9 days / 8 nights
"Mother Theresa" International Airport - Tirana city
Albania Adventure guides will meet you at "Mother Theresa" international airport to continue with our trip to Tirana, the capital of Albania. We will be accommodated at a hotel close to the center. Tirana was founded in 1614 by Sulejman Pashe Bargjini, a very wealthy feudal at that time, from a village called Mullet and it was declared the capital in 1920.
Tirana is a large city with over 800.000 inhabitants, and since it is the capital of Albania, it offers many opportunities related to all kinds of tourism. The possibilities to visit historical and cultural centers are numerous here. Among them we include: The monument of the national hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, a number of historic buildings such as the Mosque of Et’hem Bej, the Clock Tower which is 35 m high and was built in 1830. The top of the tower, which is open to visitors, offers a fantastic view of the square. Then we proceed with the Tabak Bridge (XVIII), Mother Albania Monument, National Theatre, Opera and Ballet Theatre, Gallery of Fine Art, the International Center of Culture, Historical Museum, the Archaeological Museum and Museum of Natural Sciences. The 2000 year-old-castle, the castle of Petrela, is only 15 km south of Tirana. It was built by the Albans, Illyrian tribes, while in northwestern Tirana, only 15 km away, is the Castle of Preza, which is a highly frequented spot by tourists because of its unique sights.
Kruja town – Shkodra city
After breakfast, we head to the town of Kruja, one of the most significant tourist attractions in Albania. It is a very ancient town which dates back three centuries before Christ. Not only is it characterized for its geography, impressive castle, but also for its traditions transmitted from one generation to the other.
It is considered as the capital of resistance against Ottoman invaders with Skanderbeg as its leader. The town is rich in cultural and ethnographic monuments. It is also archeologically rich. Because of possessing priceless values, Kruja has been declared a ‘hero’ and ‘museum’ town. Of great importance are the historical museum, the old Bazaar’s characteristic road, the ethnographic museum as well as a wide variety of cult objects, which arouse tourist interest. Other specialties of the town are its outfits, the characteristic weaving and the handicrafts in copper, gold and silver etc.
After having taken a full tour of Kruja town, we will have lunch at a traditional restaurant where local traditional cuisine will be tasted.
In the afternoon we set off in the direction of Shkodra city where we will be accommodated at a hotel-restaurant.
Shkodra city - City of Durres
We are visiting the city of Shkodra right after breakfast. It is the largest in northern Albania with a history of ancient civilization and culture. It was founded by the tribe of Labeat at the beginning of the last millennium BC.
We will visit the castle of Shkodra “Rozafa Castle” which is established on a rocky hill at the entrance Shkodra city. This castle was used as an Illyrian fortified center. It was first mentioned during the reign of King Gent, who ruled from 181 BC until 168 BC.
We will later proceed with a visit to the Cathedral of Shkodra called the Great Church, because at the time the building was one of the largest churches in the Balkans.
The New Mosque - Ebu Bekr – which is later to be visited is the largest in Albania and among the largest in the Balkans. It is worth noting that one of the greatest values of Albanian people is the coexistence and religious tolerance.
The Clock Tower of Shkodra is another landmark worth visiting. It was built in the nineteenth century and is otherwise known in history as the English Clock Tower regarding to the period of medieval aristocracy. The Clock Tower, along with the house next door, was built with the funds of the English lord Paget.
We cannot leave Shkodra without visiting the Historical Museum, located at a monumental and characteristic house, named "Oso Kuka". It contains sections of archeology, history and ethnography.
Then we will depart to the coastal city of Durres where we are going to be accommodated.
City of Durres - The antique city of Apollonia – The national park of Llogara
Durres is the second largest city in Albania with a population over 200.000 residents. It is, at the same time, the center of Durres prefecture and county. It is one of the most ancient and economically important cities of Albania. It is established on the central coast of Albania, on the west side of the capital of Albania – Tirane. It is located on one of the narrowest spots of Adriatic Sea, opposite Italian ports of Bari and Brindisi.
Durres can be compared to the biggest cities of ancient and medieval Mediterranean. Durres, Dyrrah, was built by Illyrians and Taulants, the swallows of the XIII-XI centuries. Dyrrah’s first inhabitants, before Illyrians, were called proto Illyrian Pelasgians, laid the foundations of this city, the first prehistoric settlements. According to ancient authors, this city was founded by two kings of Illyrian origin called Dyrrah and Epidamn.
