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Classic Albania - The Land of the Double Headed Eagle

8 nights starting from
£1525

  • Ancient Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site hidden in a national park

  • The Roman sites at Oricum and Byllis

  • Durrës - colonised by the Greeks in 627BC

  • Lezhë - centre of the 15th century resistance against the Ottomans

Explore the fascinating history, archaeology and culture of Albania with Gillian Gloyer. This tour offers a heady mix of castles, monasteries, classical sites and historic UNESCO World Heritage towns, all set amidst spectacular scenery. Beginning in Tirana, we visit Kruja and Lezhë, in the north and then move gradually south, visiting Durrës, ancient Dyrrachium, and the classical site of Apollonia. A breathtaking scenic drive takes us through the Llogara National Park. We visit the impressive sites of Butrint and classical Antigonea and the historic towns of Gjirokastër, ‘the city of stone’, and Berat, ‘the city of a thousand windows’. This tour provides a fantastic insight into the history, both ancient and more recent, of this fascinating country.

Gillian Gloyer studied ancient languages at Wadham College, Oxford. She was president of the Oxford University Archaeology Society and, while at school and university, excavated in the UK and Italy. A varied career then took her from Scotland to Albania via Spain, Chile, Belgium and Bosnia. She lived in Albania for four years, directing a long-term training programme with mid-career politicians from 12 parties. Gillian returned to Scotland in 2002 and is now based in Edinburgh, where she is a city councillor. She is the author of the Bradt Travel Guide to Albania, now in its sixth edition (March 2018). She visits the country several times a year and speaks the language well. As a keen hill-walker, she enjoys hiking in Albania's wildernesses and discovering its hidden archaeological and architectural treasures.

Available Departures

From

16 - April - 2020 £ 1525.00 Travel Info Book Now

Provisional Timings

London Gatwick

Departing: 16th April 2020 at 16:15

Returning: 24th April 2020 at 21:50

ITINERARY

Day 1: Fly from London Gatwick to Tirana.
Transfer to Kruja for a three-night stay.

Day 2: Full day Tirana.
We begin our tour with a full day visit to Albania’s lively capital, Tirana. We visit the National Historical Museum, the early 19th century Ethem Bey Mosque, and the Archaeological Museum. We then visit the nuclear bunker from the cold war era, newly opened as the Bunk’Art 2 Museum, a chilling memorial to the thousands imprisoned during the Communist regime. Our final visit is the Petrela Castle, the history of which dates back to the 6th century AD.

Day 3: Full day Lezhë and Kruja.
Today is devoted to the story of the great hero Skanderbeg, who led the resistance against theOttomans in the 1400s. We travel to Lezhë, which was the centre of the resistance with its castle that boasts spectacular views, the grave of Skanderbeg and St Nicholas Cathedral. We return to Kruja to visit its castle, that houses the Skanderbeg Museum, to wander through the old bazaar and, possibly, visit an Albanian family home.

Day 4: Full day Durrës, Ardenica and Apollonia.
We drive to Durrës, one of Albania’s oldest cities and the country’s main sea port. It was colonized by the Greeks in 627 BC and named Epidamnos. Here, we see the Venetian Tower, the town walls, and the Roman amphitheatre, as well as an early Christian crypt with a rare wall mosaic. From Durrës we travel south to a fine little monastery, Ardenica, where Skanderbeg was married in 1451. Our final visit is Apollonia, one of the most well-known classical sites in Albania. We continue to the sea at Vlorë, set on a beautiful bay, for a one-night stay.

Day 5: Vlorë to Oricum and Sarandë.
Today, we journey along the beautiful Radhima Bay to visit the recent excavations of the Roman site at Oricum. Continuing through the stunning scenery of the national park of Llogara, we head for lunch in a local restaurant by the sea, Borsh, in an area of olive and citrus groves. After lunch we have a brief visit to the Ali Pasha castle at Porto Palermo before reaching Sarandë for a two-night stay.

Day 6: Full day Butrint and Sarandë.
A short journey takes us to the wonderful site of Butrint, whose classical remains lie hidden in woods, beside an evocative lake, one of the most beautiful sites in Albania. Lunch will be in Ksamil Village seaside restaurant on the spectacular coastline of this area. Returning to Sarandë, we will climb up to Lekursi Castle, overlooking Sarandë town and the island of Corfu.

