Self-guided-–-Southern-Albania-&-Macedonia

Self-guided – Southern Albania & Macedonia

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All about the Self-guided – Southern Albania & Macedonia.

Day 1 Tirana

Arrival at Tirana Airport, Meet representative of Tours Albania & Balkans, Take over the rental car. Introduction to the suggested tour, Handover of a travel kit including map, travel itinerary, detailed travel instructions (how to find sights, hotels, etc.), hotel addresses with phone, restaurant suggestions.
Emergency phone number, Verbal explanation about particularities and some useful tips on driving in Albania. Drive to Tirana, check in.  Hotel Oxford or Opera

Interesting sights and museums to visit in Tirana:

  • Et’hem Bey Mosque
  • Scanderbeg square
  • National Historical Museum
  • Clock Tower
  • Pyramid of Tirana
  • Post Block Memorial
  • The Palace of Culture
  • The New Bazar
  • Mother Theresa Square

Overnight in Tirana. Hotel Oxford or Opera

 

 Day 2 Kruja – Durres- Tirana

Interesting places and museums to visit in Kruja:

  • Castle of Kruja – It was built during the 5th and 6th. The surrounding walls are reinforced by nine towers, which served as an observation and signaling post during times of war. Within the walls of the castle there can still be found the remains of a few houses.
  • Scanderbeg Museum – inside of Kruja Castle
  • National Ethnographic – inside of Kruja Castle
  • Museum Dollma Teqe (Tekke) – inside of Kruja Castle
  • Old Bazaar – on the way to the castle, a medieval – type bazaar with traditional handicrafts such as wooden made objects, filigree, alabaster, silver, copper, wool carpets, etc.

Depart for Durres, the port city and one of the oldest coastal cities in Albania (founded in 627 B.C.)

Interesting sights, places and museums to visit in Durres:

  • Roman Amphitheatre – Built in 2-nd century A.D., situated near the center is the second biggest amphitheater which Romans built in the Balkans peninsula.
  • Archaeological Museum – It is newly renovated and is the richest archaeological museum in Albania with finds mainly from Durres but it also has artefacts from other parts of the country.
  • Forum and Roman bath – Built between 5-7 th century A.D and conveniently situated in the center of town could be an interesting visit for archaeology enthusiasts.
  • Promenade – A very nice walk by Adriatic Sea coastline; do not miss Çela Gelateria, one of the best ice creams in Albania.

Overnight in Tirana. Hotel Oxford or Opera

 

Day 3 Berat

Depart for Berat, which is enlisted in UNESCO World Heritage site.

Interesting sights and museums to visit in Berat:

  • Berat Castle – walking on the cobbled stone streets, you may see several medieval Orthodox churches and have a spectacular view of Osumi River, Shpirag and Tomorri Mountain
  • Onufri Museum – The Museum is called “Onufri”, in honor to the Albanian painting Headmaster of XVI Century. The Cathedral is rebuilt during the 1797, and it is the most representative monument of post Byzantine architecture in Berat town.
  • Ethnographic Museum – This museum was inaugurated in 1979. it includes Berat region and southern Albania folk ethnographic culture. The museum is placed in a three-century two storey building, typical for Berat area.
  • Mangalem district (Old Town)
  • Gorica district
  • Church of Holy Trinity
  • Kings Mosque
  • Helveti Tekke
  • On late afternoon, you may like to go to Çobo winery to have local wines taste. It is a 100% Albanian product.

Overnight in Berat.

 

Day 4 Berat – Osumi Canyon (50 km)

Drive south to Osumi Canyon. The canyons are 14 km long, at an altitude of 450 m. They are thought to have been formed 2-3 million years ago by water erosion. You can enjoy rafting for 3 hours in Osumi river Canyons.

Overnight in Berat.

 

 Day 5 Ardenica – Apollonia – Vlora

Leave Berat to drive southwest of Albania.

