Albania/ Europe/ Travel

7 fabulous things to do in Gjirokaster

Are you planning a trip to the heart of Albania? Don’t let Gjirokaster slip under your radar!

While I’ll be honest, there aren’t a massive array of things to do in Gjirokaster, the town’s charm is enough to draw you in and you’ll absolutely want to leave a night in your itinerary to spend here.

Tucked away amidst stunning mountains, it’s a total gem that offers travellers a harmonious blend of history, culture and breathtaking landscapes. So, without further ado, here are 7 fabulous things to do in Gjirokaster that will help you make the most of your time there.

Things to do in Gjirokaster

1. Stroll up to Gjirokaster Castle

The awe-inspiring Gjirokaster Castle is undoubtedly the best tourist attraction in town. This medieval fortress, dating back to the 12th century, not only provides a fascinating glimpse into Albania’s rich history but also treats you to panoramic views of the town and beyond.

The great thing about Gjirokaster Castle is that you can spend as little as an hour there if you’re in a rush to take in other sights, or you can spend time strolling around the nooks and crannies of the expansive courtyard.

It was so sunny and warm when we visited that it made a great spot to get some sun, while taking in views of the entire town and its surrounding mountains. If you’re there around sunset, even better!

Gjirokaster castle view

You’ll need to know:

Opening hours: 09:00 – 18:00, Monday-Sunday

How to get there: Gjirokaster Castle is located at the heart of the town and can be reached by a short, scenic walk. You may be out of puff when you reach the top, but it’s mercifully shaded from the summer heat!

It’s also accessible by taxi if you’re tight on time or are less mobile when it comes to navigating Gjirokaster’s cobbled streets.

Plane at Gjirokaster castle

2. Souvenir shop at Gjirokaster Bazaar

Gjirokaster Bazaar is actually another word for the town centre, a sight you’ll have definitely seen in virtually all photos of Gjirokaster.

The trademark white buildings covered in colourful wares are all clustered aroud one central point, with roads spiralling off from it like a spinning wheel. The narrow cobblestone streets offer a plethora of traditional crafts, local delicacies and the opportunity to chat to some of the town’s friendly locals.

How authentic are the wares on sale here? Honestly, as with all tourist locations, it’s hard to say.

Gjirokaster town Albania

Gjirokaster gets lots of buses from tourists on day trips from Sarande, so the Bazaar can get busy during peak times of the day, but it’s still a really mellow place to grab a drink and soak up the atmosphere.

You’ll need to know:

Opening hours: 08:00 – 20:00, Monday-Saturday

How to get there: You can’t miss the Bazaar as it’s centrally located right in the middle of Gjirokaster and easily accessible on foot.

Gjirokaster town

3. Stroll around the wider old town

Take a leisurely stroll through the cobbled streets of Gjirokaster’s Old Town, where every step feels like a scene from a movie set. The well-preserved Ottoman architecture, adorned with colorful facades, creates a captivating atmosphere. Immerse yourself in the charm of artisan shops and quaint cafes, capturing the enchanting scenes that make Gjirokaster’s Old Town a cinematic masterpiece.

4. Visit the Zekate House

Among the Old Town’s treasures stands the Zekate House, an exquisite example of Ottoman architecture. This well-preserved mansion invites you to step back in time to 1812, revealing the opulence of a bygone era.

Marvel at the intricate woodwork, vibrant frescoes and enjoy a stunning view of the town from the terrace. Visiting the Zekate House is a great way to add a touch of grandeur to your visit to Gjirokaster.

You’ll need to know:

Opening hours: 10:00 – 17:00, Tuesday-Sunday

How to get there: Zekate House is centrally located in the Old Town, within just five minutes walk from the Bazaar.

5. Take a day trip to Blue Eye

If you’re visiting Gjirokaster, it’s virtually a certainty that you’ll also be taking a trip to Albania’s stunning southern Blue Eye. Yes, southern Blue Eye – there’s also one in Theth, up north in the Albanian Alps!

Blue Eye is one of Albania’s most well-known natural beauties – although it has many! – and while it’s super popular and busy, you won’t regret taking a trip here. Named for the pool’s deep blue centre (nobody actually knows how far down it goes!), water bubbles up from underground which feeds the river and the current is strong.

Blue Eye Ksamil Albania

You’ll need to know:

Distance from Gjirokaster: Approximately 25 km

It’s about a 30 minute walk from the car park (or bus drop off) to the Blue Eye, there’s a restaurant/bar nearby with toilets and gorgeous scenery from the minute you can hear the river gushing.

At the pool, there’s a viewing platform where you can look down into the Blue Eye and capture all the gorgeous photos your heart desires.

How to get there: Drive, hire a taxi or take a local bus. You can also join a tour for a hassle-free journey: I’d recommend checking out the Blue Eye day trip options on Get Your Guide:

6. Try Gjirokaster’s delicious culinary specialities

In my other Albania travel articles, I’ve talked extensively about how the country’s food was so much better than I expected and Gjirokaster was no exception. The Greek and Mediterranean influence is really noticeable in Albanian food and despite it’s central location, it’s still noticeable in Gjirokaster.

In Gjirokaster, you want to try japrak, the Albanian take on stuffed vine leaves (often made with grape leaves), a delicious spinach and feta pie named Shapkat and qifqi, risotto rice balls mixed with herbs. I’m a big fan of arancini, so it goes without saying that the latter were right up my street!

Gjirokaster sunset

7. Catch the sunset a rooftop bar

End your day on a high note by savoring the sunset from a charming rooftop bar.

With the castle as your backdrop, there’s no better way to unwind and witness the sun painting the sky in hues of orange and pink. Sunny evenings in Gjirokaster really are magical and if you only have one day to spend there, definitely end it like this (after a trip to the castle of course).

We visited the bar on top of Hotel Kodra and it was a great way to top off our day in Gjirokaster before we left for our trip to Blue Eye and the Albanian coast!

Laura x

Read more about Albania

The ultimate two week Albania itinerary
9 surprising things about Albania
How to get to the Bogove Waterfall and Osum Canyon
Homemade Food Lili: Berat’s best restaurant
Hiking Valbona to Theth: 11 things you need to know

Looking for places to stay in Albania? I book most of my accommodation via!


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7 things to do in Gjirokaster

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