Albania & Northern Macedonia (8 days)

We shall be running this tour for groups starting from Spring 2022. Here are the new dates we are proposing it :

September 24th 2023

October 04th 2023

October 26th 2023

April 14th 2024

May 22nd 2024

June 03rd 2024

Day 1 Tirana airport Tirana

Arrival at Rinas airport in Albania’s interesting and chaotic capital.

Transfer to Tirana and check in at a hotel two steps from the downtown core. (approx. 25 min drive)

Visit the Bunk’Art, the National History Museum (depending on arrival time), the Mosque of Et’hem Bey, the Block (former communist neighborhood) and get a taste of a relaxing evening. Dinner in a traditional restaurant with delicious local cuisine. Overnight in Tirana.

Day 2 Tirana – Ohrid ( Macedonian side)

Depart to the area of Lake Ohrid. (approx. 2h30′ drive) Cross border to Northern Macedonia.

Visit the Old Town of Ohrid (UNESCO Heritage List)

Take a boat tour in the Lake (Lake is a UNESCO site being one of the 4 oldest lakes in the World). Overnight in Ohrid in a coastal hotel closed to the Old Town.

Day 3 Ohrid – Berat

Drive to Sveti Naum for a visit of the beautiful ancient monastery (9th century) (approx. 50min drive)

Transfer to Berat, another UNESCO World Heritage Site (approx. 2 hr 20. min drive.)

Check into a local hotel located in a picturesque part of town with architecture dating to the Byzantine and Ottoman periods.

Visit the traditional low neighborhoods of Mangalem and Gorica, (which gave Berat the nickname “Town of a 1001 Windows.“) Unique traditional dinner in town. Overnight in Berat.

Day 4 Berat – Gjirokaster

Breakfast and tour of the Castle of Berat with its chapels, typical houses, the ancient walls of Antipatrea and the Orthodox Cathedral with its art collection from 16th century iconography artist Onufri.

Transfer to Gjirokastra, full of marvelous architecture (approx. 2 hr drive.)

Check-in at a hotel situated in a typical town house.

Visit the Ethnographic Museum (communist dictator Enver Hoxha’s birth house) and the Skendulaj house (a private visit that will ensure the family who owns it keeps the place preserved, as it’s one of the most beautiful and special houses of the region – its 42 doors and 62 windows are only some of the elements which have impressed visitors we’ve brought here!)

If time permits we’ll visit the Castle of Gjirokastra, its Weapon Museum and the former prison of the Castle (if not today, we’ll try to squeeze it in tomorrow morning!)

Traditional dinner with local specialties – try the qifqi (rice balls!) Overnight Gjirokaster.

Day 5 Gjirokastra – Blue Eye Spring – Butrint – Saranda

Depart for Blue Eye Spring (approx. 1hr drive), checking out Enver Hoxha’s concrete bunkers on the way (there are than 700 000 of them, built in an attempt to keep the population under a constant threat of terror; they are a modern symbol of the isolation and suffering that Albanians went through.)

Visit the stunning natural spring Blue Eye: a spectacular park and perfect place for a relaxing break.

Depart for the famous UNESCO archaeological site of Butrint (approx. 1 hr drive.)

Learn the history and walk the grounds of this large site perched among hills and with stunning views of Lake Butrint.  We’ll also visit the museum on site.

Depart for the coastal city of Saranda (approx. – 30 min drive) stopping for a traditional seafood lunch in front of the turquoise waters of the Bay of Ksamil.

Enjoy a sunset digestive on the Fortress of Lekuresi dominating the Bay of Saranda with a breathtaking panorama of Corfu.

Check in at the hotel; free evening to explore town and nightlife. Overnight in Saranda.

Day 6 Saranda – Porto Palermo – Vlora (approx. 3 hr drive)

Early morning breakfast and trip along the spectacular Albanian Riviera (about 120 km of mountains coming down into the blue waters of the Ionian Sea!)

Stop for pictures of the landscape and of the beautiful little villages on the way; refreshments by natural springs or on the beach.

Lunch in the Bay of Porto Palermo; visit the beautiful and romantic Castle of Vasiliqia (built in early 19th century by Ali Pasha of Tepelena, the “Mohametan Bonaparte” made famous in Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo and poet George Gordon Byron’s Child Harold’s Pilgrimage.)

Go over the stunningly high Caesar’s Pass with views that will be unlike anything you’ve experienced!

Arrive in Vlora and visit Independence Square (where, in 1912, Albania became independent after 500 years of Ottoman domination.) Have a little taste of Albanian polyphonic music – another element from Albania having made its way to the very well respected list of Human Heritage of UNESCO. Overnight in Vlora

Day 7 Vlora – Apollonia – Tirana

After breakfast departure towards the archeological site of Apollonia (approx. 50 min drive). It has the reputation of being the “Oxford” of antiquity and a beautiful setting between a valley and the Adriatic Sea. It hosts a really fine archeological museums with original artefacts from the site itself.

On the way to Tirana(approx. 2 hr. drive) make a stop at Ardenica Monastery. The Church of St. Mary at Ardenica is well worth a stop – under communism it was used as a military storeroom, which perhaps explains how its wood carvings and icons are so well preserved.

Arrival in Tirana in the late afternoon. Check in the hotel and free time.

Day 8 Tirana – Airport

Transfer to the airport for flight back home.

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