We would so love to have visits from our friends during our year away. Please get in touch if you find yourself in our part of the world!
Hopefully we’ll be a in position to offer you a spare bed/sofa and an English speaking tour guide (me)!
Helpful sites to help plan your trip:
You can download a handy guide to Tirana, including maps, here. It includes places to stay, places to eat and things to see.
The Mother Teresa airport is located 17km northwest of the city. Airport taxis to the city centre cost around 2000-2500 lek. Please note that licensed taxis are painted yellow and sport red numbers on their license plates. Alternatively, hop on the Rinas Express airport bus (250 lek) to Skenderbeg Square located in the city center (leaving every hour between 8:00-19:00).
Accomodation in Tirana isn’t as cheap as you might think it would be, but there are some reasonable options out there. I would strongly recommend that you find a place close to the centre of town – public transport is challenging and driving is terrifying!
Air B’n’B might be a good option for affordable Tirana accomodation.
I’ve stayed in this hotel before. It’s not the flashest, but it was clean and an excellent location. Breakfast is very forgettable, but there are kiosks close by where you can get a warm byrek. The courtyard and its singing canaries accompany a cold beer nicely!
Things to do in Tirana
Tirana is a pretty noisy city with drivers speeding around and constantly honking their horns. Take care crossing the roads – it’s a horrifying experience! I would recommend shadowing a local and crossing when they cross! If you’re planning on renting a car and hitting the roads, please be careful and take it slow! Roads are poor at best (especially outside Tirana). Pedestrians run across the motorways without warning and drivers are erratic and aggressive.
Putting that to one side, the city hums with activity. There are endless bars and restaurants serving delicious food at very reasonable prices. The fruit & vege stalls on the side of the road sell the most amazing produce (beats Tescos hands down)!
Blloku used to be a fenced off residential area for high ranking Communist officials. Now its the centre of Tirana’s nightlife and a great place to eat, drink and people watch.
Places to eat in Tirana
Serving Italian and Albanian specialities in a big castle. Excellent dining in large rooms, all-encompassing balconies or tiered-terraces overlooking the greenery.
Address: Rr. Gjeneral Niko Pushkini
A charming rural-style restaurant in the big city. This converted house has rustic seating inside, and in summer tables below the vines in the shady courtyard. The food is honest peasant fare and totally delicious.
Address: Rr. Gjon Muzaka 31 (From Rruga Kavajës walk down Rruga Naim Frashëri and look for the sign down the the fourth alley on your right.)
An oasis from the noisy city, Vila 100 is a well known restaurant located in the center of Tirana, which offers comfort, style and excellent taste. It’s a blissful dining experience.
Address: Rruga Myslym Shyri
Dine ottoman-style in one of Tirana’s most traditional restaurants. Charmingly decorated with clay pottery, strings of garlic, hot peppers and vintage photos.
Address: Luigj Gurakuqi Street, near the market and Samsung store
This popular and foreigner-friendly spot makes for a good casual lunch or dinner. The Albanian food is excellent and the menu is extensive.
Address: Ismail Qemali Street, Nr. 33
Cafes / Bars
One of Tirana’s cooler bars & coffee shops. Sporting dozens of antique radios, a Guernica painting, a typewriter on a stool and a few vintage typewriters it brings together a fun and artsy crowd and lots of college students.
Address: Ismail Qemali Street 29/1
A fantastic Irish bar in the Bllok area, with several Brish, German and Belgian beers on tap. Usually there are TV screens usually playing the latest soccer match. It is best known for a lively atmosphere and the pleasant outside seating area. Address: Pjetër Bogdani Street
This off-the-beaten-path bar, a former stockroom by the abandoned railway, now transformed into a show room where exhibitions, films, and live music is organized weekly. Cheap drinks and cool people.
Address: Karl Gega Street, Blloku i Magazinave (by old train station)
Surrounded by palms and foliage, this is a great place to dance but also people-watch and sip one of the excellent prepared cocktails. It starts getting crowded after midnight during weekends, especially during the summer months.
Address: Murat Toptani Street
This is one of the most interesting places in Tirana because of its concept: Beer auctions. The price of the wide range of beer sorts is changing every five minutes depending on the demand. The bar is crowded every day of a week, but not only because of the cheap prices of the alcohol. It is simply nice and inviting place with a pleasant atmosphere for everybody.
Address: Brigada e VIII Street
Tirana is a compact city. Most of the attractions and entertainment venues are easily reachable on foot. Buses are the only public means of transport but they are not very reliable. Taxis within Tirana are reasonably priced at around 400-600 lek. It is advisable to either ask the driver to turn on the taxi meter or to negotiate the price before getting in the cab. Most cabbies have a basic knowledge of English and communication should not be a problem.
£1 = 161 Lek
NZ$1 = 86 Lek
Only the larger hotels and travel agencies accept credit cards in Albania so you will need to carry some cash on you while you travel. You can also withdraw cash in any of the ATMs located in the city center. There are many licensed currency places in Tirana. Always ask for a receipt from the exchange place. Note that some Albanians in stores, restaurants etc. write prices with an extra zero. They are not trying to charge you 10 times the going rate; they are merely using the old currency out of habit. Check before you pay!!!
Albania has a lovely Mediterranean climate. In June the day time temperatures will comfortably be in the high 20s to low 30s. It will cool off a bit in the evenings, but should still be very warm.