ORGANIZED TOURS AROUND GJIROKASTRA OF ALBANIA
You can visit the official web page of Gjirokastra in Albania, here!
Albania is qualified today as one the most attractive holiday destinations in the whole of the Mediterranean. The wonderful nature, the land, the museums, the ancient monuments are all places that must be explored. The natural environment of Albania gives you the opportunity to exercise many kinds of sports. More than the two thirds of the country are mountainous terrain and in these areas in the autumn and winter, sports like skiing, mountaineering, climbing, trekking etc. can be exercised.
We have listed some of the best tours and activities that you should try, while you are spending time in Gjirokastra.
Sightseeing in Gjirokastra: Gjirokastra is a city with many archeological sites and monuments. As you arrive to the upper part of Gjirokastra, opposite the main taxi station you will see the tourist information office which will offer you information and brochures about accommodation, the sites, the history etc. of Gjirokastra. You can go up the narrow hill behind the tourist information office, to visit the Cold Water Tunnel. When you face the tourist information office, on your right side, you will see the large statue of Çerçiz Topulli, who was a fighter from the town of Gjirokastra, this main square has been named after him. Now, take a few steps to your right, towards the old bazaar and on your right hand side you will see the statue of the two Partisan Heroines, this monument pays tribute to two teenage girls, Bule Naipi and Persefoni Kokëdhima, who were partisans during World War II and were hanged by the Nazis in 1944. Now, if you follow the cobbled stone road, you will walk towards the center of the old bazaar of Gjirokastra. This is the area that is highly recommended for souvenir shopping (See below). Then, of course, you must not miss a visit to the famous and popular castle of Gjirokastra which you will come to if you take the cobbled stone hill that turns off on the right side of the bazaar. The main castle was built in the 12th century under the Despots of Epirus, then in the year 1490 the main improvements of the castle were made by Sultan Beyazid II, in the year 1811, the Ottoman governor, Ali Pasha of Tepelene added many elements to the castle. You can read all the details about the museum inside the castle and the castle itself in the following section “sightseeing in Gjirokastra” but a summary of what you should notice is: the Bektashi turbe (tomb) which is located 50 meters after the main entrance to the castle on your right hand side. The artillery gallery is also just 50 meters past the entrance, but on your left side.
The National museum of armaments, which opened for the first time in the year 1971 and today is located in the old prison of the castle, the prison itself and the many underground cells in various areas of the castle. The American airplane that is located in the back yard of the castle and the festival stage which is still used until today by the municipality on public holidays to present music and dance events. Beyond the stage is the clock tower, another of the improvements made by Ali Pasha for the castle, although it was restored in the 1980's. Below the clock tower is the structure of a very very old church has recently been discovered, it is possible that it leads back to the Byzantine phase of fortification. The admission fee to the castle is 200 lek and there is an extra admission fee to the museum which is also 200 lek. The castle is open all year round but try to read the details of the monuments of the castle before you visit the castle as the staff does not speak much English and therefore they are not able to explain to you about each monument.
The ethnographic museum of Gjirokastra is also a place that you would not want to miss. The ancient site of Antigonea might be quite a journey from Gjirokastra, but it is worth visiting also! The Zekate house has no set operating hours – ask in the Tourist Information Center to arrange entry; admission is € 1.00. The neighbor has the key to let you in: the Zekate House itself is unoccupied. The church of Saint Sotire is a beautiful church to see, there are also some famous mosques that are worth visiting.
A visit to the lake of Diroj is definitely something that you should do!
The calm atmosphere, the beautiful colors around and the peace and tranquility that the area offers is something that we do not easily find in any other country.
There are two coffee shops upon the lake of Diroj that also offer some snacks. Accommodation choices are also available on the other side of the lake and the surrounding area is perfect for hiking and cycling.
Shopping in Gjirokastra: The center of the bazaar is the best place to go shopping in Gjirokastra.
The city of Gjirokastra is one of the best cities in Albania for souvenir shopping and shopping for handcraft, traditional items. While walking up the cobbled streets of the bazaar, you will pass many shops selling traditional Albanian pies (burek), souvenirs such as postcards, magnets, flags, scarves, worry beads, small sculptures, items made by hand from wool and silk, jewelry and traditional Albanian food.
Organized tour around Gjirokastra: Some people like to explore the many areas and monuments alone, however for those that would prefer an organized tour, we have created a plan just for you! This tour includes transportation and entrance fees, however, it does not include food or drink!
