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Classic Albania – Land of the Eagle

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To book this holiday please contact our Travel Experts directly on

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NATURAL AND HISTORIC WONDERS ON THE ALBANIAN ADRIATIC

A diverse history and vibrant traditions are on full display across Albania’s Adriatic treasures. 

Experience the rich religious and cultural heritage of one of Europe’s most overlooked treasures, Albania. From the country's expansive history, complete with a wide variety of Ottoman landmarks and archaeological sites, to natural wonders, you’ll find no shortage of sights to see throughout a tour of the Adriatic coast, still largely untouched by mass tourism. As you take in Albania’s classical monuments, you’ll also find a vibrant and unique modern culture thriving within its cities, with artistic expression taking centre stage. Keep an eye out for colourful murals lining the walls of communist-era landmarks as you wander the cities and enjoy the innovative galleries and installations that have sprouted from Enver Hoxha’s former ‘mushroom’ bunkers since the turn of the century. 

 Explore a city of contrasts in the beautiful capital, Tirana, where medieval landmarks meet busy modern thoroughfares. Krujër and Skhodër offer glimpses into the legendary history of Albania’s national hero, Skanderbeg, while coastal cities Vlorë and Sarandë promise breath-taking views of the Adriatic amongst their bustling beachfronts. Archaeological sites in UNESCO-listed Butrint and Apollonia sheds light on Albania’s colourful heritage with ruins once home to the ancient Greeks and the Roman empire. Stops in historic Gijirokastra and Berat, known as the ‘City of a Thousand Windows’, complete this tour and provide unique insight into native traditions and the vibrant multi-cultural heritage of this Adriatic gem. 



What does this price include?

  • Seven nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation at hotels in Tirana (3 nights), Vlore (1), Saranda (1), Gjiirokaster (1) and Berat (1)
  • Seven breakfasts
  • Tours of Tirana and Durrës
  • Tour of Lezhë and Vlorë, including a visit to the Monastery of Adrenica
  • Drive along the Albanian Riviera with visits to Llogara National Park, Ali Pasha Castle and Sarandë
  • Tour of UNESCO-listed Butrint and Gjirokastër
  • Day trip to Berat and the Apollonia Archaeological Park with visit to the Onufri Museum
  • Return flights to Tirana
  • Comfortable, air-conditioned coach travel and transfers throughout
  • Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager

Your Itinerary

View a full breakdown of your holiday to help you plan your trip

  • Touch down in the Albanian capital, Tirana, and transfer to your hotel for the first day of your tour. You’ll have the afternoon at leisure to settle in and meet your fellow travellers before finding dinner in the city.

  • Enjoy breakfast in the hotel ahead of a morning’s exploration of the Albanian Capital. Following a short walk from your city hotel, you’ll be met by your local guide at vast Skanderbeg Square. This is Tirana’s main piazza celebrating the legendary Albanian general of the same name. At the square’s centre, you’ll find the impressive Skanderbeg monument, and surrounding it a collection of landmarks showcasing Albania’s diverse range of styles and influences. Immerse yourself in Tirana’s Islamic heritage with a visit to the Et’hem Bey Mosque and the Tirana Clock Tower, a pair of monuments built by the famed Muslim poet, Haxhi Et’hem Bey.   

    Next on your tour of the Albanian capital will be Tirana Castle, also known as the Fortress of Justinian, which is currently a part of a national cultural restoration project. Though only its 20-foot-tall Ottoman gate remains open to the public, the castle is home to a lively courtyard of shops, cafés, and restaurants. Continuing through the city’s streets, you’ll come upon the Cloud Monument, a vast mesh of white steel rods which emulates its namesake. Your final stop this morning will be the Pyramid of Tirana, a stark reminder of the city’s communist past now reimagined as a colourful centre for youth projects. There will be some time for you to explore at your own pace and have lunch on your account before an afternoon visit to ancient Durrës.  

    A vibrant coastal city in Albania, Durrës’ impressive history, dating back nearly 3,000 years, and bounteous archaeological sites have earned it the nickname, ‘The Eternal City on the Adriatic Sea’. Here, you’ll visit the Venetian Tower, once part of a larger 5th-century Byzantine castle, before taking to Durrës’ Roman Amphitheatre, the largest structure of its kind in the Balkans. Stops at the city’s Byzantine Forum and King Zog’s palace complete the tour ahead of the drive back to the capital.  

