Gjirokastër Castle

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Gjirokastër Castle: Our most recommended tours and activities

Tirana: 4-Day Albanian Heritage Highlights Trip

1. Tirana: 4-Day Albanian Heritage Highlights Trip

Explore Albania's top attractions in the hands of an expert tour director during a 4-day, 3-night sightseeing tour. Sample authentic Albanian food and visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as Berat, Gjirokastra, and Butrint. Day 1: Durres and Berat Start the tour with a hotel or airport pickup in Tirana and head to Durres for a short guided walking tour and coffee break. Alternatively, you can start with a hotel pickup in Durres. Transfer to Berat, the "city of a thousand windows." Get settled in your picturesque hotel before enjoying lunch in a restaurant with city views. In the afternoon, follow your expert local guide on a guided tour of this fascinating city. Visit Berat Castle/Citadel and explore the upper town with churches, mosques, and 27 watchtowers packed inside its walls. Admire the Ottoman houses, where people still live as they have done for centuries. In the evening, your tour director will guide you to the best restaurants to sample Berat’s typical dishes. Day 2: Gjirokaster After breakfast, admire small villages during your transfer to Gjirokaster. Once you arrive in this “city of a thousand steps,” settle into your hotel before heading for lunch in a small local restaurant for a taste of the city’s authentic dishes. Next, visit Skenduli House, the best-preserved Ottoman house in the old city of Gjirokaster. Hear about its past from your local guide and the house’s owner, a descendant of the Skenduli family. Then, soak up the castle's rich history and enjoy the view of the “city of stone” from above. Explore the Ottoman Bazaar and historic wooden houses before visiting the Gjirokaster Obelisk dedicated to the town's first school. Enjoy its 360º views. Spend a relaxing evening in the streets of Gjirokaster. Day 3: “Blue Eye” and Butrint Travel to the “Blue Eye” spring. Admire the shades of blue and surrounding nature before heading to Butrint. There, marvel at 2,500 years of history on a guided tour with a local guide. See the highlights, such as the amphitheater, castle, churches, and Lion Gate. Drive to Ksamil and enjoy lunch by the lake at the Mussel House. Spend your afternoon in Ksamil before heading to Saranda via Lekursi Castle, which overlooks the city. Day 4: Llogara National Park and Vlore Transfer to the city of Vlore via Ali Pasha Castle, which you will explore with your tour director. Marvel at the architecture and listen to entertaining legends about the man who built it, Ali Pasha of Tepelenë. Head to the Llogara “balcony” for a stunning view of the South Coast beaches before indulging in lunch at Llogara National Park surrounded by pine trees and a fresh mountain breeze. Visit the city of Vlore, the hometown of the Albanian nationalist movement, in the afternoon. See sights such as Flag Square with its Independence Monument right in the center, the Muradie Mosque, and Vlore Lungomare. After you have explored Vlore, you will get transferred back to Tirana.

Gjirokaster: City Highlights Walking Tour

2. Gjirokaster: City Highlights Walking Tour

Explore the major landmarks, as well as some hidden gems, on a comprehensive walking excursion of the city of Gjirokaster, led by an experienced local guide. Join your guide on an exciting walking journey starting at Cerciz Topulli square, where you'll get information about the tour and have a chance to learn about the history of the city. Move towards the Old Bazaar, stopping at the Neck of the Bazaar to admire the architecture and meet local artisans. Browse through a variety of handmade items made of wool, stone, and wood. You might find the ideal souvenir to take home. Later on, head towards the Argjiro Castle, known for its history, tragedy, and legends. Enjoy breathtaking views of Gjirokaster from 330 meters above sea level. Your last stop of the day will be one of the best-preserved Ottoman-style houses in Albania, the Zekate House, which was built in 1812 and also offers great city views.

Albania: Ancient Landmarks Day Tour

3. Albania: Ancient Landmarks Day Tour

Depart in the early morning on a drive through Albania, known for its centuries of notable world history. Travel from the north to south of the ancient nation, where we will uncover pieces of archeological history that still stand today, including churches and castles.  Learn and understand how life was organized more than 2 millennia ago. We will visit notable people’s homes, including dictators and Nobel winners in the Palorto Neighborhood in our last stop, Gjirokaster, after visiting the beaches and basilicas in Saranda, Ksamil Beach, and Butrint. The drive will take us through the Albanian Riviera, where the natural beauty of the nation can be taken in before discovering the history of the ancient world’s architecture in the next stops. The journey will end in Tirana, with stops in between the three-hour return journey.

From Durres: Gjirokaster Guided Tour

4. From Durres: Gjirokaster Guided Tour

Discover a perfect mix of archaeology, history, and natural beauty on this guided tour of Gjirokastër from Durres. See the old city center, castle, and more. Visit the old city center and bazaar and see the traditional artisan shops and cafes constructed in the old style. Visit castle, rebuilt in the 12th century. Learn about Albania's resistance to the Nazis. Spend the rest of the day visiting the old neighborhoods of Qafe and Bazaar, and learning more about them. See historical buildings, including the former residence of Enver Xoxha; Albania's Cold War-era leader.

