Day 1: Welcome in Albania
You will meet your guide in the afternoon at your hotel in central tirana. You will make a sightseeing tour in town, and time permitting, we will visit the National Museum of History and/or the National Arts Gallery - both located in the downtown city center.
Overnight: hotel in Tirana
Dinner: traditional restaurant
Day 2: Apollonia and the Vlora bay
Today we will drive south to the city of Vlora . After the first two hours of drive, our first stop will be to visit the 13th century orthodox monastery of Ardenica. It is thought that it was in this romantic place that the marriage of the Albanian national hero Scanderbeg was celebrated in the 15th century. Later we will visit the ancient Roman ruins of Apollonia, the Byzantine Monastery of St Mary.
"Founded in 588BC by Greeks from Corinth, the city quickly grew to 50.000 residents by the second century BC. Apollonia later became a free Roman city after it sided with Julius Caesar during the war against Pompey. It developed into a cultural center of the arts until the 3rd century AD when an earthquake rerouted a river and lead to the city’s decline." -Bradt travel guide.
We will have lunch under the shade of the trees in a restaurant in Apollonia.
The last leg of the drive will bring us to enjoy the views of Vlora bay from the Kanina castle and end at the hotel in Vlora, followed by dinner.
Overnight: hotel in Vlora
Day 3: National Park of Llogora and Dhermi beach
After breakfast, we will drive for half an hour towards Llogora National Park. The surroundings of Llogora Pass have been described by travelers as one of the most dramatic mountain and sea panoramas of the Mediterranean.
We will take a short walk on an old military road, to enjoy the stunning views of the Albanian Riviera. On a clear day, you can see the Greek island of Corfu with few deserted Greek islands on the horizon.
After the walk, we will relax and have lunch in a panoramic restaurant in Llogora, specialized in lamb roasted on a traditional spit and other tasty mountain dishes.
Later, the charter bus will bring the group to Dhermi Beach - perhaps the finest of Albania for its crystal waters, with the Cika mountains in the background.
In the afternoon, we will visit the old village and the church of St. Mary with some interesting frescoes. While having dinner we will enjoy the sunset over the sea.
Overnight: hotel in Dhermi
Day 4: Along the Riviera, towards Butrint
Today's drive will bring us further along the stretch of coast north of Saranda known as the Albanian Riviera. It is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the Mediterranean. On the road, we will stop to visit and the Ali Pasha Tepelena, a 19th century fortress in the bay of Palermo. The splendid bay of Palermo once served as an important secret submarine base during the regime days. The semi abandoned base, the tunnel and surrounding structures are still visible.
Later we will drive to Saranda and further, following a panoramic road along the lagoon. We’ll reach the remains of the ancient Butrint, which we will also visit. On the road we will stop to have lunch in a fish restaurant in front of the lovely Xamili islands.
“Butrint is undeniably a beautiful place. Close to modern civilization yet with its monuments in thick woodland. With remains dating from so many different periods covering two and a half thousand years. Set in a marshy landscape besides the busy straits separating Corfu from Albania, it is also an environmental haven rich in bird life" - Bradt travel guide.
Free time in Saranda city, before dinner in the panoramic restaurant of Lekursi, which dominates the entire bay and lagoon.
Overnight: Hotel by the sea
Day 5: Gjirokastër , the City of Stone
Today the group will leave Saranda, directed to Gjirokastër; on the road, we will visit the springs of Syri i Kaltër - known as “The Blue Eye.”
Gjirokastër is one of the most beautiful Albanian historic towns - inscribed into the UNESCO world heritage list. Gjirokastër; the “city of stone,” extends downhill from the 13th century castle. From the walls of the castle one can admire the view of its districts and the surrounding valley of river Drinos. A stroll along the stone paved streets will bring travelers to discover the charming traditional architecture that originates from the Ottoman times. It was in these gray stone-cobbled streets that both dictator Enver Hoxha and writer Ismail Kadare grew up. We will visit the castle on arrival, and then have lunch in a restaurant in town. In the afternoon we will visit the museum of ethnography located in the family house of dictator Hoxha
Overnight: hotel in Gjirokaster
Dinner: restaurant of the hotel
Day 6.: Berat, the City of a Thousand Windows
After three hours of driving in the sunny hills of south-central Albania, we will reach Berat, “the city of a thousand windows”. Berat is the best-preserved historic town of Albania. Illyrian and Roman walls surround Byzantine churches and Ottoman houses, coexisting with the socialist buildings in an impressive historic accumulation of more than 2,400 years.
We will check-in at the hotel and then have lunch in a traditional restaurant.
Afterwards, we will walk in the characteristic neighborhood "Mangalemi" to visit the ethnographic museum. Then we’ll head to the citadel district of Berat, with its splendid orthodox churches and the Onufri Icons Museum (named after the famous 16th century master painter of icons and murals). The dinner will be served in a restaurant within the citadel.
Overnight: hotel in Berat
Day 7: In the footsteps of Skanderbeg
After breakfast we will drive to Durres where we will make a visit to the Roman Amphitheatre and the Museum of Archaeology. Later we will have lunch in a fish restaurant at the beach.
After lunch we will drive to the small town of Kruja, which was the epicenter of the legendary Albanian resistance to the Ottomans, led by national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg in the 14th century.
Its location on the cliffs of mount Kruja made it an invincible stronghold in the Albanian-Ottoman wars for almost half a century. Now, this elevated location offers visitors gorgeous views of the coast and beautiful sunsets.
The afternoon will be spent shopping in the famous Bazaar Street, visiting the Kruja fortress, and the museum of Skanderbeg.
Overnight: hotel in Kruja
Dinner: restaurant of the hotel
Day 8: Leaving Albania
Free time in Kruja, followed by the airport transfer and departure.
If you wish to do this tour on a different date, please contact us via the enquire now button. We have guides who can speak Albanian, English, Italian, French, German, Italian, Dutch or Spanish.”