Here We Compare Food Places In Tirana That Are Surprising!

Food, food, glorious food!

Having been slow traveling around the Balkan countries for over 12 months now… we’ve been tantalizing our tastebuds with some amazing food and drinks. 

And, if you haven’t read our previous travel blog post on “Things About Albanian Food You Need To Know”… then check it out here. As this will give you some insight about what to expect with Albanian food… before you get there. 

When it comes to choices for restaurants in Tirana, there are plenty. You can choose rom traditional Albanian food in rustic places… through to international cuisine in modern settings, and even degustation!

There’s something for everyone in Albania’s capital city of Tirana. 

So today, I want to share with you some top places in Tirana for delicious food. Plus, I highlight some unpleasant experiences too! Yes, unfortunately it happens.

So, let’s dive right in…

Albanian Byreks in Tirana

In Tirana we tried heaps of byreks. And, we did discover that they were different to those we’d tried in previous Balkan countries. 

We understand that each country has their own way of making, shaping and flavoring byreks. And, to see what we thought overall of Albanian byreks, check our blog post HERE.

So, in Tirana we found that depending on what type of byreks you get… expect to pay around 40 Lek each (about USD $0.40 / 35 Euro cents).

Now, out of the places we tried byreks in Tirana, our favorite byrektore is here…

Someg Bakery and Pasticeri

When it comes to the major chain type places… some of the better Albanian byreks we had was at Someg Bakery and Pasticeri. And, there are several of these outlets dotted around Tirana. 

Yet, the one we liked the best was on Rruga Abdyl Frashëri.

Not only did the byreks have a decent amount of filling compared to many other places… the service from the ladies was excellent. Each time we went there they greeted us with smiles. And, sometimes the ones who speak English would have a chat when they weren’t busy.

Plus, make sure you leave some room in your belly after having the yummy savory byreks. And, that’s because they have sweet treats too. As well as absolutely amazing and to die for ice-cream.

Now, for “hole in the wall” type byrektores… check out these to see if they take your fancy… 

Byrektore Avdyli

Now, you most likely won’t find this byrektore on sites like Tripadvisor, Restaurant Guru or Foursquare. 


And, that’s because this place is in the Komuna e Parisit neighborhood of Tirana… which may not be on the list of top places to visit in Tirana for many. It’s about 2.5 kilometers from the city center and main attractions like, Skanderberg Square… and is more of a local neighborhood than tourist destination.

Yet, as slow travelers we were spending about 6 weeks in Tirana. So, we had plenty of time to explore. And, if you do happen to visit this area, or even have accommodation here… I recommend you check out Byrektore Avdyli.

This hole in the wall tiny byrek shop in Tirana had so many different byrek flavors. And, it had a long line of people… showing it was a popular place with the locals, which is always a positive sign.

Byrektore Avdyli had the usual meat byreks, cheese, spinach… and it had a surprising tomato byrek, that we haven’t seen on our travels through the Balkans.

Now, while the flavor of the Albanian byrek with tomato was delicious… I had food envy at Paul’s cheese byrek. And, after tasting it I had to be greedy and buy a cheese byrek… LOL! So, give this place a try if in the Komuna e Parisit area of Tirana.

The ? Byrektore

OK, so I’ve called this byrek place the “? Byrektore.” And, that’s because I have no idea what’s it called, even after going there a few times.

So, let me try and explain where it is… 

When you do a Google Search… type in Burger King Blloku. And, opposite this Burger King is a place called, Magic Shop. Then, beneath that is a tiny byrek shop. 

You should be able to see it in the picture when you do the 360 view, if you look carefully. And, if you blink you may miss it!

The great thing about this byrektore is that for such a small place… they make all different types, sizes, and flavors, including the big pie slabs!

Our Traditional Albanian Food Experiences at these Restaurants in Tirana…

When we go to a new city, sometimes we look up other people’s reviews on the internet… via sites like TripAdvisor, Foursquare or Restaurant Guru. This helps to give us inspiration and ideas of where to go, or avoid. 

And, when the overall review scores seem good, sometimes we give it a try. Mind you, we also like to seek out other places just by walking around… or asking locals.

Yet, here are 2 restaurants in Tirana for traditional Albanian food that rated well. But, in the end we were shocked! 

Oda

Oda is a popular restaurant in Tirana to try traditional Albanian food. And, while we also like to try obscure places… we did have Oda on our list of places to visit in Tirana.

You can find Oda at Rruga Luigj Gurakuqi 3. So, it’s just a slight left turn off the main road. 

So, when we got there it was around 2:30pm. And, from what we could see we had the entire restaurant to ourselves. 

