Let’s get this quick disclaimer out of the way – Tirana is not a pretty city in the traditional European sense of the word.
You will not find picturesque half-timbered Old Towns like you would in Germany, nor Art Deco facades like you’d find in Paris, nor over-the-top Baroque beauty like you’d find in Prague.
Tirana is a mishmash of influences, taking a little bit from their Slavic and Greek neighbors but influenced heavily by its centuries of Ottoman rule and subsequent decades of communist repression. As a result, the city is a true patchwork, with some areas being revitalized and others still laying in disarray.
Tirana is quirky and colorful with a hint of grunginess. If you’re the kind of Instagrammer who loves gorgeous facades you can twirl in front of, Tirana may not be the city for you. But if you are looking for off the beaten path gems and odd finds – a graffiti-covered pyramid in the middle of the city, brightly painted crosswalks and building fronts – I guarantee you you’ll develop a little crush on Tirana.
Here is a handful of my favorite, most Instagrammable places in Tirana!
Located in the heart of Tirana’s main square, Skanderbeg Square, you’ll find the delightfully charming Tirana Carousel.
It’s a fun, whimsical Insta spot that’s sure to please your followers! Who doesn’t love a good carousel?
Location: Skanderbeg Square
Et’hem Bey Mosque
Most historic mosques and churches in Albania didn’t survive the years of enforced atheism that Enver Hoxha imposed on his people. Luckily, the beautiful Et’hem Bey Mosque did because it was converted into a cultural center and used for party business. It’s a miracle this building wasn’t razed to the ground like many historic churches (such as the one in Korca) and that’s part of the beauty of Et’hem Bey.
NOTE: It is currently under renovation, so you can’t go inside and you may not get the best views at present!
Location: AL, Sheshi Skënderbej, 1000, Albania
Reja (The Cloud)
One of the coolest photography spots in Tirana, Reja (aka The Cloud) is located in front of Albania’s main art museum, the National Gallery of Arts. It’s always a popular spot for a Tirana selfie!
It’s really cool during the day and night and it’s not far from the main square so I recommend coming back once or twice to get photos with different vibes. It’s a great place to play around with perspective and composition, and its minimalist color scheme means that any bright color you wear will truly pop against it!
Location: AL, Bulevardi Dëshmorët e Kombit, 1001, Albania
Pyramid of Tirana
No, definitely not the work of the Egyptians, but rather the daughter of deceased North-Korea-level crazy dictator Enver Hoxha. It was conceived as a memorial to him… but given how the Albanian people feel about Hoxha and his murderous regime, it makes sense that it hasn’t quite been so well care for over the years.
No matter, the citizens of Tirana are now rather fond of their strange pyramid – the kids are even prone to use it as a slide! It’s become one of the main draws of tourism in Tirana, and while there are talks to change it into something else and breathe new life into the structure, it’s not likely to change any time soon.
Location: In a park on the corner of Bajram Curri Boulevard and Rruga Papa Gjon Pali.
Sky Panoramic Bar
If you’re looking for the best view of Tirana, head on up to Sky Bar, Tirana’s rotating bar.
You can have fantastic cocktails or ridiculously affordable prosecco made here and it’s a fantastic place to watch the sun go down over Tirana… although if you are as prone to motion sickness as I am, you may find the rotating effect slightly nauseating!
Location: Rruga Dëshmorët E 4 Shkurtit, 5/1, Tirana 1000, Albania
Tirana Artificial Lake
Tirana isn’t a particularly green city but the Artificial Lake is one of the best loved green spaces in Tirana. It’s great to walk here any time of year but it is especially beautiful in spring and fall.
It is also sometimes called the Grand Park of Tirana. Inside the park you will also find Saint Procopius Church and the Presidential Palace, both worth a visit.
Location: Rruga Herman Gmeiner, Tirana 1000, Albania
“Embroidered” stairs at the Artificial Lake
This is new, so I have no idea where exactly in the Artificial Lake park it can be found, but while you’re wandering around be sure to keep an eye out for it (and if you spot it, please give me a shout so I can update this post with better directions!)
