Sulejman Pasha Bargjini, a native feudal lord from Mullet, established the city in 1614. His first constructions were a mosque, a bakery and a hamam (Turkish bath). On February 8, 1920 Tirana was made the temporary capital by the Congress of Lushnje, and it was proclaimed the permanent capital on December 31, 1925.
Tourists usually find Tirana a beautiful and charming city, with a lively night life. Tirana suffers from pollution problems, mainly due to the rapid increase in cars in the city but also due to continuous construction. Tirana used to be subject to power outages almost daily and this made Tirana a noisy city as the lack of power and lack of traffic lights had cars navigating by honking their horns.
Today the situation has dramatically improved regarding power outages. In addition, the central square (Skanderbeg Square) is currently closed off to both cars and pedestrians as it is undergoing a major pedestrianisation. When finished, this will make the centre of town even more tourist friendly. Tirana is undergoing a major renovation from its communist days. Many of the ugly dull buildings have been repainted, but a lot of work is left to be done. The average citizen speaks little English and Italian.
The main business and entertainment area (not by coincidence) has become "The Block" which is the area where in the past, the communist leaders used to live under strict protection. Locals prefer to hang out at the many cafes and main parks. A popular retreat is by cable car to Mount Dajti where one can get a panoramic view of the city from above.
A new tourist information office has recently opened on Rruga Ded Gjo Luli, just north of Skanderbeg Square (behind the National Historic Museum). The English-speaking staff are very helpful and can provide maps and directions to hostels/hotels etc. Also free copies of "Tirana in your pocket" guide, which includes vital information about bus and furgon schedules.
Tirana has no international train connections. You can only reach Tirana by train operated by HSH sh.a. (map here [warning:PDF] ) from the following cities: Durrës (100 lek, one hour, 8 daily), Shkodra (160 lek, 3.5 hours, twice daily), Elbasan (200 lek, 4 hours, 3 daily), Vlorë (210 lek, 5.5 hours, twice daily) and Pogradec (350 lek, 4 hours, twice daily). Even though train services are very poor, when compared to West Balkan standards, they may be more frequent, cheaper, and more scenic than taking the bus.
By bus & furgon
Intercity buses near Tirana's main stadium
Tirana does not have a central bus station, so you may be dropped at various locations in the city. Buses can be used to reach Tirana from other cities in Albania and internationally. There is daily bus service from Turkey, Skopje, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, and Athens, Greece and multiple services per day to Pristina, Kosovo and other cities in Albania. Schedules change frequently so check the latest info in your place of departure.
Buses to and from Kosovo depart from downtown (behind museum where one also can find buses to Rinas airport)
Buses and furgons(minibuses) are generally the best method for traveling within Albania, but they are not in the best of shape. There are few bus companies; many are operated by individual drivers. Bus lines have schedules, but are often delayed until the coaches are full or a the whim of the driver.
Some international bus stations are far from the centre so it may be worth taking a taxi to the bus stop to save time and energy and avoid getting lost.
Tirana is served by Mother Teresa Airport (TIA)  17 km from the centre of town.
The following airlines offer service to/from Tirana:
Rinas Express operates an hourly bus between 6:00am and 6:00pm from the airport to Skanderberg Square and viceversa. The bus costs 250 lek. A taxi to the centre costs around 2,000 lek and takes 20-25 minutes.
Tirana is not a port, so you can't get there directly by boat. There are, however, reasonable sea routes from Italy (from the ports in Bari, Trieste, and Ancona) to Durrës, the nearest port to Tirana from where you can take the train (which comes approximately every two hours) or a bus to Tirana. You could also rent a car and be in Tirana in about 20 minutes. Traveling by boat is a pretty good alternative to traveling to Tirana, especially if you are arriving from Italy.
Public transportation in Tirana consists of a number of intra-city bus lines. Buses marked 'Unaze' are for the ring road and travel in a loop around the city centre.
The city centre is small enough to be explored through walking.
A ride across town should cost 400 lek during the day, 600 lek at night,approximately 4-5 euro. Negotiate a price before entering.
Airport Taxi Express ltd () is offering a specialized and authorized service for the transportation of people to and from Rinas International Airport.
EBRD is lending the Albanian government €14.6 million to work and fix roads in Tirana. Part of the loan will be used to upgrade the Tirana ring road. However, if venturing out with a rented car be advised that parking is a major problem, while driving is an adventure in itself.