    Having explored Tirana’s captivating medieval landmarks, you’ll have the opportunity to celebrate Albanian creativity with a glimpse of the city’s post-communist innovation with a visit to Bunk’Art 2. This mushroom-like concrete bunker, one of over 750,000 built under Enver Hoxha’s rule, is now used as an art installation which depicts life in Albania under Albania’s former communist leader and his secretive ‘Sigurimi’ (secret service). Witness the terror of Albania’s political prisoners under the Hoxha regime and discover the murky secrets of his Ministry of Internal Affairs.  

    You can find dinner locally ahead of time at leisure in your Tirana hotel.  

  • Fuel yourself for the day’s activities with breakfast in the hotel ahead of a morning visit to one of Albanian’s most intriguing towns, Krujë. This historic city, nestled amongst mountains canyons, offers glimpses of Albania’s breathtaking alpine landscapes and the region’s storied past. 

    Once home to Albania’s national hero, Skanderbeg, who valiantly stood against the Ottoman empire in the 15th century, Krujë Castle will be the first stop. Set within the castle walls, the Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg Museum provides fascinating insights and period relics which tell the tale of the Albanian hero’s 25-year resistance against invading forces. You’ll then continue to Krujë’s town centre with a visit to the old bazaar, a charming market filled with colourful local crafts, where you’ll have time to browse the stalls.  

    After a brief stop for lunch, you’ll travel to charming Shkodër, known locally as ‘The City of Bicycles’. Steeped in long-held traditions and a rich blend of cultures, Skhodër’s most famous landmark, the Rozafa Castle will be visited. This thousand-year-old monument, overlooking the city centre from the surrounding hillsides, boasts an enticing view of the region’s history. Finally, take a leisurely stroll through Shkodër’s colourful streets before boarding your coach back to Tirana. 

    Return to your Tirana hotel this evening.

  • Today will see you leave Tirana for the Albanian south. Having packed and taken an early breakfast this morning, you’ll start the day with a trip to historic Lezhë. Founded over two millennia ago, this fascinating museum city is home to several well-preserved archaeological sites. 

    The first of these sites will be the city’s Venetian castle, showcasing panoramic views of the Drin River and Adriatic coastline. Also of interest is the Skanderbeg memorial, built on the site of the convent from which the Albanian hero united the country in resistance of its Ottoman invaders. 

    Leaving Lezhë behind, but still following in Skanderbeg’s footsteps, you’ll reboard your coach for a drive to Ardenica Monastery. Known as a marvel of Albanian Orthodoxy and one of the masterpieces of Byzantine Orthodox architecture, this religious monument was saved thanks to its reputation as the wedding venue of Skanderbeg. Continue to Vlorë, the city where the Albanian Independence was declared, and the Independence Monument can be found. This landmark, dedicated to the Albanian Declaration of Independence, is the centrepiece of Flag’s Square and commemorates several key historical figures.  

    Bring the day’s activities to a close with a scenic walk along the city’s promenade before checking into your new hotel for an evening under your own steam. 

  • Take breakfast with your fellow guests in the hotel this morning and prepare yourself for a scenic tour of Albania’s most impressive natural landscapes. Board your coach for a scenic drive along the Adriatic coastline towards Llogara National Park, blanketed by verdant woodlands, alpine meadows, and steep rock faces. Renowned for its rich biodiversity, the park has become a popular destination for nature lovers and conservationists alike with bountiful plant life and a thriving bird population providing captivating views amidst the mountain terrain. 

    Moving south, your next stop today will be Ali Pasha Castle, an island fortification built in the 19th century. This striking limestone castle was originally constructed by Ali Pasha Telepena himself, Albania’s Ottoman ruler of the time, as a gift to one of his wives. Enjoy coastal views of the Ionian Sea as you walk the narrow corridors and ramparts of this imposing structure before making your way back across the water to your penultimate stop of the day. Qeparo, a picturesque village known for its natural scenery, and historic landmarks, offers a unique insight into traditional Albanian lifestyles and culture. You’ll have some time at leisure here to explore the village’s charming streets and Mediterranean beaches.  