We weren’t sure where to sit in this quaintly decorated restaurant… full of traditional Albanian artefacts. So, the lovely lady motioned us to sit in a cute little room… all to ourselves. 

There were many choices, even for vegetarians. And, she was helpful in pointing out options… so that we could sample different Albanian dishes. So, we were grateful for her help!

And, in the end we chose dishes including fergese, stuffed eggplant, homemade spinach pie and rice balls. 

Of course, we had to have a beverage with our meal. So, we had a small bottle of Korce and a Tirana beer. 

So, while we were admiring the Albanian relics and our beers, there’s one sound that shocked us!

And, that was the sound of a microwave. We felt devastated. We don’t use microwaves ourselves. Then, to hear it being used in a highly rated restaurant, it shattered our expectations. 

No wonder our food was served super quick!

If the meals hadn’t of been zapped by microwave it may have tasted better. For example, with the spinach pie, the pastry was soft… and, not crispy like we had imagined. 

In saying that, the flavors of the fergese and stuffed eggplant were tasty. 

So, for us, we made only 1 trip to Oda. Remember, this is our review. And, everyone has different experiences. So, go there and try it for yourself, in the hope that you don’t receive microwaved food.

There was another restaurant in Tirana high on our list, to try for traditional Albania food. And, we had mixed mixed feelings. Read on to see what I mean…

Tek Zgara Tironës

Now, before I go into our foodie adventure, here’s a travel tip about Tek Zgara Tironës. There are actually 2 restaurants by the same name. And, I found this out when we were making the trip there!

One of the restaurants has the name, Tek Zgara Tironës 2 Le Noir. And, when we got there I had the feeling this wasn’t the right restaurant. Then, when we stepped inside I realized it wasn’t the one we planned to try.

Both of the Tek Zgara Tironës restaurants are on Kavaja Street. Yet, the main difference between the 2 from a building perspective… is that the Tek Zgara Tironës 1 exterior is lots of wood, and the interior is more traditional. 

Whereas Tek Zgara Tironës 2 has more of a modern atmosphere. So, take your pick. But, read on before you make the trip…

Tek Zgara Tironës 1 is definitely a popular restaurant for locals and tourists. Plus, we couldn’t believe how cheap it was! This was our feast, which included flat bread, mixed dips, fergese, and traditional byrek pie…

All up including a half liter of wine, that entire meal cost 1,080 Lek (about USD $10 / 8.90 Euros).

Not only was it crazy cheap, it was tasty. The fergese was amazing and the flat bread was delicious.

And, as we felt so satisfied with our first time at Tek Zgara Tironës 1, we had to go or a second time! Yet, the next time we had a shocking experience. And, I was at war with myself about if I should write about this. 

But, here it is…

What the Heck is in Our Food?!

On our second visit to Tek Zgara Tironës 1… we were excited to have another feast of traditional Albanian food. The service again was quite good. 

And, everything was going well, until we ordered a second round of flat bread. We didn’t receive a big, full round flat bread, like we had before… and like everyone else in the restaurant. 

Instead, it looked like the remains of other people’s leftovers. We just thought they’d chopped up the flat bread into pieces for us. So, at the time we didn’t think anything of it.

Then, at the end of our meal we were given a plate of fresh fruit. And, the waiter told us that it was complimentary. So, that was a pleasant and unexpected surprise. 

Yet, what we discovered next, stopped us from going back to Tek Zgara Tironës 1…

The first few pieces of fruit were tasty. Then, after picking up another piece of fruit, underneath it was a hair. Blah! So, after seeing that we stopped eating the fruit.

So, when we looked at the bill the fruit was complimentary, like the waiter said. And, the mish mash of bread that we received was complimentary too… making us believe that they were leftover bread pieces.

Unfortunately, the hair was a turn off, and maybe an innocent mistake. What a shame! 

When you look online, Tek Zgara Tironës 1, has many good reviews. All we can do is share our experiences and then you can consider trying it for yourself.

Just be sure to check every piece of food before putting it in your mouth!

Restaurants in Tirana With Delicious Non-Traditional Albanian Food

Have Delicious Pizza in Tirana at Artigiano

While in Tirana, the locals were telling us that there aren’t a lot of good work opportunities for the young. So, some of the younger Albanians would head overseas to seek work… such as crossing over the Adriatic Sea to Italy.

Then, some seeking a career in food would learn the secrets of traditional Italian cuisine… then return to Albania to hopefully make it big back home. So, that’s why you may wonder why there are many Italian food options in Tirana.

Not only that, some Italians move to Albania, with cost of living being much cheaper.

So, one of our favorite foods is pizza! Yet, sometimes we like our comfort foods when traveling around different countries. I can imagine many of you nodding your heads in agreement. 

