Gjirokastër (Gjirokaster), Albania, is a small town in southern Albania. The historic old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with the museum town status. This is one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Albania! There are many structures preserved from the Ottoman era when this was a bustling merchant town. You can prepare to explore a historic houses, an amphitheater, and a beautiful castle. The castle is actually the second-largest in all of the Balkans. The city is built on the side of the mountain; the citadel is perched at the top. A visit to Gjirokastër must include an afternoon exploring the castle walls and enjoying the panoramic views of the city below. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to see why Gjirokastër is often called the City of Stone.
If you’re lucky your hostel will be located in a historic old stone house. If not be sure to visit one of the many seventeenth- and eighteenth-century homes that have been restored and turned into museums. There are more than five hundred preserved homes in Gjirokastër today. The Zekate House is the largest with beautifully restored rooms featuring wood carvings, paintings, and original furniture. The view of the city below from the house is incredible!
Typical cuisine varies throughout Albania, and our favorite meals in this region were in Gjirokastër. Think stuffed eggplant, tomato-based dips, and lots of white cheese. The typical dish is called Qifqi, which is a baked dish with rice, egg, and local spices.
Gjirokastër can be easily reached from major cities by bus and is very close to the beach city of Saranda. It is also very typical to see backpackers hitchhiking across Albania. There are only a few hostels in Gjirokastër (Gjirokaster), Albania, so it is recommended to book your bed in advance. Most of the Gjirokastër (Gjirokaster), Albania hostels are located near the city center and the sites are accessible on foot or via the local bus.
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