A city without much to do, but with plenty of heart
Well, after all that chat rubbing Albania’s ego – you probably shouldn’t base your first experiences off Tirana. If we’re being honest, you could probably skip this one out if you’re on a flying visit to Albania. As far as Eastern European cities go, it’s fairly unremarkable, a little bit dirty, and without much to do.
However, if you’ve got the time (or are en route to Montenegro), stop in for a gander.
City tour – You’ll get a good overview of the city’s history, some background on some of the prominent buildings, and a few unexpected highlights (discovering the war bunkers hidden in plain sight throughout the central city was particularly good). But… there’s not much else to note from a capital city I’d never even heard of before entering the country.
Try walking up The Pyramid – As far as abandoned old buildings go, this one is pretty cool – but you’ve still got to question the appeal of a place that considers scaling a building wall as one of its top tourist attractions.
PastAmore – Is it a crime to state that we had the best pasta of our lives in Tirana ? And if pasta can’t prevent you from writing off a destination as a complete waste of time, we don’t know what can…
While we hadn’t made it to Italy before making this bold statement that will likely earn me a few pointed pitchforks the next time I step foot in Rome, there’s a reason Albania is well-known for it’s pasta and pizza. Italy once had control of Albania, and the Italian influence on the country is still deep-rooted and well-ingrained, meaning you can get delicious carbonara, fettucine and ravioli, just like you’d expect on the streets of Florence, for a fraction of what it would cost you seated outside the Duomo. PastAmore is testament to that, and their steaming hot bowls of fresh pasta go for a couple of euros – but the quality means you’ll find it hard to pay $25 for a bowl of spaghetti in future. It might ruin expensive pasta for you forevermore, but PastAmore is worth it. Evermore.
Couchsurf – The community is relatively small in Albania, but the handful of those who are there will absolutely go out of their way to help you.