The ecovolis bicycle sharing program launched in 2011 . Bicycles can be rented from a number of locations at Rinia Park and along Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard. Full day ride costs 100 leks. The system is not electronic in that you must interact with a salesperson. Cycling in the street can be quite dangerous and thus not advisable. However, new combined bus and bike lanes have been opened recently on some main streets. Bike only lanes however are located on existing sidewalks along Lana River, and on Kavajes Street.
Et'hem Bey Mosque & Clock Tower
Sheshi Skënderbej (Skanderbeg Square). Tirana's city centre. A statue of Albanian hero Skanderbeg stands in the square with the Albanian flag on the side. Planned renovations will make the square for pedestrians and public transportation only. Rain water would be used for fountains. Government buildings featuring Italian architecture and some structures outlined below are all right off this square.
Clock Tower (Kulla e Sahatit), Skanderbeg Square. 09:00-13:00, 16:00-18:00. Closed Tuesday, Thursday, & Friday. Positioned in the city centre, this tower has become a symbol of Tirana. It is one of the oldest constructions in Tirana, built in the 1820's. Don't forget to visit the nearby Clock Towers of Albania Museum featuring Clock Towers from around Albania. 10 lek.
Et'hem Bey Mosque, Skanderbeg Square. 08:00 - 22:00 (summer), 08:00 - 19:00 (winter). Construction of this mosque took about 28 years and finished in 1821. It is considered one of the most beautiful mosques in Albania with very interesting decorations and art-work within it.
National Historic Museum, Skanderbeg Square, ☎ +355 4 222 34 46. 10:00-17:00, closed Mondays. The main museum in Tirana, it is in the centre of the city, easily recognizable because of a huge mosaic standing on top of its front facade. It contains many artifacts ranging from ancient times through Hoxha's regime. Repeated looting in the 1990s has robbed the museum of many artefacts, but it remains the best place in Albania to learn its history. Harrowing exhibition about Albania's gruesome labour camp system. Not enough English.300 lek.
International Centre of Culture (former Enver Hoxha museum), known also as Piramida
National Art Gallery (Galeria Kombetare e Arteve), Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit, . 9:00am to 7:00pm. 13th century pieces, modern art, socialist art.100 lek.
Dëshmorët e Kombit Boulevard (Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit (Nation's Martyrs Boulevard)). A panoramic boulevard built by the Italians in the 1930s similar to the Champs de Elysee extending south from Skanderberg Square. The boulevard features Fascist, Communist, and modern architecture of government buildings, business centers and hotels. Many local parks are found here.
Murat Toptani Street. Murat Toptani Street is a recently opened pedestrian only street east of Rinia Park constructed with stone and located nearby Tirana Castle walls. Traditional houses, cafes, and a local park are found here.
Bush Street (Rruga Presidenti George W Bush), (Across from Parliament Building and Murat Toptani Street). This street was named after US President George W. Bush in honor of his 2007 visit.
Taiwan Complex (Kompleksi Tajvani), . This beautiful place in the heart of downtown Tirana. It includes restaurants, casinos, bars, a club, etc. It is surrounded by a huge lit water fountain with a glowing bridge that reaches to the restaurant, and is an ideal place for all ages. Children enjoy gourmet ice cream and iced European soft drinks, whilst adults and teens can enjoy fun casinos. This is an excellent tourist attraction, and many Albanian celebrities can be found in the area.
Piramida (International Centre of Culture), Skanderbeg Square. The pyramid was built in 1987 according to the design of Enver Hoxha's daughter and was originally a museum of her father. Today it's a venue for many conventions and art events. US president George W Bush gave a speech in front of this building. The building was the most expensive erected under communism, and there are plans for future changes into it. The new designs are worked by architectural firm associated with Hoxha's daughter.
Blloku or Ish-Blloku (The Block), Mainly Rr. Ismail Qemali and nearby streets (take the bus signed 'Tirana e Re'; get off at the namesake station), . Among the apartment blocks, one can find some of Tirana's best cafés, shops, and restaurants. Here is also located the villa of the former dictator, Enver Hoxha. During communism, the area was reserved solely for government officials and was not allowed to be entered by the commoner. It was opened to the public in 1991 and since became the number one spot for Tirana's youth. At night the area gets full of people especially on weekends when most night clubs are full. The streets, especially in summer afternoons, are filled with Tirana's citizens and expensive cars cruising around. From the Block you can go almost anywhere for less than 10-15 minutes. If you need to have a coffee or relax while taking a look at the parade of trendy and elegant people, the block is a perfect place for you. In the Block you can buy trendy clothing items and French delicacies. You can also get taxis.