And, one of the best restaurants near Tirana city centre for delicious Italian… is at Artigiano.

Artigiano has 2 venues in Tirana. And, the one we liked was Artigiano Vila on Rruga Papa Gjon Pali II 9. And, this was mainly due to the quaint building and environment… rather than the modern feel of its sister restaurant in Blloku.

The service is attentive, with an extensive wine menu. And, the wood fired pizza is scrumptious. Our only gripe was that they have a mandatory cover charge that we had no idea of. In the scheme of things, it’s only 50 Lek (about USD $0.45 / 40 Euro cents).

Yet, we weren’t told about this beforehand, or even when they gave us the menus. 

Instead, it appears in the Classic Appetizers section of the menu, labelled “COPERTO.” To me, that’s a little deceiving. Just thought I’d let you know so you don’t have an argument with staff afterwards!

Even so, the prices are very good here considering the high quality. For example, a flavorful and filling margherita pizza cost 520 Lek (about USD $4.80 / 4.30 Euros). And, a glass of herbaceous red wine only 300 Lek (about USD $2.75 / 2.45 Euros).

Now, while we’re still on the subject of amazing Italian food… when you’re in the area of the Grand Park, make your way to this restaurant in Tirana.

Crust Pizza Parlour – What a Surprise!

I had to include this pizza place as it did surprise us. When we were staying at an apartment nearby the Grand Park and Artificial Lake… we discovered Crust Pizza Parlour.

You can find it on Hamdi Sina Liqeni i thate. The restaurant is cute, with comfy alfresco seating too when the warm weather hits. 

By the way, unless they’ve changed the menu… Crust Pizza Parlour don’t serve wine, so we had beer instead.

So, first up for an appetizer we had the bruschetta. And, when it came out it sure didn’t look anything like what we were expecting…

It was like a modern twist on the bruschetta and I have to say… we were blown away at how delicious it was. 

We could taste the rich, flavorsome olive oil that had been drizzled across. And, the ingredients were so fresh. It was so yummy that it rates on our top list of bruschettas! 

Then, being at a pizza parlour, of course we had to try their pizzas. And boy, did the pizzas look amazing when they came to our table.

Yet, what about the flavor? OMG, just when I thought Artigiano had amazing pizzas… I’d have to say that the pizzas at Crust Pizza Parlour just edged out Artigiano. And, that’s saying something.

Plus, the price of our pizzas was ridiculously cheap! For a marinara it cost 250 Lek about USD $2.30 / 2.05 Euros), and for Paul’s margherita, of which I had food envy… it only cost 350 Lek (about USD $3.50 / 2.85 Euros).

Cheap and cheerful for some of the best pizzas in Tirana.

Indulge in Heavenly Truffles at Tartuf Shop 

So, I got your attention by mentioning truffles! Now, I warn you that I’m not talking about the chocolate type of truffles. And instead, this will be about those rich, earthy, savory truffle delights.

You can find the Tartuf Shop in Toptani Castle (also known as Tirana Castle). And, in this converted castle is a variety of eateries and places to have a relaxing drink.

A word of warning, this place is popular and gets real busy. So, if you want to sit outside while soaking up the sun… I suggest you plan your trip here outside of the normal peak meal times.

You can also buy lots of truffle produce here… to take back and indulge when you have the urge for truffles!

And, as far as prices go, for example… this homemade truffle ravioli dish was 570 Lek (about USD $5.25 / 4.70 Euros). Now, it wasn’t the biggest serving, yet the rich flavor was to die for. And, this glass of white wine was 350 (about USD $3.25 / 2.90 Euros).

So, it’s a bit more pricey than some other places in Tirana… yet, the quality and service is excellent. 

And, from my point, it was one of the best restaurants in Tirana. So, if you’re a truffle fan you MUST go to the Tartuf Shop when in Tirana. Or, if you want to try truffles for the first time, this is a great place to give them a go. 

OK, all this talk about food is making me hungry! So, time for me to go and eat.

Yet, I trust that sharing some places in Tirana to try traditional Albanian food, and other delights… will be helpful on your travels.

And, while we did have a few unpleasant experiences, even shocking… it doesn’t stop us from continuing to explore amazing food around the globe.

Like This? Share it and comment on it!

Note: All of our reviews and comments are our opinions and no-one else’s. Even if we receive complimentary goods or services we share our opinions honestly.

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Discover Some Interesting Things About Albanian Food You Need To Know

Talk about slow travelers! We’ve been exploring the Balkan region for over 1 year now, and it shocks us how quickly time flies. It must mean that we’re having lots of fun! And, one of the best things we love about traveling… is trying the local cuisine. 

