Tirana - Kruja - Durres - Berrat - Vlora - Himare - Saranda - Gjirokastra - Korca - Pogradec - Ohrid (Macedonia) - Struga (Macedonia) - Elbasan - Durres (10 days).
Including 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Depending on time of arrival in Tirana, we may do a short city tour before or after check in at the hotel. In the evening, we'll have dinner at a traditional restaurant near the hotel. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast we start our tour driving around the centre of Tirana including a visit to Et'Hem Bej Mosque, built in 1789, one of the most beautiful mosques in Albania. Nearby, Tirana's Clock Tower will tell us more about the history of the town. We continue with a walking tour, visiting the buildings around the square and exploring their history and architecture. We visit the recently discovered ruins of the Justinian castle near the centre of Tirana.
In the second half of the day we visit Kruja, where we will visit Scanderbeg's museum within the castle and the ethnographic museum. After a visit to a traditional carpet workshop, you will have plenty of time to explore Kruja's bazaar, one of the biggest and riches in souvenirs and antiques in Albania.. Overnight in Tirana.
Today we we will drive towards 7th century BC Durres, the historical capital of Albania (1276 - 1920). Here we will visit one of the largest amphitheatres in the Balkans located within the walls of the Roman castle. We will wander through the galleries of the amphitheatre, explore the "Enigma of Durresi", and walk through the main gate to the arena in the same steps where, 1800 years ago, people would cheer the winning gladiator asking the Emperor for his freedom. We'll end our visit of Duressi with a coffee break by the sea, befor starting towards our next destination. Our visit in Berrat begins from the 4th century BC castle where we will admire the Byzantine era icons in the Onufri Icon Gallery, located within the old cathedral of the town. Some of the icons date back to the 18th century. After visiting the castle tour we drive to the downtown bazaar, the Bachelors mosque and the old buildings of Mangalemi neighborhood. Overnight in Berat
We check out from our hotel and continue our drive through Albania's oil fields, towards the 7th century BC archaeological site of Apollonia, the second largest Greek colony in Albania. We visit the Odeon, the Pritaneon, the Temple of Diana and the monastery next to the site, built with the marbles and stones taken from the temple and the old Greek theatre. We continue our day with a scenic drive along the coast of Vlora Bay, through the Coldwater tunnel, next to the ex-dictator's villa and near the orange plantations of Radhima. Leaving Radhima, the landscape dramatically changes as we climb to 1100 meters above sea level through the forest of Llogara National Park. Lunch will be in a local taverna located on the top of the pass, on a cliff overlooking the Ionian Sea, Corfu Island and the Albanian Riviera. After lunch we drive back down to sea level, on the recently rebuilt "Strada Bianca" road.
We stop to visit a local family in Dhermi village where we have sample raki and local deserts. We continue our drive south through the seven villages of the Himara region. The region of Himara is 72 kms in length from south to north and rich with natural and historical monuments such as Llamany beach and the 18th century Panormi castle of Ali Pasha. We will have a short coffee brak at the springs of Borshi and we continue our tour towards Saranda, where we arrive to our hotel in late afternoon. Overnight in Saranda
In the morning we drive to the ancient 7th century BC city of Butrinti, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1995. Butrinti is believed to be one of the best archaeological sites in Albania. Here, excavation has continued since 1930 when the first Italian archaeologist, Marconni, discovered some of the most important buildings of the town. The 5th century BC Asclepeion temple, the 4th century BC theatre, the 2nd century AD Roman baths, the 2nd century AD aqueduct, the 5th century AD Baptistry, and other important buildings, will help us discover the history of this town, which started as a Greek colony in the 7th century BC. At the top of the town, we visit the excellent museum, located within the walls of the 14th century Venetian castle. Some say this is the best museum, per square meter, in Albania!
