General

Day 1 Transfer from airport to Lepusha

Meet and greet with our guide at the airport. Then drive to the North of Albania, with final destination Lepusha, an interesting alpine and hiking destination. The name Lepusha comes from the word Lepushta (Caltha palustris), a yellow flower growing in abundance in the area. Check in at a local guest house and free time in the afternoon to explore. (D)

Day 2 Hiking on maja e Vajushes, 2050 m and back to Lepusha

Start the 2nd day by hiking at maja e Vajushes (Vajusha peak) at 2050m. Get in touch with nature and enjoy the alpine landscape. Picnic in a meadow with fresh products. Back to Lepusha and overnight at a local guesthouse.(B,D)

Day 3

Version a) Hiking from Lepusha to Theth that will need 10-12 h,  1000 m going up 1600 m going down (B,D)

Version b) Transfer by car from Lepushe to Theth (B,D)

Day 4 The surroundings of Theth

Explore Theth and its natural attractions. To not miss are  the Blye Eye of Theth; the waterfall of Thethi in Grunas, a natural monument under state protection fed by snow water;  different caves etc.  Traditional dinner with local delicacies. Overnight in Theth. (B,D)

Day 5 Crossing from Theth To Valbona

After breakfast, begin the tour in the Valbona Pass. Visit the Cave of the Wind, Zhapore trail and beautiful alcoves. Discover the Valbona Valley, its hidden attractions and pristine panoramas by foot. For a glimpse of daily life, will stay overnight in a guesthouse of a local family and have a traditional dinner. Overnight at local guest house in Valbona. (B,D)

Day 6 Hiking on maja e Rosit, 2525 m, 9-10 h, up and down  1600m

Start the day by hiking with final destination maja e Rosit (Rosi peak) at 2525m. The itinerary will take approximately 9-10 hours, so lunch will be picnic style. On top, the view is breathtaking and looks upon the Valbona Valley. Make sure to bring your camera! (B,D)

Day 7 Valbona-Koman-Lunch at Mrizi and Kruja

Leave Valbona early in the morning and transfer to Koman. Take the ferry for a 2 hour trip in the lake of Koman, enjoying the beautiful scenery of the area and sailing over crystal blue waters. Final destination is Kruja, but stop for an albanian original lunch at Mrizi i Zanave, an organic traditional restaurant. Transfer to Kruja and visit the citadel, the Castle, the Skanderbeg Museum, the National Ethnographic Museum and shop for antiquities at the Old Bazaar. (B,D)

Day 8 Kruje-Elbasan-Lin-Pogradec

After breakfast, back on the road. On the way to Pogradec, stop to Elbasan, in antiquity known as Skampa. Visit the Castle, the Royal Mosque, . Depart for Lin, a small picturesque village at the shore of Lake Ohrid. In the afternoon, visit the Basilica of Lin, dating from the 6th Century. Transfer to Pogradec, overnight there. (B,D)

Day 9 Pogradec-Prespa Lake-Korce

Enjoy the lakeside city of Pogradec, inhabited since 6000-2000 BCE from Illyrian Tribes.  Visit the Castle of Pogradec and the main boulevard by the lake.  The recommended dish for lunch is korani (a type of trout that lives in  lake Ohrid). On the way to Korce, stop by at at Prespa Lake, noted for its diverse wildlife. Move to Korce, Overnight there. (B,D)

Day 10 Korce – Leskovik – Langarice- Gjirokaster

Move to Korce, home of the 1st albanian school, “Mësonjëtorja e Parë” Visit the museum, the Orthodox Cathedral, the National Museum of Medieval Arts and the residence and gallery of the painter Vangjush Mio. Korca is the hometown of the famous photographer, Gjon Milli. Depart to Leskovik , a town known since the early 1800s. Edith Durham describet it as ““Leskovik is a quiet small place, solid and stony, built much like a North Wales village, but clean and tidy, the population mostly Bektashite Moslems. Some of the Christian women had a small cross tattooed between their eyebrows. There is small church, and a Greek school…” . After, move to Langarica and visit the famous Kanionet e Langarices (Canyons of Langarica). Transfer to Gjirokaster and overnight there. (B,D)

