Ermak Travel Guide

 

 

Tirana

Tirana

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transportation

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Interesting information and useful tips

 

Description of Tirana

Tirana (Tiranë, Tirana) is the capital of Albania and the largest city in the country. It was founded by the Ottoman Turks in 1614 by order of Suleiman Barggini. After gaining independence from the Turkish Empire, the capital was moved here. The turbulent and interesting history of the country left its mark on the architecture of the city. Muslim, Christian and Communist buildings form a common ensemble of the city.

Tirana was founded in 1614, but the region itself has been constantly inhabited since the Bronze Age. Like most of Albania, this area was inhabited by several Illyrian tribes. Later it was annexed by Rome and became an integral part of the Roman Empire after the Illyrian Wars. The heritage of that period is still evident and is represented by the Mosaic of Tirana, which has survived from that time. Further, in the 5th and 6th century, the Paleo Christian Basilica was built in the region. When the Roman Empire was divided into east and west, its successor, the Byzantine Empire took control and included the construction of Petröl Castle under Justinian I. Until the 20th century, the city did not matter when Lushnius Congress proclaimed it the capital of the country after the independence of the country in 1912 . It increased in size and population only in the 20th century.

Geographically, Tirana is located in the center of the country, surrounded by mountains and hills, with Dite in the east and a small gorge in the north-west, which overlooks the Adriatic Sea. Due to its location within the Tirana Plain and close proximity to the Adriatic Sea, the city is influenced by the Mediterranean seasonal climate. It is the 3rd wettest and eighth sunny city in Europe with 2544 hours of sun per year.

An important city, Tirana is considered the economic and cultural center of Albania, due to its significant location and importance in the areas of finance, commerce, media, entertainment, arts, international trade, education, services, research and health. All the largest companies in the country, the media and academic institutions have their headquarters in the city. Tirana is also the seat of the Albanian government, the residences for the work of the president and prime minister of Albania.

 

 

 

Destinations in Tirana

Tourist office
Tourist information office, Rruga Ded Gjo Luli (just north of Skanderbeg Square (behind the National Historic Museum)). open M-F 11:00-16:00 (as of 2013). The English-speaking staff are very helpful and can provide maps and directions to hostels/hotels etc. Also free copies of "Tirana in your Pocket" guide, which includes vital information about bus and furgon schedules.

 

Efem Bey Mosque

The Efem Bey Mosque is a place of worship in Tirana dating from the late 18th century. Behind the first door of the temple is a plaque indicating that the mosque was built by Mulla Bey, a wealthy man from Tirana who donated money to charity.

Mulla Bey laid the foundation for this temple in 1791, but he was unable to finish the walls and domes of the mosque, as well as the interior and exterior decoration, because he died after 1807. The mullah's son, Haji (Nachhi) Efem-Bey continued the construction of his father. During the reign of Haji Efem-bey, the walls of the temple were painted, the ceiling was built in the form of a portico. The end of construction, according to various estimates, fell on 1830 or 1831. There is no exact information about the architects of this mosque, but, according to some sources, they were two educated residents of Tirana, called Mulla and Mulla Yusuf Halim Bulku Zorba.

A feature of this mosque is the use of elements of nature in the decor. The frescoes in the mosque depict trees, waterfalls and bridges; paintings from nature are very rare in Islamic art. The hall of the mosque is divided into floors that rise up to the vaults. The dome of the mosque is decorated with suras from the Koran written in a spiral. Closer to the top of the dome, 99 names of Allah are displayed. Guided tours to the temple are held daily, except for prayer times. Visitors must take off their shoes before entering the interior.

 

 

Clock tower

Tirana's Clock Tower was built between 1822-1840. The clock tower has been a cultural monument since May 24, 1948. The height of the building is 35 meters, and until 1970 it was the tallest building in the capital of Albania.

The construction of the Clock Tower took place on the initiative and thanks to Haji Ethem Bey, who was once famous patron of Tirana. Stone and oak were used as building materials, the staircase was firmly integrated into the structure of the building and only recently was replaced by a metal one. The building is equipped with small loopholes for artificial ventilation, thanks to which it also performed a guard function.

The shape of the tower gives the building some resemblance to the Venetian bell tower in Piazza San Marco. Originally, the bell, brought from Venice, counted the beats every hour. The history of the tower clock begins in 1928, when the municipality of Tirana bought the mechanism from Germany. This chronometer was destroyed during the Second World War and was replaced in 1946 with a winding church clock from Shkoder, with Roman numerals on the dial. The last restoration was made several years ago by the Ministry of Culture and cost $ 30,000. The clock tower has been open for tourist excursions since 1996.

 

 

Skanderbeg square

Skanderbeg Square is Tirana's main square. It was named so in 1968 in honor of the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, a monument to which is also installed here. During the Albanian monarchy, the architecture of the square consisted of several buildings that were blown up during the communist period. In the center of the square there was a fountain, which was surrounded by a road, the Old Bazaar was on the site of the modern Palace of Culture, and where the hotel complex is now there was an Orthodox cathedral. On the site of the Skandenberg monument, there was a statue of Joseph Stalin. The city hall was occupied by the National Historical Museum. For some time it also housed a sculptural image of the leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha, it was demolished in 1991 during student protests.

At one time, the ex-mayor of Tirana Edi Rama took certain steps to give the square a modern European look. Since March 2010, the area of ​​the square has been converted into a pedestrian zone with limited public transport access. The water supply for the new fountain uses rainwater to fill it. During construction, new bypass roads around the square were put into operation. The renovation project was funded by Kuwait.

