The best way to see Tirana? On two wheels! Ride along city streets and take in Tirana’s most famous sites, from the city castle to the bizarre bunkers to that weird pyramid. Then, once you’ve absorbed 1,500 years of history, pedal your way to an authentic Albanian lunch and well-deserved local beer.
Your Tirana bike tour will start at the city’s centre, at Skanderbeg Square, where you’ll find the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet, and the Museum of History. We’ll take off pedalling toward City Hall and onto Pedonalja, a lovely car-free street only open to pedestrians and bicycles. It’s an old-fashioned neighbourhood, but still a place where locals meet for barbecues and live music. It’s here that you’ll also find the Castle of Tirana (also known as the Fortress of Justinian), which dates back to the 6th century. Justinian was an imperial bodyguard who reached the throne and is considered today to have been one of the greatest Roman and Byzantine emperors.
We’ll then leave behind the calmness of Pedonalja and weave our way through city traffic, passing the Parliament, the new mosque of Tirana (fun fact: it’s going to be one of the biggest in the Balkans), and the Catholic Cathedral. But the highlight of all these sites will be the bizarre Pyramid of Tirana, which once was a museum and conference centre but is now an abandoned building and a canvas for graffiti.
We’ll make a stop to see some of the Albanian “mushroom” bunkers, another remnant of communist leader Hoxha’s rule. There was once a bunker for every four residents in Albania, and while there aren’t as many as there once were, they’re still scattered throughout the Albanian countryside. Some of them have been converted into cafés, storage spaces, and even shelters for animals or the homeless.
We’ll finish up our Tirana sightseeing tour at Mother Teresa Square, where the University of Tirana and the Academy of Arts are located.
Finally, no doubt hungry from all the biking, you’ll refuel with an authentic lunch at a traditional Albanian restaurant, where you’ll get to try local meat-lovers’ delicacies like kernacka and shishkebap, washed down, of course, with an Albanian beer.