Day 1: Tirana. Arrival at “Mother Theresa” International Airport in Tirana, and transfer to hotel (Chateau Linza Hotel 4*). Welcome dinner from us. Overnight in Tirana.
Day 2: Tirana. After breakfast, we spend the day exploring the city of Tirana. Tirana is located on a plain on the site of a Byzantine fortress and is capital of Albania since 1920. There are visits to the Skanderbeg Square (centrum), Mosque of Ethem Bey, the Clock Tower, the National Museum, National Art Gallery, and mean government buildings. Lunch at Pizzeri Era (best of national and international cooking). In afternoon we visit the castle of Petrela and we return to hotel (Chateau Linza Hotel 4*). Late afternoon/early evening and overnight.
Day 3: Kruja - Durres. We travel to the town of Kruja. Kruja was the centre of 15th century Albanian resistance to the Ottoman Turks under the leadership national hero Gjerg Kstrioti “Skanderbeg”. We visit the Skanderbeg Museum inside the castle of Kruja and the Ethnographical Museum. The street to the castle is built in the style of an old medieval bazaar, where we can see a wonderful selection of authentic antiques and souvenirs. After lunch, we travel to Durres city which is located on the Adriatic coast and is the main commercial port of Albania. Durres, Albania's second largest city was known as Durrahium, and is one of the oldest towns in the country.
Legend says that it was founded by Epidamnos, the Illyrian King of the area, who called it by his own name and named the port area after his grandson, Dyrrah. It was for centuries the largest port on the Adriatic, and the start of the Via Egnatia to Constantinople (today Istanbul). We visit the Roman amphitheatre and the Archaeological Museum, situated near the sea and rich in objects excavated in Durres. We also visit the Roman Baths behind the Aleksander Moisiu Theatre on the central square. Accommodation to (Arvi Hotel 4*) in Durres and overnight.
Day 4: Elbasan – Pogradec - Korca. After breakfast we depart for going to Korca. First, we begin heading to Elbasan, site of ancient Skampa. Excavations suggest that the walls of Elbasan were built in the first half of the IV century AD. In 1466 Sultan Mohammed II rebuilt the walls and renamed the town El-Basan (in Turkish means the fortress). We stop briefly to see the city walls before passing through the Bazaar Gate near the Clock Tower to St Mary's Orthodox Church which has beautiful stone arcades on its walls. We continue to Pogradec on the shores of Ohrid Lake. On the top of the hill overlooking Pogradec, there is an ancient Illyrian fortress known as Encheleana.
In the Middle Ages this fortress was reconstructed and the place was renamed by the Bulgarians, who invaded Southeastern Albania at this time. (Pogradec, Pod Grad - the place beneath the fortress). Lunch. Afterwards we will continue to the town of Korca. Korca is a historic place with rich cultural traditions and some interesting buildings from the Ottoman period, including one of the most important mosques in Albania. On arrival in Korca we check in to the hotel (Regency Hotel 3*) and overnight.
Day 5: Korca and surroundings. After breakfast we will have a walking tour of Korca and then by bus to the surrounding area. Our sightseeing in Korca includes the Museum of Medieval Arts. Opened in 1980, it covers the period from the 5th to 19th century and there you can see works by Albania's most famous painters of the Middle Age. We also visit the Cathedral of Christ Revived, the Museum of Oriental Art, the Mosque of Iljaz Bej Mirahori , the bazaar and the site of the “Mesonjetorja” Museum plus many historic buildings of the Ottoman design.
After lunch we travel to Great Prespa Lake, the other lake of Albania, and Prespa National Park, which are areas of outstanding natural beauty. The centre of the lake marks the border between Albania to the west, Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south. In the Albanian water is the tiny island of Maligrad, with a 14th century church built into the rock. You can wander through the villages near the lake and see centuries old farming methods. Early evening return to the hotel (Regency Hotel 3*) and overnight.
Day 6: Korca - Voskopoja. After breakfast, we visit the villages of Voskopoja, Dardha (with its health giving springs) and Mborje. You will see the traditional way of life and some outstanding examples of Orthodox Christian Churches which escaped the destruction of the communist regime. The 18th century church and 16th century monastery in Voskopoja are worth visiting with their original murals and artifacts. The air in this area is renowned to be very clean and people with respiratory problems visit to convalesce. After lunch, we return to Korca via Mborje and a visit to a 13th century church. Overnight in Korca (Regency Hotel 3*).
