VISIT ALBANIA AND KOSOVO
Among the rugged mountains and green fields of Albania and Kosovo there are plenty of shepherds, monasteries, lakes, valleys and Byzantine churches, what’s lacking is crowds. It’s taken decades for the Balkans to wipe away memories of conflict and communism, but they’ve emerged strong and smiling. From hip cafes in Tirana and the soft shore of Koman Lake to the mosques of picture perfect Prizren, this 9-day adventure showcases Balkan beauty at its very best.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN ALBANIA – TIRANA (17 KM)
Meet at airport and transfer to Tirane. After e short break we will visit the city of Tirana. Start the tour from Skanderbeg Square, National Museum (the huge mosaic on front represent the Albanian history development and the stages of this development are presented on respective pavilions) then you continue to see other important buildings: Palace of Culture, Opera House, National Library, Mosque of Et’hem Bey, the Clock Tower, Tirana Castle, Parliament, Ura e Tabakeve, National Art Gallery, mean government buildings, catholic and orthodox cathedrals, the Pyramid, Prime Minister building, Palace of congresses, Mother Teresa Square, Archaeological Museum, Presidential palace, Ex-Blloku (which used to be the most beautiful and protected zone were the ex-communist leaders families lived). Visit the Cold War corner (one Bunker, part of famous Spac Political Prison, and a piece from Berlin Wall). Overnight in Tirana.
DAY 2: TIRANA – KRUJA – PRIZREN (200 KM)
After breakfast we will drive to Prizren. On the way we stop to Kruja, the center of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans under our national hero Scanderbeg who defeated them in 22 battles including one of the most warriors like sultans Mehmet the Conqueror and resisted the Ottoman occupation for 25 years. We visit the Castle with two great Museums and the Old Ottoman style bazaar. Proceed to Prizren which is a true open-air museum, one of the most beautiful towns of Kosovo. It is situated on the slopes of the Sharr Mountains and on the banks of the river Bistrica. The craftsmen of Prizren are well known for their beautiful gold and silver articles, embroidery, the Prizren cloth, knives and other folk handcrafts. From all the cities of Kosovo, Prizren has best preserved the architectural physiognomy of the past. Overlooking the town on a hill that dominates over the Prizren plateau is the Fortress of Prizren. Overnight in Prizren.
DAY 3: PRIZREN – GRACANICA MONASTERY – PRISHTINA – DECAN MONASTERY – PEJA (200 KM)
After breakfast we will departure to Peje and first stop in Prishtina for a short city tour. Visit Gracanica Monastery which was constructed on the ruins of an older 13th century church of the Holy Virgin, which was built on the ruins of a 6th century early Christian basilica. Afterwards drive towards Peja through the magnificent the Rugova Gorge to the Decani Monastery near it. This monastery complex is a wonderful example of the Orthodox religious architecture and art part of UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must for anyone visiting Kosovo. Overnight in Peja.
DAY 4: PEJA – GJAKOVA – KOMAN LAKE (Ferry 2.30 hours) – SHKODRA (145 KM)
After breakfast we drive to Gjakova for a visit of 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. Afterwards departure to Fierze where we take the Koman Lake ferry. A spectacular boat trip through the artificial lake created by the hydro power stations built on Drin River. The depth of the lake has given it an opal green color while the surrounding mountains have created the magnificent effect of a fjord. After arrival in Koman and drive to Shkodra the most important town of north Albania and the Illyrian capital, in the 3rd century BC. Visit Rozafa Castle with striking views all around. Continue to town and take a walk in the newly renovated pedestrian area of Italian and Austrian architecture, testimony to this town historic links with both these countries and visit a communist prison turned museum. Overnight in Shkodra.
DAY 5: SHKODRA – DURRES – BERAT (UNESCO) (200 KM)
After breakfast we depart for Durres one of the oldest (founded in 627 B.C.) where we have lunch by the sea (optional). In Durres take a sightseeing tour of the Amphitheater situated in the middle of the modern city in an inhabited area and departure for proceed to Berat, Albania’s second museum town, sometimes called “the city of a thousand windows” and one of the most attractive Albanian towns. We will see the Fortress, Onufri Museum and several Churches and Mosque. In the downtown we visit the Leaden Mosque, the King Mosque, the Bachelor Mosque and Alveti Tekke. Overnight in Berat.
DAY 6: BERAT (UNESCO) – GJIROKASTRA (UNESCO) – BLUE EYE – SARANDA (220 KM)
After breakfast, proceed to Gjirokastra. Gjirokastra is the birthplace of former iron-fisted dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha. Visit in the pre-Ottoman citadel with a weapons museum and ex- political prison. Afterwards free to stroll around town where many of the buildings retain their original wood and stone work. Lunch in local restaurant in Gjirokastra. Departure for Saranda and on the way we will stop at the beautiful Blue Eye spring shaped like an eye with beautiful blue and turquoise green colors among old maple trees. Then we visit the ancient city of Butrint a world heritage site. The city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of passing civilizations. It is situated in a beautiful peninsula among dense vegetation. Overnight in Saranda.
DAY 7: SARANDA – ALBANIAN RIVIERA – LLOGARA NATIONAL PARK – VLORA (125 KM)
After breakfast drive on the spectacular Albanian Riviera towards Vlora. Breathtaking sceneries await us at the Llogara pass – 1000 m above sea level. Our next visit in Himara region will be in the water springs of Borshi before continuing towards Ali Pasha fortress in the bay of Porto Palermo which is a rare example of French military engineering, built in the first decade of the XIX century. We will stop at 1100 meters above sea level, through the forest of Llogara National Park, from where we can admire the whole coast line and the Greek islands in the Ionian Sea. Arrival in Vlora and in the afternoon city tour of Vlora. Overnight in Vlora.
DAY 8: VLORA – APOLLONIA ARCHAEOLOGICAL PARK – ARDENICA MONASTERY – TIRANA (165 KM)
After breakfast, we will visit Apollonia Archaeological Park which started in the 7th century BC as the ancient town of Apollonia, the second largest Greek colony in Albania. Founded in the VII century BC, Apollonia became one of the most important towns in the region in the IV century bc. Now days it is one of the biggest archaeological parks in Albania. Next, we will drive towards Ardenica Orthodox monastery (XII century) located on a hill overlooking the valley, which has one of the best-preserved Byzantine churches in Albania, famous for its wooden carved altar and its frescoes covered walls. In the afternoon we will check in our hotel located in the city center. Then we drive to Tirana, the Capital of Albania. Walking tour in Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.
DAY 9: TIRANA – TIRANA AIRPORT (17 KM)
After breakfast, the tour ends with transfer to “Mother Teresa” Airport. Ends of our service.