Day 11 Gjirokaster – Butrint- Sarande

Gjirokaster is known as “the city of stone” due to it’s noted architecture. Apart from being a UNESCO World Heritage site, is home of the famous writer Ismail Kadare and the former communist dictator, Enver Hoxha. Walk through the Bazaar, visit the Castle and the Ethnographic Museum, the National Museum of Armaments, the Prison etc. Leave Gjirokaster and back on the Road to Butrint. Stop on the at Blue Eye (Syri i Kalter), a natural spring that goes 45 meters deep,crystal blue and green water. Afterwards, move to Butrint, another UNESCO World Heritage site, probably the most important in Albania, which offers a microcosms of Mediterranean history. Depart to Saranda, overnight there. (B,D)

Day 12 Sarande – Dhermi

Explore Saranda’s touristic attractions: the Mirrors beach and Lekursi castle. Move to Dhermi and have lunch there. Explore the beaches and the vivid night life. Stay overnight in Dhermi. (B,D)

Day 13 Dhermi-Grama- Palas- Llogora

Dhermi is famous for the crystal blue beaches along its distance. Visit the Pirate’s Cave and head to Grama’s Bay, an isolated beach at the shore of the Ioanian Sea. Move from there to Palas and off to Llogara,  where the National Park of Llogara it’s the main attraction. Due to strong air currents, the trees are bend in interesting shapes. Overnight in Llogara. (B,D)

Day 14 Maja e Qorres,2018m and then to Apollonia- Berat

Maja e Qorres (Qorra peak) is located in the Llogara National Park. The peak itself reaches 2018m, so the hike will take approximately 3 hours. The view over the Ionanian coast is woth the trip! The next destination is Apollonia, an important archaeological site of Albania, founded in 588 BCE from greek colonists. Visit the ancient Odeon, Agora, Monument of Agonothetes. Depart for Berat and overnight there. (B,D)

Day 15 Berat-Tirana

After breakfast, visit Berat’s Fortress and prepare to be amazed by the view over the city and the fact that it is inhabited even nowadays;  National Ethnographic Museum that has in display different ethnographic elements of the ottoman-era; National Iconographic Museum Onufri, to explore the world of the famous albanian iconographer and what makes him unique and finally, the quarter of Gorica. Have a traditional lunch at a local restaurant. Transfer to Tirana and overnight there. (B,D)

Day 16 Airport

After breakfast, free time to explore the city and its main sites, including: Et’hem Bey Mosque, National Historical Museum, Clock Tower, National Gallery of Arts etc. Transfer to the airport. Mirupafshim! (B)

 

Price includes:

• 15 nights accommodation in good standard hotels with breakfast
• Meals as specified (B = breakfast, L= lunch, D= Dinner)
• Entrance fees and sightseeing with English speaking guides
• Ferry boat ticket from Fierza to Koman

Price does not include:

• Lunches
• Dinners where are not mentioned
• Insurance

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Available departures

This tour is available upon request. It can be booked up to 24 hours before departure.

Berat

Berat

This 2,413 years-old city of Berat, the pride of Albanian architecture which is under the protection of UNESCO, is located 120 km from Tirana. The city forms a wonderful combination of eastern and western cultures, costumes, traditions and outlook. Berat is a treasure-trove of Albanian history, culture and a testament to the country’s tradition of religious harmony.

