When you see the Balkans on the map, your thoughts might go to a country not explored yet. I am talking about Albania, a country not explored to the fullest, with lots of hidden gems waiting to be discovered by seasoned travelers. You wonder “Is Albania worth visiting? Is Tirana worth visiting? What are the top places to visit in Tirana?
I have been thinking a lot about this as I once even managed to get out a first, wobbly draft of… something. The comparison with what others said had sunken my standards on what to see in Tirana. But then I remembered Tirana has a lot to offer from historical landmarks to natural landmarks. Moreover, we will cover everything from riches to rags and you will not need to google and google all day without a proper answer.
You can choose one of our tours to explore Tirana with one of our lovely guides who has answers for everything. And if you need a recommendation on bars, nightlife, coffee shops, or restaurants we have it all. Are you ready to discover what to see in Tirana? Are you ready to explore all the places that you can see in Tirana? Hang on, we’re on a roller coaster of historical events in a modern city.
Places to see in Tirana.
Of course, this blog will start with Scanderbeg Square because the heart of Tirana is located right in this part of the city. Scanderbeg Square is a cultural monument that withholds in its heart the monument of the Albanian National Hero. Also, Scanderbeg Square is a meeting point for people, culture, and for festivals and concerts. Also, in the winter is the home of wooden cottages where you can find souvenirs, and food and drinks.
Underneath the square, there is an interconnected piping system that creates small pools of water running sideways to cool off the big square full of tiles during the hot summer days. The Square itself consists of tiles that come from every city in Albania. And the other part of the Square remains green for the whole year.
The National History Museum
This museum is the largest in Albania, and it helps you understand Albanian History. This is why the museum deserves to be one of the first on top places to visit in Tirana. The museum is divided into rooms where you can see historical events from medieval times until today.
The National History Museum is built during the communist regime and the architect was the daughter of Enver Hoxha (Dictator and communist leader of Albania). However, the museum was built to hide the terrible fatalities of communism. Nowadays you can see the communist exhibition that shows the dark side of Communism.
The National Opera House
The opera house was also built during the communist regime. You can see the opera house from Scanderbeg Square and the National Museum. Inside this building, you will find a library with books from all the famous authors.
Ethem Bey Mosque
One of the most significant landmarks of Tirana is the Et’hem Bey Mosque that was built in the 18th century. It is the oldest mosque in Albania and during the communist years, many religious buildings were destroyed. The Et’hem Bey Mosque was the only one left standing as to not erase the beauty of this landmark from the city.
However, with the fall of the communist regime, the mosque was back on its feet reopened to wait for the worshipers. Now in 2020, it is under restoration, but you can still see its beauty from the outside.
Bunk’ art 1 and 2
Since Albania is rich in communist history and in bunkers, the government decided to make the best out of those bunkers and turn them into museums for the whole world to see. At the foot of Dajti is located Bunk’art 1 and in the middle of Tirana is located Bunk’art 2.
Two museums dedicated to the communist regime and what Albania was like during the communist regime. In these museums, you can see how life was under the communist regime, how people were treated, what happened, how Albanians lived at home, and more.
New Bazaar in Tirana
The new bazaar is a market place that was renovated and reopened in 2017. This part of the city is located just 10 minutes from Scanderbeg Square, and once was the old Ottoman bazaar. There you can find everything you need. The architecture style is kept the same while the colors are changed to make it brighter.
Rinia Park (Youth Park)
Rinia Park used to be a green space in the heart of the city. Moreover, it was built in the 1950s and is surrounded by nice cafes and attractions. Now the park is undergoing a major transformation which will be revealed on June 1st. It is going to be a place for all ages.
If you want to experience Tirana’s nightlife, then this is your top place to visit. The most famous neighborhood in Tirana is full of bars, clubs, and restaurants. The neighborhood that never sleeps, and on the weekend it literally takes the name the neighborhood that never sleeps.
Pyramid of Tirana
When one mentions the word Pyramid your mind wanders to Egypt where the oldest pyramids in human history stand. But this one does not look like the pyramids of Egypt. The Pyramid of Tirana is a modern Pyramid, all made of glass windows and now is forgotten. This building was also designed by the daughter of Enver Hoxha to honor his figure. While visiting the Pyramid you will discover that the part behind is used by the National Television Top Chanel.
The clock tower is not to be missed as it stands near all the important landmarks. It was built in 1822 by Et’hem Bey. The Clock tower is a very important building as it represents Tirana. And if you climb to the top of it you will be amazed by the views.
The peace bell.
The Peace Bell is located close to the Pyramid of Tirana. It got the name Peace of Bell during the Albanian Civil War in 1997. The war caused was the financial problems between the government and citizens. More than 2000 citizens died in the clashes between the groups. And the Peace Bell is a monument to honor the fallen ones. It’s a reminder of the violent past. The Bell is made from bullets that were collected by the kids after the clash.
The house of Leaves
The communist regime used spies to spy on everyone during the communist era. So whatever one said about the dictator or the political party they were reported and imprisoned. House of Leaves is a museum that is dedicated to those times and the equipment used by the secret spies. You can hear stories from citizens and see old equipment used.
