Adventure Of The Beaten-Track In Eastern Europe
The ‘Eastern Bloc’ was unknown territory to the Western World for decades, hidden behind the Iron Curtain of Soviet control. No longer off-limits, now it’s a region of youthful buzz and sublime beauty. Get stuck into adventure activities and party in crazy cool cities. Explore the Balkans starting from Bulgaria a country on the shores of the Black Sea, through the landscapes of Macedonia and to the shores of the Adriatic Sea in Albania, A perfect combination of 4 countries covering an array of cultural and natural sites considered UNESCO patrimony of humanity. Explore them with us in a comprehensive tour.
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- Vacation Style Holiday Type
- Activity Level Fairly Easy
The ‘Eastern Bloc’ was unknown territory to the Western World for decades, hidden behind the Iron Curtain of Soviet control. No longer off-limits, now it’s a region of youthful buzz and sublime beauty. Get stuck into adventure activities and party in crazy cool cities. Explore the Balkans starting from Bulgaria a country on the shores of the Black Sea, through the landscapes of Macedonia, and to the shores of the Adriatic Sea in Albania, A perfect combination of 4 countries covering an array of cultural and natural sites considered UNESCO patrimony of humanity. Explore them with us in a comprehensive tour.
Day 1: Arrival in Sofia, Bulgaria
Meet with our representative at Sofia Airport and transferred to your hotel. In the evening, we meet for our welcome dinner and orientation. Overnight in Sofia. Hotel Festa
Day 2: Sofia
After breakfast, we will explore the main sites of Sofia. Established 2100 years ago, the city became the capital of Bulgaria in 1879. We visit Alexander Nevski Cathedral – one of the largest Eastern Orthodox cathedrals in Europe, and the church of St. Sophia, built by the Roman emperor Justinian in the 6th century. In the late afternoon, we will visit the Royal Palace. Overnight in Sofia. Dinner with live Bulgarian Folk Show. Hotel Festa
Day 3: Skopje – Macedonia
Our longest travel day brings us to Skopje, Macedonia. Depending on the length of time it takes us to cross the border, we will visit the Stone bridge, the St. Spas Church, Mustafa Pasha Mosque, the huge bazaar area with its famous inn, Kapan Ann, and the main street with its modern statues, which was part of the “Skopje 2014” project including statues depicting the most important historical figures of Macedonia, including Alexander the Great. Macedonia was part of former Yugoslavia, from which it gained its independence in 1991. Overnight in Skopje. Hotel Bush Resort
Day 4: S Skopje – Bitola- Ohrid
After breakfast, we drive to Bitola where we visit the ancient Macedonian city of Heraclea, founded in the 4th century BC. Marvel at the pristine condition of ancient buildings and palaces with their well-preserved mosaics. Later, we drive to Ohrid, located on the shore of the fabled Lake Ohrid, one of the largest lakes in the Balkans. Lake Ohrid is one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes, preserving a unique aquatic ecosystem with more than 200 endemic species with worldwide importance. It was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1979. Overnight in Ohrid Hotel Millennium
Day 5: Ohrid- Kalista Cave Monastery- Vevcani Springs- Ohrid
Today after breakfast, we enjoy the most interesting sites in and around Ohrid. First, we visit Kalista cave monastery on the lakeshore, which is unique with its special settings and location. After lunch, near the lovely Vevcani springs, we return to Ohrid, where we visit the Icon Gallery, the archeological site of Ploeshnik, the Church of St. Bogorodica Perivleptos, and the Samuel fortress. Overnight in Ohrid. Dinner in Local Restaurant with live Macedonian night music show. Overnight in Ohrid Hotel Millennium
Day 6: Galicia National Park and Lake Prespa
After breakfast, the group will enjoy the extremely scenic countryside as we travel. We make our way to Lake Prespa via Galicica Mountains National Park, situated between the two lakes of Ohrid and Prespa. Here, we can enjoy splendid views in every direction. This park has a wealth of endemic flora and fauna. If we are lucky, we may see eagles, vultures, Balkan butterflies, and even land turtles. Our destination is the (fishing) village of Stenje on the lakeshore. If time permits, we can enjoy a hike to a beautiful viewpoint. Lake Prespa is shared between Greece, Macedonia, and Albania. In 1999, the Society for the Protection of Prespa received the Ramsar Wetland Conservation Award for its conservation efforts, primarily for protecting and breeding a colony of one of the most endangered waterbirds of the world, the Dalmatian Pelican. The area contains four National Parks located in Albania, Greece, and the Republic of Macedonia. For dinner, we can try the famous Koran fish (Lake Ohrid Brown Trout) which is only found in this area. Overnight in Ohrid. Overnight in Ohrid Hotel Millennium
Day 7: Ohrid- Mavrovo Monastery- Prishtina (Kosovo)
Our long drive today takes us along the banks of the black Drini River, through Struga, Debar, and Gostivar. We make several stops along the way including the Monastery of Jovan Bigorski before we cross into Kosovo through the breathtaking mountain scenery of the Sar Planina Mountains. Albanian inhabited’ Kosovo is the youngest independent country of Europe. Kosovo declared independence on February 17, 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. Kosovo’s independence has been recognized by 108 out of 193 United Nations member states today. Overnight in Prishtina.
