To save money once in Tirana, take the local bus Rinas Express from the Tirana Mother Teresa Airport to the city centre, which terminates near the National Historical Museum of Albania, located in Skanderbeg Square, and takes 20 minutes for just 250 lekë (2€). A taxi is more expensive, costing about 2,500 lekë (almost 20€) one way, so avoid it if you can and use the bus.
Where to stay
The best area to stay in Tirana is the city center, so you can easily navigate the city without having to rely on the often unreliable public transport. Choose a hotel or a hostel: hotels aren’t expensive, but if you want to save money and get a much more social experience book a hostel room. One of the best in town is Milingona City Center, a colorful and lively hostel located just few steps from Pazari i Ri, the new market of Tirana.
Milingona City Center, Villa Nr.11,, Rruga Vehbi Agolli, Tiranë, Albania, +355 69 207 0076
Where to eat
For cheaper prices, avoid the fancy restaurants of Blloku, Tirana’s coolest neighborhood, and instead look for traditional places to eat, especially those frequented by locals that offer typical Albanian cuisine. The best in town is Oda, a small restaurant that serves traditional gastronomy such as fërgesë (cottage cheese with peppers), salçe kosi (yogurt sauce), and other delicacies for less than 10€ per person. For affordable snacks or sweets, don’t forget that Albanian street food is cheap and extremely tasty, so buy a byrek, a souvlaki or a trilece (a cake made with milk and cream) in one of the many bakeries that line the streets for less than 1€.
Where to drink
Drinking is almost always cheap in Tirana, a city famous for its cocktails and raki, the aromatic liquor found everywhere throughout the Balkan Peninsula. To avoid high prices, skip cocktail bars and head to the Komiteti Kafe Muzeum, one of the coolest places to spend a night out in Tirana. In this trendy café, located near the Pyramid of Tirana, you can choose between more than 20 types of raki for less than 2€/glass.
What to do
Tirana’s must-see museums include the National Historical Museum, National Art Gallery and BunkArt. Tickets don’t cost much – the entry for these three museums only comes to 900 leke (7€). If you want to check them out for free, plan your visit for the annual International Night of Museums that takes place this year on May 18 2018.
Free walking tours
A great way to experience Tirana is to sign up for the Tirana Free Tour (with Albanian, English and Italian speaking guides) that leads visitors around the city’s main landmarks such as the Pyramid of Enver Hoxha, Et’Hem Bey Mosque, the Catholic Cathedral, the Orthodox Cathedral, Blloku, and many other stunning sites. The tour starts everyday at 10am (the meeting place is in front of the Opera House, in Skanderbeg Square) and lasts about two hours.
Artificial Lake of Tirana
On a sunny day, walk around Tirana’s largest park, Grand Park that is located around an artificial lake. This is the perfect place to escape the crowds of the capital and to relax surrounded by nature. Spend some time here enjoying the quiet and serenity of this beautiful, natural spot before resuming your tour of the city.
Where to day trip
If you have time to spare, don’t miss out on the surroundings of Tirana. Albania’s capital city is surrounded by stunning natural areas such as Syri I Kalter and Canyon Erzenit, two places that are perfect for escaping Tirana’s summer heat. One of the best day trips is Kruja, a lovely hamlet located just one hour by bus from Tirana. Kruja is one of the most important cities of Albania, known as the hometown of Skanderbeg, the national hero who fought against the Ottomans in the 14th century. For less than 2€ visit the Skanderbeg Museum, a beautiful museum that explains the history of the town and the adventures of the greatest Albanian leader of all time.