    As the sun sets on the Albanian Riviera, your final visit will bring you to Sarandë, one of the most popular and visited coastal cities in Albania, where you’ll enjoy an overnight stay. You’ll then be free to find dinner locally.  

  • Rise early today ahead of a day spent exploring Albania's most extraordinary archaeological treasures. Having taken a hearty breakfast at your Sarandë hotel, board your coach for a short drive to the UNESCO-listed Butrint National Park which was once home to ancient Greeks and Romans. Based on the strait of Corfu and having long since overrun the former polis (city), nature now thrives in the national park. Swap Butrint’s natural splendour for one of the country’s most unique natural landmarks, the ‘Blue Eye’, a short drive further north. Nestled between woodland and the Bistricë River, the crystal waters of this secluded spring are said to be so clear that visibility of the surface is extended to depths of up to 50 feet.  

    Continuing north after a short stop at ‘Blue Eye’, your next stop today will be ‘The Stone City’, Gjirokastër. This UNESCO-listed city boasts one of the most enchanting old towns on the Balkan Peninsula with winding cobbled streets and original Ottoman architecture. During your stop, you’ll have time to look around Gjirokastër Castle, one of the largest of its kind in Albania. Delve into the castle’s rich history from its use under King Zog’s regime to its Italian and German occupation World War II, and then again during the communist regime, as well.  

    A visit to Gjirokastër wouldn’t be complete with a visit to the city’s old bazaar where a wide range of boutiques sell souvenirs and keepsakes. Cafés and byrek (pie) shops in the bazaar also offer traditional Albanian dishes which you’ll be free to sample on your own time after checking into your local hotel. 

  • Take breakfast ahead of a trip to Apollonia Archaeological Park, a Greek polis founded in 588 BC by Corinthian colonists. Apollonia, once a thriving harbour town, is steeped in a unique blend of Albanian and ancient Greek culture and you’ll have the chance to witness its ancient history as you walk through the ruins of this former commercial hub.  

    Later, you’ll continue to the ‘City of a Thousand Windows’ in Berat. Not only does the area boast excellent Balkan architecture to enjoy but is itself a living museum of traditional Albanian life. Berat, known for its original Ottoman houses and scenic river valley, promises captivating sights and a relaxed Mediterranean atmosphere. You’ll have the chance to enjoy breath-taking views of the vibrant city from the walls of the impressive Berat Castle, a fortress containing several Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques, before discovering its fascinating history with a visit to the Onufri Museum. Dedicated to the Orthodox archpriest, Onufri, who was famed for his religious murals and frescoes, the museum has over 200 pieces of art and Orthodox relics, and you’ll have time now to wander its halls at leisure. Last pay a visit to Berat’s promenade and the city’s Historic House where you can try the coffee and an Albanian delicacy, gliko (jam).  

    Find dinner in the city before settling into your final hotel.

  • After breakfast, you’ll travel to the airport for your flight back to the UK.  

Dates & Prices

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Hotels

Classic Albania Land of the Eagle Touring Hotels

You'll be staying in a series of comfortable hotels that are conveniently located for your tour itinerary.

 

View Hotel

Further Information

  • The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately 1hr.

  • We sometimes need to combine transfers to and from your hotel. We always try to keep any wait to a minimum, but you may be asked to wait at the airport for up to an hour, while other incoming flights arrive, before the transfer to your hotel. Similarly, we may need to transfer you back to the airport up to three hours before your flight home departs.

  • If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

  • The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

  • Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

  • Should circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.

  • Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

  • Rules may have changed since you last travelled to European Union countries as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. The following are useful guidelines which will help you prepare for your next adventure. You do require government issued passport to travel.

    Names - It is very important that all passenger names are exactly as per your passport although we do not require middle names.

    Passport - Your passport must meet two requirements to travel to an EU country and to Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. It must be: Less than 10 years old on the day you return home (please check the "date of issue") and valid for at least 3 months after the day you return home (please check the "expiry date").

    Visa - You do not need a visa for short trips to most EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. You’ll be able to stay for up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.

    European Travel Information & Authorisation System (ETIAS) - Commencing in late 2023 or 2024, all citizens of the United Kingdom will require a ETIAS electronic form completed prior to their arrival into the EU and Schengen member countries. The cost for this travel authorisation will be €7.00 per person with exceptions for under 18’s and over 70’s. The latest information and further details can be found at www.etias.com.

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