Permet, a tiny town nestled in the central mountains of Albania, attracts avid adventurers. No mass tourism here; tour buses don’t even reach this offbeat destination. Yet, it offers some of Albania’s coolest experiences.
Permet’s Brief History
Though not the most riveting part of an article, knowing the history of your destination is essential. A concise overview:
- No records from the Roman and Byzantine eras are found for this city.
- First mentions of settlements date back to the 13th-14th centuries.
- Permet was under Ottoman rule until the 18th century.
- In the 19th century, it gained local importance with Albanian and Greek schools and a hospital.
- During the 20th century, due to its strategic location, Permet played a significant role in resistance movements during various wars and conflicts, harboring partisan groups against aggressors.
- All changed when Enver Hoxha came to power, intertwining Permet’s history with Albania’s.
Today, Permet serves as the center of a municipality within Gjirokaster city.
- Around 5000 people reside in the town.
- Including the suburbs, the total population reaches 9000.
Notable:Permet is now renowned for its stunning landscapes, vibrant flower scenes, and excellent accessibility to remarkable attractions.
As the town is small (as you’ll discover in the attractions section), the location for your stay is not crucial. Any spot in Permet will put you within a 15-minute walk to the central square. Most tourist accommodations are just 5-7 minutes away from the center.
And the center itself is a beautiful pedestrian street 250 meters long. And a large main square. If you take your time, you can walk the entire center in 30 minutes.
Important:While apartments are popular accommodations for tourists in Albania, they are scarce in Permet. The majority of rental options are guesthouses. Learn more about the differences and pros and cons in the article: “Accommodation in Albania for the Traveler.“
Below are some excellent choices for a 1-2 night stay in Permet, with links to resources for more rental options.
- Funky Guest House – The Best Guesthouse in Town
- Great rooms, exceptional service, and a prime location right on the central square.
- Special perks: Breakfast included, a huge plus in such a small town. They also organize fantastic activities, such as horseback riding around Permet and rafting.
- Ilir Guest House – A Cool & Budget-Friendly Pick
- Tasty homemade breakfast included.
- The highlight is a large rooftop terrace with mountain views.
- Very hospitable hosts.
What to see in Permet is not a difficult question. The whole town, along with its three main attractions, can be explored in an hour. Distances between attractions are around 200 meters. Despite the limited tourist spots, the surrounding mountains make it incredibly scenic.
Beyond Permet lies a completely different picture, with countless attractions you can’t cover in a day. I’ll list them below, including prices, how to get there, and tips. For a map of attractions in Permet and all of Albania, check the link provided.
The Big Rock of Permet – Guri i Qytetit
A piece of rock or a large boulder, call it what you will, stands at the city center.
- Height: 20 meters
- Coordinates: 40.236251, 20.351986
- Albanian name (just in case): Guri i Qytetit
- An observation platform sits atop the rock.
- Open 24/7, free admission.
- Time needed: 10 minutes for everything.
Author’s rating:For Permet, it’s a 10 out of 10 and the best attraction in the town, though it’s just a big rock. But climbing to the viewpoint is a must.
Useful to Know:The rock looks very impressive from the side. The observation deck is not visible from the road, nor are the steps leading up to it. If you don’t know, you might pass it by. Go around to the other side, where you’ll find the steps leading up.
Observation Deck near the Main Square
It’s hard to call it an observation deck. It’s much cooler on the rock mentioned earlier. It’s about 150 meters from the rock, and you’ll have to walk to reach it. Nonetheless, it offers a beautiful view of the river with the canyon.
- Coordinates: 40.233847, 20.353937
- Free and open 24/7.
- It looks like a raised platform about 5 meters above the ground.
- You’ll spend 3 minutes, including taking photos.
Author’s rating:1 out of 10. There’s not much to do here, but you’ll probably end up here anyway. Limited options for evening walks.
The Main Square and Pedestrian Street
Located just 100 meters from the observation deck. As mentioned earlier, the street itself is only 200 meters long. But it’s beautiful, with lots of flowers in summer, clean, and tidy. There are cafes everywhere, and an excellent restaurant is a little further down the street, about 400 meters from the square. You can find it on the travel map in the header of this guide.
- Coordinates of the main square: 40.233113, 20.353528
- You’ll need 30 minutes for the entire walk.
- In the evening, make sure to visit the “Familjari” restaurant.
- Coordinates: 40.231733, 20.355639
- Very cool and welcoming.
- Though the staff struggles with English, even the numbers, you’ll manage. You won’t leave hungry.
Author’s rating:I’ll give it 5 out of 10. It’s nice for a leisurely stroll and enjoying the mountain views. Don’t expect anything extraordinary, but you can’t skip this place if you’ve come to Permet.
That concludes the attractions of Permet :). Now, on to the reason you’re here.
Albania’s Most Beautiful Road: SH75
This 162-kilometer road winds through the Balkan Mountains. The largest city on this road is Permet. It’s an incredibly scenic and romantic drive, with genuine mountain serpentine roads and stunning views of the mountains every 30 seconds.
- You can cover the entire SH75 road without stops in 4 hours.
- However, most people split the trip into two days with an overnight stay in Permet. Find out why in the next chapters.
