April-October
Dates
9 days
Duration
Large 15-22
Group size

Pearls of the West Coast

At not even one European coast will you experience such a change of impressive natural scenery over a distance shorter than 400 kilometers, as that of Albania. Even the southern part on which we focus is a mix of wide sandy beaches, intimate gravel bays, high-rising cliffs, wetlands rich of species and tourist hotspots of unabashed luxury and comfort.
On our journey, we look more for the cultural-and natural variety than beach-fun. From historic Kruja via ancient Durrës with its amphitheater, we travel to the unique swamp area of Divjakë-Karavasta for a quiet boat trip around Pelican Island. We stop the medieval monastery of Ardenicë with its frescoes of the famous Zografi brothers and the mysterious Apollonia, we reach Gjirokastër, the UNESCO-city of arts and crafts where fortified houses from the Ottoman times were built against steep hills. From there we head south along Blue Eye and Saranda to the southernmost tip, where we find Butrint, a wonderfully well-preserved mix of remains from the Greek, Roman and Venetian times located in lush natural beauty including giant eucalyptus trees. The way back – the Llogara pass, Vlora, Zvernec, Tirana – still full of surprises, not only in terms of panorama and culture but also in the culinary wise. You will surely not be bored.

 

At least 15 persons required to be guaranteed.

TOUR CODE                                                                                                                                          19-101
START OF TOUR TIRANA
POI’S Tirana, Kruja, Durres, Divjake-Karavasta, Gjirokaster, Sarande, Vlora, Apollonia, Butrint, The Blue Eye.
DURATION 9 DAYS
WEAR Comfortable shoes
INCLUDED
Local English speaking professional guide All meals
Airport pick up service as a group Transportation in mini-coach
Free time Hotel costs
Transportation to the airport as a group Airport taxes
NOT INCLUDED
Airfare Alcoholic drinks (available to purchase)
Guide gratuity Personal requests for route diversions.
Calamities fund Single room allowance

 

Bookings’ costs Personal spending

 

Take this tour if:

  • You would enjoy discovering natural beauty and serene sceneries 
  • You are interested in discovering the rich history of Albania
  • You would enjoy experiencing the culture of a warm and incredibly hospitable country
  • You want to explore a country that has not been discovered by mass tourism yet
  • You like UNESCO heretige sites

 

Additional information

Difficulty LevelEasy
1

Day 1: TIRANA – KRUJA

Arrival at Tirana airport. Transfer to Kruja, where we are immediately introduced to one of the most imaginative places in the country: the historic citadel and the old castle of the Albanian hero Skanderbeg. The castle has been rebuilt and furnished as a museum. On the citadel you will also find the Dolma-tekke, a shrine of the Bektashi, and in the authentic 18th-century house of the Toptani family a beautiful ethnographic museum. Even more famous is the fascinating and photogenic bazaar of Kruja, a cobblestone street with a ribbon of Albanian antiques and souvenirs. Get started now! We dine and spend the night on the citadel, in the atmospheric Merlika Hotel.

2

Day 2: KRUJA – DURRES – GOLEM – DIVJAKË-KARAVASTA

Today we will visit Durrës, a very old city on the Adriatic coast, and the most important commercial port of Albania. Durrës is built on many remnants from Roman times, including a gigantic amphitheater, which was only discovered in 1966 and is now partially exposed. Many other excavations can be seen in the Archaeological Museum, at the foot of the hill on which the former residence of King Zog is located, overlooking long stretches of busy beach.
In the afternoon we travel via historic Golem to Divjakë-Karavasta, a unique swamp area with maritime pines and mangrove forests, where we stay at the Divjakë Resort.
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Day 3: DIVJAKË-KARAVASTA – ARDENICË – APOLLONIA - GJIROKASTËR

Lake Karavasta, which together with the marshland forms the Divjakë-Karavasta National Park, has one of the largest populations of cruciform couples in Europe. We sail by boat around the island where they live. After this we visit the monastery of Ardenicë, a mysterious quiet place on top of a hill, where Skanderbeg married in 1451. In the old church you can still admire some dark 18th-century frescoes by the Zografi brothers. After lunch we continue our way to Apollonia, the city that was built in antiquity at the mouth of the Vjosa and was, apart from being an important port on the route between Rome and Byzantium, the center of culture and science. In the afternoon we continue to Gjirokastër, one of the most beautiful cities in Albania, where we sleep in the characteristic hotel Old Bazaar.

