Things To Do In Tirana
The exuberant and vivid Tirana is the capital city of Albania, where this small country's trusts and dreams blend into a dynamic spin of activity, aggressive consumerism, and liberated fun. Having experienced a lot of progressive changes since it got up from its socialist control in the early 1990’s, Tirana is presently unrecognizable, with its structures painted in flat essential colors, with open squares and pedestrianized boulevards that are a delight to meander.
Tirana’s nightlife is filled with bars and boutiques lined along the Ottoman, Italian, and socialist influences. The busy traffic as a steady scene of unmitigated bedlam that is loud, colorful, bright, and dusty.
When To Go:
Along the coastal shores of Tirana, the normal temperatures in July and January are 25 ° Celsius and 10 ° Celsius individually. The plains have mellow winters with an average temperature of 70 ° C. In summer, the normal temperature is 24 °while on inland mountainous territories, winter temperatures are altogether lower, with an average of 900 meters around 19° Celsius especially in the months of July and 2 ° in January. Tirana has a Mediterranean kind of atmosphere, with hot and dry summers and gentle and chilly winters. The best time to visit is between the shoulder months of May and September which is considerably acknowledged as the peak season in Albania.
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Boredom is not a part of Tirana’s vocabulary and with a wealth of attractions to see is a lot of exciting things to do when in the city of Tirana. And this can only happen in the following places.
The Skanderberg Castle is located not just in Tirana but also situated in the medieval town of Kruja, which is an obligatory stop for anyone visiting Albania. The citadel is at least a half hour drive (traffic jams permitting) from the center of Tirana. The castle is nice to visit, thanks to the well-kept interior that allows you to learn about the history of Albania. The nearby bazaar is also worth a visit. It is a castle built since the fourth century. It is well maintained and very well organized with trained guides. Being inside is like a step back in time and like so many other places in Albania, it makes you realize how they truly value their history.
The fresco about the history of Skanderbeg is nice, but it lacks a little explanation in English. Do not miss the small mosque nearby. The museum itself is still interesting. It feels great to be inside the place where the Albanian hero lived and where he planned how to fight the Ottomans who ruled Albania for more than 25 years. It is an imposing castle that is not hard to miss and accessible by taxi from the central part. Be sure to check the other attractions surrounding the historic Skanderberg Castle.
Skanderbeg Square & Statue
The Skanderbeg Square and Statue is one of the most precious monuments that are characteristic of the country and located in the most beautiful park in Tirana. The square was recently renovated and it overlooks the national museum, the opera, the mosque and one of the oldest hotels of the city. The monument depicts the national hero who gained prominence into the Albanian’s consciousness for his resistance to the invasion of Turkey in Albania. The entire history of Albania turns all around the ideas of the Illyrian warrior named George Kastrioti Skanderberg; the brave hero who planned everything alone and had long been a bastion of Albania against the Ottoman invasion.
It was built in the heart of the city for the 4th centenary of the death of the national hero and head of the Ottoman colonization resistance. It was created by the "Sculptor of the people" Odhise Paskali (training supremacist, then socialist-realist artist of great efficacy) and has a sister product that dominates a gift from the people of the then Socialist Republic of Albania located near the Pyramid of Cestius in Rome, in Piazza Albania to be precise. The square is also the center of the nationalist celebrations for more than a century, the last two decades have been an endless series of modifications and embellishments to preserve and maintain the importance of this place in history.
Dajti Ekspres “Cable Car” Services
The Dajti Ekspres “Cable Car” Service is one of the most interesting things to see in the surroundings of Tirana. The cable car takes you to the outskirts of the city; the journey takes about twenty minutes. Once on the mountain you can go horseback riding, or eat at one of the restaurants. Be sure to visit the Veranda restaurant where you can enjoy a wonderful view of the city. It is classified as one of the largest cable car in the Balkans. It has superb views of the city from the passenger seat and the terrace on the top. At the peak, you can enjoy anything from traditional dishes at a reasonable price.