Day 7: Sarandë to Gjirokastër.
A wonderful drive takes us over mountains from Sarandë to the valley of Gjirokastër, with an en-route visit to the St Nicholas Monastery Church at Mesopotam and Antigonea, the site of a shortlived Hellenistic city. At Gjirokastër our visit begins with the 8th century castle museum which was formerly a prison – the old quarter is known as the City of Stone, because the tall houses used solid stone slabs for roofing. The castle has spectacular views and some splendid traditional houses, one of which is now a fascinating folk museum and was the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the Albanian Stalinist dictator. Overnight in Gjirokastër.

Day 8: Gjirokastër to Byllis and Berat.
The final leg of this journey takes us through yet more beautiful scenery as we visit the Hellenistic and Roman city of Byllis, an extensive site set within great Hellenistic walls in a spectacular mountainous region. From here we continue to Berat, a UNESCO World heritage site known as the “city of one thousand windows”. Overshadowed to the east by Tomorr Mountain at 2415m, it was founded in the 4th century B.C. The old part of the city has a remarkable collection of fine traditional houses, of great architectural importance, as well as Byzantine churches, a mosque, and a fortress. Overnight in Berat.

Day 9: Transfer from Berat to connect with our homeward flight from Tirana 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 30 passengers. 

INCLUDED

  • Return flights from London Gatwick to Tirana
  • Eight nights’ bed and breakfast at good standard boutique style four-star hotels, based on shared occupancy of a twin/double room
  • Eight dinners at local restaurants
  • Transfers, tours and entrance fees
  • Gillian Gloyer, local guide and tour manager throughout

NOT INCLUDED

• Single room supplement
• Holiday insurance
• Meals other than those stated
• Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls
• Porterage and gratuities

HOTELS

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 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.

Hotel Panorama Website 

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 Partner Website

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 Brilant Website

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.

Hotel Argjiro Website


In Berat the hotels are all quite small so it is 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 Rezidenca Desaret, Berat
The Hotel Rezidenca Desaret is situated just a few metres from the city centre and is surrounded by fantastic views. The hotel was restored in 2016, adding an excellent combination of tradition and modern. Bedrooms all have private bathroom facilities with shower as well as air-conditioning, balcony, TV, free wi-fi and telephone.

Hotel Rezidenca Desaret

MORE INFO - Please click here to see full details of this tour 

Your Guide

Gillian Gloyer studied ancient languages at Wadham College, Oxford. She was president of the Oxford University Archaeology Society and, while at school and university, excavated in the UK and Italy. A varied career then took her from Scotland to Albania via Spain, Chile, Belgium and Bosnia. She lived in Albania for four years, directing a long-term training programme with mid-career politicians from 12 parties. Gillian returned to Scotland in 2002 and is now based in Edinburgh, where she is a city councillor. She is the author of the Bradt Travel Guide to Albania, now in its sixth edition (March 2018). She visits the country several times a year and speaks the language well. As a keen hill-walker, she enjoys hiking in Albania's wildernesses and discovering its hidden archaeological and architectural treasures.

Travelling Information

In order to see the highlights of the country, this tour covers quite a large part of Albania, which does mean moving hotels quite often, so we recommend travelling relatively light as you will be packing and unpacking several times during your stay. The hotels are all relaxed places with very relaxed (or no) codes of dress for dinner so casual dress is fine. Please note, this is only offered as advice based on our experience of this tour 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.

Walking Advice

We have graded this tour with 4 footprints because mostly the walking is this level, ‘Walking at sites and some standing for viewings’ but please note in Kruja, Gjirokaster and Berat, some cobble roads will be encountered.

We love to receive feedback from our customers. Their views help us to keep improving the ours we offer. If you have been on this tour and would like to submit a review, please log in to our client area here and fill in the short form.

Recent Reviews

 

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A very good tour with an excellent speaker. He, Angela and Julian were all very helpful. I do wonder if it should have been walking difficulty 5 reather than 4 in the light of the number of steep cobbled streets.

