Photo Credit: Shutterstock


In May of 2022, Tirana became the European football capital. UEFA’s Conference League final was played at the city’s Air Albania stadion between Roma and Feyenoord. The newly-constructed stadion epitomises the developments taking the Albanian capital by storm. The modern facility can seat up to 22,500 attendees. Works began in 2016, headed by the Albanian Football Association and a private investor. A part of the new complex is a commercial annexe adorned with a 112-metre high skyrise, now the tallest building in Albania. A prestigious hotel found its home within the complex.

In Tirana, construction plans are afoot throughout the city. Since our last visit, we could hardly recognise the motorway leading to the city centre. Similarly, as we strolled the streets, we were greeted by jumbo posters heralding new hotel openings. New shopping centres, business edifices and shimmering facades have been erected across the city. A key source of capital for new investments is the broad Albanian diaspora, investing increasingly in the capital. Only a stroll from the main avenues, the city reveals its true identity, reminding us of the impressions when we first visited. The splendour of the sprawling capitalist city does not meet the standards and prosperity of the West. We were again left speechless by the electric cables strewn over the streets, hanging freely in the air, the potholes in the roads, the decaying fronts of city apartment blocks, the plentiful stray dogs and other remnants of the former regime that render Tirana a city of contrasts. In 2023, Tirana’s look is picturesque and colourful, courtesy of the city’s former mayor and the current prime minister Edi Rama. As a painter, he made the city greener and more colourful by allowing murals and graffiti art to embellish the urban facades.

The story of the meetings industry is just as tumultuous. To this day, it remains unconnected and left to the imagination and resourcefulness of local event organisers. Your search for a convention bureau in Tirana will have been in vain. Thus, a handful of trustworthy DMC agencies are the most reliable options. Nonetheless, great events can be hosted in the city – events that do not require deep pockets and surprise with their originality. Tirana does not disappoint even at night, as it rightfully solidified its status as one of the region’s nightlife hotspots. Those in the know say Tirana is the Tel Aviv of the Balkans.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


The city centre of Tirana is amid a monumental urbanist renovation propelled by a host of distinguished architectural names: from Milano-based Stefano Boeri to BIG and MVRDV architectural bureaus. In light of this, new hotels have popped up all over town. Within the new football stadion, the first Marriott Hotel in Albania recently opened doors. The hotel has a conference centre stretching over 1900 m2 and features 155 rooms. The neighbouring Mak Albania Hotel, a hotel heavyweight for events, is undergoing a thorough renovation.

Last year, Radisson Collection Morina Hotel, easily recognisable for its neoclassic design, welcomed its first guests too. It is set on the outskirts of Tirana, in the Sauk neighbourhood. At the same time, Hotel Arka opened doors only four kilometres from the city centre. Another international hotel chain is poised to open a hotel soon. Gran Melia Tirana by Melia Hotels International will be the group’s new flagship in the heart of the Albanian capital. There have also been numerous announcements about hotels set to open shortly. Intercontinental partnered with Albanian group Geci Group, who have been operating the Hotel Tirana International since 2011. Together, they plan to open InterContinental Tirana, featuring 300 rooms and a spacious conference centre. Some time ago, Hilton also announced a new hotel in the capital city. Recently, they announced it will open doors by the end of 2023. It will boast 174 rooms and a smaller conference centre. In Tirana, there is always something happening. The scene on Albania’s chunk of the Adriatic Coast is even more eventful. There, one of the largest hotel construction sites in Europe perpetually attracts new hotel chains.

Locals shared with us that the construction of a new conference centre in Tirana will soon commence. Tirana’s mayor Erion Veliaj made this project one of his administration’s priorities. With the architectural tender completed, the construction will likely start in 2024. Tirana already has a decent infrastructure for organising events. In a few years, Tirana will surely become one of the hottest outposts in South-East Europe by realising its ambitious plans. The swift development of tourism in formerly overlooked Albania is a testament to that. We hope the public and traffic infrastructure follows the construction of hotels and conference centres. At present, the infrastructure is struggling to keep pace with the rapid developments.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock


In post-covid times, Albania emerged as a tourist hit, recording the fastest growth of any European destination. In 2022, the destination was visited by 7.5 million tourists, a noticeable increase from the record-breaking 2019, when 6.4 million tourists flocked to Albania. This year, the tourist sector expects 10 million tourists. The reasons for the country’s rebound are numerous. One of the most obvious ones is the excellent value for money. More importantly, Albania’s pristine nature, 460 kilometres of beaches and authenticity have earned the country the title of the Maldives of Europe. That is largely due to the stunning Kasmil Beach, part of the Butrint National Park, close to Corfu in Greece. The warm, shallow azure sea is reminiscent of Maldives’ beaches. The vicinity of the Albanian Riviera to Tirana is a bonus. The capital can thus be a perfect starting point for exploring the offer.

Photo Credit: Maritim Hotels


Tirana StreetArt Hunt

During the mandate of Edi Rama, the city’s legendary mayor and current prime minister, Tirana was given a revamp in the form of street art. The mayor not only built vast promenades, rearranged parks and removed numerous unlicensed buildings but transformed Tirana’s colour palette. As a painter, he decided to enable various artists to express themselves. By embarking on the StreetArt Hunt across Tirana, you will get familiar with this unique part of the culture while learning about the turbulent past.

