Trailbreaker

Albania - Europe's Hidden Treasure

***NEW TOUR***

Located in the west of the Balkan Peninsula on the Adriatic sea Albania remains one of Europe’ s least known destinations. This safe and incredibly beautiful country has an amazing history and boasts endless examples of Europe’s great cultural influences (Greek, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman)

Closed to outsiders for most of the 20th century it was only in 1991, at the end of the communist era under Enver Hoxha, that the doors were opened to the modern world. Whilst ancient codes of conduct still exist here and cultural traditions remain integral to society so do award winning restaurants, art galleries and theatres and a burgeoning wine industry.

From the capital Tirana with its communist and cold war relics, its tree lined streets and modern café society, to the beautiful Ottoman towns of Berat and Gjirokastër and their hilltop castles.  From the stunning mountain scenery around Lake Koman and the Italian ambience of the pastel coloured town of Shkodër, to the old bazaar, frescos and ornate icons of Korçë.  Finally, from Butrint, the best archaeological site in the country to the cobalt blue waters of the Adriatic Riviera. Come with us and be amongst the first to explore Albania and its long hidden secrets

12 Day Itinerary
Departures:8th September 2020(Tuesday to Saturday)
7th September 2021(Tuesday to Saturday)
Price:EUR€2090          

***THIS TOUR CAN BE EASILY COMBINED WITH OUR CRETE - A JOY TO BEHOLD TOUR***

Day 1 - arrive Tirana
Arrival day and we will have a group meeting before dinner tonight. After this we walk into the heart of the Blloku district for dinner. Blloku was off limits to Albanians with only top officials allowed to live or enter there. Now it is the heart of the Tirana café scene, with tree lined streets and open air terraces. The best restaurants are also found in this area along with elegant shops and art galleries. You are welcome to join your guide at one of their favourites
Day 2 - Tirana
We start out with a walking tour of Tirana led by an expert local guide to explore the fascinating past of this city. We will visit the main Skanderbeg Square, and the house Enver Hoxha the communist dictator. Then we enter into Bunk Art 2, built to protect the Minister of the Interior in case of nuclear attack. It has 24 rooms which today are dedicated to the years 1913 to 1991. A short walk from the centre is the main market of Tirana and a good lunch place. The afternoon is free so perhaps a visit to the National Art Gallery. Or do what the Albanians love to do and find a street side terrace and pass the afternoon with coffee and conversation
Day 3 - Tirana to Shkodër
We enjoy a private coach journey for the two hour trip to the northern town of Shkodër. Here we find one of the oldest cities in Europe. However, it is also one of the most attractive town centres in Albania with painted buildings in a distinctive Italian style. In the afternoon we visit the Rozafa Fortress with its eerie past and spectacular views over the city and the lake
Day 4 - Shkodër
One of Albania's undisputed highlights is a superb three hour ferry across Lake Koman, created in 1978 when the Drin River was dammed. The journey offers great views of the Albanian Alps with forests, waterfalls and small villages. We return in the late afternoon and perhaps you may choose to visit the Marubi Photographic Museum for a fascinating glimpse into old Albania
Day 5 - Shkodër to Korçë
Turning south we enter the plains around Tirana and then, following the river, we drive up into the mountains again on a beautiful road to Korçë. This is a small and pleasant town with a restored bazaar where most of the cafes and restaurants can be found, and a pedestrian only street up to the rebuilt Orthodox cathedral. In the afternoon we visit the best icon collection in Albania at the beautiful Museum of Medieval Art
Day 6 - Korçë
A day trip out into the local countryside today as we drive 20kms to Voskopojë. This was once the largest city in all the Balkans, full of decorated churches and a famous academy where the artists were trained. Most of the churches are out in the local countryside and mainly abandoned but the brightly coloured frescoes remain. The village itself is quiet with very few visitors but there is a lovely restaurant to enjoy a meal
Day 7 - Korçë to Berat
A visit to Berat is a highlight of any trip to Albania. Its most striking feature is the collection of white Ottoman houses climbing up the hill to its castle, giving Berat its nickname of the 'town of a thousand windows”. This has been an UNESCO World Heritage sites since 2008. It is a steep walk up to the castle but well worth it for the views down to the river and across to the surrounding mountains. Inside the castle walls is the National Iconographic Museum Onufri within an old wooden church. The afternoon is free for a walk along the river or for a visit to the recommended National Ethnographic museum located in a traditional 18th century Ottoman house
Day 8 - Berat to Gjirokastër
Another UNESCO World Heritage site is the charming Ottoman town of Gjirokastër. Birthplace of the former dictator Enver Hoxha, though no longer celebrated, the town was well preserved under his rule. We walk up to the castle for the views over the slate roofed houses to the Drina valley and mountains. The castle is one of the biggest in the Balkans and was used as a prison under the communists. Inside the castle is a very good museum with fully English displays on the history of the town
Day 9 - Gjirokastër to Sarandë
On our journey down from the mountains to Sarandë on the coast we will stop at The Blue Eye spring, a 50 metre deep pool set in a natural forest of oak and sycamore. From here the amazingly blue water of the river Bistricë begins its 25km journey to the Ionian Sea. Just across the sea from Corfu, Sarandë is the capital of the Albanian Riviera. We can join the traditional Albanian activity of promenading at sunset before treating ourselves to a seafood dinner
Day 10 - Sarandë
Just 20 kms from Sarandë is the best archaeological site in Albania. Butrint has remains from most major empires of the area, including Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman ruins. Highlights include the Greek amphitheatre (later remodelled by the Romans), the baptistry, the cathedral, the Lion’s gate, and the museum. On our return we stop at Ksamil, a small town that is situated on a narrow strip of land between a lagoon famous for its mussels and the incredible cobalt blue sea. There are walks along water canals and through olive groves, several pretty beaches and offshore there are three small islands. We will have lunch here and can spend the rest of the day exploring the area
Day 11 - Sarandë to Tirana
We leave the south for the drive back to Tirana where the rest of the day is free for last minute sightseeing or shopping. In the evening we will have a farewell dinner together at Mullixhiu restaurant. This eatery has large wooden tables in a rustic setting and great Albanian food and wine
Day 12 - depart Tirana
Your adventure ends and you can depart any time today

Trip Options

Single Travellers:EUR€490Details
Extra Accommodation: Single EUR€105Details
Double EUR€120

***THIS TOUR CAN BE EASILY COMBINED WITH OUR CRETE - A JOY TO BEHOLD TOUR***

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