Day 1: Tirana
Arrival at Tirana airport where you are met by our representative and transfer to Hotel. Time permitting visit the National Historic Museum in Tirana offering an in depth introduction to Albanian history from prehistoric times to present day. Traditional Dinner at local restaurant. Overnight in Tirana. Hotel 3-4*.
Day 2: Tirana – Ardenica – Apollonia – Vlora
After breakfast, depart for Vlora. On the way stop at the Monastery of Ardenica, supposed to have been built in the middle ages, as argued by a stone in entrance dating back to the 1417. However the first building belongs to the beginning of XVIII century. Today inside the church you can admire icon paintings of 1743-1745, by Albanian artists such as Konstandin and Athanos Zografi, as well as Konstandin Shpataraku. Proceed to the ancient city of Apollonia one of the most important cities in Roman times, situated on the famous Via Egnatia. Known also as Apolonia Prima, it became a renowned learning centre under the Romans. The Roman Emperor Augustus Octavian himself studied here. Visit the city and the Orthodox monastery turned into archaeological museum of the site. Afterward we continue to Vlora where we visit the Independence Museum, situated in the original house where the first Independent Albanian Government had its offices. Afternoon & evening at leisure. Dinner and overnight in Vlora. Hotel 3* Superior.
Day 3: Vlora – Saranda
After an early breakfast we depart for Saranda. Drive on the spectacular Albanian Riviera looking down at the Ionian Sea. Breathtaking sceneries await us at the Llogara pass - 1000 m above sea level. We continue on to Saranda. After independent lunch in town proceed to the ancient city of Butrint a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of its passing inhabitants and their civilizations. Situated in a beautiful peninsula among dense vegetation simply adds to its attractiveness making it a great site to visit for both culture and nature buffs. You will enjoy a fish based dinner in spectacular surroundings, at a traditional local restaurant situated in a restored small castle overlooking the Bay of Saranda and the Island of Corfu. Overnight in Saranda. Hotel 3-4*.
Day 4: Saranda – Gjirokastra – Berat
After early breakfast drive to Berat a recent UNESCO addition. Stop in Gjirokastra a UNESCO site and museum town with beautiful and very distinct architecture. Visit the Fortress which is used as the venue for the National Festival of Folk Song and Dance and has an arms museum with weapons from WW I and the Ethnographic Museum which is also the house the Albanian dictator was born in. We suggest the group should stop for lunch close to Tepelena, renowned for its crystal clear water among beautiful scenery, on the way to Berat. Check in at the hotel and the group is then left at leisure to explore Berat. Dinner and overnight in Berat. Hotel 3*.
Day 5: Berat – Durres
After breakfast visit the Castle and the Onufri Museum. Berat castle is of particular interest as people still live within its walls in their traditional houses, as have their ancestors for centuries. The castle used to have over 40 churches of which 7 still remain including one turned into Onufri Museum. Onufri was an Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century who painted many orthodox churches in Albania and Greece which used first a very particular shade of red nowadays named after him. After this interesting experience we depart for Durres one of the oldest (founded in 627 B.C.) and most important cities in Albania. After lunch we take a sightseeing tour of the Amphitheater situated in the middle of the modern city in an inhabited area, and the Archaeological museum rich in artifacts found in the city and its suburbs. For dinner we will be at a local restaurant. Overnight in Durres. Hotel 3*.
Day 6: Durres – Kruja – Tirana
After breakfast drive to Kruja - the centre of Albanian resistance against the Turks under our national hero Scanderbeg. He kept them from crossing into Western Europe for 25 years, thus receiving by the Pope the title “Champion of Christ”. Visit the Skanderbeg Museum, a very rich Ethnographic Museum and the Old Bazaar. After lunch we depart for Tirana the capital. A visit to Ethem Bej Mosque, the communist area known as blloku a forbidden city for ordinary Albanians until 1991, where the villas of the politburo were located. In the afternoon group is left free, to explore the capital city. Dinner in local restaurant. Overnight in Tirana. Hotel 3-4*.
Day 7: Tirana - Airport
After breakfast, free to explore until time of transfer to Airport where we say goodbye.
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Europe Albania Local Culture Cultural Journey
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