Since September 2011, with the arrival of the new mayor of the city, the previous plan has been revised and changed. Vehicles were returned to the square, bicycle paths were laid. The green parkland south of the Skanderbeg statue was extended to the north by several hundred meters by planting many trees. Now the square houses the Haji Efem Bay Mosque, the Opera House, the National Museum, and government buildings.

 

 

National Historic Museum (Albanian: Muzeu Historik Kombëtar)

Skanderbeg Square (northwest edge of the square), ☎ +355 4 2223446. Tu-Su 10:00-17:00

200 lek.

The National Historical Museum was opened on October 28, 1981 and is the largest museum institution in Albania. The total area of ​​the building is 27 thousand square meters. m, 18 thousand square meters are allocated for the exposition. The museum houses about 4,750 objects, ranging from artifacts dating from several centuries BC to items from the second half of the 20th century. There are eight pavilions in the museum.

The Hall of Antiquities offers objects of primitive culture for inspection; their dating begins from the late Paleolithic. On the stands there are objects of the Bronze Age (2100-1200 BC) and the Iron Age (1200-450 BC), relating to the period of residence of the Ilir people in this territory. From the 7th century BC along the coastline of the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic was the Helene colony, as evidenced by the found vessels made of ceramics and swords. The Ilir culture and religion was independent of the early colonists, as evidenced by the original ornamental weapons. Silver images of warriors, mythical creatures, were found in burials. Bronze items are represented by the figure of a sphinx with the face of a beautiful woman, weapons, and armor. The objects date back to the 3rd century BC. Of particular interest is the "Mesaplicut mosaic" discovered in 1979 by the archaeologist Damian Komata. The mosaic is 230x349 cm in size and consists of small cubic stones, the pattern on it is zoomorphic. Another mosaic masterpiece that dates back to the 4th century BC is a portrait of a woman surrounded by flowers, made of sand and stones of various shapes.

The pavilion of the Middle Ages invites visitors to get acquainted with the peculiarities of the economic, social, political and cultural development of the Albanians from the 6th to the 15th century. The exhibition presents many documents that testify to the occupation of Albania at different times by the Byzantines, Angevins, Serbs and Turks. Showcases display items, original handicrafts, coins of the principalities of Albania, coats of arms of lords. A special place is occupied by an extensive collection of works of art, architecture, as well as a collection dedicated to the fortresses of Berat, Shkoder, Durres and Prizren. The museum contains a gate from the monastery of John Vladimir in Elbasan with the coat of arms of Prince Karl Topius. This gate was made in the XIV century.

The Renaissance Hall gives a complete picture of the development of Albania from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the declaration of independence. Here the visitor has the opportunity to get acquainted with the products of local craftsmen from different cities of the country. You can also see a map of one of the most important trade routes between the cities of the Balkan Peninsula and the rest of the world.

Further, the museum invites you to halls dedicated to the struggle for independence, ethnoculture and icon painting, as well as pavilions with expositions telling about the struggle against fascism (1920-1944) and the communist genocide (1944-1991).

 

 

National Art Gallery (Galeria Kombetare e Arteve), Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit, ☎ +355 4 222 6033. W-Su 9:00-19:30. 13th century pieces, modern art, socialist art. 200 lek.
National Archaeological Museum of Albania (Muzeu Kombëtar Arkeologjik), Sheshi Nënë Tereza (Two block west from Qemal Stafa Stadium), ☎ +355 4 222 6541. This museum features ancient artifacts from Illyrian to Roman and Hellenic times featuring wonderful mosaics, Roman statues and illustrative maps.
Natural Sciences Museum of Albania (Muzeu i Shkencave Natyrore), Rruga e Kavajës. This museum features the fauna and geological composition of Albania.
Tirana Mosaic (Mozaiku i Tiranes), Blloku pallateve Partizani, Lagja nr. 9 - Rruga Sandër Prosi (1.3 km W). - The mosaic was discovered following excavations for an apartment complex. Various artifacts point to the presence of a village in the area thousands of years ago. This is the only archaeological site in Tirana!

Bunk'Art (Enver Hoxha's Underground Bunker), Rruga Teki Selenica. W-M 09:00-18:00 during summer, 09:00-16:00 during winter. This is the underground bunker of Enver Hoxha featuring Cold War exhibits turned into an art gallery, with many corridors full of art works to admire. The most famous works of Albanian art are available here to witness and observe. 500 lek.
Bunk'art 2. This bunker was the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' and mixes a bit of art with an interesting exposition about the building of a paranoid Stalinist dictatorship through systematic spying, arrests and torture. A small app can be downloaded to enhance the experience with VR. 500 lek.

House of Leaves (The Museum of Secret Surveillance).
ZETA Center for Contemporary Art. M-F 11:00-18:00, Sa 11:00-14:00. a non-profit exhibition space founded in 2007. With its 150 m² area on the second floor of a mixed residential and commercial building at Abdyl Frashëri Street No.7 in the Blloku area of Tirana (zona Libri Universitar: between Santa Margherita Wine Shop and LC Waikiki Store), ZETA functions as an autonomous cultural venue for contemporary visual arts, including painting, sculpture, photography, video, installation, sound, and performance. Besides exhibitions, ZETA also hosts educational programs, workshops and discursive events, in cooperation with local and international partners. Over the last twelve years ZETA has significantly contributed to the vitality and dynamics of contemporary art scene in Tirana, most notably with regard to young Albanian artists. Free entrance.

