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With its fascinating mix of architectural styles and the pleasantly chaotic co-existence of the new and the old, Tirana makes it easy to spend the entire day enjoying yourself completely free of charge.
Not spending money is easy in Tirana! That is, if you can resist the delicious restaurants of the city. Once this temptation has been taken care of, however, there is so much to do here for free that you will find it hard to believe! So, if you’re on a budget or simply like to save your travel money for extra-special things, here is a list of top free things to do in Tirana that will keep you right on track. You will get familiar with the city, its history, culture, and overall atmosphere and not spend a dime.
The largest green space in Tirana stretches around the capital’s lake, making it a very pleasant and calm space to spend an afternoon. The Grand Park of Tirana boasts many multi-functional courts for various sports and leisure activities as well as a hiking trail. It also hosts some wonderful memorial statues and an open-air theater. Just a stroll around here will leave you feeling refreshed and introduce you to some of the best leisure time the city has to offer.
You can firstly enjoy walking along the city’s main promenade, located on the main boulevard. Once you reach the end, you’ll have the chance to explore one of the newest additions to the city-space: the passageway inside the Tirana Castle. You simply enter the historic castle’s grand entrance where you will immerse yourself in a pleasant gallery lined with boutiques of artisanal local products. Entrance is free, so feel free to simply browse as people did once upon a time in the famous passages of Paris.
Tradita Popullore is owned and operated by Edlira Sulaj and displays century-old costumes and garments, intricately reproduced by the hands of skilled artisans at the museum workshop. A truly genuine encounter with Albanian culture! Headed by Linda Spahiu, Trojet Foundation is a similar venture, dedicated to the preservation of Albanian traditional costumes. Its archive boasts over 2,000 artefacts and traditional costumes, some of which date back to the 18th century! Neither of the museum-boutiques charges a fee!
The Presidential Palace of Tirana, also known as the Palace of Brigades, boasts unique architecture and spectacular gardens, making it a must-see destination in Tirana! The surrounding royal gardens here give the entire place an atmosphere of relaxation and meditation. Entrance to the park is free of charge. Visiting hours on weekends, 9 a.m – 4 p.m in the period October-April, and 9 a.m – 8 p.m. in the period May-September. Take a book and spend some time surrounded by tranquility!
The visit here is simply a must! Sali Shijaku is undoubtedly one of the most celebrated Albanian artists of the 20th century. Fortunately for Albanian and international art-lovers, he has transformed his own home into one of the most unique and intimate art galleries in the country. Here you can enjoy some of his most beautiful and famous paintings and admire the villa’s own wonderful architecture. Entrance is free and, if you’re lucky, you may even get to meet the artist himself.
It may take you the entire afternoon to walk from one end of the city’s main boulevard to the other! Beginning with the New Boulevard on one end, you will find buildings painted in interesting modernist patterns, signaling the establishment of the “new city.” Walk all the way to Skanderbeg Square, to some of the most important cultural and historical institutions in the country. Continue on to admire the golden ministry buildings, the National Gallery of Arts (here, you can sneak a quick peek at the backyard for old status of Stalin, Lenin, Enver Hoxha, and socialist realism heroes!), the Postblloku Memorial, the Office of the Prime Minister, the Pyramid, the Palace of Congresses and the University of Tirana, where the main boulevard culminates.
You can enjoy free entrance to the temporary exhibitions in some of the above-mentioned places. You’ll usually find them on the first floor of each building. If you are interested in art and cultural events, check out possible exhibits at the National Historical Museum, the National Gallery of Arts, or the Center of Openness and Dialogue (located inside the first floor of the Prime Minister’s Office). In the evenings, Reja (The Cloud), an art installation in the front yard of the Gallery of Arts, may have free concerts or movie screenings. Make sure to find out!
On given nights and especially on weekends, Skanderbeg Square hosts plenty of free events open to the public. From important football matches to free concerts, from some of the most popular Albanian performers, these events are some of the most fun you will have in the city. Even if you don’t happen to catch one of these, you can always have a drink (maybe even some raki!) with friends on the large steps of the National Historical Museum.
From main squares and institutional buildings to city corners hidden from view, Tirana is a capital bursting in art and colors. Think of it as an open-air museum! Wherever you choose to walk, try to locate as much graffiti on the city’s various facades as you can. Some are purely decorative, revealing traditional patterns borrowed from the city’s cultural heritage. Some others, on the other hand, are meant to convey messages that you can try to decipher. If nothing else, you will get some great photos out of this hunt!
If you are really burning to get out of the city, there is much to see, for free, right outside the capital. Indeed, you will find plenty of outdoor and cultural activities in the outskirts of Tirana. Depending on your preference, you can go to Dajti Mountain, Shengjergji Waterfall, Petrela Castle, Eye of the Cyclops, or Erzen River, where you can swim and have a picnic. All are easily within reach and equally beautiful! For more outdoor destinations around Tirana, click here.
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