Travel Guide Europe Albania Tirana





© samir

Though it's not a city renowned for its tourist appeal, Tirana nonetheless has an experience of its own to offer. Set against the stunning backdrop of the Albanian Alps, the city has a natural appeal to it, however the run down roads and decaying buildings leave a stronger impression of a city in ruin. The city has been Albania's capital since 1920.



Sights and Activities

Mother Albania

Mother Albania watches over Tirana

Mother Albania watches over Tirana

© Utrecht

Mother Albania is a statue of about 12 metres high and is located at the National Martyrs Cemetery of Albania. The statue, erected in 1971, represents the country as a mother guarding over those who gave their lives for her. There are 28,000 graves of Albanian partisans in the cemetery behind the statue, all of whom died during World War II. The massive statue holds a wreath of laurels and a star. The cemetery initially also was the last resting place of former leader Enver Hoxha, but he was given a more humble grave in another public cemetery afther the fall of the Communism and the end of Albania as a closed country as well. It is a concrete statue is a work of the sculptors Kristaq Rama, Muntaz Dhrami and Shaban Hadëri. It stands on top of a 3-metre-high pedestal, on which are engraved the words "Lavdi e perjetshme deshmoreve te Atdheut" (Glory to the martyrs of the homeland forever).

National Historic Museum

The National Historic Museum (Albanian: Muzeu Historik Kombëtar, Skanderbeg Square (northwest edge of the square), ☎ +355 4 2223446. 10:00-17:00, closed Mondays) is the main museum in Tirana, located is in the centre of the city and 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 artifacts, but it remains the best place in Albania to learn its history. The history between 1944 and 1991 is not yet covered but there is a harrowing exhibition about Albania's gruesome labor camp system during that time. There is enough information in English to follow the exhibition and there are guided tours in English from time to time. - Antichity pavilion, the exhibited objects start with the Late Palaeolithic and ends with objects pertaining to the first part of the Middle Ages (4th–7th centuries). Middle Ages Paviilon, the visitors have the chance to learn about the economic, social, political and cultural development of the Albanians, who have preserved their typical characteristics, also resistance against the ruling of Byzantines, French, Turks and Serbs. National Renaissance Pavilion, express a clear view of the economic, political and cultural development of Albania from the beginning of the 19th century. Pavilion of Independence, start with the activities of the National Government of Valona and the organization of the Albanian independent State. Iconographic Pavilion, in this section the visitors has the chance to know great masters of the Albanian iconography. Ethnographic Pavilion, in this pavilion are introduced the traditional garments of the various Albanian regions (19th and 20th centuries). Pavilion of the Anti Fascist War, in this pavilion the vicissitudes of the war of Valona (1920) are introduced followed by the events of years '20 - '30 and of the fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini. 200 leks



Events and Festivals

Tirana International Film Festival

Taking place each year in November, Tirana International Film Festival is the first of its kind to take place in Albania. First held in 2003, it mixes a combination of short pieces with full-length features. A nationwide event, the festival has received patronage and endorsements from a number of international names from across Europe and America.




The average temperature varies between 6.7 °C in January and 31 °C in July. Annual rainfall is 1,200 mm. The driest months are July and August while the wettest months are November and December. The best time for a visit would be spring or fall.



Getting There

By Plane

Tirana International Airport (international code TIA, also known as Rinas airport or Mother Teresa airport) is located 25 kilometres northwest of the city. There are regular connections with Italy, Austria, Germany, Poland (Radom), Greece, Hungary, England, Turkey, Bulgaria and Serbia. Albanian Airlines is the national carrier. Significant upgrades, including a new passenger terminal, were completed in March 2007 and the airport now describes itself as 'meeting international standards'. Taxis can take you to and from the airport for about 2,500 Lek (roughly €20) each way. The journey is 30-45 minutes depending on traffic. Rinas Express operates an hourly bus service between the airport and the national museum in the centre of Tirana. The one-way fare is 200 Lek.[1]

By Train

There is a service to Shkodrar, which lies on the border with Montenegro. However, as the train is very slow and unreliable (taking about 5 hours compared to 2-2.5 hours by bus), most locals use the buses. Trains also go to Durres on the coastline, a relatively short ride and probably one of the most useful ones as the time is about the same compared to taking the bus.

By Car

Roads lead to/from Tirana connecting the main cities and towns in the country. Driving can be a thrilling experience, especially getting into and out of the city.