 

 

Fortress of Justinian or simply Tirana Castle remains (Albanian: Kalaja e Justinianit, Kalaja e Tiranës)

Shëtitorja Murat Toptani

Officially, the history of Tirana is calculated from the moment of its foundation in 1614 by Suleiman Pasha. In fact, a village with this name existed much earlier. The origin of his name is associated with different words in ancient Greek, meaning "crossroads" or "castle". In the 4th century AD, the area was called Tyrkana, at the time of Karl of Anjou, in 1297, the name Tergiana was found, and later, in 1505, an almost modern name was fixed - Tyranna.

Justinian's Fortress is a castle in Tirana. Its history dates back to 1300 and the end of the Byzantine era. The Citadel is where the main paths from east to west and north to south intersect, an ideal position to establish a city. The remains of the fort are walls six meters high. These ruins, entwined with vegetation, belong to the period of the Ottoman rule in the country.

The ruins impress with their massiveness and quality of work, like all ancient buildings. The families of the city rulers and the administration lived in the premises inside the fortress. Some residential buildings in Tirana were built in the same architectural style as the castle. Own archaeological excavations have not been carried out here. But not so long ago, the foundations of the walls were discovered - they are included in the pedestrian zone of Murat Street. Nearby is the country's parliament, as well as a mosaic dedicated to the 100th anniversary of the independence of Albania.

 

Big park

Work on the arrangement of the Great Park began in the fall of 1958, but the project was developed by the Florentine architect Gerhardo Bozio back in 1936. Based on the layout of other green areas in Tirana, the architect came up with a park that stretches in the hills behind the houses (now the University of Tirana) with an area of ​​about 22 hectares. This area was a valley slope with swampy areas, small ponds, dozens of young oak growth of different heights. The redevelopment and changes were made very carefully, based on the knowledge and creative imagination of the agronomists of the time.

In 1959, the planting of cypress trees began on both sides of the main road, which is today called Thousand Cypress Street. Work began according to a detailed plan. Over the years, many monuments were built, the Belvedere in 1961, the sports complex in 1965, the Summer Theater (an important cultural center) in 1969, new roads were added by 1974, the fountain started working in 1978.

The construction of the artificial lake began in 1958 and was completed in 1960. The total area of ​​the reservoir is 55 hectares, its circumference is 10 km, and the maximum width reaches one thousand two hundred meters. The complex of hydraulic structures includes control gates, inclined dams, an artificial embankment-island in the center, boat stations, several lawns and sandy beaches.

The area of ​​Tirana park reached 232 hectares, thousands of seedlings of 166 tree species were planted, starting with poplars and acacias, which were planted first in 1946, and later - pine and cedar seedlings. Flower beds, hedges and compositions of various decorative shrubs were also laid out. Over the years, the Big Park has been enriched with recreation and entertainment, science and tourism zones; the zoo pavilions and the Botanical Garden have been built nearby. Dozens of kilometers of roads and paths were built in the park, thousands of trees of many species, grown in nurseries, were planted.

 

 

The tanners' bridge

The tanners' bridge was built in Tirana in the 17th-18th centuries and is a cultural monument. The bridge got this name because of the special position of the leatherworkers' guild in the economic and social life of Tirana at that time. The bridge, about 7.5 meters high, is made of stone, forms arches and is paved with cobblestones. It is distinguished by a harmonious architecture, as well as a proportional distribution of all structural elements. The bridge consists of a bow-shaped main arch with a maximum clearance of 8 meters, as well as two side arches with a base thickness of 1 meter. The maximum rise in the water level for which the bridge is designed is 3.5 meters. The sidewalk of the overpass is 2.5 meters wide, laid out of river stone, placed chaotically.

From 1614, Tirana saw a rapid growth in industry and trade. The favorable geographical position at the intersection of important trade routes attracted new citizens to Tirana, who increased the city's population year after year. Along one of the important roads for driving cattle from the mountains to the plains, tanners settled, whose activity was called "tabakane". Accordingly, built in the 18th century by necessity, a stone bridge across the Lana River was named "Tabak-bridge".

The bridge was used for its intended purpose until the 30s, until the riverbed changed direction. Tobacco Bridge is a perfectly preserved example of ancient architecture of Albania.
The tanners' bridge was built in Tirana in the 17th-18th centuries and is a cultural monument. The bridge got this name because of the special position of the leatherworkers' guild in the economic and social life of Tirana at that time.

The bridge, about 7.5 meters high, is made of stone, forms arches and is paved with cobblestones. It is distinguished by a harmonious architecture, as well as a proportional distribution of all structural elements. The bridge consists of a bow-shaped main arch with a maximum clearance of 8 meters, as well as two side arches with a base thickness of 1 meter. The maximum rise in the water level for which the bridge is designed is 3.5 meters. The sidewalk of the overpass is 2.5 meters wide, laid out of river stone, placed chaotically.

From 1614, Tirana saw a rapid growth in industry and trade. The favorable geographical position at the intersection of important trade routes attracted new citizens to Tirana, who increased the city's population year after year. Along one of the important roads for driving cattle from the mountains to the plains, tanners settled, whose activity was called "tabakane". Accordingly, built in the 18th century by necessity, a stone bridge across the Lana River was named "Tabak-bridge". The bridge was used for its intended purpose until the 30s, until the riverbed changed direction. Tobacco Bridge is a perfectly preserved example of ancient architecture of Albania.

 

 

Cathedral of St. Paul

St. Paul's Cathedral is the largest Catholic church in Albania. Its interior is decorated with stained glass windows depicting Mother Teresa and Pope John Paul II.

 

 

Tomb of Kaplan Pasha

The tomb of Kaplan Pasha is located in Tirana, the capital of the Republic of Albania. This tomb was built in the 18th century. This octagonal structure is an example of traditional Ottoman architecture. The memorial was erected near an old 17th century mosque, which was subsequently destroyed by explosions during the Second World War. The height of the tomb is about four meters.

