Berat and GjirokastraGjirokaster, Albania
raveling along the southern coast of Albania literally made my jaw drop. I had not expected at all what I was going to see. Paradise, completely unspoiled beaches, clearest sea possible, superb food and accommodation at ridiculously low prices, friendliest locals I’d ever met… I thought nothing else was able to surprise me.
Traveling along the southern coast of Albania literally made my jaw drop. I had not expected at all what I was going to see. Paradise, completely unspoiled beaches, clearest sea possible, superb food and accommodation at ridiculously low prices, friendliest locals I’d ever met… I thought nothing else was able to surprise me. Then, we reached Gjirokaster – a little Ottoman town which turned out to be breathtakingly unique not only in Albania but in the whole Europe. It could easily compete with the French or Italian equivalents – in Gjirokaster you’ll see the most beautifully decorated houses covered with original stone roof tiles, authentic, perfectly well maintained old town with cobblestone, winding little streets and… literally zero tourists!
How to reach Gjirokaster
Gjirokaster is only 1 hour drive (55 km/35 miles) from the port of Sarande (which is in my opinion the easiest way to enter Albania – much better than from the chaotic roads in the north). After relaxing on white sand beaches of Ksamil (best visited in June or September due to crowds in the season), admiring the indescribable, crystal clear fresh water spring and lake Blue Eye and the ancient ruins of Butrint – it’s easy to get to charming Gjirokaster by bus/mini bus from Sarande – there are around 8 daily.
The buses can be unreliable so you have to ask for information at the port – Sarande is small so it’s not difficult. If you don’t want to bother to travel by bus you can contact a local couple that opened their own tourist office – they can take you everywhere for a very good price. I traveled with them across Albania and was able to see so many amazing hidden and local places. If you want more info, contact me here.
It’s unbelievable how many first class natural/cultural attractions one can see in such a little piece of land in southern Albania – and what’s even more strange – very few people actually do! They prefer to stay on overcrowded beaches of Corfu – only (30 km/18 miles) from Albanian shore.
While Albania resembles South America a lot (but is of course way safer), especially in the north and center – where you can find some depressing, post-communist towns, the south of the country is completely different. That’s why when I hear that some people visit only Tirana – the capital (I’ve described it here), it gets me so frustrated.
Albanian riviera from Sarande to Vlora as well as the town of Gjirokaster are the few of the most peaceful, beautiful, cozy and spectacular things I have seen.
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