Mother Teresa Square. Located at the southern side of Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard, this square features typical Fascist architecture. Buildings include the University of Tirana, Archaeological Institute, Academy of Arts and the National Stadium.
National Library of Albania (Biblioteka Kombëtare e Shqipërisë), Rr. Luigj Gurakuqi, . The library holds over a million books and is known for its ancient collections.
Resurrection of Christ Orthodox Cathedral (Katedralja Ortodokse e Ringjalljes se Krishtit), Rr. Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit (West of Skanderbeg Square nearby the Ministry of Defence). This cathedral is brand new featuring fascinating architecture and rich interior iconography.
Sali Shijaku's Traditional House, Rr. Vildan Luarasi (A few blocks east of the Train Station), ☎ 4 226 1458. This well preserved traditional house owned by painter Sali Shijaku features art displays, traditional house emnities, and a restaurant.
Tirana Zoo (Kopshti Zoologjik Tiranë). 09:00 - 18:00. Visiting this zoo is an odd experience; there are few animals but you will see them at remarkably close range. Nearby is located the Botanical Garden featuring the best of Albania's fauna.50 lek.
Small park in downtown Tirana
Grand Park along the Artificial Lake (Parku i Madh), (southern part of the city). People have picnics and have fun, and the natural beauty allows it because of the huge trees, open spaces, and mountains surrounding them. An artificial lake lies in the middle of the Park. It is popular with locals and tourists as a place to walk around and enjoy a lunch or coffee at one of the restaurants or cafés. Over 120 types of plants. A popular swimming pool complex is located nearby.
Martyrs' Cemetery, Rr. e Elbasanit. This is the cemetery where the remains of 900 partisans that fought for Tirana are buried. Here one can also find the 12m statue of Mother Albania (1972). Hoxha was buried here in 1985 but exhumed in 1992 and moved to the other side of the city.
Ali Demi Skate Park, (Go north-east on the Bulevardi-Bajram-Curri, and then take a right on the Ruga-Ali-Demi. You should go about half a mile on that road. Then the skate park will be directly on your right. You can’t miss it; its right next to a park with a fountain in the middle of it and a café with a junglejim, there are many green ramps.). The Ali-Demi skate park is a great place to go with your family because there is a nice park on one of the sides next to the skate park, there are markets, and a beautiful café shop with a playground for small children with typical swings and benches and soccer fields in the back. The skate park is full of people on bikes, roller skates, and skate boarders. The Skate Park is very good for beginners, the ramps are all cement (there is coping on the ramps). The ramps have a good variety—there are small ramps along with big ones. Almost all the ramps are shaped like a plateau they are good for caching air. There are many places to do ollies and 180s off of and other places to grind if you are an experienced skate boarder. The skate park is slightly below the rest of the park so you shouldn’t go when it’s raining because it fills up with water. There are quarter pipes along the sides of the skate park. This skate park is very fun for skaters, bikers, and rollerskaters.
Tirana Mosaic (Mozaiku i Tiranes), Blloku pallateve Partizani, Lagja nr. 9. The mosaic was discovered following excavations for an apartment complex. Various artifacts point to the presence of a village in the area thousands of years ago. This is the only archaeological site in Tirana!
Go for a walk in the evening at one of the several parks and sit for a coffee or drink. Take part in the vibrant nightlife by visiting one of the numerous nightclubs. If you are adventurous and brave enough, try the peculiar experience of driving in the city's streets by renting a car, or rent a bicycle from a bike renting station. Cruise the city with a limousine.
Sky Tower Rotating Bar. This is a must! The rotation is a bit jerky and may leave you slightly seasick.
Some of the most popular events are Summer Day celebrations in Mid-March, and Independence Day festivities on November 28. Recently, a number of prestigious festivals have become a tradition in the city's calendar of events:
Tirana International Film Festival (Tirana Film Fest), . This annual film festival held at the end of November and beginning of December highlights the work of ethnic Albanian artists.
Tirana International Contemporary Art Biannual (Tirana Biennale), ☎ 692069011, . This biannual art festival features the best of internatioanl contemporary art. It was last held in 2009 at the historic Hotel Dajti building.
Raki is Albania's national alcohol; try Boza for something non-alcoholic, the most famous of which is Pacara Boza, ☎ + 355 692481122, . 1 bottle of 1.5 litters~100 lek.