The current government of Albania has given permission for the construction of a modern skyscraper on the foundations of the temple, and the tomb is also under threat of destruction. In order to protect architectural and historical monuments, in 1948 the burial place of Kaplan Pasha was declared a national and cultural heritage of the country.

After the communist government of Enver Hoxha came to power in 1967, Albania is declared the world's first state without religion. At this time, many places of worship were closed or completely destroyed, regardless of their historical or cultural value. The Kaplan Pasha memorial was also closed to the public. Vandals damaged the grave, stone sarcophagi were destroyed. Despite the status of a historical monument, the attraction is still in poor condition due to the close proximity of a large-scale construction site.

 

 

Mount Dayt

Mount Dayt is a peak and national park in central Albania, east of Tirana. Its highest point is 1613 m above sea level. In winter, the mountain is covered with snow and is a popular pastime for the people of Tirana. Pine, oak and beech forests grow on the slopes of Mount Dayt, as well as canyons, waterfalls, caves, lakes and an ancient castle. The mountain was declared a National Park in 1966, the total area of ​​the park is about 30 thousand hectares.

In addition to forests and beautiful mountain landscapes with lots of wild flowers, the protected area is home to many mammals. The park is home to a wild boar, a Eurasian wolf, a fox, a hare, a brown bear and a wild cat. In the lower part of the mountains, the vegetation consists of heather, myrtle and strawberries. Oak dominates at about 1000 m above sea level, followed by beech forests with conifers. There is almost no vegetation at the top.

Mount Dayt can be reached by a narrow asphalt mountain road to the Fusha-i-Dayty plateau. It was once a summer camp, but now it is occupied by restaurants, radio and TV towers. At the top there is a monument “Mother Albania”, traditional for the communist regimes, there is a memorial “Cemetery of Heroes”, as well as the grave of the most famous leader of the country - Enver Hoxha. This site offers an excellent view of Tirana and its surroundings, it is called the "balcony of Tirana". Since June 2005, a cable car has been operating from the eastern outskirts of Tirana to the plateau, transporting visitors to an altitude of 1050 meters. Recently, traces of prehistoric settlements and fortifications of later periods have been found in the area.

 

 

History of Tirana

Earliest references and founding of the city
The area around Tirana has been inhabited since the Paleolithic. The oldest finds in the urban area date from Roman times: walls and a mosaic from a Roman villa from the 2nd or 3rd century that was converted into a church. In the 6th century, the Roman Emperor Justinian I had a fortress built, the walls of which can still be seen in the city center.

Tirana was first mentioned in its current name in Venetian documents in 1372 and 1418. In 1431/32 the Ottomans carried out a registration of soils and inhabitants in the area for the first time. According to this, there were 60 villages with around 1000 houses and 7300 inhabitants in this region. Marin Barleti made a distinction between Tyranna maior (Greater Tirana) and Tyranna Minor (Little Tirana) in the 16th century. In 1583, an Ottoman census for the area of ​​Tirana showed 110 localities in which 20,000 people lived in 2900 houses.

The local landowner Sulejman Pascha Bargjini, who came from Mullet near Petrela, built the Sylejman Pascha mosque, a caravanserai (Han), a bakery and a hammam on the current site in 1614 and is therefore considered the founder of Tirana. Presumably a small place with a regular bazaar and fair existed at this point, which had gained in importance, which is why it was worthwhile to build such an infrastructure for the traveling traders. After Sulejman's descendants died out around 1800, the Toptani family from Kruja took control of Tirana.

Determination of the capital in 1920 and the first urban development measures
Tirana remained small and insignificant for a long time until the town was designated the capital of Albania at the Lushnja Congress in 1920. A place with a few thousand inhabitants quickly became the largest and most important city in the country. King Zogu had a palace built here and, with Italian help, ministries and a boulevard were laid out. The first modern structures emerged through urban development measures, including the central square named after the Albanian Prince Skanderbeg.

Dictatorship from 1944 to 1990/91
At the beginning of the Second World War in 1939, Albania was occupied by the Italian fascists.

In November 1941, Enver Hoxha established the Communist Party of Albania in Tirana, and Tirana became the center of the Albanian communists. They recruited the population to fight against the Italian fascists and the German Nazis. The city was liberated on November 17, 1944 after a difficult battle between the partisans and the Wehrmacht that lasted several days, in which numerous historical buildings - including the most important mosque - were destroyed. A few days later, on November 29, 1944, Hoxha proclaimed Albania's independence in Tirana.

During the time of communist rule, the city developed rapidly: socialist housing estates and factories - especially food and machine factories - were built. In addition, the communist leadership continued the cultural expansion of the capital and built numerous educational institutions and cultural centers such as the opera house, several museums, the film studio and some theaters. The University of Tirana was founded in 1956.

In order to be able to redesign the center of the city, numerous historical buildings were destroyed in the 1960s and 1980s.

Time of democratization
On February 20, 1991, protesters overturned the larger than life statue of Enver Hoxha in Skanderbeg Square. Thus the end of communist rule was initiated. Albania gradually began to open up and to democratize politically and socially. In March 1997 Albania was again shaken by unrest. Foreigners had to be flown out, for example in Operation Libelle by the Bundeswehr.

After the democratization, the cityscape changed quickly. Illegal buildings were being erected everywhere, especially to the northwest. Many residents of the rural regions settled on the outskirts. Shops, cafes and restaurants sprung up in the city center. From 1999 the illegal buildings in the city center were torn down and the green spaces restored.

