Albania
Apr 2023
2 months

Tirana

A contender for Europe's most unique and under the radar capital?

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Albania's capital boasts a rich history shaped by Ottoman rule, World War II occupations, and the communist era under Enver Hoxha.

Post-communism, the city has undergone a vibrant transformation, blending modern architecture with historic landmarks.

Verdict:
Highly recommended

I would confidently recommend Tirana to anyone seeking an unconventional European destination, either as a place to work from or as a base to explore Albania from.

🌎
Verdict:
Highly recommended

I would confidently recommend Tirana to anyone seeking an unconventional European destination, either as a place to work from or as a base to explore Albania from.

Verdict:
Highly recommended

I would confidently recommend Tirana to anyone seeking an unconventional European destination, either as a place to work from or as a base to explore Albania from.

👎
Verdict:
Highly recommended

I would confidently recommend Tirana to anyone seeking an unconventional European destination, either as a place to work from or as a base to explore Albania from.

🛫
Euro (EUR)
520,000
💰 Great value
🥇 Top rated
🏝️ Great for a holiday
🧳 Would like to return

Summary

I initially visited Tirana as part of a journey through the Balkans in 2021, with the country having more of a relaxed attitude to covid restrictions than in Western Europe.

I subsequently returned to visit for two months in 2023 and was impressed once more.

Accommodation
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Tirana has a great range of options on Airbnb and with it still being somewhat off the radar as a mainstream tourist destination, you shouldn't have any problems getting a great quality apartment for a very reasonable price.

info
New legislation
Recent changes introduced by the Turkish government has made short-term rentals for under 100 days more restricted. Keep an eye on Reddit threads for up-to-date assessments of how the new legislation is impacting short-term rentals in practice.
Places to work
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

There are a number of options in the city centre with Coolab being the stand out choice.

Tirana has apparently the highest per capita of coffee shops in the world, and whilst I don't for a second doubt the validity of that statement there weren't many that struck me as good working environments.

Value
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Tirana is great value with an abundance of places to eat out for casual meals and lunches making it on a par with other neighbouring countries in the Balkans and noticeably better value than in Western Europe.

info
The yen is currently at a 34-year low
While this is undoubtedly a negative for the Japanese, it makes for an exceptionally good time to visit Japan from abroad. Although this trend is unlikely to reverse significantly in the short term, it's still worth checking before visiting.
Read more
View the cost of living
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Working hours
Great
Good
Ok
Bad

Albania operates on Central European Time (CET), aligning with Western Europe.

View from the ascent on the Dajti Ekspres cable cart.
View from the ascent on the Dajti Ekspres cable cart.
Sunset looking across the lake at the Grand Park of Tirana.
Sunset looking across the lake at the Grand Park of Tirana.

Where to stay

Tirana isn't enormous but you'd be best off staying close to one of these areas mentioned below.

Would avoid
Recommended
Blokku
Once an exclusive residential area for the communist elite, it's now a hub of nightlife in the city. Close proximity to everything you need.
Would avoid
Recommended
Zona 1
A short walk from Blokku, Zona 1 is home to Mercado Pazari i Ri as well as a number of other options for dining and shopping.

Where to work

Coolab Tirana
Top Choice
☕️ Good Coffee
📍 Top Location
🥗 On Site Cafe
🧍Community Focused
⭐️ Quality Fit Out
🌳 Outdoor Space

Having worked from three different spaces across the city I can say confidently that Coolab is the best of what is on offer in the city.

Situated about 15 minute walk from Blokku, it has a large open plan space, with a cafe where members can get discounted rates on coffee and snacks.

Enquire on availability ahead of time as it is often close to capacity and try to reserve a desk in advance.

There are numerous lunch options available within a 5 minute walk and a supermarket directly behind the building.

Remote work visa

No remote work visa
Remote work visa available
Remote work visa coming soon
If staying for a prolonged period, you may want to consider a dedicated visa for this destination.
This country is actively working on a visa support for remote workers.
Check your government website for details of how to obtain a tourist visa.

Albania has introduced a new Unique Permit scheme which includes a Type D visa option for digital nomads. This visa allows them to stay in Albania for one year, renewable up to five years. Introduced in early 2022, the scheme streamlines the application process compared to previous visa options.

To apply via Albania's online visa portal, digital nomads must provide a contract with a foreign company, service contract with a foreign contractor, or contract for a specific remote project. While no minimum income is officially stated, it is anticipated to be at least $9,800 per year for an individual, matching the minimum for a retirement visa. However, some requirements still need clarification from Albanian authorities.

View full details
To the best of my knowledge this information was correct as of 27th April 2024. If you notice something has changed drop me a message and I'll update it!

Citizen Remote is a great source of up to date knowledge for everything to do with remote work visas.

Safety

Off-work

Hike up Mali i Dajtit

Enormous, forested mountain which towers over the city to the east. Unless you're a particularly keen walker, you are better off taking the cable car to close to the summit, where a range of walks can be taken from.

⚠️ If you do head up on foot via the paths, watch out for dogs.