4

Day 4: GJIROKASTER

Gjirokastër means Silver city, and you understand why. Not only are the houses covered with silver-gray stones, you can also see the wealth of yesteryear in the old Ottoman houses, which look high up the hill over the valley of the Drino. The streets are steep in Gjirokaster, it is the only city, wrote Ismail Kadare, where you can end up in a gutter if you fall down drunk. Kadare was born in Gjirokastër, just like Enver Hoxha. Both their houses can be seen, that of Kadare was rebuilt after a fire and arranged as an exhibition space, in that of Hoxha the ethnographic museum is housed. In the morning we visit the impressive castle on the hill, with its Weapon Museum, in the afternoon you are free to go wherever you want. If you have not passed souvenirs in Kruja yet, then you have an optimal chance to resit at the Gjirokastër bazaar, where you will find streets full of fine artisan activity, shoulder to shoulder with a lot of characteristic restaurants.

5

Day 5: BLUE EYE - SARANDE

Albania has many places of great beauty and also a number of wonders of nature. On our trip to Saranda we see no fewer than two of them today. First the wonder tree of Libohovë, an age-old plane tree with a hundred cross-links already described by an enchanted Lord Byron. And then The blue eye, a place in a lake where dark blue water springs from a source that is at least fifty meters deep and surrounded by paradise-like greenery visited by many dragonfly-like butterflies. A fairytale. We arrive in Saranda towards the evening, a good time to stroll along the boulevard and eat well. The overnight stay is in the contemporary Hotel Apollon on the west side of Saranda.

6

Day 6: BUTRINT – SARANDE

We spend the morning in the ancient city of Butrint, one of the largest candy stores in the world for historians and archaeologists. Greek, Roman and Venetian times are represented here in an extraordinary mix of remnants, some of which are still wonderfully intact, amidst a wealth of trees and plants. The Lake of Butrint with the eye-shaped piece of land where the old town was built, and the surrounding landscape is protected by the status of a national park. Mussels are grown in Lake Butrint.
Back to the north we have lunch in restaurant Lekurësi, which is built on the remains of a former castle with a view over Saranda. We continue to Lukovë, a small town on the coast, where we settle in the quiet and pleasant Lumra Rooms, overlooking the sea. Enthusiasts can go straight to the beach.
7

Day 7: PORTO PALERMO - LLOGARA - VLORA

Today we kick off with a visit to the 18th-century Fortress of Ali Pasha in Porto Palermo, one of the most solid defenses of the famous robber chief who ruled southern Albania for a long time. Then we continue our way through the fantastic landscape along the Ionian coast, here called the Albanian Riviera, via the Llogara Pass, a beautiful forest area with huge black pines at 3500 above sea level, where we stop for lunch. We continue to Zvernec just above Vlora, where we settle in the beautiful Ecuador Resort, quietly situated right on the coast. You are free to choose for the rest of the day. Walkers can go to the special 14th-century monastery on the islet of Zvernec, accessible via a winding wooden walkway. For the others, the bus goes back to Vlora. Vlora is a spaciously laid out port city with a turbulent history. It was here where the Italians landed and were driven out, where Albania’s independence was signed in 1912, and where thousands of young men tried to get on board the ships after the fall of communism and in 1997 to flee.
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Day 8: TIRANA

We spend our last day in the bustling capital of Albania, Tirana. We reach the city in a special way, namely via Dajti, a mountain on the east side, from where you go down in the cable car, with a panoramic view of the city. You will then be taken to the hotel. We sleep in the Tirana International Hotel, a luxury hotel that has already seen many famous guests, right in the center on Skanderbeg Square. We compile the afternoon program in consultation with you. A number of possibilities: the Ethem Bey Mosque with its Bell Tower, the Historical Museum, the National Art Gallery, the oppressive Bunk Art 2, House of Leaves, where the Sigurimi lived, the entertainment district Bloggu. You will not be bored.

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Day 9: TIRANA – TIRANA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

The day of departure, the end of the tour. We hope you had a great time and make it a party on the plane.

The impressions of our travelers are reflected in these reviews. 

Tour Reviews

14 June 2019

We started in Tirana, a beautiful city! Our tour guide showed us the most touristic spots. But also the spots where you don’t go as a tourist and that made it really special.
Berat is also a special place. The walk to the top is a little bit hard, but the view at the end is definitely worth it!!
It was an amazing trip to Albania and I will never forget it! 🙂

16 June 2019

The tour was surprisingly beautiful!
We have visited many places and we have learned about the history and culture of of Albania. The food is good & the costs are very low in relation to the quality that you get in return. Highly recommended!