Tailor-Made Holiday

The Best of Albania

10 days

from £1,895pp (excluding flights)

Albania's rich history, lofty mountains, turquoise seas and charming villages make it an ideal short-haul destination for those looking to visit Europe's most up and coming destination. This classic journey begs to be explored, combining all four corners of the country.

  • Explore the ancient ruins of Apollonia and Butrint
  • Wander amongst the cobbles of the Unesco City of Gjirokastra 
  • Spend time in the charming Ottoman quarters of Berat
  • Sample Albania's delightful vineyards and local cuisine
  • Discover the turquoise waters of the Albanian Riviera

The entire country is easily accessible by car allowing you to explore its many nooks and crannies on a comfortable time scale. Begin your journey in the country's capital, Tirana, where you can wander along its vast Main Boulevard and marvel at communist-era buildings and impressive National Museums.

A short journey north brings you both to the charming town of Kruja - once home of national hero Skanderbeg - and to the city of Shkodra built on the lake shore of it's name sake. Ruined castles dominate the skyline and ancient bazaars - great for picking up traditional handicrafts - can be found. Staying for a few extra nights here also allows you to explore further into the Albanian Alps, with excursions into neighbouring Macedonia made possible. 

On the south west cost of Albania you can travel along the impressive Adriatic and Ionian coasts, through alpine forests and rolling green hills. Small Greek towns and ancient ruins pepper the landscape with the likes of Apollonia and Butrint beg not to be missed.

Wrap up your trip overlooking the cobbles of the old towns of Gjirokastra and Berat whilst sampling the surprising delights of locally distilled raki and homemade feta cheese.       

For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Price Excluding Flights £Flight cost from 
£ 1895 £ 200

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Tirana


Founded by the Ottomans in 1614, modern Tirana became Albania's capital in the early 20th century.

Now a city in transition, Tirana showcases a mix of new-found wealth contrasting with relics of the all too recent communist era. Skyscrapers have begun to fill the cityscape, but concrete utilitarian constructions still fill much of the city.

In recognition of this, a splash of colour has been added to many of the fast ageing apartment blocks, as is fitting for such a vibrant city. Completely transformed, Tirana is a pleasure to wander around.


Half Day Sightseeing of Tirana including the National Art Gallery and Museum
Visit the National Historical Museum of Albania and the National Art Gallery of Tirana.


You will be staying at Vila Alba, bed and breakfast

Day 2

Visit Kruja
Drive to Kruja to start your visit of the the ancient Bazaar and Kruja castle, epicenter of the legendary Albanian resistance to the Ottomans led by Skanderbeg in the 14th century. Visit the Ethnographic Museum and the Skanderbeg museum.

Travel from Kruja to Shkodra


A journey time of approximately 2 hours


Visit Shkodra
You continue to the northern city of Shkodra, the ancient Illyrian capital during the 3rd century B.C where you will visit Rozafa castle which rises imposingly on a rocky hill overlooking the city. The castles strategic location has seen it settled since antiquity and was an Illyrian stronghold until it was captured by the Romans in 167 BC.

After your visit continue the drive to the centre of Shkodra town and visit the Marubi Museum, where you'll see an exhibit of prints that date back to 1856 and the oldest photographs of the Balkans. Finish with a walking tour of the old town which includes a visit to the Catholic Church and the City Hall.


You will be staying at Hotel Colosseo, bed and breakfast

Day 3

Drive from Shkodra to Durres (Road Journey)


Have breakfast and prepare for a long drive to the Maramures region and the village of Breb.

The drive will be around six hours so the group will stop for lunch en route. This is a lovely opportunity to visit a local market or just stroll around the centre of an ordinary Romania town. Depending on how time is going, we will try and stop at Gherla, a small town know for its Armenian church, said to host a painting by Reubens.

You will arrive in Breb in the late afternoon. Take some time to discover the village and its surroundings or just relax and settle in. Breb is a beautiful and well worth spending some time.

Have dinner in Breb in the house of a local family.


