There’s no question, it’s Blloku.
It had been a long while since I had done any research prior to a trip. My typical style is to land somewhere, ask around for where to eat and visit. I’ve always figured, locals know best, especially cab drivers and bartenders. But Albania required a bit of homework, mostly because I was solo traveling and safety was a huge concern. Here are some of the best places and neighborhoods that I’d recommend travelers to stay in Tirana.
Reputation: Vibrantly posh.
411: If you want to be close to hip restaurants, trendy bars and cafés; then stay in Blloku. Historically, Blloku was designated solely for members of the Communist Party. Today, though the area is no longer restricted, it’s still considered to be the most elite neighborhood in Tirana. This is an area where female travelers will feel extremely safe, and digital nomads will discover many cafés and eateries to pass the time, hours at a time.
Reputation: Central & cultural.
411: Quite literally right across the street from Skanderbeg Square and the National History Museum, Tregu Çam is the ideal neighborhood for travelers that submerge in local history and cultural landmarks. There are also plenty of mosques and cathedrals to discover Tirana’s religious diversity. For a shopping break, check out Myslym Shyri road which is lined with local boutiques and shops.
Reputation: Markets galore.
411: Zona 1 is also another popular neighborhood for travelers that want to stay near Skanderbeg Square. While it’s on the other side of Tregu Çam, it is home to the newly established Pazari i Ri market, featuring local produce, fresh ingredients, artisanal Turkish coffee. You’ll meet sellers of organic olives, figs, wines, and even taste authentic raki. Albania’s access to beautiful seafood is highlighted in the country’s biggest fish market within the Pazari i Ri market.
411: 21 Dhjetori is known for affordable hotels, perfectly fit for backpackers and student travelers. It’s a 15-minute walk from popular sites since it’s located west of Skanderbeg Square. When you’re in this neighborhood, make sure to check out Mosaic of Tirana, a third-century Roman house which dates back to 300 A.D.
Reputation: Spacious for families.
411: Located near the zoo and the Grand Park of Tirana (Park on the Artificial Lake,) Komuna e Parisia, or Paris Commune, is made for traveling families looking for more space and outdoor recreations. Just south of Blloku, the park includes a slew of attractions: the artificial lake, Saint Procopius Church, Presidential Palace and numerous memorials honoring Albanian figures. In addition to the zoo, there’s also a botanical garden that families can enjoy and explore.