Grand Tour of Albania
Day 1: Tirana
20 years ago Albania’s capital used to regularly top the list of Europe’s underdeveloped cities. Decades of Stalinist rule left Tirana grey and grim, lacking in both infrastructure and services. The collapse of communism in 1992 required rapid changes for the City.
Now with the fastest development rate in the region it has become home to a third of Albania’s population becoming the upbeat capital of the country. Considered one of the safest cities in Europe you will be able to spot remnants of its past and traces of the fast changes that it has gone through.
We will visit the main sites like the Ethem Bey Mosque, clock tower, Scanderbeg Square, Orthodox Church, Bunk-Art (a cold war nuclear bunker now restored and open for tourists) and the National Historic Museum. Overnight in Tirana. Hotel 3*
Day 2: Tirana – Durres –Berat (UNESCO) (2.5 hours driving time)
The first destination is the city of Durrës founded in 627 B.C. as was one of the most important Greek City States and later Roman centre.
It is home to many ancient archaeological sites and finds. The most notable tourist attraction in Durrës is the amphitheatre of the Roman Emperor Hadrian with 15,000 seats, the second biggest amphitheatre in the Balkans. After a visit to the amphitheatre and the archaeological museum, we will travel towards another UNESCO site. The town of Berat is well known for its unique ottoman style houses built around two hills facing each other with the castle on top and the river in between. We will visit the Onufri Museum, Berat Castle and the historical quarters of the city. Overnight in Berat (3* Hotel).
DAY 3: Berat -Skrapar-Berat
Day 3 will be dedicated to an ancient natural monument. We will head towards the famous Osumi Canyons in Skrapar for an unforgettable rafting trip. This trip will provide magnificent scenery as you float by the Canyon walls and will certainly make for a memorable experience. Eight waterfalls, a cathedral, the unspoiled nature, and the soothing sounds of running water combine to create a truly unique trip. We will take a short break to have a snack under the blue waterfall. The river trip lasts about 2.5—4 hours, and depending largely on the water level.
* Rafting is available February-June. For tours organised June-November, canyon exploration (river hiking) is available on a shorter trail.
Day 4: Berat – Ardenica – Apollonia – Vlora (3.5 hours driving time)
We will resume the tour after breakfast towards Vlora and stop to visit the Monastery of Ardenica (early 15-th century) on the way. The next stop will be the ancient town of Apollonia which was one of the most important cities in the Balkans where the Roman Emperor Augustus was educated.
The city of Vlora is a beautiful coastal which hosted the first Independent Albanian government. There will be a visit to the Independence museum and dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Vlora (3* Hotel).
Day 5: Vlora – Zvernec Monastery – Butrint (UNESCO) – Saranda (4.5 hours driving time)
The first destination of day 5 is the Monastery of Zvernec which is situated in a beautiful natural small peninsula. Then we will enjoy a beautiful drive through the Albanian Riviera towards Saranda. On the way we will visit a small fortress overlooking a beautiful bay. For tours organised in summer, snorkelling gear is available for the enthusiasts of underwater beauty.
Very close to Saranda we will visit UNESCO’s heritage site Butrint, Albanias top archaeological attraction. The site is located in a beautiful peninsula and introduces the influences of the civilisations which owned the town through the centuries. Hellenic, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman and Venetian style buildings and artefacts can be found in the site. After the visit to Butrint we will have dinner in Saranda and spend the night in the city. (Hotel 3*)
Day 6 – Saranda – Blue Eye – Gjirokastra (UNESCO)
After breakfast we will head towards a spectacular natural monument called the Blue Eye which is an underground spring that creates a very distinct shape resembling a beautiful human eye. From there we will head for UNESCO’s town of Gjirokastra where we will visit the fortress, ethnographic museum which is also the childhood home of Albania’s infamous communist dictator Enver Hoxha. Overnight in Gjirokastra (Hotel 3*)
Day 7: Përmet
(Thermal Bath & canyon of Lengarica/Rafting)
We will head to Përmet and depending on the time of the year we will go rafting in the Vjosa River which is Europe’s last wild river. We will also make a visit to the natural thermal baths of the Langarica Canyon (Vjosa River) and enjoy a great organic meal in one of the local agro-tourism farms. Overnight in Përmet (Hotel 3*).
Day 8: Voskopoja – Korca (3.5 hours driving time)
The day will start with our trip to Korça and several stops on the way to enjoy the beautiful natural sceneries. Lunch will be served in a local agro-tourism farm in Erseka. We will use the rest of the day to visit Korça, its impressive city center, traditional market and cathedral.
Day 9: Korca – Prespa Lake – Kayaking (Inflatable kayaks)
After breakfast we will drive to Prespa Lake and take inflatable kayaks to reach the beautiful island of Maligradwhich hosts the Church of Holy Mary. After a quick walk within the island we will get the kayaks to get back to Korça and enjoy a traditional dinner with traditional music (serenades). Overnight in Korça (Hotel 3*)
Day 10: Korca – Pogradec – Elbasan – Tirana
The day will start with a visit of the Medieval Museum of Arts, the Mirahori Mosque which is one of the oldest in Albania and the Mbroje Church (14th century). We will continue to Pogradec and lake Ohrid. We will make a visit to the national park of Drilon and the beautiful villa where the dictator would spend his holidays fishing. On our way back we will visit the castle of Elbasan and continue to Tirana for an overnight stay. (Hotel 3*)
Day 11: Tirana – Airport
Depending on flight times, we have free time to explore the city until the time for the transfer to the Airport. We will be hoping you had a great time, recommend our tour to your friends and perhaps see you again.