Download GPX file for this article
40.083320.1333Full screen dynamic map

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Gjirokastër is a town and a UNESCO world heritage site in Southeastern Albania.

View of Gjirokastër from the Castle


Get in[edit]

By bus[edit]

  • 1 Regional Bus & Furgon Station (At the entrance to the town, on the NW corner where the town's main boulevard intersects the National Road. There are several points along these two road where buses stop. Ask a local where to catch which one.). It's less of a "bus station" and more of a collective gathering place for buses and furgons (shared minibuses) along the shoulder of the road.

From here you can catch northbound buses to Tirana, Vlorë, Fier, Berat, Tepelene, Korçë, Permet, and southbound buses to Sarandë.

Buses and minibuses are going to Tirana (1,000 leke) every hour from around 07:00 until 13:00, then there is a bus at 14:30 and a night bus leaving at 00:00 (it arrives in Tirane at 05:45 near Skanderbeg Square).

A shuttle to the Kakavie border crossing with Greece runs several times a day. Buses depart every day on the route Sarandë-Gjirokastër (300 leke) stopping hourly at the bottom of the hill until the early afternoon.

International buses direct to Ioannina (€5, 07:00 departure) and Athens (€20, 20:30 departure) in Greece are available from the private bus agency offices found around the junction.

Transportation and other tourism information is available from the employees of the Tourism Information Center (TIC), located in the old town, on the left side of the road leading towards the castle.

Get around[edit]

Map of Gjirokastër

Gjirokastër can be divided into roughly two halves, the old town up on the hill, and the new town in the valley below. You can walk just about anywhere if you're able to handle the steep cobbled streets. Taxis are cheap and there is a public bus circuit that connects the old town and the new town for about 30 leke. From the roundabout at the center of town to the bus station on the National Road is a fairly flat, easy, 10-minute walk along the main boulevard. Taxis will make this trip for around 200 leke.


  • Inside the Ethnographic Museum of Gjirokaster
    1 Gjirokastër Castle, Rruga Evlia Celebi 1 (at the top of the hill). The historical and geographical center of the city, the Castle is billed as the second largest in all the Balkans, and is worth a look. The Armaments Museum is located in the castle (separate 200 leke entrance) and contains a collection of mostly post-War era weapons, photographs and artwork: the main gallery, with its eerily lit corridor, contains two columns of large German and Italian field guns, remnants of WWII. The Castle also contains two Bektashi tekes, the stage for the internationally-renowned Gjirokaster National Folk Festival, a prison (now part of the Armaments Museum and available with an extra charge) and numerous chambers, some in ruins, open to exploration. A second museum gallery, the Zenebishi Gallery, features occasional free art exhibits. Underneath the castle is the underground bunker built in the Cold War. 200 leke entrance. Gjirokastër Castle (Q636638) on Wikidata Gjirokastër Fortress on Wikipedia
  • 2 Ethnographic Museum, Rr. Hysen Hoxha, 3. Once Enver Hoxha's house, it is a well-restored Ottoman house which displays clothing, kitchenware, tools and other cultural artifacts. The guided tour (available in Albanian, English, and German though availability should be checked in advance). The entrance fee is 200 lek and includes a guided tour. Gjirokastër Ethnographic Museum (Q15221722) on Wikidata Gjirokastër Ethnographic Museum on Wikipedia
  • Old Bazaar and Historic Ottoman Homes. The old bazaar is still the social and commercial center of the Old Town of Gjirokaster. Though the newer sections of the city have attracted many businesses and people, the bazaar and its surrounding homes dating from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries still manages to capture a bit of the bygone era of Gjirokastrite life. Several of the houses are at various levels of restoration and are open to the public. Traditional houses include Cabej House, and Topulli House. The Bazaar has undergone a cleaning and exterior restoration as part of the government's revitalization plan.
  • 3 Kadare House. House of renowned writer Ismail Kadare undergoing reconstruction. Kadare-House in Gjirokastra (Q27954965) on Wikidata
  • 4 Skenduli House. A renovated traditional house Skenduli house in Gjirokastër (Q56273523) on Wikidata
  • 5 Zekate House, Rruga Mazllëm Shazivari, (in the historic Palorto quarter). It is the most visited of Gjirokastër's monumental stone houses. It is one of the largest of its kind, featuring three floors spread over two large towers. The house has been restored again (having undergone earlier restorations during the Communist era) and is kept open by its owners as a museum house. In addition to providing an interesting primer of the characteristic architectural elements of the city's tower houses, it offers a beautiful view of the city below. Zekate House (Q8068639) on Wikidata Zekate House on Wikipedia
  • 6 Saint Sotira Church (in the Old Bazaar quarter). Daily 07:00-07:30 and 19:00-19:30; Sunday Service takes place between 07:00 and 10:00 can also be visited upon request. This is a well-preserved 18th-century Orthodox Church. Saint Sotir Church, Gjirokastër (Q37949688) on Wikidata
  • 7 Gjirokaster Mosque, Rruga Gjin Zenebisi (in the Old Bazaar). This mosque is a true testimony of the communist religious ban in Albania. Spared from destruction from its religious importance, the mosque was transformed as a circus training centre only to return to its original setting after the 1990s in the form of a Muslim school.
  • Seven Fountains, Mechite Mosque Remains, and the Hamams. The fountains and the exterior of the Hamams have been restored. One can observe the dedicatory inscriptions on the fountains and the cone shaped traditional roofs of the Hamams.
  • Cold War Museum. Underground bunker of Enver Hoxha with around 70 rooms built for emergency situations.
An example of some of the old Ottoman houses in Gjirokastër

