This tour is for people who are interested to discover the culture, the history and the hospitality of Albania. This tour provides access to a variety of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, old towns, beautiful beaches, dramatic mountains and the Albanian Riviera.
What to Expect
During this tour explore the best of Albania’s culture and coastline. Visit archaeological sites, monasteries, castles and UNESCO heritage sites and visit the turquoise waters of the Albanian Riviera.
Day 1: TIRANE – APOLLONIA – VLORE
The tour starts at 9:00 am from the city center in Tirana. The first stop is Durres, which is located on the Adriatic Sea in the mid-western part of Albania. After a short coffee stop to enjoy the seaside view, we head to Apollonia, Fier. Next stop will be in Ardenica, where you will visit its monastery. The Ardenica Monastery of Theotokos Mary was built by Byzantine Emperor, Andronikos II Palaiologos in 1282 after the victory against the Angevins in the Siege of Berat. The monastery is famed as being the place where, in 1451, the marriage of Albania’s national hero, Skanderbeg to Andronika Arianiti was celebrated. In 1780 the Monastery started a theological school, teaching Greek Orthodoxy. It had an important library with 32,000 volumes that got completely burned by a fire in 1932. The Church of Saint Mary, situated within the monastery contains frescoes from brothers Kostandin and Athanas Zografi, notable is one of Saint John Kukuzelis, who was born in Durrës. Then we head to Apollonia. The evocative ruins of the ancient Illyiran city of Apollonia sit on a windswept hilltop some 12km west of the city of Fier. While a large part of the ruins remain buried under the ground, what has been excavated within the 4km of city walls is pure poetry. The highlights include the theatre and the elegant pillars of the restored facade of the city’s 2nd-century-AD administrative centre. We will stop for lunch on a traditional restaurant. After lunch, we head to Vlore. In Vlore we will see the division of the Adriatic and the Ionian Sea. The Ionian Sea is well known for its beauty and unspoiled nature. Dinner and accommodation in the hotel will be in Vlora.
Day 2: VLORE – SARANDE – GJIROKASTER
After breakfast at the hotel we will depart for Saranda. On our way there we will visit the castle of “Ali Pasha”, a worth place to visit for its history and the beautiful view of the sea. We will stop on the road for a traditional lunch. After lunch we go to Butrint, an ancient Greek and later Roman city in Epirus. Butrint has a special atmosphere created by a combination of archaeology, monuments and nature in the Mediterranean. After this we will visit Gjirokaster, a very old town with is laying the historical region of Epirus. The streets and the houses made of stone are a really special thing about this historical place. We will visit the castle of Gjirokaster as well. The castle dominates the town and overlooks the strategically important route along the river valley. It contains a military museum featuring captured artillery of the Communist resistance against German occupation, as well as a captured United States Air Force plane to commemorate the Communist regime’s struggle against the “imperialist” western powers. Dinner and accommodation in the hotel will be in Gjirokaster.
Day 3: GJIROKASTER – BERAT – TIRANE
After breakfast at the hotel we will depart to Berat. Upon arrival in the city, you’ll see a fascinating blend of architectural styles that tell the story of Berat’s diverse religious and cultural communities. In the lower part of the city, spot some of the distinctive tiered houses climbing the steep hillside. Head to high promontory overlooking the city to explore the castle, or kala, which was fortified in the 5th century after the Romans burned it down in 200 BC. Take in some of the Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques that are protected by the castle walls, and snap panoramic photos from the historic battlements. We will stop for lunch on a traditional restaurant. After lunch we will head back to Tirana and that will be the end of this marvelous tour.
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