We’ve had the opportunity to sample some scrumptious food through to hard core drinks! Yet, on the other hand, we’ve also had some average food too. And, that’s to be expected. 

Plus, everyone’s palate when it comes to taste differs. So, when one person suggests a restaurant and rates the food highly… when we experience it, we may not like it. Yet, that’s all part of the adventure in traveling… trying new things.

So, we’re real grateful that fellow travelers and foodies share their stories, as it helps to discover new places… and of course, new food and drinks.

Now, getting back to Albanian food…

Having never been to Albania before, and then being there for about 3 months… we sure did try lots of different food, drinks and places. 

Yet, how does the food in Albania stack up to where we’ve been so far?

Well, in this travel blog post, we expose some drinks and food in Albania that we loved… and didn’t love so much. Plus, we’ll highlight some things we discovered on our Albanian food adventures. 

We hope you’ve already eaten… otherwise you’ll be hankering for some food and drinks after this!

Food In Albania

When it comes to Albanian cuisine, we suspected it’d be heavy meat based… and, we were correct. So, for all the meat lovers out there, you’ll be in heaven. It’ll be a smorgasbord of options.

Feast on qofte (grilled meatballs) to zgara (mixed meat platters) to ocean fresh fish… through to surprising dishes such as tavë kosi (lamb baked in yogurt).

Now, for vegetarians, depending on where you are in Albania there can be many tasty options. 

So, in Tirana, and other touristy places like Berat… there were more options for vegetarians. Yet, when we stayed in Vlore on the coast for about 1 month… we did lots of cooking. 

When we were looking to try the more traditional Albanian food in Vlore… we didn’t have much success when it came to vego food. 

And, it was shocking when at one restaurant… they said that the only vegetarian food they had was soup. Even then, I’d be wary as the stock was probably meat based.

Plus, another restaurant turned us away as they said they had nothing for vegetarians!

So, our food adventures stopped short in Vlore. Yet, we did discover different traditional Albanian food on our travels. And, here are some of them…

Fergese

Our most favorite food in Albania that we discovered in Tirana… is the scrumptious traditional Albanian food of fergese. Imagine devouring roasted red peppers, with flavorful herbs and lots of feta cheese. 

Now, when we were in Skopje we had bucket loads of ayvar. Yet, having fergese took a delicious red pepper dish to a whole new level.

There are 2 versions – a vegetarian fergese and the non-vegetarian version… which is traditionally made with liver. So, fergese is definitely one of the top Albanian dishes to try on your travels.

Dips 

It was surprising to discover that at some of the zgaras (meat grill restaurants)… there were options for vegetarians too. 

So, when we were taking a sneak peek at other people’s dishes… we saw that along with the meat platters, they were devouring plates of colourful dips with bread. 

And boy, did they look yummy. Then, when we tried to find dips on the menu we couldn’t! 

So, we ran through the menu again in case we overlooked it. Yet, here’s a foodie travel tip that may help you in Albania… the “dips” are called, sauces. 

And, in some places they had up to a dozen different dips! So something for everyone.

Corn Bread

We absolutely love bread. And, on our travels we’ve sampled many types… from loaves, to rings, to flat breads. Yet, one type of bread we hadn’t tried in the Balkans, is a corn bread. 

We normally wouldn’t go for this type of bread. Yet, when we found it on a restaurant menu in Tirana… we decided we had to sample this traditional Albanian food.

Now, the corn breads we tried in Albania did have a heavier texture. And, while they tasted OK, it wasn’t on the top of our list for must have foods in Albania. Yet, give it a go and you may love it. 

Stuffed Peppers

Being in the Balkans, we noticed that peppers are a staple in their cuisine. And, one delicious traditional Albanian food is stuffed peppers. 

Now, they’re usually stuffed with meat and rice, and roasted.

Yet, depending on the restaurant, they can make vegetarian versions. And, when they’re stuffed with cheese they are to die for! It may sound so simple, yet sometimes the simple things in life are often the best.

Plus, not only did we try the Albanian stuffed peppers… we discovered stuffed mushrooms and stuffed eggplants, for example. Boy, were we “stuffed” after eating so much delicious food. LOL!

Tarator

One thing that did surprise us when looking at the restaurant menus, is that tarator was a common option. Now, we don’t recall ever having tarator before. So, when we were in Berat, we decided try this cold yoghurt soup.

And, this would go down well to help cool us down, after walking up and down hills sightseeing. Plus, one of the best we had was at one of the best restaurants in Berat, Friendly House.

It was so garlicky and so yummy. And, it didn’t bother us having major garlic breath afterwards. Plus, we traditional Albanian bread to dunk into the tarator. OMG, it was so tasty.

