Tirana Weekend Break
(2nights / 3 days)
Day 1. Airport– Tirana
Pick up at Tirana Airport and transfer to the hotel where you will be based for the next 3 nights. On the way a quick glance at some of the major historic sites in Tirana as well as its famous colourful buildings. A welcome refreshment atop of one of the tallest building where views of the capital can be admired in a 360 degree rotating bar. Afterwards we continue for a traditional dinner at a small but very traditional restaurant. You will be given advice on the best places of entertainment to explore in the afternoon and evening, based on your interests. Upon request in advance we can reserve tickets for available cultural or sport events happening in Tirana, while you are here.
Day 2. Tirana – Berat UNESCO – Apollonia ancient site – Tirana
In the morning we depart for Berat a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Being more than 2400 year old Berat it is one of the most attractive towns in Albania. Established in the 3rd century B.C by an Illyrian tribe of central Albania with a protective castle, it was known as the fortified city of Antipatrea. In 1417 the town was occupied by the Turks who build quite a few mosques in the area below the town’s old castle. Berat is situated at the foot of Tomorri Mountain and on the shores of River Osum. Built in white on a slope of green with the river at its feet, it offers a striking view as soon as it becomes visible. It is famous for its white-washed houses with their many windows which seem to have been built on top of each other, that give it the nickname “town of a thousand windows”. It retains a unique style of architecture, with narrow and stone paved streets.
The castle is the only one in Albania that still has houses and inhabitants within its walls, going about their daily life in exactly the same place their predecessors did centuries ago. We will visit the Castle, St Marys Church turned Onufri Museum which houses an amazingly diverse collection of Icons and two other churches not open to the public. Onufri whose name has been given to this Icon museum was an Albanian master painter of the 16th century who painted many church icons in Albania and Greece and is famous for its red colour named after him. Berat is also famous, as two of the oldest bibles “New Testaments” one from 6th century and one from 9th century AD have been found here. Lunch is a in a traditional restaurant in the old quarter run by a local family. (optional) After lunch depart 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. Archaeological excavations have revealed that Apollonia achieved its zenith in the 4th – 3rd centuries B.C. 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. Return to Tirana for dinner and overnight.
Day 3.Tirana – Kruja – Airport (evening departure)
After breakfast drive to Kruja a small town perched high on a hill close to Tirana. It was the centre of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans under our national hero Scanderbeg who kept them from crossing into Western Europe for 25 years, thus earning the title “Champion of Christ” awarded by the pope. You will visit the Skanderbeg Museum, Ethnographic Museum and the Old Bazaar full of traditional souvenirs.
OPTIONAL Have a characteristic Albanian lunch in Kruja. Afterwards transfer to airport for flight back.