Leaving Vlore today and it’s my second time hiring a car in Albania, learning from my first lesson, I booked the car yesterday and asked that the tank be at least half full before I took it, which they agreed was fair so that issue was resolved.
The cost for the car was L14,591 approx $145 for 2 days, which is not bad at all. Heading to Sarande I wanted to make a few stops along the way, visiting the natural hot springs and the town of Gjirokaster. Tours in Vlore offer a full-day trip to see Gjirokaster and the Blue Eye, but I wanted to do this on my own time.
Road Trip to Sarandë 07.21.2021
The first stop is the hot springs located in Benjë. On the way, I passed a town called Përmet. The town was really charming and clean so I decided to stop to have lunch and walk around the town. Përmet has a neat rock structure that you can walk through and has stairs up to the top overlooking the town, Guri i Qytetit.
The next stop is a short 20-minute drive to the hot springs and Langarica Canyon. If you ever make this trip there is one thing to be aware of, as you get close to the springs on Google Maps, there is a bridge that crosses the river, DO NOT cross this bridge, it does not take you to the springs, it takes you up a narrow very bumpy dirt road that is difficult to turn around. I made this mistake so you don’t have to.
The hot springs are free and there are two main pools, to get them you can walk across the stream or over a pedestrian bridge. If you have time and continue to walk up the stream, down the canyon, you will find smaller hot spring pools that are less crowded that people made. It is a neat hike but can be very hot as there is not much shade.
My last stop on the road trip is to the town of Gjirokaster. And I must say this place is absolutely stunning. I wish I would have planned to spend a day here but at this point in the trip I committed to leaving Albania to go to Switzerland.
The drive from the hot springs to Gjirokaster is a little under 1 and half hours. You backtrack going back through Permet, as you can see on the Map above.
Tour guides in Vlore were reading about visiting the castle of Gjirokaster and yep it was amazing but I actually enjoyed walking through old town more than anything and eating at the small restaurants.
The Castle of Gjirokaster in Albania is a stunning fortress that sits atop a hill overlooking the city of Gjirokaster. With its imposing walls, towers, and ramparts, the castle has a rich history that dates back to the 12th century. As you wander through the winding streets and alleyways of the castle, you’ll be transported back in time to a world of knights and conquerors. The castle is also home to several museums, including the Museum of Weapons, where you can see a fascinating collection of weapons and armor from throughout Albanian history. Whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a breathtaking view, the Castle of Gjirokaster is a must-see destination in AlbaniaThe cost of the castle is L400 approx $4 USD.
A quick tip, parking to get to the castle is kind of a pain to find and the maps made it confusing sending me up very narrow steep side roads. Eventually, I just parked wherever I could find and walked the rest of my way up the hill. I do not recommend this, research this a head of time.
Since I couldn’t find parking I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked to walk around the town, I wanted to get to Sarande before it was dark.
Final drive to Sarande, I arrived before dark. Parking was terrible, luckily the place I stayed offered to hold a street parking spot across from the hotel/airbnb. The host is Miri, you should also be able to book this place as a hotel as it is more of a Hotel than Airbnb. The host is top notch and the price is perfect, its directly across from the Ferry and easy walking distance to the main center of the town.
Tomorrow I plan to go to Butrint and the Blue Eye. Then spending the last night relaxing in Sarande before I head out to Tirana.
Thanks for reading.
Safe Travels, Cheers!