Byrek

Now, this can be considered an Albanian fast food item for a quick and delicious breakfast… or it can be enjoyed in a restaurant setting. Whichever option you choose, the Albanian byrek or pie is a MUST try. 

There are a couple of main differences we noticed eating byrek on our travels in Albania. Firstly, many of the Albanian byreks are in a whole triangle shape. And secondly, the amount of filling is less than other places we’ve had through the Balkans. 

We discovered that there are several different flavors too in Albania. There was the usual meat byreks, cheese, spinach… and it had surprising tomato byreks.

Yet, many of the byreks we sampled lacked that strong, salty, robust flavor… that we’ve been spoilt with on our Balkan food adventures. And, in some places the cheese in the byreks we tasted was almost flavorless.

Even so, we did find a few places in Tirana to get good Albanian byreks.

Baklava

When we were in Istanbul Turkey, we were spoilt with choice for baklava. And, it was the best baklava we’d ever had. 

So, in Albania there were several bakeries and sweet shops that had homemade baklava. And, it was like each time I walked past, gazing through the windows… the baklava were calling out, “Eat Me!”

So, when we were in the Blloku district of Tirana, I decided to some baklava. Now, I have to say when comparing it to the baklava in Turkey… it sure was heaps better in Istanbul.

For me, the syrup used in the Albanian baklava I tried, wasn’t as sweet or flavorsome. Yet, as mentioned earlier, you gotta give these things a go… otherwise you’ll never know! And after trying them, no longer were the baklavas calling out to me!

Kaçkavall Cheese

One food that is a MUST try when we travel round the world is cheese! And, having been in the Balkans we’ve had some of the best cheeses ever. Yet, a delicious yellow cheese that we fell in love with is kaçkavall.

If the truth be known, we did discover kashkaval in Bulgaria. Yet, we have found that each country has their own distinct flavors.

Plus, there were even some differences amongst the various regions within each country too… where some would be a harder texture and others quite stringy, for example. Plus, the flavors would be different too.

On some occasions, we could taste strong earthy flavors from the cheese… because of the type of grass or grains the cows, goats or sheep were feeding on. 

And, we found that when buying the cheese from farmers markets… that earthy flavor usually was more robust. 

Sometimes we’d be absolute pigs sometimes and buy whole wheels of kaçkavall. Hey, we know we’re not the only ones who do it. Put your hands up if you’ve bought wheels of cheese before… ha ha ha!

Now, speaking of farmers markets and fresh produce… as we mentioned earlier, we did cook sometimes. So, we did check out different places in Albania for fresh produce.

Fresh Markets in Albania

Now, having stayed in Albania for about 3 months… we stayed in some accommodation with kitchens. And, it was great sometimes to chill out, making delicious homemade meals.

And, getting fresh produce was easy and relatively cheap in Albania.

Everywhere in Albania there are lots of places to get fresh fruit and vegetables… from supermarkets, through to large farmers markets and road side stalls.

Yet, we found that even though sometimes the produce in supermarkets can be cheaper… the quality may not be as good. So, if you plan on buying from supermarkets, you may need to look around, be choosy… or sacrifice quality for price. 

In addition to the supermarkets are large outdoor markets, like the New Bazaar in Pazar i Ri, Tirana. And here, not only can you get fresh fruit and veggies… there’s honey, lentils, olives, dried herbs, cheeses and more.

Sometimes those big markets aren’t convenient to get to. And, what we discovered in Albania is that there are small pop up stalls on many street corners. 

Supporting the Local Farmers

So, the small local farmers or people who grow produce from their own home… find a street corner and set up their goods for sale. Yet, at these types of places, many of them don’t show what the prices are of their produce. 

So, if that concerns you, get an idea of what things cost by checking out supermarkets first… otherwise you may end up paying the tourist price. 

And, this is different to when we were in Bulgaria… as there were prices on everything even at the farmers markets. Our understanding is that by law in Bulgaria, prices of goods have to be displayed.

Even so, prices of produce in Albania is cheap… compared to Australia, the UK, USA, or other parts of Europe.

So, for example, in Albania a kilo of tomatoes can cost about 150 Lek (about USD $1.40 / 1.25 Euros). Now, that’s damn cheap, and the vibrant red fresh tomatoes were yummy.

Once we found a local market or stall that we liked, we became loyal to them. And, this would often turn out to be a win-win situation.

For example, when we were in Vlore… we found a local Mom and Pop fresh produce stall only a few minutes walking from our apartment. 

And, almost every day we’d be there buying up their fresh and tasty produce. While they couldn’t speak any English… it was like we became one of their best customers during our stay in Vlore. 

