Balkan‘s Cultural Heritage
Albania is Europe’s most undiscovered gem. A former enclave of the Ottoman Empire, this country is just emerging from its medieval existence under a very strict Communist regime. In the heart of the Mediterranean, on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Albanian travel offers something increasingly rare in Europe these days: a glimpse into a cultural heritage that is all it’s own. On one of our small group guided tours enjoy beautiful pristine beaches, charming towns, dramatic mountain citadels, and fascinating Ottoman cities such as ancient Berat (recently added to the World Heritage List). The countries of the former Yugoslavia are ethnically, geographically, and religiously diverse; a fascinating and strikingly beautiful region to visit.
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- Vacation Style Holiday Type
- Activity Level Fairly Easy
The Balkans is a land of such great diversity and textures that one gets blown up by the colors, cultures, hospitality, food, and landscape. On our Balkans tours, we trace the scene of medieval Europe with nationalities originating from, Croatia, Montenegro, Albania & Macedonia. Set off on a trip through the heartland of Albania & Macedonia. Enjoy the colorful houses of Tirana and the marbled streets of Dubrovnik.
Day1 Airport- Tirana
Depending on the time of arrival in Tirana, we may do a short city tour before or after check-in at the hotel. In the evening, we’ll have dinner at a traditional restaurant and then explore the nightlife of Tirana, walking in the ex-block area known as “the forbidden town” where the villas of the communist’s leaders are still standing next to trendy boutiques, expensive jewelry shops, and active local pubs. Dinner in a Local restaurant in Tirana Overnight in Tirana.
Day 2: Tirana- Kruja
After breakfast starts a sightseeing tour of Tirana, Visit the newly 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. the Skanderbeg Square, the Mosque of Et’hem Bey, the Clock Tower, and the statue of G.K. Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero; the Palace of Culture, built with Soviet assistance, we will visit the National History Museum, with a mosaic on its facade portraying Albanian history. After we will continue to visit the Martyrs Cemetery (Mother Albania statue). Drive to Kruja you will see examples of the age of unbounded creativity. Tour begins with the visit to Kruja–one of the biggest cities in Northern Albania is the “city of history” and the best known as the hometown of Albanian’s National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Visit the Castle, Skanderbeg Museum and Ethnographic Museum. After the visit to the castle, is free time to explore Kruja’s old bazaar with authentic and antique shops. Tonight we will have dinner with Albanian live folk music + dancers. Overnight in Hotel Panorama.
Day 3: – Kruja- Prizren (Kosovo)
After breakfast drive to Prizren (Kosovo) Arrive in Prizren Start a walking tour of Prizren, located on the slopes of the Sharri Mountains and on the banks of the River Bistrica. Walk up to the ruin castle of Prizren for a spectacular view of the town below. After a coffee break, enjoy a walking tour of Prizren. The town boasts an attractive Ottoman Old Town and is well known for its gold and silver filigree craftsmen. Visit the Hamam, the Museum of Prizren League, the Ethnographic Museum, the Helveti Tekke, Sinia Pasha Mosque. Dinner at local Restaurant. Overnight in Hotel Centrum
Day 4: Prizren –Gjakova- Peja
After breakfast drive to Gjakova, visit and explore Gjakova, then drive to Decani Serbian Orthodox Monastery. After breakfast, we drive to Gjakova for a visit to this town which has one of the oldest bazaars built in the 17th century which has survived till today. This ancient shopping center has many stores and stalls where you can buy all sorts of handicrafts. Aside from shopping, the Gjakova Old Bazaar also has a 15th-century mosque which is one of the major attractions at the site. Drive towards Peja through the magnificent Rugova Gorge to the Decani Monastery near it. This monastery complex is a wonderful example of the Orthodox religious architecture and art part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue Peja and Rugova Valley – Albanian Alps, Afternoon: Boga, Rugova Valley. Overnight stay at Hotel Dukagjini 4* Peja
Day 5: Peja (Kosovo) – Prishtina- Skopje Macedonia
After breakfast drive to Prishtina and take in the many sights en route. Arrive in Prishtina begin with a walking tour of Prishtina along Mother Teresa Street the National Library and Prishtina University. Stops, the House of Kosovo Academy, Carshi Mosque (Bazaar Mosque), and the Emin Gjiku Ethnographic Museum housed in a typical Ottoman townhouse. Photo-stops can be made at the Kosovo Parliament and Skanderbeg Monument. Continue to Skopje Macedonia Cross Kosovo to the historical country of Macedonia and drive to the capital city, Skopje tracing its origin from over 2000 years. Our exploration starts with a walking tour of the old town “Carshi”, where lies the Stone Bridge – a symbol of Skopje built by the Ottomans in the 15thC. Here we see the marvels including the Church St. Spas, the Old Bazaar, Fortress Kale (with walls dating back from the 6thC), Mustapha Pasha Mosque (a marvel of Ottoman architecture erected in 1492 with the earliest wall paintings), Daut Pasa Bath (a masterpiece of Islamic architecture from the 15thC). Overnight in Skopje.
