Photo Credit: Thomas Quine

Given the brief time since Albania moved from a communist economy to a free market, it is surprising how well regarded it is for commercialism, with Tirana at its helm. Those who would like to devote a whole day to shopping will enjoy how easy it is to get around the small capital. Sales associates are friendly, on the whole, and usually know their business.

The capital is certainly no Beverly Hills, and not all brands have arrived yet, but as a result of Italy’s longstanding influence over Albania, shoes in particular are often of impressive Italian quality and run at at least one-third less than they would cost in other European cities.

Tirana’s Bllok district and Rr. Myslym Shyri account for the most established shopping areas, where there are many boutiques. It is here where the bargains are to be found, along with some of the more groovy items on offer.

Several malls and shopping galleries have appeared over the last few years and offer some well-known Western designers. Both Coin, an Italian department store, and Casa Italia, another Italian complex with mid-range prices have popped up recently and have become well-regarded shopping destinations.

Offering a more uniquely Albania shopping experience are the bazaars of Shkodra, Gjirokastra dhe Tirana, Kruja, and Korca where locally crafted objects like wood carvings, pottery, and embroidery can be purchased. If you can’t make it to one of these bazaars for souvenirs, simply pick up a bottle of the local raki liquor to take home.

Tirana certainly corners the market for Albanian shopping, but it is also worth checking out the bargains in other cities. Goods are generally inexpensive, so there is always the chance that you will walk away with something unexpected.

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