How long should you spend in Tirana?

If you are planning to travel to Albania, you might be wondering how long you should spend in Tirana? Is Tirana spending time in and how long do you need for each of the sights in Tirana?

How long should you spend in Tirana? You should spend 1.5 days in Tirana to go sightseeing in the capital. You should spend half a day on a walking tour of the city centre, half a day at the Bunk’Art bunker museum and half a day at the Dajti Express Cable Car. Any extra time in Tirana can be spent on day trips to Kruja and Berat.

As a private tour guide based in Tirana, I often take guests on a walking tour of the city centre. Let me give you a nice overview of the best things to do in Tirana and how long you should spend on each attraction or landmark. I will also make a list of the places to visit near Tirana for a day trip in case you are staying a few extra nights in Tirana.

How much time do you need in Tirana?

You need about 1.5 day in Tirana to see the highlights of Tirana city. I am a private tour guide in Albania and I live in the capital city Tirana. Here is my list of personal recommendations of the best places to visit in Tirana:

Recommendation 1: Bunk’Art 1 Bunker Museum in Tirana (time required: half a day)
Recommendation 2: Dajti Express Cable Car in Tirana (time required: half a day)
Recommendation 3: Walking tour of the city centre of Tirana (time required: half a day)

Total time you need in Tirana = 1.5 days + extra time for day trips to Kruja and Berat

Recommendation 1: Bunk’Art 1 Bunker Museum in Tirana (time required: half a day)

Bunk’Art 1 is the most fascinating museum in Tirana and probably all of Albania!

Basically, Bunk’Art 1 is a museum inside a gigantic communist bunker. You literally get to walk through a real-life communist bunker complex. Inside the enormous bunker complex, you get to experience what communism was like in Albania for a few hours (and then you get to leave communism, which the Albanians could not!).

From the end of the Second World War until 1992, Albania was a communist country. The country was ruled by the communist dictator Enver Hoxha. Enver Hoxha was notoriously paranoid. Throughout his rule, he was convinced that Albania would be attacked by a foreign nation and he was afraid the foreign attack would be a nuclear attack.

Since Hoxha was so convinced the foreign attack was bound to happen, he started a gigantic bunker construction project. Albania was covered with 173.000 bunkers.

The massive communist bunker that now hosts the Bunk’Art 1 Museum was meant to accommodate Enver Hoxha himself and his government elite. The bunker was designed as a place where the government could rule the country during a foreign (nuclear) attack.

Although Enver Hoxha did attend the bunker a few times for drills, the bunker was never actually used. Simply because of the fact that no foreign nation attacked Albania. Then in 1985, the dictator died and a few years later communism ended in Albania. But until this day, Albania has thousands of unused bunkers everywhere in the landscape.

In Bunk’Art 1, you get a unique insight into what life was like in Albania during the communist regime. First, the museum explains how Enver Hoxha came to power after the Italian and German occupation of Albania at the end of the Second World War.

Then you get to see how Enver Hoxha changed Albania. Initially he rebuild a lot of the broken infrastructure after the war. But increasingly, the communist ideals, like daily sports and gymnastics, carrying weapons and idealistic history in schools became stronger.

Inside the bunker, you get a look at the bunker room designed for Enver Hoxha. And you see the propaganda that Enver Hoxha used to explain his actions. Of course, you also get to see the cruelties, like concentration camps, prisons and executions that came with the strict regime.

Like any capital city, Tirana has many museums, including a National History Museum. But by far, Bunk’Art 1 is the highlight. Because Bunk’Art 1 does not just tell you the story, you actually walk through the bunker and experience communism. Sure Bunk’Art 1 is a bit creepy, but it will certainly leave an impression. And you will have a fascinating story to tell when you get back home.

Recommendation 2: Dajti Express Cable Car in Tirana (time required: half a day)

If I have to pick only one attraction you should visit in Tirana, I will always recommend the Dajti Express Cable Car.

The Dajti Express is a cable car on the outskirts of Tirana. Essentially, the cable car takes you from the lower station to a height of 1613 meters above sea level.

