Hidden Treasures of Albania
|Resort:||Hidden Treasures of Albania|
Discover the historical sites and natural wonders of Albania
On this tour of Albania exclusively for solo travellers, you have the opportunity to explore the length and breadth of the country from the crystal-clear waters of the Ionian coast to the national parks of the Cika Mountains and even across the border into Macedonia on an unmissable optional excursion. On the way you will discover unspoilt areas of outstanding natural beauty, ancient cities and their sights as well as relics of the Cold War. And you will come away with the feeling that you are trailblazing a new frontier in European tourism as Albania truly feels like an eagle rising from the ashes.
11 nights in hotels
15 meals: 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 4 dinners
UK Return flights and transfers // Saga tour manager // Porterage at all hotels // Fast track security and airport lounge UK // Welcome drink and dinner // Drinks party // Farewell dinner // Meet and greet at the airport // Social activities
Excursions and visits
City tour of Tirana, including a visit to Bunk Art I // Tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site Gjirokastra // Explore UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint // Visit Llogara National Park // Dinner in a restaurant overlooking the city of Sarande Tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site Berat – city of a thousand windows // Sightseeing tour of Elbasan
Day 1 UK-Tirana
After meeting your Solos tour manager at the airport, fly to Tirana.
Transfer to the locally rated 4-starHotel Colosseo for a two-night stay, enjoying a panoramic tour en route. Albanias capital is backed by the impressive Datji Mountain range. Look forward to a welcome dinner and drinks this evening where you can get to know the rest of your group. D
Day 2 Tirana
After breakfast, spend the morning exploring the city on a sightseeing tour with a local guide.
The colourful capital has a thriving street art scene and cafe culture having undergone a thorough transformation after the collapse of communism in 1992. Visit the main boulevard, Skandenbeg Square, named after the national hero of Albania, and surrounded by the Palace of Culture, National Historical Museum and the Et’hem Bey Mosque, one of the nation’s most treasured buildings. Youll also see Tiranas concrete pyramid, a derelict museum built by the daughter of Albanias dictator Enver Hoxha, and now a famous landmark. Learn more of the countrys fascinating history, with included tickets for the National Historic Museum.
This afternoon is free to spend at leisure, either at your hotel, or exploring independently. B
Day 3 Tirana-Pogradec
After breakfast depart on a scenic drive back to Pogradec, stopping en-route for a sightseeing tour of Elbasan.
Originally a trading post on one of the most important routes of the Roman Empire, Elbasan was established as a military stronghold in 1466 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in his fight against the Albanian nationalist Skanderberg. Explore the remains of the Sultans castle with its mix of eastern and medieval architecture, including the ruins of a Basilica, the oldest active mosque in Albania, King Mosque, and 15th-century St Marys church and monastery. As with many of the sights you visit on this trip the lack of tourists and accessibility leaves you with the impression that you are blazing a new trail on the map of European tourism.
Continue your journey, stopping for lunch at your own expense en route, before arriving in Pogradec situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid one of Europes deepest and oldest lakes. This afternoon enjoy an included sightseeing tour of the city with a visit to the promenade, with the remainder of afternoon at leisure. Stay two nights at the locally rated 3-starHotel Pogradec. B
Day 4 Pogradec
Spend the day at leisure or, alternatively, join an optional excursion to the city of Ohrid. B
Day 5 Pogradec-Berat
After breakfast, begin your transfer to Berat, passing through the Belshi and Dumreja region, famed for its number of lakes more than 85 in total! Stop for lunch at an Albanian home where youll experience a traditional meal, Rakia and Turkish coffee.
On arrival in Berat, transfer to the locally rated 4-starHotel Grand White Citywhere youll stay overnight.
This afternoon, set off on a walking tour of Berat, one of the worlds oldest continually inhabited cities. Rising up from the waters of the river Osum, on terraces of limestone, Berats glistening white Ottoman dwellings have earned it the moniker of city of a thousand windows. As you climb the foot-worn, cobbled streets to the castle, you pass umpteen buildings of architectural and historical importance and slip into the cool cloisters of Onufri Museum, hidden in the Church of the Dormition of St Mary. Here youll find spectacular 16th-century paintings and the faded frescos of the chapel. B, L
Day 6 Berat-Saranda
Today journey to Albanias southern coast, driving towards Saranda.
Pause en route in the harbour city of Vlore, where Albanian independence was declared in 1912. As you continue, your route takes you into the mountains. Perhaps treat yourself to lunch at a restaurant in the Llogara National Park, looking down to the ocean below. A national park since 1966, and benefiting from a moratorium on logging and hunting, Llogara is a haven for over 100 species of animals and birds, including deer and wild cats, so keep your eyes peeled. Continue winding your way along the Albanian Riviera, stopping to admire seaside beauty spots where the petticoats of the ika Mountain range meet the Ionian.
On arrival in Saranda, transfer to the locally rated 5-starHotel Santa Quarantafor a three-night stay, and spend the afternoon at leisure. B
Day 7 Saranda
After breakfast set out on a adventure tour of Butrint, where Albanias most important archaeological site is found.
Set in beautiful Mediterranean scenery the site features evidence of settlement dating back to prehistoric times. However the most outstanding ruins are that of a Greek theatre and paleo-Christian baptistry, which features a beautifully preserved mosaic floor adapted from a Roman ruin and paleo-Christian basilica that was rebuilt in the 9th century. Visiting the site is to experience a bygone age of tourism, leaving you with the feeling that you are among the first visitors to set eyes on these historical relics. Visit the village of Ksamil where youll have free time for lunch overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea, before returning to Saranda. B
Day 8 Saranda
Today youll have the majority of the at leisure. Perhaps unwind on the beach or by the outdoor pool, or continue exploring Saranda at your own pace.
Later this afternoon, join an included short visit to Saranda city centre and the ruined Lekursi Castle which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Enjoy dinner at the site and the incredible views reaching as far as Corfu island. B, D
Day 9 Saranda-Gjirokastr-Durrs
After breakfast travel to Durrs, stopping en-route in Gjirokastr.
Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its perfectly preserved Ottoman old town, Gjirokastr was also the birthplace of the old communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, whose former home is now a museum. Enjoy an authentic Greek coffee in the bazaar before rummaging through the traditional craft shops and exploring the military museum in the Fortress of Gjirokastr and the Castle of Argjiro. Perhaps the most bizarre relic in the grounds of the fortress is an American Air Force jet which was forced to land in Albania in 1957 and is displayed to represent Communisms struggle with Western imperialism.
After experiencing Gjirokastr pause at the Blue Eye natural springs, a popular local tourist attraction where crystal clear water bubbles up from a 50-metre-deep sinkhole.
Continue to Durrs for a three-night stay at the locally rated 4-starSandy Beach Resort Golem. B
Day 10 Durrs
At leisure. Relax by the hotel pool or enjoy a day on the private beach, with cooling dips in the inviting Adriatic.
Alternatively, join an optional tour of the historic sites of Durrs and a wine and local produce tasting at the oldest winery in Albania. B
Day 11 Durrs
At leisure. However, if youre feeling adventurous, set out on an optional excursion to see the little-viewed historical sites of Kruja and Fishte.
Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening. B, D
Day 12 Durres-Tirana-UK
After breakfast and a morning at leisure, transfer to Tirana airport for your return flight to the UK. B