Albania Archaeological & Cultural Tour

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Albania’s rich archaeology is just one of the reasons why this Balkans country is well worth exploring by anyone with an interest in Europe’s past. The country has a rich heritage of sites dating to Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman periods – some of which are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
      Culture, Discovery, Family, Guided Tours, History
    • Activity Level Fairly Easy
    • 2-40
    All about the Albania Archaeological & Cultural Tour.

    Albania’s rich archaeology is just one of the reasons why this Balkans country is well worth exploring by anyone with an interest in Europe’s past. The country has a rich heritage of sites dating to Illyrian, Greek, Roman and Ottoman periods – some of which are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites

     

    Day 1: Arrival-Tirana

    Arrival in “Mother Teresa” Airport, meet and assisted by our representative. Enjoy the welcome dinner in Local Restaurant in Tirana. And then explore the nightlife of Tirana, walking in the ex-block area known as “the forbidden town” where the villas of the communists’ leaders are still standing next to trendy boutiques, expensive jewelry shops and active local pubs. Overnight  in Tirana. Overnight in hotel 4*

    Day 2: Tirana – Kruja

    After breakfast we begin with a full day in Albania’s lively capital, Tirana. We visit the National Historical Museum, the early 19th century Ethem Bey Mosque, and the National Gallery. we continue to the Archaeological Museum, home to a vast collection and opened especially for our group.  Continue with the new opened Atonic bunker, the Bunk’art2 museum in Tirana opened to the public describing it as a museum throwing light on political persecution during the Albanian communist era. The museum – called Bunk’Art 2 – is also intended as a memorial to the tens of thousands of people who were imprisoned and executed by the communist regime,” Continue  to Kruja, the capital of Albania during the resistance against the Turks under Scanderbeg, who is our national hero and was a great leader that defeated the Turks in 25 battles. Visit the Scanderbeg Museum, Ethnographic museum the best in Albania, walk through the old Bazar and time for shopping .Overnight in Kruja Hotel Panorama. Dinner with live folk performance

    Day 3: – Kruja – Ardenica- Apolonia- Vlora

    After breakfast drive to  Ardenica Monastery which was built in 1282. The monastery has a Byzantine – Orthodox architecture with many Romanesque features. Inside the monastery is the St Mary’s Church, The Chapel of Saint Trinity, a mill and a barn. The views from the monastery walls are really dramatic and you can see Kruja, the Adriatic Sea and the Karavasta Lagoon so ensure you bring your cameras to capture some fantastic memories. Continue the travel to Apollonia which was founded in 588 BC. The ruins are located on the bank of the river Aous and the area flourished in the Roman period when it was home to a renowned school of philosophy. There has been much excavation of the area with many artefacts on display for you to see. The area is really interesting for anyone who wants to learn about ancient history or discover the other side of Albania. Apollonia founded by the Corinthians in 588 BC, one of the largest ancient cities on the Adriatic. Drive to Vlora, visit the Independence Monument and the Independence Museum. Overnight, Hotel Partner.

    Day 4: – Vlora- Llogara- Dhermi- Himara- Saranda

    After breakfast drive up to Albanian Riviera. climbing to 3,000 feet to Llogara National Park enjoying the wonderful scenery among the pinewoods,where you can enjoy the best views, as we drive through the fertile slopes and villages. Optional lunch  in Llogara here you can try the best lamb in the spit and Yogurt with honey & walnuts Continue the drive along Dhermi, Himara coastline and stop for a special Continue the route through Albania Riviera,. En route making a short visit to the bay of Porto Palermo where the castle of Ali Pasha is situated. Depart for Saranda the hillside town facing the sea, famous for its magnificent, “Butrinti” archeological site. Overnight, in hotel Brilant. (Few meters from the sea.)

    Day 5- Saranda- Butrint- Ksamil Village- Saranda

    After breakfast drive to Butrint – a UNESCO World Heritage site and considered by most as the best archaeological site in Albania and beyond. The city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of passing civilizations, giving archaeologists the possibility to study continuity through time. It is situated in a beautiful peninsula among lush vegetation. The site has been occupied since at least the 8th century BC, although myths associated with its origins speak of the city’s foundation by Trojan exiles led by Aeneas. By the 4th century B.C. a walled settlement was established and the city became a successful cult site, dedicated to Aesclepius.. This is a wonderful site to explore for archaeology enthusiasts, definitely worth spending a few hours.  Afterwards drive to Village of Ksamil Optional lunch in front sea fish restaurant. We return to Saranda for overnight.

    Day 6- Saranda- Blue Eye- Ancient Hadrianopolis- Gjirokastra

    After breakfast we will depart to Gjirokastra City known as “Museum City”. In the way we will make a stop and visit, Visit the “Blue Eye” spring, formed by underground springs and the unusual. Drive to Hadrianopolis Just outside Gjirokastra we visit the ruins of ancient Hadrianopolis at Sofratike. It was built in the middle of a field without protective walls, at the time of emperor Hadrian whose name it took, at a time known as Pax Romana which translates as Roman Peace, hence surrounded by vast Roman territories the city had no need for fortifications. Continue to  the museum city of Gjirokastra, birthplace, of the former iron-fisted dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha. Gjirokastra is a strikingly picturesque town, perched on the side of a mountain above the Drino River. The tour includes the district museum, housed in the building in which Enver Hoxha was born and the pre-Ottoman citadel, a former political prison and now a weapons museum. Overnight in Hotel Cajupi Gjirokastra or Argjiro