Archaeological sites[edit]

  • 8 Sofratike (Sofratikë) (SE 14 km). Site of an ancient theater and baths. Sofratikë (Q13046250) on Wikidata
  • 9 Kardhiq (NW 20 km). site of an ancient castle
  • 10 Paleokaster (Palokastër) (N 12 km). Site of an ancient village.
  • 11 Labove (Labovë e Sipërme, Labovë e Madhe?) (20 km east via Libohove). Home of one of the oldest standing Orthodox churches in the Balkans and Tombs of Ali Pasha's sister and nephew in Libohove village.
  • 12 Tepelena (NW 33 km). the fortress of Ali Pasha
  • 13 The Illyrian city of Antigone (Qyteti i vjetër i Antigonesë), near the village of Asim Zeneli (roughly 6 km east). This village is the starting point of a 3-hour round trip hike to the ruins of Antigone; it makes a nice day hike for the physically fit (you will want to hire a local shepherd as a guide).


  • 1 Viroit Park (Parku i Viroit), Parku i Viroit (2 km north, along the SH4). A park encompassing the Viroi Lake and surrounding hills. The park features a relaxing environment and an accommodation area.


  • National Folklore Festival. A festival showcasing traditional Albanian music and dance considered as the most important event in its genre. Held every 5 years since 1968 in Gjirokaster Castle, it was last held in May 2015. An artisans' exhibition took place as well.


  • Take a look at the Artisans' Center near the Information Center featuring many souvenirs and traditional crafts.


Gjirokastër is known for its Qifqi (baked dish made of rice, egg, and seasonings). The city is also well known for its dairy products, especially its white cheese.

There are also well established restaurants in Gjirokastër catering to travellers and the local crowd.

Old town

  • Fantazia – specializes in pizza and salad, but offers traditional Albanian fare, good views of the city.
  • Kujtim's – serves a wide variety of Gjirokastrian specialties.
  • The newly renovated Çajupi Hotel's Terrace Restaurant,
  • The Byrek Shop
  • Muço's Suflaç & Restaurant – Good omelets in the morning
  • Hajri's Coffee Bar
  • Sopoti Cafe

New town

  • 1 Piazza La Crêpa. A great place with crêpe specialities off the beaten (tourist) track.
  • Kufoi's, Pizza Erai
  • Antigone Fast Food Suflgreat place off the beaten tourist trackaç,
  • Suflaç at the Hotel One Restaurant
  • Modus Cafe – for coffee


Raki Mani (aka Mulberry Raki) is supposed to be a local speciality, but it is hard to find. You will have the best chances in June or July.


