Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia - Hidden Europe (15 Days)

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Run by: Undiscovered Destinations

Reference number: ALD

From: £1699.00

Tucked away in a little visited corner of Europe lie Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia, three charming and delightful countries that fewpeople know much about.Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia are some of the lastfrontiers of Europe, complex and fascinating destinations imbued with history.Discover them for yourself on a tour which takes in the highlights of each.

Day 1 – Tirana

Arrive in Tirana and transfer to your hotel. Depending onwhen you arrive there may be time to explore the city. Overnight Hotel Kruja orsimilar 

Day 2 –Tirana - Kruja – Lezha – Shkoder

Start the day exploring Albania’s capital. We visitSkanderbeg Square, dedicated to Albania’s national hero, the Mosque of EthemBey, one of the oldest buildings in Tirana, and the Archaeological Museum amongother sites. We then head to Kruja, one of Albania’s most important towns dueto the part it played in resistance against the Ottomans. Visit the SkanderbegMuseum and castle as well as the old bazaar. Today lunch will be included andthe opportunity to eat some traditional food in Kruja. Shkoder is one of theoldest cities in the Balkans and was once a capital of the Illyrian state.Overnight Hotel Tradita or similar. (BL)

Day 3 – Koman Lake – Valbona

Today we journey from Shkoder to Valbona via Koman Lake. TheDrin River was flooded along part of its most mountainous passage to create thelakes in this region. The journey takes you along glassy clear water, twistingand turning through narrow passes and past silent mountain peaks. After thecompletion of this memorable leg of the journey we continue to Valbona. Tonightwe stay in local guesthouses in Valbona to enjoy the rural life in an authenticlocal atmosphere. (BD)

Day 4 – Junik - Gjakova – Prizren

We cross the border into Kosovo and drive to Junik where wevisit the famous Kullat e Junikut (Junik Tower). The towers are castle-likehouses with a special architecture built in white rock, where Albanians havefor centuries sheltered to survive wars and conflicts. Then continue to Gjakovawhich lies on the banks of the River Erenik. Finally we continue on to the cityof Prizren. Overnight at Hotel Prizren or similar. (B)

Day 5 – Monastery of Peja Decani – Peja

First today we visit Decani monastery (UNESCO). The medievalchurch houses some of the most preserved fresco decoration in the Balkans andthe grounds are also a delight. After arrival in to Peja we explore the Ottomansites of the town including the Haxhi Beut Mosque and the old house of JasharPasha as well as the Sheremet Tower and the old bazaar. We then continue toBoge, where we have a short stop at Patriarchana of Peja (13th Century) in theRugova Valley. Overnight at Magra Austria Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 6 – Pristina

Explore the city visiting its main sites such as theOrthodox Church and the Carshi Mosque, dating back to the early 15th century.We then head to the ruins of Ulpiana, an ancient Roman city that was once oneof the most powerful in the Balkans. Later we visit the spectacular GracanicaMonastery. Overnight Begolli Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 7 – Skopje

We continue to Macedonia stopping first at Gadime Cave. Wecross the border and head to its capital Skopje. Upon arrival we visit some ofthe most important parts of the town, including the old Ottoman market, themonastery of Sveti Spas and the ancient Kale Fortress which dates back toIllyrian and Roman times. Overnight Hotel Aristocrat Palace or similar.

Day 8 – Mavrovo National Park – Ohrid

After breakfast continue to Mavrovo National Park, thebiggest in Macedonia covering 73,000 hectares. We follow the Radika River alongthe way and stop at monasteries and churches en route. We then drive to thebeautiful town of Ohrid (UNESCO). On arrival we will explore its mixture ofwestern and oriental architecture including the Orthodox Cathedral, the 11thCentury church of St Sofia and the Roman amphitheatre. Overnight Hotel VillaSofia or similar (B)

Day 9 – Ohrid

Today is at leisure for you to enjoy the beautiful town ofOhrid at your own pace or relax before the second half of the tour. OvernightHotel Villa Sofia or similar (B)

Day 10 – Sveti Naum Monastery – Voskopoje – Korce

Before crossing back into Albania we visit Sveti NaumMonastery, a truly beautiful site with impressive views over Lake Ohrid acrossto Albania.  We then continue to theancient village of Voskopoja where we explore the village including theMonastery of St. John the Baptist with its original structure from the 15thCentury. After lunch we continue to the historic town of Korce and explore thetown including the Old Bazaar.

Day 11 – Korce – Gjirokastra

Today we take an amazing drive though spectacular scenery toGjirokastra. The road is bumpy in parts but the views of this remote part ofAlbania are incredible. At Gjirokastra we visit the local museum, housed in thebuilding in which the former communist dictator Enver Hoxha was born, as wellas the pre-Ottoman era citadel which affords spectacular views and houses animpressive range of artillery and also bizarrely a reconnaissance US Air Forceplane that was forced to land after losing its way in the 1950’s. Gjirokastrais a pretty town with traditional houses and cobbled streets spilling down thesides of the mountain. Overnight Hotel Gjirokastra or similar (B).

Day 12 – Butrint – Saranda

On the way to Saranda we shall enjoy a short stop at Syri iKalter (Blue Eye National park). Visit the ancient city of Butrint, Albania’smost important archaeological site and given special status by UNESCO. Spendtime exploring this impressive site with the added bonus of it being situatedin a beautiful natural setting. The walls, basilica, acropolis and theatre atButrint are truly impressive. We then drive to Saranda on the coast. OvernightBrilant Hotel or similar. (B)

Day 13 – Himara – Vlora

Head north along a stunning coastline, stopping at PortoPalermo to visit the castle of Ali Pasha on the way. Drive through mountainsover the Llogara Pass (1020m above sea level) and continue to Vlora, on the‘Albanian Riviera’. Tonight you will enjoy a delicious fish dinner at a restauranton the beach. Overnight Hotel Partner or similar. (BD)

Day 14 – Apollonia – Berat

Visit the ancient city of Apollonia, dating back to the 6thcentury BC. We then drive to Berat, one of the oldest inhabited regions ofAlbania and with a superbly preserved historic centre that has been designateda UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visit its citadel which contains old churches,mosques and museums before heading to a vineyard to sample some of theexcellent local wines. Overnight Hotel Osumi or similar. (B)

Day 15 – Durres – Tirana

After breakfast drive to Durres. This port city has thelargest Roman amphitheatre in the region, dating back to the 2nd century whichwe will visit. Drive back to Tirana for our final night where you will enjoy afarewell dinner with traditional food. Overnight Hotel Kruja or similar. (BD)

Day 16 – Tirana

Transfer to the airport for your flight home. (B)

This trip has no fixed departures but restrictions may apply - check operator website

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