Albania - The Undiscovered Mediterranean

Embark on this less-trodden journey to discover one of the most unspoiled destinations as we uncover the secrets of Albania., a combination of wondrous seascapes and inspiring mountainous landscapes provides endless discovery in a storied land of epic conquests. 

HIGHLIGHTS

Witness astounding landscapes of Albania

Savour local cuisines from the mountains to the sea

Stay in refined boutique hotels 

Enjoy an insightful experience with the local characters

ITINERARY

DAY 1: PODGORICA / SHKODER

Our journey begins with arrival in Podgorica, Montenegro where thereafter, you will be met and transfer on a pleasant drive to Hani i Hotit where after some formalities, we enter into Albanian territory, skirting around the beautiful Lake Skadar which forms a natural border between Montenegro and Albania. En route, we make a stop and visit to the stunning "Ura e Mesit" Mesi Bridge constructed in the 18th century by Mehmet Bushatlliu to connect the Albanian highlands with the port city of Shkoder. Enjoy views of the Kiri River as we make spontaneous stops and worthy of a visit is the ruins of the Drishti Citadel, once an imposing fortress that repelled the Venetians and Ottomans. Thereafter, we head to the Rozafa Castle, perched on a rocky hill and surrounded by the Bojana and Drin rivers, an  Illyrian stronghold until it was captured by the Romans in 167BC. The castle has been the site of several famous sieges, including the Siege of Shkoder by the Ottomans in 1478 and the Siege of Shkoder by the Montenegrins in 1912. Our journey then culminates in our arrival into the city of Shkoder, a storied city that has been occupied by the Romans, Serbians, Venetians and Ottomans. Enjoy an orientation of the colorful old town filled with shops, cafes and restaurants and thereafter, arrive and check in into the Rozafa Hotel

Overnight: Rozafa Hotel, Shkoder

Meals: NIL

DAY 2: SHKODER / KRUJA / TIRANA 

We leave Shkoder this morning and begin a drive south to Kruja - the city of National hero, Skanderbeg, a military commander instrumental in the uprising against the Ottomans. Kruja has been inhabited since the 3rd Century BC. It was mentioned for the first time as a Christian religious centre in the year 879. Enjoy an informative visit of Kruja Castle, the imposing fortress that was at the center of the fight against the Ottomans and now home to the National Skanderberg Museum, remains of the Fatih Sultan Mehmed Mosque, an ethnographic museum, a Turkish bath and a reconstructed bazaar. We then continue south to the exciting capital city of Tirana, with exciting influence of Ottoman, Fascist and Soviet-era architecture. Enjoy a walking tour of Tirana where we visit the National Museum, the impressive Resurrection Cathedral, the 18th Century Et'hem Bey Mosque and the unique Tirana Pyramid, a crumbling wreck to dictatorial period of Enver Hoxha. Unmissable as well is the unfinished nuclear bunker, Bunk Art 2, which has been transformed into an interactive art experience to show how Communist-era police persecuted the regime's opponents. Thereafter, we check in into The Plaza Hotel and in the evening, enjoy a culinary adventure at Restaurant Mullixhiu, owned by Michelin-star Chef Bledar Kola, who also runs Michelin starred Pied a Terre and Le Gavroche in London. 

Overnight: The Plaza Hotel, Tirana

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 3: TIRANA / ARDENICA / APOLLONIA / BERAT 

We journey on this morning making a stop at the rarely-visited Monastery of Ardenica, perched on a hill of the same name which offers a relaxing view of the Field of Myzeqe. Built by Byzantine Emperor, Andronikos II Palaiologos in 1282 after the victory against the Angevins in the Siege of Berat, the monastery is famous as the place where, in 1451, was celebrated the marriage of Skanderbeg, the national hero of Albania, with Andronika Arianiti. Later, continue to the UNESCO-listed settlement of ancient Apollonia, one of the biggest and most important in the Adriatic area Wandering in this settlement hour after hour you will feel relaxed and meditative, through a landscape that little has changed since Antiquity. You will be introduced with the Church of Saint Mary, Archeological Museum, the Odeon, the library and the most photographed monument: the Bouleterion.

 

 

Finally, the day culminates in our arrival to the UNESCO-listed city of Berat, nestled on the banks of the Osumi River, renowned for its impressive Ottoman houses and a place Christians and Muslims have lived together in relative peace, with churches and mosques sharing the same space. Enjoy an insight into the city with the Berat Castle at the centre of the picturesque town, the Church of Holy TrinityMangalem Quarter and the Bridge of Gorica before we check in at the Hotel Vila Aleksander

Overnight: Hotel Vila Aleksander, Berat

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 4: BERAT / VLORE / PORTO PALERMO / SARANDE

