This tour provides the opportunity to discover Albania and get a taste of the incredible beauty of Montenegro. Beginning in Albania, our visits include a number of the highlights of this country and its fascinating history, ancient and the more recent years of communist struggle, with four UNESCO sites visited as well as the beautifully scenic Albanian Riviera. In Montenegro we enjoy the stunning scenery of Kotor Bay visiting the old town, a wonderful ‘living museum’ of historic and picturesque streets. We also visit Budva, rich in historical monuments and home to yet another wonderful old town, which offers a treasure chest of cultural heritage. Other visits here include eye-catching Perast and historically glorious Cetinje, Montenegro’s ‘honorary’ capital.
Meet our guide at the airport and head to the hotel. After a short break we will visit the city and the first visit will be Scanderbej Square, the largest square in Europe. In the square we will visit, the Et’hem Bej mosque, the monument of our national hero Scanderbeg, Opera house, Clock tower. Then we will visit the Pyramid monument and Bunk Art museum, Government building, main boulevard, Mother Teresa Square. In Tirana you will experience a city with a rich history from Ottoman rule through the fall of communist to a modern European city. Take time to immerse yourself in this colorful city where the past meets the present while rapidly striving towards the future. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast we start our journey south through the Albanian countryside and visit the lovely Ardenica Monastery, a precious relic that dates to the 13th century, when religion was dominant in the country, and where the national hero, Skanderbeg, married in 1451. Then we drive for about 30 min to the ancient site of Apollonia. Apollonia is a classical site that dates to 588 BC, set amongst rolling hills with lovely views in all directions, it is a wonderful merge of history and nature. In the afternoon, we reach Vlora, where Albanians claimed independence from Ottomans in 1912 and visit the Museum of Independence and then we will visit the Zvernec Monastery. Overnight in Vlora.
After breakfast we will start a picturesque journey that takes us along the beautiful Albanian Riveria and high across the Llogara pass. We will have time to stop near the sea at Himare town before continuing to the well-preserved Ali Pasha castle at Porto Palermo. Then we drive to Saranda. Saranda is the unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera, and come the summer months it seems like half of Tirana relocates here to enjoy the busy beach and busier nightlife along its crowd-filled seaside promenade. The town’s beaches are special and Saranda is a great base for exploring the beaches of the riviera. Free afternoon is Saranda. Overnight in Saranda.
After breakfast we will drive to the wonderful classical site of Butrint, whose extensive remains lie hidden in woods. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been the site of a Greek colony, a Roman city and a bishopric. Following a period of prosperity under Byzantine administration, then a brief occupation by the Venetians, the city was abandoned in the late Middle Ages after marshes formed in the area. The present archaeological site is a repository of ruins representing each period in the city’s development. Then we will have a wonderful drive, with ever changing scenery and takes us over the hills to the UNESCO town of Gjirokastra, with an en-route stop at the famous ‘Blue Eye’, an exquisitely colorful pool and source of fresh water. Then we will drive to Gjirokastra. Gjirokastra is known as “The Stone City”, part of UNESCO World heritage and is situated in Southern Albania. In Gjirokastra we will visit the medieval bazaar and the Ottoman-style houses in the old part of the town, where you will see artisan women making handmade doilies, carving wood or silver and other guild shops in the narrow-cobbled stone streets of this suburb. We will visit the castle of Gjirokastra one of the most beautiful castle in Albania and then we will visit the Skenduli House. The house was built around the year 1700 and has many fascinating features. Overnight in Gjirokastra.
