Top 10 Free Things to Do in Gjirokastra - Into Albania

Top 10 Free Things to Do in Gjirokastra

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.

1. Explore Viroi Lake and its spectacular landscape

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.

2. Browse the legendary artisan bazaar

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!

3. Sneak a peek at the Church of St. Sotir

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.

Church of St. Sotir. Source: facebook

4. Return to antiquity with a visit to Hadrianopolis

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.

Hadrianopolis. Source:

5. Travel through the Byzantine era in Labova of the Cross Church and Libohova Castle

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.

Labova of the Cross Church, Gjirokastra, photo by IntoAlbania

6. Hop on the Manalati Bridge 

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!

Manalati Brige. Source; facebook

7. Admire the beauty of the Masjid of Melan 

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.

Melan Masjid. Source:

8. Take a dip in the Bënja Thermal Baths and Lengarica Gorge

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.

9.  Hike in the natural gem that is Fir of Hotova National Park

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!

10. Këlcyra Gorge

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.

Këlcyra Gorge. Source; Flicker

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