This morning, consider an easy and short hike to visit the 14th Century Church of St Michael, perched on a cliff, with privilege views of Berat's Mangalem Quarter and the embankments of the Osumi River. Thereafter, we leave Berat today as we head back to the Adriatic coast to the city of Vlore for a brief stop, admiring its stunning shoreline and time for lunch, see the Independence Monument, dedicated to Albania's declaration of independence in 1912. Our journey takes us on a jaw-dropping drive on the Llogara Pass next to the spectacular beaches of Porto Palermo, where we come face to face with the mysterious Ali Pasha Castle where its origins remained unknown. Not far away is the Porto Palermo Tunnel, a submarine bunker built during the rule of dictator Enver Hoxha during the Communist regime. Finally, we arrive in the beautiful coastal city of Sarande. where we check in to the Vila Kalcuni

Overnight: Vila Kalcuni, Sarande

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 5: SARANDE (RUINS OF BUTRINT, KSAMIL & SARANDE)

Our day begins with a pleasant drive to the UNESCO-listed ruins of Butrint, synonymous with the Greek Period from the 7th Century BC, the Hellenistic Period from the 4th to 3rd Century BC and later, the Roman Period as well as the Byzantine and Venetian era. We explore in depth the archaeological relics of Butrint, putting the traces and stories together to form the picture of a once-glorious civilization. Thereafter, continue to the pretty seaside village of Ksamil where you may enjoy lunch and enjoy the calm Adriatic breeze, gorgeous beaches before making a scenic stop at the locally-popular Pulebardha Beach, a beach paradise of mesmerizing proportions with its shallow turquoise waters. We then return to Sarande where en route, enjoy a visit to the Lekuresi Castle, built by Suleiman The Magnificent in 1537 for a spectacular panorama of the coastline of Sarande and beyond.

Overnight: Vila Kalcuni, Sarande

Meals: Breakfast 

DAY 6: SARANDE / GJIROKASTER

We leave Sarande today as we continue our Albanian adventure returning north for an inspiring arrival into probably the most beautiful city in Albania in the form of Gjirokaster. En route, we make a stop to admire the Ottoman stone-arched Kordhoce Bridge which spans over the Drino River over 20m. Thereafter, we arrive into the UNESCO-listed city of Gjirokaster, an impressive old town with gorgeous Ottoman houses, its inspiring 12th Century fortress and military museum and the stunning backdrop of the Gjere Mountains. Nicknamed as the "Stone City", enjoy an insightful exploration of its charming streets, bazaar and the castle for probably Albania's most photographed destination. This evening, you will stay in the charming Hotel Kalemi, oozing with character and traditional elements and where you will enjoy an authentic Albanian home made-styled dinner. 

Overnight: Hotel Kalemi, Gjirokaster

Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

DAY 7: DEPARTURE GJIROKASTER

You have options to make and depending on your trip duration, style of travel, budget and most importantly, curiosity, we will tailor make your private journey whether it is an extensive journey into Zagoria, Greece, a less-trodden region of Northern Greece but an immaculate destination in its own right, or consider an extensive journey into Lake Ohrid of Macedonia and beyond - a rising Balkan destination with fascinating landscapes and culture - home of Alexander The Great or perhaps a transfer to Tirana for your homeward bound journey. 

REMARKS:

You have the option to continue from Split for the following:

1) 4 Days 3 Nights Secrets of Zagoria, Greece

2) 5 Days 4 Nights Macedonia - Tracing Alexander

3) Transfer to Tirana for airport departure

***Please enquire with us for more details

HOTELS

Rozafa Hotel is set in the heart of Shkoder, offering comfortable and well-appointed accommodation with air condition, WiFi, a hotel bar and well-furnished rooms. 

Rozafa Hotel, Shkoder

Offering a spa centre, sauna and hot tub, Hotel Plaza Tirana is situated in Tirana in the Tirana County Region, 200 m from Skenderberg Square. Guests can enjoy a drink at the bar or have a meal at the restaurant. 

The Plaza Hotel, Tirana

Featuring free WiFi and a restaurant, Hotel Vila Aleksander offers accommodation in Berat, about 100 m from the city centre and the Ethnographic Museum. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar. Every room at this hotel is air conditioned and is equipped with a flat-screen TV. The rooms are equipped with a private bathroom fitted with a bath and bath or shower. Extras include slippers and a hair dryer.

Hotel Vila Aleksander, Berat

The Hotel Vila Kalcuni is the right choice for visitors who are searching for a combination of charm, peace and quiet, and a convenient position from which to explore Saranda. It is a small, comfortable hotel their staff offer an attentive, personalized service and are always available to offer any help to guests. The hotel is arranged on three floors, without a lift. 

Vila Kalcuni, Sarande

Situated in the old district of Gjirokastra it offers a panoramic view of the town. Kalemi Hotel is one of the characteristic Albanian hotels developed in recent times thanks to the entrepreneur spirit of the local families. The owner has completed a great amount of work in restoring one of the traditional Gjirokastra's houses, almost 200 years old, not only to its former glory but also into a very interesting guest house. 

Hotel Kalemi, Gjirokaster

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