The city’s life began in the VI – V century B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the III century B.C., it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea. The castle expanded east wards, particularly during the feudal dominion of the feudalMuzakaj family. Inside the castle, they built churches with precious frescos and icons and also a calligraphy school of calligraphy. Today, the castle is made unique by the fact that people continue to live inside of it.The three major neighborhoods of the old city are Mangalemi, Gorica, and Kala, where the castle itself is located. In Mangalemi, below the castle, you can see the famous view of the facades of the houses, with windows that seem to stand above each other. In general, a traditional house has two floors, where the second is prominent and has many cambered windows and wood carvings. With its houses built along the steep hill, the view of Mangalemi is the reason that another name for Berati is “City of the Floating Windows.”

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.

The ensemble of the Byzantine churches in the castle of Berati is extraordinary. At the foot of the castle, there is the Byzantine Church of Shën Mëhilli( Saint Michael) , while the 13th century Church of Shën Maria e Vllahernës ( Saint Mary of  Blachernaebuil in XIII century), the Church of Shën Triadha (The Holy Trinity)  and the post-Byzantine monumental Cathedral of Shën Maria (Saint Mary) are located within the castle.

The Cathedral of Shën Mëria houses a museum of works by the famous iconographers of the 16th century: Onufri and his son Nikolla. There are over 100 icons on display and they also include works of other artists such as Joan Çetiri, Onufër Qiprioti and many anonymous painters.

You also can visit the Monastery of Shën Spiridhoni in Gorica. In 1417, the Ottomans occupied Berati and this conquest left its mark with the building of monuments to the Islamic faith such as the Xhamia e Kuqe( The Red Mosque) inside the castle, the Xhamia e Plumbit (1555), ( The Lead Mosque) ,Xhamia Mbret ( built in 1481 ) ( The King Mosque), and the Xhamia e Beqarëve (1872). Other sites worth visiting are the Ethnographic Museum, situated inside an 18th century çardak building, and the Gallery of Arts “Edward Lear,” a well known English painter who painted so much of Berati and Albania. In addition, Berati is known for its culinary and traditional dishes. It is worth tasting specialties such as ” Pula me përshesh” and “Çorba e Tomorrit” in the local restaurants.

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Korça

Korça

Korca is the largest city of the southeastern Albania. Considered as “Le Petite Paris”, the city is largely known for the aristocracy, architecture, civilization.

Old neighborhoods of Korca are located in the eastern part of the city, behind the Cathedral “Ringjallja e Krishtit” (“Resurrection of Christ”). They have the same urban planning of the Balkan medieval centres with narrow winding alleys and low buildings.

The first Albanian language school, originally for boys only, opened in 1887 and today it houses the National Education Museum. A separate school for females was opened in 1891. A French Lyceum opened in Korca in 1917 following independence.

Korça patriots were well organized from 1906 – 1912, and took part actively in the movement to liberate the country from Ottoman occupation. One of the most famous Albanian sculptors, Odhise Paskal, immortalized the freedom movement with the monument “National Hero” depicting men descending from the mountains to liberate the city. Korca enjoyed a heightened period of prosperity in the interwar period when many of its characteristic cultural institutions, mansions and boulevards were built.

Nearby is the picturesque village of Moscopole (Voskopoja), an important historical and touristic site. It is located 21 Km from Korca, in an altitude of 1160 m in the mountains of south-east Albania and is known for its civilization since 1330. The village is widely known for the medieval churches and byzantine frescoes.The churches in the region are among the most representative of 18th century ecclesiastical art in the Balkans. The architectural design is in general specific and identical: a large three-aisled basilica with a gable roof. The churches are single-apsed, with a wide altar apse and internal niches that serve as prothesis and diaconicon. Most churches also have one niche, each on the northern and southern walls, next to the prothesis and the diakonicon. Along the southern side there is an arched porch. Typical architecture of Orthodox religious monuments.

Moscopole widely developed the mountain tourism. There is a combination of mild valley climate in the lower parts and true Alpine climate in the higher regions. Favorable climate conditions make this center ideal for winter, summer, sport, recreation tourism. Moscopole is known, among other things, for the rich cuisine, culture which offers a variety of organic food for tourists.

In August, the biggest beer festival takes place in Korca, gathering more than 100.000 people to enjoy beer and music.

