Arrival in Tirana international airport.Pick up and hotel check in. Free evening.Depending on the time of arrival alternative programs can be arranged.
If arriving from port of Durres, the program can start from day one, because all ferry boats until now arrive at 08:00. This option may have accommodation cost reduction 2 nights. (first and last nights of accommodation)
Walking city tour of Tirana, a dynamic place where you can encounter the ancient, modern and everything in between. We will visit Skanderbeg Square, Heroes Boulevard, ex dictators museum called ”The Pyramid” and his house, visit of Et’hem Bey Mosque closed under communist rule and reopened in 1991. A tour through the busy streets of the Block Area, what used to be an exclusive neighborhood for the elite in communism time now famous for its buzzing coffee shops, clubs and boutiques.
We then proceed to visit the historic city of Kruja, which was the epicenter of Albania during 15th century, at which time under the leadership of "Skanderbeg" defeated the Ottoman Empire for 20 consecutive years. Visit the castle and Skanderbeg museum followed by a visit of Kruja Ethnographic house which displays the way indigenous people lived during Ottoman era.
We will continue our afternoon with exploration of Roman amphitheatre in Beach city of Durres built in the 2nd century AD during Roman Emperor Trajan's rule located inside the city fortress. Here guests will be able to enjoy the sunset in a traditional Albanian setting of café.
* Summer option:
Instead of visiting the castle guests can enjoy an afternoon at the beach to relax.
Dinner in Durres only by request, - extra costs may apply
Return to the hotel.
We leave Durres and travel towards Gjirokaster. Known by many as the City of Stone, Gjirokastra is a developing centre for cultural heritage tourism. A walk around the network of cobbled streets that climb steeply out of the bazaar will transport you back in time. A visit to the vast 13th-century castle brings the adventurous tales of medieval rulers and communist atrocities alive. Inside the castle are the museum of Army, Folk Festival Arena, and historic museum with relics from Byzantine to the medieval times. A short walk through the stone streets will take you to a replica birth house of ex-dictator of Albania Enver Hoxha.
Divjake. (Optional: 1. Soft hike with the possibility of bird watching in Divjaka Lagoon)
Divjake is a town near the Adriatic sea, with a pine forest of 1275 ha, protected by The Ramsar Convention and the biggest lagoon of Albania it makes the perfect habitat of the rare Dalmatian Pelican, flamingos and different types of birds, which makes it one of the best places for bird watching.
Saranda, Butrint, Ksamil beach.
A visit to the impressive archaeological site of Butrint will take you through the steps of how this region of Albania evolved from the ancient times of Epirus, to Roman and Byzantine Empire through Ottoman Empire and modern history. The site is a mix of nature and history with which you cannot help but fall in love with.
Ksamil is part of the Ionian Sea with deep blue waters and pebbly beaches. A relaxing afternoon on Ksamil beach after a trip to Saranda city and Butrinti Archaeological Park will make for a day full of fun activities.
Dinner at hotel in Gjirokastra.
Leaving Gjirokastra we head first to Ioannina, which spreads out around the beautiful Lake Pamvotida. A walk through the city has the feel of a bygone era, full of secret places and legends still living. We’ll visit the fortress of Ioannina and wonderful buildings like the House Matei Hussein, the Ottoman mosque of Veli Pasha and the entire historic centre of the town are beautiful attractions. Along the way we take rests trying the traditional Ioannina desserts, alcohol free liqueur and also what they call “sherbetia”.
*Optional, adds 1 day visit of Meteora Greece with one overnight in Kalambaka (on request only).
-----Next you will find yourself nestled in the mountains of central Greece is a land that time forgot. Giant fingers of Granite rise up out of the Kalambaka valley like the hands of God reaching toward heaven. Perched miraculously on the tips of these fingers are five monasteries and one convent, all of which are active and thriving. A short visit of the mummified animal museum would make for a great experience. -----
We reassume our trip towards Pogradec but first we take a coffee break on the western shore of Lake Orestiada, in Kastoria, known for its many Byzantine churches, Ottoman-era domestic architecture, fur clothing industry, and trout.
Dinner at hotel in Pogradec, Albania.
