Tour of Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo
Duration: 11 Nights/ 12 Days
Day 1: Arrival in Tirana International Airport – Tirana
Meet with your guide at Tirana International Airport and drive towards the capital city Tirana. Free time to relax after the flight, dinner at the hotel and overnight in Tirana.
Day 2: Tirana - Visit of Durres & Konjak Tasting – City tour of Tirana
Today we enjoy sightseeing of Tirana, Tirana has a never-ending movement and energy. This metropolis city is worth to discover by day and night. Founded in the 1614, Tirana is now a developed city which combines culture, history, contemporary architecture and lots of hospitality shown towards tourists. As you take a walk in Tirana you will enjoy the look of the colorful buildings, fancy coffees and green parks.
Feel a unique experience while visiting the BunkArt 2, an old bunker in the center of Tirana, opened now as a museum that will take us back in time in the period of Communism.
After the visits, we drive to the coastal city of Durres. Fresh seafood lunch in a local restaurant by the seaside.
Sightseeing of Durres - biggest seaport of the country, and the most ancient city in Albania, with almost 3000 years of history. The city is home to many ancient archeological sites and the Amphitheater of the Roman Emperor Adrian is the most known, also the second biggest amphitheater in the Balkans. On arrival we take a sightseeing of Durres and visit of the Roman Amphitheater.
After the visits return transfer to Tirana, with a stop along the way in a local winery “Kantina Skanderbeg”. The winery produces the famous Albanian Konjak. Visit of the winery and enjoy konjak degustation.
Dinner and overnight in Tirana.
Day 3: Tirana – Visit of Shkodra castle– Visit of the historical town of Kruja (2 hrs) – Tirana
Drive towards to the northern city of Albania – Shkodra; with the most important town of north Albania and the Illyrian capital, in the 3rd century BC. Walk to the Castle enjoy the view of the city from the Castle of Rozafa a mysterious structure, surrounded in legends and mysticism. Traditional lunch in a local restaurant. A live folk show performance can be organized for the group during the lunch.
Afterwards we proceed to Kruja, the historical city which lays on a panoramic view on the top of a hill, 600 km above sea level. With a combination of nature, history, archeology, traditional food and lifestyle, Kruja is one of the most beautiful tourist spots in Albania, notable from its stony streets and traditional buildings. The tour begins with the visit in the Castle, the citadel of the National hero, Gjergj Kastriot Skanderbeg. It is build 548 m above sea level and gives a spectacular view of the surroundings. Inside the fortes is build the National Museum “Gjergj Kastriot Skenderbeu”, which counts such pavilions as antiquity and early middle age pavilion, Albanian Princedom pavilion, pavilion of Ottoman Invasion and Resistance to this invasion, Medieval Fortress pavilion, Albanian resistance, Scanderbeg's office equipment and library. Placed in a characteristic urban building of 1764 you can also visit the Ethnographic Museum of Kruja.
After the visits it’s time to get closer to Albanian traditions and lifestyle, by visiting the bazaar. It is a one street of shops, with wooden buildings and a mixture of cafés and small souvenir and antique shops.
In the evening return to Tirana for dinner and overnight.
Day 4: Tirana – More than 2000 years of history in the Unesco town of Berat - Tirana
Today we head towards the UNESCO town of Berat, the pride of Albanian antiquity and architecture.
Berat forms a wonderful combination of eastern and western cultures, costumes and traditions. The architecture of the old houses, with large windows that overlook the town, is the first think that impresses the visitors. First stop: the Citadel. It overlooks the river and the modern city as well as the old Christian quarter across the river. The citadel can be reached by a steep road and is still inhabited. Inside the walls, you can visit ruined mosques and several medieval Orthodox churches, all intact and with restored frescoes and icons. Onufri National Museum is located in the inner part of “Saint Mary Church” in Castle of Berat. This Museum offers a collection of 173 belonging to the found of Albanian Churches and Monasteries.
Lunch in the old town in Berat with traditional menu of the region.
