The Ultimate Tirana Solo Travel Guide
Since I lived in Albania in 2016, the Balkan country continues to increase in popularity. Often referred to as “the last corner of Europe,” more and more people are discovering its beautiful landscape and cheap prices every year!
Albania was the destination of my first solo trip and also my first time living alone. It continues to be one of my favorite countries in the world for its unique natural beauty, quirky charms, and off-the-beaten-path character.
Although there are many places worth visiting in Albania, most people’s trips will begin in the capital of Tirana. So, from living and working in Tirana for 3 months as a solo traveler, I wrote this ultimate Tirana solo travel guide just for you!
Keep reading to learn more about both the modern culture and the communist history of Tirana to get an idea of what cosmopolitan life (and solo traveling) is like in a post-communist society!
Read more: Interested in more Albania travel guides? Check out my Albania country guides page!
The Ultimate Tirana Solo Travel Guide: Page Contents
The Ultimate Tirana Solo Travel Guide:
Where to Go in Tirana
Personal favorite: Blloku (“The Block”)
Blloku is the part of Tirana that used to be closed off to everyone except high government officials during Albania’s century-long dictatorship. As such, it’s the newest and most developed part of the city. It has a young and fresh atmosphere. Make sure to stroll along cute, shaded side streets and stop for a coffee or a drink in this growing district!
Read more: Heading to Albania’s beautiful mountains next? Learn more about how to visit the picturesque mountain village of Theth with my Ultimate Solo Travel Guide to Theth, Albania!
At the center of the city lies Skanderbeg Square. It’s filled with a variety of landmarks that are central to the culture and history of Albania. There, you can see the triumphant statue of Skanderbeg, a national hero who led Albania to victory against the Ottomans in 1441. You can also see the opera house, many of the government ministries, and Et`hem Bey Mosque, the oldest mosque that somehow survived the country’s long communist regime during the 20th century. With all of these landmarks, Skanderbeg Square is a must-see for any Tirana solo travel guide!
The History Museum
This history museum is the best way to learn about Albanian history in two hours or less. It will lead you through time starting from before ancient civilization through to Albanian independence, the communist regime, and today. The number of ancient, intact artefacts they have is impressive for such a small museum! Admission is less than $2. I went here on my first day living in Albania and decided that it’s key for any Tirana solo travel guide!
Read more: Especially as a solo traveler, tours operating from Tirana are the best way to get around. Check out my favorites below!
Enver Hoxha Pyramid
Though certainly not the prettiest sight to see in Tirana, this derelict concrete pyramid is still intact. It stands as a reminder of Enver Hoxha’s ugly communist regime over Albania during much of the 20th century. If you’re feeling really brave, try climbing to the top – just be careful on the way down!
One thing you will quickly learn about Albania is that Hoxha, the communist dictator, left hundreds of thousands of concrete bunkers all over the country. He built these because of his extreme paranoia of being invaded. One of these bunkers is open to visit in a park near Blloku right next to the Parliament Offices (Zyrat e Parlamentit) on the main boulevard in Tirana. This is a really cool activity to do on this Tirana solo travel guide! When traveling through Albania, watch for these little bunkers hidden in the landscape around you – you’ll be surprised by how many you’ll find!
Artificial Lake of Tirana & Park
This park is a nice place to stroll through in the evening when every Albanian in Tirana comes out to walk around the city and get together with friends. Again, the lake isn’t the nicest sight to see (its cleanliness is questionable, so don’t go in). However, the ambience of the park is gentle and friendly to enjoy in the cooler evenings.
Read more: Albania can get hot in the summer. Prepare for your trip with my reader-favorite guide to the best clothes for hot weather for female travelers!
