The Albanian capital of Tirana is a hub for culture and entertainment, with a great selection of museums, monuments, historic buildings and parks. The entire country was under strict authoritarian rule until the early 1990s but has been transformed into one of Europe’s most appealing places to visit. Its concrete housing estates have been decorated with splashes of red, blue and yellow to add some warmth to the once cold and colourless cityscape.
Remnants of Tirana’s fascinating history can still be seen today, and perhaps the best known of these is the Pyramid of Tirana. This once crumbling concrete brutalist structure has been transformed into a contemporary centre for digital technology innovation. In the main plaza of Skanderbeg Square, you’ll find the equestrian statue of national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg, who led a rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. Another important site is The Presidential Palace, the official residence of Albania’s president and home to spectacular royal gardens which are free to enter.
One of the best ways to enjoy Albanian hospitality is to immerse yourself in Tirana's café and food culture. Be sure to sample some of the local speciality called 'byrek' – a crispy filo pastry filled with spinach and cheese. People-watching with a cup of espresso is a favourite Albanian pastime, but you can also try some excellent local beer or a refreshing fresh fruit smoothie.