Day 6- Skopje to Ohrid
After breakfast, we will drive to Ohrid. We start the day with a walking tour around the old town-museum of Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The old part of the town was known in ancient times as Lychnidos, the City of Lights. Slavs gave it the name of Arida in the 10thC, and it became a major center of culture and art for this area. It is the cradle of Slavic written language and literature, from where the alphabet called Cyrillic was created by the two brothers Cyril and Methody. Ohrid is also known as the “City of 365 churches “ and we visit, not all, but the most important ones. Visits in Ohrid Church of St. Sophia, St. Bogorodica Perivelepta, St.Jovan Kaneo, St. Pantelejmon-Plaosnik, Old bazaar Mesokastro Settlement, Kaneo Settlement, Ohrid Fortifications, Samuil’s Fortress, Antique Theatre, Overnight in Ohrid
Day 7- Ohrid -Bitola
After breakfast, the tour will continue from Ohrid city of Bitola. The stately old architecture of Bitola goes back to more than a century ago when the town was a Centre for international diplomats to the Ottoman administration. Next to the city of Bitola will be a visit to the ruins of the ancient city of Heraclea. Overnight in Hotel Millennium Bitola
Day 8 Bitola-Meteora- Ioannina (Greece)
After breakfast, the tour will continue to Greece. The first visit to Greece will be the monasteries of Meteora that look like suspended in the air. Twenty-four of these monasteries were built, despite incredible difficulties. These monasteries represent a unique artistic achievement and are one of the most powerful examples of the architectural transformation of a site into a place of retreat, meditation, and prayer. After the visits in Meteora the tour will continue to the city of Ioannina where we will visit the historical center will the Castle of Ali Pasha and its Grave. Overnight in Ioannina.
Day 9- Ioaniana- Gjirokaster
After this visit, the tour will enter Albania where will be visited the so-called Stone City of Gjirokaster. A UNESCO World Heritage Site that comprises hundreds of Ottoman-style tower houses with distinctive stone roofs, wooden balconies, and whitewashed stone walls. The entire city is dominated by the sheer flanks of its vast castle. Visit the castle of Gjirokastra, The Ethnographic Museum. Overnight in Gjirokastra Cajupi or Kalemi 2 Hotel
Day 10 Gjirokastra- Saranda
Drive to the coastal town of Saranda via Blue Eye Spring, the source of the river Bistrica, and the UNESCO site Butrint. Butrint is a national park that includes a very well preserved archaeological area and the wetlands around the lake provide shelter for different animals and aquatic species in danger of extinction. The main importance and magnificence of the site were in the Roman period when the city was proclaimed a Roman Colony and used by the Roman aristocracy as a holiday destination. Continue to Saranda and visit the recently discovered synagogue and Lekursi Castle. Saranda is situated on a beautiful horseshoe bay between the mountains and the Ionian Sea. Located opposite the Greek island of Corfu. Check in to the hotel for an overnight stay and enjoy dinner at a seaside fish restaurant. (B, D) Overnight in Saranda Hotel Brilant
Day 11 Saranda -Butrint- Saranda
After breakfast, we visit the ruins of Butrint antic city, Albania’s most important archaeological site. Butrint dates from the 7th century BC, later becoming a Roman colony, then falling under the sway of the Venetians and Turks. Virgil claimed that the Trojans settled Butrint, but no evidence of this has yet been found. Within a century of the Greeks arriving, Butrint had become a fortified trading city with its own acropolis, the ruins of which we can still visit. The rediscovered city is a microcosm of almost 3,000 years of Mediterranean history, and its 6th century BC fortification evokes the city’s military power and symbolizes the rich culture of the once-thriving ancient city. After lunch, we return to Saranda. Accommodation and overnight in Saranda (Brilant Hotel 4*).
Day 12- Saranda- Vlora-Berat
After breakfast, the tour will continue along the so-called Albanian Ionian Riviera. Dubbed by some as “the last secret of Europe”, boasting stunning Mediterranean beaches of the Ionian coast. This panoramic road will bring to the city of Berat also known as “The town of a Thousand Windows” due to the many large buildings that decorate the houses of the old town. The town is still renowned for its historic architecture and particular beauty and is declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. Overnight in Berat. Hotel Magalemi
Day 13 Berat- Durres
Explore Berat Castle and the Onufri Museum, Visit the castle and Onufri Museum. Continue to Durres, one of the oldest towns in Albania dating back to the 6th century BC, for a visit to the amphitheater and nearby. Some important archaeological monuments that testify to the glorious past of the city during different periods: The ancient city walls, the Roman Amphitheatre, and baths, the byzantine forum, the Venetian tower, the ottoman human. Overnight in Durres Hotel Amfiteatri.
Day 14- Durres- Airport
After breakfast free morning at the leisure, Transfer to Airport end of the services
Including: Accommodation in good 3,4 * Hotels BB, Dinners 3 course + 1 bottle water in best possible Local restaurants, Professional English speaking guide throughout the tour for 14 days, Few Local Guides, All the transfers with modern AC tourist-class bus. Museums entry fees. All the Local taxes,
- Transfers with Modern A/C private car/ bus or minibus with driver on tour
- Good standard Accommodation at 3*, 4* hotels
- All parking costs
- Professional English-French-German-Italian-Russian or Spanish speaking local guide throughout the tour
- All the museum entry fee
Lunches and dinners
Gratuities/Tip to Driver/Guide
Hotels in Albania & Balkans
Hotels in Albania & Balkans 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.
TAB is specialized in cultural round trips and active tours such as, walking, Eco Tours, Jeep Tours and others. For all our tours and products please check ‘Tours’ and ‘Day trips’ in the main menu above.
A group departure with TAB means that you will travel on a pre-set departure date with a group of international travelers, guided by a local English speaking tour leader. You can join these groups as an individual, a couple, and a family, a group of friends or with whom else you wish to travel. Joining a group is a great way to explore Albania at a lower cost and to also meet like-minded people along the way. How small are these groups, you might think? It depends on what kind of tour but generally we already depart with a minimum of three people and we go up to a maximum of 15 participants. It depends on each tour what is included and what not. This information can be found in the tour details. Departure dates for each tour are indicated on the calendar on the right side of the tour page.
Our small group departure tours are Land only; the prices do not include your flight. Our tours include the airport transfers, Good standard 3,4* Hotels BB, Professional tour guide, museum entry fees, all the transfers with modern AC Vehicles, Dinners in best possible restaurants.