past. Also known as the Fortress of Justinian, the castle dates back as far as the thirteenth century. It’s one of the last inner-city remnants of the Byzantine era.

Although much of the castle has been destroyed over the centuries, the remaining walls and towers still exude a sense of grandeur and mystery. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the city, and imagine the stories that this ancient stronghold holds. Tirana Castle is a testament to the city’s rich history and a must-visit for history buffs.

To conclude the list of the best things to do in Tirana, it’s evident that this vibrant city has so much to offer. From its captivating history to its thriving cultural scene, Tirana is a destination that will leave you with lasting memories.

As mentioned previously, Viator and Get Your Guide are great for booking walking tours. It’s also possible to book other activities on those platforms, such as cooking classes and day trips from Tirana. Whatever you decide to do, you’re sure to have a great time in Albania.

CTA: Find out more about Albania in our article Discover the Top Reasons to Visit Albania for Your Next Adventure.

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