Because of its ancient origin, Durres is a city of an early culture. The city has inherited numerous values of the past, historical and archaeological centers such as the Amphitheatre, the Byzantine fences, the Venetian Tower, the castle’s perimeter wall, but also other cultural and religious centers like Basilica ruins in Arapaj, Rodoni castle etc.
During this day we are visiting the Amphitheatre of Durres, the last construction of the second century BC, one of the greatest of its kind in the Roman Empire. It is also the only one in our country. Its ellipse size 120x110m and the arena axis 61x42m hosted up to 15.000 spectators. Its presence is a landmark in the city’s urban organization.
The archaeological museum and the Venetian tower are to be visited as well. The old museum was inaugurated in March 1951, while the new one in April 2002. A museum of national dimensions in which nearly 2000 objects have been exposed in prehistoric, ancient and post byzantine sections. All of these archaeological objects have been excavated and found in the city’s underground territory.
Lunch will be enjoyed at a seaside restaurant after the city tour, and then we will be headed towards the ancient city of Apollonia, which is one of the largest in the Adriatic basin and the most mentioned among the other 30 cities of antiquity with the same name.
It was founded around the beginning of the IV century BC. Apollonia ruins were first discovered at the beginning of the XIX century. Some objects, belonging to the Iron Age, are the earliest archaeological traces, which are typical of Illyrian culture. Some of the remains of the defensive wall and an archaic temple dedicated to Artemisia, the most worshipped goddess of the Apollonian, are preserved. These remains date back since the first centuries of city life.
Apollonia is located 12 km away from the city of Fier. It was established as a city by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth. The first record of their presence was documented around 588 BC. The city was named in the honor of god Apollon. Among the 24 cities in the Mediterranean world that bore the same name in ancient times, the Illyrian Apollonia was the most important and played a huge role as a trade intermediary between Helens and Illyrians. At that time Apollonia was a large and important city near river Aoos (Vjose). The city is believed to have had 60 000 inhabitants, a record figure for the antiquity.
Later we will be headed in the direction of the National Park of Llogara where we will be accommodated for the night at a hotel-restaurant.
Himara town – Porto Palermo Peninsula – The city of Sarande
During this day not only will we enjoy the marvelous scenery that Albanian Riviera offers, but we will also have the opportunity to visit some of the castles established there.
The first stop is the coastal town of Himare, which will astonish us with its architectonic and cultural beauties. This will be noticed in all the villages, monuments and historic, cultural and religious constructions. 2/3 floor-buildings built with carved stone are another characteristic of the area.
With its numerous castles and amazing beaches, Himara is undoubtedly one of the most spotted areas in southern Albania.
Himara castle, which is established on a hill of 1ha area, used to be inhabited in late Bronze Age and used to be surrounded by protective walls which started to be built in the VIII century BC and continued until the late middle Ages without interruption. The antique walls of polygonal type belong to the second phase of fortification and date back in the V-IV centuries BC. Monuments to be visited inside the castle are Sergji and Baku’s church (Paleoepiskopia), all Saints’ church, Tano Jorgji Goros’ house, The Ancient Tower on the south side, Ancient Walls on the northeastern side, medieval Entrance and medieval Tower (Barbakaja) etc.
Later Porto Palermo tectonic peninsula will be visited where the famous castle of Ali Pashe Tepelena is situated. It was built to honor his new wife Vasiliqia, whose he gifted it. Porto Palermo Castle is located in the bay with the same name on the coast of the Ionian Sea in southern Albania. It is founded in a very nice position in Porto Palermo peninsula (in antiquity known as Panorma’s bay). This castle of triangular shape is not far from the village of Qeparo. Its dimensions are 150m x 400m and the walls reach up to 20 m height.
Afterwards we set off towards the coastal city Saranda where we will be accommodated.
Lekursi castle is established on the highest spot of Saranda. It was built in the XV century during Sulejman Pasha’s war against Corfu. The restaurant where we are dinning has been built in its premises from which the city’s view is stunning.
National park of Butrint – The Blue eye (Sarande) – Gjirokastra city
We will have the opportunity to visit the ancient city of Butrint throughout this day. Butrinti’s archeological national park occupies an area of 15ha and is situated 30-50m above sea level. This antique city, listed as a world heritage site of UNESCO is a gem of archeology. Its location -between the lake and the sea, and Hellenic style buildings compose a museum containing restored archaeological traces. Ali Pasha castle, the Amphitheatre, the thermal baths, roman style houses, mosaics, masterly carved walls and other constructions are found inside the city.