Day 8: Prishtina – Peja- Gjakova- Prizren
After breakfast, start the explore the finest sites of Kosovo, including a stop at the battlefield where a major battle took place between Christian and Ottoman armies in 1389. We visit the Tomb of Sultan Murad II, the Museum, the Bazaar Mosque, the Clock Tower, the Mosque of Sultan Fatih of Prishtina, and the capital of Kosovo. Drive to Peja & Gjakova where we visit the Peja Patriarchate and Decani Monastery before returning to Prizren. Overnight in Prizren. Hotel Centrum
Day 9: Prizren- B- Curri- Valbona (Albania)
After breakfast spends the morning in Prizren, one of the most scenic towns of the Balkans, with a magnificent setting on the slopes of the Sharr Mountains and the former capital of old, historic Serbia. The municipality of Prizren is still the most culturally and ethnically heterogeneous area of Kosovo, retaining communities of Bosniaks, Turks, and Romani in addition to the majority Kosovo Albanian population which also live in Prizren. We learn about the recent turbulent history and enjoy views of the fortress, stone bridges, minarets, and mosques. We then make our way to Albania on a very scenic road through the Albanian Alps. Overnight in Valbona.
Day 10: Valbona National Park
Today, we enjoy a full-day visit to the Valbona Valley, one of the most beautiful parts of the Northern Albanian Alps with over 8000 hectares becoming a national park in 1996. Depending on the weather, we have the opportunity to enjoy caves, a pass. Overnight in Valbona.
Day 11: Valbona- Fierza Boating on Drini River- Shkodra
After breakfast drive to Fierza, cruising to Koman along the Drini river. village to Koman Dam built in the 1980s which encases the waters of Drin and creates one of the biggest artificial lakes in the country. to reach the ferry at Koman we travel to Fierza by ferry. Passing the mountains through the canyon, created by the river Drin, the route reveals the wild beauty of the Albanian Alps. We will have lots of opportunities to take pictures of unique views of the lake. Upon our arrival in Koman, we will board our bus and drive to Shkodra, located on the southernmost shore of beautiful Lake Shkoder in northwestern Albania. It is one of the oldest and most historic towns in Albania. It is a vibrant and important cultural and economic center and has a pulsating street life. Many visitors feel that Shkodra is the soul of Albania. The most attractive quarters of the city are commonly called the Pedonale. We stop quickly to take a photo of Mother Teresa’s Memorial statue before visiting the Shkodra Cathedral and Ethnic Museum to learn about the religions within Albania. Overnight in Shkodra. Hotel Tradita or Carmen
Day 12: Shkodra- Lezha (Memorial of Skanderbeg)- Kruja, To Tirana
This morning we visit the Rozafa Castle near Shkodra, which rises imposingly on a rocky hill, 130 meters above sea level, surrounded by the Buna and Drin rivers. This is one of the largest and most impressive fortresses of the entire region, dating back to the Illyrian times. We learn here about local legends, explore the ruins and enjoy beautiful views over the rugged landscapes. We continue on to Lezha where we see the memorial of Skanderbeg. We continue to proceed to Kruja, where we see the Old Castle and the Museum of Skanderbeg. After visiting the nearby Ethnographic Museum, we stroll through the Old Bazaar. We make our way to Tirana in time for dinner. Overnight in Tirana. Hotel 4*
Day 13: Tirana
Today is a full day of city sightseeing in Tirana, the capital of Albania. Modern Tirana was founded as an Ottoman town in 1614. Tirana became Albania’s capital city in 1920 and has a population of over 800,000, including the new quarters around the city. After breakfast starts with Tirana city tour begins from Skanderbeg Square, named after the Albanian hero the main landmark of the city. 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 Clock Tower next to the Et’hem Bey Mosque, National Museum- north of Scanderbeg Square, The Palace of Culture, The monument to Mother Albania and The National Historical Museum are the significant spots that catch up the attention of one and all who make a visit to the city. In the afternoon, we enjoy a leisurely excursion to Mt. Dajti by cable car for amazing views of the city with the Adriatic Sea in the distance. We return to downtown Tirana Overnight in Tirana.
