Oh, how I envy you! You’re about to visit the thermal baths of Albania. This attraction is among the top best places in the country. I’ll now share everything a tourist needs to know about this place and provide numerous truly useful tips and life hacks. Additionally, there’ll be a bonus with information about the hiking trail through the Benje Canyon, also known as Langarica.
Benje Hot Springs: General Information
While Albania may not have other hot springs, it does have other canyons, such as the Osumi Canyon and the Komani Lake. However, the Benje or Langarica Canyon is the main and most famous one, so it’s often referred to simply as “Canyon.”
The thermal springs are located 14 km away from the small town of Permet in central mountainous Albania.
- A complete overview of the city of Permet.
- Permet is not perfect, but it’s the only town near the Benje Springs. If you plan to stay overnight, this is your only option. Plus, it’s a charming town surrounded by mountains from all sides.
- The nearest sea from the springs is 125 km away, which means over 2 hours of driving by car.
- These are thermal sulfur springs that flow all year round from underground.
- If you’ve ever been to sulfur springs, you know what to expect; for those who haven’t, be aware that the smell in such places can be quite strong, like rotten eggs, and it might trigger some people’s gag reflex. But there are two advantages:
- You get used to the smell quickly, and after 15 minutes, you won’t feel it anymore.
- The sulfur concentration here is not as strong and unpleasant as we encountered in springs in Greece, for example.
Important to know:Albania’s thermal springs are completely free and located right on the river in the wilderness of the mountains. They are open 24/7, 365 days a year, and people even come here in winter. If you want to know what winter is like in Albania and what to expect in the mountains, read about it in this article.
How to Get There and Where to Stay?
A short but essential section.
- Coordinates of the Benje Springs: 40.243859, 20.432465.
- I won’t go into detail about how to get there by car; just enter the coordinates into your phone’s GPS, and you’ll get there.
Useful to know:If you haven’t realized it yet or haven’t spent much time searching for information about Albania, you should know that traveling in this country requires a car. Without a car, you won’t reach about 30% of the places, or it’ll take you five times longer. Read all about car rental and pitfalls here.
If you’re traveling by car, many people overlook that the road to the springs goes through the most beautiful road in the country, SH75. There are certain sections that you must pass to avoid missing out; read about it in the article reviewing this road.
From Tirana, there are several daily buses to the city of Permet. The journey takes a little less than 5 hours. The ticket price is 1000 lek (10$). You can find the current schedule for your dates in this article.
From Permet, there is no public transportation to the springs. After that, it’s either a taxi or hitchhiking! Both are viable options. Hitchhiking in Albania is safe, no matter what some might say.
- Stay overnight only in Permet; the link was provided above. There are several good accommodation options there.
It’s important to understand thatvisiting the springs and canyon will take around 4-5 hours of your day. Since this is a remote region of Albania, around 99% of tourists stay overnight in Permet. I’ll provide more information about the timing below.
Thermal Springs of Albania: How to Experience the Visit
Pay close attention to these tips; there are some tricks involved!
There are about 20 springs in this area, flowing along the river and the canyon. The distance between the first and last spring is probably around 1 km. The water temperature in each spring varies from +25 to +30 degrees Celsius.
Important to know:Although they are called “hot springs,” the water is actually quite comfortable and pleasant, not boiling hot like in Budapest’s baths. However, during autumn and winter, they may feel very hot, while in summer, it’s just delightful to lie in them.
- Coordinates of the parking area: 40.244169, 20.431862. You don’t need to cross the car bridge and drive up the hill. Just turn left about 200 meters before the thermal springs, near the Byzantine bridge, which you’ll see ahead.
Useful to know:There are no changing rooms or toilets here. It’s the wild nature, as is the case throughout Albania.
Where the largest springs emerge, they’ve created pools with stones or concrete. You can bathe in these pools. There are about 10 of them along the canyon. The largest pool is around 15-20 meters in diameter, while the smallest ones are about 2 by 2 meters.
And here comes the most interesting part. The two main springs are right at the beginning, near the parking lot and the bridge. This is where crowds of people gather, especially during the peak season. It can get as busy as the baths in Budapest :). 95% of the visitors don’t even know that there are more springs further down the canyon. And some of them have even hotter water.
So, they take their time soaking in the pools, taking photos, enjoying the views, and then move on to the next springs where there are no tourists.
Thermal Baths of Albania: Coordinates
- №1. 40.244169, 20.431862 – The main and most popular spring, also the largest one.
- №2. 40.244313, 20.432565 – Equally popular, located right under the Byzantine bridge, but smaller in size.
