19 Jul ALBANIA – See The Best of Albania in 11 days
Explore the history, architecture, food and wine of this fascinating country
Day 1 – Tirana Airport- Tirana – Mullet Village
Depending on your time of arrival in Tirana, we may do a short city tour before or after checking into the hotel. Tour of Tirana City starts with a visit to Skanderbeg Square, followed by a stop at the Mosque of Et`hem Bey, built in 1793. The Opera House (National Theatre of Opera and Ballet) looks out over Scanderbeg Square. We’ll walk along the main boulevard and get a better view of the City Hall and a number of Governmental buildings. This evening, we’ll have dinner at a traditional restaurant and then explore the nightlife of Tirana, walking in the ex-block area where the villas of the communist leaders are still standing amongst trendy boutiques, expensive jewellery shops and lively local pubs. Our dinner will be in a traditional restaurant with a rustic setting giving you your first taste of Albania’s culinary delights. The cuisine is mid-Albanian with Ottoman, Greek & Italian influences. Overnight in Tirana Hotel Vila Alba or Hotel Nano resort in Mullet Village.
Day 2 – Mullet- Kruja- Fushe- Kruja
After an early wake up and breakfast, we’re off to see the daily morning farm work. We will drive towards Tirana and, a few kilometres from Tirana, we will stop to visit a Bio farm and a bio winery (Uka Farm) where we will have lunch at the farm and also will try some different bio wines. We’ll continue to Fushe Kruja where we will visit a family house, meet with the local people and try the National Spirit called ‘Rakia’. Next we drive to Kruja–one of the biggest cities in Northern Albania. It is the “City of history” and best known as hometown of Albanian’s National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Our visit will include the Castle, Skanderbeg Museum and Ethnographic Museum. After the castle visit you will have free time to explore Kruja’s old bazaar with it’s authentic and antique shops. Our overnight will be at Hotel Panorama Kruja. Here we experience some traditional Albanian folk music & dancing.
Day 3 – Kruja- Lezha- Fishta Village – Shkodra
This morning we get to prepare and eat breakfast with an Albanian Family. Afterwards we drive to Lezha where we will visit the Memorial of Skanderbeg. After this we will drive to the Village of Fishta where we visit the Kallmet winery. Here we can try some different wines from the unique Kallmet grapes. After this we will go and visit the most famous farm in this regions ‘’Mrizi I Zanave’’ Farm & Restaurant. Here we get the chance to walk around the village and meet the local people. Now we drive to Shkodra and Overnight at Hotel Tradita. Here we will learn the finest way to cook and then enjoy a rich traditional dinner at Tradita’s G&T Restaurant.
Day 4 – Shkoder – Durres – Berat
After breakfast we drive to Durres and start with a visit to Kantina Skenderbeu where we will try different types of wine & sample our famous Skanderbeg Brandy. Then it’s off to the city of Durres. Durres, due to its geographic and climatic location, had a strategic place on the eastern shores of the Adriatic and in the region of southern Illyria. The tour of the Durres Old Town will include the ruins of the town forum, roman baths, city centre, town hall, Roman Amphitheater, byzantine walls, Venetian tower and archaeological museum with a panoramic display of discoveries and urban planning of this once important city. After the tour we continue our trip and head towards the beautiful city of Berat. On the way we stop in the charming Çobo Winery that nestles at the base of Mount Tomorri, amongst the rolling hills that surround the city of Berat for a traditional Albanian wine tasting. This visit will include an extensive viewing of the wine making process and detailed explanations that present a glowing picture of the family’s history and the origins of their wines. After a tour of the grounds, we are invited to share a glass of wine and exchange stories with a member of the Çobo family while enjoying a variety of homemade Albanian cheeses and locally-grown olives. Afterwards we leave the winery and head towards Berat. This city is one of the oldest and very proud of it’s Albanian architecture. Berat is known as ‘the City of 1,000 windows’ and is a treasure chest of Albanian history, culture and a testament to the country’s tradition of religious harmony. Overnight in Berat at the Hotel Mangalemi.