Visit Durres
After breakfast continue to Durres - One of Albania's oldest cities, the country's main sea port, the second largest industrial centre after Tirana. Durres lies on a small peninsula on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. The city was colonized by the Greeks in 627 B.C. Named Epidamnos, which later became Dyrrachium. From the Venetian Tower at the harbour the Medieval Town Wall leads to the amphitheatre (capacity 15,000 spectators) dating back to the 2nd century AD and containing an early Christian Crypt with a rare wall mosaic. Between the 1st and 3rd centuries AD, Durres was an important port and trading centre on the Via Egnatia trading route between Rome and Byzantium (Istanbul). After a great number of earthquakes, the main part of old town sank into the sea or collapsed and was subsequently built over. Visit the Amphitheatre and the Archaeological Museum

Travel from Durres to Berat


A journey of approxmiately 1.5 hours


Lying on the banks of the Osum River, the town of Berat is famous for its Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Traditionally split in to two distinct halves, the Muslim Old Town (Mangalem) lies north of the river and its collection of white-washed houses climb up towards the town's citadel.

On the south side of the river, lies the Christian Old Town (Gorica). The two sides are linked by a number of bridges, including an impressive 250-year-old, seven-arched footbridge.


Berat Unesco City
Berat is known as the city of one thousand windows and declared a Museum City, part of UNESCO heritage site, Berat, overshadowed to the east by Tomorr Mountain 2415 m, it is an ancient Illyrian settlement founded in the 4th & 5th centuries B.C. on the territory of the Illyrian tribe of Desarettes. The town is composed of 3 parts; Gorica, situated on the far side of the river; Mangalem, situated on the fortress side of the river and the Residenial quarter within the fortress known as Kalaja. The old part of the city has some religious buildings including a mosque and Byzantine churches. The old name of the city was Antipatrea.


You will be staying at Hotel Mangalemi, bed and breakfast

Day 4

Travel from Berat to Apollonia


A journey of approximately 1.5 hours


Ancient Apollonia
The city of Apollonia was found at the beginning of the 7th century BC by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth and Corcyra, on the top of the ancient dwelling site of Illyrian Glaukos. Apollonian was in Roman times, a large and flourishing city near Aos river (today Vjosa). Of great interest is the Encircling Wall, the monuments of Agonothetes, the Library, the Odeon, the Portico, the house of mosaics, the Museum of Apollonia and the Church of St. Mary. Unfortunately, some of the statues and objects were appropriated before 1946 and those remaining are now displayed in the monasteries museum. The monastery courtyard is enclosed by a Byzantine church which dates back to the 14th century.

At its height, Apollonia would have had a population of 35,000. It was an important trading and military port but also a seat of learning - the young Octavius studied here. However, a series of earthquakes shifted the course of the Vjosa River, leaving Apollonia both high and dry, literally and metaphorically.

The ruined ancient city sits isolated on a hill-top with great views of the surrounding plains. The Bouleuterion is what draws the eye and crowds but there is also a little theatre, the Odeon, and the remains of a monumental arch. The busts and vases that once would have adorned Apollonia are now housed in the museum, itself housed in what was a monastery. The stone, bricks and columns of the monastery and thirteenth century church are all repurposed from the ancient city of Apollonia.

The beauty of the site is not just its remains but its setting and surrounds. Birds chirp gaily, there are rosemary and sage bushes, it is very peaceful and tranquil.

Travel from Apollonia to Vlora


A journey of approximately 40 mins


Sightseeing tour of Vlora
City tour of the historical and coastal city of Vlora. It's ancient roots stem back to the IV century B.C. when it was then known as Aulona. It is one of the only major sea-ports in the country but of greater historical importance, Vlora is the site of the the first National Government of the country headed by Ismail Qemali where Albanian independence was proclaimed in 1912. You will visit Independence House.

Travel from Vlora to Oricum


A journey of approximately 30 mins


Oricum Ancient Town
Located in the south of the Gulf of Vlore is the ancient city of Oricum which consists of remarkable ruins dating back to the 1st Century BC. The cities geographic location made Orikum an important Adriatic port and already by the 3rd century BC was being used by Romans fighting against Illyrian tribes. It was discovered in 1959 with ruins of an ancient theater, town walls, streets and the remains of Byzantine church from 13th century can be still seen here.

Travel from Oricum to Llagora


A journey of approximately 30 mins


You will be staying at Hotel Alpin, bed and breakfast

Day 5

Travel from Llagora to Sarandra


A journey of approximately 2.5 hours


Sarandra - The Albanian Riviera
You will journey through the Albania Riviera today where the landscape is covered with evergreen hills, golden beaches and crystal waters. The views are spectacular as you meander down fertile slopes and through quiet villages. Drive along through Dhermi where you will visit the near abandoned village of Himara. En-route to Sarandra you will make a short visit to the bay of Porto Palermo where the castle of Ali Pasha is situated.