Children will surely have fun while they enjoy the pony rides and big horses. You can go on top of the mountain and the passage is about 1.5 hours one way.
The DAJTI Ekspres has existed for more than 10 years. There is a restaurant, a hotel, a cafe, etc. that has a beautiful view and the driveway that is worthwhile. The ticket costs about 4-5 € for return ticket. From Tirana (center) it takes about 25-30 minutes to the exit point. It is highly recommended to anyone because you can see the entire city, you can see Durres, the sea and some of the suburbs (in clear weather). Set aside 2 hours for the trip (excluding travel) to fully enjoy everything it has to offer.
Et`hem Bey Mosque
The Et`hem Bey Mosque was built towards the end of 1700. It is a symbol of the history of the Albanian capital. It was closed during the harsh dictatorship of Enver Hoxha and was "reopened by force" in 1991. Today, it is one of the religious cultures that co-exist peacefully together with other religions and with mutual respect throughout Albania. Take time to visit and see not only the interior decoration and the beauty of the structure, but also the friendliness of the Imam and staff. Remember to remove your shoes at the entrance. You can walk barefoot and explore the entire complex of the mosque, just be mindful of the prayer time and observe complete silence.
Cameras are not allowed and must be deposited at the entrance. Stroll in a unique environment full of carpets and walls that are nicely decorated with Islamic quotes and prayers in Arabic language. Externally it is very characteristic and most tourists prefer to take pictures outside with the mosque as their backdrop. The mosque is a splendid example of Muslim architecture that has survived the fascist occupation and the years of communism. It is very small and intimate, but the caretaker is very helpful; you can ask to go upstairs to observe it from above.
Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania
The Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania was totally rebuilt from scratch after it was moved from its original site and now looks very modern. The bell tower looks a lot more like a minaret with its four candles entwined. The Cathedral is not dedicated to either the Holy Evangelist or the annunciation, but with the Resurrection of Christ. It was completed and opened in July 2013. Previously the old cathedral was formerly located in the Skanderbeg Square, near the Tirana International Hotel where it was demolished at the time of the persecutions of the atheistic communist dictatorship.
The new church rises along the busy streets of Tirana, on the site that is now occupied by a few modern establishments. In the past years, the main ceremonies were held in the Orthodox Church and at the Kavajes, which served as the cathedral pro-tempore. The Church is a modern church, but as evident of conformity, it draws all the canons of tradition. The dome shape is reminiscent of the church of St. Sophia in Constantinople, to emphasize also the reference to the Greek Orthodox Church from which the Albanian Orthodox church follows.
In addition to the church there is a beautiful baptistery and the bell tower. The entrance to the church is done through the magnificent bronze doors (which become golden when hit by sunlight) decorated with Christian symbols and once you enter the cathedral you must walk past the entrance area (where there are two icons that the Orthodox devotees kiss and pray before entering) which is the center of the church. The dome (which has 52 windows like the Hagia Santa Sophia) is decorated with a beautiful mosaic depicting a Christ in the center. Also notable is the beautiful chandelier and wooden iconostasis which has the distinction of having the names of saints, not only in the Greek language, but also in Albanian.
The Christian symbolism is present in almost every element; the four torches in the steeple (which light up at night) represent the four evangelists; symbols on portals and chairs (Christograms, fish, grapes, anchors, and crosses); the 52 windows that represent the weeks of the year and therefore the time above which there is the Christ; the chandelier resembling a bunch of grapes and you'll find many more unique symbolisms. To the side and behind the cathedral there is the "curia" housing for the accommodation of the bishops and priests. The only drawback is the horrible looking modern skyscraper that has almost finished building at the front and obstructs the total vista of the church.
Albania National History Museum
The Albania National History Museum is a discreet museum where all three floors summarize the history of the country and of the Albanian people. Nothing fancy, but all in all it is a good reference point for those who want to have a brief history of the country. Unfortunately, it lacks many English translations and even movies shown on monitors are only in their original language and become absolutely incomprehensible. To better understand everything you need to hire the services of the resident tour guide who will gladly answer all questions and inquiries about the artifacts and items that are proudly displayed in the historic museum.
