Albania is a small mountainous Balkan country of dramatic natural beauty dating back to pre-Illyrian times.
Day 1: Dubrovnik Airport - Dubrovnik (21 km)
At Dubrovnik airport you will be met by our driver and guide and transferred to the city and your hotel. In the late afternoon take a guided walk through Dubrovnik Old City, a UNESCO site. Overnight in Dubrovnik.
Day 2: Dubrovnik – Budva - Kruja – Tirana (300 km)
After breakfast proceed to Albania through Montenegro. A quick stop in Budva for a visit at the Old Town by the sea. Continue on into Albania and to Kruja - the center of Albanian resistance against the Turks under Scanderbeg, the Albanian National Hero. He kept them from crossing into Western Europe for 25 years, thus earning the title “Champion of Christ” given by the Pope of the time. We visit the Scanderbeg Museum, a very rich Ethnographic Museum and the Old Bazaar where crafts are still made. Lunchtime in Kruja. After the visits, proceed to Tirana where we visit the National History Museum which offers a great introduction of Albania and its people. We will take a driven tour of this Mediterranean capital. Overnight in Tirana.
Day 3: Tirana – Ardenica – Apollonia – Vlora (165 km)
Depart to Vlora where Albanian Independence was proclaimed. 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. In fact it is said that Scanderbeg was married at the small chapel of Ardenica. 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. Due to its fame and importance it was known as Apollonia Prima out of 16 ancient cities built to honor Apollo. Caesar chose to send his nephew Augustus Octavian to study oratory in Apollonia revealing the importance of this ancient city. 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 and evening at leisure. Overnight in Vlora.
Day 4: Vlora – Butrint (UNESCO) – Saranda (160 km)
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 continue on to Saranda, make a short stop at the fortress of Ali Pasha a fortification used to control the sea trade routes. Then we continue past 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 civilizations. 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 5: Saranda – Gjirokastra (UNESCO) – Berat (UNESCO) (230 km)
After early breakfast we drive to Berat. On our way lays Gjirokastra, a UNESCO site and museum town with beautiful and very distinctive 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 suggest stopping for lunch close to Tepelena at a traditional restaurant (optional) among beautiful scenery. We check in at a characteristic hotel in Berat and you are left at leisure to explore this architecturally beautiful town, another UNESCO site of Albania. Overnight in Berat is a unique experience staying in houses up to 300 years old turned hotels.
Day 6: Berat (UNESCO) – Shkoder (200 km)
After breakfast 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 40 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. Afterwards precede to Shkodra the most important town of north Albania and the Illyrian capital, in the 3rd century BC. Visit Rozafa Castle from where spectacular views all around can be admired. Experience the supremacy the Illyrians would have feel over their enemies standing in such an imposing castle. 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. Check in at the hotel and then you are free to take a walk in the newly renovated pedestrian area of Italian and Austrian architecture, testimony to this town historic links with both these countries. Overnight in Shkodra.
Day 7: Shkoder – Kotor, Montenegro (UNESCO) – Dubrovnik (200 km)
After breakfast drive to drive to the Old City of Kotor in Montenegro, a UNESCO site built between the 12th and 14th century in the wonderful bay with the same name. Throughout the centuries, many empires battled for control of the city leaving their mark through a variety of buildings. The largest and most impressive of these is the St Tryphon Cathedral. After the visits we proceed to Dubrovnik where you are free to explore more of this gem of the Adriatik.
Day 8: Dubrovnik - Dubrovnik Airport (21 km)
After breakfast, free to explore until time of transfer to Airport. End of our services. (21 km)
Includes: Accommodation in good 3* 4* standard hotels with breakfast.
Transportation with comfortable a/c vehicle.
English (French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Chinese etc), speaking tour guide/driver.
All entrance fees.
All other meals apart from breakfast.
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