- For a detailed report and many photos of the SH75 road, follow the link. There’s useful information about which sections of the road are a must-visit and which you can skip.
- The road is entirely toll-free.
Author’s rating:Some sections, at least two of the 20-kilometer stretches, are a must-visit, as mentioned in the full report. Also, here’s a tip: it’s impossible to reach Permet without taking the SH75 road, unless you’re flying by helicopter. There’s no other road to Permet except SH75. So, if you’re here, you’ve already experienced part of Albania’s most beautiful road.
Benje Hot Springs and Byzantine Bridge
This is one of Albania’s top attractions. If you had to make a list of three must-visit places, Benje Hot Springs would be on it.
About 14 kilometers from Permet, a small mountain river flows. Along its banks, for about two kilometers, numerous hot springs gush from under the ground.
- Coordinates: 40.243900, 20.432461
- There are around 20 springs.
- All of them are sulfuric, so there’s a faint smell of rotten eggs. However, it’s not overpowering, and you quickly get used to it.
- People have built stone pools for bathing in the hot spring areas.
- The water color varies throughout.
- Temperatures range from the hottest +30°C to the coolest +25°C.
Useful to Know:You can’t say the water is boiling, but it’s generally comfortable to sit in, especially in autumn.
- The hot springs are open year-round and completely free.
- Nearby, there’s a Byzantine bridge, still in use today.
- Read more about Benje Hot Springs and the Langarica Canyon in the full article. You’ll find plenty of advice on how to find the springs without the tourist crowds.
Author’s recommendation:Did you see the photos above? That’s an honest 10 out of 10, and it’s a must-visit attraction.
If we look at it globally, it’s part of the hot springs location. You’ll find a full guide on how to get to the Langarica Canyon in the same link provided earlier. The situation is such that only 1% of all tourists who come to the hot springs venture to the Langarica Canyon, despite it starting just 600 meters from the springs.
- Coordinates: 40.255080, 20.459918
- There are viewpoints around the canyon, but you’re not interested in them.
- You want to explore the canyon itself and the hiking route through it.
- Plan about 2-3 hours, but you can turn back at any time.
Author’s rating:10 out of 10. Together with the hot springs, this will be one of the best days of your trip to Albania. Allocate your entire day for these two locations.
Osumi Canyon is another important attraction in Albania. Looking at it globally, it’s just as impressive as Langarica near the Benje hot springs, but there are several BUTs:
- While Langarica is only 14 km away from Permet and takes about 20 minutes to reach on a good road, Osumi is 45 km away, and the journey takes about 2 hours on a bad road. Nevertheless, the nearest town to the canyon is Permet.
- Coordinates of Osumi Canyon: 40.454504, 20.265657
- It’s challenging to descend into the canyon; you can only view it from the bridge. This gives a completely different impression.
- Traveling here for 2 hours one way just for one photo on the bridge might be a questionable pleasure.
Author’s rating:4 out of 10. It’s very beautiful, but Langarica is far more impressive. If, God forbid, you find yourself in this remote place, it’s worth stopping and admiring the beauty. The only reason to make a dedicated trip here is mentioned below.
Rafting in Albania, Permet
Surprisingly, the city of Permet is the center of mountain rafting in Albania. All the best rafting tours take place here, or rather, the organizing company is located in Permet. For detailed information tours and activities in Albania, rafting, paragliding, where to book, and more, read the article at the link. Here’s a brief overview specifically about rafting:
- There are several rivers and routes, but 90% of rafting takes place either in Langarica or Osumi. By the way, the Langarica Canyon is often referred to as the Benje Canyon; know that they are the same.
- And here’s where rafting becomes the reason to come to Osumi Canyon.
- Important to know: Rafting in Albania is available only during the high-water season.
- Depending on the month and current weather conditions, some routes may be open while others are closed.
- Average cost of rafting per person: 50 euros.
- The time you need to plan for the entire rafting experience, including transfers, briefing, rafting, and return to Permet: 4-6 hours, depending on the canyon.
Author’s rating:If the water is high, and the rivers in the canyons are full, it will be a fantastic experience. I give it a 10 out of 10. You might get a photo like this too.
Well, did the little town of Permet surprise you with its list of attractions? It surprised me when I was here for the first time. Tourists unjustly pass it by just because they don’t know what you know. If you don’t reduce your speed, you can zip through the town in 30 seconds.
Here are my tips:
- Make sure to include Permet in your travel itinerary.
- Ideally, you could even stay for two full days.
- Day 1: Hot springs and the canyon.
- Day 2: Rafting and horseback riding.
- And then there’s the SH75 road, and how do you fit everything in? 🙂
For the perfect travel itinerary by car in Albania, with timing and ready-made options, read the link.
In conclusion: Everywhere they write that the most impressive cities in Albania aren’t on the coast but the ancient towns of Berat and Gjirokaster. Yes, that’s true. You must visit those cities. However, people often forget about Permet. It doesn’t have the same historical charm and cultural landmarks as the towns above, but it boasts magnificent mountains, unique springs, and unforgettable canyons.
Permet is all about nature and mountains!
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania
- Flights at the best prices with juicy discounts
- Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
- Hotels and apartments throughout the country: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card in Albania
- Taxi and transfers: Intui.Travel