Grand Park (Parku i Madh)
The Grand Park (Parku i Madh) is a beautiful green lung in Tirana where you can have the opportunity to do physical exercises or just enjoy a little coolness away from the heat. The park has trails and an artificial lake with nice little bars to sip something and also a free fitness area with complete equipments. It is a nice park situated on the edge of a lake and becomes very popular during the weekend by the inhabitants of Tirana. It is located in the vicinity of the trendy bar with several modern amenities.
You can lose yourself in this beautiful park in the center of the city as it is quite nice and has lots of wide and open spaces. It is right in the heart of the capital, just minutes from Bllok but at the same time there is a perception of a place to live away from the traffic and pollution in full peace and silence where the only sound you can hear is coming from the birds singing and the croaking of frogs, a perfect location where you can jog, relax, read, play tennis on the clay courts and bring the kids. The newly renovated area can also be found along the perimeter of the lake.
Tirana Archeological Museum
The Tirana Archeological Museum is located at the end of a long and beautiful avenue that starts from the Skanderbeg Square. This building was constructed in the 1930’s. The entrance is free and you will be gladly welcomed by two resident Albanian archaeologists who document all the items that are presented and displayed in this museum. They also oversee the recent reconstruction and complete renovation of the ancient museum.
You cannot ignore this place because all the works are very interesting, especially the superb mosaics, it is all pleasantly presented with the appropriate captions and markers in both language, English and Albanian.
The Clock Tower of Tirana
The old building that houses The Clock Tower of Tirana is pleasant and graceful and it gives the city a bit of character. It is something the city really needs because the sights and architectural beauties are quite rare. It is not a big tourist spot but it's a popular landmark. From there it goes through the city up to the central park of Skanderberg Square. Under the tower there is a small museum of vintage dresses where a girl will show you the exhibitions for free and if you request the girl she will open the door that leads to the tower. You will be lead to a beautiful spiral staircase where you can reach the top and see the panoramic view of the city.
National Gallery of Figurative Arts of Albania
The National Gallery of Figurative Arts of Albania is a beautiful gallery that tells the history of painting by various artists. It also presents works of the nineteenth century to the present representative of the Albanian Socialist Realism. The gallery is an overview of Albanian life until the year 2000. There are lots of interesting works like; the Byzantine religious art with beautiful iconostasis, and other icons transferred from Berat and icons painted by masters such as Albanian named Onufri.
The socialist realist art is certainly very fashionable, but the layout has changed a lot over the years. One part is devoted to Odhise Paskali (creator of the statue of Skanderbeg a horse), Kristaq Rama and Jak Serreqi, which is really worth the visit. The area that fascinates everyone (for professional reasons) is the part dedicated to the "Mediioevo Albanian" (XIII-XIX centuries). It has excellent restoration works even if the icons are not the most beautiful and interesting.
The Tanners' Bridge is beautiful, simple, almost hidden, but fantastic and reminiscent of a part of the old soul of Tirana. The six meter long bridge of the Tanner’s represents a part of the Ottoman Empire in a location that is very nice and central. This charming and old bridge is situated along the Lana River. However, it is barely noticeable in the townscape. It is concrete on all sides and if you are in Tirana it is a must see attraction.
Enver Hoxha Pyramid
After the fall of communism in 1992, the new democratic government of then President Sali Berischa, intended to break the Enver Hoxha Pyramid down, but later it was decided to preserve the memory of the old regime. It is an incredible symbol of oppression which has now become an exhibition area, a place for events and concerts and is home to its side towards the garden, the coolest bar you can find in Tirana.
The pyramid was a former mausoleum of Enver Hoxha, built in 1987 (two years after his death) by his own son and virtually abandoned with the fall of the regime in the early 90’s. It is not a bad structure and remains in the city until the present times. Its interior is always the chosen venue for hosting exhibitions and trade expositions. It is also the site of a major television station in the city of Tirana.