The capital of Albania may not have the same allure as say Paris or London, it doesn’t have for example, an Eiffel Tower or Big Ben, however it does have a pretty awesome cable car and not one, but two revolving rooftop bars. We spent 24 hours in Tirana and enjoyed every minute (apart from those spent driving!), here’s what we got up to.
If your planning on visiting Tirana, i’d strongly advise against renting a vehicle of any kind whilst you’re there, for the Albanians have a take on driving that we haven’t encountered anywhere else on earth, their style consists of cramming 5 rows of traffic into a 3 lane highway, leaning on the horn almost constantly and undertaking and overtaking at the most absurd moments. I’m sure that even the most hardy of Bangkok Tuk-Tuk drivers would hang up his keys in disgust after enduring a few hours on Tirana’s busy streets.
Unfortunately for us, before we’d a chance to properly explore Tirana, we found ourselves trying to drive from one side of the city to another on a busy Saturday morning. Our destination was perhaps the capital’s main tourist attraction, the Dajti Ekspres cable car to the top of Mount Dajti
The Dajti Ekspres above Tirana
On first impressions, we weren’t immediately taken with Tirana, I feel our route to the cable car probably wasn’t the most scenic, which may have altered our judgement somewhat. However upon boarding the ex Austrian ski lift and soaring up towards the mountain we saw Tirana from above, bathed in the late Autumn sun and looking quite splendid. Suddenly all thoughts of the traffic nightmare below were forgotten.
At the top of the lift we took in more breathtaking panoramic views of Tirana, the best of which was from the revolving bar in the Dajti Tower, perfectly placed on to the side of the mountain.
After completing a couple of rotations in the Dajti Tower and rewarding ourselves with a local Albanian beer, we headed back down into the city to rejoin the frenzy.
Thankfully our parking spot for the evening was only a further 15 minutes drive, upon arriving we freshened up and headed out for dinner. First however, we’d heard rumours that Tirana had another rotating bar, we couldn’t quite believe the capital of Albania has not one but two rotating bars whereas the previously mentioned London and Paris have none, so of course we headed straight there to see for ourselves.
Sunset from the Sky Bar in Central Tirana
An hour later saw us completing our third rotation of rotating rooftop bar number two, this one was perhaps even more enjoyable, as two Gin and Tonics came to less that £4,00 which included about 6 complimentary bowls of crisps.
We made our way down to street level and headed to our dinner destination, E Jona . We sat outside in the restaurants charming courtyard and enjoyed two delicious three course meals with a bottle of wine for a remarkable £21.00.
For the rest of the evening we visited a couple of bars to soak up the weekend atmosphere, we found a quaint jazz club called Hemingways and watched the young Albanians hit the town on the busy street Pjeter Bogdani
The next morning feeling perhaps a little jaded we headed back out to Pjeter Bogdani for brunch at Coco Bar. We don’t ordinarily eat out, however compared to anywhere we’ve visited previously the restaurants were such good value for money we couldn’t not.
The Grand Park of Tirana
Before we had to leave Tirana, we took a pleasant stroll around The Grand Park of Tirana. The place was bustling with families enjoying picnics, riding bikes and drinking coffee in the many cafes. Albania may be portrayed in a fairly negative way in many western countries, however from what we saw during our stay, it was little different to any other European capital city.
We also discovered whilst exploring this incredible country that Albanians are some of the nicest people we’ve met on our trip so far, everyone we came across was incredibly friendly and couldn’t have been more accommodating, if only the same could be said for their driving!