One of Europe’s best-kept secrets, Tirana is a place that rarely makes travel bucket lists. But when you start looking into all the diverse and captivating attractions Albania’s capital city has to offer, you’ll be planning your itinerary before you’ve even booked your flight!
Tirana offers a huge range of activities that are guaranteed to charm you, whatever you’re into. From hiking through blissful national parks and exploring history museums that unveil the city’s turbulent past to checking out tempting food markets brimming with local goodies and admiring iconic landmarks that have stood the test of time, you’ll never be stuck for what to do in Tirana.
Visit during summer for the chance to enjoy lazy days in parks and be enchanted by open-air music festivals. Or plan your trip for winter and spend your time exploring rustic Christmas markets and magical walks in the snow-covered national park.
With such a fantastic choice of things to see and do, it can be difficult to know where to begin. To make things easier for you, we’ve put together a list of the absolute best things to do in Tirana. Add these fun activities and attractions to your Tirana bucket list, and you’ll have an incredible time exploring one of Europe’s hidden gems!
- 15 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Tirana
- 1. Get Back To Nature At Mount Dajti National Park
- 2. Gaze At The Modern Orthodox Autocephalous Church
- 3. Go Up The Clock Tower In Skanderbeg Square
- 4. Eat Byrek For Every Meal
- 5. Ponder Albania’s Dark Past At Piramida
- 6. Celebrate The New Season At The Spring Festival
- 7. Eat Your Way Through Tirana’s New Bazaar
- 8. Test Your Taste Buds With Tavë Kosi
- 9. Uncover Albania’s Rocky Past At The National Historical Museum
- 10. Find The Best Views In Tirana From The Dajti Ekspres
- 11. NYou Festival
- 12. Get Tipsy On Raki
- 13. Visit The House Of Leaves Museum
- 14. Take A Break At Parki I Madh
- 15. Get A History Lesson Inside An Abandoned Bunker
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15 Fun and Unique Things to Do In Tirana
1. Get Back To Nature At Mount Dajti National Park
You’ll find some of the very best sights in Tirana inside Mount Dajti National Park. A fantastic place to escape the hustle and bustle of central Tirana, this park can easily be reached from the city by car, on foot, or via cable car.
This dazzling mountain range is a wonderful place to visit at any time of year. In summer, it’s lush and green, with wildflowers blooming all over the place. In winter, it’s covered in a thick layer of snow and looks like something out of a Christmas movie.
Whichever time of year you visit, you can follow the numerous hiking trails to discover the most beautiful parts of the park. Almost all the routes take you deep into the forest and along rocky ridges where you can see for miles.
There are plenty of fantastic places where you can enjoy a picnic under the shade of tall trees. But if you don’t want the extra work, you can stop by the restaurant at the cable car station instead. Here you’ll find a great range of local dishes that you can enjoy 3,280 feet above sea level!
2. Gaze At The Modern Orthodox Autocephalous Church
The one-of-a-kind Orthodox Autocephalous Church is one of the most popular Tirana attractions. Set in the center of the city, this church is the exact opposite of what you expect typical churches to look like.
Tirana’s Orthodox Autocephalous Church has a really modern design, despite its long history. It was built in an Orthodox and Byzantine style and features huge curved arches, dazzling gold doors, and navy blue details. Although it was built decades ago, the church looks like something from the future!
The façade is really interesting, but if you step through the entrance, you’ll find the inside just as fascinating. A wide-open space, the interior of the church is bright and airy, with simple wooden chairs and traditional religious murals contrasting against modern golden accents and sparkling candlestick chandeliers.
The church is free to enter, and visitors are always welcome, even during services.
3. Go Up The Clock Tower In Skanderbeg Square
Visiting Skanderbeg Square is one of the must-do things in Tirana, and you’ll find the very best views of it from the top of the Clock Tower of Tirana. It was built in 1822 by Etëhem Bey Mollaj, a Bejtexhinj poet who also completed the nearby Et’hem Bey Mosque. At the time, it was the tallest building in Tirana.
The tower stretches 115 feet into the sky, and you can reach the top by climbing the 90 stairs of the spiral staircase. From the viewing platform, you’ve got an amazing view of Skanderbeg Square. You can also see the colorful buildings which surround the square and even the stunning mountain range in the distance.
When it was first built, the Clock Tower of Tirana didn’t actually have a clock face. You had to listen to the number of times the brass bell tolled to find out what time it was. In 1928, the clock face was added, making it much easier to tell the time!
