Explore: Things To Do In Gjirokastra

September 27th 2023 in Explore
Explore: Things To Do In Gjirokastra

Located in the south of the country, this destination is a hidden gem, full of history, amazing architecture, and stunning views. We’re talking about Gjirokastra, Albania (or, Gjirokastër), known lovingly as the city of stones. Known for its beauty and history, there are plenty of things to do in Gjirokastra - so definitely fit it into your Albanian Riviera road trip.

What Is Gjirokastra Known For?

Twinned with Berat and a fellow owner of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gjirokasta is most known for its amazing history that dates back to the Ottoman Empire. The Old Town, in particular, is a near-perfect preservation of a settlement from that age and is spell-blinding to wander around.

It is also the birthplace of Nobel Prize nominee Ismail Kadare and former Albanian Communist leader, Enver Hoxha.

Whilst you won’t get any views of the magnificent coastline, the mountains and valleys are more than enough to take your breath away.

The History of Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra Castle walls

Whilst the city is most famous for its Ottoman relevance, Gjirokastra’s history began much earlier than that. Archaeologists have uncovered pottery from the Stone Age there, showing just how important the area is.

Excavations of the Gjirokastra have revealed that the area has been inhabited since the 3rd Century BC. However, it wasn’t until the Medieval Era that things started to take off.

From having different names to resisting Turkish rule before succumbing and becoming part of the Ottoman Empire. Since the 17th century, much of the city has remained the same which makes it such an interesting and vital location to Albania.

Visiting Gjirokastra gives you the best idea of the huge amount of history on offer. Until you witness it yourself, it’s hard to believe just how much is on offer.

Things To Do In Gjirokastra

Whilst Gjirokastra’s history is a huge selling point, Gjirokastra is worth visiting for so many more reasons. Here are our suggestions for things to do in the area.

Gjirokastra Fortress

Right at the top of Gjirokastra is the fortress. Though it is quite the hike to visit, it is well worth it once you reach the peak and the view of the valley below and history right before your eyes.

There is much more to Gjirokastra’s Fortress than meets the eye. Once used as a prison and was even occupied by Nazis. However, it has been used on many occasions as a castle for kings across the ages.

Nowadays, the grounds are home to lots of military equipment, including a US warplane that was shot down during the war. Visitors can get up close and even inside the plane to truly experience life as a WW2 pilot!

Walk around and feel as if you’ve been transported to a different time, apart from the occasion the area is used to hold concerts!

Go Deep Into Gjirokastra's Tunnels

Once you’ve walked around the castle grounds, it's time to go below to Gjirokastra’s tunnels.

With just as long a history as the castle, the walkways are well worth visiting whilst you’re in the city. However, their main use was during the 1970s when they were converted into bunkers. See interrogation rooms and living quarters up close, as well as the tunnels they had planned to use to escape from enemy invasion.

At 800m long and just shy of 60 rooms, there is plenty to explore beneath the castle. The fascinating Cold War Museum has so much history that you would struggle to find so well-kept elsewhere.

Vitroit Lake

Only a few kilometers from the remains of Old Town Gjirokastra is Vitroit Lake, a tranquil location to take in some more natural beauty. Whether you want to walk there, though it is a tricky trek, or get a taxi for ease, the small area is a stunning sight.

What’s even better is that it is close to numerous Albanian restaurants waiting to give you an authentic experience of their delicious cuisine.

There are so many things to do in Gjirokastra that it is a must-visit when visiting Albania. Whether you just want to spend a day or have a leisurely weekend, you won’t regret putting this into your 2-week Albanian itinerary.

Book with Finalrentals today to start your adventure in Albania.