In my great Balkan visit, I stayed one day in Tirana, Albania to see what it can offer to a backpacker like me. Unfortunately, there was nothing much. Although Albania has beautiful landscapes to visit where you can set up your tents. The capital city has only few interesting places for visitors. The city centre is small which is actually good since it makes strolling around easy, but there’s nothing much to see. The most significant structure in the city is the old Ethem Bey Mosque. The frescoes of the mosque depicted trees, waterfalls and bridges; although life paintings are rare in Islamic art. From the outside, it looks like a regular Balkan style mosque, however, the unique paintings inside makes it worth visiting. It is located in the very centre of the city, few meters from The National Library of Albania and Skënderbej square.
In the same site, one of the most famous landmark in the city has been standing for the last 150 years. The clock tower was built by the Ottomans in 1882 with a bell imported from Venice. It was destroyed during bombardments in the Second World War, but was restored after few years. In 1946, it was replaced and renovated. Access to the top of the tower has been available free of charge since 1996.
Skënderbej square is the largest square in the city and home to Skënderbej (Iskender Bey in Turkish) monument. Skënderbej is the national hero who fought against the Ottomans in the 15th century.
Another interesting place to visit is the National History Museum of Albania. Facing south of the main square, a large painting at the entrance is worth seeing.
Finally, the republic garden and the artificial lake of Tiran gives off a relaxing environment to the locals and tourists. Both are located in the south of the city and within walking distance from the main square. (might take around 30 mins. walk) The park and lake has open air cafeterias which serves refreshments.
After 24 hours in Tirana, I head to Budva, Montenegro for a short seaside break. I had to take a bus from Bulevardi Zogu 1 located at the north of the main square. There are plenty of travel agents on the boulevard so try to find the best ticket price since price quotes vary.