Getting on the Dajti Express cable car is an exciting experience. It really feels like getting on a ride in a theme park when you were a child!

And the views from the cable car are very impressive. You literally fly across the treetops and pass over the mountain cliffs. It is a very calming experience too, as you will literally sit in silence and look down at the world below. You will see the local people working in their gardens and attending to their farm animals.

At the upper station of the cable car, you will set out onto the Dajti Mountain Balcony. The balcony is right at the top of the cliff and gives you a breathtaking view of the entire city of Tirana. Although Tirana is actually quite a large city, it really does look small when you look down at it from the mountain balcony. In the distance, you will see the mountains leading into the Adriatic Sea and to the Port of Durres.

But the Dajti Mountain Balcony is not just a viewing point, it is actually an entertainment area for foreign tourists as well as the locals.

One of the highlights is the Ballkoni Restaurant. The Ballkoni Restaurant was built right on top of the cliff, so it has floor-to-ceiling windows that give you a panoramic view of Tirana city. The restaurant is a beautiful cabin style design with wooden walls and ceilings, just like the cabins in the Swiss Alps. Inside the restaurant you can enjoy some lovely Albanian specialities and the restaurant also offers a great selection of wines.

Apart from the restaurant, you can also go to the rotating bar on the top of the Dajti Hotel. Whilst you enjoy a drink at the bar, you will literally rotate 360 degrees! So you get to see all the beauty of the Dajti National Park as well as Tirana city.

Alongside the restaurant and bar, you can also participate in a variety of outdoor entertainment. You can ride a horse, cross around in a buggy or go target shooting. Then there is a lovely mini golf course and some amazing outdoor playgrounds.

If you are really adventurous, you can go to the Dajti Adventure Park. This adventure park has an obstacle course with high robes, ziplines and nets.

In summary, the Dajti Express Cable Car is one of the best days out for a couple or family in Tirana. It offers something for everyone from views to dining and outdoor activities. And when you fly back down to Tirana city, you will feel satisfied and relaxed.

Recommendation 3: Walking tour of the city centre of Tirana (time required: half a day)

A visit to Tirana is not complete without a walking tour of the city centre. You don’t need a lot of time for this anywhere between 2-4 hours is lovely.

Start your walking tour of Tirana’s city centre at Skanderbeg Square. Basically, Skanderbeg Square is the main square of Tirana, like the central Plaza, where all the events are happening.

On Skanderbeg Square, you can see a lot of the landmarks of Tirana city. The biggest eyecatcher is the National History Museum. This gigantic museum was constructed during the communist period in Albania.

Without a doubt, you will be impressed by the beautiful mosaic above the entrance of the National History Museum. The Mosaic depicts the Albanian people throughout history. It includes Albanian people during the Greek Empire, the Roman Empire, the Ottoman Empire, the Independence, the Second World War and of course the communists!

The National History Museum is really a classic and traditional museum. It has some archaeological treasures, paintings and icons from the middle ages, traditional Albanian clothing and a little display about Mother Theresa.

Another major landmark on Skanderbeg Square is the Palace of Culture. This building was also built by the communists and it has not been renovated or changed since the fall of communism. The Palace of Culture hosts both the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet as well as the National Library.

Next to the Palace of Culture, you can see the Et’hem Bey Mosque and the Clock Tower. The Et’hem Bey Mosque is only a tiny mosque, but a very famous one nonetheless. It is a miracle this tiny mosque survived the communist period in Albania. Because the communists did declare Albania an atheist country and as a result, many religious buildings were broken down.

In 1991, 10.000 Albanian people attended the re-opening of the Et’hem Bey Mosque. This was a major event that is seen as the beginning of the fall of communism and the reclaim of religious freedom in Albania.

Both the Clock Tower and the Et’hem Bey Mosque were constructed during the Ottoman Empire and they are simply beautiful. If you are lucky, you can enter the Clock Tower and climb to the balcony on the top for a fantastic view of Skanderbeg Square.

There is also a series of very colourful buildings on Skanderbeg Square. These are the ministries of the Albanian government. If you walk alongside the road in between the ministries, you will be on the main government boulevard.

