This small and sunny portion of the Adriatic Coast was put in genuflection by the poverty, bloody revenges and illiteracy. This country is a dizzy mix of religions, styles, cultures and landscapes, from the Sunni Muslims to the Albanians Orthodox, from the idyllic beaches to the peaks of rocky mountains and fields of intense cultivation. The remains of one of the longest dictatorships of Oriental Europe coexist with citrus and olive trees as well as with vineyards. Next to great mosques there are factories built by the Chinese and orthodox churches arise in front of palaces from the cold Soviet style. Mistreated for long periods of time, Albania is now looking to achieve democracy, the outside world and the foreign tourists.
DAY 1 – ARRIVING IN TIRANA
Arrival at the airport of Tirana and meeting the guide. Transfer to the hotel and lunch at 13.00 hrs (if the flight is in the morning). After lunch, tour of the city, a visit in the Et’hem Bey mosque, the Orthodox Cathedral, elite district during the Communism and a walk in the Heroes Boulevard.
Dinner around 19.30 and good night!
DAY 2 TIRANA – SHKODRA – TIRANA (195km)
Breakfast in hotel. After breakfast departure by bus to Shkodra, nicknamed as ‘the cradle of the Albanian culture’ or as the Florence of the Balcans. The symbol monument of the city is the castle situated in the hill in the entrance of the city, near the bridge over Drini river: this monument called ‘Rozafa’, was built in IV century BC (Before Christ) and is actually a museum. Visit of the castle and the ruins of the cathedral dedicated to S. Stephen. Lunch in the restaurant called ‘Tradita Gege & Tosk’. In the afternoon visit of the Cathedral of the city and the prison of the martyrs. We will be visiting also the photo library of Marubi and then return to Tirana to have dinner and rest.
DAY 3 TIRANA – KRUJA – DURRES – BERAT (180 km)
Breakfast in hotel. After breakfast departure to visit Kruja, the center of Albania in the 15th century, a moment in which the country was under the leadership of Skanderbeg who defeated the Ottoman empire by protecting the western boundaries of Europe and Albania for the consecutive 20 years. We will visit the castle and the Scanderbeg museum, followed by a visit in the Etnographic museum of Kruja, which shows the way in which the indigenous populations have lived during the Ottoman period. Lunch in the premises of Panorama restaurant. In the afternoon departure to Durres, visit to the Amphitheater and the beach of Durres. After this travel to Berat and accommodation in the hotel.
DAY 4 BERAT
Breakfast at the hotel in Berat (the city of 1000 windows). In 2008 the historical center of Berat was announced World Heritage Site, UNESCO, as the ‘rare example of an ottoman city well preserved’. We will start with the visit in the Etnographic museum, followed by the visit in the castle of Berat and the ancient orthodox churches. We will also visit Onufri museum and then have lunch at ‘Klea’ restaurant. In the afternoon we will visit the ancient neighborhood of Mangalemi and the bridge of Gorica. A walk in the boulevard of the city with a lot of pictures taken. Dinner at the hotel.
DAY 5 BERAT – ARDENICE – APOLLONI – SARANDA
Breakfast at the hotel and departure to Ardenica. Visit of the monastery of Ardenica and departure to Apollonia. Visit in the archaeological park and the museum inside the park. Lunch at ‘Fieri’ restaurant. After lunch departure to Saranda with a break on the way. Arrival at Saranda, dinner and accommodation at the hotel.
DAY 6 SARANDA – BUTRINT – SARANDA
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure to Butrint andd visit of the archaeological park there. Lunch in Saranda. In the afternoon walk along the coast.
Dinner at Demi restaurant in the city.
DAY 7 SARANDA – BLU EYE – GJIROKASTER – TIRANA (290 km)
Breakfast and departure to the Blue Eye. Visit and pictures of the Blue Eye and then departure to Gjirokastra. There we will visit the city and the castle. Lunch in ‘Cajupi’ restaurant. In the afternoon departure to Tirana with a short break on the way. Dinner in the hotel.
DAY 8 TIRANA – AIRPORT
Breakfast at the hotel and departures to the airport. Note : the first and last day changes according to the flight time tables.