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With its historic cobble-stoned streets, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the best cities to visit on a low budget as it has countless free sites and attractions that you can enjoy. Read our top selections below.
Only 3 km from Gjirokastra, Viroi Lake is one of the most gorgeous sites in the entire country. Surrounded by verdant forests on one side and the lake on the other, the landscape of this area resembles a postcard. Most visit Viroi Lake to relish in its beauty but, with its underwater caves, the lake has become a favorite among scuba divers, as well.
A stroll around the Gjirokastra Bazaar is a requisite stop if you visit the “city of stone.” One of the most iconic spots, this market is more than 5 centuries old. You can imagine the culture and history it preserves. This historic quarter is also the center of the city, situated right below the grand castle of Gjirokastra. You might be tempted to spend just a little money here as the souvenirs can be quite adorable!
Built in 1784, the orthodox Church of St. Sotir is an 18th century must-see! Otherwise known as the Church of the Old Metropolis, once upon a time, it was the seat of the local Orthodox bishop. Its easily accessible location, near the city’s bazaar, makes it a perfect follow-up to your stroll at the bazaar.
There are plenty of historical sites to choose from around Gjirokastra. But, for lovers of antiquity, Hadrianopolis is the one to visit! The ancient Roman city, located about 10 km from Gjirokastra, preserves some of the most valued and beautiful ruins of the ancient world. As with many cities from the Roman period, this one has a gorgeous amphitheater where you can sit and ponder the passage of time.
On the road to the final destiantion of Libohova Castle, you should first stop at Labova of the Cross Church, a beautiful byzantine structure with a unique history. It tells of a relic once found inside its walls, thought to have been a part of the cross where Christ was crucified. Hence, the name of the church. The castle of Libohova, situated fairly close, was built by Ali Pashë Tepelena on the occasion of his sister’s wedding. Make sure to stop by both of these gems.
The Manalati Bridge, otherwise known as the Bridge of Ali Pashë Tepelena, located very close to the city, is one of the famous ruler’s most extraordinary constructions. Built at the beginning of the 19th century as part of an aqueduct, this historical bridge is well-worth visiting!
You will find this ancient monument in the village of Glinë, near the city of Gjirokastra. It is a complex of different structures constructed at various times, making for an historically and architecturally fascinating object. Today, it serves as a site of pilgrimage visited by both local and international believers.
Located in Përmet, near Gjirokastra, these two natural attractions are a must. Visited year-round, the rare Bënja baths have been used for their healing effects for 400-500 years. Not far from the thermal baths, you have the chance to witness the Lengarica Gorge, a 150-meter tall canyon which offers a spectacular path between the ancient rocks and the curative river of Lengarica flowing through them.
Home to such wondrous sites as the Thermal Springs of Bënja and Lengarica Canyon, there is even more to discover in the Fir of Hotova National Park. Otherwise known as “the lungs of the south,” this is one of the best ways you can spend your time while visiting around Gjirokastra. A must!
Last but not least, the Gorge of Këlcyra should be in your list of free things to explore in this area. Otherwise referred to as the “Paradise of 1001 Water Sources,” the entire area is quite awe-inspiring. This paradisiacal oasis is located 40 km from Gjirokastra so we suggest you visit it on your way to or from the city.
Few are those places where the terror of the former communist dictatorship can be profoundly understood in this day and age. One of them is the Site of Witness and Memory, a museum of remembrance dedicated to the prisoners and victims of the former regime. Built in the 19th century, by Arsen Idromeno (father of [...]
Rising over the center of the spectacular alpine village of Theth, this tower holds the history of an entire region, told in detail by one of the tower owners’ descendants. The Lock-in Tower of Theth, also known as the Tower of Nikoll Koçeku, is one of the most valued historic and architectural monuments of Albania’s [...]