And the horrifying fact is that most adults have undergone the totalitarian regime. Furthermore, they all know stories about what happened during those years.
The cloud is an art installation by the Japanese artist Sou Fujimoto. And when you see it you will understand why they call it the cloud. This place is used for open-air cinema, performances, and social gatherings.
Dajti Cable Car
As a top place to visit in Tirana on your next visit we suggest Dajti Mountain by the cable car that takes you there. Dajti Cable Car is considered the longest cable car ride in the Balkans. You can get out of the city and breathe fresh air in the lungs of Tirana. And from the cable car, you can have amazing views of the city.
Dajti Mountain offers amazing hiking trails with moderate difficulty. But also, on the mountain, you can find a restaurant, a park, and a hotel. The ride with the cable car costs around 9 Euros or 10 ALL. To get there you can go by taxi or by bus. On Tuesdays the cable car office is not open, therefore you cannot use the cable car. And during bad weather, the cable car doesn’t work.
The Grand Park and Artificial Lake
One of the best places to visit in Tirana is Grand Park by the artificial lake. Many people use it as a hanging out point for the weekends. Moreover, it is located at the end of the city center and is a huge green urban space with a lot of activities to do. There are coffee shops near the lake, places for a picnic. You can call the place a forest as there are many trees with paths in every direction.
Tanners Bridge is a cultural monument located near the Blv Jean D’Arc. Built in the 18th- 19th century this bridge is an amazing attraction.
Mosaic of Tirana
The mosaic was part of a Roman house since the year 3 AD. The architecture is simple. Moreover, you can see things from centuries ago. Located in Rr. Mihal Ciko in the 21st December Neighborhood.
Enver Hoxha’s former residence
Another top place to visit in Tirana is the house of the communist leader of Albania. Enver Hoxha died years ago, but his house has remained as it was. This house is a simple three-story house and it was home for the Albanian dictator and his wife. It is located in the most famous street in Tirana but unfortunately is closed to the public. However, you can see it from the fence.
The post block checkpoint is a communist memorial of isolation. At the park is located a bunker that shows the sad past of Albania.
The resurrection cathedral
The resurrection cathedral is the third-largest church in Europe. It opened in 2014 and has a beautiful interior. Also, the massive bell towers make it look more beautiful.
The friendship monument
Many people do not know this one is the friendship monument, located just nearby the mosque Et’hem Bey this attraction is a must to see. With a combination of Color Circles (white, green, black, and red). The monument is built to honor the friendship between Albania and Kuwait. Meanwhile, you can sit there and wait for your friends that might be late.
The Pedestrian Walk and Justinian Fortress
Located near the Toptani shopping center is a great thing to see. There you can take a walk towards Tirana Castle which is located in the heart of the Pedestrian Walk. The Fortress of Justinian (Tirana Castle) dates back to the Byzantine era. The fortress has 3 towers, inside the castle, there are many coffee shops and restaurants for you to enjoy.
Mother Teresa Square
This square is one of the top popular places to visit during the summer in Tirana. There are many concerts and events that take part in this place.
Northwest of the city is the 15th-century Prezra Castle that stands high over the village of the same name. The feudal Topia family built and owned it. In its days the structure was an outpost built to defend the area against bandits. Nowadays, the pentagonal-shaped castle’s value lies in the tourist trade. Its intact walls, towers, and 19th-century clock tower make this a vivid blast from the past. From the battlements, you’ll get far-reaching panoramas over the fields surrounding the city of Tirana, as well as the mountain range beyond.
A visit to the ‘abandoned’ Botanic Garden
The Botanic Garden is one of the best attractions in Tirana, but unfortunately lately is left behind. Furthermore, the building of the Botanical Garden began in 1964. The garden completed in 1971 and is home to a collection of the geographic, systematic, and cultural values of Albanian flora. The garden is part of Tirana University. Serving as educational outreach and as a tourist attraction, the Botanical Gardens of Tirana is one of the city’s most precious green spots in Tirana.
Bektashi World Center
The Bektashi world center is a top place to visit in Tirana. Considered this religion was banned from Turkey a century ago, Albania supports the believers. For this reason, Albania has the world leader of this religion. The place is rather peaceful and calming. The museum is located underneath the main hall. If you are curious about the religious tolerance and peace in Albania, you have to explore all the main points of each religion.
Bonus on the best places to visit in Tirana
Gallery of Arts
When choosing the best places to visit in Tirana we shouldn’t forget to mention the Gallery of Art. The national gallery of art was founded on 11 January 1953. It is a state museum, research, and scientific institution. And also it holds a collection of national heritage values in the field of arts. It promotes significant trends to the public from visual art to contemporary methods. Its mission is to inspire and educate younger generations to come closer to visual arts.
Toptani Shopping Center
The Toptani shopping center is located just by the pedestrian walk and Justinian Castle. The mall is quite unique, having 8 levels of stores. The mall is located in the city center. There are many stores to choose from with medium-to-high quality selections. It is a place to not be missed, a place to visit in Tirana.
If you want to explore more about Tirana, make sure to come yourself and explore the beauty of this city, which offers more than colors and nightlife!
When in Tirana and in need to explore with a local guide, follow this link and choose one of our tours.