The Blue eye is another destination to be visited and have lunch. It is a magical place whose underground water source is surrounded by forests and it is named after its blue color. It is one of the most beautiful natural curiosities of the country.
Our journey continues with the city of Gjirokastra where we will be accommodated.
Gjirokastra town - Berat town
Gjirokastra town or otherwise known as “The stone town” is one of the most important towns of southern Albania. It is a town of tourist attraction. It is bordered by Tepelena in north, Permet northeast, Saranda south and Greece northeast. Gjirokastra became part of UNESCO’s World Heritage Site in 2005 as one of the few surviving examples of Ottoman style commercial towns in the Balkans.
The town of “Thousand stairs” with hundreds of Ottoman style houses, stone roofs and wooden balconies can certainly be called a magic one with a glorious past.
We will be turned back in time by a walk along the bazaar and a visit at the old fortress. The fortress is, without any doubts, one of the most extraordinary construction structures. Situated on a rock, with the town at its foot, it offers a breathtaking view of Drino valley and the surrounding mountains. The key fortifications were built by Epirus despot in the XII-XIII century. After the Ottoman conquest, in the XIV century, the main reconstructions were made by Sultan Bayezid II. By the year 1811, Ali Pashe Tepelena added other numerous elements to the fortress, including here the clock tower on its outer side. There have been no other constructions or repairs since that time. Inside the castle the remains of a US Air Force aircraft are found, which is of high interest to visitors.
The National Museum of Arms will also be visited. It was opened in 1971 and is placed where a prison previously was. The museum displays all kinds of weapons, from the period of Independence until the end of World War II, but mostly from the partisan war 1939 to 1944.
In the afternoon we will depart towards the town of Berat.
Berat Town - The Albania capital, Tirana city.
Berat or otherwise known as “the town of a thousand windows” is part of the rarest towns where life initiated since ancient times until nowadays with no interruption at all. It was founded in 313-310 BC, as a fortress-settlement of the Greek Dassaretae tribe on the old border between Illyria and Epirus. It was called Antipatrea by King Kasander in memory of General Viceroy of Alexander the Great. The town has inherited numerous historical, cultural, ethnographic, architectonic and religious values which constitute a considerable potential for tourism. The town’s handicraft is one of the inherited values. Artisanal handicrafts include certain genre like metal and silver work, embroidery, wood carving, decorative work on stone and straw work.
While in Berat, we will be visiting the town castle, the Ethnographic national museum, St. Mary’s Cathedral and Gorica bridge.
The town castle is one of the largest and inhabited nowadays with a stony archive which offers a variety of styles and contributions from different epochs like Illyrian, Roman-Byzantine, Albanian and Turkish ones. In the shape of triangle, the castle has a perimeter of 1440m, 24 towers and two gates. Its foundations date back in Illyrian empire, but the castle itself was reconstructed several times during the VI, XIII, XV and XIX centuries.
The ethnographic museum in Berat was inaugurated in 1979. The ethnographic culture from the territory of Berat is part of it as well as that of Southern Albania. The museum is established in a two-floor-building of three centuries of age, typical of Berat region. There is a hall on the first floor which imitates a medieval alley with traditional shops on both sides. The antiquity section is also found here. Objects which were used for olive processing are also displayed here. On the second floor there is the open porch for welcoming guests. The archive, the loom, the village guest room, kitchen and reception rooms of the town are also found on this floor. Numerous original objects, massive and culturally functional are displayed outside the museum.
Gorica Bridge is one of the cultural and architectural monuments of Berat. It is also one of the town symbols. Around 1780, under the special attention of Ahmet Kurt Pasha, its upper wooden part was entirely built of stone. It was again rebuilt with concrete balustrades by the town hall in 1922, taking the structure it preserves nowadays. It is 129.3m long and 5.3m wide and rises 10m above the river and has 7 arches with a space of 9-16.7m each.
After a full town tour we will have lunch at a traditional restaurant where the typical local food will be enjoyed. Later in the afternoon we will depart towards the capital of Albania, Tirana, where and we will be accommodated.
"Mother Theresa" International Airport
Depending on your flight schedule we depart towards "Mother Theresa" International Airport.