Duration: 4 Days | 3 Nights
Dates: Suggested April - October
Countries to be visited: Albania
Departure & Return Locations: Tirana International Airport
Many of our European holiday suggestions can be combined, to visit multiple destinations.
Welcome to the land between crescent and cross! Only a few years ago Albania was a no man’s land for tourists. The fewer expectations you have when you come here, the more pleasant surprises await you here - like rich cultural heritage and exceptionally hospitable people.
DAY 1: Welcome to Tirana
You will be welcomed at the Airport by our guide and taken to the hotel. After check-in and a short refreshment break, we still have time for the first acquaintance with Tirana. Together we look behind the scenes of a city that hides many treasures. It’s hard to focus your attention, but we don’t want to miss something amazing. Though oversized buildings seem to predominate in the capital of Albania, there is enough space for wide boulevards and spacious parks. The largest and most important square in Tirana is named after Prince Skanderbeg – a national hero – who stopped the Ottomans’ forays on the Balkans in the 15th century. In the recent past, a dull and gloomy city Tirana surprises today with its liveliness. After the fall of Communism, the mayor was tired of the gray dreariness of the city and painted the buildings in bright colors. We also see the most important buildings of the capital such as the town hall and the national theater, as well as walk through the government district. We pay special attention to religious diversity in present-day Albania. We visit the Et’hem Bej Mosque and learn about Muslim traditions in the country. In the recently built and inaugurated first Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection of Jesus, we will learn about Christianity in Albania in the past and nowadays. In Tirana, relatively few historical buildings have been preserved, but seeing to the National Museum will give insight into the history of the country.
DAY 2: Ancient Durres
After breakfast, Durres awaits us, not only the largest port, but also one of the oldest settlements in the country. This is where the path called Via Egnatia (from Rome to Greece) began and lay through the flourishing country of Illyria on the territory of today’s Albania. We can see the rich past of Durres as once a strategic point in various places: remains of a Byzantine wall, a Venetian Tower, ancient Baths of Trajan and the largest amphitheatre in the Balkans - all these and some more were accidentally found only in the 1960s during construction works. It is especially worth seeing the ancient amphitheater, one of the few in the world that are still in use to this day. Performances are held here annually as a part of the Durres National Summer Film Festival. Under the theatre’s box one can unexpectedly come across a chapel adorned with unique frescoes and wall mosaics of Christian motifs. Most of the finds from later excavations are exhibited in the nearby archaeological museum. We visit both the ruins and the exhibition. After the city tour you have free time. The most pleasant pastime in a city on the seashore is probably a leisurely stroll on the beach - the sight of limitless water expanses, the sound of waves and screeching of gulls let you forget everyday worries and hectic city life. Breathe deeply the healing, salty sea air!
DAY 3: Kruja: the last bulwark against the Ottomans
Today we drive north, to a city that is almost sacred to many Albanians - Kruja. Located in the middle of an almost forgotten semi-desert mountainous area, on a steep mountain slope, it forms a kind of oasis, which is not surprising because the very name of the town translated from the Albanian language means “source”. Several times in history, the city was the last bastion in the battles against Ottomans, and Kruja is associated with the name of a national hero of Albania - Prince Skanderbeg. His life and deeds are especially celebrated in the partially restored Kruja Castle that now houses the Skanderbeg National Museum. After his death, however, Kruja fell under Ottoman rule for a long 400 years, which is reflected in the rather oriental-looking appearance of this old town. For us as guests this adds a certain appeal to the town, so we have a walk through the old Turkish market - ‘bazaar’. The bazaar in Kruja is one of the largest folk art markets in Albania. During the visit to the bazaar, not only can you buy handicrafts but also see craftsmen working - for example, rugmakers and weavers
DAY 4: Depature
On this day, our journey comes to an end. You will take home unforgettable memories as well as the feeling of having experienced something special. You have spent time very intensively and eventfully, but there’s still so much more things to explore and it would be no wonder if you would like to come here again. We are always glad to help you with planning your next trip!
As an alternative to the standard program on Day 3, you can choose one of the following for an extra cost. You can also extend the 4-Day trip by one or two days and include the options below for an additional cost.
Alternative Option 1: Tour to the ruins of Apollonia and Ardenica monastery (including transfer, guidance, entrance fees).
Not far from the village of Pojana you can still see the remains of an amphitheater, temples 24 and an acropolis. In ancient times, a port city flourished here due to brisk trade under Apollo’s patronage. For Aristotle, Apollonia was a prime example of oligarchy. Because of climate change, 6 the seashore became a swampy landscape, so Apollonia’s story illustrates that nothing on earth 8 really is eternal. The former Greek colony is now a historical monument. The finds can be seen a exhibits in the archaeological museum. We also visit Ardenica Monastery built on the remains of an ancient temple. Even the monastery complex’s buildings of the 15th century consist of those antique building blocks. The monastery’s courtyard is decorated with ancient Greek statues. Another interesting and unique building nearby is a small church with frescoes that is definitely worth a visit. Back in Tirana, you still have some time to explore.
Alternative Option 2: Tour to Shkodra (including transfer, guidance, entrance fees)
Safely and comfortably nestled in a water circle formed by Lake Skadar and the rivers Kir, Drina and Buna, the city of Shkodra gained strategic importance since its foundation and remained the center of political and cultural life for several centuries. During the reign of Illyrians, it was their main residence; in the Christianized Roman Empire - it developed into the 2 seat of the bishop, and in modern times - it became the birthplace of Albanian nation as a 4 result of the national movement “Rilindja”. It is here that the liberation of Albania from the communist oppression began. During a city tour, at every step we see traces of their glorious past. The 6 massive ruins of Illyrian Rozafa Castle are perched on a hill above the Buna River. From there 8 we enjoy a perfect view of the confluence of the Drina and Buna and the nearby national park. The mosque, picturesquely situated on a small pond, reminds one of Shkodra’s Muslim past. The blue pearl of Albania, Lake Skadar, the largest lake on the Balkans, is an undisputed landmark of the city - definitely worth a photo stop.
After returning to Tirana, you still have free time
• Price shown is for a person based on twin share accommodation (The price is based on 3* accommodation. 4* hotels can be organised if requested for an extra cost).
• All prices displayed are subject to availability and can be withdrawn or varied without notice.
• Prices are guaranteed once booking is confirmed by us and paid in full by the due date.
• Depending on your needs and group size (individual, couple, family, group, etc.) we will provide the final pricing for your tour.
• Accommodation for 3 nights with Breakfast (Twin Share)
• All transfers throughout the stay
• English speaking guide / English speaking city tours
• Tickets to attractions mentioned in the itinerary
• Transfer to and from the airport
• International airfare
• Travel Insurance
• Airport taxes and charges
• Any Private Expenses
• Meals not mentioned (Lunch & Dinner)
• Personal Incidentals such as Telephone calls, Room Service, Laundry
• Tip to Guide/Driver, Porterage Fee and others which are personal in nature
• Other services not mentioned in the itinerary
Please refer to our Standard Booking Conditions for booking terms and conditions.