If you’re an off-the-beaten-path adventurer looking for hidden gems in Albania, look no further! The city of Permet is definitely a destination in Albania that’s flying under the radar, but not for long. Permet offers superb adventure opportunities as it’s located right next to the beautiful Fir of Hotova National Park.
Permet is one of the smaller cities in Albania, but that certainly doesn’t mean it should be overlooked. You won’t find raging nightlife here, but you will find untouched nature like canyons, hot springs, virgin rivers, and much, much more.
One of my favourite things about Permet is actually the lack of tourists and the solitude you can easily find here. Albania as a general rule is quite loud and busy, but in this little city you won’t find big crowds like you do in Tirana or Saranda.
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Quick Albania Travel Guide:
Currency: Albanian LEK (aka ALL). This is a closed currency so you’ll need to wait until you’re in Albania to exchange $.
Phone: purchase a SIM card from Vodafone in Albania – the plans are cheap and they include lots of data.
Language: Albanian, however you can totally get by with English.
Helpful Info: don’t drink the tap water, bring an international travel adapter, notify your bank before travelling.
How to get to Permet
Permet is located centrally within the Gjirokaster region. It’s a 1hr and 10 minute drive from Gjirokaster itself, 2 hours from Saranda, and 3.5 hours from Tirana. If you’re coming from any major city you’ll have no issues reaching Permet via the bus, just note that there will be limited bus routes going to Permet each day.
The bus in Albania is extremely unreliable and flaky, so finding accurate time tables and schedules online will be nearly impossible. I’d instead recommend inquiring about bus schedules at your hotel or hostel – the employees are super knowledgeable and they’ll be the most accurate source of information.
The “bus station” – not a bus station at all, just a sign on the road – in Permet is located at approximately these coordinates. This is where you’ll be dropped off and where you’ll need to catch the bus when you leave Permet.
Where to Stay in Permet
The best place to stay in Permet is definitely Funky Guesthouse & Adventures. The Funky Guesthouse is located right in the center of the city, they serve a delicious and complimentary breakfast, AND they curate local adventure tours. If you’re looking to have some fun in Permet and socialize a bit, the Funky Guesthouse is definitely for you!
You can check current pricing for the Funky Guesthouse here.
Hotel Permeti is the biggest hotel in town and has an ideal central location – right across the square from Funky Guesthouse, actually. You can check out current pricing for Hotel Permeti here.
Alternatively, you can stay with the locals and reserve a guesthouse. This is a much more “home-y” experience and oftentimes cheaper too! I stayed at Eljo’s House when I visited Permet and had an absolutely lovely experience. Upon arriving I was served traditional gliko and a whack-load of nectarines. The family who hosted me didn’t speak English, but there was an older woman there who chatted my ear off! she gave me hugs, fresh flowers, and even surprised me and hung a melon on my door so I’d have fresh fruit in the morning.
I had a large room with 2 beds, an entire living room and kitchen, as well as a massive bathroom all to myself for only 13 euros/night!
You can check current pricing for Eljo’s House here.
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Things to do in Permet
1. Walk Along the Vjosa River
One of my favourite things about Permet was the easy access to nature – this is hard to find elsewhere in Albania! Right in the center of Permet there’s a beautiful riverfront path next to the Vjosa River. There are flower beds, benches, green space, and mountain views.
The cool thing about the Vjosa River is that it’s the last “virgin river” in Europe! You won’t find any dams or manmade structures interfering with this 272km river. Oh, plus the bright blue water of the Vjosa River is pretty easy on the eyes!
2. Walk up the Big Rock in Town
This is super random, but there’s a really big rock in the center of town. If you walk along the river you’ll find it no problem. But like, it just looks so weird sitting there!
The walk to the top is super quick and will give you an elevated view of the beautiful Vjosa River I just talked about.
So, I guess if you’re looking for things to do in Permet, you can add this to the list!
3. Try Traditional Permet Cuisine
Albania is a food-fuelled country and interestingly enough the food varies by region here; even though the country is so small!
The most notable local cuisine in Permet is gliko. The easiest way to describe gliko is that it’s a “candied fruit,” if that makes sense? All I can say is that this stuff is soooo sweet. I have a massive sweet tooth and it was borderline too sweet for me! I personally liked the fig and the walnut gliko, but there are plenty of types to try.
There’s also some killer white wine in this region – just ask your server at one of the local restaurants for the “best wine in Albania” and they’ll bring you the goods. It’s only 10 euros for the bottle and it’ll get you drunk! This stuff is strong and goes down easy.
Aside from wine and gliko, traditional Albanian foods to watch out for are stuffed peppers and eggplants, baked cheeses, and salma; which is stuffed grape leaves. Each region has a different name and slightly different way of cooking these dishes, but they’re all more or less the same.
ps. The two best restaurants in town for traditional foods are Bar Restorant Sofra Permetare and Trifilia. I ate at both of these places and they were delicious!
4. Go Horseback Riding in Permet
Horseback riding was the “thing to do in Permet” that caught my eye and inspired my trip here. The horseback riding tour in Permet is run by the folks at the Funky Guesthouse. Even if you don’t stay with the Funky Guesthouse, you can still book the tour!