 

Tirana experienced an economic boom in the 21st century. Numerous modern high-rise buildings have emerged. Most of the streets have been re-paved and signposted. Many parks have been set up and many trees have been planted. A city and regulatory plan has been completed. A sewerage project is being carried out by a Japanese company and large parts of the city have been cleaned up. International companies and shops opened branches. Public transport has been partially expanded and new city buses have been purchased. A tram project is being examined. An address system was also implemented.

On the night of September 21 to September 22, 2019, Tirana was shaken by an earthquake. The quake with a magnitude of 5.8 on the Richter scale caused damage to at least 300 buildings. Local media said over 100 people were injured, some seriously injured. The Albanian Ministry spoke of the worst earthquake in decades that Albania has experienced.

 

 

 

 


 

Transportation

By plane
The Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (Tel .: 04-381800, lost property office, mobile phone: 069-2066626), located 17 km northwest of Tirana near the village of Rina, is operated once or twice a day by Austrian Airlines from Vienna, once Daily flights from Lufthansa from Munich and several times a week from Adria Airways from Frankfurt am Main and Munich. Eurowings flies (seasonally) from Cologne / Bonn, Stuttgart, Hamburg, Berlin. The terminal opened in 2007. There are newspaper shops, duty free shops and travel agencies here. A mobile operator is also represented.

You can rent a car from Hertz, Sixt, Avis and Europcar. Otherwise you can take the Rinas Express airport bus to the city center, which runs every hour between 07:00 and 23:00 for 300 Lek in under an hour behind the National Theater / Opera on Skanderbeg Square. You can return to the airport from this stop at the same times (depending on the information, every hour between 06:00 and 18:00 or between 08:00 and 24:00). Since November 2015 the bus has also been running six times a day to Durres (500 Lek; timetable).

A licensed Airport Taxi Express (ATEx) (Tel .: 04-2233419, mobile phone: 068-2049598, 068-2070311) takes you to the city in 20-25 minutes. For this you pay 2000 lek between 08:00 and 21:00, and 2500 lek after 21:00.

A train connection to Durres and Tirana has been under construction since 2018.

By train
The train station, at the north end of Blv. Zogu I. was demolished to create a new city district. An old steam locomotive was erected as a memorial. It is unclear whether and when the planned train station will open in the Laprakë district. The few trains to Durrres only run from Stacioni Kashar. Renovated in 2015, 7.5 km outside, accessible by bus. Information on the timetable can be found in the entry on Albania.

Bus and Furgon
There is no central bus station. Most international long-distance buses run along Zogu I Blvd., which runs north from Skanderbegplatz towards the train station. The numerous ticket brokers (price comparison is worthwhile, e.g. Athens 25-35 euros, return 45) tell you where which bus leaves. Arrivals / departures early in the morning, e.g. 4.00, not unusual. Anyone who is here so early can refresh themselves with expectant fathers in the 24-hour cafe at the entrance to the university maternity hospital.

Along Zogu I Blvd .: International long-distance buses to Northern Europe, Istanbul, Kosovo, behind the Hotel Tirana International. The hotel's open guest Wi-Fi will also be shining on the street in May 2016. Diagonally Departures to Greece, Turkey. Closer to the former train station from / to Macedonia. There are also several exchange offices and banks along the street.

To Kosovo:, behind the Natural History Museum.
South urban bus station, at Ruga i Kavajes (Kombinat city bus stop). Direction Berat, Vlora, Fier, Himara, Saranda.
Kukes bus station, Rruga Dritan Hoxha (just before the roundabout at the beginning of the motorway).
Skhoder bus station, RR. Karl Gega.
at the stadium :. to Elbasan, Korca, Pogradec. A few hundred meters further down the main road out of town, minibuses drive to Pogradec, in front of the university's economics faculty.

In the street
Coming from the west towards Durrës, Tirana can be reached via the SH2 motorway. The SH4 from the south (Greece, Gjirokastra, Fier) and the SH1 from the north (Montenegro, Shkodra) flow onto the SH2. The SH3 (currently partially being expanded to the motorway) leads from Tirana in the east to Elbasan, Lake Ohrid and the Macedonian border.

By boat
The nearest port is in Durrës, 30 km away. There are direct ferry connections to and from Bari and Ancona in Italy.

 

 

 

 

Get around

Public transport in Tirana consists of several bus routes, the route of which can be found in the city map in the web links section. The buses run between 06:00 and 22:00 every 10-20 minutes, a ticket costs 30 lek.

However, the city center can also be explored on foot. There are EcoVolis bike rentals distributed throughout the city center, which should theoretically be manned from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (shorter in practice). There are cycle paths that are more optional to use.

 

 

 

Hotels, motels and where to sleep

Budget
Budget options in Tirana are hindered by a government 1000 lek per-person tax levied on all the hotels.