Alongside the main government boulevard, you can see one of Tirana’s biggest landmarks: The Pyramid of Tirana. This enormous concrete pyramid was designed by the daughter of the communist dictator after the dictator died. It was meant to be a kind of museum honouring the former dictator.

Obviously, the museum honouring the dictator quickly closed when communism ended. And the building started its journey of being repurposed over and over again. The pyramid was a conference centre, a NATO base, a nightclub, a broadcasting station and a parking place for busses. At the moment of writing this blog, the pyramid is being converted into an IT centre for young people. You could call it Tirana’s own mini Silicon Valley.

Other highlights along the main government boulevard are the office of the Prime Minister, the office of the President, the brand new football stadium and the Gallery of Art.

From the main government boulevard, you can also walk into Murat Toptani Street. This beautiful pedestrian boulevard is heaven for foodies! It has a large selection of beautiful terraces, where the Albanian people love to spend their day drinking their espresso. And at the end of the street, you can visit both the Toptani Shopping Mall as well as the food court in the Castle of Tirana.

At the end of the government boulevard, you can walk into the Grand Park of Tirana. This beautiful park has an artificial lake and some really nice lakefront coffee houses. If you are travelling to Tirana with kids, you can check out the brand new playgrounds too.

Next to the Grand Park of Tirana, you can enter the Blloku Area. The Blloku Area was where the former communist dictator lived. You can view the house of the former dictator from the street, but it is not open to the public. Amazingly, the house is still kept exactly as it was when the dictator lived there!

In the communist period, the Blloku area was closed off to the public. It was an area that only the dictator and the government elite could enter. The area was under strict security and on any map of Tirana, the Blloku area was simply a blank spot, like it did not exist!

After communism ended the Blloku area continued to have the reputation of an exclusive neighbourhood. Therefore, Blloku became the most expensive area to live in with fancy shops, high-end restaurants, fabulous hotels and nightlife. Nowadays, Blloku is an area where you go to be seen and you dress up for a fabulous night out in Blloku.

If you walk through the Blloku Area back in the direction of Skanderbeg Square, you will also see the Museum of Secret Surveillance. The Museum of Secret Surveillance is based in the former headquarters of the Sigurimi. The Sigurimi was the secret police of the communist regime. Similar to the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. The Sigurimi had bugs and tapped phones to ensure the Albanian people were sticking to the rules and regulations of the strict communist regime.

On your way back to Skanderbeg Square, you will pass the large orthodox cathedral and the National Bank of Albania. Albania is a nation known for its religious tolerance. In Albania, it is perfectly normal for a church and a mosque to be located right next to each other and people really do respect each other’s religions.

The National Bank of Albania is right on the corner of Skanderbeg Square. This is where Albania manages its own currency: the Albanian Leke. Although Albanian people do use their own currency, they also frequently carry Euros or Pounds in their wallets. As many Albanians have family members working abroad and sending money home.

How do I spend my day in Tirana?

If you have only 1 day in Tirana, I would recommend making a combination of Bunk’Art 1 and the Dajti Express Cable Car.

Both of these sightseeing locations are the top recommendations for Tirana. If you look at the TripAdvisor recommendations for Tirana, Bunk’Art 1 and the Dajti Express are always in the top 5 recommendations.

Moreover, Bunk’Art 1 and the Dajti Express are located right next to each other, so you won’t waste any time travelling from one attraction to the other.

How can I spend 2 days in Tirana?

You can spend 2 days in Tirana visiting the Bunk’Art 1 Museum, the Dajti Express Cable Car, Kruja Town and a walking tour of the city centre of Tirana.

This is my recommended itinerary of how to spend 2 days in Tirana:

Day 1 Morning: Bunk’Art 1 Bunker Museum
Day 1 Afternoon: Dajti Express Cable Car in Tirana
Day 2 Morning: Half Day trip to Kruja Town
Day 2 Afternoon: Walking tour of the city centre of Tirana

Day trips to make from Tirana

If you are staying in Tirana for several days, I would highly recommend going on a day trip to Kruja and Berat.