Lunch will be in a local taverna in a Greek Minority village, on the way to Gjirokastra. After lunch we continue our tour driving towards Gjirokastra a UNESCO World Heritage town since 2004. Our first visit will be to the 14th century castle of Gjirokastra, with a chance to admire the old town from the castle summit. The town, however, is best known as the birthplace of the dictator (1908-1985) and his house, now an ethnographic museum, is open to visitors. Overnight in Gjirokastra.
After an early check out from the hotel, our first stop will be at the castle of Tepelena (built by Ali Pasha in the 19th century), visited by Lord Byron during his voyage through northern Greece and southern Albania as a guest of this powerful local pasha. We then drive through the Vjosa canyon towards the town of Permeti where we will have a coffee break. We continue our tour driving through the national park of Germeni towards our next destination, Korca. Lunch will be in a traditional taverna before arriving in Korca. We check in to our hotel in late afternoon. Dinner will be in a taverna with traditional local cuisine. Overnight in Korca.
Our day will start with a visit in Voskopoja, located at 1160 meters above see level. In its glory days (1730-1760), it is said that Voskopoja had a population surpassing 60,000 and was the second most important city of the Balkans. Here we will visit some of the most beautiful orthodox churches in Albania. We will continue our tour driving to Pogradec by the lake where we will have lunch in a special restaurant. In the second half of the day we enter the Republic of Macedonia where our first visit will be at the Sveti Naum Monastery, built in 905 on top of a cliff overlooking Ohrid Lake. There is time to visit the monastery church where the saint is buried. Believers come from all over the country to "hear the beating of his heart". In the evening we take a short walk to Ohrid's Old town where we have dinner in a traditional restaurant. Overnight in Ohrid
After meeting our Macedonian local guide, we begin our day with a visit to Saint Mary's church where some of the most beautiful and unique icons are displayed in its art gallery. Nearby we will visit the ruins of the 4th century AD Roman amphitheatre. A short uphill walk takes us to a newly discovered archaeological site where excavation is ongoing. The Kaneo church, a symbol of the Slavic orthodox religion, will be our next stop. Walking along the lakeshore we reach Sveti Sophia church, the town's cathedral. Lunch is by the lake in the Old Town. After lunch we visit the oldest paper workshop in Macedonia and a shop specializing in hand-made pearls - a local and secret tradition. Our afternoon is at leisure to allow time to explore the town and shop for Macedonian souvenirs. Dinner will be in another excellent traditional restaurant. Overnight in Ohrid.
Our day starts with a short drive to the town of Struga, located by the lake. Here we visit the "Church in the Cave". so called by the locals, and one of the oldest churches in Macedonia. We then spend some time in the town of Struga where Albanians are the majority of the population, making Struga different from other Macedonian towns with minarets standing next to bell towers. We explore the local bazaar and wander through the streets of the old town. A short drive will take us to the springs of Vevcani located in a national park. Here we have lunch in a local taverna nearby springs to enjoy a traditional Macedonian meal. In the second half of the day we drive to Elbasan to visit the 2nd century BC castle where we'll have s coffee break in the castle's restaurant. Our day ends with a short drive to Durresi where we check in to our hotel for some time to relax. Dinner will be in a seafood restaurant by the sea. Overnight in Durres.
You are transferred to Tirana international airport for your flight back home
This is a general overview of the program; full details to be sent at time of booking.
Price, Reservations & Payments:
Price will vary based on a personalized and individualized package.
The tour must be booked prior to your arrival.
To confirm your reservation, we require a deposit equal to 30% of the value of the tour, prior to your arrival.
The balance of payment is due on arrival.
Included in the tour price:
Finest accommodations in holiday homes or hotels. Breakfast (all three a la carte meals are optional). Bottled water, coffee and tea at coffee breaks and meals. Transportation by comfortable air-conditioned vehicles. Expert English-speaking local guides throughout the tour. Comprehensive sightseeing as outlined in the itinerary. Entrance fees to monuments and museums as shown in the itinerary. Baggage assistance for one suitcase.
Not included in the tour price:
International airfares & Airport taxes Discretionary end of tour gratuity to the Travelnet guide and driver. Passport, visas & expenses of a personal nature