Albania’s vibrant capital of Tirana is quickly becoming one of the most up-and-coming cities in the Balkans, finding its way onto everyone’s list of must-see spots in this area of Europe. To make your travel planning as stress-free as possible, this Tirana itinerary is perfect for your visit.
Depending on whether you have 1, 2, or 3 days in Tirana, you can easily alter this itinerary to suit your preferences.
Tirana is packed with things to see and do, and it’s also an excellent base for day trips to other Albanian hotspots.
How Many Days In Tirana?
I recommend spending at least 2 days in Tirana to see the best of what this charming city offers. This will give you enough time to check out some of the museums, admire the colourful architecture, and explore the city at a relaxed pace.
If you’re short on time and are happy to move around a little quicker, one day in Tirana will get you to all of the must-see spots. The Albanian capital city is quite compact and walkable, so getting from place to place shouldn’t take you too long.
Anyone with time on their hands should definitely consider spending 3 days in Tirana. This timeframe gives you enough days to get an in-depth feel for the city, and you can also squeeze in a day trip to the likes of the historic city of Berat or picturesque Mount Gamti if you fancy a hike.
Getting To & Around Tirana
You’ll likely start your visit by flying into Tirana International Airport, which is only a 30-minute journey from the city centre. Buses now run on the hour, every hour, making it super convenient to get to the city even if your flight gets in late.
The shuttles are the most affordable way to get into town, costing only a few Lek. However, you’ll also be able to grab a taxi or book a private transfer, which will be a bit more expensive, though still affordable.
If you’re travelling overland throughout the Balkans, there are also connections to Tirana from nearby cities in neighbouring countries. For instance, you can get buses from cities like Kotor in Montenegro or Ohrid in North Macedonia.
When it comes to travelling to other cities in Albania, you’ll either have to catch a minibus or rent a car. Most of the buses depart from the Regional Bus Terminal and are usually the cheapest way to travel.
However, these buses are definitely not glamorous and tend to be quite packed and hot, so this is something to keep in mind. Renting a car is another option, but driving in Albania can be chaotic at the best of times, so this isn’t an option for the faint-hearted. You can view car rental options here.
In terms of getting around Tirana, you’ll find most of the city can be explored on foot. Whenever you’re travelling further afield, or the heat’s becoming too much, opt for a taxi or hop on a city bus.
Whether you’re seeing Tirana in 3 days or you only have 1, this itinerary is a great way to get to know the capital of Albania.
If you want to see some of the top sites with more historical context, then consider taking a free walking tour (ensure you bring cash to tip your guide at the end!) or a paid walking tour of the city.
Day 1 – Central Tirana Highlights
We’re going to kick things off at the focal point in the centre of Tirana and the heart of all the action, Skanderbeg Square.
This is the perfect place to begin your Tirana travels, as many of the top things to do in the city are within a short walk of the square. Named after a national hero, you’ll find the Skanderbeg Statue here, as well as the Venetian-style clock tower.
National History Museum
You can’t miss the National History Museum when you’re in Skanderbeg Square, as it’s one of the most impressive buildings in the area and is built in Communist-style architecture.
This is the place to go for a deep dive into Albania’s history, with artefacts dating back to prehistoric times on display, right up to exhibitions about the country’s turbulent 20th century.
It’s best to allocate around one and a half to two hours to make your way around this museum, though you could easily spend three if you had plenty of time on your hands.
Et’hem Bej Mosque
Just a few minutes across the square from the history museum is the Et’hem Bej Mosque, a place of worship that has been around for 200 years despite being forced to close during the Communist era.
Reopening in the 1990s, the Et’hem Bej Mosque is not only culturally significant but is also incredibly beautiful, as the interior is filled with intricate frescoes and the building itself is Ottoman-styled.
Check Out The House of Leaves Museum
Among the most unique places to see in Tirana is the Museum of Secret Surveillance, more commonly known as the House of Leaves, due to the towering tree covering one side of the building.
