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Explore the Balkans from Tirana, the capital of Albania, with SWISS

With its brightly coloured apartment blocks and bustling environment, the Albanian capital is emerging as a cultural destination of the Western Balkans and the gateway to an Albanian adventure. Fly with SWISS or one of our partner airlines from Zurich to Tirana and discover this truly unique European capital.

Tirana is young for a European capital: founded by the Ottomans in 1614, it only became the national capital in 1920. Tirana is a city of wide boulevards and parks, whose multi-coloured concrete towers intermingle with Ottoman mosques, Eastern Orthodox churches and a stunning natural landscape.

To begin your exploration of the city, start out at Skanderbeg Square, where the dominant feature is a statue of Skanderbeg, the 15th-century Albanian liberation hero. Strolling through the gardens of the square, you may catch a glimpse of the minaret belonging to the 19th-century Et’hem Bey Mosque, an important house of worship for the Muslim majority in Tirana, whose interior boasts breath-taking Islamic painting and an intricate dome.

The city’s cultural offerings include the National Museum of History, covering the country’s history from ancient Illyria to the victories of Skanderbeg and a memorial to the 20th-century Hoxha dictatorship. At the foot of Mount Dajti, one of the country’s innumerable Communist-era bunkers has been converted into an art gallery called BUNK’ART that offers a unique glance into the Communist period.

Make sure to enjoy the restaurants, shops and bars of the trendy Blloku district-- once off-limits to ordinary Albanians but now one of the most thriving neighbourhoods of the capital. The Sky Bar Restaurant offers panoramic views of the entire city while you enjoy the local cuisine.

The area around Tirana offers a variety of outdoor adventures, starting with a kilometre-long cable car ride up Mount Dajti to take in the views of the capital and the surrounding landscape. The mountain town of Kruja, a former capital of Albania known for its handicrafts bazaar and historic castle, is a short trip from Tirana. The seaside town of Durrës, with its Roman amphitheatre, is another favourite.