Learn more
Visit Bunkart 1 & 2

Two of Albania's numerous underground bunkers have been repurposed as museums, giving light to the era of communist rule in the country.

Both are worth a visit in their own right and give a useful context to the nations background.

Run in the Grand Park of Tirana

Without doubt, a contender for my favourite city park of anywhere I've visited. Just moments away from the commercial hub of Blokku, the park is host to a number of quaint cafes, running tracks and a sizeable lake.

Perfect for morning runs or watching a sunset fade into Dajti.

Day trip to Berat

Accessible from Tirana in a few hours by bus, Berat is home to a 13th century castle with a historic old town and some great local food.

Hike up Mali i Dajtit

Enormous, forested mountain which towers over the city to the east. Unless you're a particularly keen walker, you are better off taking the cable car to close to the summit, where a range of walks can be taken from.

⚠️ If you do head up on foot via the paths, watch out for dogs.

Visit Bunkart 1 & 2

Two of Albania's numerous underground bunkers have been repurposed as museums, giving light to the era of communist rule in the country.

Both are worth a visit in their own right and give a useful context to the nations background.

Run in the Grand Park of Tirana

Without doubt, a contender for my favourite city park of anywhere I've visited. Just moments away from the commercial hub of Blokku, the park is host to a number of quaint cafes, running tracks and a sizeable lake.

Perfect for morning runs or watching a sunset fade into Dajti.

Day trip to Berat

Accessible from Tirana in a few hours by bus, Berat is home to a 13th century castle with a historic old town and some great local food.

Duration & season

In my two April visits to Tirana, the weather was impressive on both occasions with most days mild with clear skies and the occasional period of rain. Summers regularly surpass 30 degrees, which could make hiking and exploring the mountains more challenging.

The closest beaches are towards the costal town of Durres, about an hour's drive away.

With a number of sights to see within the city itself and the rest of the country accessible via public transport, a month-long stay feels comfortably fulfilling.

Food & drink

Tirana Grand Park
·
Run
Inspiring backdrop for runs at any time of the day, the inner area of the park contains a number of small cafes for refreshments and is within a 5 minute walk of Blloku. A running track can be found if heading towards the stadium.
Dajti Ascent
·
Walk
Steep and not particularly well sign posted at times, but the ascent offers great views on the way up and is a challenging morning hike.

People

Tirana and Albania as a whole are still moderately under the radar for the majority of European tourists in comparison to their Croatian an Greek neighbours.

Even still, there is a moderate amount of international tourists with both Northern & Southern American tourists well represented.

There are a number of remote workers to be found in the coworking spaces but the audience is mainly local.

Exercise

Tirana Grand Park
Inspiring backdrop for runs at any time of the day, the inner area of the park contains a number of small cafes for refreshments and is within a 5 minute walk of Blloku. A running track can be found if heading towards the stadium.
keyboard_arrow_down
Dajti Ascent
Steep and not particularly well sign posted at times, but the ascent offers great views on the way up and is a challenging morning hike.
keyboard_arrow_down
Tirana Grand Park
Inspiring backdrop for runs at any time of the day, the inner area of the park contains a number of small cafes for refreshments and is within a 5 minute walk of Blloku. A running track can be found if heading towards the stadium.
Dajti Ascent
Steep and not particularly well sign posted at times, but the ascent offers great views on the way up and is a challenging morning hike.

Verdict

Positives
  • One of the most unique cities in Europe.Despite the passing of over 30 years since the end of communism, there's an enduringly unique essence to the city that sets it apart from any other place on the continent.
  • Friendly and warm people.The younger generations generally speak English fluently, while it's less common among the older population.
  • Great natural scenery.Something that I love about the city is how the neighbouring mountains dominate the landscape and dramatically reflect the evening sunset.
  • Top value.Both for the cost of accommodation and general living expenses.
  • Great cuisine.Local cuisine blends Greek and Balkan flavors with abundant salads, grilled meats, and hints of Italian influence.
  • Safe & secure surroundings.Contrary to media perception of the country often found in the UK, I never even had a sniff if trouble in the two months in total I have spent there.
  • Plenty to explore on the weekends.Being a relatively small country, neighbouring cities can make for great day trips requiring little planning.
  • Outside of the Schengen Zone.If for whatever reason you have reached your limit of time available within the Schengen group of countries, Albania is an alternative.
Negatives
  • The language is difficult.In most places I try to pick up a few phrases - Albanian I really struggled with.
  • Lacking some amenities.Some services that you would expect such as Uber + food delivery services aren't available in the country or have main equivalents yet.
Tips
  • Pristhina is worth a visit.Buses run daily to the Kosovan capital making it a worthwhile trip over a weekend.
Planning a trip?
I loved everything about this trip to Japan. I've put together some thoughts on my entire stay in the country, which may come in handy if you are planning a visit soon.
View from the summit of Dajti, it's around an hours walk from the cable cart station with a variety of other peaks to explore.
Secluded running track in the Grand Park of Tirana
Tirana is one of the best locations I've been to for finding some unique clothing from thrift stores.
If there's any data missing that you would like to see in these articles please leave some feedback and I'll aim to add it in.