The Center for Openness and Dialogue was created with a simple objective: transforming a part of the Council of Ministers headquarters into a space dedicated to the citizens by giving the message of openness, transparency and transformation. COD was first opened to the public on July 8, 2015; a unique cultural center, seen by the [...]
One of the most important museums in the country, the Archaeological Museum in Tirana contains some of the most famous treasures of Albanian archeology. If you would like to travel through centuries of history and learn about all the ages of an ancient place like Albania, the Archaeological Museum, located in the very heart of [...]
Situated at the heart of Skanderbeg Square, the Museum of the Bank of Albania is one of the most fascinating and modern spaces to visit in the entire country. Taking out monies from our wallets and using them as a means of exchange may be one of the most naturally recurring events of our lives. [...]
With an exhibit of 240 photographs and interactive spaces, the Gjon Mili Museum is one stop in the city of Korça that you simply cannot miss! Gjon Mili is one of the greatest photographers of the 20th century. Born in Korça in 1904, when he was still a child, he and his family emigrated to [...]
This once terrifying prison and labor camp of the Communist period in Albania, in the last decade has become an important site of remembrance for locals and a fascinating attraction for tourists. The Communist prison has by now become a spot of remembrance for Albanians as well as those who remain fascinated with Albania’s history [...]
Open daily, the Aleksandër Moisiu’s House-Museum, a structure of beautiful architecture and ethnographic exhibits as well as childhood home of famed actor Aleksandër Moisiu, is one of the must-see attractions in the historical center of Durrës. The museum is located near the Durrës Amphitheater. The road leading to it is especially beautiful as it seems [...]
Located in the center of the city, not far from the Castle of Elbasan, this museum is housed in a traditional two-story 18th century house that tells of the culture, folklore and lifestyle in this medieval city. The museum that recounts the story of Elbasan’s culture and lifestyle is housed inside one of the city’s [...]
Located at the very heart of Durrës, less than five minutes away from the Amphitheatre and other similar monuments, Vila Austria 1843 offers a unique rendezvous with the city’s history. You’d be hard pressed to find a more convenient and fascinating place than Vila Austria 1843 when staying in Durres. The age and history of [...]
A requisite stop in Korça is the Museum of the First Albanian School. Located across “Unknown Soldier,” its yard is decorated by the ABC obelisk, the museum’s symbol. Opened in March 7th, 1887, this first secular school in the country is locally known as “Mësonjtorja.” Here, the visitor can find copies of the original Albanian [...]
Known as Tom’s Hotel to the locals, this place, also a historically and culturally significant house for Berat, is a wonderful accommodation option for those who want to truly enjoy their stay in the historic city. It was in 1991, precisely after the fall of the Communist regime, that Mangalemi-Tomi Hotel opened its doors in [...]
Buzzing at all hours of the day and night, this wonderful kilometers-long walkway has you partaking in all kinds of fun activities while never leaving the seaside. The promenade in Vlora, stretching along the Ionian shore, is one of the best locations for relaxing strolls, meditation, yoga, cycling and other sports, socializing and all kinds [...]
Albania’s Independence was declared on November 28th in Vlora, thus marking the most significant moment in the history of Albania. As the place that saw the entire National Independence movement take place, Flag Square in Vlora is one of the most important squares in the country. You will see the Independence Monument right in the center [...]
They say that a picture is worth a thousand words. How much worth then would be found in Marubi’s collection of 400,000 hauntingly-beautiful photographs of Albanian life, spanning from 1850 until today? The Marubi National Photography Museum, now conveniently located along the main promenade of the city of Shkodër, displays an extensive collection of negatives mounted [...]
This exhilarating museum perfectly preserves the glory of the medieval art works that lie within, which are displayed in a contrastingly modern architectural space, for the perfect blend of old with the new. The National Museum of Medieval Art in Korça is one of those places where the modern and the old blend seamlessly together, [...]
