Tirana: a city itinerary from Director of Tourism Ketrina Jarazi

Tirana is a city that everyone should visit at least once. Like many southern capitals it can be very chaotic and sometimes neglected but in very few places, like in Tirana, you’re mesmerized at every aspect, its sounds, colors, flavors as well as discovering the contradictions of a place that is merely suspended between past and present. Ketrina Jarazi, the Director of Tourism, takes us on a tour of beautiful Tirana, with tips on dishes to try, restaurants and hotels to book, and tucked-away bars for midnight dancing.

View of Tirana

Why visit Tirana?

The capital of Albania is still an off the radar destination if compared with other European cities, plenty of places to discover, still affordable, with great restaurants and home to some of the friendliest people in the world.

Describe Tirana:

Tirana is different to any other Eastern European capitals, owing to its position and complex history. The city has a unique mix of architectures -from communist buildings to Italian architecture, from bunkers to brutalist palaces- interesting museums and some of the best restaurants in the Balkans. It is also surrounded by mountains and forests, the perfect place for outdoor expeditions or tasting traditional food in local agrotourisms during weekends.

Where should we stay?

For those planning a weekend in Tirana, I’d suggest to bed down at one of these great hotels: Plaza, Radisson, Marriott, Sheraton, The Crown, and Arte Boutique Hotel.

What’s the food like?

In a word: amazing. Albanian gastronomy is a feast for stomach and eyes. The local cuisine -a mix of Balkan, Mediterranean and Ottoman tastes- features dishes like stuffed vegetables, phyllo pastries, meatballs, cheeses and yoghurt. Traditional delicacies are made with fresh, seasonal and local ingredients.

Where should we eat?

If you are looking for traditional restaurants, don’t miss Mullixhiu, Ceren, Gzona, Kapelet, Era Villa, they prepare the best Albanian dishes you’ll ever try. For contemporary cuisine and fish menus, my favorites are Tribe, Lift, Salt, Mayfair, Amazonic, Padam, Il Gusto, The Crown, Savoy, Cormeum, and Markata e Peshkut. Tirana is surrounded by great agrotourisms too: Kazarma e Cerenit, Fustanella, Ferma 100, Bonum, Blerina’s Farm, Nano Bio Resort, Nari Lundra. As you can see you have plenty of excellent food options in Tirana.


Any dishes we can’t miss?

Fërgesë, a rich and super tasty traditional dish of Tirana’s region made with gjize, a kind of salty ricotta cheese, peppers, meat and tomato sauce; patellxhane te mbushur, stuffed eggplants; and, of course, byrek, phyllo pastry stuffed with vegetables, cheese or meat.

Somewhere to drink?

Cocktail culture has taken off in Tirana in recent years. Today, the capital has several bars dedicated exclusively to cocktails. The mixologists offer revisited classics, creations and secret signature mixes. Some of my favourite addresses in the capital are Radio, Kino, Colonial, Tribeca, Komiteti, Pepper Lounge, Hemingway they all have an incredible drinks and cocktails offering.

Pazari i Ri

The best spots for nightlife?

Tirana has an interesting offering of night-time entertainment. To truly get know the city, you need to dive into the night! Blloku, the most vibrant neighborhood, has many options from trendy to chic and elegant spots. Checkpoint, Whiskey, The Code, Cavaliero The Clubi are the place to go for a perfect night out in Tirana.

What local businesses do you love?

All those at Pazari i Ri and Kalaja: if you are searching of traditional souvenirs as well as Albanian wines, honey, olive oil, and local delicacies these are the places to go.

Ketrina Jarazi