All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.
The UNESCO sites of Apollonia, Butrint, Gjirokastra and Berat
Traditional Kruja, the centre of Albania resistance against the Ottomans
The beautiful Albanian Riviera
Montenegro - glorious scenery and a fascinating history
This tour provides the opportunity to discover Albania and get a taste of the incredible beauty of ‘miniscule’ Montenegro. Beginning in Albania, our visits include a number of the highlights of this country and its fascinating history, ancient and the more recent years of communist struggle, with four UNESCO sites visited as well as the beautifully scenic Albanian Riviera. In Montenegro we enjoy the stunning scenery of Kotor Bay visiting the old town, a wonderful ‘living museum’ of historic and picturesque streets. We also visit Budva, rich in historical monuments and home to yet another wonderful old town, which offers a treasure chest of cultural heritage. Other visits here include eye-catching Perast and historically glorious Centinje, Montenegro’s ‘honorary’ capital.
Day 1: Fly from London Gatwick to Tirana.
Transfer to Tirana. Check-in to Hotel Vila Alba, Tirana. Dinner included this evening at a local restaurant.
Day 2: Tirana, Ardenica, Apollonia, Vlore.
We have a short visit at the National Historical museum in Tirana before we start our journey south through the Albanian countryside and visit the lovely Ardenica Monastery, a precious relic that dates to the 13th century, when religion was dominant in the country, and where the national hero, Skanderbeg, married in 1451. The ancient site of Apollonia is a classical site that dates to 588 BC, set amongst rolling hills with lovely views in all directions, it is a wonderful merge of history and nature. Check-in to Hotel Partner, Vlore. Evening at leisure.
Day 3: Vlore to Sarande.
A picturesque journey that takes us along the beautiful Albanian Riveria and high across the Llogara pass. We will have time for lunch near the sea at Himare before continuing to the well- preserved Ali Pasha castle at Porto Palermo before reaching Sarande. Check in to the Hotel Brilant. Evening at leisure.
Day 4: Butrint, Blue eye and Gjirokastra.
A short drive takes us to the wonderful classical site of Butrint, whose extensive remains lie hidden in woods. After our guided tour we will enjoy lunch (included) at a picturesque beachside position at Ksamil. After lunch a wonderful drive, with ever changing scenery, takes us over the hills to the UNESCO town of Gjirokastra, with an en-route stop at the famous ‘Blue Eye’, an exquisitely colourful pool and source of fresh water. We will visit the 8th C. castle and one of the traditional houses, which is now a fascinating small museum. Check-in to the Hotel Argjiro, Gjirokastra.
Day 5: Gjirokastra to Berat.
We journey from one historic city to another. Berat, known as ‘The City of one thousand windows’ because of its remarkable collection of fine traditional ottoman style houses of great architectural importance that climb up the hillside, bears witness to the coexistence of various religious and cultural communities down the centuries. It features a castle, most of which was built in the 13th century, and a lovely old town. Overnight Berat.
Day 6: Berat, Durres, Shkodra.
After breakfast we start our journey north to Shkodra, travelling via Durres. En-route we take the opportunity to stop and enjoy a traditional lunch (included) in the village of Fishte. This ‘slow food’ restaurant, a hidden gem in the countryside, is situated on a farm and serves organic food. We then continue to Shkodra, the centre of Roman Catholicism in Albania and a town with long historic roots. It is the only mentioned capital of the Illyrian Kingdom in the 3rd C.B.C. We will visit the colourful pedestrian area, with its Italian influences, and the catholic cathedral. Check-in to Hotel Tradita, Shkodra.
Day 7: Shkodra to Montenegro.
We cross into Montenegro, our first stop Ulcinj, a town where 90% of the inhabitants are Albanian, visiting the fortress and the Archaeological museum. Continuing to Budva, we pass through the pretty town of Petrovac, visiting the old town, and see the famous island of Sveti Stefan. Budva, rich in historical monuments and home to a wonderful old town, offers a treasure chest of cultural heritage. Check-in to Hotel Splendido, Kotor.
Day 8: Kotor, Perast, Lady of the rock, Negushi, Cetinje.
Our day begins with a visit to the ‘old town’ of Kotor, a picturesque UNESCO listed town overflowing with history. We will visit Perast, described by the Lonely Planet guide as ‘looking like a chunk of Venice that has floated down the Adriatic and anchored itself onto the bay’, a tiny town that boasts 16 churches and 17 Grand Palazzos. We will visit the picturesque ‘Lady of the Rock’ church and the ethnic village of Njegusi where you can enjoy one of the best views over the whole of Kotor bay and perhaps try the regions well-known smoked ham and local cheese. Our final visit is Cetinje, a cultural and historical Montenegro gem, where we will see the Royal Palace of King Nikola II and the Monastery of St. Petar. Overnight Kotor.