Albania: UNESCO Heritage & Local Food Tour with Nature

5. Albania: UNESCO Heritage & Local Food Tour with Nature

Day 1: Travel day You'll be picked up from the airport. Welcome to Albania! Get settled in the hotel and for those of you not too tired, there is a guided walking tour of the city center before dinner in a traditional restaurant in the evening. Day 2: Sightseeing tour of Berat Transfer to Berat, passing through hills full of olive trees. Get settled in the hotel and head for lunch in a local restaurant facing the city. Set out for a walking guide through the UNESCO listed old town with your local guide, admiring the White Mosque, the Holy Trinity Church and Gorica Bridge. Enter into the Berat Castle for a guided tour. Enjoy a free evening in "the city of a thousand and one windows.” Day 3: Rural Berat, Bogova Waterfall & Wine Tasting Transfer to Bogove and take a 30min walk towards the impressive waterfall. Head back to Bogove village and have a homemade lunch on the river shore, with homemade wine and raki (fruit brandy). In the afternoon, visit the town of Polican, famous for its weapon factories during Communist times. The abandoned factories and people in this remote town are a strong reminder of the country's’ past. After a short drive, you'll arrive at Nurellari Winery.  Enjoy a wine tasting tour in this family-run winery, walk around the vineyard and savor 4 varieties of wine. Head back to the city and enjoy free time in the evening exploring the ancient neighborhoods of Mangalem and Gorica.   Day 4: Sightseeing tour of Gjirokaster Transfer to Gjirokaster to discover "the city of a thousand steps.” Get settled in your hotel and head out for lunch in a small, local restaurant for a taste of the city’s authentic dishes. Step into Skenduli house (an Ottoman tower house) and listen to its history and details from the 10th generation of Skenduli family and your local guide. Soak up to the rich history of the castle and enjoy the views! Pass by the Ottoman Bazaar and historic wooden houses and visit Gjirokastra’s Obelisk. Day 5: Typical food from Rural Gjirokastra Drive to Saraqinisht and experience a day in an Albanian countryside cottage. You'll learn about the food, life, and traditions of an Albanian family. Start cooking with three generations of Albanian ladies or drink Raki with cheese and olives with “Grandpa” and listen to his Commie stories. In the afternoon, you can take a 40-minute hike to visit 400-years old St. Mary's Church, built on the face of a cliff and with its monastery beneath. In the evening, transfer back to the city, visiting a Communist bunker on the way back.  Day 6: Sightseeing tour of the Blue Eye Spring and Butrint Travel to the Blue Eye Spring and marvel at this beautiful natural area. Then, set off on a guided tour of Butrint National Park where a local guide explains the 2500 years of history of the Amphitheater, the castle, the churches, and the Lion Gate. Drive to Ksamil and enjoy seafood next to turquoise waters. On the way to Himare, stop for a coffee break at Borsh waterfalls. What a sight! Transfer to Himare and enjoy free time in this typical seaside city. Finish the day with your tour leader and group and enjoy an evening of raki drinking.  Day 7: Apollonia via Llogara National Park En route to Apollonia, explore the Ali Pasha Castle. Marvel at the architecture and listen to entertaining legends about the man who built it, Ali Pasha Tepelena. Stop at Llogara balcony for a stunning view of the South Coast beaches and then head for lunch to Llogara National Park freshened by the mountain breeze and pine trees. Set off a guided tour in Apollonia in the afternoon, where an on-site archeologist explains the history behind the temple of Artemis, the Odeon and the Triumphal Arch. On the way to Tirana, stop for the delicious byrek (pastries) in the city of Lushnje. Day 8: Departure Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.

From Tirana: Guided Tour of Gjirokaster

6. From Tirana: Guided Tour of Gjirokaster

Gjirokastër gives a special feeling to all the tourists and after visiting it, you won’t need to wonder why. It has been under UNESCO protection since 2005. Located in southern Albania, Gjirokastër is where you will find a perfect mixture of wild territories and archeological sites. You will first visit the old city center where the bazaar is located. At the bazaar you will see the traditional artisan shops and the cafes in the old style. Then you will continue with a visit to Gjirokastër castle. This fortress was an existing building from the 1200 BC and rebuilt XII century by Ali Pashe Tepelena. You will have the possibility to see the defensive towers, the Clock tower, The church, and the Cistern. Inside the castle, are placed the military objects and monuments from the resistance of the Albanian partisans against the German Nazis in a very interesting museum. The rest of the day will be dedicated to visiting the old neighborhoods of Qafe and Bazaar and learn more about it. You shouldn't miss the Skenduli House. Between the ottoman houses, we will also find the house of Ismail Kadare the great Albanian writer, and the house of Enver Hoxha, the Albanian politician who ruled from 1944 to 1985, that is now the ethnographic Museum of Gjirokastër.

From Tirana: Private Day Tour of Gjirokastër

7. From Tirana: Private Day Tour of Gjirokastër

Discover Gjirokastër and its imposing castle on a guided day tour from Tirana. Explore the charming streets of the town, the local bazaar, a typical house in the town, as well as the fortress itself. Begin the day with pickup from your hotel in Tirana and travel by car south towards Gjirokastër. Admire the vast rolling fields in one of the most fertile agricultural regions of Albania, passing along a section of the Vjosa River. Upon arrival in the town, be enchanted by its beautiful stone architecture all around you. Start your tour from Cerciz Topulli Square and stroll along the cobblestone streets which flow from the castle at the elevated heart of the town. Make your way to the buzzing Gjirokastër Bazaar, the traditional hub of all activity in town. Watch locals buy and sell at the many shops and stalls. Spot many local cafés where locals of all ages meet and discuss the latest gossip and news while sipping some coffee. Next, continue towards Gjirokastër Castle, with its fantastic views of the town. Enter the castle and explore the grounds as you hear the legend of Princess Argjiro, the supposed founder of the city. Learn more about the many uses of the castle throughout the years under various regimes and rulers. Afterward, head back down into town to the Palorto District. Explore the most exclusive neighborhoods of the city, which was once home to famous Albanian figures such as Communist Leader, Enver Hoxha, and his neighbor, writer Ismail Kadare. Head along the locally-named "Path of Mad People” and visit a typical house of the neighborhood, Skenduli House, notable for its fortress-style design. Finally, hop back into your transportation for the journey back to Tirana, with drop-off at your hotel.

Other Sightseeing Options in Gjirokastër Castle

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