2-Days Itinerary in Tirana to Engulf in the Albanian culture

Walking through the streets of Tirana can bring joy to your eyes. A two-day trip in Tirana can show you how much the Albanian culture in this country has grown and thrived.

The Balkan Peninsula lies off the Southern coast of Europe. Bordering this peninsula are the stunning seas of the Adriatic, Ionian, Aegean, and the Black Sea. One of the 12 countries of the Balkan states is Albania, where our 50 Days of Balkans Road Trip has led us to on our 16th Day.

Colorful building in Tirane with view of Clock Tower in the background
Colorful building in Tirane with view of Clock Tower in the background

7th Country in our 50 Days 15 Countries Balkans Road Trip

Albania is the 7th country we have visited and Day 16 turned out to be quite interesting. The Republic of Albania, or Albania, faces the Adriatic Sea of the western section of the Balkan peninsula. The tumultuous war and historical background of the country have intrigued visitors to spend at least a 2-day trip in this marvelous country to experience the Albanian culture.

So why not do the same? If you have nowhere to start, let this article be your guide to a 2-days adventure and cultural journey through this Balkan state.  

Click here for a sightseeing, walking tour in Tirana

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Clock Tower in Tirana
symbols of Albanian culture are maintained well
Historical Communist Leaders
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Instagram Spot in Tirana

A Little Albanian Culture and History 

Before we get into the fun adventure activities that Albania has in store for you, let’s talk politics. The country of Albania is located in the southern part of Europe and was formerly a socialist republic. It shares a border with Greece to the south, Macedonia to the east, Serbia and Montenegro to the north, and Kosovo to the northeast; it has no coastlines or other maritime borders. Albania’s history can be traced back for centuries through various archaeological discoveries.

The earliest evidence found in Albanian territory is from Neolithic times dating between 6000-4000 BC when agricultural communities thrived on farming. Since its establishment as an independent state following World War I (on November 28th, 1912) Albania has been governed by many different regimes including monarchies, military dictatorships, communist states, and democracies.

Today, Albania is proudly a member of the unitary parliamentary constitutional republic which is run by a Prime Minister and a President.

This historic country has been around since 2000 BCE and has seen many wars during its years. During the late 1960s, the communist party in Albania closed all places of worship to ensure the world knew that Albania had been turned into an atheistic country.  The fall of the communist era turned things around and today, most Albanians consider themselves Muslims.  

Glorious overview of the Albanian Mountains
Glorious overview of the Albanian Mountains

Where is Albania in Europe?

The location of Albania has been a gift and a curse for many years. Aside from communist parties, Albania had been sought after for division by the Ottoman Turks, Slavs, Huns, and Buglars until 1912, when it became an independent country. Albania borders the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, which has made access and conquests by enemies very easy. 

What to do in Tirana

Albania can easily be accessed by plane, train, ferry/boat, and car. Four countries that border Albania are Montenegro, Kosova, North Macedonia, and Greece. In my opinion, the best way to view all the places you want is by renting a car or comfortable campervan. Getting to and from places should happen your way and on your time. 

Check out this guide if you would like to get hold of the
full itinerary of where we went in Tirana.

So how many days in Albiana would ideal

Two days in Tirana, Albania, is sufficient for tourists to experience the city’s key attractions, vibrant culture, and lively atmosphere. During this time, you can explore Skanderbeg Square, the heart of the city, where you can see the Ethem Bey Mosque and the Clock Tower. Don’t miss the National History Museum, which offers a deep dive into Albania’s rich history. Art enthusiasts will appreciate Bunk’Art, a museum housed in a former Cold War bunker, showcasing contemporary art and historical exhibits. To get a taste of local life, take a stroll down the colorful streets of Blloku, a trendy neighborhood known for its cafes, boutiques, and nightlife.

For a more immersive experience, extending your stay to 5 to 7 days is ideal. This allows you to uncover more of Tirana’s hidden gems, such as the peaceful Grand Park of Tirana and the Pyramid of Tirana, a unique piece of architecture. Additionally, you can take a scenic cable car ride up Mount Dajti for breathtaking views of the city and surrounding landscapes.

Consider day trips to nearby attractions like the ancient city of Kruja, with its historical castle and bazaar, or the coastal town of Durrës, known for its Roman amphitheater and beautiful beaches. This extended itinerary provides a well-rounded experience of both urban and natural beauty in Albania. For the best experience, engage with locals, try traditional Albanian dishes like byrek and tavë kosi, and perhaps learn a few phrases in Albanian to enhance your travel experience.

