My tenth day in Albania continued in Përmet as I made the drive from Korçë to Gjirokastër. Come along with us as we try some classic Albanian gliko and visit the Benja Thermal Baths and Katiu Bridge in Përmet, Albania!
My afternoon began with my boy Erjan from Travel Media EU as we continued our drive from Korçë to Gjirokastër in southeastern Albania. We were driving through the mountains close to the border with Greece. After an epic morning at Farma Sotira, we drove another 90 minutes straight to Përmet!
I couldn’t wait to get to Përmet! It’s famous for the Benja Thermal Baths, the Katiu Bridge, and its gliko, which is similar to marmalade, but consists of whole fruit. The road is rough and bumpy and hasn’t been updated in about 40 years. It’s also narrow and winds through the mountains. This drive was the most epic part of the trip so far! We stopped to get an awesome view of the river and mountains before we traveled on to the thermal baths.
There are about two dozen Ottoman bridges in Albania, and Katiu Bridge is one of them. Below the bridge are the famous Benja Thermal Baths of Përmet, Albania. There are three baths. One is said to heal your heart, one heals your skin, and the other heals your kidneys. This was the day I had been looking forward to the most!
The place was packed, but everyone was there for the thermal baths. I was there for the Ottoman bridge. It was epic! Nearby were some vendors serving byrek, goat meat, and kebabs. They also had wine, rakija with honey, marmalade, and more!
Unfortunately, there was a stage set up right in front of the bridge, but it was still gorgeous. I climbed up to the bridge. The stone is 500 years old! From the top, you can get unbelievable views of the thermal baths below. Be careful, as the stones are slippery! To the left is a thermal bath next to the river and to the right are two huge ones. We climbed down on the other side and headed down to the thermal bath for the skin. I wished I had my bathing suit to get in!
The water was nice and cold and smelled like sulfur. It’s cold in the summer and hot in the winter. It’s great place for families! I couldn’t get in, so I splashed some water on my head instead. When you come to the Benja Thermal Baths in Përmet, Albania, be sure to bring your bathing suit!
Then, we visited Birra Elbar to get some beer. It was delicious and super refreshing in the heat. I loved how light and fresh it was. It only cost $1 USD and was only 4.1% alcohol. Next, I met a vendor selling gliko, including watermelon, walnut, fig, and orange glikos. He usually charges 250 lekes for it but he gave me a jar for free!
The gliko takes 30 days to make, and they must change the water every day! From there, we continued on to Përmet! In Përmet, we passed by the stone of the city and arrived at a house called Shtëpia me Mozaik. They welcome guests and make gliko there! In their yard, they have vines overhead and a rock mosaic from 1908 on the floor. They also have two rooms!
The man who runs it speaks Italian and told me that the house is 100 years old. In the upstairs room, they have a twin bed and a queen-sized bed, as well as a stone wall, TV, and a modern bathroom. The room on the lower level has a slightly different setup but it’s in the same style and has the same furniture.
They grow tomatoes in their garden, as well as other fruit. Then, it was time to have some gliko! We had some nut, cherry, watermelon, orange, and fig gliko. We also had some strong rakija! The older woman there had some with us, too! The fig gliko was like crystallized and so tasty!
The watermelon gliko was so thick, rich, and sugary! I loved it. You chase every bit of gliko with some rakija! The nut gliko was Erjan’s favorite. It was so packed with flavor and had a seed inside. It was soft, delicious, and mouthwatering!
The orange gliko contained both the skin and meat of the fruit! The cherry gliko was like a sour and sweet burst in my mouth! What an amazing experience with an awesome local family! They welcome you to your family with the rakija!
Next, we headed to the rock of the city, a massive stone monolith in the middle of town. There’s a staircase that takes you to the top, where you get epic views of Përmet. Archaeologists have excavated items from the 4th century here. It’s 42 meters high! It’s a tough hike, but the views of the mountains, the valley, the river, and the city are more than worth it! There are even ruins on top!
What an incredible adventure exploring the thermal baths, Katiu Bridge, and having traditional gliko in Përmet, Albania! Huge thanks to my friends at Travel Media EU, Balkan Pearls Tour Operator, and Rental Car Albania for making this trip possible!
If you’re curious about my experience in Pogradec, Albania, keep reading this article.
I hope you liked coming with me to the Benja Thermal Baths and Katiu Bridge, and to try gliko in Përmet, Albania! If you did, please give this video a thumbs up and leave a comment below. Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel and click the notification bell so you don’t miss any of my travel/food adventures around the world!