Anyone with an interest in the history of communism in Albania and what life was like under the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha will be fascinated by the displays here. They detail the spying tactics of Communist dictators, who used this very building as their surveillance headquarters during the second half of the 20th century.
You’ll also gain a better understanding of the oppressive conditions Albanians once lived through. This is one of the best things to do in Tirana if you want to gain an understanding of the country’s more modern history.
Rruga Murat Toptani
Next, head over to Rruga Murat Toptani, a pedestrianised street that’s lined with lovely restaurants and coffee shops if you’re in need of a mid-afternoon pick-me-up.
Some other cool spots to look out for along this lively street include the Residence of the Albanian Royal family and Reja, also called The Cloud, which is a modern art installation.
Fortress of Justinian (Tirana Castle)
While you’re in the area, you have to stop by the Tirana Castle.
Though it’s not quite what you picture when you imagine what a castle should look like, as only part of the fortress remains intact today, the area where it once stood is among the most enchanting in all of Tirana.
Also called the Fortress of Justinian, this castle dates back to the Byzantine era and was originally the meeting point of streets coming from the north, south, east, and west of Tirana.
Nowadays, this part of town is filled with narrow streets made up of hole-in-the-wall eateries, souvenir shops, and cosy bars.
Day 2 – Blloku Neighbourhood & Mount Dajti
If you’re on limited time in Tirana, one thing you can’t skip is the Bunk’Art Museum. There are actually two Bunk’Art Museums, but Bunk’Art 2 is located right by Skanderbeg Square and is super simple to find.
Albania became home to thousands of bunkers during the ’70s and ’80s, one of which is where Bunk’Art 2 now stands.
Formerly belonging to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, this nuclear pit has been transformed into a huge museum that tells the story of the persecutions that took place during the Communist regime and the hardships faced by Albanians for decades.
Tanner’s Bridge & Blloku Neighbourhood
After taking the time to explore the museum, it’s time to head toward the Lana Rive and direct yourself to the famous Tanner’s Bridge.
You’ll be transported back to Ottoman times when you stumble upon this quaint footbridge, which has most definitely stood the test of time, considering it’s been around since the 1700s.
Although it lies in a pretty peaceful part of the city known as the Blloku neighbourhood, you’ll be surrounded by a mix of brightly-coloured modern buildings and Soviet-esque structures.
One such structure is the Pyramid of Tirana – which was built in the late 1980s to be a museum dedicated to the former dictator Enver Hoxha. The communist regime collapsed only a couple of years after its opening. In the neighbourhood, you can also find Mother Teresa Square, the second-largest city square in Tirana.
If you wander a little bit further south, you will also find the lovely Grand Park of Tirana, which is a delightful city park that’s worth strolling through.
Dajti Express Cable Car
Another unmissable Tirana experience is to climb aboard the Dajti Express, a cable car that takes you up to the top of Mount Dajti.
The best way to get to the gondola station is to get the public bus from the Clock Tower at Skanderbeg Square, which takes around 30 minutes and departs every 10-20 minutes. You can find information about the bus on their official website.
Once you arrive, you’ll make a five-minute walk to the station or opt for the Dajti Express minibus, which will take you uphill right to the ticket desk.
Running every day except Tuesdays, you’ll be treated to the finest views in all of Tirana as you make the journey to the summit. No doubt this is one of the best places to visit in Tirana.
Enjoy Mount Dajti
There are heaps of fun things to do when you arrive at Mount Dajti, but one of the top points of interest has to be the 18-hole mini golf course, which might just be one of the most scenic spots for a game of golf I’ve ever come across!
For those of you with good balance or who want to try something different, stop by the rollerblading rink and rent skates as you try to impress your family and friends.
Adrenaline junkies will also find zip lines, climbing frames, and paragliding opportunities up here.
If you’re hungry, it’s just a short stroll to Ballkoni Dajtit Restaurant, a stunning eatery overlooking the city and the lush mountains.
