This tour combines some of the lesser known countries in the Balkans; Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro, by trying to show the best each of these countries offers. Albania offers a mixture of cultural elements with 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and a rich archaeological legacy. Macedonia offers some of the most excellent religious relics, with Ohrid having the biggest Icon museum in the region as well as many beautiful churches. This theme is carried over into Kosovo the newest state in Europe, where we combine religious monuments with tasting of wine and local foods. The Tour will end up in Montenegro which has made a name for itself based on its wild natural beauty.
Meet at airport and transfer to the hotel in Tirana. After a short break in the hotel we will visit the city center of Tirana. Our tour might begin by visiting the key spots such as Skanderbeg Square where you will be able to see the Mosque of Et’hem Bey (built between 1798 and 1812) and the 35 m high, Clock Tower, built in 1822 with a San Marco style cupola. Next, we will visit the famous mosaic uncovered on the floor of an old Roman lodge. Its center configures the walls of the castle of the Roman emperor Justinian (A.D. 520). The monumental Tomb of Kapllan Pasha and the Ura e Tabakëve (a bridge constructed in the beginning of the 19th century, located on Bulevardi Zhan D’Ark) are also worth visiting. As a capital, Tirana has the country’s finest museums, theatres, and galleries representing the national arts. A visit to the National History Museum, the Archeological Museum, the Natural Science Museum, the private Mezuraj Museum, and the National Gallery of the Arts will leave wonderful memories. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast we depart for the archaeological site of Apollonia one of the most important ancient centers in Roman times on the famous Via Egnatia. Due to its fame and importance it was known as Apollonia Prima built to honor Apollo. Caesar chose to send his nephew Augustus Octavian to study oratory in Apollonia which is testimony to the importance of this ancient city. Visit the city and an Orthodox monastery turned into an archaeological museum. After the visits continue on to Vlora. Vlora is an old city founded in the sixth century B.C. originally known by the name Aulona. Vlora is situated in a beautiful location, in the front of the Karaburun peninsula and Sazan Island and surrounded by beaches and rocky sand. The city carries historical importance to Albania as it hosted the First National Assembly, which declared the country’s independence from Ottoman rule on November 28th, 1912. The Museum of Independence is dedicated to this historic event, then we will visit the Muradije Mosque, the only work remaining in Albania from the famous architect Sinan the Great, built in 1542. Overnight in Vlora.
After breakfast we depart to Saranda through the spectacular Albanian Riviera with its traditional villages. At the Llogara National Park we stop at around 1100 m where spectacular views of the Ionian Sea can be admired. Afterwards continue along the wonderful coast to the ancient city of Butrint another UNESCO World Heritage considered the best archaeological site in Albania and probably one of the most important in the Balkans. The city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries forming archaeological layers of passing civilizations, giving archaeologists the possibility to study continuity through time. It is situated on a beautiful peninsula among dense vegetation. The site has been occupied since at least the 8th century BC, although myths associated with its origins speak of the city’s foundation by Trojan exiles. Free afternoon in Saranda. Overnight in Saranda.
After breakfast we drive to Gjirokastra, a UNESCO site and museum town with beautiful and very distinctive architecture but first we will visit Saranda city. Saranda is characterized by a Mediterranean climate and warm sea waters. Saranda typically has over 300 sunny days a year. Due to its location and warm weather Saranda is one of the most attractive tourist towns on the Albanian Riviera, where honeymooners traditionally spend their holidays. Fronting the sea and along the main promenade there are some hotels and restaurants. Then we drive to Blue Eye, famous water spring, named after its extremely blue natural cold-water spring. We travel to Gjirokastra and we will isit 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 then we will visit Skenduli house and the Old Town. Overnight in Gjirokastra.
After breakfast depart for Berat, one of the most visited and characteristic towns in Albania under the protection of UNESCO as a patronage of humanity for its architectural uniqueness. 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 40 churches of which 7 still remain including St.Mary’s church turned into Onufri Museum. Onufri was a famous Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century who painted many orthodox churches in Albania and Greece, using a special red colour. Berat is also known for its close ties with religious practice as two of the oldest bibles in the world have been found here. One dates back from the 6th century AD and the other from the 9th century AD and are internationally renowned for their theological importance. We have a homemade lunch in one of the houses in the castle. Just below the castle we visit the Leaden Mosque, the King’s Mosque, the Bachelor’s Mosque and the Alveti Tekke completing a tour of this town’s religious tolerance. Overnight in Berat.
After breakfast depart for to the city of Ohrid. On the way we drive through rural villages with wonderful countryside landscapes. We stop at Elbasan for a visit at the castle. Afterwards proceed to Struga famous for its wall of water where the Black Drin River flows out of Lake Ohrid on its way to the Adriatic. After a short visit continue on to Ohrid where we take a familiarization tour of the town, proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage region for its cultural and natural legacy. Overnight in Ohrid.