By Bus

Tirana lacks a central bus station. Instead, buses arrive and depart at main road junctions around the city depending on where they arrive from and depart to. Frequent minibuses leave for Shkodra as they fill up. During the day, you rarely need to wait longer than half an hour. Buses to Berat and Durres are also frequent, but rarely have a timetable.



Getting Around

By Car

If venturing out with a rented car be advised that parking is a major problem. Driving offers an unique experience in Tirana for those willing to brave it. Driving aggressively and seizing opportunities will help you get around at normal pace. Timid and passive drivers should avoid driving in Tirana as they will likely be frustrated.

The city still misses road signs with directions (for example how to get out of the city). In case you have troubles just ask people (don't show them a map because Albanians are not used to seeing maps and even policemen don't know how to handle a street map.) Also, keep in mind that the word "Car" sounds identical to the Albanian word for "Penis" so do not be surprised if you get stared at if you say it. "Auto" or the Albanian word, "Makina" are suitable stand-ins.

Car rentals in Albania are available from multi-national firms such as Hertz, Avis and Europcar, and can be booked online. However, local companies often have cheaper rates, examples include Noshi Rent-a-Car and Albarent.

By Public Transport

Public transportation in Tirana consists of a number of intra-city bus lines. A single trip cost 40 leks (there are only single tickets available) (2016) and tickets are sold in the bus by a conductor. Buses marked 'Unaze' are for the ring road and travel in a loop around the city centre. There are also lines serving suburban shopping centers and Tirana Airport.

By Foot

The city centre is small enough to be explored through walking. Walking is a rewarding experience, but beware that there is *no* continuity in sidewalk width, construction material or condition. Sidewalks frequently end abruptly, have large holes or are very narrow. Pay attention while walking or you may end up spraining your ankle or falling in a hole. Street names are subject to change, so locals rarely know them. It is advised to learn a to navigate via landmarks instead of addresses or street names. You can orient yourself using the Lana River and "Dëshmorët e Kombit" street, which roughly bisects the central part of Tirana into four sections. At this intersection of the Lana River and Dëshmorët e Kombit is very recognizable "Pyramid" and "Taiwan Center".

By Bike

The ecovolis bicycle sharing program was launched in 2011. Bicycles can be rented from a number of locations at Rinia Park and along Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard. A full day ride costs 100 lek (approx. $1USD as of 2012). The system is not electronic in that you must interact with a salesperson. Bicycles should be returned to the station of origin. Ecovolis also offers bikes for longer 24/7 rents at the shop. For all other bike equipment or repair, Rruga Qemal Stafa is Tirana's unofficial "bike street" with lots of little, inexpensive bike shops. New combined bus and bike lanes have been opened recently on some main streets. However, cycling in the street can be quite dangerous as lanes are narrow or occupied by parked vehicles (but car drivers have become more careful during the last years). Bike only lanes however are located on Skanderbeg Square, Deshmoret e Kombit Boulevard and on sidewalks along Lana River and Kavaja Street. As of 2013, renting a bike is not possible on weekends.




There are many excellent, inexpensive restaurants in Tirana serving all kinds of food. Traditional cuisine can be found at many different places as well.




Raki is Albania's national alcohol; try Boza for something non-alcoholic.




Budget options in Tirana are hindered by a government 1000 lek per-person tax levied on all the hotels.


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Keep Connected


Almost every city or town in Albania has public internet access, usually available at an Internet cafe. Some hotels, especially in Tirana, have broadband connections in the guest rooms; a few have Wi-Fi.


See also: International Telephone Calls

The country calling code to Albania is: 355. To make an international call from Albania, the code is: 00.
Coverage of cell phones is good, except in the most remote, mountainous areas.


Post Ashqiptare is the national postal service of Albania and services have been getting more reliable and faster over the years. Opening times of post offices are mostly between 8:00am and 5:00pm Monday to Friday and on Saturday mornings, although the bigger ones might keep slightly longer hours, while in small towns there might be shorter hours or a lunch break. For sending things other than postcards and letters or anything of value, you might consider using a private company like UPS, TNT, FedEx or DHL.


Quick Facts


  • Latitude: 41.331656
  • Longitude: 19.817223

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This is version 19. Last edited at 11:20 on Jul 11, 23 by FondOfProvince. 44 articles link to this page.

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