An English, Greek and Albanian speaking guide will meet you just outside the tourist information office in Gjirokastra (unless you request to be picked up elsewhere), first, he will take you to the cold water tunnel, he will show you the main statues and monuments in the main square, you will walk together through the Old Bazaar of Gjirokastra (shopping is allowed) up to the castle. The guide will walk around the castle with you and show you the various items and explain the history and all of the information about each part. The guide will then drive you down to the main city of Gjirokastra and to the lake of Diroj, where you will stop for refreshments. Leaflets and maps of the areas are included in the price and although the guide should leave you at the tourist information office once again, he is also willing to drop you off wherever you request within the city of Gjirokastra. The tour usually lasts for 5-6 hours and the cost is 35 000 lek per person (about 30 Euros).
Day trip to Tepelene and Permet from Gjirokastra: As the bus systems and departures are not perfect in Albania, we are giving you the opportunity to visit the historical town of Tepelene and the magical town of Permet in a one day trip! The duration of this trip is 7-8 hours and the price is 40 000 lek (35 Euros) per person. Our guide will pick you up in the city of Gjirokastra at the main roundabout (in the lower town) and drive you straight to the historical town of Tepelene. Before arriving into the main town, you will make a stop at the woodland park of cold water, where fresh, pure water comes out of the mountain and many people from all of the surrounding areas travel daily to the spot to fill up plastic containers with the pure, clean water as it is said that this water is the cleanest water in all of South Albania. Once you arrive into the main town of Tepelene, you will be able to visit the castle of Tepelene, walk down the main streets and admire the beautiful view, do some shopping or just stop for refreshments. Our guide will give you the necessary information about the monuments, the castle and the town. After about 2 hours in Tepelene, you will begin the journey from Tepelene to Permet. Permet is also known as the city of roses, you will stop off just beyond the bridge which is the main entrance to Permet. The guide will show you the large, city stone of Permet and tell you its story, you will then visit the famous, beautiful church of Saint Friday and also the church of Saint Nicolas. You will have the ability to visit the shops in Permet, to visit the mosque or the popular teqe of Alipostivan which is a small place of worship for those practicing the bektashi branch of Islam. You will be lead to a small tavern - cafe where you can get snacks, meals or just refreshments and enjoy the view of the town. After about 3 hours, our guide will take you to the small village of Kelcyre where you will spend 30 minutes, just to look around the square and the few shops. At around 6 p.m. you will arrive back in Gjirokastra and you will be given free leaflets with information that will remind you of all that you have discovered in the towns of Permet and Tepelene.
Day trip to Benja from Gjirokastra: Benje or Benja is located around eight miles away from the center of Përmet. At the very beginning of the street you will see the Katiu’s Bridge, that was built within the medieval period, it remains in good condition until today. There flow out a group of sources, from which are formed small lakes with water of different sizes.
Our day trip from Gjirokastra to Benje allows you to paddle in the therapeutic water, to eat or have some refreshments in the small cafe in Benja, to eat local meat in the local, traditional tavern that is close to Benja. Our guide will show you the beautiful Ottoman bridge of Benja with the natural thermal springs that is still in very good condition! If you walk to the middle of the bridge, you can take some brilliant photographs of the river and the surrounding countryside. This bridge is also known as The judge's bridge (Ura e Katiut).
Each lake is used for treatment of a specific problem, for example, acne and other skin diseases, rheumatism and diseases of body, stomach, etc.. A more specific aspect is the existence of the basin with healing mud, which the elderly say it is a key to keep the skin fresh and young. In fact it is proved that the medicine has an effect on rejuvenate of the skin. In the waters of Bënja one can find visitors from all over Albania, coming to be cured. However there are many others who visit even just to get the sun rays. Warm water is always a magnet that invites to pass hours in total relax.
Rafting down the Vjosa river: Our passion for nature and sports has turned into our mission. This mission is to promote the development of tourism in Albania through developing rafting activities, according to the international standards, in full compliance with respect for nature and environmental protection. Through its activities, this rafting group has helped in developing sustainable outdoor tourism, attracting an increasing number of tourists to extend their stay in the virgin, remote areas of Albania.
Explore the canyon: The Canyon exploration tour is carried out on foot using all the required equipment and by trained professional guides. This hike will give you the chance to experience the natural beauties of the canyons such as the waterfalls, natural pools and trails.
Prices: Prices range from 25 Euros to 75 Euros per person depending on the package that you choose.
Rafting in the canyons of Osumi in Skrapar: Arrival in the morning - Departure towards Skrapari canyons. - River rafting through the canyons. While in the canyons, we'll have a lunch break (sandwich). The adventure lasts 3-4 hours depending on the water flow. - End of the adventure and return to Berat.
Prices: Prices range from 40 Euros to 85 Euros per person depending on the package that you choose.
Rafting in the river Vjose in Permet: Departure from the town of Permet - Training and river rafting (2-4 hours) - Lunch break (sandwich) - Return to Permet.
Period: All year round
Prices: Prices range from 45 Euros to 85 Euros per person depending on the package that you choose.