South-Eastern Albania: 10 days Itinerary (from Pogradec to Gjirokaster)

If you are looking for an inland itinerary in Albania this place is designed for you. Because the Land of Eagles is not just sea: in addition to the Caribbean waters of Ksamil , the white of the Albanian Riviera and the equipped beaches of Durres , there is a lot more to see in Albania for those who want to discover the authentic beauty of the country.

This is why we always recommend a trip to Albania to those who are not afraid to be surprised. And to fall in love.

We of the Land of Eagles fell in love immediately but the real Albania is inland, still not very touristy and, perhaps also for this reason, beautiful. There, away from the umbrellas and the saltiness, sitting in front of a cup of Turkish coffee to be decanted with patience, you can better understand the beauty of the country and its people.

Because the Land of the Eagles has a complicated past rich in history, which goes far beyond the towns of the Albanian coast. For this reason, in my opinion, an itinerary in the hinterland of Albania , away from the tourists who crowd the coast, is a real discovery for those who love the Balkans.

Ready? Grab a map, open your travel guide of Albania and focus on the eastern part of the country, let’s leave for the heart of the Land of Eagles!

Itinerary in the east of Albania: all the stages

  1. Pogradec and Lake Orhid
  2. Korca, Moscopoli and Prespa lake
  3. Permet with the thermal baths
  4. Gjirokaster

Before leaving for an itinerary in the Albanian hinterland

To fully enjoy your trip to Albania you need three things : a guide, faithful companion of your trip, a map of Albania and a good book to read before (and during) your vacation. So let’s spend a couple of words on this!

As of Albania travel guides in Italian there are few on the market: this Albania’s guide is useful if you look for the routes eu little ‘curiosity, this is very detailed for Tirana and the north, this guide instead is very rich details and historical information while the Lonely of the Balkans is (unfortunately) sparse on the Land of Eagles but indicated if you are thinking of a wider on the road. This is instead a map of Albania that you find for sale online (otherwise you can buy it locally!)

On the other hand, you will find many books on Albania . In our opinion, a good idea is to start with the books by Kadarè , a very famous Albanian writer (if you don’t know where to start ” The drums in the rain ” is a good choice). A pleasant and easy reading is ” Albania in furgon ” story of a trip to Albania with some practical ideas while to deepen the vicissitudes of the country it is interesting ” History of Albania and the Albanians “.

What to see near Pogradec Lake Ohrid in Lin
What to see near Pogradec Lake Ohrid in Lin

Itinerary in Albania: three days in Pogradec, on Lake Ohrid

The first stop on this itinerary in the hinterland of Albania , to discover the authentic heart of the country is Pogradec .

I tell you now that this town is one of the finest destinations for Albanian tourism. However, what makes it, in my opinion, a very authentic destination to be included in a trip to Albania is the fact that, in fact, it is a destination that is still closely linked to local tourism and little known by Italian travelers.

The city of Pogradec – in Albanian also Pogradeci – overlooks Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest in the world, famous for its crystal clear waters and its vastness, which make it similar to a sea. This lake is the natural habitat of Koran fish , similar to trout, one of the typical dishes to try in Albania and has always attracted Albanian tourists who love to relax along its beaches.

Spend at least three or four days of vacation in Pogradec to immerse yourself in its slow rhythms and be sure to visit the surroundings and in particular Drilon and the beautiful villages of Tushemisht and Lin as well as the ancient Tombs of the Illyrian King Gradishta and Selces se Poshteme: the road to getting to the latter is not easy but they were building the new one and the views you will encounter between tiny villages and mountains are beautiful.

To sleep near Pogradec I recommend the Hotel Camping Lin which is located in Lin and has a wonderful view of the lake, a convenient parking and has both mini apartments and hotel rooms and pitches for tents.

Itinerary in Albania Drilon near Pogradec
Itinerary in Albania Drilon near Pogradec

Visit Korca and surroundings in the heart of Albania with the Beer Festival

The second stop on this tour in authentic Albania is the city of Korça or Korçë not far from Pogradec.

Corizza – as this Albanian city is also called – is the city where the homonymous beer is produced, which you will find everywhere in the country. And in honor of this famous Albanian beer, a crowded Beer Festival is organized here in August.

But don’t worry: even if the period of your trip to Albania does not coincide with that of the Korça Beer Festival it is not a problem because in the city and surroundings you will find much more to see. The center of Corizza, with the ancient bazaar now dotted with cafes, the Education Museum, the fountains and the Korça brewery will fill you with a beautiful day in the city.

And then there are the surroundings, with the beautiful frescoed churches of Moscopoli – Voskopojë in Albanian – and the Prespa lake, with its scenic mountains, and the trekking trails in Rehove for which we recommend that you dedicate three days to Korça during your trip to Albania.

To sleep in Korça we recommend the B&B Bujtina Apartment , in the center, with very comfortable apartments for visiting the city, clean and well equipped.

What to see in Albania in the Korca hinterland
What to see in Albania in the Korca hinterland

The Baths of Permet to visit during a tour in Albania

From Korça continue your itinerary in Albania arriving in Përmet . This town, also called “City of Roses” is famous for its thermal baths, with natural pools immersed in a beautiful green valley. On the way, however, stop at least one night in Erseke to hike to Rehove .

The Terme Benje di Përmet are an attraction to see in Albania absolutely and the town is worth at least a couple of days of stop, to relax a bit in the warm thermal waters but also to get to know the surroundings, made up of natural parks and gastronomic excellence like the Gliko .

To sleep in Përmet we recommend the Guesthouse Ilir , very welcoming, with clean rooms and an excellent traditional Albanian breakfast.

The Benje Baths of Permet in Albania the Ottoman bridge
The Benje Baths of Permet in Albania

Visit the Albanian hinterland and the Silver City: Gjirokaster

Gjirokastra , the Silver City with many names, is the last stop on this 10-day itinerary in inland Albania, away from the beaches of the coast to which we recommend you dedicate at least 3 days. However, if you have less time and want to continue to the beaches of southern Albania , towards Saranda and Ksamil we leave you the link to the article dedicated to what to see in Gjirokastra in one day .

We love Gjirokastra very much, which in our opinion is one of the most fascinating but also controversial in the country, given that the dictator Hoxa was born here and built a bunker in his womb. The Gjirokaster bunker, which today can be visited with guided tours organized by the Tourist Office, was organized as an underground city to give refuge to the most influential members of the party and is one of the testimonies of the country’s dark past.

Gjirokaster is changing very quickly but fortunately for the better: dedicate at least one day to its historic center, with the bazaar, the Ottoman houses and the castle , then explore the surroundings, with Syri y Kalter – Blue Eye or Blue Eye, a spring very deep immersed in a natural park – the ancient ruins of Antigonea and the Monastery of Labov and Kryqit . To sleep in Gjirokastra we recommend the Hotel Argiro , a hotel housed in one of the ancient Ottoman houses, super modern and welcoming but with a terrace from which you can enjoy a splendid view over the roofs of the city.

Our itinerary in the Albanian hinterland ends here but if you still have time you prefer the Ottoman cities to the beaches do not miss Berat , the City of a Thousand Windows .

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