We hadn’t ever come across anyone that had travelled to Albania and were quite looking forward to it on our Balkan trail itinerary which included Bulgaria, Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia.
The Albanian capital of Tirana certainly deserves a visit. It’s a city that is coming to terms with its communist past and with a government that is keen on development, is looking ahead towards a bright future.
The capital city has a fascinating number of Smart cars and other Mercedes brand cars on its roads. Seems to be the favourite car of the Albanians
If you find yourself in Tirana, here are 5 things to do while there:
Visit the newly built Skanderbeg Square: This lovely city centre square is hemmed on the sides by the museum, the opera house and fountains in the centre that spout icy cold water even in the summer heat
Visit the newly built Skanderbeg Square: This lovely city centre square is hemmed on the sides by the museum, the opera house and fountains in the centre that spout icy cold water even in the summer heat !
Walk to Tirana’s Artificial Lake at the end of the main street: While there, try a fresh corn on the cob made by the locals. Proceed to sit on one of the many benches on the bridge and watch the world go by.
Visit the street side restaurants where the locals eat: It’s not difficult to find a local eatery around the city. Just walk down any side street to find a typically family run ‘hole-in-the-wall’ restaurant. There’s often no menu to show you but the food is served to you is fresh and based on what’s available in their fridge at that point in time!!
Recommended are the koftehs with French fries as well as their Shopska salads.
Visit the House of Leaves, a museum of the secret service from the communist era. Albania has been under Fascist rule, the Nazis and finally the communists.
The museum is the actual headquarters of the spies during communism with interrogation and dark rooms, torture equipment, real footage, cameras and listening devices are on display
Take a day trip to the town of Kruje. Located about 35 kms from Tirana, Kruje is a small town set in the mountains with lovely little shops and restaurants and a castle as well.
Tirana does leave an impression on travellers and I do recommend a visit especially to experience local Albanian food and culture.
Andrea Bailey is a Dubai based travel writer. She is also a travel consultant with Travel Counsellors and specializes in cruises, family holidays and honey moons. When she’s not out and about discovering destinations and different cuisines of the world, you would probably find her busy with her 3 daughters and her other passions involving art and music.
As a mosaic artist, she has travelled to Italy and studied ancient Roman techniques of the art form and as a jazz flautist she has had the opportunity of performing across various Dubai venues.