After breakfast at hotel we take a short trip to Korca, Albania’s city of education. In Korca are the roots of Albanian education where the original first school of Albania is found today known as the ABC museum. City tour of Korca will include visits of ABC Museum, National Museum of Medieval Art, one of the most important museum centers of Albania and beyond. Walk through the city’s pedestrian street which leads you to a very nice Bazaar where shops of local artisanal shops (craftsman) can be found. We can enjoy a lunch at a famous local Brewery of Beer Korca.
* Summer option:
We are then off to an afternoon of relax by the lake Ohrid in Pogradec town, with options of walks or small boat rides across Drilons springs, surrounded by the willow trees that add that final touch to the peacefulness of it.
* Winter option:
We take an afternoon trip to Voskopoja National park, one of the oldest towns during medieval era. Here guest will enjoy a short hike on the hills, guided tour with the options of ski during snow
We start our day with an early breakfast and depart for Ohrid. We start our city tour at the Lower Gate, walking through the old city, full of antique churches, like the Saint Varvara, Saint Sophia, Saint Panteljemon, the very famous Saint John Kaneo and the Christian Basilica. We visit the ancient theatre and fortress and also the Robev Family House (important Ohrid family).
On our way to Pogradec we stop at the Bay of Bones museum, Museum on Water - an exceptional archaeological complex, which is one of a kind in the region.
Hotel and dinner in Pogradec, Albania.
We leave Pogradec and head to Struga, a slightly quieter place than the more bustling Ohrid. Ohrid Lake is the source of Black Drin River, which flows gently through the town of Struga with its crystal clear waters, creating a romantic scenery. After we have enjoyed the poetic views of the lake and river Drin we continue our journey to Skopje.
We start the city tour from the Memorial House Mother Teresa, where she lived when she was little. We then proceed to Macedonia Square, walk through the Stone Bridge a living monument from the Ottoman Empire and the Museum Complex. We continue to walk in the main city street, where different ancient buildings like St. Dimitrius Church, Chifte Hamam, Dzamija, and the biggest Bazaar preserved in the Balkans today, are located. We visit the Museum of Macedonia where we discover the archaeological, historical and ethnological history of Macedonia and then we climb up the Upper Town "Kale", in order to feel the spirit of the 1500 years old fortress and enjoy the panorama of Skopje. Guests will have time to do shopping in the old bazaar, and relax in numerous traditional coffee shops.
Prishtina, Prizren, Gadime.
After breakfast we continue our discovery towards Kosovo.
The exploration of Kosovo’s beauties will take us into a Marble cave, where we are going to be testimonies of a nature’s work of art.
Prishtina is a lively city which has undergone much development and many hardships during the last few decades. City tour of Prishtina will include the city center, Clinton square, war landmarks, Independence Museum and the Mother Teresa Boulevard.
We will explore Prizren city with a visit to the Albanian League of Prizren Museum, where the great movement of Albania's unification took place. Tour the town and see Mehmet Pashas Hamam of the Ottoman Era. On our way to the city’s Castle we pass by Sinan Pasha Mosque one of the dominant features in the town's skyline. After having enjoyed great views of the city we leave Prizren to continue the trip towards Albania.
Hotel accommodation and dinner at the hotel in Shkodra.
Budva, Kotorr - Montenegro
After breakfast we continue to discover one last beauty of the Balkans, Montenegro.
Our first stop on the way to Budva is the small but historical city of Ulcinj where for 25 centuries life has been booming, civilizations have been exchanging, leaving their vivid traces up to now. We then continue to our journey through the cities of Bar, Sutomore, Petrovac and Saint Stefan. Once a small fishing village which experienced an unbelievable transformation.
Budva, apart from its natural beauty, its bay islands and beaches, is rich in historic monuments. Budvas Old Town lies on a small peninsula. Crossed with narrow streets and squares are famous buildings, the Church Sv. Ivan, Holy Trinity and Santa Maria in Punta.
Kotor is among one of the most beautiful of Montenegro's coastal towns. It is surrounded by lofty mountains which peer over its Bay of Kotor, Europe's southernmost fjord. As the Mediterranean’s only fjord, this bay was added to the list of the twenty-five most beautiful bays in the world in July 2000.
Dinner at hotel in Shkodra.
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