Spirit Bar @ Hotel Mondial, . Beautiful views of Tirana with a swimming pool.
Blloku is the main nightlife spot in the city.
Grand Cafe, Blloku. Frequented by elites of the city for a good cup of coffee.
Lizard, Blloku. There is often live shows performed by bands from all over Albania, when prices for drinks drop a little. Lizard is known for the cocktails their experienced bartender prepares.
Shakesbeer Bar, Blloku. Good place offering beers.
Converse, Charls, Steel Wings (Bikers club), Unit, Mos Fli. Clubs in Blloku frequented by die hard rock and metal fans.
Budget options in Tirana are hindered by a government 1000 lek per-person tax levied on all the hotels.
"HOTEL VIKTORIA", Rruga e Elbasanit, Km 4(fourth), Sauk, Tirane. Tel: 00355 695406986, email: firstname.lastname@example.org url="http://www.viktoriahoteltirana.com/". Newly renovated(June 2011)and family-owned hotel, situated in a new residential area of Tirana that offers quietness and fresh air. Price range: Single: €22; Double/Twin: €34; Triple: €44; Quad: €54.
Hostel-Albania, rr.Beqir Luga 56 (www.hostel.albania.com) (Close to the Centre.From Skenderbeg Place take Luigj Gurakuqi Street 400m passing the intersection, until you reach the roundabout Sheshi Avni Rustemi. Take 2nd left onto Hoxha Tahsim Street, past the fruit market. Turn right unto Beqir Luga Street. Take the 1st left and 50m on the left is the entrance gate), . New Hostel, opened in 2009. Old Tirana Villa with about 350m². Very spacious Rooms and a large Garden.Dorm Bed`s 11€ / Room Beds from 12€.
Freddy's Hostel, Ground Floor, 75 Bardhok Biba Street (200m from the National History Museum), . Rooms are passable, usually with ensuite. No true dorm rooms.(Doubles €2-5, triples €5)... well we were quoted €35 for a double! [Aug 2011].
Hotel Briker, (close to the town centre (5 min walking)), (email@example.com). Clean, safe, nice private rooms with private bathroom and shower, well maintained, friendly, all of the staff spoke English, they take credit cards. Unfortunately, the A/C didn't work in our room, which spoilt our stay. Double/Twin: €40 .
Tirana Backpackers Hostel, Rruga Elbasanit 85 (Near Skanderberg Square), . Small hostel, with just 25 beds, situated in a beautiful villa built in 1940. Dorms are spacious and well lighted, back garden. Bikes can be rented for city tours.Dorm bed: 1,770 lek.
Hotel Baron Tirana, Rruga Elbasanit (near Mother Albania Statue, Qemal Stafa Stadium, and University of Tirana), ☎ (0)4 2467649, . Meeting facilities include conference rooms, a ballroom, and banquet facilities.Single: €35; Double/twin: €50; Triple: €55; Quad: €65.
Hotel City Tirana, Rruga Ismail Qemali, Nr8/1, ☎ +355 4 2247799 (firstname.lastname@example.org, fax: +355 4 2247799), . Family-owned hotel with exquisite service.Single: €34-€50; Double: €75.
Hotel Meg Klaus, Hotel Meg Klaus (in a courtyard, street off Rr.Mine Peza), ☎ +355 4 223 92 14 (fax: +355 4 225 92 36). 11 rooms. TV, air-con and bathroom worked fine. No restaurant (and no breakfast included) but a hotelbar. Some staff had trouble speaking English.singles €30, doubles €40.
Hotel Airport Tirana (Hotel Airport Tirana), Rinas Tirana International Airport Mother Teresa (near the Rinas (Tirana) Airport), ☎ +355 48300190 (email@example.com, fax: +355 4 48300191), . Grand hotel with every modern amenity.Single: 8,850 lek; Double: 11,800 lek.
Hotel Brilant Antik, Rr. Jeronim De Rada, No. 78 (Just across the Parliament), ☎ +355 4 2251166 (firstname.lastname@example.org), . Excellent rooms and helpful staff, also over the website [www.tirana-hotels.al] are all kind of accommodation in tirana which offer almost 75 hotels in tirana real time booking.€70, breakfast included.
Hotel Grand, Rr. Ismail Qemali 11 (close to the centre of Tirana), . A small, 3 star standard hotel.Single: €120; Double: €160.
Hotel Mondial. Prestigious 4-star hotel. 28 rooms.