Day 1

Front view of the Opera House
Front view of the Opera House

Honestly, I think the best way to visit the capital city of Tirane is by going on a tour to experience the Albanian culture more deeply. This guide will help navigate your way around the capital during your brief stay.  

Morning: Do a free walking tour in Tirana

I would definitely recommend starting your day with a free walking tour. Your eyes don’t deceive you, there is a free walking tour in Tirana that is made up of volunteers. This tour lasts roughly 2 hours and it begins at the beautiful Opera House. This free tour includes visits to the Clock Tower, Mother Teresa Square, the National Art Gallery, Piramida, and Et’hem Bey Mosque, just to name a few.  Since the walking tour lasts a couple of hours, use the rest of the morning to explore the city unguided!

You must visit the BunkArt. This area was built by the former dictator Enver Hoxha and was transformed into an underground artists’ gallery.  

BunkArt
BunkArt

Lunch: Check out an Authentic Albanian barbeque

Between the walking tours and museum visits, don’t forget about lunch and dinner. An authentic Albanian barbeque should come from Tek Zgara Tirones. This place has amazing prices, delicious meals, and good service.

Engaging conversation with the locals
Engaging conversation with the locals

Afternoon/Evening – Visit Skanderbeg Square

To continue your tour through the city, you must visit Skanderbeg Square. It is a historical place where a statue of the communist Stalin, once stood. The green grass and stunning flowers only add to the stunning view of this Albanian square. After viewing the architectural beauty of Albania, take the time to visit the Botanical Gardens. It is 15 hectares of beautiful flora and over 2,000 plant species.  

Late Dinner: Enjoy Exquisite Albanian Dishes at Wilson Square

Less than a mile from the Botanical Gardens is a charming and inexpensive place to eat. The Rooms Restaurant in Wilson Square offers pizza, beef filets, salad, gluten-free meals as well as vegetarian/vegan options.  After dinner, I would suggest getting some rest for a busy day tomorrow.  

Albania Day 2

The second day of your fun Albanian adventure should include a physical activity.

Morning: Go for a hike in the Dajti Mountains

Scenic view to a hiking adventure
Scenic view to a hiking adventure

Why not start your morning by going on a hike? There is a 5.8-mile hiking trail along Dajti Mountain Trail. This hike usually lasts 2-3 hours to complete. If you are unfamiliar with this hiking trail like most people, then a guided tour is best. This day trip usually begins around 9 am with a meet and greet followed by a cable car ride to the starting line. Pick-up locations are available to and from Tirana as well as an English-speaking guide, snack,s and water.  

Lunch: Have a picnic in the Dajti Mountain National Park

The end of your hiking adventure will most likely take you around lunchtime. There is no need to move around to eat there is a picnic area at the Dajti Mountain National Park.  

Early Afternoon: Go for a swim at Spille Beach

If you are visiting during the warmer months, I recommend taking in the afternoon sun at Spille Beach in Tirana. This beach is open to everyone and there are restaurants, cafes, and resorts to occupy the rest of your day. It is the perfect place to cool off from your morning hike.  

Dinner: Dine by the Sea at Kavaje

If you would rather not stray too far, La Mer in Kavaje is a delightful restaurant less than 1.5 miles from Spille Beach. This restaurant has tasty fresh seafood and outdoor seating. 

Late Night: Indulge in cocktails at The Padam

Spectacular night view of water fountains
Spectacular night view of water fountains

End your trip to Albania with a bang by giving cheers at The Padam Boutique Hotel & Restaurant in Tirana. This is a great bar that guarantees delicious cocktails and drinks. Give a European-style salute goodbye to your fantastic trip. 

Is it Safe in Albania?

Beautiful form of Street Art
Beautiful form of Street Art

The most recent war in Albania was in 1997, which caused uproar and heartache for many Albanians. Aside from this brief period, Albania has been a relatively safe country. Like most countries, you cannot completely stop crime or random acts of violence, but they can be controlled. 

In my opinion, traveling with someone or a group is safe. You can watch each other’s backs if you get paranoid, but nothing to be alarmed about. Solo traveling may not be the right fit for everyone, but it can be done in Albania. The main streets of Tirana are always filled with people (at all hours) and won’t make you feel like a solo traveler. Albanians are known to be friendly people and love to help out tourists, regardless if you are a solo traveler or not.  

For those who have the luxury of time, I wholeheartedly recommend extending your stay and exploring more of Albania. Beyond Tirana, the country offers a treasure trove of experiences. Visit the ancient city of Kruja, where the medieval castle and traditional bazaar transport you back in time. Or head to the coastal town of Durrës, where you can wander through Roman ruins and relax on stunning beaches.