4. Eat Byrek For Every Meal
When you’re feeling hungry, one of the best things to do in Tirana is to eat byrek. A hugely popular Albanian food, byrek is versatile, delicious, and can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, or a snack!
Similar to the börek that you get in Turkey, byrek is a type of pie made of layers of really thin filo pastry stuffed with a rich filling. A combination of feta cheese and spinach is the traditional byrek filling, but you’ll also find them stuffed with mushrooms and Greek yogurt, beef ragout, cottage cheese, and onions and tomatoes.
Byrek is so loved that you’ll find it available from street food stalls, grocery stores, bakeries, cafes, and restaurants throughout Tirana. One of our favorite places for this dish is Te Eda. This small bakery is known for its fantastic byrek stuffed with shredded chicken. It’s served warm and is the perfect thing to eat at any time of day.
5. Ponder Albania’s Dark Past At Piramida
If you’re looking for unique things to do in Tirana, you’ve got to check out Piramida. This incredibly culturally important building was constructed in 1987 in honor of dictator Enver Hoxha. Although he died some years earlier, his family wanted to commemorate his memory with a major landmark.
After the fall of communism, the family lost control of the building and it was abandoned. Since 1991, discussions have been going on about what to do with it. Some people want it completely torn down, while others want it restored to become an important monument or fun place to hang out.
Until a decision can be made, Piramida remains a hauntingly brutal reminder of a time gone by. Although you can’t go inside the building, you can see it from the outside. The smashed windows and graffiti tell a story of an angry community that’s taking back power.
6. Celebrate The New Season At The Spring Festival
Celebrate the end of cold, dark days and the beginning of warm, sunshine-filled days at the Spring Festival. Held between April and May each year around Skanderbeg Square, the festival takes place over 11 days and boasts a jam-packed event program.
Iconic films from around the world are screened outdoors, and live music concerts with local and international artists are held. Musical and theatrical shows for adults and kids are performed, and you can shop for trinkets at quirky bring-and-buy sales.
A great festival for foodies, a number of food trucks visit the event each year, giving you the chance to sample all kinds of local and international street food. Wine tasting and beer tasting are also available.
If you’re on the lookout for something to brighten up your home, check out the art market, which is full of established and up-and-coming talented artists selling their best pieces.
7. Eat Your Way Through Tirana’s New Bazaar
When you need a break from all the Tirana sightseeing, take it easy for a little while and wander around Tirana’s New Bazaar. If you’re staying in self-catering accommodation and want to whip up your own meals, you’ll find some amazing organic produce here!
Even if you’re not planning on cooking anything yourself, the New Bazaar is still definitely worth a visit. Here you’ll find stalls selling artisan handicrafts, the latest tech, freshly-baked goods, local cheeses and other dairy products, jewelry, souvenirs, and loads more.
Before the New Bazaar was built, this spot used to house an old bazaar back during the Ottoman Empire. In 2017, it was totally revamped and transformed into the bustling market you can see today.
If you’re not interested in any of the food spots inside the bazaar, you’ll find a great selection of cafes, bars, and restaurants surrounding the market.
8. Test Your Taste Buds With Tavë Kosi
Tavë kosi is something you’ve absolutely got to try if you want to embrace Albanian cuisine. This classic dish is made from tender, juicy lamb chunks mixed with white rice and smothered in a rather unusual sauce before being baked in the oven.
The sauce is made from a combination of Greek yogurt, egg, garlic, and oregano. It sounds like a strange combination, but after it’s baked, it has a deliciously creamy, rich, and almost cheese-like taste and consistency.
When tavë kosi is done just right, the top is crispy and golden brown, the sauce is velvet-smooth, and the lamb is so delicate you don’t need a knife to cut it. It’s pure comfort food!
You’ll find tavë kosi available from practically every local restaurant throughout Tirana. The Rooms Restaurant is where we had some of the very best tavë kosi in the city. This restaurant adds its own secret spices to the sauce and it tastes amazing.
9. Uncover Albania’s Rocky Past At The National Historical Museum
If you want to learn more about Albania’s past, one of the best things to do in Tirana is to visit the National Historical Museum. This is the most important museum in the country and takes you on a journey through the centuries of Albania’s history.
Albania’s National Historical Museum is clearly set out into eight different zones: Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Independence, Iconography, National Liberation Anti-Fascism War, Community Terror, and Mother Teresa.
Most people find the Communist Terror section the most intriguing and captivating. Here you can discover all the videos, images, and documents that cover the horrible persecution the Albanians had to go through during the communist regime. It really opens your eyes to a terrible period of time.