Afterwards you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, a two storied residence, with a lobby on one side. This residence is equipped with non-moveable furniture that serve for the preservation of the household objects, wooden case, wall-closets, chimneys, wells, etc.
After the visits, while returning to Tirana we can organize an optional stop for wine tasting in a local wine producer, to try local wine and snacks.
Dinner and overnight in Tirana.
Day 5: Tirana – Visit of The Archeological Park of Apollonia– Visit of Ardenica Monastery– Tirana
Today we travel to Apollonia, located 123 km from Tirana.
It is one of the most well-known archeological sites in the country and recently a national archaeological park.
Visit the Odeon, and the courtyard of the Monastery where there is a Byzantine style church believed to have been built in the 14th century. Here you can see some monuments like the Encircling Wall, the Bouleterion, the Mosaics House and the Nymphaioum.
Lunch will be organized in a local restaurant in the Park of Apollonia.
On our return way to Tirana, we will stop for a visits in the Monastery of Ardenica. Return to Tirana, for dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Tirana – Sveti Naum - Ohrid– Skopje
Morning transfer towards Macedonia,
Our first stop, Sveti Naum in Macedonia part Set amidst lush verdure where the River Crn Drim tumbles into the lake, the monastery of St. Naum is a refuge of tranquility at the very southwestern corner of the Macedonian Republic. Situated 29 km (18 m) from the town of Ohrid and only 1 kilometer (0.6 m) from the Albanian border, the monastery brings the Macedonian experience to a dramatic culmination.
As with most Byzantine churches, St. Naum was chosen primarily for its location – on a high, rocky outcropping over the lake, above deep forests and life-giving springs of the river Crn Drim.
The monastic complex and church of St. Naum were built originally at the turn of the tenth century by the monk that beard the same name; Macedonians believe you can still hear the saint’s heartbeat by pressing an ear to his stone coffin inside the church.
Afterwards we reach the Unesco town of Ohrid, located by the shores of Lake Ohrid. Lunch in the old town of Ohrid, by the lake side.
Tour of the town known as the Macedonian Jerusalem due to its large number of churches, plus an opportunity to experience Ohrid through the centuries – see St Sophia cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Macedonia; the church of St Clement at Plaoshnik; and the Gallery of Icons.
In the afternoon transfer to Skopje, the capital city of Macedonia, where we have free evening, dinner and overnight.
Day 7: Tour of Skopje – Visit of the Valley of Stone Dolls - Skopje
This morning we spend time in Skopje.
The territory of the present day Skopje has been inhabited since at least 4000 BC and Neolithic remains have been found in the Kale Fortress. Skopje is located on the upper course of the Vardar River and is located approximately in the middle of a major Balkan route that runs north-south between Belgrade and Athens. The Vardar River divides the city in two, the old part and the newer part. The latter has a nice pedestrian street from the Macedonia Square to the old train station.
Skopje is the birth place of Mother Teresa, and there is a nice memorial house in her honor and off course a sculpture of her, which we will include in the visit
Lunch will be organized in a local restaurant in Skopje.
After lunch time transfer to the Valley of Stone Dolls. Welcome to the Macedonian Cappadocia. According to local lore, a man was struggling to choose between two women. Not able to make up his mind, he figured he would marry both on the same day and not tell the other. Unluckily for him, during his morning wedding the second wife came to check out the scene and was horrified watching her husband’s double-crossing nuptials. In a rage, she cursed the whole wedding party and they turned to stone where they stood and created Kuklica.
Evening return to Skopje, dinner and overnight.
Day 8: Skopje – Visit of the National Park of Mavrovo & The Monastery St. Jovan Bigorski
The tour includes visit to Mavrovo, which represents one of the most attractive tourist centers in Macedonia. It manages with abundance of all floral and animal world, among which is stressing numerous, and presence of does, dears, bears, lynx’s etc.
Near to Mavrovo are found the famous Debar villages Galichnik, Gary, Selce, Treshonce, the monastery St. Jovan Bigorski, all placed in one impressive natural environment.