After breakfast we travel from one historic city to another, today we will drive to Berat. Berat, known as ‘The City of one thousand windows’ because of its remarkable collection of fine traditional ottoman style houses of great architectural importance that climb up the hillside, bears witness to the coexistence of various religious and cultural communities down the centuries. Berat, is one of the oldest cities and the pride of Albanian architecture. The three major neighborhoods of the old city are Mangalemi, Gorica, and the Kala where the castle itself is located. We will start our tour with the castle area. Visiting the ‘Castle’ involves a steep walk up a cobbled path, but those who make it to the top will be rewarded with a fine view of the surrounding area and then will visit the Museum of Iconography ‘Onufri’ which bears the name of the renowned fresco and icon-painter Onufri, who has left a rich inheritance. This museum is located within the cathedral of St. Mary’s Assumption. Then, we will also visit the Red Mosque, recognized by its lonely minaret and St. Trinity Church. Across the Osumi River lies the Gorica neighborhood, whose houses face those of Mangalemi. The arched bridge of Gorica, built in 1780, is a beautiful architectural monument constructed to link Gorica with Mangelemi. Overnight in Berat.
After breakfast we start our journey north to the city of Shkodra but first we will stop in Durres. Durrës was once – albeit briefly – Albania’s capital. It’s now virtually an extension of Tirana, joined to the capital by a ceaseless urban corridor full of hypermarkets and car dealerships. Blessed with a reasonable 10 km stretch of beach, Durrës is a pleasant – if rather built up – escape from Tirana and has a charmingly Mediterranean air once you get off the seafront, which can be very crowded, noisy and a bit tacky during the summer months. The town has a long and impressive history, and for international visitors, the main reason for coming to Durrës isn’t for the beaches but for the interesting Roman amphitheater and superb archaeological museum. Continue to Shkodra, the center of Roman Catholicism in Albania and a town with long historic roots. It is the only mentioned capital of the Illyrian Kingdom in the 3rd C.B.C. We will visit the Rozafa Castle, colorful pedestrian area with its Italian influences, Venetian Masks Factory and the catholic cathedral. Overnight in Shkodra.
After breakfast we cross into Montenegro, our first stop Ulcinj, a town where 90% of the inhabitants are Albanian, visiting the fortress and the Archaeological museum. Continuing to Budva, we pass through the pretty town of Petrovac, visiting the old town, and see the famous island of Sveti Stefan. Budva, rich in historical monuments and home to a wonderful old town, offers a treasure chest of cultural heritage. Overnight in Budva.
Our day begins with a visit to the ‘old town’ of Perast, a picturesque town overflowing with history. Perast is described by the Lonely Planet guide as ‘looking like a chunk of Venice that has floated down the Adriatic and anchored itself onto the bay’, a tiny town that boasts 16 churches and 17 Grand Palazzos. (Our Lady of the Rocks) is one of two gorgeous islands in the bay of Boka Kotorska, which are situated in the sea across Perast in the Kotor municipality. The other island, which also should be visited, is the Island Sveti Djordje. That island is also called “the island of the dead captains”, because according to a legend one French soldier, by shooting from cannon towards Perast, has hit a house of his beloved girl and killed her. That legend was a motive for the master piece “The Island of the Dead” by the Switzerland painter Beklin. In the recent period Njegusi are famous for the production of the famous cheese from Njegusi, smoked ham and dried goat cheese. In this mountain lodgment, at the 900 meter above sea level, the high-quality honey and the nice refreshing drink mead are produced. That is why the tourist groups always stop in this lodgment and taste the specialties from Njegusi. From this area a long time ago the tasteful Njegusi steak has become well known and it won numerous European restaurants. Our final visit is Cetinje, a cultural and historical Montenegro gem, where we will see the Royal Palace of King Nikola II and the Monastery of St. Petar. Free afternoon in Kotor. Overnight in Kotor.
After breakfast we return to Albania and we will visit Kruja, the center of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans, where the national hero, Skanderbeg, continuously defeated and resisted the Ottomans for 25 years. We will visit the castle, which has fantastic views, and the excellent Skanderbeg museum, Old bazaar, situated along the atmospheric cobble streets that lead to the castle. Overnight in Kruja.
After breakfast we will transfer to the Airport. End of our services.
Tour Itinerary: Albania & Montenegro Escorted Tour
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