We felt great being able to spend our money with a lovely local couple, and help them out.

Plus, every now and again they’d throw in some freebies, which was kind of them. And, this also allowed us try some foods we hadn’t tasted before.

So, where you can, support the local farmers and enjoy the goodness of their fresh produce.

It’s a “Wrap”

Well, it’s time to “wrap” up this travel blog post about food in Albania… as we’ve “dished” out what we needed to. OMG, don’t you just love the Dad jokes? I can hear Paul saying, “No!”

Even so, we trust that this has given you some insight into traditional food in Albania… and given you a “taste” of what to expect. 

OK, before I keep going on with the bad Dad jokes, I’m going to end the blog right now!

Enjoy your food adventures in Albania… and let us know what your favorite traditional Albanian dishes were.

Until then, we’ll continue to drink, eat and travel around this beautiful world of ours. 

Like This? Share it and comment on it!

Note: All of our reviews and comments are our opinions and no-one else’s. Even if we receive complimentary goods or services we share our opinions honestly.

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How To Make Your Time In Tirana Albania Fun And Memorable

Having spent about 3 months in Macedonia’s capital of Skopje, it was time for our next Balkan adventure. And, bordering the west of North Macedonia is Albania. Now, we have to admit… we didn’t know a lot about Albania!

Yet, it sounded like a great idea at the time… as it’d be an opportunity to explore a new country. And, while in Skopje we learnt a little of the Albanian language. Confused about why? 

Well, the owners of our favorite burek place in Skopje were from Albania. And, when we self-learnt some Albania words… they were wide-eyed and completely surprised. 

Then, it was funny because it then felt like we became their best “tourist customers.” LOL!

Plus, when we mentioned that we were thinking of visiting Albania next… you can imagine how excited they were! And, the first place they suggested was Tirana.

So, from one capital city to another… we chose our next destination of Tirana Albania.

And, in this travel blog, we’ll highlight interesting and different things to do in Tirana… to help you have a great time.

Now, let’s dive in!

Check Out the Colorful Buildings in Tirana

Back in the mid-1900’s, Tirana’s landscape was transformed… where masses of dull and dreary grey buildings swelled the city. And, it was around this time that the Communist era took over.

Yet, over time the modern Albania evolved. So with that, another transformation of Tirana took place. Albania’s capital city was brought back to life. 

Drab-looking buildings were painted over with vibrant colors… and patterns as designed by the artist-turned-Mayor, Edi Rama. Plus, new buildings would be constructed using bright colors… to help lift the spirits of the Albanian people.

When strolling around Tirana… the many colorful buildings gave the city a feeling of liveliness and happiness. It was pretty to see splashes of bright color dotted around the capital city…

Now, if museums and history interests you, then put this on your list of things to do in Tirana…

Take a Moment to Appreciate Albania’s History at Bunkart 2

Now, you’ll discover that one of the most popular things to do in Tirana is visit Bunk’art. And, as the name suggests… the Bunkart is a museum constructed using former bunkers/shelters. 

So, we found out that there there is Bunkart 1 and Bunkart 2. Bunk’art 1 is outside of the main centre of Tirana… and it can be reached via public transport or car. 

Bunkart 2 is a short walk from Skanderberg Square… so simple to access if you don’t have much time to explore.

So, Bunkart 2, is the former anti-nuclear bunker for the Ministry of Internal Affairs… built in the 1980’s. And, this converted bunker hosts 3 main exhibitions, covering events from 1912 to 1991.

It was surprising to learn that the bunker’s entrance was specifically built… because originally the only way into the tunnel was from within the Ministry itself.

Relax in the Wide-Open Space of Skanderbeg Square

We’d seen pictures of Skanderberg Square, yet once we got there… we didn’t realize how big it is.

It’s said that the entire usable area of Skanderberg Square is approximately 90,000 m2! So, making it one of the biggest Squares in the Balkan region.

Once we got there, we had to walk in the middle of Skanderberg Square. And, I twirled around the middle of the Square like a child. Ha ha ha! Why not, and enjoy the moment.

So, around the Square are artistic colourful seats… where locals and tourists alike, chill out and bask in the sunshine.

It’s a pedestrian only area, which helps to make it more peaceful. And, from each corner there are many different landmarks and views… making it a photographer’s delight. 

These landmarks include the Bank of Albania, Palace of Culture… and the National Museum of History.

And, a stone’s throw away from Skanderberg Square is this important Tirana landmark…

Take a Selfie at the Skanderberg Monument

When visiting Skanderberg Square, unless your eyes are closed, you’ll see a huge monument. This key monument is of the Albanian nobleman and commander… Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu (aka Skanderberg).