Review by Martins who travelled 26-March-2019


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Overall Impression

An excellently organised and led tour. It might with advantage have been extended by 2 days to take in Korcha and Lake Ohrid.

Review by Roberts who travelled 26-March-2019


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Overall Impression

The holiday met my expectations. I very much enjoyed the visits to monasteries, archaeological sites and the bunker. There was good rapport between the subject expert, local guide and tour manager, which added to my enjoyment of the trip. The scenery is stunning.

Review by Thornley who travelled 26-March-2019


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Review by Anonymous who travelled 26-March-2019


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Overall Impression

I enjoyed an excellent holiday with most interesting sites. The tour manager and our local guide were also excellent., very patient and very knowledgeable.

Review by Tidmarsh who travelled 01-May-2018


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Overall Impression

A very interesting and energetic tour enriched by Jeremy’s amazing knowledge. Our Albanian guide Julian was very efficient and always found a solution to the problems posed by the weather. I found all the hotels to be comfortable but I did wonder why the bathroom light switches were on the ceiling in the hotel at Berat. I could only turn them on and off by using my walking pole. I am a vegetarian and I was pleased to find that there was always a vegetarian option available wherever we went.

Review by Twitchett who travelled 01-May-2018


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Overall Impression

This was only the second trip that you had arranged to Albania and it suffered a little from that; the tour was over ambitious, dwelt too long on Skanderbeg (altho' this was not given dominance in the itinerary), and the arranged part of the day was too busy giving the party too little 'free' time. To do Byllis and Berat in one day would never have been possible (our party omitted Byllis). If we had spent less time on Skanderbeg then each could have been done. I have no complaints about Jeremy who provided an excellent introduction to the country and its history. Julian, the local guide was good and very attentive and did much of the work of Trish, the tour 'manager' . the accommodation was excellent, the food somewhat unimaginative, the coach firm excellent. we would have liked longer in Tirana and to have been able to see all the sites in the itinerary. John Craven

Review by Craven who travelled 01-May-2018


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Overall Impression

Wonderful trip made very special by Jeremy, Jane and Julian who got on so well together, sharing their jokes and banter with the group. Jeremy's knowledge and enthusiasm is amazing. We met him and Jane, and some other members of the group, on the Peloponnese trip in 2015 so it was a bit like meeting old friends again.

Review by Jones who travelled 23-April-2018


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Overall Impression

We enjoyed this intensive visit to Albania, a country developing its tourist industry. Hotels were comfortable, well located and with attentive staff. Meals were enjoyable featuring local specialities and produce and good local beers and wines. This was a great introduction to Albanian culture and history with stimulating visits to archaeological and historic sites accompanied by Jeremy Paterson, who provided knowledgeable introductions about the sites visited. We also benefited from the extensive knowledge and enthusiasm of our local guide Julian. We travelled in a comfortable air-conditioned modern coach very ably driven by Ardit.

Review by Goulding who travelled 23-April-2018


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Overall Impression

A fascinating tour which was greatly enhanced by the outstanding contributions form the tour guide Julian and the specialist lecturer Jeremy. Most enjoyable!

Review by Horn who travelled 23-April-2018


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Review by who travelled 23-April-2018


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Overall Impression

We thoroughly enjoyed this amazing trip. Jeremy Paterson, our lecturer was on form as ever. Jane our tour manager was excellent and our Albanian guide, Julian was amazing with a wicked sense of humour. Ardit our driver was superb on some very dodgy roads and some interesting driving from other Albanians. We would thoroughly recommend this to anyone, but there is a lot of walking involved.

Review by Bishop who travelled 23-April-2018


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Overall Impression

Jeremy,Jane, Julian and Adit were all absolutely brilliant. All hotels excellent apart from the one at Vlore. Each day was too full but this was understandable as we were the "guinea pigs". It would have been good to have had one clear half day free and to have had this marked in the programme. Better info needed about what money to take and typical budgets. We spent about 200 euros for the two of us for the whole week. We would have preferred to have had a mixture of lunches and dinners included instead of all dinners.

Review by Allen who travelled 23-April-2018


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Review by Grant who travelled 23-April-2018


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