Sign up to create your custom IntoAlbania trip
Your account has been activated!
Gjirokastra, the city of stone, is an iconic Albanian city renowned for its mixture of Albanian and Balkan customs, an interweaving originating in the period following the Middle Ages. The city’s outskirts are rich in history and traces hailing from the unfathomable distances of the ancient world.
Long ago, the present archeological park of Antigonea was a city founded by King Pyrrhus of Epirus in honor his wife, Antigonea. The city’s foundations were first laid in 295 B.C. in what is presently southern Albania, a territory bordering the north of Greece. During the time of its establishment, Antiogonea became an important center, thus marking the initial stages of a well-structured and organized society in this region. The ancient city was once surrounded by high walls, the remnants of which can be seen in the park. In addition, the mosaic, remaining columns, and the stone steps make up a fascinating collection of ancient ruins. A vast valley of hills and mountains beautifully frames the park.
In order to reach the archeological site of Antigonea, you must exit the city of Gjirokastra and travel for approximately 14 kilometers or 40 minutes. Road signs will help guide the way. Entrance to the park is free of charge the last Saturday of every month.
Labova e Kryqit or Labova e Vogël (Small Labova) is a picturesque and historically significant village in the outskirts of Gjirokastra. You will find the village on the road to the small town of Libohovë. It is the site of one of the oldest and most beautiful Byzantine churches in the country. The church is named after the cross which once resided within it and has since disappeared under very mysterious circumstances. The missing relic was carved from a piece of wood belonging to the original cross in which Christ was crucified, a gift from the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.
The ancient Roman city is another archeological site once standing in the valley of the Drino River, near Gjirokastra. Its present location is near the Sofratika village, only a few kilometers removed from the center of the city. The Hadrianopolis Amphitheatre is part of the Antigonea Archeological Park and is rightly considered one of the most important monuments belonging to the country’s cultural patrimony. The theatre was built by the Roman emperor Hadrian, who also laid the foundations of the ancient city following the burning and destruction of Antigonea. The theatre ruins are an especially important element of the park and the focus of continuous archeological excavations. The theatre was discovered accidentally in the 1970s. The stone steps and symmetrical rows form a half circle which used to accommodate more than 3000 people.
This Bektashi place of spiritual retreat is located only a few kilometers away from Gjirokastra. To reach this destination, you must follow the national highway which passes by the Glina Village, the water plant nearby until reaching a hill full of cypresses. The cobblestone road leads to the Melani Tekke, a building constructed with symmetrically attached blocks. Once upon a time, this road leading to the tekke was once widely used by travelers. However, following the construction of several bridges by Ali Pashë Tepelena, it lost its connecting role.
Viroi Park, which includes its eponymous lake, is one of the richest water resources in Gjirokastra. In order to reach the natural monument, you must follow a short motorway that leads from the city of Gjirokastra to Tepelena. The area is surrounded by rich vegetation which has created a natural habitat throughout the years. Recently renovated, Viroi Park is a truly relaxing and refreshing natural setting. The Drino valley, where Gjirokastra rests, is rich in natural, cultural and religious monuments, all of which are worth visiting.
In Dropull, one of the most fascinating areas of Gjirokastra, you should visit the 11,000-year-old Church of St. Mary, the Natural Gorge between the mountains surrounding the Goranxi Village as well as St. Mary’s Monastery. Please note that the area’s infrastructure is fairly modest so you definitely need a guide to show you around!
The region is famous for its rich variety of food and restaurants. On the way to the Greek border, you may stop at the French bakery Kalimera, Teriaxates Restaurant near Terihat Village or the Ndriço Pizzeria-Restaurant next to Derviçan Village.
Located on the Adriatic coast and only a 30-minute drive away from the capital of Tirana, the beach of Durrës is the longest and most populated one in Albania. Modern architectural structures, like the Sphinx, the vibrant promenade and delicious seafood restaurants are a serious part of this city’s charm. Durrës is also home to [...]
A city rich in history and spectacular landscapes, in addition to being one of the gastronomic centers of the entire country, Lezha packs a full day of valuable and delicious amusement. After you have enjoyed your morning coffee in one of the many cafés in town, head to Lezha Castle, from where you will get [...]
The City of 1001 Windows is a national cultural and heritage center that reserves beautiful strolls along cobbled alleys in its famous Mangalem, Gorica and Castle neighborhoods and much more. One of the most historic and oldest cities in Albania, Berat will fill your entire day with beautiful landscapes in addition to its rich culture [...]
The last coastal city along the famous Southern Riviera is one of the most ideal places to spend your day In reality, the legendary coastal city of Saranda would ideally require more time to be fully experienced. However, if you only have 24 hours to spend here, we can suggest the absolute must-sees of this [...]
Tirana has been Albania’s administrative center for almost a century but this city’s history goes even further back in time. While the toponym Tirana was first mentioned in the 15th century as “Plenium Tyrenae” (“Field of Tirana”), the city became an established settlement almost two centuries later, in 1614, with the establishment of a mosque [...]
The vibrant coastal city of Vlora is a requisite stop for every tourist visiting Albania during the summer. Vlora marks the boundary between two seas – the Adriatic and the Ionian – which, in turn, are simultaneously shared between three countries: Albania, Greece, Italy. Boasting an enviably long and beautiful coastline, the ideal exploration of [...]
Pogradec is the quintessential nostalgic city! This particular sensation arises as you cruise down the national road and an image of utter calm and timeless beauty unfolds before you. The smooth, creamy blue surface of Lake Ohrid, punctuated by lively swans and seagulls! This is the lake of a certain delicious fish called koran, found [...]
This southernmost city in Albania is quite the multifaceted place! An ideal destination for your holidays, year-round. A location full of virgin beaches and delicious seafood. Sharing a border with Greece, Saranda is also a gateway to this other significant cultural destination. Last but not least, entry fees in the most wonderful parks and destinations [...]
Most refer to Dibra’s northeastern highlands as Albania’s roof. This region’s highly diverse nature is due to the high peaks and low valleys found along Dibra’s rugged landscape. As one of the largest geographical areas of the entire country, Dibra boasts more than 50 spectacular natural monuments. Countless caves hidden among beautiful mountains, small lakes, [...]