Skanderberg is a major hero for the Albanians… as he had the notable courage and power to take on the Ottoman Empire. 

Odhise Paskali created the statue of Skanderberg, which was inaugurated in 1968. And, this was 500 years after the death of Skanderberg. 

This statue is a prominent 11-meter tall structure. And, with the huge Albanian flag visible next to the grand Skanderberg Monument… it’s a great photo opportunity and one for the memories.

Visit the Historical Tanner’s Bridge

Before visiting Tanner’s Bridge, we hadn’t done any research about it. So, we didn’t know much about it. And, when we got there it was a surprise to us. 

We thought that it’d be much bigger than what it is. Yet, what we discovered is that Tanner’s Bridge is an 18th century Ottoman footbridge. Made of stone, its length is about 8 meters long, 3.5 meters high and 2.5 meters wide. 

It plays a significant part in history for the Albanians… as it was the main gateway for delivering produce and livestock. So, helping to grow the economy and link traders with the communities for the progress of all.

And, as it’s such an important landmark, it was restored and is still in use by pedestrians. Be careful in wet weather though, as it can be slippery!

Now, if you’re wanting time out to reflect, put this on your list of things to do in Tirana…

Sit and Ponder About Life in a Cloud

What the heck are we talking about sitting in a cloud in Tirana, you ask?

One of the many artistic sculptures in Tirana include Reja The Cloud…

Now, you have to use your imagination of course! We waited patiently for the mass of tourists and locals to finish taking their pics in Reja The Cloud.

Maybe we were so calm and patient because of the relaxing vibes from The Cloud?!!

So, Reja The Cloud is just a couple of minutes walking, to these iconic places to visit in Tirana… 

Ethem Bey Mosque and Tirana Clock Tower 

Two of the most prominent places to go in Tirana are right next to each other. And, these are the Tirana Clock Tower and Ethem Bey Mosque.

This mosque is extra special. While many other mosques and religious establishments were destroyed… Ethem Bey Mosque was a survivor. Plus, on January 18, 1991… a unique event happened at the mosque. 

Even though it was closed under communist rule… about 10,000 people went into Ethem Bey Mosque carrying flags. 

While you’d expect the powers that be would interject, they didn’t. And, this event was said to mark the fall of communism in Albania… allowing the revival of religious freedom.

Now, nearby these 2 landmarks is this place to visit in Tirana…

Toptani Castle – Not What You Think!

If you get hungry from burning so much energy sightseeing, take a break at the Toptani Castle. Now, why would we suggest you take a break here? A castle means more sightseeing!

Yes, in most cases that would be true. Yet, Toptani Castle (aka Tirana Castle) is saturated with restaurants and cafes. 

Before all that… it’s said that Tirana Castle dates way back to the Byzantine period! 

Yet, just before the 1800’s, the Toptani Family made claim to the castle. But, wars would see the destruction of most of the castle. And, you’ll be able to see some of the preserved ruins. 

Yet, once inside, it has a modern feel. And, you don’t even feel like you’re in a castle. 

Here’s a tip though… Try and avoid the peak times, especially when the sun’s out. Otherwise you’ll be hard pressed to find a seat at some of the places. 

Be sure to check out Toptani Castle… as there are some amazing places to drink, eat, give your legs a rest, and people watch.

Check Out a Bit of Taiwan in Tirana

Now, you’re probably thinking I’m going crazy here! Yet, let me explain…

In Tirana is a park by the name of Youth Park, where residents would gather with their children. 

So, in the park, which covers about 29 hectares is a big fountain, which lights up at night. There’s also some shops, cafes and restaurants that surround it. 

And, when you wander down the side of the road called, Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit… there’s a life size chess board!

Plus, on another side of Youth Park is a large building, which is the Taiwan Complex. 

So, there are rumors about why the area is also known as Taiwan Park. Yet, for the sake of getting into an argument… it’s also known as Taiwan as it’s like a small island in the park. 

Now, if you’re interested in churches, then put this next landmark on your things to do in Tirana list…

See the Resurrection Cathedral of Tirana and its Massive Bell Tower

The Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral of Tirana… is a stone’s throw away from Skanderberg Square. 

Completed in 2012… it’s said to be one of the largest Orthodox churches in the entire Balkan region. 

This structure not only consists of the cathedral… it also has 3 chapels, residence of the Holy Synod, library, cultural center, a small museum, and more space!

Plus, what can’t be missed is the prominent, huge bell tower.

The bell tower is about 46 meters high, with a winding staircase leading to 16 bells. So, cover your ears when the bells start chiming!