Hotel Theranda (Hotel Theranda), Rr. Andon Zako Cajupi, Villa 6 & 7, Tirana, Albania (two minutes from the centre, Blloku District), ☎ +355 4 2273766 / 689, . Boutique Hotel.Single: €70 to €100; Double/Twin: €90 to €130.
President Hotel. Small hotel located in the bllok area.
Rogner Hotel Europapark, Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit, . Part of the Rogner chain of hotels, this modern hotel is located where the headquarters of the communist party were planned to be built before the fall. Centrally located and very luxurious. Beautiful gardens and an outdoor swimming pool that is always freezing.The hotel is located in the centre of hospitality. The comfort has five stars. Security is unsurpassed.Single: €152 to €176 +tax; Double/Twin: €170 to €201 +tax.
Sheraton Hotel and Towers, Sheshi Italia (Near the stadium), . One of Tirana's newest, largest, and most modern hotels.Single: from €161; Double: from €216.
Tirana International Hotel, (In Skanderberg Square), . Centrally located, this hotel was built during communist times and has recently changed hands. There are plans for drastic changes in its appearance, and it still remains one of the major and best hotels in Albania. If you have the time have a truly magical lunch on the covered balcony of their one restaurant, the food and service is excellent, the food prices very reasonable.Weekend: Single: €60, Double: €70; Weekday: Single: €112, Double: €124-€142.
Xheko Imperial Hotel Tirana, Rr. Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit, . 48 luxurious rooms, equipped with all the modern amenities. Restaurant with Albanian traditional cuisine.
Main Post Office & Telephone Centre, Sheshi Cameria. Mon-Fri: 8:00am to 8:00pm.
Centre Internet, RR Brigada e VIII (Look for the yellow sign down the laneway). 24 hours. 100 lek per hour.
Internet Point, RR Deshmoret e 4 Shkurtit, 7. 24 hours. 100 lek per hour.
Universal Hospital Tirana, ☎ (355) 42290000, . A 120-bed private hospital offering medical services. Service available 24/7. Universal Hospital Tirana is the largest, most comprehensive private hospital in the country. English, French, Russian, Turkish and Italian-speaking doctors.Consultation: US$20.
ABC Family Health Centre. Mon-Fri: 8:00am to 4:00pm. English-speaking doctors. Run by baptists.Consultation: US$20.
Klinika IRMA, Rruga Dora D'Istria, Pall Triss, Kati 3 (large physician-owned multi-specialty clinic in the city centre, near Bllok), ☎ (355)42243000. Mon-Sat: 9:00am to 18:00pm. English, French and Italian-speaking doctors.Consultation: US$20.
Greece, Rruga Frederik Shiroka, No 3, Tirana, ☎ (003554) 2274669, 2274668, 2274670 (email@example.com, fax: 2234290), .
Mount Dajti (Mount Dajti National Park), Dajt Commune, . 1,612m high. Offers great views of Tirana. A very relaxing area, mount Dajti can be reached through an Austrian-built express cable car. The view along the route is worth the cost even if you don't stay atop the mountain.A place where one can spend holidays and engage in various activities like horse riding, trekking, excursions, sky sports, ski etc. The area has a limited number of hotels and restaurants, but it is great for taking a breath of fresh air, mountain sports, or to just get out of the city for a while. The Pellumba Cave in the area is worth a visit. Unfortunately, litter is becoming a problem on Mount Dajti. This detracts from the experience somewhat, but the beautiful scenery still makes the trip worthwhile.500 lek.
Petrela Castle. This is one of Albania's best preserved castles, found a short distance south of Tirana. It is known as an ancient settlement 2000 years old and was commanded by princess Mamica, the sister of the national hero, Skanderbeg.
Suburban Tirana, Rruga e Elbasanit (South-East of Tirana). Many small resorts are located in the outskirts of the city along Rruga e Elbasanit. One locality features shooting range facilities, a modest golf club and horse riding facility, while others wooden villa accommodation and swimming pools.
Lalzit Bay Beach (Gjiri i Lalzit) north of Durres in Shen Pjeter village around Rodon Cape is a popular retreat. A small resort can also be found.
General's Beach (Plazhi i Gjeneralit) southwest of Kavaje near Spille village is also a popular retreat. The name stems from an Italian general who used to rest at this beach during the world wars. There is the best possibility to explore the Ionian sea with best holidays hotels which can be booked through [www.edialtour.com] that are almost 200 beaches hotels of albania.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!