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Pretty, colourful Tirana is the next big thing in Eastern Europe. 

The capital of Albania is exploding with new restaurants and bars, and its streets are filled with vibrant painted houses. The city has undergone an incredible transformation since the early 1990s, when it emerged from the Communist bloc. In fact, it’s now pretty unrecognisable. Cafes are filled with sophisticated city-dwellers sipping on coffees and rakija (the local plum brandy) out in the sunshine, while Albanian and Euro pop buzzes in the background. The compact centre is just as full, but with grand boulevards speckled with Ottoman architecture and socialist art. 

Gelato and pastries are done well here, possibly because cafe culture is such a thing (what goes better with your espresso than a sweet, flaky Petulla?). Head to La Nocciola in ish-Bllok for the best scoop in Tirana, or day trip out to the ancient coastal town of Durrës to lick cones from Gelateria Çela as you gaze out at the sea. 
 
 
 

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