Përmet is nestled in the picturesque valley of the Vjosë River in southeastern Albania. This town of just over 10,000 inhabitants is a must-see for culture lovers travelling in Albania. It also offers many attractions for food and gastronomy lovers.
Permet and “The Rock”.
Përmet is an old town of stone houses on the banks of the Vjosa, one of the most important and clearest rivers on the Balkan peninsula. A destination still far from mass tourism, it is an ideal stop for those who are looking for relaxation and want to spend a few days surrounded only by nature. A little less than three hours by road from the capital Tirana, a slow and unhurried journey through unspoilt nature between rivers, forests, canyons and fields, where it is easy to be surprised at every step.
People come here to immerse themselves in the greenery and be pampered by the warm waters of Banjat and Benjës, the natural baths of Benjë , 10 kilometres from the town, famous since ancient times for their precious healing properties, considered by specialists to be among the best in Europe. The scenery is postcard-worthy: the shimmering turquoise waters flow into natural pools along the Langaricë Gorge, which can be walked on a 5km hike through springs and small pools of sulphurous water, a stone’s throw from a bridge built in Ottoman times. In the background are the mountains
Bridge at Benjat, famous for its hot springs.
Përmet (Greek: Πρεμετή, Premeti) is a municipality and village in Gjirokastër County. The river Vjosë runs through the Trebeshinë-Dhëmbel-Nemërçkë mountain range, between the Trebeshinë and Dhëmbel mountains, and through the Këlcyrë canyon.
Throughout its history it has experienced the same fate as the rest of the country. In the 14th century, Përmet fell under Ottoman rule and became first a kaza of the Sanjak of Gjirokastër and later of the Sanjak of Ioannina. During the era of conversions to Islam in the 18th century, Christian Albanian-speaking areas such as the Rrëzë region strongly resisted these efforts, particularly the village of Hormovë and the town of Përmet. In 1778, a school was established, funded by the local Orthodox Church and the town’s diaspora. Later, after a successful revolt in 1833, the Ottoman Empire replaced the Ottoman officials in the city with local Albanians and proclaimed a general amnesty for all those who had been involved in the uprising.
What to see and do in Përmet
Known as the city of roses , Përmet is a city whose main attractions are in its surroundings. The Hotova Firs National Park is one of the most interesting natural areas in southern Albania and is well worth discovering by trekking. On the other hand, the Katiu bridge and the Banjat hot springs have become an attraction for many travellers, who use Përmet as a base to sleep.
This is the birthplace of Laver Bariu, one of the most renowned musicians in Albania’s recent history. He was a clarinet player born in 1929, who played the music ” kaba me saze” , being a figurehead of a tradition of musicians from Përmet, which has given rise to a folk festival in the city.
Inside Permet we can stroll around feeling the quiet rhythms of inland Albania, and discover places such as the imposing statue that pays homage to the partisans who fought in the Second World War. It is also the legacy of the congress of 24 May 1944 at which the communist leader Enver Hoxha, who led the country for decades with a policy of isolation from the outside world, was elected president of the provisional government.
Another landmark in Përmet is the Rock (Guri i Qytetit in Albanian) , a huge mass that seems to have fallen from the sky like a meteorite. It is 42 metres high and it is possible to climb to the top via a staircase in the rock. Even if it’s a bit of a climb, the views are worth it. Archaeologists found remains dating back to the 4th century when they excavated the site.
Visit the ancient churches of San Nicola (Kisha e Shën Kollit), dating from the mid-1700s, and of Good Friday , from the second half of the 1700s, or go to the Church of Santa Maria a Leusë, a jewel stone built in 1700 on the remains of a pre-existing 6th-century building, just outside the centre. The road to get there is hilly, so ideally join the hike.
The river is the undisputed star of this wild region of Albania, where the possibilities for outdoor activities are numerous and boredom is impossible. Among them all, the most fun experience to participate in is the rafting on the Vjosa between March and November. Together with certified guides, you cross the crystal-clear waters of Europe’s last wild river, pass islets, canyons, narrow passages between rocks and stone arches, and immerse yourself in a pure, unspoilt landscape. Forests, ponds and paths hidden among the trees. Man’s impact here is minimal. This is the realm of nature.
A paradise of Albanian gastronomy
Përmet is renowned for its local products. These include jams (reçel) and compotes (called gliko) and rakia liqueur, a fruit-based spirit.
Excursions from Permet
Hotova Fir National Park
Accommodation in Permet
How to get to Permet
Permet is 230 km from Tirana and 35 km from the Greek border.