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The New Bazaar (Pazari i Ri), one of the oldest and most historical residential neighbourhood in the city of Tirana, has undergone renovation and re-invigoration of late. Many of the traditional elements of the old town have been preserved whilst the square has been refreshed with an updated and more modern look. The name derives from the local farmer’s marketplace situated at the center, where more than 300 farmers of the surrounding areas come to sell their fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, and spices to name but a few. The New Bazaar farmers really know their produce. They will help you find the best items and will even take the time to proudly let you know about the history of this bustling marketplace. But don’t worry there isn’t much of a language barrier here as even those who don’t speak English will find a way to communicate with you in true marketeer style.
This neighbourhood, belonging to Tirana’s old town, is a hotspot for both locals and tourists. In fact, this is one of those authentically local places that truly reflects the spirit of the city. With countless bars and restaurants serving freshly brewed beers and local cuisine ranging from fast food joints to fine dining, every evening feels like a weekend. Opt for the traditional Albanian fast food speciality qofte zgare (grilled burger patties & meatballs shaped like hot dogs) or grab something fishy in the restaurant Merkata e peshkut which conveniently translates to fish market. Locals tend to finish their shopping during the day and then later gather with friends in one of the many pubs in the area. Just imagine having a food festival-like atmosphere every day!
The vibe can be best defined as pleasantly chaotic, a mix of old and new that stirs up the spirit of the city. You will find plenty to do as you stroll around the area, browsing the many antique and artisan boutiques. Ideal for collectors of historical knick-knacks and books. One thing you will notice around here is the sheer volume of bicycles, something rather symbolic to the New Bazaar. The iconic farmers brought their daily harvest here on bicycles and even donkeys until as late as the 1980s. A top spot for any bike enthusiast as the largest bicycle market is located right here.
Around the corner as you exit the bazaar, there is a small restaurant called Oda, one of ten restaurants not to miss in Tirana. The name refers to the small rooms inside the traditional Ottoman homes of Tirana. Low tables and traditional carpets adorn the interior. The food is as authentic as it gets, as well as being delicious and rather inexpensive. It boasts roast lamb, byrek, fërgesë, pllaqi, and much more. Fancy feeling like part of a traditional Albanian family, then you simply cannot miss this place! Oh, and by the way it has a cracking selection of homemade raki. You know, that infamously strong Albanian liquor you have most probably heard about and simply must try.
But that’s not all you can find here. The New Bazar is an old place, but one rife with lots of new things to discover! A word of warning though, plan your day accordingly as you may want to spend your entire day here.