Tirana, the largest city in the Republic of Albania, seems to be blessed with a mild Mediterranean climate, numerous beautiful churches and lush green parks. Founded in 1614, the city’s center is adorned with the architecture of the impressive Mussolini era. Being among the 10 cheapest cities in the world attracts millions of tourists every year to Tirana.
Tirana History and Architecture
The city, which was founded in the Ottoman period, remained under the rule of the Ottoman Empire for many years. For this reason, it is possible to see Ottoman traces in many buildings in the city. The city, which had the appearance of a town when it was first established, developed in the following years and became an important commercial center. Continuing this feature today, Tirana gained the status of being a city in the 17th century.
After Albania declared its independence in 1919, it has undergone a lot of changes since it remained within the Yugoslav League after World War II. The old historical buildings in the city were demolished and Yugoslav-Soviet architecture was built in their place. The structures built in this period were effective in the formation of today’s appearance. After the communist regime ended, Albania has entered a new process of change. The capital that was most affected by these changes was Tirana. The damaged historical buildings were restored and the architectures that were influenced by the communist regime were destroyed and new ones were built in their places.
It is possible to come across the traces of Italian architecture in the city as it is geographically close to Italy. It is also common to speak Italian among the young population. The city, a small capital, can be easily visited on foot. Tirana is also one of the most sunlit cities in Europe.
Museums in Tirana
Tirana’s museums and monuments are among its most highly esteemed attractions. The National Historical Museum is the largest Museum in the country and details the history of the country. It was opened on 28 October 1981 and is 27,000 square metres (290,000 square feet) in size, while 18,000 square metres (190,000 square feet) are available for exhibitions. It hosts some of the best archeological finds in country, dating from Prehistory to the modern Italians. In the stands of the pavilion there are photos of global personalities who met Mother Teresa as Jacques Chirac, Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Ibrahim Kodra and others. The National Archaeological Museum is the national archaeological museum is the first museum created after World War II in Albania. The National Art Gallery opened to the public on 11 January 1954. The museum preserves over 5000 artworks.
The Natural Sciences Museum was founded in 1948 is affiliated with the University of Tirana and has branches in zoology, botany and geology. The former Enver Hoxha Museum is a pyramid-shaped structure dedicated to the communist dictator Enver Hoxha.It served as a museum about his legacy, but after the Fall of communism in Albania, it became a conference center and exhibition venue.
Transportation in Tirana
Transportation from Rinas International Airport to the City Center
There are no metro and bus services to reach the city center from the airport, but there are passenger services. Shuttles departing from the airport go to the city center between 06.00-18.00. Another option that can be preferred to reach the city center is taxis.
Tirana City Transportation
Local transportation is provided by taxis and buses. Rinas Express buses operate in Tirana. You can find information about the routes followed by buses at each stop. You can also download the Tirana public transportation application to the phone and get detailed information about the working hours and routes. One of the alternatives used in urban transportation is taxis.
When to Visit Tirana?
Since the continental climate features are seen in the city, summers are hot and dry and winters are cold. For this reason, April, May, September and October can be preferred to visit the city. 2 days is enough to visit Tirana.
Festivals in Tirana
Tirana is becoming a popular hub for different events. Festivals are one of several things that locals enjoy well. It has a large number of festivals and events. The diversity of festivals makes it possible for people of different tastes to find themselves in a city this small. Festivals in the city provide entertainment for the youth as well as for adults.
The Summer Festival takes place every year on March 14, celebrating the Spring Day (Albanian: Dita e Veres), the country’s largest pagan festival. It is widely celebrated in Tirana and as well as in other cities in Albania and the Arbëresh colonies in Italy. Another major event, the Tirana International Film Festival takes place in Tirana each year, which brings a large number of artists to produce a wide range of interesting film works. Other festivals include the Tirana Jazz Festival, the Guitar Sounds Festival, the Albanian Wine Festival and more.
You can visit the Ethem Bey Mosque in Skanderberg Square in 1789, the Sahat-Kulla (Clock Tower) dated 1830, and the Puppet Theater, which once hosted the puppet parliament of King Zog. You can see many old monuments and you can see the city view by visiting these structures. Here are some of the places you should not return without seeing them in Tirana:
1. Et’hem Bey Mosque
Et’hem Bey Mosque is a mosque built in Tirana, the capital of today’s Albanian Republic, during the Ottoman State. Edhem Bey Mosque is located in the square in the center of Tirana and next to the clock tower. The mosque has a single dome and a square plan. There are porticoes at the entrance of the mosque. The mosque, which was closed during the communist regime, was reopened in 1991.
Where to Stay in Tirana
There are accommodation options for every budget in Tirana. If you want to stay close to places of interest, you can choose hotels such as Hotel Austrai, Lot Boutique Hotel, Capital Tirana Hotel in the city center. You can also stay in the B block area, which is popular with lots of fun and green areas. Accommodation alternatives include apartments and hostels.
What to Eat in Tirana?
Albania’s cuisine, which has been under the rule of states such as Ottoman, Greece and Italy throughout the history, has been affected by this situation. The kitchen, which has gained diversity and richness with the effect of different cultures, has a worldwide reputation. So, where should Albanian flavors, which draw attention with their food, be eaten?
- Traditional Albanian Food: Era Restaurant 2
- Albanian Byrek: This flavor known as Albanian byrek can be tasted in the byrek street behind Skanderbeg Square.
- Chocolate: Cioccolat ltaliani
- Tea-snack: Tribeca Tirana Cafe
- Trilec to : UFO Cafe
- Pasta: Osteria Tirana
Shopping in Tirana
You can buy pottery and pottery products from local shops selling souvenirs in the city center. In addition, TEG, the largest shopping center in the Balkans, is located in Tirana. You can also visit Galeria and City Park Malls. Shopping stores were gathered on Myslym Shyri Street in Tirana. In this street, you can also buy Italian branded pasta while shopping in the open area.
Nightlife in Tirana
Tirana has a diverse and vibrant nightlife. Among the youth, the most popular destination is the Blloku area. There are many pubs, bars, clubs, cafes, restaurants can be found throughout the area. Blloku is quite a small, walking neighborhood, easily accessible from different parts of the city. The entrance is only 10 minutes by foot from the city center.
Among the most popular nightclubs are Folie Terrace, Cinco Cavalli, Lollipop, Moscow, Arena and Mumja Club, where world-famous disc jockeys and idiosyncratic local performances are frequent.