We depart from London Gatwick on a direct British Airways flight to Tirana - other regional flight connections and/or overnight accommodation before or after the tour available on request. On arrival we will be met by our coach and transferred to our modern hotel located in the city centre. In the afternoon we will enjoy a tour of Tirana including visits to the Mosaics of Tirana, Skanderbeg Square, the Mosque of Et’hem Bej and the National Historical Museum.
We return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening.
Following breakfast this morning we will drive to Durrës on the Adriatic coast, which dates from the 7th century BC and was the historical capital of Albania between 1276 and 1920. Here we will visit one of the largest amphitheatres in the Balkans, located within the walls of the castle. We will wander through the galleries of the amphitheatre and walk through the main gate to the arena where 1800 years ago people would cheer the winning gladiator asking the Emperor for his freedom.
In the afternoon we will return to Tirana and visit the University Archaeological Museum.
Dinner is served in the evening.
This morning after breakfast we depart for the archaeological site of Apollonia, the second largest Greek colony in Albania, which like Durrës dates from the 7th century BC. We visit the Odeon, the Pritaneon, the temple of Diana and the monastery next to the site, which is built with marble and stone taken from the temple and the old Greek theatre.
Following our time here we will continue along the beautiful coast by the Bay of Vlora, through the Coldwater tunnel, next to the villa of former dictator Enver Hoxha, and alongside the orange plantations of Radhima. As we leave Radhima we will see the landscape change as we climb up to 1100 metres above sea level through the forest of Llogara National Park. We will stop for a photo opportunity at the top of the pass before descending back down to sea level on the recently rebuilt "Strada Bianca" road.
We continue our drive south through the seven villages of the Himara region. The region of Himara is 72 km long and is rich with natural and historical monuments such as Llamany beach and the 18th century Panormi castle of Ali Pasha. After visiting the springs of Borshi we continue our travel towards Saranda arriving late afternoon to our hotel where we will overnight.
Dinner will be in a local fish restaurant this evening.
Following breakfast we will depart for an all day visit to the World Heritage site of Butrint. The ancient city of Butrinti was founded in the 7th century BC by the Corkirians, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995. What began as a Greek colony became one of the most important towns in the Mediterranean and a Roman colony in the 1st century AD. We will admire the theatre, the temple of Asclepeon, the Baptisteries, the Gymnasium, the aqueduct, the largest Basilica in south Albania. We will also visit the Venetian castle situated on top of the town, where a very interesting small museum hosts original artefacts discovered during the excavations.
In the evening just before sunset we will go for dinner to Lekuresi Castle located on top of the hill overlooking the bay of Saranda. We will enjoy the sunset with views of the Island of Corfu in the middle of the blue Ionian waters.
We return to our hotel in Saranda.
After breakfast we will drive over the mountains from Saranda to the Gjirokastra valley and the town of Gjirokastra. Our visit starts with the 8th century castle museum which was formerly a prison. After the castle we visit the ethnographic museum, better known as the birthplace of the former dictator, Enver Hoxha. We will have some time to wander through the 18th century bazaar before we end our day with a visit to Antigonea Archaeological Park.
We will overnight in Gjirokastra – dinner will be served in the hotel in the evening.
This morning after breakfast we continue north to visit the remote site of Byllis, which is dramatically situated on a mountain top overlooking the Vjose River valley.
This evening we will overnight at Berat. Dinner will be served in the hotel.
We depart this morning after breakfast to explore the attractive Mediaeval town of Berat, situated on a hill dominating the River Osum and its gorge. Berat has been a UNESCO World Heritage town since 2008.
Our visit in Berat begins from the 4th century BC castle where we will admire the Byzantine era icons in the Onufri Icon Gallery which is located within the old cathedral of the town. We will visit Byzantine churches and mosques before returning to our hotel where dinner will be served in the evening.
Sadly we must check out of our hotel this morning and begin our drive back to Tirana airport in time for our return flight to Gatwick.