The capital of Albania turned out to be a nice city with friendly people. We didn’t have much time to see everything. However, we’ve seen enough to understand that we could go there again.
Passion for coffee
We arrived to Tirana at around 11 a.m. The bus station was a mess. There were an enormous amount of busses, big and small ones, many passengers and no signs.
Somehow we found an exit from this chaos and went in the direction of our apartment. We rented one not far from the city centre. The check-in was initially at 4 p.m., but the owner let us come earlier, which was very good as we were super tired.
The weather was hot, and it felt even more in the stone jungles. We had to walk around 3-4 km from the station until our place trying to stay in the shadow, but it not always helped.
On the way we saw one of the most noticeable cultural particularities of Albania: everyone drank coffee. A small espresso cup, sometimes with a glass or a bottle of water. Young and old, rich and not so rich, fancy and simple people – everyone drank coffee.
Later we saw it everywhere in Albania, so they are really really fond of coffee and they do not care much about tea. So we just followed the tendency and stuck to coffee too.
The place we rented turned out to be quite spacious. It had one big room that combined a living room with kitchen, a bedroom and a pretty big bathroom.
In the kitchen we had everything we could need (including a grater that we needed so much in the North Macedonia). Some plates seemed quite old and valuable. They had a nice design and were made of porcelain.
We had a little problem with Internet connection, but the owner fixed it quite fast. The stay there was very comfortable.
We were super tired after the trip from Ohrid, so we took a nap for a couple of hours and went to see the city in the evening.
City at night
Tirana at night was pretty much alive. There were many people everywhere, especially at the main square and in the bar district. Whole families were spending their spare time outside. They stayed out quite late.
We went to the Skanderbeg Square to see the main sights of the city. It is an interesting mixture of cultures and epochs: communistic heritage and modern vibes give you an interesting feeling.
For such hot Summers as in Albania, it is crucial to have an access to water: both to drink and to fresh yourself up after a hot day. For this you have fountains at the square: drinking fountains, dancing fountains and cooling-the-ground fountains.
After the main square we had a walk in the city and saw a couple of other nice places where people like to chill out. The first one attracted us by colorful fountains. We didn’t know what it was, looked nice. Later we found out that it was the Taiwan fountain next to the Taiwan centre. Unexpectedly 🙂
Another nice place to spend an evening is the Toptani district. This is a restaurants and shopping area made in the old fortification. The cuisine is various, you can choose for your taste something traditional Albanian or other types of food.
On the next day we went to check the local market. It was really close to us, just 5 minutes walking. We came in the afternoon, and it was already closing. However, we saw some interesting things there.
There were souvenirs and old kitchenware, coins and banknotes, fruit and vegetables and much more. Among this all we saw some old passports that were being sold in bulk. We’ve never seen anything like this before. There were passports of people from different countries, including the non-existent now Yugoslavia.
When I was taking a picture of the passports, I was called by one of the guys working there. I got a bit worried, because I didn’t know if it was ok to take pictures of these things. To my relief, the guy just offered me tobacco, but I said we didn’t smoke. Uff..
Later we came back to the market to check more fruit, but we ended up buying some local fried almonds. Was tasty!
Tirana during the day
To have a better image of the city we went to the same places during the day. The main square looked nice. In the daylight we could better see the fountains that cooled down the ground.
The conception is quite interesting: the square centre is a bit lifted which creates a slight angle on the sides. In several places there are holes in the ground, from which water runs down and cools down the surface. When it’s hot it is really useful!
While it was light we went to see one of the most famous monuments in Tirana: the Pyramid. Initially it was a museum dedicated to the communist leader of Albania – Enver Hoxha. After the end of his ruling the Pyramid was turned into a conference and exhibition hall, later – into a broadcasting centre for the Radio.
For the moment the building is abandoned and unused. Its demolishing and reconstruction of the territory is at the moment under consideration. We hope that sooner or later this place will be turned into something interesting and useful.
By the way, the house of Enver Hoxha is kept many years after his death. The communist leader lived there with his family. We had a quick look at it in the evening.
I personally like street art and always am searching for it when I travel. Tirana delighted me with its paintings on the buildings.
Another thing we liked about Tirana is the street light. The posts are covered with LED-lights visible from far. This is really convenient for all road users.
Tirana is a great place to visit because it is nice, pretty clean, it has an interesting history and delicious food. Also, the prices are more than acceptable which is especially important if you travel for a long time.
Albania is getting more and more popular among tourists for its seaside, but we are convinced that it is worth it to spend some time in its capital too. Don’t miss out on it!