  • First stop in Ardenica Orthodox Monastery, located 237 meters above sea level having a fantastic view of many breathtaking landscapes. A pagan temple dedicated to the goddess Artemis had existed where the Monastery sits now, which explains the origin of the name Ardenica. Covering an area of 2,500 square meters, the Monastery was built in 1282, commissioned by the emperor Andronikos II Palaiologos of Byzantium. Perhaps the most interesting historical event recorded in Ardenica is Skanderbeg’s wedding to his lifelong wife Donika, hosted on April of 1451 at the Chapel of St. Trinity Church, the monastery’s very first church, built in the 10th

Then drive more south to Apolonia archeological site.

  • Apollonia – The remains of the ancient city of Apollonia which was founded by Greek colonists and flourished in the time of Julius Caesar. Roman Emperor Octavian studied here. Make sure to visit both the ancient site and the Orthodox monastery next to it where the archaeological museum of the site is located.

Drive south to Narta Lagoon.

  • Narta Lagoon – It is protected area due to its rich flora and fauna. You may visit Zvernec Monastery built in the 13th century on the Island of Zvernec. Its access is through a wooden bridge built on the shallow waters of the Narta Lagoon.

Overnight in Llogara National Park.

 

Day 6 Llogara Pass and Dhermi Beach

Possible activities you may do:

  • Hiking in what is known as Julius Caesar Pass, in the Llogara National Park. In 48 BC during Roman Civil War, Julius Caesar landed with his legions at the nearby beach of Palase. He soon crossed the mountains over Llogara Pass in a place later named as Caesar’s Pass to chase his adversary, Pompey.
  • Another suggested activity is to drive down to gorgeous Dhermi beach.

Overnight in Llogara National Park.

 

Day 7 Albanian Riviera – Saranda

Leave Llogara and drive through Albanian Rivera, by the Ionian coastline, which is known for having fascinating beaches with deep and very clean waters. You will enjoy a spectacular drive through one of the most beautiful sceneries the country offers.

You may stop in different villages for visit or taking photos.

A suggested place to stop is Ali Pasha’s Castle at Porto Palermo. A fortress on the sea, thought to belong to the powerful Albanian ruler of the south who challenged the authority of the Ottoman Sultan self-governing a considerable area comprising South Albania and Northern Greece from his castle in Ioannina.

Overnight in Saranda

 

Day 8 Saranda – Butrint – Ksamil

Suggested visits:

  • Butrint Ancient site – Considered the best ancient site of Albania and beyond it is UNESCO protected for its archaeological importance. Situated in a wonderful peninsula it is great for both history and nature lovers.
  • Ksamil – This hidden gem is located on the coastline between Saranda and Butrint, and it sure is one of the best beach destinations in Europe.
  • Lekursi castle – this fortress dates back to the 16th It has a strategic position on a hill of about 300 meters in height as well as its panoramic views of Saranda, the Butrint Lagoon and even the island of Corfu. Not to mention that, inside the fortress, you will find one of the best-known bars and restaurants in Saranda which also offers the most beautiful view of the sunset.

Overnight in Saranda

 

Day 9 Saranda – Gjirokastra

Suggested places to visit:

  • Mesopotam Monastery – The Saint Nicholas church represents the Byzantine architecture. It is one of the oldest Byzantine style churches whose authentic values have remained intact.
  • Blue Eye Spring – A natural spring of fresh water in the shape of an eye can be found only 15-20 kms from Saranda on the way to Gjirokastra. Great for refreshment stop, lunch or picnic.
  • Libohove castle – Libohovë is dominated by an impressive fortress. In addition it has a pleasant and leafy main street with extensive views looking west across the Drino valley.

Overnight in Gjirokastra

 

Day 10 Gjirokastra

Suggested sights and places to visit in Gjirokaster city, which is inscribed in UNESCO world heritage list:

  • Castle of Gjirokastra – It is the biggest castle in Albania. Inside the castle, you can visit the Museum of Weapons, opened in 1971. Weapons from the prehistoric times up to the World War II are exhibited on here. The National Folk Festivalhas taken place in this castle during the years.
  • Enver Hoxha’s birth house (Ethnographic museum)
  • Zekati house
  • The old Bazaar

Overnight in Gjirokastra

 

Day 11 Gjirokastra – Permet – Korce

Leave Gjirokastra to Korce.