You can reserve your stay at the Funky Guesthouse here and book the tour when you arrive.
Alternatively, if you’re staying elsewhere or want to confirm your place on the tour, you can book a spot here.
I’ve tried horseback riding before, but nothing quite compares to the horseback riding tour in Permet. It was EPIC! The horses were so well trained and the guides were great. Normally horseback riding tours follow pretty mellow terrain, but not in Permet.
We actually went hiking with these horses and climbed mountains. We went up loose fields of rock and gained some serious elevation. There were a few small river crossings and phenomenal scenery.
If you’re looking for “can’t miss things to do in Permet” this is 100% one of those things. I’d highly recommend this tour – you’ll love it!
5. Visit the Benja Hot Springs
The Benja hot springs are located 14kms outside the town of Permet in Fir of Hotova National Park. You can’t walk to these hot springs, but you can hitchhike or bike there (although it is uphill and it’d be super tiring)!
^Hitchhiking is very safe in Albania and it’s also very common. I did my fair share of solo hitchhiking in Albania – yes as a female – and felt perfectly safe doing so.
The hot springs can get quite busy, so I’d recommend trying to get there early in the day or late in the evening if possible. When I arrived the Benja hot springs were soooo busy I didn’t even bother going in them!
The Benja hot springs are pretty neat though AND they’re said to have natural healing powers, so this is something in Permet you don’t want to miss.
6. Explore Lengarica Canyon
^visit my Insta profile to watch my time in Permet!
When I researched things to do in Permet I’d read about Lengarica Canyon, however there was limited information out there about it. I knew generally where it was – but not really – and generally what it looked like – but not really.
I happened to accidentally discover the canyon because the Benja hot springs were so busy I walked further up the river to find a quiet place. And BOOM, Lengarica Canyon appeared!
Lengarica Canyon has been one of my favourite natural wonders of Albania so far. The canyon walls are detailed and rise high above the milky blue water below. You’ll find caves, lush vegetation, and some deeper pools further up the canyon that are great for swimming in. The best part about Lengarica Canyon? It’s a total hidden gem and not many people know about it. I can therefore guarantee you’ll have the entire canyon to yourself! I only saw 2 other people the entire time I was in the canyon and I spent hours exploring there.
Tips for Visiting Lengarica Canyon in Permet
- Hitchhike to the Benja hot springs, then walk under the bridge and continue until you find the caves, deeper swimming holes, and high canyon walls.
- Bring appropriate footwear – I always travel with a pair of Crocs for these types of adventures, but any type of sturdy sandal will do.
- Grab some of the clay from the bottom of the canyon and do a mask – face or body! You’ll have absolutely glowing skin afterwards.
- Bring lots of water and snacks. If you forget, there is a tiny shop on site that sells drinks and small snack foods like chips.
7. Raft Down the Vjosa River
If you’re visiting Permet earlier in the season when water levels are high you can actually go white water rafting!
The Vjosa River features class II and class III rapids which are perfect for people of all ages and ability levels. If you’re looking for things to do in Permet that revolve around adventure and the outdoors, I’d highly recommend participating in this tour.
You can check current prices and book the white water rafting tour here.
2 Day Adventure Itinerary in Permet
Day 1 in Permet
Wherever you’re travelling from, get the earliest bus to Permet – this is going to be an action packed and busy couple of days!
Grab lunch at one of the restaurants or patios on the main street (here’s my quick Permet food guide), then make your way to the Benja hot springs. The best way to access the Benja hot springs is via bike or hitchhiking. I 100% recommend hitchhiking though as biking this route would be exhausting.
Check out the Benja hot springs, but don’t spend too long here because Lengarica Canyon right around the corner is the real star of the show! I spent a solid 5 hours exploring Lengarica Canyon, so definitely plan to spend a decent amount of time here.
Once you’re finished at the canyon, hitchhike back to the town of Permet and make your way down to the city center for another delicious traditional Albanian meal.
Day 2 in Permet
Day 2 in Permet is the exciting day – you’re going horseback riding!
The horseback riding tour starts outside the Funky Guesthouse. You’ll take a quick 4×4 trip to the stable, then hop on a horse and start (literally) climbing mountains. The tour lasts for a few hours, which is plenty of time because you’ll get tired fast in the hot Albanian sun!
You can book the horseback tour here.
Afterwards you totally have time for a quick nap, if you fancy one.
In the evening you can walk along the Vjosa River in town, walk up the big rock, watch the alpenglow hit the neighbouring mountains, then grab one last delicious meal before leaving this hidden Albanian gem the following morning.
Optional: Day 3 in Permet
If you fall in love with Permet (like I did) you may want to extend your stay there. This is perfect as it’ll give you time to check one more Permet experience off your Albania bucket list!
If you’re staying for a third day in Permet I’d recommend signing up for the white water rafting tour down the Vjosa River. Permet is an adventure destination, so you might as well finish off the trip with one more epic excursion.
You can learn more and sign up for the white water rafting experience in Permet here.
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About The Author
Hey! I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.
After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.
I’m now focused on travelling the world and seeing everything our beautiful home has to offer.
I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.
I am also an advocate for the environment and do as much as I can to take care of our planet.
Get to know me and my story more here 🙂
I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!