Kind of Tour: Grand Tour Code of Tour: ETTGT01 Length of Trip: 13 nights / 14 days Itinerary: Tirana – Durres – Berat – Ardenica – Apollonia – Vlora – Llogara – Dhermi – Porto Palermo – Borsh – Saranda – Butrint – Blu Eye Spring – Gjirokastra – Permet – Voskopoja – […]
Kind of Tour: Grand Tour
Code of Tour: ETTGT01
Length of Trip: 13 nights / 14 days
Itinerary: Tirana – Durres – Berat – Ardenica – Apollonia – Vlora – Llogara – Dhermi – Porto Palermo – Borsh – Saranda – Butrint – Blu Eye Spring – Gjirokastra – Permet – Voskopoja – Korca – Pogradec – Tushemisht/Drilon – Elbasan – Shkodra – Lezha – Kruje
Description of the Tour:
This Grand Tour Albania is the longest tour we offer and is for people who are interested to discover the culture, the history and the hospitality of Albania in a more in-depth way by also exploring the South-East of Albania. This tour provides access to a variety of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, old towns, beautiful beaches, dramatic mountains, the Albanian Riviera and hospitable small villages with interaction with the local community.
This Tour may last 10/11/12 days (tailor-made up to your wishes) and the visits may include:
Day 1: Airport – Tirana
Arrival at “Mother Teresa” Airport, meet &greet by our represantive and transfer to hotel. Visit the National Historic Museum in Tirana offering an in-depth introduction to Albanian History from prehistoric times to present day. Welcome dinner at a traditional Albanian restaurant with live music. Overnight in Tirana.
Day 2: Tirana – Durres – Berat
After breakfast we visit the Statue of Scanderbeg on the Scanderbeg Square, the Et’hem Bey Mosque at the center, the Clock Tower next to the Et’hem Bey Mosque and some of the government building along the main Bulevard. Afterwards we will depart to Durrës (one of the oldest and most important cities of Albania where we will have lunch in a fish restaurant at the beach. After lunch we visit the Amphitheatre and the Archaelogical museum, located in the middle of the modern city. After this stop in Durrës we will continue to Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city is also known as “the city of thousand windows”. After the check-in into the hotel, we will have lunch in a traditional restaurant. Afterwards we have a walk in the neighbourhood called “Mangalem” and visit the ethnographic museum. We continue our tour to the Castle and Onufri museum. People are still living within the walls of the castle, just like their ancestors did. Onufri was an Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century who painted many orthodox churches in Albania and Greece. After these visits the group is left at leisure for further exploration of this beautiful town. Overnight in Berat.
Day 3: Berat – Ardenica – Apollonia – Vlora
After breakfast, we will have a short sightseeing of the city, before departure to Vlora. One the way to this beautiful coastal town we visit Ardenica and Apollonia. Ardenica is an Orthodox monastery built in the 13th century. It is thought that it was the idyllic place where the marriage of the Albania national Scanderbeg was celebrated in the 15th century. After Ardenica we proceed to Apollonia, situated in the Famous via Egnatia. Apollonia was founded at the beginning of the 7th century BC by the Greek colonists and in Roman times, it was a large and flourishing city (with 50.000 residents in the second century BC) near Aos river (today Vjosa). The monastery (which houses the museum) courtyard enclosed a Byzantine church dating back ti the 14th century. We will have lunch in Apollonia. After lunch we continue our trip to Vlora where we will visit the Independence Museum which is situated in the original house where the first independent Albanian Government had its seat. Afternoon & evening at leisure. Overnight in Vlora.
Day 4: Vlora – Llogara – Dhermi – Porto Palermo – Borsh – Saranda
After breakfast we will depart to Saranda. On this day we will only drive along the Albanian Riviera overlooking the Ionian Sea. Our first stop will be in Llogora National Park for a short break to enjoy the panorama with the most dramatical mountains of the Meditarrenean in one side and the sea on the other side. After this overlooking the sea we proceed to Dhërmi village, well-known for its crystal water and splendid beaches. Firstly we visit the church in the old Village and then we will have lunch in a fish restaurant. After lunch we continue towards Porto Palermo, where Ali Pasha stands like a barrier in front of the blue rocky sea as a protection for the country. The bay of Porto Palermo once served as an important secret submarine base during the regime days. The semi abandoned base and the tunnel are still visible. After the visit of Porto Palermo we proceed to Borsh, where we will have a coffee break in an oasis of peace surrounded by waterfalls and running water. After this coffee break we will continue along the breath-taking road to Saranda, our final destination for today. Upon arrival in Saranda (only a few miles across the beautiful Greek Island of Corfu), check-in at the hotel and we will enjoy a stroll along the seaside promenade and prepare for dinner. Ovenight in Saranda.
Day 5: Saranda – Butrint – Blue Eye Spring – Saranda
Today we will visit Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city was founded by the Trojans during the first millennium BC and was continuosly inhabited for centuries. After the tour we have lunch at a restaurant inside the walls of a medieval fortress (Lekuresi) on top the hill overlooking the town of Saranda with a breathtaking view. On the way back to Saranda we visit the Blue Eye spring, formed by underground springs. Afternoon&evening at leisure. Overnight in Saranda.