Suggested sights and places to visit:

  • Church of Leusa (Shen Maria) which is built in the 17 century, in Leusa village near Permet features outstanding iconography paintings. One of the most spectacular churches in Albania.
  • Benja Thermal water springs is an attractive place near Permet to visit. The heated water flows down Lengerica River unless it gets diverted into one of the several human-made pools. Some say the baths have healing properties. You can take time to bath and relax by laying in the pool looking around the beautiful mountains.
  • Kamenica Tumulus – This archeological site is valued for the rare findings of a pregnant Illyrian woman and an old man. The burial site has provided a wealth of information about the spiritual life, traditions, rituals and materials used by Illyrian residents of the region from 10th to the 6th century B.C.

Overnight in Korca

 

Day 12 Korce – Voskopoje

Musically, the city is known for the local songs, called serenata. In the city you will find many taverns with tasteful traditional cooking such as various types of pie which perfectly combines with the good music and the traditional drink, raki.

Suggested sights and places to visit in Korce:

  • The old Korça Bazaar – It has great early historical, cultural and artistic value for the city.The bazaar is characterized by one and two story buildings in classic Korça style, separated by narrow cobbled streets that open onto a central square. You can feel the heart beating of the city in this Bazaar.
  • National Museum of Medieval Art – Exhibits in the museum include historical, cultural and artistic artifacts from the medieval period in Albania, primarily belonging to the Byzantine and post-Byzantine Christian tradition. These include many religious icons, stone objects, jewelry and precious metals, carved wood, textiles and papers, and are a priceless part of Albania’s cultural heritage.
  • Education Museum – It is housed in the original building where the first Albanian school started 150 years ago.
  • Voskopoja – once a grand medieval town, dates since 13 century, famous for its 24 churches, which were adorned with many exquisite frescoes

Overnight in Korca

 

Day 13 Korce – Ohrid

Leave Korce to travel to Ohrid, Macedonia. Please, just bear in mind that you are to go through border crossing control. Suggested border crossing is Tushemisht.

Suggested sights and places to visit:

  • National Park of Drilon – The Drilon waters form a small lake, surrounded by beautiful greenery that makes the area and the nearby village of Tushemisht a unique oasis of beauty and tranquility.
  • Naum Monastery – St. Naum church was chosen primarily for its location – on a high, rocky outcropping over the lake, above deep forests and life-giving springs of the river Crn Drim. The monastic complex and church of St. Naum were built originally at the turn of the tenth century by the monk whose complex bear the same name. You can take a tour with rowing small boats to water springs where is the source of Crn Drim.
  • Bay of Bones – A pile-dwelling settlement has been erected, which in the past was spreading at a total surface of 8.500 m2. Bay of the Bones is an authentic reconstruction of a part of the pile-dwelling settlement, dating back between 1200 and 700 BC.

Overnight in Ohrid

 

Day 14 Ohrid

Suggested sights and places to visit in Ohrid:

  • Samuel’s fortress
  • Church of Kaneo
  • Church of St John the Theologian
  • Clement church
  • Sophia Cathedral
  • The ancient theatre
  • The old Bazaar

Overnight in Ohrid

 

Day 15 Ohrid – Elbasan – Tirana

Leave Ohrid to drive to Tirana. Please, just bear in mind that you are to go through border crossing control entering Albania.

Suggested sights and places to visit:

  • Struga – The city is centered around the Black Drin River(Crn Drim), which flows out of Lake Ohrid, with pleasant boulevards lining either bank. Here you can find plenty of cafes and bars where many locals spend time catching up.
  • Elbasan – The old center of the city of Elbasan is represented by the castle district (Kala), where you can still admire the old city walls, built on the ruins of the Roman and Byzantine fortifications by the sovereign Ottoman Mehmet II, which gave the city the name of Eli-Bashan (“I put the hand”). Inside the fortress you can see the Royal Mosque, dated back to the fifteenth century, the Orthodox Church of  Mary, built in 1650, and the Byzantine Church.

Overnight in Tirana

 

 Day 16 Tirana – Airport

Departure to Airport. Return of rental car either in Tirana or Airport as initially agreed. Rrugë të mbarë!