A rare pedestrian-only street in Tirana, this is where you’ll find some of the cutest and most Instagrammable places in Tirana, like this dreamy café called NOKI (my personal favorite on this block!)
Location: Shëtitorja Murat Toptani
Pazar I Ri
The main market in Tirana has gotten a huge facelift and its neighboring buildings have not been left out of the fun! Walk the area around this marketplace and admire the new building facades and fun architecture of this renewed part of Tirana.
Location: Pazar I Ri
Go up the cable car to the highest point in the Tirana vicinity, Mount Dajti! Here, you’ll find a quiet mountain paradise that is beloved by Tirana residents looking to get quickly swept up away from the chaos of downtown and right into the mountains in just a matter of 15 minutes.
There are plenty of beautiful viewpoints and hikes to be found, so give yourself half an afternoon to explore this beautiful area. I recommend timing one of your trips up or down with the sunset, as it’s quite extraordinary from this view.
Location: Dajti Ekspres – type this into your Google Maps and it’ll show you where to buy the ticket. It is right next to Bunk’Art, another Tirana must.
This bunker slash museum slash open art installation is quite interesting to visit. It’s not photogenic in any traditional sense but you’ll find plenty of captivating things to photograph.
Location: Right by the Dajti Ekspres, so bundle it up!
Newly opened in Tirana and not nearly as big as the original Bunk’Art, it’s well worth a visit. The interior plays with light and perspective and is great for an interesting abstract Instagram shot, though not so good for selfies.
Location: Skanderbeg Square
Red Building in Skanderbeg Square
Literally right behind Bunk’Art 2, you can’t miss the colorful, fun facade of this building (not sure of the purpose, sorry!) in central Tirana – perfect for photo shoots!
Location: Skanderbeg Square
The most Wes Anderson-ian of bars in Tirana, I simply adore Radio Bar. It’s where you must go in Tirana for a drink (and okay, for a few Instagram photos too…)
Location: Rruga Ismail Qemali P. 29 Ap. 1, Tirana, Tiranë 1000, Albania
Tirana’s Street Art
Like many cities in the Balkans, Tirana is home to a thriving street art scene, with new pieces being added regularly. I last visited in 2016 so I’m a bit behind on the newest pieces, but wander around the city, especially in Blloku, and you’re sure to find some gems that no one else will have!
My (and everyone’s) favorite neighborhood in Tirana, Blloku is where the cool kids play, drink, eat, and make art. This was the heart of the mayor Edi Rama’s plan when he went back to his roots as a painter and decided on an urban revitalization project that would bring color to the formerly drab buildings of Blloku and neighboring parts of Tirana.
Just wander around this neighborhood and you’ll be surprised at what you can find!
Umbrellas in Skanderbeg Square
Not one to be left out of the umbrella Insta-fun, Tirana has its very own smaller umbrella installation in their central square, which has gone under a serious rehaul in the last few years and is now a pedestrian-friendly art mecca.
Location: Skanderbeg Square
More Albania Resources
First, start by reading our post on planning a trip to Albania. It covers everything from visas to vaccinations to what to pack, so it’s a great jumping-off point for your travel plans.
If you’re curious about the currency used in Albania and how tipping works, we recommend our Balkan currency guide to learn all about the Albanian lek and tipping culture.
If you’re looking for even more places to add to your Albania itinerary, we have a bunch of ideas for you from us and other bloggers in this collaborative post about the 15 best places to visit in Albania!
We are working on all of our Tirana guides, but for now, we have a post on the best restaurants in Tirana. We also recommend checking out our Albania itinerary post, which has ideas for one, two, or three weeks in the country.
Finally, Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a great idea for Albania and for travel in general! This is especially true when you’re talking about hiking in remote areas where help is far away, or relaxing on the beach or traveling around cities where you can be a potential target for theft.
Stephanie and I have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While Albania is perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel, so it’s better to play it safe.
Originally from California, Allison has been living in Bulgaria for the last two years and is obsessed with traveling around the Balkans. She has been published in National Geographic, CNN Arabic, Matador Network, and the Huffington Post. She loves befriending dogs, drinking coffee, geeking out about wine, and cooking food from around the world.