Skanderbeg Square is the main plaza in Tirana and the central point of the capital. There's many buildings in all directions of the plaza, including The Palace of Culture, Opera House, National Library, Ethem Bey Mosque, National Historical Museum, and the old Clock Tower.
A busy buzzing point throughout the entire day and a central start point to use for a city tour with everything in close proximity.
A day trip to Berat was the highlight of my time in Albania. A short 1.5 hour drive south of Tirana lies this stunning city famed for it's white ottoman houses lining the hilltop, which leads up to Berat Castle. This is a beautiful place to stroll around the cobbled streets, walk the bridges, or even take a hike up to Berat Castle itself, which is a complex now inhabited by townspeople. Do not miss this place!
Dajti mountain gives a great panoramic view across the city of Tirana and the surrounding countryside. Easy to reach and it's cheap, with a return cable car journey at $7. Even the countryside views on the way up the cable car are enjoyable and you'll also spot numerous waterfalls pouring from the side of the mountain (seasonal). There's a viewpoint at the top, as well as a cafe and some fun games for the children.
Another worthwhile day trip is to the northern city of Shkoder, which is a 2 hour drive from Tirana. This is the the same direction as the Montenegro border, so a worthwhile stop off point if you're also planning an overland Baltic adventure.
It's a historical city and one of the most ancient across the Balkans region. The centre of the city has a very fresh look with white buildings dotted along the cobbled streets, with plenty of monuments to check out. The Mesi Bridge lies only a short 3km drive and is worth seeing whilst you're in the region. It's picturesque too, as the city lies at the foothill of the Albanian Alps.
The pyramid today is simply a landmark of the city and a reminder of the communist era, but this was once a museum that opened in 1988 about the legacy of Enver Hoxha, whom was the long-time leader of Community Albania. The museum ceased to function in 1991 following the collapse of the Communist Era. There's been a few temporary since, such as a conference centre and a broadcasting point for an Albania radio station.
Today in 2020, the pyramid is run-down with graffiti inside and majority of the area surrounded by fencing. However, it's still a great 'retro spot' for some photos. You can even climb the pyramid if you dare!
Without a doubt my biggest disappointment in Albania, although often ranked the number one attraction, so I had to include it. Bunk' Art is split into two venues and is part museum, part art gallery. I was so excited to head here, but left disappointed. I was expecting more of an original bunker feel, but everything has been completely modernised. Check it out for yourself though!
In the centre of Tirana close to Skanderbeg Square is a beautiful church both inside and out. Definitely not an old orthodox church, as it's very modern, but has an interesting history. Albania was declared an Atheist state in 1967, which meant the church was barely used, but that all changed in 1991 when religious freedom was restored. Overall, very impressive architecture!
I chose Hotel Colosseo for my stay due to its central location. There were definitely cheaper options in a city where accommodation is low cost overall, but I thought the hotel offered great 'bang for buck' at $60 a night. The rooms were spacious, the service from the staff was pleasant, and free valet parking is available is travelling the region by car.
There's actually some great local restaurants in Tirana, despite not being know for it's impressive food scene. I tried a few, but Kripe Dhe Piper was by far the highlight and deservedly ranked the #1 restaurant in the city. The cuisines on offer are Italian, Seafood, Mediterranean, European, and local Albanian. There's also a great selection of local wines available. Slightly above average on a cost basis, but worth it!