Like most things in Tirana, the museum tickets are super affordable. But if you visit on 04/18, 05/15, 05/21, or 09/29, you can get in for free!
10. Find The Best Views In Tirana From The Dajti Ekspres
You’ll find some of the best things to see in Tirana from the Dajti Ekspres. This is the cable car that connects the city to the top of Mount Dajti.
This cable car route is one of the most beautiful in Europe. It covers 0.6 miles over the glorious Albanian countryside. If you ride in summer, you’ll get to see lush green grass, full leafy trees, and a rainbow of wildflowers. Ride in winter, and you’ll get to look down on a snowy winter wonderland right below you.
It takes around 15 minutes to get from the bottom to the top, making it the Balkans’ longest cable car ride. At the highest point, you’ll reach 3,280 feet above sea level, from which you can enjoy even more spectacular views.
There’s a number of local restaurants where you can dig into Albanian eats as you soak up the gorgeous views at the top.
11. NYou Festival
For one of the coolest things to do in Tirana, plan your trip for the beginning of June. At this time each year, the city celebrates NYou Festival, a lively music event that aims to prove to people the wonderful things they can achieve through music and art.
During the festival, you can discover a whole world of music, some of which you never even knew existed. Here you can watch concerts and find out about everything from regular jazz and alternative jazz to Balkan beats and Afro beats.
There are live music performances by local bands and artists throughout the day and night, as well as innovative art exhibitions, fascinating lectures, and intriguing workshops.
The NYou Festival does a great job of encouraging local people to get involved and build a better society. For the few days the festival takes place, the city really bursts into life, with music, art, and culture surprising you around every corner.
12. Get Tipsy On Raki
Raki is an unusual drink that looks more like a cool science experiment than a basic cocktail. One of the most fun things to do in Tirana is to order the drink for the first time and watch the show your server puts on for you.
When you order raki, it will be presented to you in a clear liquid in a tall shot glass. Raki is never enjoyed on its own – it’s always mixed with equal parts icy water. As your server pours the water into your raki glass, the transparent liquid will transform into a milky white shade.
Although raki actually comes from Turkey, it made its way over to Albania and became hugely popular. It contains 40% alcohol (that makes it 80-proof), and it’s best enjoyed as part of a meal, so you’ve got something to soak up the alcohol!
13. Visit The House Of Leaves Museum
One of the top Tirana activities if you want to discover what made Albania what it is today is to spend some time at the House of Leaves Museum. This museum dives into what the country looked like during the communist era and how local people had to live.
There are deposits and exhibits that explain how the state would control the Albanians, including the equipment they used to gain information and the techniques they used to listen to their private conversations.
The House of Leaves Museum got its name because it’s purposely hidden from public view behind a dense layer of leaves and trees. This was a method commonly used during warfare to conceal the activities that the groups occupying the building were up to.
These groups include the Gestapo, who occupied the house during WWII, as well as the Albanian secret service.
14. Take A Break At Parki I Madh
Parki I Madh is the place to go when you need a break from all the Tirana sightseeing. Also known as the Grand Park, this green space is one of the most tranquil and beautiful parts of the city.
The park covers a massive 714 acres and is the perfect place to take a relaxed stroll in the sunshine. As you wander, you’ll come across a giant glistening lake, a number of shaded picnic tables ideally positioned under trees, and several cafes where you can cool off with an icy drink.
You’ll find several of Tirana’s major attractions and landmarks inside Parki I Madh. If you want to see more beautiful landscapes, plants, and walking trails, check out the city’s botanical garden in the northeastern part of the park. Here you can discover more than 1,400 species of plants which represent around one-third of Albania’s flora.
15. Get A History Lesson Inside An Abandoned Bunker
When you’re in the mood for something cultural, one of the top things to do in Tirana is to visit BUNK’ART. This unique attraction is a combined museum and art gallery with two different locations. Our favorite is BUNK’ART1 because it’s hidden away inside an abandoned bunker that was originally constructed under dictator Hoxha’s rule.
BUNK’ART features loads of exhibits that convey what everyday life was like for dictator Hoxha and his government under the communist regime. You can take a walk around the dictator’s office and hear his voice on a tape, see a movie of his state funeral from 1985, and see the military liaison room. All the rooms have been arranged as if a nuclear attack could happen at any time.
The five underground tunnels that form the gallery-museum really give the place a creepy edge. Thankfully, the colorful contemporary artwork that lines the walls brightens the place up a little!
There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Tirana. What’s your favorite thing to do in Tirana?
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