Find out more at Creative Pro Adriatic’s website.

Photo Credit: Visit Tirana


Upon our last visit to Tirana, the Pyramid was, at first glance, a run-down, forlorn building full of broken glass, garbage and graffiti that the locals had erased from memory. The building was opened on 14 October 1988 as a museum commemorating Enver Hoxha, the iron dictator of socialist Albania, who had died three years prior. This year, the building was thoroughly renovated and reopened. Erion Veliaj, the current mayor, advocated the 22-million renovation of the Pyramid. The building has been repurposed to serve as a start-up facilitator, a high-tech hub and a place where the future is discussed. In the past, the building served as a local discotheque, the headquarters of the USAID agency, the Pepi television station and even the seat of NATO during the war in Kosovo in 1999. Unsurprisingly, Tirana’s locals voted to preserve the Pyramid.

Photo Credit: MVRDV


Albanian cognac

Cognac is arguably Tirana’s most important export. The most famous cognac was named after the Albanian national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. The ingredients for making cognac are miscellaneous – from mountain plants, fruit, ethyl alcohol, honey, and caramel to distilled water. The liquor acquires its distinct aroma from ageing in oak barrels. Alongside the Skanderbeg cognac, there are a slew of other brands on the market. If you are in doubt, the vendors at the airport will give you tips.

Photo Credit: Cognac Skënderbeu


Forum of Environmental Sustainable Tourism in Albania
(3 – 5 April 2023)
W: https://tourismforum.al/

TNC23 Conference
(5 – 9 June 2023)
W: https://tnc23.geant.org/

43rd ANNUAL MEETING of the European Society of Mycobacteriology
(25 – 28 June 2023)
W: https://www.esmycobacteriology.eu/event-home

Nano Balkan 2023
(16 – 20 October 2023)
W: https://www.nanobalkanconf.com/2023/

Tourism Travel Show Albania
(23 – 24 November 2023)
W: https://www.icebergexhibitions.com/event/tourism-trade-fair/

We prepared the list of events in cooperation with our local partners. We will gladly complement it with additional suggestions from your side. Write to us at: gorazd.cad@toleranca.eu.

Photo Credit: Visit Tirana


Albania is fast developing as a culinary outpost. Today, you will hardly be disappointed by local gastronomy. Concurrently with the tourist developments, new restaurants have been opened. Superb wine is also produced in Albania. To taste the best local cuisine, we suggest visiting Mullixhiu Restaurant, led by the charismatic chef Bledar Kola. His cuisine can be defined as new Albanian gastronomy. After a visit to their culinary haven, we understand why his restaurant is among the best in Albania. We recommend the tasting menu, which will take you on a journey across the region’s culinary culture. The menu playfully intertwines Turkish, Balkan, Greek and Italian cuisine. Mullixhiu is spearheading the country’s gastronomical revolution. Stopping for the moreish dishes here is a must for any “foodie”.

If you are seeking a quick bite, The street food will not disappoint you. For only a few leks, you can satisfy your hunger with byrek and excellent lamb, found at every corner. Excellent Italian restaurants are aplenty, just like corner dessert shops, where they make tulumba and shendetlie (cake from honey and walnuts).

Photo Credit: Mullixhiu Restaurant


Five great reasons to organise an event in Tirana:

1. Exotic, new destination
Albania is a true undiscovered meeting gem that surprises visitors with its fast developments, increasingly improving meeting infrastructure and accessibility.

2. Superb value for money
The prices in Albania are lower than in other European counties. The value for money is generally impressive and one of Tirana’s trump cards.

3. Incentive ideas
The marvellous, unspoilt nature is ideal for active team building. Once, incentive ideas were nearly impossible to find, but today, they are found in every village. The development of incentive travel goes hand in hand with tourism development.

4. Hospitality
Albanians are incredibly hospitable and love to share. They are both temperamental and heartfelt people. In their ancient “kanun” law, hospitality is obligatory.

5. Nightlife
Tirana is famed for its vibrant nightlife. The guide for the city’s nightlife is constantly updated and caters to every taste. Heading to the Bllok neighbourhood is a solid choice.

Photo Credit: Tirana Maritim Plaza


Tirana is a meeting destination we predict will experience the fastest growth in South-East Europe. Numerous investments into its infrastructure are a good omen and herald a bright future. To gain prominence, however, the city will have to connect and form a convention bureau. Most importantly, the destination should start promoting itself on the international market. Regardless, you can organise a great event in the city to the satisfaction of your attendees. Albanians are immensely proud, kind, pleasant and excellent hosts, which makes up for the occasional flaws in infrastructure. They love to give a helping hand and have lively discussions. They stick to what they say but always expect the same in return.

Photo Credit: Michael Bondoc

NOTE: The MTLG Destination Update is not a paid advertisement. The Tirana MTLG Destination Update was prepared based on a personal visit of Kongres Magazine’s assessor in April 2023. Based on the evaluation, Tirana will be evaluated according to the Meeting Experience Index methodology. The MTLG evaluation will be prepared at the end of July 2023.

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