Gjirokaster is one of the three UNESCO world heritage sites in Albania. It was inscribed on the list in 2005 for it’s outstanding universal value and because it offers a rare insight into the architecture and city planning of the Ottoman period. Berat was also inscribed on the list for the same reasons, but Gjirokaster is unique for it’s special two story houses from the 17th century, it’s bazaar, and 18th century mosque.
24 Hours in Gjirokaster
We travelled to Gjirokaster from the UNESCO site of Butrint. The highway was being upgraded and constructed, so the going was much slower than we anticipated. We arrived in Gjirokaster after the sun had set. Navigating the ancient and narrow cobbled streets in our rental car was an adventure in itself. Eventually we found an area wide enough to park the car and decided to search on foot. Luckily, our guest house turned out to be right next to us.
How to get to Gjirokaster
Gjirokaster is located in the south of Albania not far from the seaside town of Sarande. Furgon travel regularly from Gjirokaster north to Fier, Berat, Tirana and most other major towns. Furgons also travel south to Sarande. Alternatively, you can take a long distance bus to Athens.
What to See and Do in Gjirokaster
Wander the streets : Part of the fun of spending time in an ancient and historic city like Gjirokaster is just wandering the streets. Gjirokaster is a wild jumble of narrow cobbled streets winding their way up and down the hill that the town is built around. The same streets that stressed us out big time when we were driving around trying to find our hotel, were a joy to wander around the next day.
Gjirokaster Castle : Billed as the second largest castle in the Balkans, the Gjirokaster sits in the geographic centre of the city. Entrance costs 200 lek, and within you can explore left over field guns from WWII and treat yourself to some serious views across the town and nearby mountain range. There isn’t that much to the castle, but for 200 lek it’s worth a visit.
Ethnographic Museum : Situated in a well restored Ottoman house, explore clothing, kitchenware and other household items from this era. Guided tours are also available.
Zekate House : This is the most visited of the historic stone houses in Gjirokaster. This monumental home is spread across three floors and have two towers.