It is located 35 minutes from Gjirokastra.

The town is located on the left bank of the Vjosa River and about three kilometres downstream from its union with the Drino. Its location is strategically important and there is a ruined citadel occupying a point 300 metres above the river.

The most important historical figure of the town is surely Ali Pasha of Tepelena, one of the most powerful autonomous Ottoman Albanian rulers. His court was in Ioannina, and the territory he governed incorporated most of Epirus and the western parts of Thessaly and Greek Macedonia in Northern Greece. Today a big statue dedicated to the ruler stand at the entrance of the town, welcoming the visitors.

In 1847, the British writer Edward Lear visited the town and noted some of the buildings of the town. In 1920, an earthquake severely damaged the town which was completely rebuilt afterwards.

Tepelenë is also famous in Albania for its natural water springs and water-related local enterprises.