This is a great tour for cultural heritage lovers as it explores 3 neighbouring countries with 5 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the religious mix and tolerance of the region, delicious cuisine and the genuine hospitality of the inhabitants.;
Location: Albania, Macedonia
Duration: 10 days, 9 nights
Meet at airport and transfer to Tirana for a visit at the National Museum of History which is a great introduction to the history of the country and its people. Afterwards take a driven tour of the major sites of Tirana, including the colourful buildings the Albanian capital is now recognized for. The dull grey communist architecture buildings have been transformed into modern art canvases through splashes of bright colours and abstract shapes. An ingenious way of uplifting the facades and the moods of the inhabitants. Overnight in Tirana
After breakfast drive to Shkodra, centre of Roman Catholicism in Albania and a town with long historic routes, the only mentioned capital of the Illyrian Kingdom. Visit the legendary Rozafa castle with spectacular views all around and then the city centre with its pedestrian area with Italian influences. After visits return to Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast depart to Apollonia one of the most important ancient learning centres in Roman times on the famous Via Egnatia. Due to its fame and importance Caesar chose to send his nephew Augustus Octavian to study oratory there which is testimony to the importance of this ancient city. After the visits, continue on to Vlora where in the centre we have a look at Muradie Mosque, one of the early works of the famous architect Sinan of Albanian origin who designed the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. After lunch drive to a beautiful natural island where we visit the Monastery of Zvernec amongst wonderful nature. Overnight in Vlora.
After breakfast we depart to Saranda through the spectacular Albanian Riviera with its traditional villages. At Llogara National Park we stop at around 1100 metres where spectacular views of the Ionian Sea can be admired. We continue and make a visit at the castle of Ali Pasha at Porto Palermo. Lunch on your own can be enjoyed here in one of the fish restaurants overlooking the castle and the beautiful turquoise sea. After lunch we will proceed to visit to the ancient city of Butrint-another UNESCO world heritage site. The city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of different civilizations, making it an important discovery in the Mediterranean. It is situated in a beautiful peninsula among dense vegetation offering visitors more than just old ruins. Overnight in Saranda.
In the morning we depart for Gjirokastra, a Museum Town under the protection of UNESCO as a World Heritage Site with beautiful and very distinct architecture. In Gjirokastra we will visit the Castle, part of which was turned into a political prison for dissidents of the communist regime and the Arms Museum. Visit to the Ethnographic Museum, which is also the house the Albanian dictator was born in, as well as a 300 year old house next to it, where the grandeur of Gjirokastra’s master builders can be observed. Lunch in Gjirokastra (optional). Depart to Ioannina, Greece, where we will visit the castle of Ali Pasha in the centre of Town, the burial place of the pasha and the Mosque turned into his museum. Overnight in Ioannina.
In the morning depart to Meteora, a wonderful monument of nature complemented by the ingenuousness of man. Breathtaking rocks hundred of meters high situated in the middle of vast lowlands which seem to have fallen off the sky, very likely the word Meteora has been purposely been used based on this impression the rocks give to anyone who sees them. These rocks which on their own are stunning enough carry on their backs wonderfully crafted monasteries which make for a monumental interaction between nature and man which never ceases to impress new and repeat visitors to this place. The most famous and probably the best monastery out of all Meteora monasteries, the Great Meteora Monastery or as it is known locally the Megalo Meteoro Monastery or Metamorphisis. We will visit some monasteries and then overnight in Kalambaka just below the Meteora rocks.
After breakfast drive to Stobi in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, one of the most important archaeological sites. This crossroad of ancient civilizations has left a rich legacy of antique theatres, palace ruins, brightly-coloured mosaics and religious relics for visitors to enjoy today. After breakfast drive to Bitola (old Manastiri) – the City of Consuls. After visits of Heraclea ancient site depart to Ohrid where we overnight.
After breakfast visit St. John at Kaneo, stands alone on a small peninsula which juts out into the Lake at the western end of the Old Town, and provides spectacular panoramic views of the Lake and surrounding mountains, Samuil fortress, Saint Painteleimon Church, The Holy Virgin of Peribleptos Church, Icon Galery and old Bazaar. The tour continues to St. Naum Monastery. In the monastery we follow the path of St. Naum, meeting the legends of all the miracles he made before and after he built his church on the top of the rock. Visit of the monastery and the Springs of Black Drin river, you may enjoy in the rowing boat on the springs site. Overnight in Ohrid.
After breakfast drive to Berat another wonderful town and UNESCO site. Visit the Castle, Onufri Museum and several churches and mosques. Onufri was an Albanian master painter of the 16th century who had a preference for a particular red colour he used so much that it is known today as the Onufrian Red. Many of his wonderfully painted Icons still remain in the museum while others can be found in churches in Albania and Greece where he worked. We have a homemade lunch in Berat (optional). After the lunch, in the downtown we visit the Leaden Mosque, the King's Mosque, the Bachelor's Mosque and the Alveti Tekke. Also we will pay a visit to a local family to see how life is today in the Berat old quarter. Overnight in Berat.
After breakfast drive to Durres one of the oldest towns in Albania and visit the remains of the ancient amphitheatre thought to hold 20 000 people making it the largest in the Balkans. Afterwards depart for Kruja the centre of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans where we visit the Castle with Ethnographic Museum and the Old Ottoman style bazaar. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast transfer to Airport.
March, April, May, June, Septemmber, October, November
Note: The above months are for orientation purposes, to help people book on the same months, and pay the cheaper price. However we will run this tour on other months as per clients’ requests.;