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Tirana Gay Travel

What’s Albania gay life like? Does Tirana have gay bars? wolfyy’s Tirana gay travel guide details where to stay, top attractions, restaurants & the local gay scene.

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The Gay Travel Experience: Tirana, Albania

As soon as I started walking the streets of Tirana, I felt like I was in a southern European city! The patterned concrete sidewalks, plentiful boutiques and outdoor cafés are incredibly charming. I visited Tirana for only a short amount of time, so here’s the gist on Albania’s capital!

Tirana gay travel experience

Similar to Croatia, Montenegro and other nearby Balkan states, gay men in Tirana tend to stay out of the public eye. Don’t be fooled though…there are certainly gay men in Albania! Albanians are quite socially conservative, even more so than their neighbor states to the north.

Tirana gay travel experience
I’m sure you’ve heard the general opinion that Albanians are beautiful. Well, I can certainly confirm this. The men and women here in Tirana are stunning. Gorgeous, fashionable people can be found in the most common of places.
Tirana gay travel experience
Tirana gay travel experience
central tirana

If you speak to local gay men on dating apps, you may notice their tendencies to be skittish and/or very private. Locals act this way to avoid being identified, but only because they need protect themselves. 

Tirana architecture

The truth is that gay life in Albania is not easy. You should respect their need for privacy. This is a necessary way of life, especially for those who have never left the Balkan region.

Is Albania Safe for Gay Travelers?

While in Albania, gay travelers should not display any same-sex affection in public. Various polls by organizations studying LGBT sentiment in the Balkans region show that a vast majority of locals are not comfortable with homosexuality.

main road

Although homosexuality is legal in Albania, there is a strong anti-gay sentiment among the population.

main road
Tirana architecture

Overt displays of affection may invite rude remarks or worse. To avoid any type of trouble, it’s best to keep things private. Head to the end of this Tirana gay travel guide for more specifics on gay rights and gay life in Albania.

Tirana gay travel

Gay Tirana: Hotels & Where to Stay

Central Tirana is beautiful and vibrant, filled with cafés, shopping and parks. I wouldn’t stay anywhere else while visiting the city. The streets are walkable and it’s easy to get in and out of the city center.

central tirana

I personally recommend the fantastic VRBO apartment rentals in central Tirana, where you can be certain you’ll have the perfect balance of convenience and style of accommodation.

Tirana airbnb
Tirana airbnb

I chose a VRBO rental next to Park Rinia, in the southern portion of the city center. I was looking for a lively, local-feeling location, but also something budget-friendly.  Lower-end hotels or apartment rentals can cost as little as 35 Euros per night here in Tirana. 

Mondial hotel Tirana

Higher-End Hotel Options

With 100 to 150 Euros per night, you can get a great hotel in Tirana.

The Maritim Hotel Plaza Tirana is one of the most popular and iconic hotels in Tirana that will definitely make your stay one to remember. It’s an elegant and classic five-star hotel. Without a doubt, the next time I’m in Tirana, I am staying here. 

Mondial hotel Tirana
hotel rooftop pool and restaurant

Mondial Hotel is a more affordable, but just as luxurious option. One of the few LGBT-friendy hotels in Tirana, Mondial is hard to beat. Their rooftop pool and restaurant will probably make your jaw drop! 

hotel rooftop pool and restaurant

Their interior design is quite fashionable and has some stunning lighting features, both inside the rooms and on the building facade. They make everything feel so perfectly cozy.

Tirana Experiences for Gay Travelers

The Reja Cloud is a fun Tirana tourist spot you can swing by for a half hour or so. It’s a Japanese art lattice structure you can go inside of. From the street it looks a little dull, but being inside is more fun!

The Cloud monument Tirana

For shopping, head to Rruga Myslym Shyri, a walkable thoroughfare with both small boutiques and big-brand stores. You can find everything from custom suit and perfume shops to big brands like Polo and Adidas. 

Even if you’re not intending to buy anything, Rruga Myslym Shyri is a great street to walk down in Tirana.

Shopping street
Shopping street
The Cloud monument Tirana

The Grand Park of Tirana is a great day trip destination for travelers with a little more time. I personally did not visit, but I heard it is a wonderful escape from the bustling city.

Pyramid of Tirana abandoned

Try out Skanderbeg Square for some greenery and nice architecture that’s more centrally located. Enjoy a sunny afternoon in the wide-open public plaza.

The next time I get to visit Tirana, I’m definitely going to book a tour of Berat to see the local life in this small town known for white houses that date back to the Ottoman Empire.

The Pyramid of Tirana

The Pyramid of Tirana is undoubtedly the most unforgettable attraction in the city. With a rich history and unforgettable shape, the Pyramid of Tirana is iconic to the Tirana landscape.

Pyramid of Tirana
Pyramid of Tirana abandoned

Now abandoned and plastered with graffiti, the structure used to serve many functions. It was once a museum, a conference center and a base for NATO humanitarian organizations.

