Tirana - Durres - Berrat - Apollonia - Vlora - Himara - Saranda - Butrinti - Gjirokastra - Ardenica - Tirana (7 days)
If your arrival time in Tirana allows, we will do a short city tour before or after check in at the hotel. Dinner is in a traditional restaurant near the hotel.
We start our day after breakfast with a visit to the Clock Tower and Et'Hem Bej Mosque, built in 1789, and one of the most beautiful mosques in Albania. We continue with a walking tour, visiting the buildings around the main square, exploring their history and architecture. We visit the recently discovered ruins of the Justinian castle near the centre of Tirana and then drive to a private art gallery, located in an old traditional 18th century Tirana house.
For the second part of our tour, we drive to Durres, the historical capital of Albania. On arrival we have lunch in a fish restaurant by the sea. After lunch, within the walls of Durres Castle, we visit the 2nd century Roman amphitheater and the archaeological museum.
We drive back to Tirana in late afternoon. In the evening, we explore the nightlife of Tirana walking in the ex-block area - "the forbidden town" - where villas of communist leaders are still standing next to trendy boutiques, expensive gallery shops and local pubs. A glass of beer or wine will end our second day in Albania.
Today we drive to Berrat, a UNESCO World Heritage town since 2008. Our visit starts from the 4th century BC castle of Berat where we admire the Byzantine-era icons in the Icon Gallery, located within the old town cathedral. We continue with a short visit in the downtown area to admire the Bachelors mosque and the old bazaar.
After lunch we drive to Vlora. On the way, a short visit is made to a local winery, one of the finest in the country.
Next we stop at the 7th century BC archaeological site of Apollonia, the second largest Greek colony. We visit the Odeon, Pritaneon, Temple of Diana and the nearby monastery, built with marble and stones taken from the site.
In late afternoon, we arrive at our hotel in Vlora, located along the sea near the center of town. Dinner is in the hotel restaurant, known for its excellent seafood.
After breakfast we drive through Llogara National Park located on Cika Mountain at 2150 meters. We have a short break at 1100 meters above sea level, for some photo opportunities and a chance to taste some local specialties. The rest of our day will be driving along the sea of the Albanian Riviera and through the eight old villages of Himara. In the village of Dhermi, we visit a local family to enjoy a coffee with raki and local deserts. After a short stop in photogenic little town of Himara by the sea, we visit the 19th century Ali Pasha's castle in Panormy Bay, with a chance to photograph what is left of the old Albanian navy U-boat base.
After visiting the Borshi springs, we drive to the town of Saranda. On the way, we have lunch in a local fish taverna.
After check in and some free time in our hotel, we'll drive up to Lecursi castle for a breathtaking view overlooking Saranda Bay and Corfu Island.
Dinner is arranged in one of Saranda's popular fish restaurants by the sea, where fish soup is highly recommended.
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 aquadod, 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!
After a coffee break, we drive to Gjirokastra, another UNESCO World Heritage town since 2002. On the way, we stop for lunch in a small village traditional taverna to enjoy wonderful Albanian cuisine and local wine. After a coffee and raki break with a local family, we continue to Gjirokastra.
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 castle was used as a prison until 1979 when the Albanian dictator decided to turn it into a museum. 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.
We check in to our hotel to prepare for dinner in a restaurant located at a nearby lake.
Today we drive back to Tirana. But first we visit the 13th century Ardenica Monastery where we admire a unique example of Byzantine art and iconography. We will lunch in a small restaurant next to the monastery, where traditional Albanian food is served.
We arrive in Tirana in early afternoon and check in at our hotel. This evening, dinner is in a local restaurant after which we'll have some leisure time with a chance to spend remaining Albanian Lek on souvenirs or post cards.
After breakfast, we drive to the airport for your flight 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