You will be staying at Hotel Brilant, bed and breakfast

Day 6

Full day visit of Butrint
After breakfast depart to Butrinti National park for a full day tour of the well-preserved ruins of the ancient city of Butrint. Over the centuries, the ancient town has disappeared under layers of silt and vegetation and only recently did archaeologists uncovere one of the best remains of a working town in the Mediterranean. At the edge of the lake the ancient city of Vouthrota is situated, with its monuments and ancient theatre. You will see the gymnasium, the Roman ablutions, the temple with the priceless mosaic floor and the enormous stone walls. Amongst the acropolis lies the castle of Ali Passa where spectacular views of the Ancient City, the lake and the vast plains can be had. Return to Sarandra in the afternoon visiting the village of Ksamil and the Lekursi Castle in time for sunset.


You will be staying at Hotel Brilant, bed and breakfast

Day 7

Travel from Sarandra to Gjirokastra


A journey of approximately 2 hours


Gjirokastra, Blue Eye & Antigonea
After breakfast you will depart to Gjirokastra City known as the "Museum City". Along the way you will make a stop to visit the Blue Eye spring, formed by underground springs and the Antingonea Archaeological Park. You continue to drive to Gjirokastra city where the dwelling houses have been built in a traditional Ottoman style. Visit the Castle and the Museum of Weapons as well as the city museum which was the birthplace of the former dictator of Albania, Enver Hoxha. Gjirokastra is a strikingly picturesque town, perched on the side of a mountain above the Drino River.


You will be staying at Hotel Kalemi 2, bed and breakfast

Day 8

Travel from Gjirokastra


A journey of approximately 4.5 hours


Permet and Korca
After breakfast continue on to Permet on the shores of Vjosa river where the road takes you through breathtaking scenery along the Kelcyra gorge and Vjosa canyons to arrive at the attractive town of Permet where there is time explore on foot. You then continue to Korca, historically an important trade town where you will visit the Museum of Medieval Arts which displays more than 150 icons. You will also visit the Korca mosque.


You will be staying at Grand Hotel, bed and breakfast

Day 9

Travel from Korca to Pogradec


A journey of approximately 40 mins


Lake Ohrid and Elbasan
After breakfast you drive to Pogradec, arriving at Lake Ohrid - one of the deepest freshwater lakes in Europe - which is home to a number of fish and birds found nowhere else in the world. After lunch in Drilon - the preferred holiday destination for the ex-dictator Hoxha - your journey returns to Tirana via the city of Elbasan following the ancient Roman via Egnatia route eastwards. You will stop in Elbasan to visit its fine Ottoman walls before returning to Tirana.

Travel from Pogradec to Tirana


A journey of approximately 2 hours


You will be staying at Vila Alba, bed and breakfast

Day 10

Fly Tirana to London

Accommodation

Below you can see some of the wonderful places we recommend you stay on your journey.

Hotel Mangalemi

Hotel Mangalemi

Built on the ruins of a palatial mansion that belonged to the Pasha of Berut, the Hotel Mangani was the first hotel to open in Berut after the fall of communism....

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Vila Alba

Vila Alba

Situated in the heart of the Old Town, Vila Alba is a boutique-style hotel....

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Hotel Alpin

Hotel Alpin

Alpine Hotel is located in the Llogara National Park....

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Hotel Kalemi 2

Hotel Kalemi 2

Hotel Kalemi 2 is situated in Gjirokastër in the Gjirokastër County Region....

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Albania

Joe Parkes, Travel Expert

"It was extremely helpful to work in conjunction with Joe and his much more up to date knowledge of India and arrive at an itinerary which we were happy with. We enjoyed the whole trip and probably what made it special for us was the fact that all the arrangements worked so well and we really didn’t have to worry about anything at all. Even when we decided to make a small change it was dealt with efficiently and promptly. We can't think of anything that would have made our trip more enjoyable."

"The service from start to finish has been excellent. Joe was very quick to respond to any queries and put together an excellent itinerary at short notice."

"A pleasure to deal with Joe. Efficient, helpful, knowledgeable and fun!"

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Katie Benden, Travel Expert

"Katie was brilliant and very helpful. Helped to put together the itinerary I was dreaming of for my honeymoon and she was excellent with communication."

"Very happy with Katie Benden. Great service – always prompt reply to queries and always polite, attentive and informative. A wonderful holiday."

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

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