Day 6: Saranda – Gjirokastra
After breakfast we will depart to Gjirokastra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well. It is said to be one of the most beautiful historical towns in Albania and known as the “musem city”. Here we visit the biggest fortress in Albania, built during the 4th century and the house of the National Museum of Weapons. We will also pay a visit to the Ethnographic Museum, which is located in the house where the Albanian dictator (Enver Hoxha) was born. The group is then left for leisure time to explore the rest of the city. Dinner in a traditional restaurant accompanied by the Isopoliphony, another intangible Unesco World Heritage. Overnight in Gjirokastra.
Day 7: Gjirokastra – Permet – Voskopoja
In the morning there will be some time to stroll along the streets of Gjirokastra before departure to Voskopoja. This day we drive through the breathtaking scenery of Kelcyra gorge and Vjosa canyons to arrive at the attractive town of Permet where we take a walk to visit the wonderful church of Leusa and also experience the local lifestyle. Here we will also have lunch. After this tradional lunch we continue our trip to Voskopoja thtough the scenery of the mountainous area of Leskovik. When we arrive in Voskopoja, one of the most important towns in the Balkans during the beginning of the 18th century, we visit the town with its most important church with frescoes from the Zeografi brother. Overnight in Voskopoja.
Day 8: Voskopoja – Korca – Pogradec – Tushemisht/Drilon
After breakfast there will be some time to enjoy the peaceful town of Voskopoja before leaving for Korca where we visit the Museum of Medieval Arts, The First school of Albania, the Mosque of Mirahori, one of the oldest in the country, and the Orthodox Cathedral. Afterwards we continue to Pogradec, which is a city on the shores of Lake Ohrid. We visit the Park of Drilon and Villa Art(where we will have lunch) that used to be the old fishing villa of the dictator. Then we proceed to the small village of Tushemisht to explore traditional village life in this picturesque area of the country. Overnight in Pogradec.
Day 9: Pogradec – Lin – Elbasan – Tirana
After breakfast we depart to Elbasan. On the way we will have a short stop on the pictureque villages in the shore of the lake, Lin. We continue to Elbasan, where we will visit Elbasan Castle and the Saint Mary Church inside the castle. On the way to Tirana we will have a short visit in Bradashes in the “ad quintum”, the first station of the Via Egnatia. Afterwards we continue to Tirana where we will have lunch and a free afternoon to explore the capital of Albania.
Day 10: Tirana – Mirditë – Kala e Dodes
After breakfast, departure to Mirditë, for a short visit to the Church of Shelebrun in Rubik, to continue to Rresheni for a visit to the Cultural Center, which hold the fascinating collection of the traditional costumes of Mirdita and some musical instruments. We will stop for lunch at the National Park of Uleza. After lunch we continue to Peshkopia, a city set amid spectacular mountains. We will visit here the local museum, which includes in it find from and information about the interesting prehistoric sites in the district and some walk in the old quarter, Sehit Najdini, with a few surviving Ottoman houses.
Day 11. Peshkopi – Kukes – Bajram Curri – Valbonë
After breakfast we pay some attention to the well-known spa complex, known by the gereneric Albanian word for thermal springs: Llixhat. We continue to Kukes with a stop to the Kala e Dodes, where we will visit the Castle of Tallamazi. In Kukes we will visit the main square, the monument about the exodus from Kosova during the 1998-99 war. We will have lunch in Kukës. After lunch we will continue to Valbona Valley, with a short walk in the center of Bajram Curri, the small town in the northern of Albania, surrounded by beautiful mountains. Our final destination of the day is Valbona valley, famous for its dramatic gorges and plunging waterfalls, as well as for the clarity and the beautiful, light blue colour of its water. After arriving in Valbona, we will proceed with the accommodation in a guesthouse and have some walk on the valley up to the spring of Valbona. Dinner with traditional food.
Day 12. Valbona – Lake Komani – Vau I Dejes
After breakfast and some stroll to the valley we depart directly to the lake of Koman to catch the ferry boat. The journey to the Lake Koman deserves to be one of the worlds’ classic boat trips. The journey will take up to 2 hours. We will have lunch in Vau i Dejës, in a beautiful island in a traditional restaurant. After lunch we will continue for a visit to the Mesi Bridge, an old bridge built in the mid 18th century with beautiful mountains on the background. We continue our trip to Shkodra, follow the procedure of accommodation and have some walk on the historical center, the old neighbourhood of the city. Dinner and overnight in Shkodra.
Day 13: Shkodra – Lezhe – Kruja
After breakfast, we will visit the Historical Museums, which are located in the house of Oso Kuka, who died defending Shkodra against Montenegrins attackers in 1861, Marubi Phototeque a marvellous photographic record of historical events and ordinary people in northern Albania, the Leaden Mosque, an 18th century building with an attractive arched courtyard, afterwards we will visit the Rozafa Castle with an amazing view all around the lake of Shkodra, the city of Shkodra and the countryside. We will stop to have the lunch in Fishte in an agroturistic farm with fresh and bio food. After lunch, we continue to Lezha, where we visit the mausoleum of the National Hero Scanderbeg. Aftrewards we continue to Kruja, which was the centre of the legendary Albanian resistance against the Turks led by our national hero Scanderbeg. Kruja is located on the cliffs of mount Kruja which offers superb views of the coast and the surrounding village. Here we visit the Kruja fortress, the Scanderbeg museum, the Ethnographic museum and the famous old Bazaar street. Overnight in Kruja.
Day 14: Kruja – Airport
Free time to explore Kruja, followed by the airport transfer and departure back home.