Day 1: “Mother Teresa” AIRPORT – TIRANA
Pick up at Tirana airport and transfer to Hotel. Time permitting we will visit the National Historic Museum in Tirana offering an in depth introduction to Albanian history from prehistoric times to the present day. We take a walking tour of Tirana’s main attraction: Scanderbeg Square, E’them Bey Mosque, Ministry buildings of Italian style, Boulevard “Deshmoret e Kombit”, Tanners Bridge, Blloku area and National Historical Museum. After the tour nominated drivers will be assisted to complete the vehicle pick up procedures. Dinner in Traditional Restaurant. Overnight in Tirana.
DAY 2: TIRANA – KRUJA – LEZHA – SHKODRA
After breakfast we visit an old Traditional House of Tirana. We drive to Kruja through a side road depart for Kruja the centre of Albania during the resistance against the Ottoman Turks under Scanderbeg in the 1400s. He is our National Hero and was a great military leader that defeated the Ottoman armies in 25 battles impeding their progress into Western Europe. For this he was given the title Champion of Christ by the Pope while, Vivaldy dedicated an opera to him. We will visit the Scanderbeg Museum as well as the Ethnographic Museum and the Old Bazaar. There are several very nice traditional restaurants in Kruja castle where you can have lunch on your own accord. We drive northwest to Lezha to see mausoleum of Skanderbeg and the castel. Then you will head to Shkodra, one of the oldest cities in Balkans, the most important town of north Albania and the Illyrian capital, in the 3rd century BC. Dinner and overnight in Shkodra.
DAY 3 SHKODRA – TIRANA
After breakfast we will visit Rozafa Castle from where spectacular views all around can be admired and the feel of supremacy the Illyrians would have felt against enemies standing in such an imposing fortress. We will also visit the Historic Museum situated in a traditional house of Ottoman architecture, where the archaeology and ethnographic pavilions are small but very interesting. We will also take a walk in town were we will be able to see the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the only one in the country prior to abolition of faith by the communist regime. In 1967 it was turned into a palace of sports but has now been restored. Afterwards lunch in a village where culinary traditional expertise meets organic produce. We will also visit the Marubi Photographic Museum with a selection of prints of negatives taken in starting from the second half of the 19th century till the 1900-s, illustrating the life of the population of the area in that period. Take a walk in the newly renovated pedestrian area of Italian and Austrian architecture, testimony to this town historic links with both these countries. Drive to Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.
DAY 4: TIRANA – ARDENICA – APOLLONIA – VLORA
After breakfast, depart for Vlora. On the way we stop at the Monastery of Ardenica, supposed to have been built in the middle ages, as argued by a stone in entrance dating back to the 1417. However the first building belongs to the beginning of XVIII century. Today inside the church you can admire icon paintings of 1743-1745, by Albanian artists such as Konstandin and Athanos Zografi, as well as Konstandin Shpataraku. Proceed to the ancient city of Apollonia situated on the famous Via Egnatia – one of the most important cities in Roman times. The Roman Emperor Augustus Octavian studied here. Afterwards we continue to Vlora where we visit the Independence Museum, situated in the original house where the first Independent Albanian Government had its offices. Afternoon & evening at leisure. Overnight in Vlora.
DAY 5: VLORA – BUTRINT – SARANDA
After an early breakfast we depart for Saranda. Drive on the spectacular Albanian Riviera looking down at the Ionian Sea. Breathtaking sceneries await us at the Llogara pass – 1000 m above sea level. We will have Lunch in Llogara. After Lunch we will continue on to Saranda, to the ancient city of Butrint a UNESCO world heritage site and the most important archaeological discovery in Albania. Legend associates this city with Trojan settlers who fled Troy under the leadership of Aeneas. In fact the city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of several eras of civilization. Apart the beautiful antique ruins it has the added benefit of being situated in a beautiful peninsula, rich in flora and fauna. After the visits we return to Saranda for overnight.
DAY 6: SARANDA – BLUE EYE SPRING – GJIROKASTRA – BERAT
After early breakfast we drive to Berat. Stop in BLUE EYE SPRING about 15km east of Saranda, Blue eye is a hypnotic pool of deep blue water surrounded by electric blue edges like iris of an eye. Drive to Gjirokastra a UNESCO site and museum town with beautiful and very distinct architecture. Visit the medieval Castle which used to be a political prison during the communist dictatorship and the Ethnographic Museum which is also the house the Albanian dictator was born in. We drive to Berat one of the most beautiful towns, a museum city. Where we visit the handsome Ottoman era villas in the three old quarters of Gorica, Kalasa and Mangalem which has given Berati the name ’the town the city of thousand windows’. Dinner in a traditional Restaurant. Overnight in Berat is a unique experience staying in houses up to 300 years old turned hotels.
DAY 7: BERAT – DURRES
After breakfast we visit the Castle and the Onufri Museum. Berat castle is of particular interest as people still live within its walls in their traditional houses, as have their ancestors for centuries. The castle used to have over many churches of which 7 still remain including one turned into Onufri Museum. Onufri was an Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century who painted many orthodox churches in Albania and Greece. After this interesting experience we depart for Durres one of the oldest (founded in 627 B.C.) and most important cities in Albania where we have lunch (optional). After lunch we take a sightseeing tour of the Amphitheatre situated in the middle of the modern city in an inhabited area, and the Archaeological museum rich in artifacts found in the city and its suburbs. We drive to Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.
DAY 8: TIRANA – “Mother Teresa” AIRPORT
After breakfast, free to explore until time of transfer to Airport. End of our services.