Skanderbeg Square is turned into a winter village in December for the annual Tirana Christmas Market. A huge decorated Christmas tree is the centrepiece, surrounded by Christmas chalets and places to eat and drink. In this guide, find dates, locations, opening times and things to do in Tirana in winter.
As the capital of Albania, Tirana is a vibrant city known for its youthful energy, its lively nightlife and surprisingly diverse cuisine. Its streets are bursting with colour, life and a unique character.
Having visited Tirana on many occasions over the years, I can assure you that the city is always changing and never boring.
Tirana’s many attractions include the Skanderbeg Square, the National History Museum and the Bunk’Art 2 contemporary art museum.
Skanderbeg Square is the city’s main square and the location of many events, including this year’s Christmas market.
Tirana Christmas Market 2023
Tirana’s Christmas market boasts various festive products such as handmade decorations, Albanian souvenirs, traditional foods and drinks.
The market is located in the city centre at Skanderbeg Square and in front of the Et’hem Bej Mosque and is open throughout the month of December.
You can also find a smaller Christmas Market on Toptani Street, a busy pedestrian street with seasonal food and handmade Albanian gifts for sale and there is another market at Pazari i Ri.
The Christmas market is a great opportunity to get into the Christmas spirit and find original, traditional gifts and children’s toys. Try to be there for the Christmas tree lighting on the 5th December from 5pm to 7pm (likely dates).
Dates and Locations
Tirana Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: From 5th December 2023.
Location: Skanderbeg Square.
Opening times: 10am to 7pm.
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Free, no tickets required.
Christmas lights: Yes, switch on date: 5th December.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, some options.
Vegan: Yes, but limited.
Gluten free: Yes, but very limited.
Accessible: Generally, but not everywhere.
Pet-friendly: Yes, dogs are allowed on a lead.
Reason to visit: Great atmosphere in the main square and delicious Albanian food. This market is much quieter in comparison to other European destinations.
Recommended tour: A fantastic walking tour of Tirana, ideal for first time visitors.
Specialities: Winter pickled salads, suxhuk from Kosova (spicy sausage), locally brewed beer, Albanian-style mulled wine and Fergese e Tiranes me Piperka (a kind of baked vegetable dish with cheese).
Where to stay: Maritim Hotel Plaza Tirana is a highly-rated hotel, located 2 minutes from Et’hem Bej Mosque and Skanderbeg Square.
There is a small Christmas market at Pazari i Ri, the new bazaar. Even when the Christmas marketing isn’t on, this is a great market for fruit and vegetables as well all kinds of household goods and clothes.
It’s well worth visiting the bazaar on any trip to Tirana. This market is located at Avni Rustemi Square, a 7-minute walk from Skanderbeg Square.
Hotels near Tirana Christmas Market
Tirana is a safe, walkable city with a vibrant city centre district. The historic central district surrounds Skanderbeg Square and this is the area where you’ll likely want to stay to be near the Christmas markets.
I’ve stayed at several hotels in Tirana and always come back to the Maritim Hotel Plaza Tirana. Along with the ideal location near all the main sights, it’s a beautiful hotel with large rooms, a great restaurant and a gym that overlooks Skanderbeg Square and the mountains.
Considering the hotel’s quality, it’s a brilliant value for money compared with other European capitals.
Location of Tirana Christmas Market
City and Christmas Tours
A city tour of Tirana is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the rich culture and history of the Albanian capital. With its vibrant city centre, colourful buildings and impressive architecture, Tirana offers a unique experience for every visitor.
I highly recommend taking this walking tour of Tirana to explore all the city’s highlights or try a food tour to discover the local cuisine and culture.
With a wide variety of delicious traditional dishes and local specialties to try, a food tour is a perfect way to explore Tirana’s culinary scene and learn about the city’s history and culture through its cuisine. This food tour takes you to nearby Durres and the hilltop town Kruja for a unique experience.
During the city tour, you’ll have the opportunity to visit some of Tirana’s most iconic landmarks, such as the National Historical Museum, the Et’hem Bey Mosque, and Skanderbeg Square, named after the national hero.
Christmas in Tirana
Specialties in Tirana
In Tirana, traditional dishes include:
- Qofte: Albanian meatballs made with minced beef, onion, garlic, and spices.
- Fergese: A baked dish made with peppers, tomatoes, cheese, and spices.
- Bakllasarmë: A savoury pie filled with rice, minced meat, and herbs.
- Byrek: A savoury pastry filled with cheese or spinach. A class Balkan dish.
At the Christmas markets and at the Old Bazaar, you can find a wide variety of food and drinks, including:
- Mulled wine: A warm, spiced wine that’s perfect for chilly winter evenings.
- Kallmet wine: A type of red wine from Albania.
- Rakia: A traditional fruit brandy that’s popular in the Balkans.
- Roasted chestnuts: A classic winter snack perfect for warming your hands and stomach.
- Fried doughnuts: A sweet treat that’s popular during the holiday season.
- Grilled meats: A variety of meats, including sausages and kebabs, are grilled to perfection and served with a variety of sauces. This is hugely popular in Tirana.
- Pita: A type of bread that’s often stuffed with meat, cheese, or vegetables. Similar to what you might find in Greece or Turkey.
- Falafel: A vegetarian option made with ground chickpeas and spices, served in a pita or as a snack on its own.
- Langos: An international Christmas market specialty, a Hungarian deep-fried dough topped with sour cream, cheese, and garlic sauce.
Plan the rest of Christmas holiday with my guide to the best Christmas markets in Albania. Discover where to go, things to do, and the best ways to experience Albanian food, history, and culture.
Visit Tirana has further information regarding events, things to do and the best ways to experience Tirana at Christmas.
Sustainable Travel Tips
When visiting the Christmas markets in Tirana, it’s important to be aware of the environmental and social impact of our choices. Here are some responsible travel measures you can implement:
Shop mindfully by choosing locally-made crafts or goods made from sustainable materials. For example, consider purchasing handmade Christmas ornaments from local artisans.
Reduce your carbon footprint by walking, cycling, or taking public transport to get around. Tirana’s bike-sharing program allows visitors to explore the city while minimising their environmental impact.
Stay in a sustainable hotel that sources its energy from renewable sources, such as solar or wind power. For the moment, there are limited sustainable hotels in Tirana.
Avoid using plastic or buying items made or packaged with plastic. Instead, bring your reusable bags and containers when shopping and eating at the Christmas markets.
Try to eat locally sourced organic food where possible. The Tirana Farmers’ Market offers a variety of fresh produce and locally made food products that are perfect for a sustainable and delicious holiday meal.
Consider limiting your consumption of meat and dairy to reduce your carbon footprint. Try vegetarian dishes like the traditional Albanian dish of fërgesë or the vegetarian version of the popular street food qoftë.
Explore more than just the main tourist areas and support the local arts by attending events like the Tirana International Film Festival or the Christmas concerts at the National Theater.
By implementing these responsible travel measures, you can enjoy the Tirana Christmas markets while positively impacting the environment and the local community.
Tirana Christmas Market starts on the 5th December 2023 with the lighting of the Christmas tree.
The Christmas markets in Tirana are held at Skanderbeg Square and in the Old Bazaar.
The Christmas markets are open from 10am.
The Christmas markets close at 7pm.
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Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Tirana, Albania. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.