Day 1 – Tirana
Arrive in Tirana and transfer to your hotel. Depending on when you arrive there may be time to explore the city.
Day 2 – Tirana, Shkoder and Kruje
Leaving Tirana we head to Shkoder. Shkoder is one of the oldest cities in the Balkans and was once a capital of the Illyrian state. We visit the castle then have time to walk in the pedestrian area and visit the cathedral and mosque. We have lunch in Shkoder before travelling to Kruja, one of Albania’s most important towns due to the part it played in the resistance against the Ottomans. Visit the Skanderbeg Museum and the castle. There may be time to visit the old bazaar, where you can see the local artisans and their handmade souvenirs.
Day 3 - Durres and Berat
Drive to the coastal city of Durres, Albania’s second largest. Explore its sites including the Roman amphitheatre and Archaeological Museum before continuing to the stunning town of Berat, with its white houses clinging to the hillsides. We visit the citadel which contains numerous churches and an interesting museum, and has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. We will have a traditional dinner tonight before staying overnight in Berat.
Day 4 - Ardenica Monastery, Apollonia, Vlore and Llogara National Park
Today we visit Ardenice Monastery, a 13th century Byzantine site locally famed for hosting the wedding of the hero Skanderbeg. We continue from here to the ruins of Apollonia, an atmospheric set of Roman remains on a remote hillside and once an important city in the region. Later in the day we travel to the coastal city of Vlora and have a short sightseeing tour of the city, before heading for our overnight stay in the National park of Llogara. At over 1000 metres above sea level and overlooking the turquoise waters of the Ionian sea and white sandy beaches, we spend the overnight in a traditional style hotel, in the forest area.
Day 5 - Butrint
After breakfast, we continue to the south of Albania, via some picturesque seaside villages to Saranda and onto the ruins of Butrint, Albania's most important archaeological site, and a UNESCO site. Butrint dates from the 7th century BC, later becoming a Roman colony, then falling under the sway of the Venetians and Turks. Explore numerous buildings including an acropolis, basilica and palace. The location of the site itself is also very attractive surrounded by trees and water. After lunch (paid locally) we depart for Gjirokastra with a short stop in Blue Eye national Park, a fairy tale landscape of mountains and the clear waters of the Bistrica river. On arrival in Gjirokastra we will have a traditional diner and stay at our hotel for the night.
Day 6 – Gjirokaster and Permet
This morning we explore Gjirokaster, known for its distinct and traditional architecture. We have time to explore this UNESCO listed site, with its imposing citadel and numerous houses with typical styling. We visit the castle and old bazaar area before transferring to the small town of Permet on an panoramic drive. Later in the day we visit the village of Benja and have a relaxing afternoon at the famous thermal waters which form six beautiful small natural pools. The Ottoman Bridge of Katiu is a wonderful sight as it spans the river Langarica. We have dinner and overnight in Permet.
Day 7 – Permet and Korce
On our winding journey through the mountains towards Korca, we enjoy wonderful panoramic views. This afternoon we arrive in Korca where we should have some time to explore.
Day 8 – Voskopoja and Tirana
This morning we continue to Voskopoja, once an ancient city rich in history, with interesting Romanesque architecture and Orthodox churches featuring some of the best 18th century frescoes in Southern Europe; today it is a small mountain village around 1300m above sea level. We will continue to Tirana and begin a tour of the city. We visit Skanderbeg Square, dedicated to Albania’s national hero, and the Mosque of Ethem Bey, one of the oldest buildings in Tirana. We then visit Bunk Art 2 – an old atomic bunker, now a museum representing the days of the communist regime in the country. There is a farewell dinner with our guide.
Day 9 - Departure
Transfer to the airport for your departure (B)
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