Staying in Tirana on the cheap
Staying in Tirana is becoming easier by the day. In the space of 15 short years the accommodation options have grown from 2 bare, basic hotels to a multitude of hotel and hostel options. Below, we offer the most affordable options in town but be warned in the summer demand is high and places fill fast.
Trip’n’Hostel (Rr. Musa Maci 1) comes highly recommend by Hitch-Hikers Handbook and offers dormitory options (9-10€) and private doubles (30€). The hostel is centrally located, offers WiFi and lockers and has common room, kitchen, bar (with cheap coffee & beer) and the owners are both welcoming and helpful. Check out our review of Trip’n’Hostel.
Milingona Hostel (Rr. Riza Cerova 197/2) is located a short walk from the main square and sleeping options include dormitory (10€), private singles (15€) and even camping options (7€) if you have your own tent. Facilities include WiFi, common room, lockers and a BBQ.
Tirana Backpacker Hostel (Rruga Bogdaneve 3) comes highly recommend and offers dorm beds (10-12€) and private doubles (30€). Other facilities include WiFi, breakfast, lockers and the possibility of bike hire (5€)
Like many things in Tirana, the nightlife scene is not as well developed as in other places, but it is growing fast. A night for the locals usually includes an evening stroll (xhiro) ending up in the city’s main bar area blloku. Please note however that Albanians are not the biggest drinkers and most likely the majority of bars will be full of Westerns and other foreigners. It is also common for bars in Blloku to mutate from a cafe in the day, a bar in the evening and a club at night.
Things to try & buy
Tirana is packed full of interesting souvenir ideas but they are spread across a number of different locations. Here is out advice on interesting gift ideas and where to get them.
→ Located to the north of the city centre, near the Mother Teresa hospital, is the largest of Tirana’s Turkish bazaar style markets Tregu i Madh (the Big Market: Rr. Ferit Xhajko). Here you can pick up many Turkish influenced products such as coffee, traditional sweets, carpets and handicrafts.
→ On and around Rr. Qemal Strafa, you can find a huge amount of street hawkers, handicraft shops and market stalls where you can pick up an authentic souvenir. Items include interesting furniture and handicrafts and a particularly interesting idea might be one the many hand produced trays, ubiquitous in Albanian houses.
→ Along Rr. Luigj Kurakuqi & Rr. e Barrikadave are the more traditional souvenir shops selling everything from clothes to watches and from lighters to copper-craft. Items made from bone are also seen as local specialities.
The most common food in Tirana is the ever present qebab (kebabs) and qoftë (grilled lamb rissoles), often served with a bowl of kos (yogurt). In the way of snack food burek, a pastry filled with cheese, meat or spinach common around the Balkans; and sufllaqë, sliced kebab meat and french fries stuffed in a roll of flatbread are the cheapest way to go. Local specialities you may want to try include Dolma (Sarma): stuffed grape leaves with rice, Fërgesë Tirane (Tirana stew): a hot fried dish of meat, liver, eggs and tomatoes.
To drink, in Tirana coffee is king and is drunk in both Turkish and espresso style. If the harder stuff is consumed then it will probably be Rakı or the locally produced Skënderbeg cognac. In the beer department , the light lager Tirana Beer is the most widespread choice.
WiFi in Tirana shouldn’t be too hard to find. In the centre and around the university there are numerous cafés and bars that offer internet services, and failing that, you can always try one of the hotels or hostels in the city. Check out this useful map with some free WiFi spots marked:
written by: Jon