Tirana and Albania as a whole, are moving very quickly away from the negative prejudice that has haunted the country for many years. The reality is safe streets and a level of sophistication that would not be out of place in Paris, Madrid or Lisbon. Tirana is all about café culture and delving into a rich history of struggling for its independence against many larger foreign powers.

The extreme manifestation of this was Enver Hoxha’s paranoid totalitarian communist state that ruled the country with an iron-fist for over forty years. There are many examples still on show to give a feel for this unique period (think of North Korea today as the closest example). Enjoy and appreciate a city and a country that has made massive improvements since its chaotic emergence into the free world in the 1990’s.


Tirana Transport Map

Weather in Tirana

Tirana temperature monthly rainfall
Monthly average temperature and rainfall in Tirana
Rainy days and sunny hours in Tirana
Tirana, AL
5:24 pm, June 19, 2022
few clouds
Wind: 24 Km/h
Sunrise: 05:07
Sunset: 20:16

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The climate in Tirana can be challenging during winter with drizzly rainy days and cold temperatures including occasional snow. Late spring and early autumn are the best times to visit. The summers can be very hot with temperatures sometimes reaching 40 degrees.

Getting in to Tirana

Tirana is the only functioning international airport serving Albania. However, Kukës International Airport Zayed in the north-east of the country is set to begin limited international flights in 2022. Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (named after Mother Teresa) now has many direct flights to European cities including London. Tirana is now a destination for several budget carriers.

The airport was constructed in 1957 although flights were a rarity during the isolationist communist regime until the opening in 1991. Facilities at the airport are reasonable with a small number of food outlets both airside and landside.

There is a Rina Express bus service linking the airport to the centre of Tirana. This runs on the hour every hour from 7am to 11pm from Tirana to the airport and 8am to 12am (midnight) departing the airport. The price in 2021 was 300 lek (3 USD) and the journey takes around 45 minutes. You can store luggage in the hold for free.

There are many international buses that go to Tirana especially from Greece, Macedonia and Kosovo. No international train service exists in Albania.

Inter-city buses

Most Albanian inter-city buses either originate or are destined for Tirana as it is by far the biggest city and commercial hub of the country. Regular buses go to the main resort towns of Durres, Vlora and Saranda. Most are actually minibuses, and the quality of service is very poor. In the summer riding on them can be torturous as most have little ventilation with windows being sealed.  Most have either non-existent or very weak air-conditioning. So, expect some very sweaty rides, although luckily given the size of the country these can be mercifully short. On the plus side the highway system has been much improved.

The bus terminal serving north and south (but not south-east such as Korca) is on a temporary location near to where a new terminal is expected to be constructed. There are very limited facilities at the current location and no toilets. As in the most of Albania there are no ticket offices or bus timetables so just follow the touts shouting destinations. People can point you in the right direction if lost. The whole area is very chaotic with roadworks and construction taking place all over. A number of public buses can connect to the terminal from the centre of town.

There is another smaller open air bus terminal serving the south-east of the country that is more orderly and displays a timetable. This terminal is closer to the town centre and there is a public bus that passes nearby.

There are no rail connections from Tirana in what is a rapidly declining method of transport in the country. The nearest link would be heading for Durres on the coast for the slow but fun trip on a decrepit train to Elbasan.


Getting around Tirana by public transport

There are no mass transit systems in Tirana or the rest of Albania as the country is heavily addicted to cars. The main method of getting around Tirana is through the reasonably efficient bus system. There are around 15 routes with most starting in the centre of the city called Qendër near Skanderberg Square.

Payment is made to a bus conductor who hovers around the bus and the price of a ticket is 40 lek (40 US cents). The condition of the buses varies with air-conditioning not guaranteed. Try to avoid peak times as buses can be crowded and traffic slow.

However, many of the places you are most likely to visit are within walking distance of the centre of Tirana. This is a legacy of the communist era when most notable buildings were located for easy access by officials.

Centre of the city

The main focal point for the centre of Tirana is Skanderbeg Square, a four-hectare plaza in honour to Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu Albania’s national hero who fought against the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. There is a statue of him located in the plaza. The square is popular as a gathering spot for locals especially during the evenings in the summer months. Many of the main tourist attractions are within the perimeter of the square.

Statue of Skanderbeg
Skanderbeg Square

For those interested in Albania’s distinctive history, especially the isolationist communist regime from 1945 to 1992, the National History Museum provides a detailed depiction. As of 2021 the museum was closed due to extensive renovation. A much smaller but interesting museum called House of Leaves covers the surveillance methods that the regime used to spy on its own population as well as the limited number of foreign diplomatic staff working in the country.

House of Leaves
National History Museum

All over Albania you will notice the small semi-circular concrete bunkers that were supposed to defend Albania in the event of invasion from mostly imaginary enemies. Larger bunkers were constructed for leaders and officials to continue to run the country. An interesting enterprise has developed two of these bunkers as museums. One, Bunk’Art 2 is in the centre of town and is a much smaller version of the museum near the cable car station (see below). Both are 500 lek each or a combined ticket is 700 lek. If you able to visit the larger Bunk’Art 1 then the smaller version is probably not worth visiting as it has very little of information in relation to the communist period. It feels that quite a few of the rooms have been filled with art installations as fillers and are of little interest.