Venture further afield to discover Albania’s natural beauty – from the breathtaking landscapes of the Albanian Alps to the serene waters of Lake Ohrid. Each region has its own unique charm and stories to tell, making Albania a mosaic of diverse experiences that cater to every traveler’s desires.

What Cities Nearby Albania?

Dubrovnik in Croatia

Personally, the best spot to visit near Albania is Croatia. More specifically, Dubrovnik is the perfect place for Game of Thrones lovers to explore the coolest filming locations.

Beaches in Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is a great place for tourists to view to the sun-kissed beaches. The best beaches to visit are Porto Palermo, Drymades, and Filikuri Beach.

Explore Lecce and Apulia in Italy

The picturesque town of Lecce, Apulia, Italy is only a short plane or ferry ride away from Albania. This seaport city is great for fishing excursions.  

As we conclude our whirlwind 2-day itinerary through Tirana, Albania, it’s clear that this city offers a unique blend of history, culture, and modern vibrancy that captivates every traveler who sets foot in it. From the bustling energy of Skanderbeg Square to the quiet reflection found in the National History Museum, Tirana effortlessly bridges the past and present, offering a travel experience that is as enriching as it is exciting.

What strikes me most about Tirana is its resilience and transformation. Walking through its streets, you can sense a city that has endured and evolved, shedding the shadows of its past while embracing a dynamic future. This spirit is palpable in areas like Blloku, once the exclusive domain of communist elites and now a lively neighborhood filled with cafes, bars, and boutiques. It is a testament to the city’s ability to reinvent itself and look forward with optimism.

All walks of life come together to build Albania's confidence
All walks of life come together to build Albania’s confidence

Tirana’s charm is not just in its attractions but in its people. Albanians are known for their hospitality, and this warmth is felt in every interaction. Whether it’s a local guiding you to the best spot for a panoramic view on Mount Dajti or a friendly vendor at the Pazari i Ri market sharing stories and laughs, the genuine kindness of the people makes you feel at home. This hospitality extends to the local cuisine, where traditional dishes like byrek and tavë kosi are prepared with love and served with a smile, making your culinary journey as memorable as the sights you see.

Two days may seem brief, but it’s ample time to fall in love with Tirana. The city’s compact size makes it easy to navigate, allowing you to soak in its vibrant energy without feeling rushed. However, as your time in Tirana comes to an end, you’ll likely find yourself yearning to see more, to delve deeper into the country’s rich tapestry.

Concluding thoughts

In closing, Tirana is not just a destination; it’s an invitation to discover a country that is still somewhat off the beaten path yet brimming with potential and beauty. Albania’s journey from its challenging past to its hopeful present is a narrative that resonates deeply with visitors, offering not just a vacation but a profound connection to a land and its people.

As you pack your bags and prepare to leave Tirana, take with you not just memories of the places you’ve seen but the spirit of Albania itself – a spirit of resilience, warmth, and unwavering optimism. This is what makes Albania not just worth visiting but worth cherishing, and it is why every traveler should consider exploring beyond Tirana to fully appreciate the depth and beauty of this remarkable country.

Is 2 Days enough to see Tirana in Albania? 

Before going on your next travel adventure, consider booking Affordable Travel Insurance from US$14 onwards for a peace of mind! 🙂

Lydia Yang

Lydia Yang

Lydia Yang is a Singaporean city girl who decided to ditch her high heels for hiking boots and become a full-time traveller and digital nomad. She has been to almost 60 countries to date! She has a knack for adventure travel, especially rock climbing, and always hunts down the best climbing spots around the world. Check out her expert advice on the best outdoor crags to climb at or what workouts to improve your climbing performance.

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3 Comments

  1. I lived in Tirana all my life, where did you find those “muslims” girl’s??? And no, Albania is surrounds by 4 states, Montenegro, Kosova, North Macedonia, and Greece. Sorry for Serbs. By the way…. you need to read really the History of Albania. Stalin, didn’t even know it where Albania was located. There was NACL, Albanian liberation army. Poor article.

    • Thanks a million for mentioning those pointers Art. I can see you truly know a lot about Albanian history and culture which for sure I lack in true depth given I was only there for a few days. And yes, we did bump into the ladies at the main square where the mural was. Lovely people:)
      I have implemented some of the great feedback you have shared:) Thanks for it once again!

  2. My trip to Tirana was a highlight of my travels this year. The city is full of energy and has a lot to offer, from its rich history and stunning architecture to its delicious local cuisine. Highly recommend.

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