A tour where past and presents collide and intertwine not only in the plentiful sites and monuments of this two fascinating countries but also in everyday life. Especially enhanced is this mixture in rural areas where one can almost feel in certain elements as if time has stopped still a few decades back at least. Enjoy the rewarding beauties of Albania and Macedonia.;
Location: Albania, Macedonia
Duration: 8 days, 7 nights
Pick up the group at Skopje Airport and drive to Prizren in Kosovo, a true open air museum and one of the most beautiful towns of Kosovo. It is situated on the slopes of the Sharr Mountains and on the banks of the river Bistrica. The craftsmen of Prizren are well known for their beautiful gold and silver articles and other folk handcrafts. From all the cities of Kosovo, Prizren has best preserved the architectural style of the past. Dinner and overnight in Prizren.
After breakfast depart to Tirana. On the way we stop at Kruja the centre of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans under our national hero Scanderbeg who defeated them in 22 battles including the Ottoman’s most warriors like sultans Murad II and his son Mehmed II a.k.a “Mehmed the Conqueror”. Scanderbeg resisted the Ottoman occupation for 25 years impeding their progress deeper into Europe at a time the Ottomans were seeking expansion in the West, while Albania and the Balkans paid the ultimate price of falling under the Ottoman occupation for nearly 500 years. We visit the Castle with two great Museums and the Old Ottoman style bazaar. Drive to capital Tirana where we visit the National History Museum with a great introduction into Albanian history and take a tour of the Bllok where the communist elite had its villas, an area off limits for ordinary Albanians for 50 years. Dinner and overnight in Tirana.
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. Julius 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 on to Vlora where we have dinner and overnight.
After breakfast we depart to Saranda 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 down below. Afterwards continue along the wonderful coast to 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 site has been occupied since at least the 8th century BC, and myths associated with its origins speak of the city’s foundation by Trojan exiles. 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. After a thorough visit drive to Gjirokaster a UNESCO town for its unique architecture where we overnight.
After breakfast visit the Castle part of which, was turned into a political prison for dissidents of the communist regime and an Arms Museum. Visit to the Ethnographic Museum, which is also the house the Albanian dictator was born in. Afterwards 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. We visit the Castle and the Onufri Museum. 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. Onufri was a famous Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century who painted many orthodox churches in Albania and Greece, using a special red colour. Berat is also known for its close ties with religious practice as two of the oldest bibles in the world have been found here. One dates back from the 6th century AD and the other from the 9th century AD and are internationally renowned for their theological importance. We have a homemade type lunch in one of the houses in the castle turned restaurant. (optional). Overnight in Berat in the old district of Mangalem in beautiful old house turned hotel.
After breakfast depart for to the city of Ohrid. On the way we drive through rural villages with wonderful countryside landscapes. We stop at Elbasan for a quick visit at the castle. Afterwards proceed to Ohrid proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage area for its cultural and natural legacy. Visits include: Saint Sophia, Plashonik, Saint Painteleimon Church, The Holy Virgin of Peribleptos Church, Icon Gallery, and old Bazaar. Overnight in Ohrid.
After the breakfast drive to Stobi one of the most important archaeological sites in Macedonia. Lying in a fertile valley just a few minutes off the central north-south highway that connects Macedonia with Greece, the ancient city of Stobi was a vital trade route in its days. Visit the excavation sites with beautiful remains such as a 2nd century amphitheatre, the Theodosia palace and early Christian ruins with extensive and ornate mosaic floors. Afterwards depart for Skopje where we take a guided 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 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.;