Known as the ‘Cradle of the Balkans’, Albania and Macedonia are home to a wealth of natural and historic sites, from Lake Ohrid and the well-preserved Ottoman town of Gjirokastër to the important but lesser-known Roman ruins at Butrint and Apollonia. Travelling through spectacular mountain and coastal scenery, explore these two countries that are emerging after years of relative isolation.
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Fly from London (regional connections available) to Tirana with British Airways. Transfer and stay at the Theranda Hotel / Tirana International for 2 nights. Welcome drink. (N)
Morning tour of the town of Kruja and the Skanderbeg Museum. Afternoon tour of the Albanian capital, including visits to the National Museum, Gallery of Arts, the main square and its clock tower. (B)
Travel east to Elbasan, stopping en route at the remains of a Turkish fort. Continue into Macedonia and the town of Ohrid, situated on the east shore of Lake Ohrid. This Unesco world heritage site is known as the ‘Macedonian Jerusalem’ due to its large number of churches. Afternoon tour including St Sophia Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Macedonia; the Church of St Clement at Plaosnik, where the first university in Europe was founded; and the Gallery of Icons, which has the largest collection of icons in the world. Stay at the Hotel Royal View for 1 night. (B)
Morning visit to the Monastery of St Naum. Its position on a rocky overhang provides excellent views across the lake. Cross the border back into Albania and continue south to Korca, historically an important trade town. Visit the Museum of Medieval Arts, which displays more than 150 icons, and the Mirahor mosque, which is the oldest mosque in Albania. Stay at the Regency Hotel for 1 night. (B)
See the Tumulus of Kamenica, the largest ancient burial mound to be excavated in the Balkans. Continue to Gjirokastër, the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the former leader of Albania. Visit his house museum and also view the city’s fortress. Perched high above the town, it is one of the largest castles in the Balkans and formerly a political prison. Overnight at Cajupi Hotel. (B)
Drive through scenic mountains to the coastal resort of Saranda, via the monastery of Mesopotam. Late morning tour of the Unesco world heritage site of Butrint. Explore the extensive ruins of this Graeco-Roman town and view the third century BC theatre, bath houses and baptistery. Stay overnight at the Hotel Brilant. (B)
Travel to Vlora, a seaport and the gateway to Italy. En route, visit the Ali Pasha castle at Porto Palermo. Stay overnight at the Hotel Vlora International / Partner Hotel. (B)
Morning tour of the Greek and Roman ruins at Apollonia, an important trading port for the Roman empire until the third century AD. Drive to Berat and visit the Onufri Museum of Icons, the King's Mosque and the castle, which has the remains of 42 churches within its walls. Stay overnight at the Mangalemi Hotel (or similar). (B)
Morning drive to view the Ardenica monastery with its exquisite frescoes. Continue to Durrës to explore the largest amphitheatre in the Balkans and the accompanying Archaeological Museum. Return to Tirana to tour the Bektashi World Centre and the art gallery in the prime minister’s office. Remainder of the day is at leisure. Transfer to the airport and fly to London. (B)
As per itinerary – B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner, N: No meals.
This tour is based in 3- and 4-star accommodation.
This itinerary can be taken privately on a date that suits you, for which guideline prices are shown. Alternatively, it can be tailored to your exact requirements. Please call 020 3411 2135 or email Info@CoxandKings.co.uk.
This tour can be booked / reserved online by clicking on one of the coloured links below.
ALE2018: 8 Nights
The scenery - the drive between Korca and Gjirokaster was beautiful and most unexpected. Having said that, we loved both countries. The whole experience exceeded our expectations, particularly the food which was good. The people of both countries were so hospitable.Mr Paul Stafford
A most enjoyable tour which I have no hesitation in recommending to others.Mr Colin Perkin