    Day 7- Gjirokastra- Bylis- Berat

    After breakfast we continue north through the rugged and changing landscape to the ruins of the remote city of Byllis. According to legend the city was founded by warriors led by the son of Achilles, returning from the Trojan wars. Archaeologists have yet to find evidence of Homeric heroes but have uncovered a Hellenistic era stadium, theatre and fortifications. Despite being founded by Illyrians this city has been mentioned relatively late by historians and ancient geographers. In 49-48 B.C. the city surrenders to the forces of Caesar and served as a base for his large army. Byllis became a Roman colony, during the first years of the dominium of Augustus, and its name became Colonia Iulia Augusta. During the Late Antique period several large Palaeo-Christian basilicas were constructed, all of them carrying lavishly decorated mosaics, some of which can still be admired today. We visit the site and afterwards optional lunch at local restaurant close to the site. Continue to Berat this evening in Berat. Overnight in Berat

    Day 8- Berat

    After breakfast full day to explore the Unessco town of Berat known as the ‘town of a thousand windows’, Berat’s Ottoman architecture and ancient history has given it UNESCO World Heritage Status. The town is home to Berat Castle which is perched on a rocky hill, inaccessible from the south. The fortress was so large that it could house a substantial proportion of the town’s inhabitants. The influence of different cultures can be found in Berat’s mosques and Byzantine churches.  Today, we will walk from Classical to Medieval times in the attractive town of Berat.  We will visit the castle,  Onufri Museum.  Ethnographic Museum. Overnight in Berat

    Day 9 Berat- Durres- Airport

    After breakfast drive to Durres one of the oldest towns in Albania and the first and perhaps the most important of the Greek colonies in the country. It was founded at Epidamnus in 627 B.C. by Greeks from Corcyra (present-day Corfu) and Corinth. Greek and Roman authors called it “the Admirable City” for its temple, statues, and other monuments. Fertile soil and a large seaport accounted for the colony’s prosperity and success in commerce. Growth brought to the lower classes wealth and a subsequent desire to have more of a government voice, leading to a civil war between the small ruling class (oligarchs) and most of the population. The people requested Corinth’s assistance in battle, while the oligarchs sought aid from Corcyra. Corinth was allied with Sparta and Corcyra upon this request, applied for aid from Athens giving start to what was later known as the Peloponnesian War. However only a few remains remind us of this city’s glory days, mainly due to the fact that Durres has been continuously inhabited through time, therefore being transformed accordingly. We will visit some of the remains such as the Amphitheatre, forum, Venetian Tower, city walls and Archaeological Museum. Overnight in Durres Hotel 4*

    Day 10: – Durres – Airport

    After breakfast free time at your leisure before transfer to Airport

    Included in the tour price:

    Hotels 3,4* BB, Diners, Transportation by comfortable air-conditioned vehicles. Expert English-speaking local guides throughout the tour + 2 Archaeological Guides in Butrinti and Apolonia. Comprehensive sightseeing as outlined in the itinerary. Entrance fees to monuments and museums as shown in the itinerary. Baggage assistance for one suitcase.

    The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
    What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
    • Transfers with Modern A/C private car/ bus or minibus with driver on tour
    • Good standard Accommodation at 3 ,4* hotels BB
    • All parking costs
    • Professional English-French-German-Italian-Russian or Spanish speaking local guide throughout the tour
    • All the museum entry fee
    What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.

    Excludes

    Flight Tickets
    Lunches
    Travel Insurance
    Gratuities/Tip to Driver/Guide

    Hotels

    Hotels in Albania 

    Hotels in Albania  are not to the same standard as those in the UK, EU or USA as tourism has not long been a major industry here. However, here are comfortable options and, in some places, very characterful places to stay. We use always the best possible selection boutique 3, 4 -star hotels BB, all en-suite. Below is a small selection of some of our favorite hotels in Albania & Balkans.

    Hotel Vila Alba Tirana

    Situated in the heart of the Old Town, Vila Alba is a boutique-style hotel. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the property. A private parking area is reserved for all guests and is free of charge. Hotel Vila Alba All rooms at Vila Alba feature high ceilings and a combination of classical and modern design. They feature air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a safe and a minibar. Private bathroom provides a walk-in shower, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Some rooms have a balcony.

    Hotel Mangalemi – Berat

    A 3+ -star hotel built on the ruins of Turkish mansions in the historic centre of Mangalem Quarter, close to the town centre. Restaurant, bar, WiFi (free) and 15 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, mini-bar and satellite TV.

    Hotel Brilant – Saranda

    This 4-star hotel is close to the town’s main boulevard. Bar, WiFi (free) and 33 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer, mini-bar and satellite TV.

    Hotel Argjiro – Gjirokastra

    A modern 4-star hotel in traditional style. It is close to the castle and Ethnographic Museum. Restaurants, bar, WiFi (free) and 30 air-conditioned rooms with private facilities, hairdryer and satellite TV.

    If you need a visa depends on your country of origin. Please check online whether you need a visa or not. You may also look it up at the website of the Albanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

    It is always nice to have some knowledge about the language that is spoken in the country you want to visit. Most people in Albania speak Italian and the younger generations speak some English as well.

     

    Tap water is drinkable but it holds a high amount of chlorine, which affects the taste. Drinking too much tap water might cause stomach cramps, therefore filtered water is recommended. To protect the environment we recommend you to invest in a good water bottle. You can use the water for coffee or tea but keep in mind that the taste might be affected. Brushing your teeth should not be a problem.

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