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. Visit the Bunk’Art, the National History Museum, the Mosque of Et’hem Bey, the ‘Blloku’ area (former communist neighborhood) and get a taste of a relaxing evening Dinner in a traditional restaurant with delicious local cuisine. Overnight in Tirana.
Tirana – Ohrid
Depart to the area of Lake Ohrid. (approx. 2h30′ drive) Cross border to Macedonia. Visit the Old Town of Ohrid (UNESCO Heritage City and Lake), church St, Sofia, church t. Klement, ancient Theater etc. 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 close to the Old Town.
Ohrid – Berat
Drive to Sveti Naum for a visit of the beautiful ancient monastery (9th century) Transfer to Berat, another UNESCO World Heritage town (approx. 3 hour 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 neighborhoods of Mangalem and Gorica, (which gave Berat the nickname “Town of a 1001 Windows.“) Unique traditional dinner in town. Overnight in Berat.
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 Master Painter Onufri. Transfer to Gjirokastra, interesting architecture of “City of Stone” UNECO heritage town (approx. 2 hour 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 Skenduli house (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!) we’ll visit the Castle of Gjirokastra, its Weapon Museum and the former prison of the Castle Traditional dinner with local specialties – try the qifqi (rice balls!) Overnight in Gjirokaster
Gjirokaster - Blue Eye Spring – Butrint – Saranda
Depart for Blue Eye Spring, checking out Enver Hoxha’s concrete bunkers on the way (there are more 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 hour 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. –hour 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.
Albanian Riviera (Porto Palermo – Vlora) - Check-in to Beach Resort…
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
Transfer to the airport for flight back home or to other parts of the region if prearranged with us (can recommend beach hotel, visit of the North, Montenegro, Kosovo or other).