One Week in Albania: Central Albania (Day 2)

We woke up early, still tired from exploring the north. We were in the countries’ capital, Tirana, and the plan for the day was to drive all the way down south, to near the border with Greece. Along the way, we would stop at various towns and landmarks. We passed through Berat and Gjirokastër, made a detour through the mountains of Çorovodë, before finally arriving in the coastal town of Sarandë.


About two hours after leaving Tirana we arrived in Berat. Our first stop was Berat Castle, dating back from the 13th century. The premise is home to a number of small churches, as the population of the fortress was mostly Christian.

• Cobblestone streets around Berat Castle.
• Berat Castle.

From the castle, you can take an extremely steep road down to the town of Berat. This town is definitely worth visiting, mainly because of the architecture: all houses are white with red roofs. With the castle on the hill in the background, it makes for a picturesque spot.

• Berat: white city with red roofs.


Our next stop was just past the town of Çorovodë. Here, over the centuries, the Osum River cut a 900-metre deep canyon. The near-vertical cliffs on both sides of the river are simply incredible. If you feel adventurous you can also spend the day white-water rafting through the canyon.

• Osumi Canyon (1).
• Osumi Canyon (2).

From Çorovodë, the plan was to drive to Gjirokastër. The shortest route is through Fir of Hotova National Park, a mountainous area with few inhabitants. Unfortunately, the GPS directed us to what seemed a never-ending rollercoaster of unpaved trails and gravel roads. It offered untamed beautiful scenery, but it definitely required a powerful vehicle and an adventurous spirit to go along with it. Along the way, we encountered a few jeeps that did this for fun. After a bouncy two-hour ride, we finally touched solid ground, and off we went to Gjirokastër.


Gjirokastër is a city very similar to Berat: on the hill you can find the Gjirokastër Castle, while the houses are, again, white with red roofs. The town does have more of a center though, its old town is even a UNESCO World Heritage Site, because of its preserved buildings from Ottoman times.

• Gjirokastër, very similar in looks to Berat.

Due to its close proximity to Greece, the town historically had a large Greek minority. In 1912, the local Greek population even declared Gjirokastër area an autonomous republic, before becoming part of Albania again in 1914.

• Picturesque streets of Gjirokastër.

Blue Eye

As the sun was close to setting, we were close to our final destination. Yet, we had one more stop to make: the Blue Eye. This water spring is a popular tourist attraction, and a good spot to cool down.

• Blue Eye (1).

Its crystal clear water bubbles from a hole of unknown depth. Divers have been able to descend to 50 meters before the water got too cold, so as of right now one can only guess its true depth.

• Blue Eye (2).

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We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.

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