This is my city, so I have plenty of places to recommend! Firstly, I must explain that Tirana is a relatively new city and most of its construction took place during the Communist Regime. It became Albania’s Capitol in the 20s and its urban plan was thought and implemented by Italian urbanists (under Musolini’s regime), in the 30s, when Albania was invaded by Italy – that’s why it has a large boulevard across the city, connecting the Train Station with the University’s main building, where Mother Teresa’s Square is and the lake (behind the University). The city center is a big square in between, surrounded by Ministries, with Italian architecture. There are still some roads here and there, where you can see Italian villas, which now serve mostly as bars/restaurants. The biggest part of the city has a communist architecture, with blocks of concrete, mainly 5 floor apartment buildings, which during democracy were painted with different patterns, designs and colors. The other type of buildings in Tirana, are those built during democracy, looking like taller blocks of concrete, characterized by informality.
It is a very centralized city, so the main area to go out to bars/cafes/restaurants is called “Blloku” (the Block). This space used to be the residence of the Dictator and his people, completely isolated from the rest of the city and inaccessible by ordinary people. After democracy, it opened up to the public and now most of the Italian villas are turned to really nice spots for hanging out with friends. It is also the place to be for some nightlife, not too crazy.
Here are some sites in Tirana:
· George Castriota Scanderbeg monument (Albania’s National Hero)
· National Art Gallery
· King’s Palace (behind the Gallery/the cinema)
· The Pedestrian area (Pedonale)
· National Museum
· Bunk’art (a museum bunker of the prosecutions and history of communist regime)
· The House of Leaves (on the way from city center to “Blloku” – the spy museum – ex communist “intelligence” center)
• The Pyramid – ex museum of the Dictator (he built it for himself) and now it’s destroyed because they wanted to build smth else there, but they don’t have the money to do anything.
• the National Park
Some spots to eat & drink:
Bufe, Nouvelle Vague, Duff, Era, Teduktu, Radio, Komiteti, Luga e Argjendte, Mullixhiu.
P.S: I wrote so much parenthesis about Tirana because most of this info you won’t find online. The history of all these other cities below will be very piblic and accessible, so you can just Google and read. I’d reccommend doing that before going anywhere.
• The Castle
• The pedestrian area
• The “Mesi” bridge
• The Catherdral
• Franciscan Church
• the lake
Spots to eat and drink:
Shega, 7B (at the lake), Tradita, all the bars at the pedestrian area, Colosseo, Perla (at another lake), Mrizi i Zanave (same as Mullixhiu in Tirana, 1h from Shkodra).
Up in the north: Valbona – Theth roadtrip and hiking/camping on the Albanian Alps
Gjirokaster & Berat – These are two UNESCO Heritage cities with amazing cultural and historical ancient and medieval richness. In Berat you can go hiking or rafting at the Osumi canyons. Tips and recommendations for where to try the most delicious and fresh homemade traditional dishes can be found on Trip advisor as a very trustful resource.
Southcoast and Saranda:
…and much more to explore!
We will be waiting for you!