The Ultimate Tirana Solo Travel Guide:
Where to Eat & Drink in Tirana
Personal favorite: Xheko Imperial
This restaurant is located on top of the ornately-decorated Xheko Imperial Hotel in Blloku and is my favorite place to eat in Tirana! The restaurant has a beautiful view of the city and surrounding mountains, and the décor is spot-on. Everything is white, they have little tropical birds, and the music is nice and relaxing. Enjoy a nice lunch or dinner here with a glass of wine, and you’re still sure to be ringing in at less than $20.
Taiwan Place is a great place to visit for a number of reasons: there’s a park, a big fountain, a casino, ATMs, a restaurant, and a bar. The restaurant serves good food, from salads and soups to pasta and meat. You will usually pay less than $10 for a decent-sized meal here.
Oriental Palace is the place to go for authentic Chinese food in Tirana. Most, if not all, meals are under $10. You can enjoy your food in a dining room or on a Chinese-themed balcony outside (my pick of the two, personally!).
Street Food in Blloku
In Blloku, not only will you find some hip places to eat a nice dinner, but you’ll also find typical street food. This usually includes pizza, a type of toasted meat wrap with French fries in it called sufllaqe (sue-flah-tcha; similar to the Greek souvlaki), and doner kebab. However, sometimes you might find burgers too. If you thought food was already really cheap in Albania, wait until you buy some street food – you can usually get sufllaqe and a beer for less than $4.
In Albania, coffee culture is huge. It’s completely normal to go out for two or three coffees every day, sometimes with coworkers or in the evening with friends. There’s a joke that most business gets done over coffee in Albania, but it’s true! Because of this phenomenon, there is a wealth of coffee shops to choose from in Tirana, with one on just about every block. The normal cafes will have the typical type of Albanian coffee, which are Italian espresso-based. If you’re interested in more specialty types of coffee and coffee-blended drinks, head to a coffee shop like my personal favorite, Mon Cheri. Coffee is really cheap in Albania, ranging from 60 cents for a macchiato to less than $3 for a regular-sized specialty/blended coffee.
Bars & Lounges
Tirana, especially Blloku, is filled with hip bars and lounges. Because the city is warm, especially in the summer, every bar and lounge has an outdoor patio, which is really nice to relax on in the evening.
Personal favorite bar in Tirana: Sky Bar
Sky Bar, though a little bit on the expensive side for Tirana, is a posh rooftop bar/lounge with an amazing view over the city. Enjoy swaying to the music and looking out over the city while sipping on a trendy cocktail, beer, or wine.
Other good bars include:
- Whiskey Bar
- New Irish
Personal favorite lounge in Tirana: Pepper Lounge
In my opinion, Pepper Lounge combines the best qualities of any lounge: great outdoor seating, lots of plants and trees, hip ambience, and a soulful soundtrack. I can sit on their outdoor deck for hours sipping a glass of wine and enjoying the scenery.
Other great lounges include:
- City Art
- Colonial Café
- Bar/lounge at Taiwan Center
Nightlife in Tirana
Tirana is known for its hip, up-and-coming nightlife scene. It’s very common for Albanians, especially young people, to dress up and go out for drinks or for a walk through Blloku on any night of the week. For clubs that have drinks but are also made for some dancing, check out:
- The Montrose
- Folie Bar
The Ultimate Solo Female Travel Guide to Tirana:
Where to Stay in Tirana
Where to Stay in Tirana: Best Luxury Hotel
MARITIM HOTEL PLAZA TIRANA ($425/night)
This five-star hotel located in the center of Tirana, right on Skanderbeg Square will allow you to experience the luxury and quality you’re accustomed to. With a restaurant and bar, fitness center, and sumptuous add-ons like massages, Maritim Hotel Plaza Tirana is definitely the best luxury hotel to stay at in Tirana. Booking.com notes that solo travelers in particular love this hotel, giving it a 9.7 rating for one-person stays!
