7 Best Things To Do In Gjirokaster, Albania

Gjirokaster is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Southern Albania that offers a wide range of wonderful things to do and see from the mighty Castle of Gjirokaster to the beautiful green landscape of the surrounding area.

Some may consider Gjirokaster a twin city with Berat, another UNESCO site known for its beauty! Both cities have their charms that cannot be replaced. The architectures are different, the things to do are different, even the local food is different, so I would recommend visiting both cities when you are in Albania.

But enough about Berat. Today, we’re going to explore the beautiful historic town of Gjirokaster and all that the city has to offer with this complete travel guide to activities and attractions in Gjirokaster.

Αξιοθέατα Στο Αργυρόκαστρο, Αλβανία, Αλβανική Ριβιέρα

Explore the Castle of Gjirokaster

One of the most emblematic sights in Gjirokaster is the Castle of Gjirokaster , the second largest castle in the Balkans located on top of a hill overlooking the Old Town. The citadel has existed in some form since the 12th century, but the 2 major attempts to expand and renovate the castle were made during the time of Ali Pasha and King Zog in the 19th and 20th centuries respectively.

The castle is large so take at least 2-3 hours to walk around the castle and see all the structure such as the Clock Tower, the church, museums, a United States Air Force plane to commemorate the struggle of the communist regime against imperialism and much more. The castle was also built on top of a dominant plateau, making it the perfect vantage point to see the Old and New Towns of Gjirokaster converge in the stunning landscape surrounding the city.

TIP: The castle opens at 9 am and closes at 7 pm and I would recommend visiting as early or as late as you can to avoid the crowds. The entrance fee is 200 LEK and you will have access to all structures within the castle wall except for the museums where you will have to pay extra.

Αξιοθέατα Στο Αργυρόκαστρο, Αλβανία, Αλβανική Ριβιέρα

Museum of Gjirokaster

The Museum of Gjirokaster is a great place to visit if you are interested in the history of the place and the role it played in a number of conflicts around this area. The museum dives deep into the legends surrounding the origin of the name, where the city got its name “Stone City”, how it was under the rule of Ali Pasha, the Ottoman Lord, how the tug of war between empires affected the city and many other facts that will make you appreciate the city and its people even more.

Gjirokaster is also the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the infamous communist leader who built over 170,000 shelters across the country during his reign, and the museum also tells of his rise and fall.

ΤΙΡ: Entrance to the museum costs 300 LEK. With the content of the museum and all the stories written in English, it is definitely worth the cost in my opinion.

Αξιοθέατα Στο Αργυρόκαστρο, Αλβανία, Αλβανική Ριβιέρα

Take a tour of the traditional house Skenduli

Gjirokaster was the home of one of the wealthiest families of the area and there are several traditional houses that are still standing today. One of the traditional houses that is open to the public is Skenduli House where you will be able to access all the rooms! The daughter of the family will be able to guide you through each room, explaining all the functions and unique features of the houses. There is a special room for honeymooners and is definitely the highlight of a visit to the Skenduli House.

ΤΙΡ: The entrance fee is 200 LEK which I think was worth it as you will be able to find out what life was like back then. Plus, the view from the houses overlooking the city is epic.

Watch the Sunset at the Obelisk of Gjirokaster

If you are looking for a great view of the sunset, the Obelisk of Gjirokaster is a great place to be. It’s not too far from the Old Town and you don’t have to climb to get there!!! From the Obelisk of Gjirokaster, you will have a 180° panoramic view of the mountains around Gjirokaster as well as all the houses of the Ottoman era, making it one of the best photographic spots in the city.

Gjirokaster, Albania…!

Αξιοθέατα Στο Αργυρόκαστρο, Αλβανία, Αλβανική Ριβιέρα

Old Ali Pasha Bridge

Away from the bustling town of Gjirokaster, there is an old stone bridge of the Ottoman era used by shepherds for generations that you can hike across. The Ali Pasha Stone Bridge is just a 30-minute walk from the Old Town of Gjirokaster. The trail is only marked when you are already on the outer rim of the Old Town, so I would recommend following the route on Maps from your hostel to the trail.

Take a Free Tour with Walter from Stone City Hostel

If you stay at  Stone City Hostel , which I highly recommend, at 5 pm, Walter, the owner of the hostel will pick up his guests and give a free walking tour of the city. He will explain the significance of all these traditional houses and take you to a real hidden nuclear bunker! He will also explain the history and traditions of Gjirokaster that you would not have observed such as the tradition of using flat dressed stones to build the roofs. Some of the roofs of the stone houses can weigh as much as an airplane!

The tour is completely free of charge and will take about an hour to complete. Unfortunately, he doesn’t do it every day and only guests of the hostel are allowed to participate. More reasons to stay at Stone City Hostel !

Αξιοθέατα Στο Αργυρόκαστρο, Αλβανία, Αλβανική Ριβιέρα

Explore the landscape of Gjirokaster with a Jeep

Another advantage of staying at Stone City Hostel is that Walter will also take a day trip to explore the untouched landscape of Gjirokaster mountain with his jeep giving you access to many of the hidden gems of Gjirokaster, so hidden that even the locals don’t know about them. He also changes the trip all the time, mixing up activities, so what you experience may differ from what I experienced with them, but one thing is guaranteed, you’re sure to have an action-packed day.

The tour costs 3,000 LEK per person and leaves the hostel at 9 am and you will return at 6 pm. The day tour includes a delicious family meal at a local restaurant. It can only accommodate 6 people per tour, so be sure to book in advance.

Αξιοθέατα Στο Αργυρόκαστρο, Αλβανία, Αλβανική Ριβιέρα

Other Things To Do In Gjirokaster

Visit The Blue Eye

The Blue Eye is a natural water source located between Gjirokaster and Sarande. It’s a good place to visit, although a bit crowded for my taste if you have an extra day in Gjirokaster. The clear turquoise waters are a popular place for people to swim, although there is a clear sign prohibiting it. Personally, I was not interested in swimming in such a crowded place. The place was almost like a music festival rather than a natural water source in my opinion.

To get to Blue Eye, you need to board an hourly Gjirokaster-Saranda bus that departs from the Gjirokaster bus stop and tell the driver to drop you off at the entrance of Blue Eye. The bus will cost you 400 LEK per trip.

Folk Art Museum

The Local Art Museum is another great place to visit if you want to learn more about the history and traditions of the people of Gjirokaster. The museum contains traditional dresses, household items and objects that show what life was like for a wealthy family in Gjirokaster in the 19th century.

I would say, if you have already done the houses I suggested above, you can easily skip this one, otherwise, the entrance fee is also 200 LEK. Also, if someone claims that this is the real house of Enver Hoxha, the infamous communist leader, don’t believe them. His house was indeed here, but it was burned down a long time ago and they built a much bigger museum on it.

Best Attractions in Gjirokaster…! A once Greek town that still keeps the Greek tradition with a mixture of Albanian and Greek! You will find many Greek families who still live there and live proudly holding up the Greek flag and customs!

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