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7 Tips On How To Get The Most Out Of Visiting Tirana This Summer: From A Local!

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Little by little, Albania has turned into one of Europe’s most beloved budget hubs, but as more people than ever flock to its once-overlooked capital, it’s not that easy to find those amazing-value deals everyone keeps talking about.

Traveler in Tirana, Albania

And since Mastercard just came out with a report naming Tirana, a place that I’ve been calling home for more than I can remember, the third-fastest growing travel destination in the world, I figured it was time to come here and give you some insider tips on how to truly get the most out of the city.

Having A Set Itinerary With Plenty Of Pit Stops Is Essential

Skanderbeg Square

First things first: Tirana is busy, bigger than you think, and this time of year, scorching hot, too.

Throughout July and August, highs that reach the 35°C – 38°C (95°F – 100°F) range are pretty common, so while I know how much fun it is to be spontaneous and see where the day takes you, now it’s not the time to do that.

You’ll want to have a set itinerary with plenty of stops to rest and recharge – of course, keep a list of backup places to see along with their approximate locations on your phone so that even if there’s a change of plans, you don’t have to roam around clueless under the scorching summer heat.

Here’s what a first-time visitor’s day in Tirana can look like:

Bars and restaurants in Tirana
  • 9:00 – 9:30 – Coffee and breakfast at a Mon Cheri, Mulliri i Vjetër, or Sophie Cafe (these are popular chains with locations all over the city)
  • 9:45 – 10:45 – Visit Skanderbeg Square (great place to buy some souvenirs, take in the local architecture, and people-watch).
  • 10:50 – 12:00 – Visit Bunk’Art 2 (located less than 5 minutes away from the square).
  • 12:05 – 12:30 – Quick snack run at a nearby supermarket or byrektore (where you can find freshly-made bureks for less than $0.8 a piece).
  • 12:35 – 13:45 – Visit Tirana Castle and the surrounding pedestrian area
  • 14:00 – 15:30 – Lunch at Restaurant Era Blloku (traditional dishes at a reasonable price)
  • 15:50 – 18:30 – Go back to your hotel/Airbnb and rest (it should’ve gotten too hot to walk around by this time and most of the city is pretty quiet).
  • 18:45 – 20:30 – A Dajti Express ride that takes you right to the top of Dajti Mountain just in time to watch the sunset.
  • 9:00 – 10:30 – Dinner back in the city either at Pizzeria Deliziosa (Italian), Sakura (Japanese), or Serendiville (Mexican).
Tirana at night

Afterward, you can either call it a day or go for a drink in the famous Blloku neighborhood (more on that below).

You Can Get By On Less Than $60 A Day If You Play Your Cards Right

I recently saw a video of a tourist spending two days in Tirana for under $150, and I couldn’t help but think that you can definitely get by on even less.

As long as you keep your meals quick and cheap (e.g., get a $2.5 breakfast sandwich at Mulliri i Vjetër for breakfast, a $0.7 burek for lunch, and a $6 combo meal at OPA for dinner), you’re set up for success.

Dajti Express cable car, Tirana

That Dajti Express ticket I just mentioned is just ~$2.2, entry to Bunk’art costs ~$7, and there are plenty of hotels in amazing locations that charge a little over $40.

Speaking of which…

Finding A Decent, Cheap Place To Stay Is Easier Than You’d Think

Cheap places to stay in the city are easy to come across, but my top tip would be to opt for an Airbnb rather than a traditional hotel – I know that they’re a bit controversial among U.S. travelers, but here, they offer excellent value.

A tourist walking on vacation through Skanderbeg Square in Tirana, Albania

Take this one for example.

It’s right in the city center, has rave reviews, and costs less than $50 a day.

Avoid Using Public Transport As Much As You Can, Especially During Peak Hours

Public transport in Tirana can be challenging to navigate even as a local, especially during the hot summer months when surviving a ride in traffic in an outdated, incredibly crowded bus can be a nightmare.

Woman walking around Tirana

So my top tip would be to spend a bit more on a more centrally-located Airbnb (search for places close to Scanderbeg Square, Myslym Shyri, Blloku, 21 Dhjetori, Vasil Shanto, Komuna e Parisit, Rruga e Elbasanit, or Liqeni) and book a Green Taxi whenever you need to go somewhere you can’t walk to.

Take Advantage Of The Incredible Food Scene

Not only are traditional Albanian dishes truly as good as they say, but Tirana happens to be such a mix of cultures and influences that you’re guaranteed to find some great food no matter what type of cuisine you prefer.

I’ve already talked about some of my favorites.

Albanian food

OPA’s gyros, Deliziosa’s pizzas, Era’s fërgesë, Sakura’s sushi, and Cioccolatitaliani’s tiramisù are all must-tries.

If Your Schedule Allows, Plan A Day Trip To One Of The Many Amazing Nearby Cities

While there’s a lot to love about Tirana, Albania is a surprisingly diverse country with plenty more to take in beyond its capital.

Berat, Albania

So, if you have a day to spare, why not spend it catching some rays in Durrës (if you do go here, make sure to try the paella at 4 Stinët), taking in the fairytale-like views of Berat, or revel in the historical sites of Krujë?

Enjoying A Night Out Like A Local: Exploring Blloku

There’s nothing locals in Tirana love more than a night out in “Blloku,” by far the city’s liveliest, trendiest neighborhood.

Aerial view of Tirana

Here, you’ll find everything from upscale restaurants and high-end boutiques to Irish pubs where you can get a specialty beer and a snack of choice for less than $10.

If that combo piqued your interest, make sure to check out Duff or Meduza – neither the atmosphere nor the food will disappoint.

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Clint Hollister

Saturday 22nd of June 2024

Your story was interesting, but I am now in Albania with a problem. My debit card was issued in Singapore and has a six digit pin code: all the banks I visited only accept a four digit pin. (I cannot re-set it.) I have enough cash for another ten days but will have to leave Albania if I cannot use their ATM

Any useful suggestions are welcome.

Clint Hollister

Monday 24th of June 2024

@Kashlee Kucheran, Thank you for the reply-I will search for ATM around the Plaza Hotel. Do you recall which bank it belongs to ?

Kashlee Kucheran

Sunday 23rd of June 2024

Hi Clint, I have a 5 digit PIN and I found an ATM near the Plaza hotel in Tirana that worked for me. I know thats vague, but it's all I can remember