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Top 10 Things to Do in Gjirokastër

Planning a visit to Gjirokastër, Albania? On this article we've shared top 10 things to do in Gjirokastër, as well as some valuable tips to help you make the most out of your trip.

Gjirokastër is one of the tourists’ favourite towns in Albania, and we know exactly why.

Often referred to as the “City of Stone,” this UNESCO World Heritage Site, located in the southern part of the country, is a destination you won’t want to miss during your trip.

Here’s a guide to the top 10 things to do in Gjirokastër to make the most of your visit to this fascinating town.

Visit Gjirokastër Castle

The castle of Gjirokastër is a must-visit if you want to learn more about the town’s fascinating history. Situated at a height of 336 meters, the castle is, in fact, an imposing fortress that dates back to the 12th century and has served various purposes over the centuries, including a defensive fortress and a prison.

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Today, it houses the Gjirokastër Museum, where you can see the town’s rich history and explore exhibits, including weaponry, artefacts, and even a U.S. Air Force plane captured during the Cold War.

The admission price to enter the castle is 200 AL, or €1.99.

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Note: You’ll have to pay an extra fee (200 AL, or €1.99) if you’d like to visit Gjirokastra museum, which is located within the castle.

Stroll Through the Ottoman Bazaar

While in Gjirokastër, having a walk through the Ottoman Bazaar is a very interesting activity to experience. It’s cobblestone streets and traditional buildings are what characterise this market area, along with the lovely shops that sell handmade crafts, souvenirs, and traditional Albanian products.

Don’t forget to stop by one of the local cafés to enjoy a cup of Turkish coffee or try some local treats.

Visit the Ethnographic Museum

Housed in the former home of Enver Hoxha, the long-time communist leader of Albania, the Ethnographic Museum is a “portal” where you can get a picture of the traditional way of life in Gjirokastër.

In this museum you’ll find an extensive collection of traditional clothing, household items, and tools that reflect the daily lives of the town’s inhabitants over the centuries. The building itself is a fine example of the region’s characteristic architecture, with its stone walls and wooden balconies.

Discover Zekate House

One of the most beautiful examples of Ottoman architecture in Gjirokastër, Zekate House is a must-see for history and architecture lovers. Built in the early 19th century, this grand house features elaborate woodwork, frescoes, and traditional furnishings.

A tour of Zekate House offers an insight into the opulent lifestyle of a wealthy Ottoman family, and the beautiful views from its upper floors are simply spectacular.

Walk the Cobbled Streets of the Town

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Gjirokastër’s cobbled streets take you into another reality that feels disconnected from most of the other Albanian towns. Going for a walk through its ancient streets feels like stepping back in time. Take your time to explore the hidden nooks and crannies and admire the traditional architecture.

Important Note: If you’re driving to Gjirokastër, please be careful. The streets are narrow, which can be challenging, especially for those unfamiliar with the terrain.

If you’re looking for car insurance in Albania, you can get an instant quote now from our partner, Albsig. They offer both mandatory TPL insurance and comprehensive Kasko insurance for full coverage.

Experience Local Cuisine

A trip cannot be considered complete without experiencing a taste of the local cuisine! Be sure to try specialities such as “qifqi” (rice balls with herbs), “pasha qofte” (meatballs in egg and lemon sauce), and “oshaf” (a dessert made from dried figs and sheep’s milk).

Attend the Gjirokastër National Folklore Festival

Source: Gjirokaster.al

If your visit coincides with the Gjirokastër National Folklore Festival, you’re in for a treat. This event is held every five years to celebrate Albanian culture through music, dance, and traditional costumes. The festival takes place in the stunning setting of Gjirokastër Castle and attracts performers from all over Albania and the Albanian diaspora. It’s a unique opportunity to experience the culture of the town in a completely different and festive atmosphere.

Explore the Surrounding Countryside

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For a fantastic experience around Gjirokastra’s surroundings, take a drive through its countryside.

Nepravishta is a beautiful village that hasn’t left my mind since the day I visited it. The natural beauty along the way and the countryside vibe is exactly what you need if you’re in for a relaxing retreat during your trip.

For hiking trains, you can visit the nearby Drino Valley to experience the beautiful views of the mountains and rivers.

Just a short drive from Gjirokastër, you can also visit Viroi Lake. Perfect for a peaceful afternoon, it offers opportunities for boating, picnicking, or simply enjoying the peaceful atmosphere.

Visit Ismail Kadare’s House

A visit to Ismail Kadare’s house is a must for literature enthusiasts. This renowned Albanian writer’s childhood home has been transformed into a museum, and now it shares a peak into his early life and inspirations.

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The museum holds a collection of personal items, manuscripts, and photographs that provide insight into Kadare’s prolific career and the cultural context of his work.

The house itself is a beautiful example of traditional Gjirokastër architecture, with its distinctive stone walls and characteristic wooden accents.

Stay in a Traditional Guesthouse

If you plan to stay in Gjirokastër for a few days, consider staying in one of Gjirokastër’s traditional guesthouses. These lovely accommodations, often housed in historic buildings, offer a cosy and authentic experience of the town. You’ll enjoy warm Albanian hospitality, traditional decor, and sometimes even home-cooked meals.

Time to Plan Your Trip

Gjirokastër is one of those towns that will long live in your memory after you visit it. It’s definitely one of my favourite destinations in Albania so far, and most likely I will visit it again in the future. If I had to sum up my impression, I’d say it is the perfect experience that gathers history, culture, architecture, local cuisine and hospitality-all in one.

Are you visiting Gjirokastër this year, or have you visited it already? Let us know your experience on the comments section below.

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