On day seven of our Bike Beyond Boundaries tour of Albania’s World Heritage Sites, we cycled from Gjirokastra, birthplace of feared dictator Enver Hoxha as well as renowned writer Ismail Kadare, over the steep Gjerë mountains to the straits of Corfu and our next UNESCO World Heritage stop: beautiful Butrint. In this lush archaeological complex, we found ruins dating back to Hellenistic times, representing 2,500+ years of Albania’s turbulent history. The government-protected site is now home to 26 endangered species, including the wolf and the white-tailed eagle, making it the country’s richest site for bio-diversity. After devouring plates of seafood pasta in the restaurant adjacent to Butrint National Park, we passed olive and eucalyptus trees, wetlands, lagoons and meadows. We climbed the stairs of the theater, performed onstage, then followed the path to the Triconch Palace and 6th century baptistry. Past city walls and gates, we arrived at the summit, where Butrint’s acropolis once stood. Looking across the turquoise water of Vivari Channel to the Straits of Corfu, we could see the fortress that may have been built by Ali Pasha Tepeena, ruler of northwestern Greece and southern Albania for more than 30 years.
Beautiful Butrint National Park
Butrint National Park offers many reasons to visit, including the incredibly picturesque lagoon, Ksamil beach, and the UNESCO-listed archeological site and museum. This entire region in the southwest of Albania is pristine and stunningly beautiful. You can wander through the ruins of ancient civilizations, and later spend the evening watching the sunset over the wetlands and the Greek island of Corfu.