Day 14: Tirana- Durres – Berat
After breakfast, we drive to the second-largest city in Albania, Durres, which sits on the Adriatic Sea. The city is located on the central Albanian coast, where we will visit the Roman amphitheater and archaeological museum. From here, we make our way to Berat (UNESCO), which lies on the eastern bank of the Osumi River. Berat has a wealth of beautiful buildings of high architectural and historical interest. Berat is known to Albanians as “The City of a Thousand Windows” or “The City of Two Thousand Steps”. It was proclaimed a ‘Museum City’ by the dictator Enver Hoxha in June 1961. After lunch, we visit the citadel on the top hill of the city and Onufri Museum, which has 16th-century mural paintings by Onufri, the Albanians most famous medieval painter. From here, you have your choice of an optional stroll across the 16th-century bridge or the opportunity to visit either the Ethnographic museum, the King’s Mosque, the Bachelor Mosque or the Helvetian Tekke, which was built in 1782. Overnight in Berat.
Day 15: Berat- Ottoman Town of Gjirokastra (UNESCO)
After breakfast, we drive along a mountainous road to Gjirokastra (UNESCO), the birthplace of the former iron-fisted dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha. Its old town is inscribed on the World Heritage List as “a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estates”. Gjirokastra is situated in a valley between the Gjere Mountains and the Drino River. The city is overlooked by the Gjirokastra Castle, which includes a pre-Ottoman citadel with a weapons museum and former political prison. In the afternoon, we visit an Ethnographic museum; housed in the building in which Enver Hoxha was born. Overnight in Gjirokastra.
Day 16: Gjirokastra-Blue Eye Springs – Butrint
After breakfast drive to Saranda the Ionian seashore, we stop en route at the gorgeous “Blue Eye” springs. The clear blue water of the river bubbles forth from a stunning pool that is more than 50 meters deep. Divers have descended to fifty meters, but it is still unclear what the actual depth of the karst hole is. After lunch, we drive to Butrint (UNESCO), Albania’s most important archaeological site. Butrint was an ancient Greek city and later, a Roman city in Epirus, located on a hill overlooking the Vivari Channel and Butrint National Park. Tonight, we enjoy dinner at the picturesque Lekuresi castle overlooking the town. Overnight in Sarande.
Day 17: Saranda – Corfu (Greece)
In the morning, we take a ferry to the island of Corfu, Greece. Upon our arrival, we visit Paleokastris to see the local monastery. Here we enjoy commanding views of the area. We make our way through the scenic Ropa Valley and visit the New Fortress. We also visit the Achilleion Palace, built by the Empress of Austria, Elisabeth of Bavaria, also known as Sissi, wife of Austro-Hungarian Monarch Franz Joseph. She lost her only son, Crown Prince Rudolf of Austria when he committed murder-suicide in The Mayerling Incident of 1889. A year later, in 1890, she built a summer palace with the powerful mythical hero Achilles as its central theme. Overnight in Corfu
Day 18: Corfu (Greece)
After breakfast, we visit the historic Corfu city, including the Jewish memorials. After lunch, the afternoon is yours to explore the streets and shops of the city, or just to relax and enjoy the water of the Ionian Sea. Overnight in Corfu.
Day 19: Corfu – Ferry- Sarande- Tirana
After breakfast, we take a ferry back to the mainland and drive to Durres along the mountainous roads of the Albanian Riviera, enjoying the beautiful scenery and fantastic landscapes of Llogara National park and Ionian Coastline. Depend on time, we might do a photo stop at the fortress of Ali Pasha of Ioannina at Porto Palermo bay and continue on to Vlora near Independence House and Muradie Mosque, again for some photos. This is the second-largest port city of Albania, where the Albanian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed on November 28, 1912. The city was for a short time the capital of Albania. As we approach Tirana. Time for our Farwell dinner. Overnight in Tirana.
Day 20: Tirana – Tirana Airport
After breakfast transfer to the airport for our onward journey.
Including: Professional guide service in English, French, Italian German, Russian, Good standard, 3,4 * Hotels BB, Dinners, Museums entry fees, Transfers with Modern AC- Minibus, Bus or 4+1 car throughout the Tour. All the local taxes, Local Guides, 3 nights life folk show.
- 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.