This tour is aimed to be an exploration of the Balkan countries Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro starting and ending in a convenient location like Corfu where many low cost carriers and flight charters fly for most of the year. It is an intensive tour aimed to discover the essentials of these countries at the lowest budget.;
Location: Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Greece
Duration: 11 days, 10 nights
Meet at the airport and transfer to take the ferry to Saranda where we take a walking tour and overnight.
In the morning we visit the ancient city of Butrint another UNESCO World Heritage considered the best archaeological site in Albania and probably one of the most important in the Balkans. The city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of passing civilizations, giving archaeologists the possibility to study continuity through time. It is situated on a beautiful peninsula among dense vegetation. The site has been occupied since at least the 8th century BC, although myths associated with its origins speak of the city’s foundation by Trojan exiles. Continue on to Gjirokastra a museum town under the protection of UNESCO as a World Heritage Site with beautiful and very distinct architecture. Afterwards drive to Gjirokastra where we will visit the fortress of Gjirokastra, part of which was turned into a political prison for dissidents of the 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. Afternoon drive to Permet on the shores of Vjosa river. Overnight in Permet.
After breakfast depart for Pogradec through one of the most breathtaking roads of Albania. A combination of gorges, mountains colorful fields, river canyons and forests accompanies us in this long but with amazing natural beauty. Visit the Museum of Medieval Art in Korca and the Mirahori mosque. After the visits continue for Pogradec on the shores of Lake Ohrid and the village of Tushemisht where the old fishing villa of the dictator is situated. Overnight in Pogradec.
After breakfast visit St. Naum Monastery, the Cathedral of St. Sofia built between the 11th and 14th century, which was the seat of the Archbishop. St. Clement, a classic Orthodox Byzantine church, dominating the Old Town, demonstrates the link between Byzantine and Italian Renaissance art, the Icon Gallery, and old Bazaar. After the visits depart to Skopje for a tour of the main sites. Visit the old Turkish bazaar, Mahmut Pasha Hammam, the memorial house of Mother Teresa, stone bridge and the Macedonia Plaza. Overnight in Skopje.
After breakfast we drive to visit Prizren, through the beautiful Sharri Mountains. Prizren is a true open air museum, one of the most beautiful towns of Kosovo which has best preserved the architectural style of the past. The craftsmen of Prizren are well known for their beautiful gold and silver articles and other folk handcrafts. Take a short tour and we suggest traditional lunch here in the old town. Afterwards continue towards Peja through the magnificent Rugova Gorge to the Decani Monastery near it. This monastery complex is a wonderful example of the Orthodox religious architecture and art part of UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must for anyone visiting Kosovo. Overnight in Peja.
After breakfast a long drive through magnificent natural beauty of the North West Kosovo and Montenegro takes us to Kolašin which is Montenegro's most famous ski resort, and its capital Podgorica. We will take a driven tour of the capital Podgorica, and continue on another panoramic drive toward Budva where we overnight.
After breakfast drive to visit the Old City of Kotor a well preserved urbanization typical of the Middle Ages, built between the 12th and 14th century. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor an UNESCO listed “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site”. Cetinje is a town of immense historical heritage, founded in the 15th century. It became the centre of Montenegrin life and both a cradle of Montenegrin and an Eastern Orthodox religious centre. It is because of its heritage as a long term Montenegrin capital that it is today the honorary capital of Montenegro. Afterwards drive to Shkodra, centre of Roman Catholicism in Albania and a town with long historic roots, the only mentioned capital of the Illyrian Kingdom. Visit the pedestrian area with Italian influences and the Castle. Overnight in Shkodra.
After breakfast drive to Kruja the centre of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans under our national hero Scanderbeg who defeated them in 22 battles including one of the most warrior like sultans Mehmet the Conqueror and resisted the Ottoman occupation for 25 years. We visit the Castle with two great Museums and the Old Ottoman style bazaar. Afterwards drive to the capital Tirana where we take a driven tour of the major sites of Tirana, including the colourful buildings for which the Albanian capital is now popular 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.
Meet at the airport and transfer to depart for Berat, one of the most visited and characteristic towns in Albania under the protection of UNESCO as a patronage of humanity for its architectural uniqueness. Berat castle is of particular interest as people still live within its walls in their traditional houses, as have their ancestors for centuries. The castle used to have over 40 churches of which 7 still remain including St. Mary’s church turned into Onufri Museum. We visit the Castle and the Onufri Museum. Accommodation in Berat in characteristic house turned hotel in the old district.
After breakfast we depart for the archaeological site of Apollonia one of the most important ancient centres in Roman times on the famous Via Egnatia. Due to its fame and importance it was known as Apollonia Prima built to honour Apollo. Caesar chose to send his nephew Augustus Octavian to study oratory in Apollonia which is testimony to the importance of this ancient city. Visit the city and an Orthodox monastery turned into an archaeological museum. After the visits continue through the spectacular Albanian Riviera with its traditional villages. At the Llogara National Park we stop at around 1100 metres where spectacular views of the Ionian Sea can be admired and lunch can be had. Afterwards continue along the wonderful coast to Saranda for overnight.
After early breakfast take ferry to Corfu.
Supplement single occupancy of a double room will be 180 Euro.
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.;
I thought we should let your know about our trip with Klodian from 21 April to 4 May this year. We must say we enjoyed it very much and that it was well worth the money. We certainly saw a lot of Albania, and Klodian was an excellent guide who knew a great deal about Albania and its history and very complicated politics! He understood well that one of our main interests was to get out and see the country where possible on foot. We had excellent walks near Boge (north-east of Shkodra) and near Himara, and we hired bicycles in Shkodra. The hotels were pretty good although they varied. We liked the Osumi hotel in Berat, the Life Gallery in Korca and the Kalemi in Gjirokaster best.
Michael and Jorunn Fergus / Norway