Over the last 30 years, Albania has started to find its way onto the radar of intrepid explorers and tourists. A country that was once closed off from the world is now open for visitors as evidenced by statistics from 2019, which indicated that the county welcomed more than 6.4 million people. This year, the number is expected to increase due to the country’s tourist-friendly attributes such as mild weather, welcoming natives, and fascinating historical background.
The capital, Tirana, is situated in the center of the country. Home to over half a million people, it’s a 30-minute walk from the beach and surrounded by mountains. Steeped in history, it’s also a vibrant metropolitan area with lots to offer tourists of every age and preference. For those traveling on a budget or with a keen eye for a good deal, here are some top tips on making the best of Tirana during your visit.
Go house hunting
Of course, we don’t mean to buy. Tirana is home to hundreds of the early 1920s/1930s villas that are distinctive, with terracotta and mustard exterior window panes and green wooden shutters built in a neo-classical style. Most of them include postcard-esque features like plaster illustrates, french doors, and grand staircases. Sadly, most of them have fallen into ruin as disputes over ownership or what should be done with them continue. Many are earmarked for demolition to make concrete high-rises and luxury apartments, but a number of traditional villas remain.
You can walk around the streets of the city center, hunt out some of those visible from the street and take stunningly unique holiday photographs. Best of all, it’s completely free. You may need a few Albanian Lek to refuel with coffee along the way.
Explore Tirana’s vibrant nightlife
Tirana's a safe city with vibrant and diverse nightlife. In terms of cultural cuisine, Tirana has the highest ratio of cafes and bars in the whole of Europe, so there's no shortage of places to go. Perhaps you're in the mood for a savory snack such as byrek, which is a traditional pastry dish often filled with spinach, or ashure, a dessert dish better suited to sweet tastebuds. Either way, there's a plethora of places you can get your quick fix of delightfully authentic Albanian food.
Tirana also has a couple of casinos. Prices are higher here, but if you fancy getting dressed up for a glamorous night out, then this is always an option. However, if you're on a tight budget, you can visit the likes of Bonusfinder UK to check out some great deals for free spins and no deposit casinos. This way, you can still enjoy a visit to the casino, but from the surroundings of urban Tirana and with the satisfaction of a bargain under your belt.
Hike Mount Dajti
Mount Dajti stands at 1613 meters above the city of Tirana. It’s surrounded by a National Park and forms a part of the Skanderbeg mountain range. In the summer, when temperatures soar, Albanians flock to enjoy cooler temperatures on its peaks. In the winter, it’s covered with snow, and there are lots of activities that can be enjoyed there, however, Dajti is really great for hiking. Several trails of varying difficulties crisscross the mountain. Some require a guide or an experienced hiker, but others can be done solo by beginners.
The Bolivia reservoir is a great destination to head to, offering impressive views from vertiginous heights; it’s not to be missed. The mountain is also served by cable car. You can walk up and come down in the cable car, or vice versa. The summit also has a nice selection of restaurants, horse riding, and shooting activity centers.
All in all, Tirana is a beautiful city to explore, with a vast array of affordable options available so that you can make the most of the trip, even on a budget.