Freddy's Hostel, Ground Floor, 75 Bardhok Biba St (200 m from the National History Museum), ☎ +355 4 2266077. Rooms are passable, usually with ensuite. No true dorm rooms. WiFi. €35 for a double.
Hostel-Albania, Rruga Kavajes 80, ☎ +355 69 674 8779.
Hotel Briker, Rruga e Barrikadave (close to the centre (5 min walking)), ☎ +355 4 2229543, e-mail: hotelbriker@hotmail.com. Clean, safe, nice private rooms with private bathroom and shower, well maintained, friendly, all of the staff spoke English, they take credit cards. Double/Twin: €40 [2011].
Star Hotel, Rruga e Dibrës, 73 (from Skanderbeg Square walk past the Tirana International Hotel, it'll take one minute), ☎ +355 42231950, +355 696415459, e-mail: starhotel2012@hotmail.com. Clean, safe, private rooms with private bathroom and shower, well maintained, friendly, staff speak English. Double/twin: €30 [2013].
Hotel Viktoria, Rruga e Elbasanit (2 km south), ☎ +355 69 5406986, e-mail: info@viktoriahoteltirana.com. Newly renovated (June 2011) and family-owned hotel, situated in a new residential area that offers quietness and fresh air. Sgl: €22; Dbl/Twin: €34; Tpl: €44; Quad: €54.
Tirana Backpackers Hostel, Rruga Elbasanit 85/Rruga e Bogdanëve (0.5 km W of Skanderberg Square). Small hostel, with just 25 beds, in a beautiful villa built in 1940. Dorms are spacious and well lighted, back garden. Bikes can be rented for city tours. Dorm bed: 1,770 lek.
Hotel Verzaci, Rinas (15 km North of Tirana). Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 12:00. The hotel is on a ten minute walk from the Tiranë airport terminal building, very convenient for early departures or late arrivals. While there are hotels even closer to the airport, this hotel provides very good value for its price. €25 (single).
Jolly Hotel, Square Avni Rustemi, ☎ +35542250630. A small hotel in central Tirana with a 24-hour front desk and friendly staff. Modest buffet breakfast is included in price. If arriving by plane, catch the Rinas Ekspress airport coach (250 lek) which terminates behind the Opera, 500 m from the hotel. €23 single.

Mid-range
Hotel Baron Tirana, Rruga Elbasanit (near Mother Albania Statue, Qemal Stafa Stadium, and University of Tirana), ☎ +355 4 2467649. Meeting facilities include conference rooms, a ballroom, and banquet facilities. single €35; double/twin: €50; triple: €55; Quad: €65.
Hotel City Tirana, Rruga Ismail Qemali, Nr8/1, ☎ +355 4 2247799, fax: +355 4 2247799, e-mail: info@hotelcitytirana.com. Family-owned hotel with exquisite service. single €34-€50; double €75.
Hotel Meg Klaus, Hotel Meg Klaus (in a courtyard, street off Rr.Mine Peza), ☎ +355 4 2239214, fax: +355 4 2259236. 11 rooms. TV, air-con and bathroom worked fine. No restaurant (and no breakfast included) but a hotel bar. Some staff had trouble speaking English. singles €30, doubles €40.

Splurge
Hotel Airport Tirana, Rinas Tirana International Airport Mother Teresa (near the Rinas (Tirana) Airport), ☎ +355 48300190, fax: +355 4 48300191, e-mail: hotelairportirana@live.com. Grand hotel with every modern amenity. Sgl 8,850 lek; Dbl 11,800 lek.
Hotel Brilant Antik, Rr. Jeronim De Rada, No. 78 (Just across the Parliament), ☎ +355 4 2251166, e-mail: info@hotelbrilant.com. Excellent rooms and helpful staff. €70, breakfast included.
Hotel Grand, Rr. Ismail Qemali 11 (close to the centre). A small, 3-star standard hotel. single €120; double €160.
Hotel Mondial. Prestigious 4-star hotel. 28 rooms. Also a bar and a restaurant.
Hotel Theranda, Rr. Andon Zako Cajupi, Villa 6 & 7 (two minutes from the centre, Blloku District), ☎ +355 4 2273766, fax: +355 42 273689. Boutique hotel. single €70 to €100; double/twin: €90 to €130.
President Hotel. Small hotel in the Bllok area.
Rogner Hotel Europapark, Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit. Part of the Rogner chain of hotels, this modern hotel is located where the headquarters of the communist party were planned to be built before the fall. Very luxurious. Beautiful gardens and an outdoor swimming pool that is always freezing. The comfort has five stars. Security is unsurpassed. single €152 to €176 +tax; double/twin: €170 to €201 +tax.

Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Sheshi Italia (Near the stadium). One of Tirana's largest, and most modern hotels. single from €161; double from €216.
Tirana International Hotel (In Skanderberg Square). Centrally located, this hotel was built during communist times and has recently changed hands. There are plans for drastic changes in its appearance, and it still remains one of the major and best hotels in Albania. If you have the time have lunch on the covered balcony of their one restaurant, the food and service is excellent. Weekend: Single: €60, Double: €70; Weekday: Single: €112, Double: €124-€142.
Xheko Imperial Hotel Tirana, Rr. Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit. 48 luxurious rooms, equipped with all the modern amenities. Restaurant with Albanian traditional cuisine.

 

Restaurant, taverns and where to eat

Food is generally inexepensive in town, even in the more upscale places. The Italian influence is everywhere and most places will offer pizza and/or pasta along more elaborate dishes. A good rule of thumb is that the priciest or fanciest places rarely are the best ones, particularly in the Blloku.

Traditional
Oda restaurant, Rr. Luigj Gurakuqi (Past Sheshi Avni Rustemi towards Skanderbeg Square), ☎ +355 4 2249541. noon-late. Situated inside a Tirana traditional house, this restaurant features delicious traditional cuisine. 500 lek.
Sofra e Ariut, Nd. 54 H.1 Njësia Bashkiake Nr. 1, Rruga e Elbasanit, (inside Tirana's Big Park), ☎ +355 4 2372904. Specializing in traditional Albanian cuisine, the interior is decorated with traditional ornaments.
Tek Zgara Tironës 2, Rruga e Kavajës (From Skanderberg square walk ten minutes west along Rruga e Kavajës. It will be on your right), ☎ +355 69 948 4792. 09:00-23:30 every day. Good traditional Albanian cuisine with massive servings. Mains 200-700 lek.