  • 1 Kotoni Bed&Breakfast, Rr. Bashkim Kokona, 8, +355 84 263526. The first guest house in Gjirokastra, since 1992, comes up with more traditional rooms and a characteristic restaurant. Each room has coloured satellite TV, bathroom, heating. 200 m from the old bazaar, you can have a great view of the old and new part of the town. - +phone=+355 69 23 66 846. €30.
  • 2 Hashorva Guesthouse, Rr. Varosh, . The Hashorva Family, a well established name in the Lagjia Varosh Neighborhood, offers one very large, faithfully restored traditional Ottoman Era room, with a double bed and sitting area. The house is over 200 years old and is kept in wonderful condition by its original owners. Naturally cool in the summer, the guest bathroom is off the main hallway with 24-hour hot water and modern facilities. It's in the heart of Gjirokastër, an easy 5 to 15 minutes walk from all the major sites of Historic Old Town and 10 minutes walk to the new town and the bus station on the National Road. The large guest room is €20/night - it has a large double bed, a single bed off to the side. (Payment can be made by cash only in Albanian lek, euros or US dollars - Or you can book in advance online using a credit card at [1])
  • Hotel Relax, streets Sheshi i Çerçizit. 9 double rooms and 1 suite, with A/C. This wonderful hotel lies at the foot of the hilly center of beautiful Gjirokaster. It is a small hotel owned by a very sweet family. The father handles business, and is helped by his nice teenage daughter. They are incredible friendly and the hotel is very clean and has everything you need, including a cosy sitting area and balcony, overlooking the square. There is a bar downstairs, also owned by the family, so after visiting Gjirokaster it is perfect to relax and have a drink. €25 inc. breakfast [Sep 2011].
  • 3 Hotel Sopoti (Sopoti Hostel), Pazar i Vjeter (Old Pazar, Gjirokastër). Check-in: anytime, check-out: 11:00. A formerly grand hotel, it feels somewhat forgotten; rooms are basic, ask for one with a balcony to get a view of the castle, bathrooms are shared. The manager of the hotel is a refined older gentleman who also runs the bar/kafe downstairs. He knows some English. 1000 leke/person.price is 1200 lek per person. If you ask for wifi internet (which doesn't seem to happen very often) you will be given the password for a nearby cafe, but it is too far away so it can only work between 03:00 and 06:00 when nobody else uses it. still a good choice for a single traveller as it is cheaper than a dorm bed in one of the towns hostels
  • Hotel Gjirokaster. Modeled after a traditional Ottoman House. Excellent location that is half-way between the castle and the market area. Friendly staff and free breakfast included.
  • 4 Stone City Hostel, Road Alqi Kondi, Bazar (at the start of the bazar), +355693484271. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Run by American sweetheart Brenna, crazy Dutchman Walter and a mix of well travelled locals and foreigners. It has a shaded garden with fruit trees, a huge roof terrace and brilliant views of the castle. Inside there's a nicely furnished and big common room with a fully equipped kitchen and nice places to chill out. There are three dorms and one double room, all with air-conditioning and custom made beds with large lockers underneath. Free Wi-Fi, free use of computers, and a bar full of cold drinks.



Characteristic street in Gjirokastër

There are internet cafes in Gjirokastër which usually charge between 50 and 100 lek per hour.

  • Internet Kafe (Opposite the mosque)
  • Google Internet Kafe

There are also a few cafes which provide free wireless:

  • Hotel Cajupi (on the roof top terrace/cafe)
  • Restaurant Kuka
  • Bar Karamel
  • Bar Grand
  • Gulf fuel station on the road to Saranda. A coffee is 100 lek, doubtful if you may find a cheaper option



Go next[edit]

  • Berat (N 120 km via Këlcyrë). Thought to be one of the oldest towns in Albania, it is a new member of the UNESCO world heritage list. Nearby is the world-famous Osum Canyon.
  • Fier
  • Ioannina, Greece (SE 90 km).
  • Korce (NE 190 km via Tepelene several miles from the Greek border). This city is full of life during the summer when you can find couples and families strolling through the city's main park, Parku Rinia. You can hike to the top of the beautiful mountain Moravia and view the city and its surrounding landscape.
  • Pogradec (NE 240 km via Korca). — Overshadowed by its glitzy neighbors on the Macedonian side of the lake, the town of Pogradec has experienced a revival.
  • Përmet (NE 60 km via Këlcyrë approximately 30 km from the Greek border). Nicknamed “The City of Roses,” Përmet is in the Vjosa River Valley. The city is known for its clean environment and tradition of wine and raki making. Old Permet is worth a look. Around it: Benjë, and Leusë villages.
  • Sarandë (SW 55 km). A city known for its unforgettable beaches and colorful spring blooms.
  • Vlorë (N-NW 110 km). Lively seaside city, nice beaches south of town. Passenger ferries to and from Italy dock here.
This city travel guide to Gjirokastër is an outline and needs more content. It has a template, but there is not enough information present. Please plunge forward and help it grow!