This ethnographic museum and house of former Albanian leader Enver Hoxha, provides a rich insight into the lives led by the upper-classes in the 19th and 20th centuries, and offers an interesting insight into a key period of Albania’s history. If you find yourself walking through the beautiful cobbled streets of Gjirokastra, and ask for directions to [...]
Indisputably a symbolic landmark of the capital, the Pyramid of Tirana is a relic portraying a turbulent past and an uncertain yet hopeful future. An opinion splitting landmark described in a myriad of ways ranging from magnificent, ugly or just simply rather bizarre. However, its importance for the city of Tirana has never been brought [...]
Ever wondered what lengths a communist ruler would go to amid the constant paranoia & the threat of the enemy haunting them? Well, Bunk’Art 1 is five levels & 3000m2 of underground protective bunker, the product of Enver Hoxha’s fear of nuclear fallout. Albania’s landscape is heavily punctuated with the aftermath of Enver Hoxha’s communist [...]
An excellent re-imagining of a Communist-era nuclear bunker, Bunk’Art 2 museum and art space reflects Tirana’s initiative to use culture to celebrate the birth of a new era, whilst remembering its solemn past. The unearthing of this underground tunnel in the center of Tirana, echoes the uncovering of ancient ruins in any of the world’s [...]
Showcasing the finest works of Albanian artists, the National Gallery of Arts boasts a large array of paintings in a multitude of styles, stemming from different periods. Some of these works perfectly portray art under the influence of government, telling a tale of Albania through creativity. Albanian fine arts exist uniquely in comparison to the [...]
The infamous monitoring techniques of the Communist Era and its severity were perhaps best captured, for the very first time, by the 2006 German film “The Lives of Others”. A film which highlighted to the entire world about what went on behind the scenes in a typical communist-ruled capital. At the time of the film’s [...]
A place to appreciate Albania’s most famous poet Ndre Mjeda, the surrounding landscapes that inspired him, and a chance to view where he sat and wrote his national treasures. It is a rare occurrence for the Jesuits to offer up their “sacred place” to poets. In fact, this happens only in the Church of Kukli [...]
The Historical Museum of Shkodra, situated in a city renowned for its former splendour and importance, is a wonderful location for all you nostalgic souls out there – full of history, culture, and beauty! Many Albanians already recognise the city of Shkodra as one of the most valued cultural centres of the country. Many renowned Albanian poets [...]
The Presidential Palace of Tirana, popularly known as the Palace of Brigades, boasts unique architecture and spectacular gardens making it a must-see destination in Tirana. The Presidential Palace is a monument of national heritage in Albania, one whose architecture is sure to leave a lasting impression on you. The surrounding royal gardens here give the [...]
The rather new international football stadium in Elbasan has invigorated the atmosphere of this small historic town. Elbasan Arena is one of the two largest UEFA-certified stadiums in Albania. For a few years now, this stadium has been home to one of the most globally loved sports, football (soccer), and has seen thousands of international [...]
The Bratko Museum of Oriental art is more than just a collection of rare and fascinating Asian artefacts. It is a testament to the character and inspiration of one of Albania’s most important photographers. If you look deep into any museum’s story, you will most likely find an interesting tale of a dream or an [...]
Onufri painted some of the most important, divine, and beautiful religious painting in Albania, and there’s nowhere better to see his unforgettable tones of colour than here in the churches of Berat, and the museum dedicated to this artistic legend. As you embark on this artistic pilgrimage, prepare yourself to witness some the most beautiful [...]
The National Ethnographic Museum is a fascinating insight into traditional Albanian household customs, brought to life through the vivid storytelling of a wonderful guide! The National Ethnographic Museum in Kruja presents the story of Albanian customs and traditions throughout the centuries, and thanks to the captivating guide of this museum, you’ll come to understand them [...]
As the building which hosted the operations of the very first Albanian government, the Museum of Independence in Vlorë is strategically positioned in a location that testifies to its significance, near the port, with a beautiful view of the sea. This modest, two-story house is filled with the weight of history! Founded in 1936, this [...]