In the heart of Bistra mountain, lays Galichnik. Referred to – synonym for authenticity, skillful excavation, art, national revivalism, impressing traditional mode, habits and architecture, and incredible tasty white and yellow cheese.
Tour also included visit to the monastery St. Jovan Bigorski which is found 2 km from Rostushe village, Debar, on the altitude above the sea level of 740 m. Placed on the impressionable Bigor rocks on canyon valley of the river Radika, in the embrace of the exuberant forests implanted in the north – west slopes of Bistra Mountain. This incredible, magical landscape, the monastic mysticism and human ideality in one world, which out runs the frontiers of rational knowing. The monastery complex includes: church, charnel house, located to the church itself, defense tower, complex of monastery shelters, and the new built guests shelters.
In the afternoon return to Skopje for dinner and overnight.
Day 9: Skopje – Capital City of Kosovo, Pristina
This morning we leave Macedonia and drive towards the country of Kosovo.
Check in at the hotel and getting ready for the walking tour of the capital city, Pristina
We will explore the main attractions in the center and surrounding, such as: the Mother Teresa Boulevard, the monument of Scanderbeg (Albanian National Hero), the Clock Tower, Kosovo Government buildings and the “New Born” monument which is becoming the symbol of this new state. Of particular interest are the Ottoman period mosques of Prishtina with probably the most beautiful, being the Fatih Mosque dating back to 1461 during the golden era of Sultan Mehmet II. Its huge ceiling domed cupola crowns a splendidly painted floral interior of Arabesque design.
Nearby is Pristina's oldest building, the Çarshia Mosque completed in 1389. We end our tour with a visit to the Ethnographic Museum situated in a typical Ottoman architecture house, beautifully stocked with original artefacts which testify to the traditions and way of living of the people in Kosovo.
Dinner and Overnight in Pristina
Day 10: Prishtina – Unesco town of Prizren – Wine Tasting in Rahovec – Pristina
This morning we transfer to the old town of Prizren, which is the second largest city in the country,
Prizren is a beautiful town situated on the slopes of the Sharr Mountains in southern Kosovo, close to the border with Albania.
It is a historical city known for the arts and crafts, something which becomes obvious as soon as you approach the center, with cobble stone roads, beautifully crafted shops, bars and restaurants built in a typical Ottoman architecture.
Prizren offers some great religious monuments representing different faiths, with the 14th century Orthodox Church of “Our Lady of Ljevis” being the most important, becoming part of the UNESCO list of protected Medieval Monuments of Kosovo in 2006.
Other monuments and sites we visit are: The Mosque of Sinan Pasha built in 1615, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour (Prizren's main Catholic church from 1870), House of the League of Prizren, the Stone Bridge and bazaar.
Traditional lunch in a local restaurant in Prizren.
After lunch time, return transfer to Pristina. On the way Optional stop in Rahovec for visit of the winery and wine tasting at Stone Castle vineyards
Dinner and overnight in Pristina.
Day 11: Visit of the Monastery of Decan – Visit of the Patriarkate of Peja – Pristina
This is a day dedicated to religious monuments and art in Kosovo.
We leave the capital city and enjoy drive towards the Monastery complex of Decan, which is considered as the largest medieval church in the Balkans and contains the most extensive beautifully preserved fresco decorations.
It deservingly is one of the most important parts of the Medieval Monuments of Kosovo under the protection of UNESCO for their importance in the preservation of World Heritage.
This monastery was constructed by Serbian king Stefan Urosh buried in the chapel and his son Stefan Dushan.
Continue our religious part of the tour, with a visit the Patriarchate of Peja constructed in the XIII century. It is composed of three small churches with beautiful frescoes. The complex of churches for its architectural and cultural values it represents is part of UNESCO.
Afternoon return to Pristina. Farewell dinner and overnight.
Day 12: Pristina – Airport
Free morning in Prishtina – Airport Transfer for the return flight.