Pyramid of Tirana

After a proposal to demolish the building, the people of Tirana firmly opposed. As of mid-2019, a plan is in place to convert the structure into a computer engineering and robotics startup hub!

Tirana Cafés and Restaurants

The best café I visited in Tirana was a place called Quaffe. I loved Quaffe so much because it felt more like a bar/lounge as opposed to a bustling coffee shop. There is indoor and outdoor seating and the service was super friendly. It is not only beautiful, but cheap as well.

Tirana Bars

Mulliri i Vjeter is a comfortable Tirana outdoor café where you can beat some summer heat. They have a large outdoor seating area with fans blowing mist over the tables. Its relaxing, shady and a great spot in central Tirana for a snack, coffee or beer.

Tirana Bars
beer garden
Cafe and bar

Wine and beer garden enthusiasts will like Bufe Wine Bar. I grabbed a few beers at this restaurant and enjoyed the beautiful weather in their street-side seating area.

beer garden

To the southwest of the National History Museum, there are a bunch of cheap street food restaurants including Sufllaqe Speciale and some shawarma spots. It’s a buzzing area in Tirana with outdoor restaurant seating.

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Tirana Gay Travel Tips

Expectedly for a conservative area of the world, you will not find any gay bars in Tirana, or even large congregations of gay men at regular bars. If some local gay men do meet up, identifying them may be difficult given most are discreet with their sexuality.

Tirana gay travel stays

If you search for Tirana gay clubs or Tirana gay bars online you may see a few of the same establishments that gay travel websites have chosen to propagate. Again, in these places you may find other gay travelers rather than locals as they likely performed the same search as you.

Tirana Gay Bar
Cafe and bar

If you plan to use Grindr or browse LGBT web content in Albania, I recommend using a VPN application for extra security. While Grindr is not banned in Albania, a VPN app like NordVPN will provide additional online protection.

Tirana Gay Bar

Currency exchange booths are all around the city center. Use these instead of the ones at the airport where you will incur high fees. Local booths will let you exchange small amounts of money too, so there’s no need to convert any more than you will use. 

I admittedly exchanged $3 USD for airport bus fare at the end of my trip! The guy in the booth window laughed.

Tirana gay travel stays
Tirana gay travel

If you’re headed to Albania, I suggest comparing airlines with Expedia. You can filter not only by airline, but also according to how much luggage you’ll bring, as well as if the airline charges change fees.

Tirana Airport Shuttle Bus

Getting to the Tirana airport by public bus is super easy and very cheap! There is a shuttle bus located at the Tiranë Rinas bus station.

The shuttle departs every hour and the ride is about 30 minutes. Here’s the official bus schedule web page. Total cost is only 300 LEK, or a bit under $3 USD.

Airport Shuttle Bus
Airport Shuttle Bus
Flying Albania to Greece

The Tirana Airport Bus website states the bus stop is behind the opera house, but it’s not truly behind it. It is actually just behind the Italian Culinary Institute. This should save you 5 to 10 minutes of wandering around!

Flying Albania to Greece
Are you headed to Montenegro? Discover these beautiful coastal cities in wolfyy’s Ulcinj Gay Travel Guide and Budva Gay Travel Guide.

Gay Life in Albania

Albania has surprisingly plentiful anti-discrimination protections for LGBT citizens. The country surpasses what the EU considers to be the minimum protections acceptable.

Sadly, these official protections haven’t proven to help gay Albanians. Just about all incidents of LGBT discrimination go unreported to authorities. This is due to negative social consequences lack of trust in the police and courts.

Tirana gay travel experiences
Tirana gay travel experiences
Tirana Airport bus

Attitudes of the Albanian people toward homosexuality are some of the worst in the Balkan region. A sweeping majority believe that LGBT individuals do not deserve to live their lives as they wish, according to a study by the Open Society Foundation.

There are even more saddening statistics, but the overall message is that it’s nearly impossible to live an open life as a LGBT individual in Albania.

Tirana Airport bus

Want to learn more? Check out this study of Albanian LGBT discrimination and homophobia by the Danish Institute of Human Rights.

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Tirana Gay Pride

Tirana gay pride 2019 was the largest LGBT celebration in Albania to date. The parade was a huge success. In years past, people marching would cover their faces in fear of being identified. 

In 2019, this practice largely came to an end as only a few marchers did so. This successful event is a great step for LGBT visibility in Albania

Tirana gay travel
Tirana gay travel
albania LGBT Life & rights

Albania LGBT Advocacy Groups

Pink Embassy works to advance the rights of LGBT people in Albania through awareness and media communications. The organization supports education on LGBT issues and works to build relationships with governmental officials. Pink Embassy also helps to organize Tirana’s gay pride festivals!

albania LGBT Life & rights

Aleanca Kunder Diskriminimit and Pro LGBT are two other well-known Albania gay resources.

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Are you headed to nearby destinations in Montenegro? Check out wolfyy’s gay travel guides to Ulcinj and Budva.

Explore gay life in cities worldwide with wolfyy’s expansive selection of gay travel guides.

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