I have been wanting to go to Tirana for a while now. Back in March of 2020 when I was supposed to go to Montenegro I booked a day trip to Tirana. I just have never had a chance to get back there whether because of time or cost.

I was looking on Ryanair and saw that they had flights for sale for £14.99 each way. I booked them right away. The only catch was they were still subject to regulatory approval. I wasn’t holding my breath that the flights were definite.

Fast forward to November and they were still scheduled. I was quite excited about the prospect of getting there after 3.5 years of trying.

I finished work the evening before and went straight to bed as the coach left at 03:00.

I was slightly concerned about getting to Tirana as the bus got to Stansted at 04:45 and the flight departed at 05:55. It was a super tight time and I thought if the bus was even 20 minutes late I wouldn’t make it to the flight and I’d have to turn around and come home. The coach tracker was showing the coach as 7 minutes late. I was getting concerned.

As it turns out, we made it to Stansted on time. I hurried off the coach and to security. I was surprised I got straight through and to the departure lounge just as the gate was shown on the departure boards. I think it was about 8 or so minutes from the coach, through security and then to the departure lounge.

I was standing in the non-priority queue and watched people who thought they had priority be sent to the back of the queue and saw a couple of people be told they had to pay £45 for the second bag that they had. It annoys me that some people can’t read or understand the rules.

I finally boarded and we were told we were going to be late as the first officer was stuck in the security queue. I didn’t mind as I didn’t have to be anywhere today once I got to Tirana. We finally started to taxi and the pilot said the flight would be shorter than usual due to a strong tailwind.

We landed and it was a breeze crossing the border. I had no passport stamp here though. Grrr. I headed out to get the bus to the city centre. They only left on the hour every hour, so I had to wait 45 minutes because we landed late.

  • I finally got to the city centre, got off the bus, had a look at the map and headed in the direction of the hostel. I looked at the map before I left so I could have some sort of idea when I got here but it didn’t stick in my mind. I looked again and figured out the direction I needed to go and started to head that way.

    The weather was nice and the sun was out. It was quite a nice walk to the hostel. Only about 15 minutes. I think this is the furthest from the city centre that I’ve stayed. It made for a nice walk and some exercise at the same time.

    I got to the hostel and still had a couple of hours before check-in opened. I asked if I could leave my stuff and they said I could. As soon as I put my stuff in the locker they said my bed was ready. I put my stuff in the room and then I headed out to Skanderbeg Square to catch the walking tour. I decided I would do one that day instead of Wednesday as today was the only day it was going to be sunny and not raining.

    I waited for the tour guide and there were also a couple of other people waiting. I got chatting with them and then more people turned up.

    We started our walk and the guide gave us some history of Albania and Tirana. If I’m honest, I don’t remember much of it. I remember her talking about communism after the end of the war. I was just happy to be walking around looking for good picture opportunities.

    The walk was a couple of hours and took us across Skanderbeg Square and then to the Castle. After there we headed to the Catholic Cathedral. After here we went to the Pyramid – yeah… look it up and see what it is. We ended the tour at the Orthodox Cathedral. From what I saw on the walking tour, the city is nice but also small.

    The guide did tell us that tomorrow (28th) was Independence Day and that Wednesday (29th) was Freedom from Fascism Day.

    Once the tour was done I went inside the Orthodox Cathedral to have a look around. As I was doing so, I saw a guy that was on the walking tour and I went up to him and asked him if he could see the top of the cathedral from the top of the pyramid. The dome of this cathedral is blue and gold. He said he didn’t see it and we just got chatting and exchanged Instagram details and said we would do stuff tomorrow.

    I headed back towards the pyramid as I wanted to go up it and see the views from the top. By this time the sun had set so the views weren’t super amazing. It was nice to see the city all lit up though. After I was done here I went back through the square and then went to the hostel to chill for the rest of the night. Today was a good day.

    Total steps: 21,888

    Total miles: 10.67

    Below are some pics from today

I wasn’t feeling too good during the night and was feeling sick. I was worried it wouldn’t pass in time for me to get the bus to the airport. I was genuinely concerned. Thankfully it was fine by the time I needed to leave.

I headed to get the bus and just took an easy walk there. I didn’t want to rush as I was super tired.

I got on the bus and we headed to the airport. I just wanted to be there and just relax until it was time to board. I got some food and drink and it was more expensive than the airports here in the UK. A 500ml bottle of water, a 400ml bottle of Fanta, a bag of crisps and a croissant cost me almost ELEVEN POUNDS. £11. ELEVEN. POUNDS. So damn expensive!

We boarded and the cabin crew had to constantly tell people to sit down and said the doors wouldn’t be closed until people were sat down. The people here are so stupid when it comes to flying. They think they can ignore the cabin crew. I was getting annoyed as we were already late and I was worried I would miss the train home and have to spend another couple of hours at the airport at Stansted for the next train and then possibly be late for work.

The flight home was awful. So much turbulence. The pilot said before we left that we had a strong headwind and the flight would be 3:10. I was even more concerned about being late for work. As we were at cruising altitude he said we would be going through some “light” turbulence. He said it was bumpy at all flight levels. Yuck. The turbulence definitely wasn’t light and it was for about 65 minutes and not the 30 minutes he said.

It was the kind of turbulence that rocks the plane side to side and also causes the overhead lockers to creak and causes the pilot to tell the cabin crew to sit down. I was so glad to be back on the ground.

I got off the plane and to the border and across the border and to the train station in 7 minutes. I was so relieved I made the train I was booked on.

I got home and had a nice hot shower before relaxing before work.

All in all, it was a good trip. One thing I will say though is this: Albania is as expensive as the UK and sometimes more. Don’t go there expecting it to be cheap. It isn’t! Also, Tirana is big enough for a couple of days and no more. If you go there and want to be there for a while, plan to do some day trips to other cities or countries in the Balkans.

Total steps: 65,343

Total miles: 31.35

View all of my Tirana pics here