Sample Some Goodies at the New Bazaar Tirana

Within easy walking distance of the city center is the New Bazaar Tirana. And, this is in the area called, Pazar i Ri. So, if market shopping takes your fancy… then you’ll want to put this on your list of things to do in Tirana. 

So, the New Bazaar Tirana has a main area where rows of stall owners sell produce… including fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, honey, herbs and more. 

And, in the surrounding area are other little shops… as well as cafes and restaurants to watch the market in action. On the weekends is when the real hype of activity happens. 

And, there are also events held in the New Bazaar Tirana area… making it a place to be for families and friends.

Chill Out at the Friendship Monument Tirana

There are many monuments you’ll find when exploring Tirana. In fact, there’s even a section of the Berlin Wall! 

Yet, in a small park close to Skanderberg Square, is the Friendship Monument.

And, this artistic monument with its green, red, white and black discs, was built in 2016… to symbolize the friendship between the Albanians and Kuwaitis. 

It’s a cool little area to sit down, chill out… and give the legs a rest after lots of walking around sightseeing.

So, if you’re wanting to experience a more stylish and vibrant atmosphere, put this on your list of places to visit in Tirana… 

Check Out the Hip Area of Blloku

Our first accommodation when staying in Tirana was in the hip and happening Blloku area. This area is said to be the more upmarket and trendy area of Tirana. And, having been in different parts of Tirana, we’d have to agree.

There sure is a different vibe, with people seeming more conscious of their looks… and wearing more chic attire compared to other parts of Tirana.

So, the Blloku area is well known for an entertainment district… with great nightlife in Tirana too. 

And, in Blloku we discovered we were spoilt for choice for restaurants from traditional to modern… fine dining to fast food of various cuisines. Plus, there are plenty of cafes, ice-cream places, bars, shops and more. 

So, that’s why many locals flock to Blloku for entertainment, nightlife… and to catch up with families and friends. And, as tourists, we recommend you put Blloku as one of the places to visit in Tirana.

Stroll Around the Grand Park of Tirana and Fake Lake

Now, when we were staying in the Blloku area of Tirana… we were only a couple of hundred meters away from the Grand Park of Tirana. And, the weird thing is… the Lake that’s in the Park is called, the Artificial Lake!

Yes, you read that correctly. It’s actually named the Artificial Lake. We thought that was strange… and that someone could’ve made a prettier name for it!

Even so, we still put this on our list of things to do in Tirana.

So, as we were walking to the Grand Park of Tirana and Artificial Lake… we could smell popcorn from the roving carts dotted around it. Then, as we got closer it was flooded with people. 

From joggers, families, couples, through to nature lovers… there were all sorts of people at the park and lake area. There are activities for children, bike paths, water sports, and more. 

Plus, if you want to relax there are many cafes, restaurants and even ice-cream places.

So, the last on our suggestions of things to do in Tirana is this…

Experience the Surprising Nightlife in Tirana

So, it was surprising to hear that Tirana has a lively nightlife with lots of bars and clubs. Yet, when we were in Tirana, there was a curfew until 8pm. 

Yet, that didn’t stop us from heading out and experiencing the nightlife as best we could. And, on several occasions we went bar hopping, trying local beers and Albanian rakia.

So, when we were out and about wandering in Blloku… a place that caught our eye was the mysterious looking Illyrian Saloon.

The wooden, unassuming exterior had several tables and chairs spread around. Then, when we went inside that wooden décor continued, with a real cozy atmosphere. 

So, the music playing through the speakers was a compilation of hard rock music. I even heard the tunes from one of my all-time favorite bands, Bon Jovi :)

The service was attentive from the young staff that owned the bar and worked there. And, to our delight, they told us that a live band was playing that night. 

So, we’d only intended to stay for a beer or two, to continue our bar hop… yet, it ended up being a longer night. Gotta love spontaneity sometimes.

The band and music were awesome. And, for a Thursday night the Illyrian Saloon was rocking! It was packed with people, singing, drinking and having a jolly good time.

Plus, the bar staff gave us some free shots to make the night even more happy. Needless to say, the next day was a write off for doing anything. LOL!

So, despite the curfew, we still had a great time experiencing the nightlife in Tirana.

And remember, for a fun and awesome night out with live music… head on over to the Illyrian Saloon. Just make sure to check their Facebook page for updates.

And with that, it’s time to wrap up our travel blog. We trust that by sharing these different things to do in Tirana Albania… it’ll help with giving you a taste of what to explore.

Have you been to Tirana? What places to go in Tirana would you suggest for our fellow travelers?

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Note: All of our reviews and comments are our opinions and no-one else’s. Even if we receive complimentary goods or services we share our opinions honestly.

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