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Gjirokaster

Meet the locals

Our most recommended Gjirokaster Meet the Locals

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: Wood Crafting Class

2. Gjirokaster: Wood Crafting Class

Take a traditional wood crafting class in the heart of Gjirokaster at a master workshop. Enjoy some glasses of raki or homemade wine as you create your own souvenir to take home with you. Meet your host in Cerciz Topulli square and take a short walk to the workshop of Master Nurce. Get familiar with the various wood types you will be using and learn a little bit about this local tradition. Learn how to make small wooden signs with text or drawings, small necklaces, key hangers, or small mirrors. After choosing what you wish to create, get some help and inspiration for your design from your master instructor. Begin carving your own personalized item with expert guidance. While working, you can enjoy some glasses of raki or homemade wine. After some time and patience, admire your own personal creation and take home a treasured souvenir as a memento of your visit to Gjirokaster.

Gjirokaster: Traditional Albanian Cooking Class with Wine

3. Gjirokaster: Traditional Albanian Cooking Class with Wine

Make your own way to Cerciz Topulli square, where you’ll join up with your host and walk over to restaurant Gjoca (the oldest chef in town). Meet your chef inside and begin the class with a glass of raki, wine or a cup of tea while chatting with your group mates. The food you are going to prepare is traditional of the city of Stone and the food is mainly based on vegetables and a little bit of meat. Prepare an authentic meal under the guidance of your instructor, where is included the furnace cheese (white cheese in oven) the unique Qifqi (Rice balls) found only in Gjirokastra, stuffed peppers with cottage cheese, traditional cheese pie and meatballs and in the end another characteristic dessert called Hasude. After all of your hard work, sit down with your group to savor each of your dishes. Pair your menu with a complimentary glass of wine or a soft drink and chat with your fellow chef while you eat. Your cooking class will conclude after the meal.

From Tirana: Full-Day Tour to Gjirokastra

4. From Tirana: Full-Day Tour to Gjirokastra

Begin your day tour with a transfer from Tirana. Once there, visit the medieval bazaar and the Ottoman-style houses in the old part of the town. Witness artisan women making handmade doilies, carving wood or silver and other guild shops in the narrow cobbled stone streets of this suburb. While visiting people in their homes, traditional coffee (ground in stone) and mountain tea will be served.  You will also visit Gjirokastra city, the castle and much more. Later, you will have the chance to taste the typical local food cooked by local women. You will also visit the Skenduli House, you'll most likely be shown around by Mr Skenduli himself. The house was built around the year 1700 and has many fascinating features. Later, you will visit the Ethnographic Museum. In the end, you will enjoy free time around the city.

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.

Tirana: 8-Day North to South Albania Tour

6. Tirana: 8-Day North to South Albania Tour

Day 1: Travel Day and Tirana An airport pickup service is available throughout the day, following which you can get settled in your hotel. If you are not too tired, there is a guided walking tour of the city also available. Day 2: Kruja and Shkoder You'll begin your journey from Tirana directly to the city of Kruja. From there you will set off on a guided tour of the castle, the Skanderbeg Museum, and the National Ethnographic Museum. You'll transfer for lunch in Shiroke, with Lake Shkoder well known for its fish cuisine. Following lunch, visit the Rozafa Fortress and enjoy amazing views whilst learning the fortress’s fascinating history. Afterwards, get settled in to your hotel in Shkoder and experience the Old Town, St. Stephen’s Catholic Cathedral, the Ebu Bekr Mosque, and Marubi Museum throughout a guided tour. Later, enjoy free time in the evening in the Pedonalja area. Day 3: Koman Lake to Shala River through Koman Lake boat ride Transfer to Koman in the early morning, where you will take a scenic boat ride passing by rocky mountains and vivid green hills towards the Shala River. This river is a hidden paradise which is also referred to as “Albanian Thailand”. Later, enjoy lunch with views over the Mirror River whilst surrounded by the quietness of the mountains and nature. You'll eventually leave this idyllic spot in the afternoon, at which point you will transfer to the seaside city of Durres. Day 4: Berat and Vlore On your fourth day you will transfer to Berat, passing through scenic hills full of olive trees. You'll later take a guided tour to admire the citadel/castle of Berat complete with a Red Mosque, White Mosque, the Church of the Holy Trinity, and the arched bridge of Gorica. Following that, enjoy lunch with city views and take some free time to wander the two main districts of Mangalem and Gorica. In the afternoon you'll visit the city of Vlore, which is the hometown to the National Independence Movement. There you can visit Flag Square, the Muradie Mosque, and Vlore’s Lungomare. Day 5: Saranda via Gjirokaster Transfer to Gjirokaster to discover this "city of a thousand steps” whilst driving through small villages. Once arrived, settle into your hotel before soaking up the rich history of the castle and enjoying the view of the “city of stone” from above. Explore the Ottoman Bazaar and historic wooden house before stopping for lunch in a small local restaurant for a taste of the city’s authentic dishes. On the road to Saranda, you will later stop at the “Blue Eye” spring. Day 6: Butrint and Ksamil Transfer to Butrint for a guided tour of the UNESCO archaeological site. Following that you will have free time for a beach day at the Ksamil Islands, before returning to Saranda in the evening. Day 7: Ali Pasha Castle & Llogara National Park Visit Porto Palermo Castle with your guide, before spending the day at the beach in the bay of Porto Palermo. Along the way you'll stop by Tirana, as well as the Llogara “balcony” to try local products of the area. Day 8: Departure Day Following breakfast on your final day, your tour will conclude.

Gjirokastër: Traditional Albanian Vegetarian Cooking Class

7. Gjirokastër: Traditional Albanian Vegetarian Cooking Class

Starting from Cerciz Topulli square, you will join up with your host and walk over to one of the oldest neighbourhoods in town, “Pazar i Vjeter”. Here we'll meet Marjeta and her husband. The cooking class will begin with a glass of raki or a soft drink. We'll cook a vegetarian menu, and under the guidance of Marjeta we will learn how to make three dishes. The first one is called “Qofte bobollaqe” consisting mainly of yogurt, the traditional “Qifqis” found only in Gjirokastër and consisting mainly on rice, and the desert called “Hasude”. All these three are accompanied by the salad of the season Marjeta has already prepared for you. After all the hard work, we can sit down with the group to savor each of your dishes. Pair your menu with a complimentary glass of wine, raki, or a soft drink and have a nice chat while you eat. Your cooking class will conclude after the meal.In the end a recipe of what you have cooked will be given to you to prepare the same thing at home whenever you want.

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What people are saying about Gjirokaster

Our compliments to our guide Manjola who provided a personal informative introduction for us to Gjirokastra. The tour is well worth taking to get an insight into the history of this beautiful town even though there is much mayhem with the restoration of the main road. You need to be aware however that the afternoon is for you to wander the bizarre area so the tour really concludes around lunch time from which time you are free to take in additional sites. We chose to leave around 4pm as we were returning to Sarande and to stop on the way back at the "Blue Eye" swimming hole which made for a busy but great day out.

The tour is definitely to be recommended! Interesting destinations including characteristic villages that can hardly be reached and visited optimally with your own or local means. Note on the organization of the trip: they moved and reorganized the stages of the tour in advance to meet our need to end the trip in a different destination from the one planned (we basically left as a group of 7 friends). Mimi, our guide (from 110 and praise!), Told us many curiosities about the history of Albania and tried to satisfy us as much as possible by giving us a truly unique experience. Happy tour future travelers !!