Day 5 – Berat- Elbasan- Pogradec – Voskopoja
After breakfast we are off to Pogradec and, on the way, we make a stop at Elbasan to visit the fortress. In Pogradec we will stop at the local market where you can see local food products, fresh fruits and vegetables. The beautiful city of Pogradec, where we find the UNESCO Site of Lake Ohrid. We lunch at Lake Ohrid then drive to the city of Korca. After a sightseeing tour of Korca, we continue to Voskopoja. Here we will be staying at Vila Falo Hotel. This will be where we get to cook our own dinner under the guidance of one of the best local chefs.
Day 6 – Voskopoja- Germenj- Leskovik- Permet
Today we have a food lecture, food tasting, excursion, farm visit and a cooking experience. After breakfast drive through the country side to Germenj., First stop is at a fish farm where we get to taste how the locals like to eat their fish. We get to try cooking the fresh fish that the farmer grows along with a lot of local vegetables and spices. It is even better when everything is accompanied with homemade wine. We continue our journey to Permet. Dinner will be at Traditional Restaurant Antigonea in Permet. Overnight at Hotel Alvero
Day 7 – Permet- Gjirokastra
After breakfast, we start the day by visiting a very traditional family home in Permet, where we experience Albanian hospitality and try their famous Permeti Gliko and Raki. Next we head to Gjirokastra but on the way we stop for lunch in local restaurant called The Springs. After lunch we head to Gjirokaster, the 2nd UNESCO Site. Here we visit the castle and house of the former dictator Enver Hoxha. Here we also have the opportunity to do some horse riding. Dinner will be at the Gjirokastra restaurant where we will again get to cook the local receipt with a local chef. Also we will taste the traditional Albanian mountain tea and enjoy some local music after dinner. Overnight at Hotel Kalemi2.
Day 8 – Gjirokastra- Blue Eye- Saranda
After breakfast we take the road to Saranda. On the way we stop at the Blue Eye and have a walking tour at this charming water spring. We will have a picnic lunch while enjoying the mountain air, the blue wonderful water, and good food. After lunch we are off to visit Butrint National Park. In this park we’ll see the well preserved ruins of the ancient city of Butrint and its museum which is housed in a Venetian castle. This impressive National Park includes a very well preserved archaeological area, an least uncontaminated vegetation area in Mediterranean and has a lake that is connected to the Ionian Sea by a natural channel. The wetlands surrounding the lake offer shelter to different animals and aquatic species, many of which are in danger of extinction. After the visit in Butrint, we continue to the beautiful sea side village of Ksamil where we will have some free time to enjoy your surroundings. Later we continue to Saranda. Overnight in Hotel Brilant
Day 9 – Saranda- Himara
After an early start we travel to one of the most beautiful Albanian beach at Himara. Here we’ll eat lunch in a quaint home style restaurant where we can try the fresh fish and seafood. After lunch we have free time to wonder the streets looking in the shops, enjoying a cup of coffee or trying some delicious ice cream in the centre of Himara. We can select seafood that the fish market at the port of Himara and then cook what we bought for dinner under the expert eye of a local cook. The dinner will be at the hotel near the beach with wonderful views of the sea.
The monastery at Apolonia
Day 10 – Himara- Llogara- Vlora- Apolonia- Tirana
After breakfast we continue through the spectacular Albanian Riviera with its traditional villages. At the Llogara National Park we stop at a height of around 1,100 metres where we can enjoy spectacular views of the Ionian Sea. After lunch we depart for Vlora and a tour of VLORA. Afterwards we continue to the archaeological site of Apollonia. This was one of the most important centres in Roman times on the famous Via Egnatia. Due to its fame and importance it was known as Apollonia Prima – built to honour Apollo. Caesar chose to send his nephew Augustus Octavian to study oratory in Apollonia which is testimony to the importance of this ancient city. Our visit to the city will include an Orthodox monastery which has been turned into an archaeological museum. Afterwards we drive to Tirana where we overnight.
Tirana City Hall
Day 11- Tirana- Tirana International Airport.
After breakfast there will be some free until your scheduled transfer to the Airport.
The programme Includes:
10 Nights in good standard 4* boutique hotels on a Bed & Breakfast basis
Dinners in good local restaurants
Visits to wineries as per programme
Horse riding in Gjirokastar
All museum entry fees
The services of a professional English speaking guide
Transportation by modern TOURIST CLASS Vehicles.