Budget
Small shops and roadside vendors throughout the city sell foods such as sufllaqe, doner, and gjiro for less than 200 lek. Also try the local specialty, byrek.

AFC fast food restaurant serves a lot of things and you can have a lunch or a dinner there.
Big Bite fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri 16 (in Blloku). 24hrs. good taste of Albanian fast food.
Mr.Chicken fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri (in Blloku). 09:00–24:00. good taste of Albanian fast food. Freshly cooked rotisserie chicken
Gjiro Kamara fast food restaurant, Rr. Abdyl Frashëri (in Blloku, next to Slovenian Embassy), ☎ +355 4 225 6513. Good taste of Albanian fast food.
Kolonat Fast Food, Sheshi Italia (in Bllok, near Nene Tereza Square, At National Archaeological Museum), ☎ +355 42382202. M-F 09:00-22:00, Sa 08:00-14:00 and 16:00-20:00. Albania's version of McDonald's. Specializes in burgers and pizza. Also on Blv. Bajram Curri, and on Rruges Elbasanit. 500 lek for sandwich, fries, and drink.
Marion Restaurant (Mensa Marion), Rruga Pjeter Budi, Tirana University student's campus (E 1 km), ☎ +355 66 2083399. 08:00-23:00. Budget self service restaurant in the Central Campus. Very popular among students. Under US$10 per meal.

Mid-range
Gloria, Rruga Qemal Stafa. Excellent food (Italian and Albanian) with good service.
King House restaurant, Rruga Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit (at Bank of Albania), ☎ +355 4 2255559. Combination of excellent Albanian and Italian food. Always very popular with expats and locals.
Yamato restaurant, (Blloku). A more formal restaurant than other Blloku eateries, children-friendly Yamato has a big selection of Japanese foods prepared by a Filipino chef.

Splurge
Gurra e Perris, Mali Dajtit (Dajti Mountain) (after you get off the cable car, restaurant's micro-buses will take you directly to the restaurant), ☎ +355 68 2060720. Traditional restaurant in a marvelous place, with fantastic view of the city. Fresh meat, fresh trout (you can also catch it by yourself there). 1000 lek.
Bar Restaurant Patricia, Rruga Fortuzi (Going up the Durresi Street turn right at the Ministry of Education, - near the school Jeronim De Rada), ☎ +355 4 2228372. 09:00-24:00. A fancy and comfortable restaurant. Its specialty is the Italian food. 1000 lek.
Vila 12, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti in front of Birrila's building, ☎ +355 4 2250633. 11:00-23:00. A gourmet fish restaurant that has some very fishy combinations indeed. The chef likes to experiment; try the raw fish with radish, grapes and strawberries, or the potato-cake with cod and mozzarella. Thankfully there's also traditional grilled fish and lobster. The hot choc fondant cake is a worthy dessert.
Juvenilja Castelo, Sheshi Italia (close to hotel Sheraton, at the Big Park,), ☎ +355 68 2022802. 24/7. Mainly serves Italian and Albanian food. A 5-star restaurant. 1000 lek.

 

 

Drink

Raki is Albania's national alcohol; try Boza for something non-alcoholic, the most famous of which is Pacara Boza, ☎ +355 69 2481122. 1 bottle of 1.5 l ~ 100 lek.

Sky Tower Rotating Bar. (Rr. Ibrahim Rugova) This is a must! The rotation is a bit jerky and may leave you slightly seasick.
Blloku is the main nightlife spot in the city.

Grand Cafe, Blloku. Frequented by elites of the city for a good cup of coffee.
Lizard, Blloku. There is often live shows performed by bands from all over Albania, when prices for drinks drop a little. Lizard is known for the cocktails their experienced bartender prepares.
Shakesbeer Bar, Blloku. Good place offering beers.
Converse, Charls, Steel Wings (Bikers club), Unit, Mos Fli. Clubs in Blloku frequented by die hard rock and metal fans.

Brauhaus (Brauhaus Shallvare), Shallvare (Pallati Tuborg), ☎ +355689044286. 13:00-23:00. Brauhaus (Shallvare Brewpub), Rruga Reshit Çollaku 38, Tirana (Parku Rinia, Shallvare), ☎ +355 4 223 7955. 11-00. The first brew pub in Tirana, Albania, with beers (Blonde, Rose, Dark, Bock) brewed few meters away from the seating tables. Fermented in open view tanks and poured from tank, fresh into the mug, unfiltered and unpasteurized without added CO2 or any adjuncts. Live music €1 a beer. 1.

 

Cultural (and not so cultural) events

Festivals
Some of the most popular events are Summer Day celebrations in Mid-March, and Independence Day festivities on November 28. Recently, a number of prestigious festivals have become a tradition in the city's calendar of events:
Tirana International Film Festival (Tirana Film Fest). This annual film festival held at the end of November and beginning of December highlights the work of ethnic Albanian artists.

Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (Tirana Biennale), ☎ +355 69 2069011. This biannual art festival features the best of international contemporary art. It was last held in 2009 at the historic Hotel Dajti building.

Tirana Jazz Fest.

Rally Albania, Mother Teresa Square, ☎ +355 4 2231 586. The event features an international competition in the rough Albanian countryside roads.

 

Interesting information and useful tips

Buy
There are plenty of ATMs accepting Cirrus/Maestro and Visa around the city (and there is one at the airport).

Bookshop
Adrion International Bookshop, Palace of Culture, Skanderbeg Square (Center), ☎ +355 4 223 5242. 08:30-21:30. Magazines and newspapers from around the world. English books available.

