Skanderbeg Square in Tirana on a summer day

Things to do in  Tirana

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The scrappy, down-to-earth capital of Albania might not be a household name like Rome or Paris, but don’t underestimate Tirana. The city has a wealth of things to do and is built for exploring on foot, starting with sprawling, monument-filled Skanderbeg Square and its Ottoman-era stone mosque, Et’hem Bey. Once behind the Iron Curtain, the Balkan nation opened to tourists in the late 1980s. Visitors can still find reminders of its communist past, including artful commemorations—from the eerie, subterranean bunkers converted into galleries to the astonishing House of Leaves museum, documenting surveillance practices under the dictatorship.

Top 10 attractions in Tirana

Skanderbeg Square (Sheshi Skënderbej)

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Named after a national hero of Albania, Skanderbeg Square (Sheshi Skënderbej) is the main plaza in the capital city of Tirana. All roads in Tirana seem to lead into the square, which has been the subject of various reconstruction plans since 2010. Many of the original buildings on the square were destroyed during communist times, but a few older structures do remain, like the early 19th century Eth’em Bey Mosque and Clock Tower. In 1968, a statue of Joseph Stalin was replaced by the Skanderberg Monument, honoring a nobleman who once resisted the Ottoman invasion. The equestrian monument stands 11 meters tall and depicts Skanderberg on horseback in full armor, with an Albanian flag flying alongside.Around the square today, you will find the National History Museum, the Tirana International Hotel, the National Library of Albania, City Hall and the Palace of Culture, which is home to the National Theater of Opera and Ballet. Don’t miss a climb up the Clock Tower, which offers superb views around Tirana.More

Et'hem Bey Mosque (Xhamia e Et'hem Beut)

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Et'hem Bey Mosque (Xhamia e Et'hem Beut) is a historic religious structure, which somehow managed to escape destruction when an atheist movement took hold in Albania during the 1960s. The structure and those who worship there have a long history of surviving turmoil, as the mosque was forced to shut its doors when communists ruled the country.In 1992, Et’hem Bey Mosque once again opened as a place of worship against the wishes of those who were in charge. Today, it’s one of the largest and most prominent gathering places for Muslims in Albania. The mosque is known for its colorful frescoes and finely detailed interiors, making it a worthwhile stop for travelers interested in history, religion and architecture.More

Pyramid of Tirana (Enver Hoxha Pyramid)

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Constructed in 1988 to celebrate the legacy of Albanian communist leader Enver Hoxha, the Pyramid of Tirana is one of the city’s most distinctive buildings. After communism fell only a few years later, the pyramid fell into disrepair. Once used as a conference center, NATO base, and temporary exhibition space, it is currently in disuse.More

Tirana Clock Tower (Kulla e Sahatit)

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The Tirana Clock Tower (Kulla e Sahatit), built in 1822 by Haxhi Et'hem Bey, stands as an Ottoman-era beacon in the center of the capital city. The simple stone tower is topped with clocks on four sides and a pyramid-shaped cupola, and it shares the skyline with Et'hem Bey Mosque next door. Climb the tower for views or explore the attached museum.More

Skanderbeg Monument

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Erected to honor military leader Gjergj Kastrioti, Skanderbeg Monument sits in the middle of the central square that also bears his name. As the leader who created a united Albania in the 15th century before it was occupied by the Ottomans, he is a symbol of Albanian national pride. The monument, from 1968, depicts him riding a horse.More

Tirana National Historical Museum (Muzeu Historik Kombëtar)

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Stuffed to the brim with Albanian cultural and archaeological exhibitions, the National Historical Museum (Muzeu Historik Kombëtar) opened in 1981 and has since been updated to include information about Albania’s Communist legacy. Items are arranged in chronological order across eight different pavilions, and most of the displays are in English.More

Krujë Castle (Kalaja e Krujës)

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Located about an hour’s drive from Tirana, Krujë Castle overlooks the picturesque town of Krujë. The fortress houses two museums: the Ethnographic Museum and Soviet-era Skanderbeg Museum, containing exhibits on the revered Albanian military leader. Visitors will also find the remains of a mosque, church, and a medieval hammam.More

Cave of Pëllumbas (Shpella e Pëllumbasit)