Where to Stay in Tirana: Best Mid-Range Hotels
ART HOTEL TIRANA ($105/night)
Located in the heart of the city, ART Hotel Tirana is a great choice for a mid-range hotel in the center of Tirana. Albania is one of the few places you can stay in a 4-star hotel for $100/night, so take advantage of the opportunity here while you have it! ART Hotel is the highest-rated mid-range hotel in Tirana with a rating of 9.4 on Booking.com. Enjoy a variety of amenities here like free breakfast, flat-screen TVs in every room, air conditioning, and the option to have a terrace.
BOUTIQUE HOTEL KOTONI ($103/night)
If you’re looking for a mid-range hotel in Tirana and your tastes are more lavish, Boutique Hotel Kotoni is your best option. The crystal chandeliers spread throughout the foyer and lobby will have you staying in luxury and style, at only about $100/night! What I love particularly about Boutique Hotel Kotoni is their two-floor restaurant, which uses organic ingredients and offers al-fresco dining on a terrace during the summer.
APT. 16 ($79/night)
If you’re a solo traveler, the Apt. 16 rental is a great value. It includes two separate bedrooms, as well as a fully-equipped kitchen. Because of this, it might be your best option if you’re a digital nomad! Save even more money by cooking for yourself using the kitchen. I also love this rental’s super central location. On Booking.com, Apt. 16 has a rating of 9.6, one of the highest ratings seen in all of Tirana.
Where to Stay in Tirana: Best Hostels
VANILLA SKY BOUTIQUE HOSTEL ($13.68/night for 4-bed female dorm with AC)
Vanilla Sky Boutique Hostel might just be the best hostel in Tirana! It’s definitely the best hostel on this Tirana solo travel guide. Vanilla Sky Boutique Hostel is located in the heart of Blloku, ensuring you’re right in the center of the action and all of the best bars and clubs. Also, as a solo female traveler, I hate it when I have to choose between my wallet and my comfort. So, I especially love that their female dorms are the same price as their mixed dorms. At the time of writing, it has a 9.1 rating on Hostelworld. All of their most recent ratings are 10 out of 10!
TIRANA BACKPACKER HOSTEL ($14.74/night for 6-bed mixed dorm with AC)
Tirana Backpackers is the hostel with the most familial atmosphere in Tirana. One of the best features of this hostel is its large outdoor garden, filled with orange trees, hammocks, and art and instruments. They really strive to be a home away from home for backpackers and artists from around the world, and this really shows in their reviews. At the time of writing, the Tirana Backpacker Hostel has a 9.2 rating on Hostelworld!
The Ultimate Solo Female Travel Guide to Tirana:
How to Get Around Tirana
Especially since Tirana is pretty small, walking will get you pretty much everywhere you need to go around the city center. Stay in the city center at one of the hotels or hostels I mentioned above, and you might not need any other mode of transport for your stay!
Buses can be a good option in Tirana if you’d like to go to places like the mall or the nearby seaside town of Durrës. However, they don’t exactly operate on regular schedules and can be a little difficult to track down sometimes. Ask your accommodation front desk for bus directions if you plan to use the bus.
I wouldn’t say bikes are all that common in Tirana. However, they can be a great option for getting around more quickly than walking, especially if your accommodation isn’t right in the city center. There is a great network of safe, secure bike rentals in Tirana that is summarized really well in this article by Sondor Travel.
Especially if you’ll be spending more time elsewhere in Albania or the Balkans (which I highly recommend doing!), renting a car can be a good option while you’re in Tirana. For finding the best price across rental companies in Europe, I recommend checking out Rentalcars.com. I find they’re the best way to compare prices from different reputable companies.
However, it’s important to note that driving in Tirana, and Albania generally, is not for the faint of heart. Driving can get a bit chaotic here – simply become hypnotized by the way that traffic somehow miraculously works itself out at the roundabout at Skanderbeg Square, and you’ll get what I mean!
If you’re visiting Tirana only, you really don’t need a car. However, in my opinion, Tirana is the least nice place to see in Albania. So, if you’re going elsewhere in Albania (like to the coast), grabbing a car will make things so much more convenient than trying to chase down a bus.