Albania, Macedonia & Kosovo
A tour of the three lesser-known countries in the Balkans; Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo designed to explore the
highlights of each country in the shortest possible time.
Meet at airport and transfer to Tirana for a visit at the National Museum of History which is a great introduction to the history of the country and its people.
A walking tour of the major sites of the capital will help you understand its history past and more recent.
After breakfast we depart for the archaeological site of Apollonia one of the most important ancient centres in Roman times on the famous Via Egnatia. 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 where a quick visit at Independence Museum before continuing to Llogora a beautiful mountainous area where we overnight.
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 metres 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 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. After a thorough visit of the site drive to Gjirokastra a museum town under the protection of UNESCO as a World Heritage Site with beautiful and very distinct stone architecture. Overnight in Gjirokastra.
This morning we visit the bazaar, the Ethnographic Museum, which is also the house the Albanian dictator was born in and a 300 yar old traditional house showcasing the mastery of Gjirokastra builders as well as revealing the way of life in extensive families. Afterwards depart for Berat, one of the most visited and characteristic towns in Albania under the protection of UNESCO for its architectural uniqueness. We visit the fortress and the Onufri Museum. Berat fortress is of particular interest as people still live within its walls in their traditional houses, as have their ancestors for centuries. The St.Mary’s church within th fortress has been 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 (codexes) 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. Lunch at a family restaurant (optional). Just below the fortress we visit the King's Mosque, the Bachelor's Mosque and the Alveti Tekke completing the picture of this town’s religious tolerance, examples of which are all over Albania. Overnight in Berat in the old district of Mangalem in beautiful old houses turned hotels.
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 quick visit at the castle. Afterwards proceed to Ohrid proclaimed UNESCO World Heritage region for its cultural and natural legacy. Visits include: Saint Sophia, Saint Painteleimon Church, The Holy Virgin of Peribleptos Church, Icon Gallery, and old Bazaar. Overnight in Ohrid.
After 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 amphitheatre, 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.
Morning we drive onwards to Prishtina where before entering stop at the 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. Take a walking tour of Pristina before driving to Prizren. On the way stop at the notorious 1389 Kosovo Battlefield which has sparked so much controversy, leading to the 1999 Kosovo conflict. Dive to Prizren a beautiful traditional town close to the Albanian boarder. 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. Overnight in Prizren.
After breakfast drive to Decan Monastery a beautiful example of Orthodox religious architecture and art part of UNESCO World Heritage Monuments of Kosovo and a must for anyone visiting Kosovo. After this visit return to Prizren, where we take a walking tour to explore its architecture history and people. Visit the sinan Pasha Mosque, the House of League of Prizren which sparked a pivotal moment in Albanian history. Overnight in Prizren.
Morning drive to Kruja the centre of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans under our national hero Scanderbeg who defeated them in 22 battles including one of the most warriors like sultans Mehmet the Conqueror and resisted the Ottoman invasion for 25 years. We visit the fortress with two great Museums and the Old Ottoman style bazaar. Return to capital Tirana where free to explore on your own this final evening. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast free to explore until time of transfer to the airport for the flight back, where we say Good Bye.
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