Just south of the centre of town is the Blloku area. This was where the communist party officials resided during their period of rule. It was strictly off limits for the average Albanian. It is now the main entertainment area of the capital with so many stylish restaurants, bars and coffee shops as well as more upmarket boutique shops. One remaining intact building from the communist period is the house of Enver Hoxha. He was the leader of the country until his death in 1986. At present you are not able to visit but the frontage is open to view from the street.

Bunker Tirana Albania
One of many bunkers in Albania
Enver Hoxha's house Tirana Albania
Enver Hoxha's residence

Apart from Blloku there are many other places where you can eat or drink in the centre of Tirana. The bazaar area of the Tirana Castle was refashioned in 2018 into a pleasant open air dining plaza. If the heat is too oppressive and need some air-conditioning, then

Toptani Shopping Center is also right in the centre near the small local bus terminal area. There are a small number of budget eateries and a coffee shop in the mall as well as bathroom facilities.

Toptani Centre Tirana Albania shopping mall
Toptani Centre in Tirana
Tirana castle
Entrance to Tirana Castle bazaar
Restaurants at the bazaar

At this intersection of the Lana River and the wide boulevard Dëshmorët e Kombit is the Piramida, a pyramid structure which was partially constructed during the communist period but never completed with various plans for its reconstruction. The latest iteration is for the structure to be an arts and culture centre open to the public. At present the site is closed but can be seen from the outside. Close by is the “Taiwan Center” and Youth Park with a nice open space and a small complex hosting a casino and restaurant.

Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit is about a kilometre long boulevard heading south where are number of buildings are located. This includes the National Archaeological Museum and numerous concrete bunkers.

Pyramid Tirana
Bulevardi Deshmoret e Kombit

Bus line 11 – Dajti cable car and BunkArt2 museum

Bus line number 4 offers an easy and rewarding day trip within Tirana with a chance to explore one of the largest bunkers in the country as well as amazing views of the city from one of the longest cable car trips in the world. The bus leaves downtown Tirana around every 10 minutes heading to the district called Porcelani.

At the end of the 20 minute journey the bus terminates next to the entrance to a pedestrian tunnel leading to Bunk’Art 1 museum. This is a massive underground bunker which was prepared but never used for a potential invasion during the paranoid communist regime. It is on five levels and contains over 100 rooms and is fascinating to wander and many of the exhibits are interesting including a lecture room/theatre. The museum gives a good feel of what the communist period was like with some whimsical touches such as the “Talk on the phone with” Enver Hoxha” display.

It is worth spending a couple of hours at least taking in the whole museum. During the hot summer months, the underground labyrinth provides a welcome cool respite.

Bunk’Art 1 tirana
Bunk’Art 1 corridor
Bunk’Art 1 corridor
Bunk’Art 1 speak to enver enver hoxha
Speak with Enver Hoxha

Cable car

A short walk from the bus terminus takes you to the entrance to the Dajti cable car station. This is highly recommended and could be the highlight of any visit to Tirana. The trip itself takes over 20 minutes with excellent views. At the summit there is plenty to do with some nice walks in the mountains and an adventure playground in the forest although this would be more for adults. There is also an abandoned hotel that is worth rummaging through. There are some garish touristy activities which easily avoided. You can find a coffee shop on the cable car premises offering slightly expensive drinks and snacks in an indoor or outdoor setting.  There are a number of better restaurants further afield.

Dajti cable car overlooking Tirana
View from top

Bus lines 2 & 8 – Grand Park / Tirana East Gate

While Tirana has a limited number of parks the aptly named Grand Park is a delightful way to take a break from sightseeing and enjoy a wide variety of flora. Covering an area of 289 hectares the park is very popular with locals especially during cooler periods of the day although the east side generally is less busy. There are so many activities and refreshment options to keep a family busy for a few hours. The park is around two kilometres south from the centre of Tirana and if walking is too difficult due to the heat, then two bus lines pass along the entrances. One on the east side and the other on the west.

Both buses do have as their destination Tirana East Gate (TEG) mall which is another two kilometres further south. This shopping centre is the largest in the city with 96,000 square metres of retail space and has the usual range of shopping options of any international grade shopping centre. It is very popular during weekends specially to escape the summer heat.

If you decide to walk to the park from the town or vice-versa it might be worth passing by the Air Albania stadium (Arena Kombëtare) which hosts international sports events including the Euro Conference League Final in May 2022.  

Grand Park lake
Cycle / walking paths
Tirana East Gate
Air Albania stadium euo conference league final 2022
Air Albania stadium

Park of Farka Artificial Lake

A less well-known place to visit in Tirana is Park of Farka Artificial Lake. This area is hard to get to by bus so best to walk although it can be rather hilly. The views are a nice reward for the exertions, and it is a tranquil area without the crowds that gather at the Grand Park. There are limited refreshment options but a couple of basic places with good views should suffice.

A number of modern villa developments have been constructed or nearing completion so the area is popular as a haven away from the city but still very close to commute.

Farka Lake with villa developments
Farka Lake park Tirana
Farka Lake

Bus line 4 - QTU

Another bus line heading north-west of the capital includes not only the inter-city bus terminal but also a number of shopping centres that may be worth a visit as a break from downtown. Qendra Tregtare Univers (QTU) is a modern mall redeveloped in 2018. The mall has over 70 shops and restaurants. The bus terminates at Megatek home wares hypermarket which is unlikely to be of interest unless you are thinking of setting up shop in Tirana.

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