Day 7: Erseka - Permet - Gjirokastra. We continue on through mountainous areas, and we have a short stop on Erseka and Permet towns. The road is not so good, but it is worthy to see such a picturesque sightseeing around. Lunch in Kelcyra Pass. Than, we arrive to Gjirokastra and visit the museum of Gjirokastra, the birthplace of former dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha. Gjirokastra is a picturesque town, perched on the side of a mountain above the Drino River. We visit the district museum housed in the building in which Enver Hoxha was born. We also visit the pre-Ottoman citadel with a Weapons Museum and former political prison. After a stroll around town, where many of the buildings retain their original architecture and construction on wood and stone work. Check in hotel (Viroi Hotel 3*) and overnight.
Day 8: Saranda - Butrint. After breakfast, we continue to Saranda. On the way there we stop to “Blue Eye” Park, and enjoy the originality of this natural beauty. Then, we continue to Saranda town. Saranda became important in Roman times as a strategic point along the sea route between Italy and Greece. After lunch, we have a visit to the Butrint antic city, Albania's most important archaeological site. It is believed that Butrint dates from the 7th century BC, later becoming a Roman colony, then falling under the sway of the Venetians and Turks. Virgil claimed that the Trojans settled Butrint, but no evidence of this has yet been found.
Within a century of the Greeks arriving, Butrint had become a fortified trading city with its own acropolis, the ruins of which we can still visit. The rediscovered city is a microcosm of almost 3,000 years of Mediterranean history-its 6th century BC fortification evokes the city's military power, and its 3rd century BC amphitheatre symbolizes the rich culture of the once thriving ancient city. After that visit at Lekuresi Castle. Accommodation at hotel (Brilliant Hotel 3*, or similar) and overnight.
Day 9: Dhermi - Vlora. After breakfast we continue to Vlora, along the mountain road of the Albanian Riviera enjoying the beautiful scenery and landscapes of the Ionian Coastline. En route we visit the Ali Pasha Fortress at Porto Palermo bay, Himara, and Dhermi. We continue to Vlora through Llogara Pass. The pass climbs from sea-level to 1020 m back to sea-level in less than 130 km (80 miles). Lunch in Llogara, than continue with visit to Orikum antic city. Than arrival to Vlora. In ancient times Vlora was known as Aulona. At the beginning it was only a port, and has always been famous for its olive groves and vineyards. We visit the Independence Museum, city tour, and accommodation at hotel (New York Hotel 4*) and overnight.
Day 10: Fier - Apollonia - Ardenica - Berat. After breakfast we visit Kanina Castle and Kuz Baba, and have a coffee break there. Than we departure to Fier. After sightseeing at Fier, we continue to Appolonia (antique center 588 BC.) The ancient site of Appolonia was an important port along the route between Rome and Byzantium. Emperor Augustus studied there, and Aristotle mentioned the town in his book on politics. It will be visit to its museum, Shen Meri Monastery and Church. After lunch, our tour proceed to Berat via the Monastery of Ardenica. Check-in Hotel (Tomorri Hotel 3*) and overnight.
Day 11: Berat - Tirana. Berat is one of the most important “Museum Town” of Albania, and sometimes called 'the city of a thousand windows' for the many windows in its red-roofed houses. Our visit of Berat includes the fortress and Chapel of St Marina of Blachemae along the ridge above the gorge, as well as the Leaden Mosque, the King's Mosque, the Bachelor's Mosque and the Alveti Tekke, a smaller shrine where Islamic sects like the Dervishes once practiced. We also visit at an Albanian Winery to taste one of the best Albanian wines. After lunch, our journey takes us back to Tirana along the "Qafa e Krrabes" mountain road enjoying fantastic views of Elbasan and the Tirana lowland. We stop at Petrela Castle for coffee break. Accommodation to Chateau Linza Hotel 4* in Tirana, and overnight.
Day 12: Departure from Tirana. Departure to “Mother Teresa” International Airport of Tirana.
Important Note: These trips are priced assuming ten travelers. Surcharges for solo travelers and discounts for groups, if any, will be applied. Prices assume itinerary is purchased "as is". Minor changes to hotels or hotel add-ons to the beginning or the end of the existing itinerary can be made at no extra charge. Prices are shown in Euro and may or may not include administrative fees, taxes, meals, airfare (where applicable) and Single Supplements. Cancellation penalties, blackout dates and other restrictions may apply.
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