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Marked by undulating rock formations and stalactites, the Cave of Pëllumbas (Shpella e Pëllumbasit) is an easily-accessible adventure day trip from Tirana. Known by locals as the Black Cave and located a short hike away from the village of Pëllumbas, the karst cave is located on the slopes of the Dajti mountains, in Dajti National Park.More

Mt. Dajti (Mali i Dajtit)

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Travelers who want to escape the chaos, noise and energy of Albania’s larger cities will find peace and quiet in the picturesque hills of Mt. Dajti (Mali i Dajtit), located a short drive from Tirana.Fit and intrepid travelers can hike along scenic trails to the top of this 1,613-meter tall mountain. But those who prefer to take in nature in a more leisurely way can still access all this beautiful destination has to offer, thanks to a cable car that provides a fast track option straight to the top. Travelers can look out over epic views that include the Adriatic Sea, the Port of Durres and more.More

Dajti Express Cable Car (Dajti Ekspres)

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Fit and intrepid travelers can hike along scenic trails to the top of Dajti Mountain, a 1,613-meter tall peak. But those who prefer to take in nature in a more leisurely way can still access all this beautiful destination has to offer, thanks to the Dajti Express Cable Car that provides a fast-track option straight to the top.Travelers who opt for the 15-minute ride will gain access to epic views that include the Adriatic Sea, the Port of Durres and more. Visitors can wander through shaded forests and even picnic atop this popular peak.More
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All about Tirana

When to visit

The capital can get scorching hot in summer and bitterly cold (and rainy) in winter, making April, May, September, or October the most pleasant months for visiting. If you come in September, you can also catch screenings at TIFF, the Tirana International Film Festival, held yearly. For book lovers, there’s TILF, the Tirana International Literature Festival, at the end of October.

Getting around

Tirana is a compact capital, and most downtown attractions can be covered on foot. For anyone looking to get further afield, there are inexpensive ride-sharing apps like Merr Taxi or Speed Taxi, plus a whole fleet of intercity buses that make Tirana a cinch to navigate. The city is also quite flat, making it easy to explore by rental bike—wear a helmet and watch out for traffic.

Traveler tips

Due to its geographic position at the crossroads of many different food cultures, Albania is famous for its diverse Mediterranean and Ottoman-influenced cuisine. Head to New Bazaar in Tirana, a renovated pedestrian heritage street filled with restaurants, cafés, and boutiques, to sample classic dishes like tavë kosi, a baked lamb and rice casserole, or fergese, made from peppers and cheese.

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People Also Ask

How many days should I spend in Tirana?

Spend at least one day in the vibrant, underrated capital (more, if possible) to visit museums, browse bookshops, and get your bearings. Then you can follow the visitors who use Tirana as a springboard to the country’s golden beaches along the Albanian Riviera or to Ottoman-era towns such as Gjirokaster.

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Is Tirana expensive?

No. Tirana is considerably cheaper than most European capitals. A standard meal rarely sets you back more than €10, which barely buys a cocktail in London. Taxis are also affordable. It’s possible to snag a clean, centrally located hotel room for a fraction of what you’d pay in Madrid.

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Is Tirana a walkable city?

Yes. Visitors find wide sidewalks and shady, pleasant downtown streets to wander. Most attractions are within reach of Skanderbeg Square, a starting point for many walking tours. One exception is Bunk’ART, an underground bunker turned art museum. Located on the outskirts of Tirana, it’s reachable only by bus or taxi.

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Is Tirana safe for solo female travelers?

Yes, it's safe, although some precautions are recommended. Albania is known for being welcoming and hospitable, and most solo travelers report no problems. Anyone traveling alone in Tirana should keep aware of their surroundings and not be overly trusting of any strangers—whether local Albanians or other tourists.

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Can you use euros in Tirana?

Yes. While the official currency used in Albania is the lek, the euro is accepted pretty much everywhere. Indeed, it’s a good idea to bring euros with you on your trip. Note that Albania is a cash economy, so whether it’s lek or euros, keep some notes in your wallet.

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Can you drink alcohol in Tirana?

Yes. Though Islam is the majority religion in Albania, alcohol is part of the culture. Ordering wine with dinner is normal, including table wines. Drinking raki—a fruit spirit popular in Balkans countries—is a popular way to start or end of the meal. Some even add it to their morning coffee.

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Frequently Asked Questions
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