Tirana rated among top 2019 emerging European destinations

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 20, 2019 17:55

Tirana rated among top 2019 emerging European destinations

TIRANA, Feb. 20 – London-based Emerging Europe has rated Albania's capital, Tirana, among the top emerging European destinations to visit in 2019.

In an article rating 19 top Central and Eastern European destinations, the Emerging Europe portal places Tirana sixth among Polish, Ukrainian and Romanian cities it recommends as off-the-beaten-track destinations across the region that are well worth visiting for 2019.

“Europe’s most colourful city? Possibly. Street art covers almost every available space and has become a calling card of this most misunderstood of all European capitals. During the long summer cafes and bars spill out onto the street and at weekends it can feel as if half of all Albania’s young people have turned out to party,” Craig Turp, the editor-in-chief of Emerging Europe writes about Tirana.

“Friendly locals, cheap prices and the chance to explore wider Albania (the coast is just an hour’s drive one way, the cooling, forested hills of Dajti an hour the other) make it a perfect spot for a summer break,” he adds.

Among other regional destinations, Kosovo's Prishtina, Macedonia's Ohrid lake town, Montenegro’s Budva, Bosnia's Mostar made it to the top 19 list.

Last year, famous Lonely Planet travel guide also rated Tirana as one of the top ten European hotspots for 2018, describing it as a vigorous metropolis that has undergone transformation and offers much to visitors.

Tirana's renovated Skanderbeg square has recently been shortlisted as one of the five finalists of the 2019 European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture – Mies van der Rohe Award.

Earlier in 2018, Tirana’s landmark Skanderbeg square claimed the European Prize for Urban Public Space awarded by Barcelona’s Centre of Contemporary Culture, beating projects submitted by 179 cities from 32 European countries in a biennial competition recognizing and making known all kinds of works to create, recover and improve public spaces in European cities.

Named after Albania’s 15th century national hero, Skanderbeg, Tirana’s central square was given a facelift in mid-2017 following two years of drastic intervention that completely transformed the most important public space linked to a number of historical events and manifestations from King Zog’s reign until WWII to the communist takeover and the early 1990s protests for democratic changes.

Tirana is a 400-year-old town that has been the country’s capital city since 1920 when its population was at only more than a dozen thousand compared to a present day 800,000.

Tirana was established in 1614 by Sulejman Pasha from the village of Mullet who first build a mosque, a bakery and a Turkish sauna. However, the capital outskirts boast settlements and archeological heritage dating back to ancient times.

In addition to the communist legacy for more almost five decades until the early 1990s, Tirana and many Albanian cities also owe much to Italian 20th century architecture.

Tirana is also becoming an emerging adventure travel destination with sites such as Mount Dajti, the Pellumbus Cave, the Erzen and Tujan Canyons, outside the capital attracting more and more adventure travelers.

Albania has made it to a series of top under-the-radar and affordable destinations for 2019, hinting the country’s emerging and fast growing travel and tourism industry is set for another golden year.

The most important ratings come from prestigious Lonely Planet and booking.com, but also a number of travel writers, recommending Albania as a still off-the-beaten-path and budget destination.

Several outdoor tour operators in the country offer hiking, rafting, biking, horse riding and birds watching adventures in the country, while cross-border tourism is gaining an upper hand with the opening of several mountain hiking trails.

The communist past is also what fascinates tourists about Albania, which was cut off from the rest of the world under a hardline Stalinist dictatorship.

Tirana Times
By Tirana Times February 20, 2019 17:55