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Explore Gjirokastra with a Local Guide2018-12-22T17:36:43+00:00

Project Description

Explore Gjirokastra with a Local Guide.

  • knowledgeable local guide

  • customisable

  • all year round

Tour Description

Gjirokaster is part of the UNESCO World Heritage List and is one of the most attractive regions of the country. Perched on the western bank of Drino Valley, the city began as a fourth century castle, which is today the greatest castle in the whole country.

Drinos Valley itself has been described as the archaeological and historical wonder of Albania, as the place where the cultures of all ages are interspersed. As a mine that does not get tired of producing it, it continues to “astonish” scholars and archaeologists with hundreds of sites that hold in depth, antique streets, various monuments, and the rare elements of various civilizations that have flourished in it.

Both Fatmir and Gesi are born in Gjirokaster so you can’t ask for a better local to guide you.

Let us know your travel dates and we can work out an interesting tour that dives into the popular gems of the region and of course the hidden ones. We will visit and talk about ancient Greek settlements, Roman ruins, Religious Heritage: Byzantine Churches and Bektashi Tekke, stunning Ottoman Architecture of the Old Town, famous author Ismail Kadare and infamous dictator Enver Hoxha, Artisans, taste traditional food and live with locals in a remote village for a day.

“It was a strange city, and seemed to have been cast up in the valley one winter’s night like some prehistoric creature that was now clawing its way up the mountainside. Everything in the city was old and made of stone, from the streets and fountains to the roofs of the sprawling age-old houses covered with grey slates like gigantic scales…”

From Chronicle of Stone, by Ismail Kadare, born in Gjirokastra, 1936

Tour Information

Daily Rate:

Maximum group size:

  • Our regular vehicle can comfortably accommodate up to 6 guests. If you’re group is larger, simply get in touch to discuss pricing and itineraries.

Included:

  • Pick up and drop off from Tirana International Airport • All transport • Free admission to selected attractions • Your knowledgeable guide Fatmir or Gesi.

Not included:

  • Accommodation • Meals (we are happy give our suggestions as we have a great network of hotels, restaurants etc.)

Please bring:

  • Sensible footwear for strolls along cobblestone paths.

Don’t forget…

All our tours are private and can be adapted to your wishes. Simply get in touch to arrange your dream itinerary.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Gjirokaster attractions

  • Depart from your pick up location and transfer to Gjirokaster (from Tirana approx. 3 hours drive, We will happily stop for a bathroom break or coffee on the way.)
  • Tour of the Old Town. Visit the beautifully located Castle and the inside attractions: Weapon Museum, Bektashi Turbe(tomb), Artillery Gallery, The Prison, The American Plane, The Festival Stage; Then head to the Bazaar.
  • Enjoy a delicious traditional meal in the romantic atmosphere of the “stone town” and its wonderfully preserved Ottoman era homes. (We can suggest some great dishes to try here!)
  • Visit Zekate House and talk about ottoman influence in architecture and culture.
  • Free evening to enjoy at your own.

Day 2: ex-dictator house, Kadare novels and local artisans.

  • Visit Skendulate House, another masterpiece of Ottoman architecture
  • Visit Kadare House, and some corners that Kadare mentions in his books. We will comment on his works and have some deeper discussions on some of the imagery in his writing (which will be easy to imagine walking through his birthplace!) We can be flexible – if you have studied him well, just let us know what you know and we’ll try to design a tour around your readings.
  • Visit Ethnographic Museum which stands on the site of the home of Enver Hoxha, communist dictator of Albania from 1944 to 1985, and discuss the most brutal regime in the Eastern Europe.
  • Lunch in a traditional restaurant at the Old Bazaar.
  • Visit some artisan’s shop where you can enjoy handcrafts by local.
  • Free evening at your own leisure.

Day 3: Libohova, Labova e Kryqit, Antigone, Melan Tekke and Lunxheri

  • Visit Saint Mary Church at Labova e Kryqit
  • Visit Melan Tekke, its foundations dates back in Classical Times, and serves as a religious centre for the Bektashi Shia a mystic sect of Islam.
  • Visit Adrionopol archaeological site.
  • Visit Antigone archaeological site, that was founded by Pyrrhus of Epirus and named after his wife, Antigone.
  • Lunch at a small village nearby, Saraqinisht where you’ll have the chance to meet the locals hospitality.
  • Transfer back to our hotel in Gjirokaster depending on our request.

Day 4: Meet the locals in Zhulat

  • Transfer to Zhulat village (approx. 30 min) (Fatmir & Gesi were born here)
  • Meet Murat, our local friend who is a artisan woodcarvers and talk about the village history and his works. He left Athens to live in Zhulat and welcome tourist in this remote village.
  • Hike for 15-20 minutes to meet the shepherds outside the village. They are half nomadic pastorals taking care of their herds in this mountainous area, which is home of wild goats, deer and The Egyptian vulture. Being isolated helped them preserve some authentic customs. They sing iso-polyphony, make cheese in a really authentic way and carve instrumentals in wood. You’ll be very happy to meet the descents of ancient Epirotes.
  • If you are a mountain lover, we can organize a walking tour to Luca Mountain. The forested area is a protected by the government as a strict nature reserve for its flora and fauna.
  • Transfer back to our hotel in Gjirokaster depending on your requested time.

Day 5: Permet & Tepelene day trip from Gjirokaster

  • Transfer to Permet (approx. 1 hour drive)
  • Explore Langarica Canyon and Kadiu Bridge, built in 1760.
  • Bath in Benja Thermal Waters. The heated water flows down the river unless it gets diverted into one of the several human-made pools. They’re a splendid spot for a hot soak on a crisp, cool day.
  • Lunch at traditional restaurant. Permet is one of Albania’s well known regions for its delicious cuisine with some unique delicacies such us tomato jam, which we will be able to sample at a traditional restaurant.
  • Transfer back to Gjirokaster with a short stop in Tepelene where we’ll visit Ali Pasha Castle, of Byron Fame.

Day 6: off road tour to Lunxheria and Zagoria

  • Drive in a 4×4 vehicle from Gjirokaster(300m) to Cajupi Plateau(1200m above the sea level) into a scenic route from where you have a perfect view on Drinos Valley.
  • Continue driving through a forested area passing by small remote villages, Zhej, Topove, Sheper, Nivan and Polican. This region has a great history. In 1319-1414 the region was known as “great Zagori” and was part of the Despotate of Epirus with its capital in Ioaninna. The area is inhabited by Albanian Orthodox and it is known for its medieval orthodox churches.
  • Lunch is suggested in Polican village where you can enjoy the best lamb in the area.
  • Transfer back to our hotel in Gjirokaster by the afternoon.

Day 7: Butrint and Sarande day trip.

  • Transfer to Saranda (approx. 45 min drive) with a short stop at The Blue Eye.
  • Transfer to Butrint Archaeological Park for tour of site(approx. 2 hours.)
  • Lunch at fish restaurant nearby the site.
  • Transfer back to Tirana throughout Albanian Riviera or to Port of Saranda if you want to depart to Corfu Island