Classical Highlights Tour
(5 nights-6 days)
Suggested arrival: with Turkesh Airline in Morning of day 1 Suggested Departure: Turkish Airlines in the evening of day 6.
Day 1: Airport – Durres – Apollonia – Vlora
Meet and greet at the airport and drive to Vlora a town on the Albanian coast were the country’s Independence was declared. On the way stop at Durres one of the oldest towns in albania where we visit the amphitheatre and the rich archaeological Museum. Afterwards continue to the ancient city of Apollonia one of the most important ancient centres in Roman times on the famous Via Egnatia. The famous Roman orator Cicero, astonished by the beauty of Apollonia named it in his Philippics, magna urbs et gravis – a great and important city. Established in the 7th century B.C., by Greek settlers from Corinth and Corcyra, the ancient city is located 11 km to the west of the city of Fier. In the first century B.C., Octavian Augustus studied philosophy there until he heard news of Caesar’s murder in the Senate and went on to become the next emperor. Visit the city and an Orthodox monastery turned into archaeological museum. Arrive in Vlora where we will see one of the early practice works of the great architect Sinan, called the Muradie Mosque. Dinner and overnight in Vlora. Hotel 4*
Day 2: Vlora- Ali Pasha Castle Porto Palermo – Saranda
After an early breakfast depart to Monastery of Saint Mary, also known as the Monastery of Zvernec, is an important cultural monument on the Zvernec Island in the Narta Lagoon. At the heart of the monastic complex you’ll find the Church of holy Mary, a beautiful place of worship surrounded by evergreens. After the visits in Vlora we visit the house of Independence where the first Albanian Government had its seed after proclaiming independence from the Ottoman Empire. Continue on to Saranda through the so-called Albanian Riviera with spectacular views on the Ionian Sea. Llogara pass at 1000 m above sea level with a Birdseye view of the coast is probably the most breathtaking of them all. We will stop at Porto Palermo for a visit at the fortress of Ali Pasha a fortification used to control the sea trade routes. Then we continue to Saranda, drive up to Lekuresi castle for a spectacular view of the bay of Saranda and the Island of Corfu.
Afternoon free to relax and explore the town. Overnight in Saranda. Hotel 4*
Day 3: Saranda- Butrint- Saranda
After breakfast depart 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. Return to explore the centre of Saranda where an ancient synagogue was supposed to have been discovered. Overnight in Saranda. Hotel 4*
Day 4: Saranda – Gjirokastra – Bylis – Berat
After early breakfast we drive to Berat. On our way lays Gjirokastra, a UNESCO site and museum town built almost entirely in stone and with a remarkable 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.
OPTIONAL : We suggest the group should stop for lunch in a village just outside Gjirokastra. Continue on to the city of Byllis one of the largest cities in Southern Illyria. Despite being founded by Illyrians this city has been mentioned relatively late by historians and ancient geographers. In 49-48 B.C. the city surrenders to the forces of Caesar and served as a base for his large army. Around 270 B.C. the city was the centre of a koinon, a political organization of the time, covering about 20km2. During the Late Antique period several large Palaeo-Christian basilicas were constructed, all of them carrying lavishly decorated mosaics, some of which can still be admired today. In Berat we check in at the hotel and we visit the King’s Mosque and Helveti Teke situated close to our hotel. Overnight in Berat is a unique experience staying in houses up to 300 years old turned hotels. Traditional dinner. Hotel 3*Superior Characteristic, or 4*
Day 5: Berat – Tirana
After breakfast we visit to 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. We visit St.Mary’s church turned into Onufri Icon Museum. Onufri was an Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century who painted many orthodox churches in Albania and Greece. Afterwards we proceed to the capital Tirana. Visit National Museum of History where you will be quickly introduced to the history of Albania from ancient times to present day concentrating on the communist era. After the visit at the museum you will take a walk through the centre where we will visit the Mosque the Clock-Tower, Scanderbeg Square, ministry buildings, the Pyramid a construction initially dedicated to the late communist leader Enver Hoxha, designed by his daughter. It was conceived as the dictator’s mausoleum without its body in it, however its interior was destroyed when democratic changes swept the country in 1991. It is still an interesting and imposing structure of Tirana’s communist past. We continue down the boulevard and make our way to an area known as Blloku (The Block), a huge square shaped area were members of the communist politburo had their villas. An area which until 1991 was guarded by solders with Kalashnikovs and guard dogs and was forbidden to ordinary Albanian citizens. Overnight in Tirana. Hotel 4*
Day 6: Tirana – Kruja – Airport
After breakfast, we make a visit at the World Headquarters of the Bektashi sect of Islam. After being outlawed in Turkey for their liberal interpretation of Islam in the 19th century, the order was transferred to Albania where it had been embraced by a large portion of population which converted to Islam during Ottoman time. Afterwards drive to Kruja – the centre of Albanian resistance against the Ottoman invasions in the 15th century, under our national hero Scanderbeg. His life story could be thescript of a film. Taken as a small child from his family he was raised in the Sultan’s court, exceling in the art of combat and strategy. He became a successful commander of the Ottoman army earning the high title Iskander Bej ( translates Lord Alexander) which has been modernized through time to Scanderbeg. We visit the Skanderbeg Museum, a very rich Ethnographic Museum and the Old Bazaar where the best handmade souvenirs can be purchased. After visits drive to Airport for evening flight back.
- Transportation with modern a/c vehicle not older than production year 2006, fitted with seatbelts
- Accommodation in good standard hotels 4*
- 5 Breakfasts
- Turkish or if not possible English speaking tour guide for the whole tour.
- 5 dinners in restaurants with 3 courses and mineral water
- 1 traditional lunch in Kruja with 3 courses and mineral water
- Bottle of mineral water per person on car/bus
- Entry tickets to all sites and monuments
- Taxi transfer for visit of Gjirokastra castleVAT
- Flight Tickets
- Lunches not mentioned in includes section
- Gratuities/Tip to Driver, Guide, hotel and restaurant staff
- Any other