Shoes
Unique, Rruga Ibrahim Rugova, Blloku. This shoe shop has fancy shoes such as Dsquared, Fendi, and Moschino.

Souvenir
Kiosques, Rr. Barrikadave and Rr. Durresit (North of Sulejman Pasha Square and across from the Tourist Info Center). Souvenirs.

 

Food & market
Central Market (Pazari i ri), Sheshi Avni Rustemi. daily early morning. Fresh fruit and vegetables, as well as traditional cooking utensils.
Natyral & Organik, Rr. Vaso Pasha 3 Tiranë, ☎ +355 69 209 9047. M-F 09:00-21:00, Sa Su 09:00-14:00, 17:30-21:00. The shop works directly with producers and sell local organic olive oil, raki, wine, honey, and dried herbs.

Malls
Citypark Albania, Tirana-Durrës highway, km 8 (Just beyond the airport turn-off), ☎ +355 4 2376424. A large shopping centre has some 180 shops, a Mercator hypermarket, food court, skating rink
Coin department store (Rr. Papa Gjon Pali II) (ABA Business Center).
Galeria Mall, Blv. Bajram Curri (European Trade Centre, behind the Pyramid), ☎ +355 4 2254100. Daily 09:00-20:00. More than 50 shops, bars and cafés
Kristal Shopping Center, Rr. Frang Bardhi, ☎ +355 4 4801028, e-mail: info@kristalcenter.com. 09:00-21:00. Has a Conad supermarket and a cinema complex
QTU shopping centre (Qendra Tregtare Univers), Tirana-Durrës highway, km 6 (6.8 km North-West of Tirana), ☎ +355 4 380100. Has a supermarket, electronics store. (+355 4 2380103)
QTU City mall, Rruga Abdyl Frashëri. Daily 09:00-22:00.
Sheraton Plaza, Sheshi Italia (At the Sheraton hotel). The mall has a café, a food court, a good little supermarket and several upmarket shops.
Tirana East Gate (TEG), Autostrada Tiranë – Elbasan, km 0, ☎ +355 4 2395000.
Toptani Shopping Center, Rr. Abdi Toptani, ☎ + 355 4 4 4540999, e-mail: info@toptani.com.al. Splashy new shopping mall right in the city center.

 

 

Connect

It is a good idea to buy a local Vodafone or ALBtelecom prepaid sim card for staying connected to the Internet. Prices start at around 600 lek for a calling plan. For slightly over 1,000 lek you can get a calling plan with 5GB or more data traffic. Additional data is 500 lek per 4Gb, with occasional bonuses. You must provide a passport to purchase a prepaid SIM. There is a Vodafone shop at the Nënë Tereze Airport right after the customs.

Main Post Office & Telephone Centre, Sheshi Cameria. M-F 08:00-20:00.

Internet cafes
Centre Internet, RR Brigada e VIII (Look for the yellow sign down the laneway). 24 hours. 100 lek per hour. edit
Internet Point, RR Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit, 7. 24 hours. 100 lek per hour.

Stay safe
Gun violence has been an issue in the nightclub district of Blloku. Extortion (and other types of crime that relate to slavery) is common in prostitution areas of Tirana. Unemployment is high for young adults in all areas of Albania, and there are large networks of available people on the street to identify, track, and harass tourists across the city. Drug-related crime and drug traffic also occur, though they are not as visible in the city as in some remote rural and resort areas

You should take some precautions when walking around the city. The main advice is to simply watch your step. Although many parts of the city are maintained, there remain holes and worn-down street parts. Cars also seem to drive more recklessly than in most European cities, and assume a right-of-way, so care is needed in crossing the street. Not even a green light is always a guarantee of safety! Try to see when the locals cross the street and cross with them.

 

Stay healthy

Hospitals
ABC Family Health Centre. M-F 08:00-16:00. English-speaking doctors. Run by baptists. Consultation: US$20.
Klinika IRMA, Rruga Dora D'Istria, Pall Triss, Kati 3 (large physician-owned multi-specialty clinic in the city centre, near Bllok), ☎ +355 4 2243000. M-Sa 09:00-18:00. English, French and Italian-speaking doctors. Consultation: US$20.

 

Embassies

Czech Republic Czech Republic, Rruga Skenderbeg No. 10, ☎ +355 4 2234 004, fax: +355 4 2232 159.
Egypt Egypt, 1 St. Iskandar Bek, ☎ +355 4 223-3022, fax: +355 4 2232295, e-mail: egyemb@albaniaonline.net. 09:00-16:00.
Greece Greece, Rruga Frederik Shiroka, No 3, ☎ +355 4 2274669, +355 4 2274668, +355 4 2274670, fax: +355 4 2234290, e-mail: gremb.tir@mfa.gr
Iran Iran, Rr. Mustafa Matohiti no. 20, ☎ +355 4 2255038, fax: +355 4 2230409.
Italy Italy, Papa Gjon Pali II, n.2, ☎ +355 4 2275900, fax: +355 4 2250921.
North Macedonia North Macedonia, Rr. Kavajes nr. 116, ☎ +355 4 223 0909, fax: +355 4 223 2514, e-mail: tirana@mfa.gov.mk
Poland Poland, Rruga e Bogdaneve, ☎ +355 4 2234190, fax: +(355) 4 2233364.
Russia Russia, 2, Donika Kastrioti Str., ☎ +355 4 225-60-40, fax: +355 4 225-60-46.
United Kingdom United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Rruga Skenderbeg 12, ☎ +355 4 223 4973, fax: +355 4 224 7697.
United States United States of America, Rruga e Elbasanit No. 103, ☎ +355 4 2247 285, fax: +355 4 2232 222.