- №3. 40.245025, 20.432616 – Small pools located 100 meters from the main springs.
- №4. 40.244902, 20.435003 – A cool pool with a view of the cliffs. The water is slightly cooler than in other springs.
- №5. 40.244331, 20.436833 – The most impressive spring, and there are no people around.
Advice:From the Byzantine bridge, simply walk upstream along the riverbank to find the hot springs. You won’t miss them, as the water has a distinct color. Make sure to mark spring №5, which is located a bit higher than the river level; you might miss it if you’re not aware. Use the mini waterfall as a reference; it will be above the waterfall.
Important to know:There are more than five springs in total. These are just the most popular ones with man-made structures.
Benje Canyon or Langarica Canyon
If you reach spring №5, which isn’t far from the bridge, about a 15-minute walk, you’ll almost be at the beginning of the canyon. Here’s what you should know about it:
- The canyon is about 3 km (1.86 miles) long.
- The viewpoints at the top of the canyon are not what makes it interesting. While they exist, you don’t need them.
- The essence of visiting the canyon is to walk on foot along the narrow gorge at the bottom of the canyon.
- There’s no specific destination; it’s all about the journey, just like a samurai. You walk and enjoy a place you’ve never been to before and might never visit again.
- The canyon twists and turns significantly, and in some places, the sheer cliffs narrow to 5-7 meters (16-23 feet).
- At any moment, you can turn around and go back. There’s no specific endpoint or goal you need to reach. I believe the most exciting part of the canyon is in the middle, and there’s no need to walk all the way to the end.
Interesting to know:These numbers are approximate, but just to give you an idea: during the peak season, perhaps around a thousand people visit the first two springs near the bridge daily. Only about 10% of visitors reach spring №5. The rest congregate around the beginning, like herrings in a school. As for the canyon, only about 1% of tourists venture further into it. You’ll be practically alone there, or maybe there will be just a few people.
- Coordinates of the canyon’s starting point: 40.256590, 20.464797.
- End of the canyon: 40.256590, 20.464797.
You can start your journey from either end, the beginning or the end. It’s just more convenient to walk from the springs, along the riverbed, to the canyon and then return.
When is Benje Canyon Closed?
While you can visit the hot springs, especially the first two near the bridge, all year round, it’s not the same for the canyon. In spring, when the snow melts from the mountains, the water level rises significantly, making it impossible to walk through the canyon. This happens for just a couple of months a year, and it doesn’t occur every year. I heard that in 2021, even in spring, it was possible to walk through the canyon as the water levels were unusually low.
- The canyon is wild, and no one will be there to rescue you. Assess your abilities rationally. If you notice that the water has risen, and the current is strong, don’t attempt to pass.
However, when the water is high, instead of hiking through the canyon, you can organize rafting. But that’s a story for a completely different article: Excursions in Albania.
Here’s something to write down or remember:
- Pack snacks, water, and beer with you; you won’t find any of these there. Although during the peak season, locals might come by in a minivan and sell beverages and snacks, it’s still a rarity.
- There’s no path or road along the canyon to the remote springs, or within the canyon itself. You simply walk along the riverbed. This requires constantly crossing the river. The riverbed is rocky, with sharp stones and a fairly strong current. Barefoot walking is extremely challenging.
- Ideally, wear swimsuit and sandals or shoes you don’t mind getting wet. At some points, the water was waist-deep, but it mostly reached the knees.
- Remove silver jewelry 🙂 If you skipped chemistry class in school, as I did, just google what happens to silver in sulfur water.
- Spoiler: It oxidizes and turns black.
- Plan to spend almost the entire day at the thermal springs and canyon. If you have the time, consider arranging two nights in the city of Permet to fully enjoy the springs without long transfers.
Here’s another good piece of advice: the canyon is surrounded by steep cliffs, as you can see from the photos. The sun shines here for just about 2 hours a day. In the shadow of the Langarica Canyon, it’s very cool and refreshing, and the water in the river, where you’ll be walking most of the time, is very cold. The canyon walls don’t heat up, and they emanate a cold breeze. Plan your timing so that you’re in the middle of the canyon during the day.
Albania’s thermal springs and Benje Canyon are among the most remarkable attractions of the country. Those who come to Albania solely for a beach vacation miss out on a lot. But I’m confident that won’t be the case for you. If you’re planning your trip here, include Permet, the SH75 route, and the ancient city of Gjirokastër in your itinerary; you won’t regret it.
Wishing you warmer waters and fewer tourists!
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