- 4 June
- 8 October
- 2 June
- 6 October next year.
Tucked away in a little visited corner of Europe lies Albania, a charming and delightful country that few people know much about. For years it was a closed society, ruled by the iron fist of Communism, but since the end of the Cold War it has been showing curious travelers its many charms. Its location between some of Europe’s most important empires has left it well endowed with a wealth of attractions from the Greek, Roman and Ottoman eras, and its mountainous landscape is home to traditional villages and stunning wildlife.
On this trip we visit brooding Ottoman citadels that are still inhabited today, atmospheric towns such as Berat and Gjirokastra, imbued with history, the ruins of old trading cities dating back millennium and beautiful churches and monasteries. We visit stunning national parks, and villages that are still home to some of Albania’s most enduring customs, and sample some of the country’s excellent wines. Albania isn’t always an obvious choice for a holiday destination but increasingly people are returning spellbound with its intoxicating mix of ancient history, charming hospitality and breathtaking scenery.
Day 1: Tirana. Arrive in Tirana and transfer to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive there may be time to explore the city. Overnight: Elysee Hotel or similar. Includes: (D).
Day 2: Tirana. Spend the day exploring Albania’s capital. We visit Skanderbeg Square, dedicated to Albania’s national hero, the Mosque of Ethem Bey, one of the oldest buildings in Tirana, and the Archaeological Museum among other sites and take lunch in Petrela Castle. Overnight: Elysee Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 3: Lezha - Shkodra. Drive to Lezha in the north west of the country where we visit the mausoleum of Skanderbeg and the castle before heading to Shkodra. Shkodra is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans and was once a capital of the Illyrian state. We visit its old bazaar, cathedral and mosque before heading to Rozafa castle for spectacular views of the landscape around. Overnight: Europe Grand Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Thethi. Drive to Thethi in the heart of the mountains. This area has been designated a national park and is home to numerous species of wildlife including wolves, lynx, bears and eagles. It is a stunning area of meadows, forest, mountains and rivers and is where some of Albania’s most traditional villages are to be found. We explore the national park and spend the night in a local guesthouse. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 5: Kruja - Durres. Leave the mountain behind and head to Kruja, one of Albania’s most important towns due to the part it played in resistance against the Ottomans. Visit the Skanderbeg Museum and castle as well as the old bazaar before continuing to Durres. This port city has the largest Roman amphitheatre in the region, dating back to the 2nd century. Overnight: Hotel Nais or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 6: Berat. Drive to Berat, one of the oldest inhabited regions of Albania and with a superbly preserved historic centre that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visit its citadel which contains old churches, mosques and museums before heading to a vineyard to sample some of the excellent local wines. Overnight: Hotel Tomorri or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 7: Apollonia – Vlora – Llogara National Park. Visit the ancient city of Apollonia, dating back to the 6th century BC, before heading to the coastal town of Vlora. After a short exploration of the city we drive to Llogara National Park, where we can take hikes up to the Llogara Pass for views over the Ionian Sea. Overnight: Fshati Chalets or similar. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 8: Saranda. Drive to Saranda, passing picturesque villages along the way. En route we stop at Porto Palermo and visit Ali Pasha Tepelene’s castle, stunningly located on a picturesque island. Arrive in Saranda, the southernmost city of Albania and explore the town’s sites. Overnight: Brilant Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 9: Butrint. Visit the ancient city of Butrint, Albania’s most important archaeological site and given special status by UNESCO. Spend time exploring this impressive site, with its walls, basilica, acropolis and theatre before heading back to Saranda. On arrival we walk to the ‘Monastery of Forty Saints’ and this evening we have dinner in Lekuresi Fortress with views over the Bay of Saranda and the island of Corfu. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 10: Gjirokastra. Drive east to Gjirokastra, stopping at the picturesque ‘Blue Eye’ pool on the way. At Gjirokastra we visit the local museum, housed in the building in which the former dictator Enver Hoxha was born, as well as the pre-Ottoman era citadel. Gjirokastra is a pretty town with traditional houses and cobbled streets spilling down the sides of a hill. Overnight: Viroi Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 11: Tepelena – Permet - Korce. Drive to Tepelena, visiting its castle and the ancient settlement of Antigonea. We then continue to Permet, known for its production of local wine and raki, for lunch before arriving this afternoon in Korce. Overnight: Hotel Regency or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 12: Korce – Voskopoja - Pogradec. Visit the first school in Albania to use the national language before we travel to Voskopoja with its beautiful churches and monasteries. We then continue to Pogradec, a small town on the shores of Lake Ohrid. Overnight: Hotel Millennium or similar. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 13: Elbasan - Tirana. After some time spent at Lake Ohrid we continue to the town of Elbasan, visiting its Ethnographic Museum and old mosque. Later we head back to Tirana through stunning scenery for our final night. Overnight Elysee Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (D).
Day 14: Tirana. Transfer to the airport for your flight home. Includes: (B).
Also see tour packages in:
Europe Albania Local Culture Cultural Journey Sightseeing