Day 9: Kotor to Kruja, Albania.
Returning to Albania we visit Kruja, the centre of Albanian resistance against the Ottomans, where the national hero, Skanderbeg, continuously defeated and resisted the Ottomans for 25 years. We will visit the castle, which has fantastic views, and the excellent Skanderbeg museum. There will be free time to wander in the Ottoman style bazaar, situated along the atmospheric cobble streets that lead to the castle. Check-in to Hotel Panorama, Kruja.
Day 10: Transfer to Tirana Airport for return flight to London Gatwick
NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion
The maximum group size on this tour is 26 passengers.
• Single room supplement
• Holiday insurance
• Meals other than those stated
• Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls
• Porterage and gratuities
Excellent quality hotels are used throughout this tour, all offering a high standard of service, facilities and comfort in ideal locations to explore the sites visited.
Hotel Vila Alba, Tirana
A well-located four-star boutique style hotel situated in the centre of Tirana. A roof-top bar-café offers views across the city. The hotel offers 24 guest rooms on five floors of a classical revival building. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, telephone, air-conditioning, TV and free wi-fi.
Hotel Partner, Vlore
Modern four-star hotel centrally located in Vlore. The hotel has contemporary décor and offers a restaurant and bar. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, TV, minibar, air-conditioning, telephone and free wi-fi.
Hotel Brilant, Sarande
Comfortable four-star hotel, just 100m from the main boulevard and 50m from the sea. The breakfast room is bright and overlooks the sea – a perfect way to start the morning. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, air-conditioning, minibar, telephone, TV and free wi-fi.
Hotel Argjiro, Gjirokaster
Excellent four-star, situated in the historical centre of Gjirokaster. The hotel is elegantly decorated, and has a bar, restaurant and roof garden, which offers panoramic views of the city, castle and surrounding area. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, telephone, air-conditioning, hairdryer, TV and free wi-fi.
In Berat the hotels are all quite small so it maybe necessary to use two hotels, the Mangalemi and the Hotel Rezidenca, which sit within 100m of each other. Both hotels offer an equally comfortable standard for your stay.
Hotel Mangalemi, Berat
Charming historic hotel set in the old Mangalemi quarter in the heart of Berat. The hotel has a restaurant serving traditional Albanian cuisine, and a terrace which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city and mountains. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, hairdryer, TV, air-conditioning/heating, minibar, telephone, safe and free wi-fi.
Hotel Mangalemi Website
Hotel Tradita, Skhodra
Traditional style hotel centrally located in Skhodra with a lovely hillside location offering panoramic views. The hotel has a renowned restaurant, which we will of course try during our stay here. All rooms are tastefully furnished in a traditional style and include a private bathroom, TV, air-conditioning and hair dryer.
Hotel Splendido, Kotor
Situated on the Bay of Kotor, the four-star Splendido Hotel enjoys a wonderful waterfront location and has marvellous views. Facilities include an outdoor pool and a waterside restaurant. All rooms are air conditioned and include TV, minibar, robe and slippers, hairdryer and private bathroom.
Hotel Panorama, Kruje
This excellent four-star hotel is well-situated in the centre of Kruje and enjoys beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding area. The hotel has a choice of two restaurants and has a bar area to relax in. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities with bath/shower, air-conditioning, TV, telephone and free wi-fi.
In order to see the highlights of Albania, this tour covers quite a large distance, which does mean moving hotels quite often, so you might like to consider travelling relatively light as you will be packing and unpacking several times during your stay. The hotels are all relaxed places with very relaxed and casual codes of dress for dinner. This is only offered as advice with the idea that it might help you when it comes to deciding what to pack. Please also note the luggage allowance for this tour does provide a maximum of 23kgs for hold luggage.
We have graded this tour with 4 footprints ‘Walking at sites and some standing for viewings’ because mostly the walking is this level, but please note, in Kruja, Gjirokaster and Berat, some cobble roads will be encountered.
Julien was a great guide, by turns witty, entertaining, informative and very moving. He made this a memorable introduction to the history of Albania and its culture. Jane is an excellent and sympathetic manager, just the sort you want around if things go wrong - fortunately they didn't , for us. We also enjoyed the day with our guide in Montenegro. Professional and smiley coach driver, rather him than me on some of the passes.
Review by Holland who travelled 11-September-2019
Very good holiday. Guide manager and driver all excellent.
Review by Anonymous who travelled 11-September-2019
Very enjoyable and informative with an excellent local guide. I would have liked a little more time at some of the sites. The holiday was a little tiring because of the number of hotels. 21 people travelled.
Review by Anonymous who travelled 11-September-2019
Review by Harris who travelled 11-September-2019
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