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Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra

Located in southern Albania, Gjirokastra perches on the steep side of the Drino valley overlooking a historic landscape framed by snow-capped mountains.  This ‘city of a thousand steps’ comprises hundreds of Ottoman-style tower houses with charestone roofs, wooden balconies and whitewashed stone walls.  Dominated by the sheer flanks of its vast castle, Gjirokastra is a magical city with a tumultuous past.

The city of stone is an important UNESCO heritage site of Albania, as “a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate.” Known as Argyrocastro, as part of the Byzantine Empire, later fell into the ruling of the Ottoman Empire for five centuries.

Gjirokastra preserves intact its urban scheme. It consists of several neighborhoods built on rough terrain, which surround the castle. Each building in the city has special features associated with the terrain on which they are built. By categories, are distinguished the castle, the bazaar, religious buildings and residential homes.
The castle, which is the core of the city, had military functions and control all of the Drina valley. It was built in the 13th century, from 1811 to 1812 and further expanded by Ali Pasha when he built some roads and developed a water system for the time. It used to supply with drinking water from a natural source.
The castle has three main gates and is kept in good conditions.

The Bazaar, located in the city center, on the side of the castle, preserves the best features of a traditional bazaar with consecutive buildings and paved with black stones. It was originally built in the northeastern side of the castle. A bonfire of the 17th century destroyed it completely,  but was later reconstructed. Solid constructions made in stone are located in the form of parallel arrays, a pattern commonly found in the entire Balkans region.

Houses of Gjirokastra show a special typology of Albania and Balkan of the late Middle Ages. They have played an important role in the physiognomy of the city. These houses witness the evolution of the city from the time they were built. Special protection features resemble to “Kulla” (Tower) and some examples and variants are found. In the first floor the family resides during the cold season. The second floor is inhabited during the warmer months of the year.

In order to adapt to the rocky terrain, Gjirokastra’s houses expand in volume from one floor to another, which creates an uneven structure between floors. The walls are decorated with floral ornaments and decorations (flowers, weapons, etc.). These houses are distinguished mainly for the perfect connection to the land on which they are built, the functional differentiation between floors, highlighting their defensive characteristics and functional settings. These contructions have stone roof tiles, in perfect harmony with the rocky landscape of the territory where they rise.

Gjirokastra is the birth town of the former communist dictator, Enver Hoxha and several times Nobel-candidate, the writer, Ismail Kadare. The latter has written many books, novels and short stories about the city, capturing the magical feeling of it.

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Valbona

Valbona

Valbona refers to the river holding the same name, as well as a small village in the Valley of Valbona. It is located 25 Km from the city of Bajram Curri, in the north of Albania, near the border with Kosovo.

Valbona’s Valley is part of the Albanian Alps, also known as the Accursed Mountains (Bjeshkët e Namuna). Don’t let the name fool you: it’s rather the contrary. The area is blessed with scenic landscapes and pure nature, which makes it unforgettable. Combined with the hospitality of the area, Valbona is definitely a must-see destination in Albania!

Due to it’s geographical location, it’s one of the few areas in Albania hardly conquered or subdued during tumultuous times of war in the country and the region. “Malësorë”  or highlanders are the inhabitants of the area and are well known for their proud and fierce personality. Considering this, customs and old traditions are preserved through generations.

The road to Valbona goes through Lake Komani, via ferry. The trip lasts about 2 hours, but it is well spent, considering the magnificent area’s scenery. Lime gorges are reflected in the lake, creating a rather dramatic effect on the passengers of the ferry.

“Hane” are inns of Northern Albania. Holding a typical alpine architecture, nowadays, they’re the primary source of tourism in the region. These “hane” are mostly small family businesses, self-sustainable, using all resources of the area to create the business climate. It’s not uncommon to find a family run business, where the man of the house is the owner, whereas the wife runs the kitchen and takes care of the accommodation of the guests.

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