On the morning of my last day in Albania, I caught a bus from Berat to Tirana, the country’s colourful capital. I was excited to explore the city that I had heard so much about from other travellers (some were more excited about it than others). I had heard about all the colours of the city, so I was expecting colours, and colours was exactly what I got! There isn’t much left that testifies the communist era from 1946-1992, when the country had a reputation for its Stalinist style og state administration, which was dominated by Enver Hoxha and the Party of Labour of Albania, as most of the buildings in Tirana have since been painted in vibrant colours, and most of them a different colour than the buildings next to them, allowing you to see a beautiful rainbow wherever you go in the city.
Back when Enver Hoxha ruled the country, travel and visa restrictions made Albania one of the most difficult countries to visit, but thankfully that has since changed, and I was able to explore the country visa-free! I still got many stares though, probably mainly because of the camera around my neck, so I’m sure Albanians still aren’t used to seeing travellers in their country.
I had an entire day to explore Tirana, and to me that was enough. Most of the interesting sights are located within a few hundred metres from each other in the city center, such as the Pyramid of Tirana, which was designed by the daughter and son-in-law of Enver Hoxha and used to be a museum about his legacy; the Clock Tower located in the Skanderberg Square, which was built in 1822 by the poet Haxhi Et’hem Bey; the Et’hem Bey Mosque, which was also built by Haxhi Et’hem Bey, but in the 18th century; and the ArtBunk2 museum.
I wanted to see the museum as I’d heard good things about it from other travellers, but visiting Mount Dajt was a higher priority on my list, so I decided to visit that first and then come back to the museum later, if I had time.
I caught a bus from the center to a neighbourhood far out of the center of Tirana, near Mount Dajt. From there, it’s possible to catch a cable car up to the mountain or to hike to the peak at 1,613 m.
Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to climb to the top, which I would have loved to do (some other time!), so my plan was to catch the cable car. BUT……. I was there on a Tuesday, and as I found out, the cable cars are closed on Tuesdays…. Yay, me! Well done researching 😉
But I didn’t give up on getting the view of Tirana from above. Instead, I decided to climb up a small hill, from where the view was AMAZING! I sat up there for quite a while and enjoyed the view over the colourful city in the baking sun. A tiny dog followed me for some of the way, but all I had to give him were crisps and biscuits… Not sure he was too amused!
Since the cable cars weren’t running, I had plenty of time to explore the BunkArt2 museum, so after spending a good hour chilling on the hill, I went back down and caught a bus back to the center. Thankfully, the museum was still open, so I spent the next hour indulging myself in Albanian war history in the ex-nuclear bunker, which was transformed into an impressive museum in 2014.
Tirana was a lot like I had expected it to be – colourful, warm and full of friendly people (and great fashion! It’s a shame that I didn’t bring a bigger bag, so I could buy stuff!). I really enjoyed my day there, and it was a great end to a beautiful, but far too short, trip to Albania. It’s definitely not the last time I’ve set foot in this glorious pearl of a country!