This restaurant feels like a lavish ski lodge and has both indoor and outdoor dining areas, where you can sample traditional local dishes like veal ribs and Albanian meatballs alongside classics like pasta and pizza.
Day 3 – Day Trip to Durrës, Shkodër, Berat or Mount Gamti
For your third day in Tirana, you’ll want to take advantage of one of the many day trips you can make from the capital.
One of the easiest and best day trips from Tirana is to the lovely coastal town of Durrës located on the Adriatic coast. Situated due west of the Albanian capital, this is a great option if you’re planning to visit Tirana in the warmer months are are keen for a seaside escape.
There is a vast beach to lounge on in Durrës and a laid-back vibe to enjoy. You can stroll along the seaside promenade and enjoy the views of the Adriatic, as well. It’s also perfect for those who want to go for a swim.
You can reach Durrës by car in just over half an hour. Alternatively, there are plenty of public buses that leave frequently and the journey takes about 45 minutes.
Nicknamed the ‘town of a thousand windows,’ Berat is a hillside town just an hour and a half south of Tirana. This alluring part of Albania is filled with gorgeous white houses and fascinating sites like Berat Castle, the Onufri Iconographic Art Museum, the Gorica Bridge, and numerous wineries.
Stop for lunch at Homemade Food Lili to try some of the best Albanian food in town, from baked eggplant to burek, a delicious meat-filled pastry. If you’re brave enough, try a shot of raki, a pungent, homemade Albanian spirit.
A day trip to Berat is best done if you want to hire a car, as you can reach the town in about 1.5 hours driving from Tirana.
You can also opt for the bus, however, the bus journey takes about 2.5 hours each way, meaning that you will be in for a long day if you’re going by public transport. It is also possible to take an organised tour.
Lake Bovilla & Mount Gamti
In addition to its historic cities, Albania has some jaw-dropping landscapes just a short drive from Tirana. Drive an hour north, and you’ll come across Lake Bovilla, a spectacular turquoise reservoir surrounded by rugged mountains. This day trip is best done if you’re renting a car or on an organised tour.
Make the one-hour hike up to Mount Gamti, and you’ll be treated to unbeatable views. There’s a road you can take which will shorten the trek, though it makes for some pretty challenging driving conditions, so I’d suggest hiking up to avoid damaging both the car and your nerves.
Located on the banks of Lake Shkodër in the north of Albania not far from the Montenegrin border lies the lovely town of Shkodër. This historic city has been continuously inhabited by people since the Bronze Age and it is absolutely fascinating to visit.
There are plenty of interesting museums within the city, along with a range of historic monuments and landmarks such as Rozafa Castle and the Monument to Mother Teresa to take in. There are also some local wineries in the region that, if you’re travelling by your own car, you could opt to stop off at and tour if that interests you.
You can reach Shkodër in about 1.5 hours driving from Tirana. It can be worth it to have a car as the beautiful Lake Shkodër isn’t accessible on foot from the city centre. However, you can also reach the city via bus in about 1 hour and 45 minutes or take an organised tour.
Where to Stay in Tirana
Hotel Antigone – This 3-star hotel in the centre of Tirana is a great mid-range choice. They offer breakfast, free parking, room service and there are plenty of rooms to choose from.
Hotel Boutique Vila 135 – Luxury visitors will love this boutique hotel within walking distance of Tirana’s top attractions. They have beautiful rooms and amenities like an airport shuttle, room service and a delightful breakfast.
Trip’n Hostel — Budget visitors will love this locally-run hostel. They have both dorms and private rooms along with good common areas and a friendly staff.
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Tirana hotels!
Regardless of how long your trip to Tirana is, you’ll have an abundance of fantastic things to do. From scenic cable car rides to thought-provoking museums, this Tirana itinerary will provide you with the perfect overview of this intriguing and lively Balkan city.
Are you planning to visit Tirana? Have any questions? Let us know in the comments!