After breakfast we will visit: Church “St. Sofia”, built between the 11th and 14th century, was the seat of the Archbishop. “St. Clement”, a classic Orthodox Byzantine church, dominating the Old Town, demonstrates the link between Byzantine and Italian Renaissance art. At “Plaoshnik”, in the 9 the century, St. Clement of Ohrid founded the first University of Europe and educated 3.500 students, St. John at Kaneo, stands alone on a small promontory which juts out into the Lake at the western end of the Old Town, and provides spectacular panoramic views of the Lake and surrounding mountains, Samuil fortress, etc. Other visits include: Saint Painteleimon Church, The Holy Virgin of Peribleptos Church, Icon Gallery, and old Bazaar. Overnight in Ohrid.
After the breakfast drive to Stobi one of the most important archaeological sites in Macedonia. Lying in a fertile valley just a few minutes off the central north-south highway that connects Macedonia with Greece, the ancient city of Stobi was a vital trade route in its days. Visit the excavation sites with beautiful remains such as a 2nd century amphitheater, the Theodosia palace and early Christian ruins with extensive and ornate mosaic floors. Afterwards depart for Skopje where we take a guided tour of the main sites. Visit the old Turkish bazaar, Mahmut Pasha Hammam, the memorial house of Mother Teresa, stone bridge and the Macedonia Plaza. Overnight in Skopje.
After breakfast we drive to Prishtina. Visit Gracanica Monastery which was constructed on the ruins of an older 13th century church of the Holy Virgin, which was built on the ruins of a 6th century early Christian basilica. Of the former monastic compound, only the church has survived. Then we will walk through Pristina, exploring its main attractions in the center and surroundings including: the Mother Teresa Boulevard, the Monument of Scanderbeg (Albanian National Hero), the clock tower, Kosovo Government building and the New Born monument which is becoming the symbol of this new state. Then we will visit the Ottoman period mosques of Pristina with probably the most beautiful, being the Fatih Mosque dating back to 1461 during the golden era of Sultan Mehmet II. Overnight in Prishtina.
After breakfast we drive to visit Prizren, a true open air museum, one of the most beautiful towns of Kosovo. It is situated on the slopes of the Sharr Mountains and on the banks of the river Bistrica. The craftsmen of Prizren are well known for their beautiful gold and silver articles and other folk handcrafts. From all the cities of Kosovo, Prizren has best preserved the architectural style of the past. Afterwards head towards to the Decani Monastery near it. This monastery complex is a wonderful example of the Orthodox religious architecture and art part of UNESCO World Heritage Site and a must for anyone visiting Kosovo. Then we will drive to Peja. The city lies in the northwestern part of Kosovo, at the foot of Bjeshkët e Nemuna (the Accursed Mountains) and Rugova Canyon. Once you pass through Rugova Canyon, you will notice its beauty and undiscovered treasures. Peja lies on the banks of the Lumbardh River springing from Bjeshkët e Nemuna for 63 km, after which it joins the longest river in Kosovo, the White Drini. The spring of Drini i Bardhë is also in Peja municipality, in the village Radavc, with attractive waterfalls. Overnight in Peja.
After breakfast a long drive through magnificent natural beauty of the North West Kosovo and Montenegro takes us to Kolašin which is Montenegro’s most famous ski resort. We will continue on another panoramic drive Cetinje a town of immense historical heritage, founded in the 15th century. It became the center of Montenegrin life and both a cradle of Montenegrin and an Eastern Orthodox religious center. Free afternoon in Budva. Overnight in Budva.
After breakfast we drive to Kotor and we will visit “The Old City of Kotor” a well preserved urbanization typical of the Middle Ages, built between the 12th and 14th century. Medieval architecture and numerous monuments of cultural heritage have made Kotor an UNESCO listed “World Natural and Historical Heritage Site” and then we drive back to Budva. The old town is Budva’s trademark. It is raised on the island, which used to be connected with the land by a sandy covering and so it grew into a peninsula. The Old Budva’s town is a unique architectural and urban entity which is mentioned as a lodgment even in the antique period. According to those sources, Budva is one of the oldest urban centers in the Adriatic – it is more than 2.500 years old and then we back. Overnight in Budva.
After breakfast drive to Shkodra. On the way stop for a photo at Sveti Stefan renowned for its celebrity residents from the music and movie industry. Afterwards proceed to Shkodra center of Roman Catholicism in Albania and a town with long historic roots, and the only mentioned capital of the Illyrian Kingdom. Visit the pedestrian area with Italian influences and the Castle thought to exist from Illyrian times. After, we will return to Tirana. Free afternoon in Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast transfer to Airport. End of our service.
Tour Itinerary: 4 Countries Tour (Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia)
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