Day trip to Kruja from Tirana

Kruja is a beautiful hilltop town close to Tirana. From the city centre of Tirana, it will only take you 45-60 minutes by taxi to get to Kruja.

To visit Kruja’s sightseeing attractions, you will only need approximately 3-4 hours. So Kruja can be a half-day trip if you have limited time. Or you can combine Kruja with Mount Sarisalltik and enjoy it as a full day trip.

The main attraction in Kruja is the Castle of Kruja. The Castle of Kruja is located on a hilltop and it offers a fantastic panoramic view of Tirana, the valley where the airport is located, the Adriatic Sea, the Port of Durres, the Cape of Rodon and Mount Sarisalltik. The Castle of Kruja is mostly in ruins, however, inside the castle, you can visit the Skanderbeg Museum and the Ethnographic Museum.

The Skanderbeg Museum is dedicated to Albania’s national hero Skanderbeg. Skanderbeg was a strong military commander who united the Albanian tribes in their fight against the Ottoman Empire. Even though Skanderbeg died in 1468, he is still an admired hero of the Albanian people.

The Ethnographic Museum of Kruja is based in the former family home of the Toptani Family. You get a unique insight into the Albanian lifestyle and see how a well-off Albanian family lived during the Ottoman Empire.

On the slope of the hill that leads to Kruja Castle, you can visit the Old Bazaar Market. This beautiful traditional marketplace sells a variety of handicrafts and souvenirs from Albania.

Kruja is a beautiful old town to visit and you will certainly have a very enjoyable couple of hours in Kruja. If you have a bit more time, it is certainly worth driving up to the top of the mountain of Sarisalltik. This is only a 20-minute drive from the Castle of Kruja and a very beautiful route to drive along. The top of the mountain gives you an even better view!

Day trip to Berat from Tirana

Berat is by far the most beautiful historical town in Albania. Furthermore, the old town of Berat has also been crowned a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So when it comes to sightseeing destinations in Albania, then Berat should be on the top of your list!

From Tirana, it takes approximately 2.5 hours to drive to Berat one-way. Therefore, Berat is a perfect 1-day trip from Tirana. I am a private tour guide in Albania and Berat is my most requested destination.

In Berat, there are two popular tourist destinations: 1) The Castle of Berat and 2) The Old Neighbourhoods in the valley.

Start your visit in Berat by exploring the hilltop Berat Castle. The Castle of Berat offers stunning panoramic views of the entire city of Berat. What makes this castle truly unique is that there are still people living within the castle’s walls. Although it is a UNESCO site, it is also still a neighbourhood that is alive!

Then in the afternoon, descent to the valley of Berat to visit the Old Neighbourhoods. The two old neighbourhoods are also known as the City of a Thousand Windows. That is because the two old neighbourhoods were built on the slope of the hill. From the valley, it looks as though all the 1000 little windows look down on you.

The little white houses of Berat that were built on the slope of the hill, give you the feeling of the South of Italy. Berat truly is a very romantic city with a great atmosphere. Have a glass of wine in one of the restaurants in the Gorica neighbourhood and look out over the river to the city of a thousand windows.

Insider tip: Antigoni is a great restaurant close to the bridge of Berat.

Insider tip 2: Make a stop at the COBO winery along the road back to Tirana for a nice wine tasting!

Tirana villages

If you would like to visit some traditional villages near Tirana, you can visit the Petrela Village or the Preza Village. Both villages have a hilltop castle, but they are far less touristic than Kruja. So if you like to enjoy more of the local life and prefer to stay in a village rather than in Tirana, you may really like both Petrela and Preza.

About me

About me

I am an Albania Tour Guide, who organizes 1-day, 2-day or multiple day private tours in Albania. I arrange your transportation and I am your English speaking guide. So that, you get to experience the most beautiful places in Albania!
Kind regards, Manon

Welcome to Albania!

I am a Tour Guide in Albania

I am an Albania Tour Guide, who organizes 1-day, 2-day or multiple day private tours in Albania.

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