Eight nights and nine days will be filled with UNESCO World Heritage Sites, ancient and modern history, quirky culture, an abandoned military island, some of the best beaches on the Mediterranean and a good understanding as to why Albania was once considered the North Korea of Europe. We will be breaking all kinds of stereotypes that might exist in your mind about Albania and chances are high that you may fall in love with this incredible country in the process. Believe us when we say you will not find a more immersive and unique introduction to Albania quite like this one.
Colorful & Quirky Capital
Vibrant and energetic, Tirana is Albania’s surprisingly charismatic capital that has been undergoing an incredible transformation over the past few years and the starting point for our adventure.
- Guided city tour featuring Skanderbeg Square, Pazari i Ri, Tirana Castle, Tanner’s Bridge, Tirana Pyramid, Blloku and Mother Albania
- Visit to Bunk’Art, former nuclear bunker turned museum which explores persecution of the former regime’s “opponents” by the Albanian secret police between 1945 and 1991
- Day trip north to visit the castle of Kruja, an unforgettable farm-to-table lunch in Fishta and wander around Shkodra, Albania’s cultural capital
Cradle of Albanian History
Once home to the national hero Skanderbeg, this glorious mountaintop hamlet serves as a symbol of Albanian resistance to the Ottoman invasion in the 15th century. Its castle, one of only two inhabited castles in the country, just might be the most important historical site in Albania and as well one of the best places to shop for traditional souvenirs.
Slow Food Superstar
We’ll be stopping in the small village of Fishta for a farm-to-table lunch at Mrizi i Zanave, arguably the best culinary experience in the country and pioneer of Albania’s slow food movement. Known for their unique preparation of traditional Albanian fare that celebrates the best from the surrounding land, no doubt you’ll remember this meal for years to come.
Albania's Cultural Capital
Nearly to the border of Montenegro, Shkodra is one of Albania’s most charming cities with an incredible cultural history to boot. We’ll be passing through for a visit to its legendary Rozafa Castle and stroll down the colorful corzo.
Gateway to the Mediterranean
As the stage for Albania’s independence movement in 1912 and the second largest port in Albania, Vlora will be our base for exploring some of the country’s most overlooked and underrated tourist attractions before heading south to the Albanian Riviera.
- Visit to Zvërnec Island and the 13th century Byzantine Monastery of St. Mary located in the Narta Lagoon
- Walk around recently revamped Vlora with an introduction to the small house-turned-Museum of Independence where the first Albanian government was formed in 1912
- Private boat trip out to the abandoned military island of Sazan (opened to the public for the first time in 2017) and Karaburun Peninsula, the nature reserve famous for its virgin beaches and spectacular caves
Last of the Wild European Coastlines
No trip to Albania would be complete without experiencing the magical Albanian Riviera with its aquamarine beaches, dramatic mountain backdrops and hidden treasures. From castles and caves to sexy beach bars and secret villages, we’ll have a couple days to both relax and explore along one of the last (mostly) wild coastlines left in the Mediterranean.
- Drive up through lush Llogora National Park/Llogora Pass, the mountain of “panoramas”, situated 1,000 meters above sea level
- Two nights in Dhërmi, one of the most beautiful villages along the Albanian Riviera
- Private boat trip to Gjipe Beach and nearby pirate caves
- Optional day trip to Porto Palermo/Ali Pasha’s Fortress and surrounding villages (Himara, Qeparo, Borsh)
- Visit to the ancient city of Butrint & the natural spring Syri i Kalter (Blue Eye)
Southernmost Beach Resort
As the largest beach town on the Albanian Riviera and entry point for most tourists visiting via cruise ship or ferry from Corfu, we’ll only be doing a quick drive-by just to give you a taste and move swiftly on to beauties that lie in its surroundings and hinterlands.
Albania's UNESCO Gold
We’ll be hitting both of Albania’s listed UNESCO sites, but the ancient city of Butrint is perhaps the most impressive and hands down the most visited. Set on a hill overlooking the lush Vivari Channel, its combination of cultural, historical and natural beauty is sure to impress.
Former Cannabis Capital of Europe
It is estimated that at one time this tiny village in southern Albania which was nearly impossible to visit by tourists exported around 4.5 billion euros worth (street value) of marijuana to Western Europe annually. That was until the government came in and burned it all down in 2014 (and Albania became an official EU candidate). These days it’s completely calm and quiet…so of course we’re going to make a stop there to see what the hype was all about.
The City of Stone
Gjirokastra is one half of Albania’s second UNESCO site (the other is Berat) recognized for its outstanding Ottoman architecture. There’s just something special about Gjirokastra so we’ll be spending a couple of nights getting to know it better as well as exploring its surroundings.
- Visit to Gjirokastra Fortress and its museum, the US Air Force jet shot down during the Cold War, Zekate House and Gjirokastra bazaar
- Guided tour of the recently opened Cold War Tunnel
- Optional day trip to Lazarat, former Cannibis Capital of Europe and Benja Thermal Pools in Përmet
Town of 1,000 Windows
Equally charming (though much more “on-the-path”) is Gjirokastra’s Ottoman sister, Berat. Known as the “town of a thousand windows”, it’s by far one of the most photogenic towns in Albania and a wonderful place to spend our last 24 hours soaking up more Albanian history and culture before heading back to Tirana.
- Guided city tour of Berat featuring Kala (Berat’s fortress), Onufri Icon Museum and Berat’s Ethnological Museum
- Traditional lunch with a local family inside the fortress
- Free morning to explore Berat’s UNESCO old town/count 1,000 windows
- Stop at Çobo Winery and final group lunch en route back to Tirana
- All ground/water transportation for the duration of the trip
- Eight nights’ accommodation (3-4*)
- Minimum of two meals a day + wine & raki tasting
- Entrance fees to all sites we plan to visit as a group and listed on the final extended itinerary – museums, historical sites, castles, etc.
- Local guides and tour host for duration of trip
What’s Not Included?
- Airfare to and from Albania
- Travel insurance (mandatory)
- Souvenirs and personal purchases
- Tips for guides and drivers