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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 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!
Related: Interested in more Albania travel guides? Check out my Albania page for more!
Personal Favorite: Blloku (“The Block”)
Blloku is the part of Tirana that used to be closed off to everyone except high government officials during communism. 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!
Related: Learn more about how to visit the beautiful, remote 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 artifacts 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!
Related: Check out my favorite reputable Tirana walking tours 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!
Related: Discover 5 unique Albania itineraries with my guide to 5 dreamy excursions in Albania that will satisfy anyone!
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 ambiance of the park is gentle and friendly to enjoy in the cooler evenings.
Related: Ready to explore more of Europe? Get out there with my top 12 solo travel destinations in Europe!
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 really 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 one of the places to go for Chinese food in Tirana. Most, if not all, meals are under $10 and you get to enjoy your food in a dining room or on a Chinese-themed balcony outside.
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, but 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.
Related: Check out my favorite food tours in Tirana below!
In Albania, coffee culture is huge. It’s completely normal to go out for 2 or 3 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 espressos, macchiatos, etcetera. If you’re interested in more specialty types of coffee, 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 coffee.
Bars and 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 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, Duff, and 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 Dada, City Art, Hemingway, Colonial Café, and the bar/lounge at Taiwan Center.
Nightlife in Tirana
Tirana is known for a 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 Lollipop, The Montrose, and Folie Bar.
Top Pick for Tirana: Sombra Hostel ($10.81/night for 6-bed mixed dorm)
Sombra Hostel might just be the best hostel in Tirana!
It has 60 10/10 ratings on HostelWorld (which is kind of unheard of) and is centrally located. They have lots of outdoor space to chill in, whether it’s the front patio or the backyard garden!
The best part? They also offer free breakfast, free lockers, and free city maps!
What I love most about this hostel is that it’s the most central hostel in Tirana, and is also one of the cheapest!
It’s near the Blloku district, so you’ll have plenty of social opportunities here, too.
Vanilla Sky Boutique Hostel also stands out with a 10/10 rating on Hostelworld!
For female travelers looking for a more upscale experience in a female dorm, Vanilla Sky Boutique Hostel is a great choice.
The property is gorgeous and new and each bed has its own private locker, power socket, and light.
And, it’s also only steps away from Blloku!
Related: Wondering how to make friends while solo traveling? Well, have I got the perfect guide for you! Check out my complete guide to making friends while solo traveling.
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