Albania is a fascinating country for many reasons but one that you may not have considered is its cuisine. A fantastic mixture of eastern and western dishes, Albania is a foodie’s delight, whether you’re visiting a luxury restaurant or a mountain family’s dining room. Add into this mix a hugely eventful and interesting history and you have yourself a holiday that combines all the most interesting cultural locations with some of the very best culinary experiences. All the while you will learn about blood feuds, the sworn virgins of the mountains, life under Enver Hoxha, one of the most crazed of all European dictators, and much, much more besides.
Itinerary and prices for Culture and Food Travel in Albania:
Arrival and welcome at Tirana Airport. A short transfer takes you to your hotel. Free afternon in Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast we will drive to the beautiful Theth National Park but before we will stop in Lezha city. The city of Lezha is located 47 km south of Shkodra. It is one of Albania’s ancient cities, and in the historical documents it is mostly referred by the name Lissus. In 1398, after the construction of its castle, the city was under direct control of the feudal family of Lekë Dukagjini, but was eventually conquered by Venice. One of the most important historical events for Lezha, and indeed for all of Albania, was the famed “the League of Lezha” on March 2nd, 1444, where under the leadership of national hero Skanderbeg, the Albanian princedoms united against the Ottomans. The Memorial Grave of Skanderbeg is here, at the ex-Cathedral of Shën Kolli, where he was buried in 1468. Theth we will drive to Theth and visit Blue Eye water spring, the famous “lock-in” tower, these are just some of the options in this remote and staggeringly picturesque location. The food menu in Theth is meat, accompanied by seasonal vegetables, all organic. Ovenight in Theth.
After breakfast we will drive back Shkodra but first we will visit and we will eat lunch to the small village of Fishta, nearby Lezha to visit the famous foodie’s delight of Mrizi i Zanave, an outstanding organic restaurant. Local delicacies of 100% organic provenance are married to lovely local wines and served with an artistic flourish that really has to be experienced to be believed. Then we drive to Shkodra. Shkodra is one of the oldest and most glorious urban centers in the Western Balkans, as well as the main city of northern Albania. It has more than 130,000 inhabitants and is today an important commercial and industrial center. A city of great charm and deep cultural roots, so much to be considered the cradle of Albanian culture, Shkodra has seen a particularly tumultuous and troubled history, due to its highly strategic value and its position in the border between areas of different political and religious influence. Passed several times under Roman, Slavic, Venetian and Ottoman domination, the city preserves traces of Islamic and Catholic architecture, Italian and Turkish. The Tradita’s restaurant is justly as famous as their rooms, a large fire dominating the balconied mezzanine above you, where a wealth of local delicacies will be prepared for you to savour for our dinner. Overnight in Shkodra.
After breakfast we drive to Berat. The UNESCO Heritage site of Berat, the town of a thousand windows is stunning hillside village on the steps of the Tomorr mountains and a place of great beauty and tranquility. There will be time between more delicious meals and to visit the Church of the Holy Trinity, a gorgeous 13th century Byzantine church in the ancient citadel of Berat at the top of the hill and explore the town by foot. When it comes to food, it is time to come back to Gorica and reach the famous restaurant Antigoni. It is one of the most known places in town and serves excellent traditional Albanian food, such as byrek, eggplants cooked with onions and tomatoes, yogurt sauce and baklava, the sweetest cake of the Balkan’s. Antigoni is the best option for your dinner, not just because of its typical menu but also because offers breathtaking views over the old houses of Mangalem. Overnight in Berat.
After breakfast, we head back north to Albania’s capital, Tirana. This vibrant city has plenty for both the roving gourmet and the cultural traveler to enjoy. Your guide will take you to all the most interesting cultural sites, including Et’Hem Bey mosque, the National Art Gallery, the Pyramid and the bustling, vibrant Blloku district. You will of course also get to taste some more outstanding Albanian cuisine, such as the charming and authentic restaurant, where you eat on low tables as if in a distant relative’s own house. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast we drive to Kruja. Historically one of the most important cities in Albania, best known as hometown of Albanian’s International Hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg, who in 15th century protected Western Europe from Ottoman Empire invasion for 25 years by not letting it pass through Albania. Visit to the Castle, Skanderbeg Museum and Ethnographic Museum. After the visit of the castle, free time for you to explore Kruja’s old bazaar with hand crafted souvenirs made by local artists. Lunch in Kruja. About 40-minute drive on to Durres city, the largest city port with the longest beach in Albania. Durres city lies on the Adriatic coast and is the main commercial port of Albania. Durres, Albania’s second-largest city is one of the oldest towns in the country. Legend says that it was founded by Epidamnos, the Illyrian King of the area, who called it by his own name and named the port area after his grandson, Dyrrah. It was for centuries the largest port on the Adriatic and the start of the Via Egnatia to Constantinople/Istanbul. We’ll visit the Roman amphitheater (20,000 seat capacity the largest one in the Balkans) and the Archaeological Museum, situated near the sea and rich in objects excavated in Durres. We also visit the Roman Baths in the central square. Following, we’ll visit the Palace of the former King Zog. In Durres for dinner, we will enjoy the fresh fish. Overnight in Durres.
Following breakfast, on request we transfer back to Tirana airport. End of our services.
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