This itinerary includes visits to the most important heritage locations of Albania. It introduces you to the Greek&Roman ruins, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Ottoman Heritage, Communist legacy and Albanian way of life in the modern days. Accommodation will take place at boutique hotels at very best locations, excellently reviewed and friendly staff. We will organize dinners with folkloric music, authentic of the towns you will visit (Serenades in Korca, Saze in Permet and Iso-Polyphony in Gjirokaster).
We have tried to avoid long drive hours during the days and have short brakes at beautiful landscape spots to enjoy the view.
- Accommodation in boutique hotels, very well located and excellent reviewed.
- Breakfasts, welcome and farewell dinner.
- Fun and knowledgeable English speaking driver/guide during the trip.
- All transport by comfortable A/C vehicle. Fuel included.
- All visited attractions in entry fees.
- Local taxes and fees.
Welcome dinner at the Albanian capital, Tirana
• Meet our guide at the airport and transfer to Tirana. Accommodate at a boutique hotel at central Tirana.
• Visit of Bunk’art, House of Leaves and walking tour of Skanderbeg Square and main boulevard.
• Overnight in Tirana.
Bunk’art is a museum built in an anti-atomic bunker of the communist era. Tirana’s underground is a labyrinth of tunnels designed by the paranoid dictator to escape in case of war!
House of Leaves is another museum of communist legacy. During 45’-90’ it served as ‘Sigurimi’ headquarters(secret police). Everyone was surveyed especially the tourists. The technology used was often donated by the Chinese, Soviets or East Germans.
A journey to the countryside
• Start from Tirana at 9 am, transfer to Elbasan (approx. 30min)
• Visit of Elbasan Metallurgy Industrial Park
• Lunch at Pogradec, by the Ohrid Lake (90 km, 1.5h drive)
• Transfer to Korca(50min drive) check-in at the hotel
• Visit of ‘Gjon Mili Photography Museum
• Dinner at live music traditional restaurant
Elbasan Metallurgy Industrial Park was once the biggest industrial park in the country during the communist era. Now mostly abandoned it is a ghost town that attracts the most curious visitors and photographers.
Gjon Mili Museum of Photography is the newest museum in Korca. Gjon, an Albanian origin photographer moved to the USA and devoted his life to photography and lighting. The museum shows a collection of 240 works. It’s a must-visit when in Korca.
Off the beaten path to Vjosa Valley
• Start from Korce at 9 am
• Coffee break at Farma Sotira(an agricultural farm in the middle of the forest) (approx. 2h drive)
• Scenic drive and beautiful landscapes break along Vjosa river transferring to Permet (approx. 2h drive)
• You can enjoy your time at Benja natural thermal water baths before lunch in a traditional restaurant nearby
• Dinner at a local restaurant with traditional folkloric live music organized for you.
Today’s drive is the longest drive. It goes through a scenic road connecting Korca and Permet. The region is almost abandoned after 90’ with villages only a few still live. This drive is becoming popular for visitors because of its beautiful landscape, peaceful nature and the sense of adventure.
Permet is a small town by the Vjosa River. Its friendly people mostly work on agriculture and farming. Some say that they produce the best raki in Albania. Permet is also known for its authentic folkloric music.
Amazing Ottoman Architecture - UNESCO World Heritage
• Transfer to Gjirokaster, check-in at the hotel (approx. 1 h drive)
• Visit Gjirokaster Fortress, Skendulate House
• Lunch at a traditional restaurant in the historic part of the city
• Visit Old Bazaar in the afternoon and taste a beer in one of the characteristic bars of Old Bazaar
• Try stone or wood carving with a local artisan and take the artwork as a beautiful memory with you
• Dinner at a traditional restaurant with a group of iso-polyphony performance.
Gjirokaster Fortress is built in the 12th century over the old town of Gjirokaster. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, described as “a rare example of a well-preserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of the large estate”. It contains a military museum featuring captured artillery and memorabilia of the Communist resistance against German occupation, as well as a captured United States Air Force plane to commemorate the Communist regime’s struggle against the imperialist western powers. You can see all the city and Drino Valley from there.
Skendulate House is one of the biggest houses built in the Ottoman period by a very wealthy family in 1700. Its architecture and traditional style with ceiling decorations and wooden carvings are very impressive and a must-see for all the visitors.
4x4 off-road adventure
• Start the off-road tour from Gjirokaster to Labove e Kryqit
• Visit the Dormition of Theotokos Church
• Drive to Zagori Valley, visit the villages passing by.
• Drive to Cajup Mountain. Lunch at shepherd hut. Try local products cooked by the shepherds living in the mountain.
• Overnight in Gjirokaster
Dormition of Theotokos Church built during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Justinian in the 6th century, locals call it “Labove of the Cross” because it is believed that one part of the cross of the church was a gift from the genuine where Jesus was crucified. It’s worth a visit if you want to learn more about the orthodox heritage of Albania.
Archaeological Site in Albania
• Leave Gjirokaster by 9 am and drive to Sarande. Visit Blue Eye natural spring on the route. (approx. 50 min drive)
• Visit Butrint Archaeological Park.
• Lunch by the sea at Ksamil beach. (we can organize a mussel tour at the mussel farm by the Butrint Lake upon your request)
• Drive to Himare, visit Porto Palermo castle on the route. (approx. 1.5 drive)
• Overnight in Himare at a seaside hotel.
Blue Eye is a natural spring water located between Gjirokaster and Sarande. Its natural beauty with clear blue waters bubbling from a depth of 50 m, surrounded by plants and trees makes it a beautiful attraction for hundreds of tourists every year.
Butrint was an ancient Greek and later Roman city. The city is considered as one of the most important archaeological sites in Albania. On the strength of the immense wealth of cultural, historical and natural value with a considerable history, Butrint is declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992 and further a National Park in 2000.
Porto Palermo Castle is a castle near Himare. It is situated in the beautiful bay of Porto Palermo, a few kilometers south of Himarë along the Albanian Riviera. Huffington Post ranked Porto Palermo first among 15 Undiscovered European Destinations for 2016. The castle with particular triangular architecture was dedicated to Vasiliqi, the one and only beloved wife of Ali Pashe Tepelena and used as a holiday resort.
Landscapes, History and Wine
• Leave Himara at 9:00 and drive to Llogara National Park
• Continue to Berat (3.5h drive in total)
• Visit Berat Castle and the Onufri Museum of Iconography
• Lunch in a traditional restaurant
• “Alpeta” winery at Roshnik village, taste the local wine.
• Overnight in a traditional hotel in the historical part of the city
Llogara National Park, a short break in the breathtaking view of Llogara Balcony where you can see all the Albanian coastline.
Berat Castle, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Berat, called the city of “1000 windows” is a city built on the 2 hills on both sides of the Osumi River. Its characteristic and unique style architecture, affected by several civilizations over the years has shaped the city as it is today. Like many cities in Albania, Berat comprises an old fortified city filled with churches and mosques painted with a grandiose wealth of visible murals and frescos. Berat is one of the main cultural centers of the country.