The Balkans

Essential Albania

Photo credit: Chris Lira

Duration
9 Days
Price
From $3,695
Trip Type
Private
Group Size
Your choice
Activity Level
12345

Up, Down, and Around Albania

Overview

Country cousin of Greece and Italy, relatively obscure Albania has miles of unspoiled coastline, Greek and Roman ruins, and well-preserved vestiges of its Ottoman heritage. Beginning in the capital, Tirana, travel overland up and down Albania’s lovely Adriatic coast, discovering secluded hamlets and medieval fortresses, Byzantine churches and monasteries, and Ottoman-era mosques and minarets.

Travels to: Albania

Map

Essential Albania Map

Itinerary

  • Days 1-3: Tirana (Albania), Kruja, Shkodra

    Visit the museums and mosques of the capital, Tirana, then meet with local villagers in a private home to learn firsthand about life in rural Albania over a home-cooked dinner. Head out on a day trip to Kruja, admiring its medieval hillside fortress, browsing the Turkish Bazaar’s colorful stalls for traditional handicrafts and alabaster jewelry, and inspecting the impressive fortress ruins of lakeside Shkodra.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Albania’s capital, brightly-painted Tirana
    • Kruja’s fortress, ethnographic museum, and medieval Turkish bazaar
  • Days 4-5: Elbasan, Pogradec, Korce, Permet, Gjirokastra

    Head south to the former Turkish stronghold of Elbasan, admiring its ancient city walls and St. Mary’s Orthodox Church. Continue to Pogradec on the shores of UNESCO-listed Lake Ohrid, and spend a night in the Greek border town of Korce. Stroll through the small town of Permet, famed for its fiery raki alcoholic drink, then drive through the mountains to the UNESCO-listed Ottoman town of Gjirokastra.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Pogradec’s ancient Illyrian fortress
    • Korce’s Museum of Medieval Art with its thousands of icons; visit to first Albanian school
    • UNESCO-listed Gjirokastra, with its 13th century citadel and National Military Museum
  • Days 6-9: Saranda, Apollonia, Berat, Durres, Tirana

    Admire the 6th century BC ruins of Butrint – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – before dipping down to coastal Saranda, the unofficial “capital” of the Albanian Riviera. Explore the ancient ruins of Apollonia, mentioned by both Aristotle and Cicero. On the return to Tirana, visit UNESCO-listed medieval Berat and the massive Roman amphitheater in coastal Durres.

    HIGHLIGHTS

    • Saranda, lively resort town on the Albanian Riviera
    • UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint with its 2500-year-old fortifications, 3rd century BC amphitheater, temples, public baths, and houses
    • Ruins of ancient Apollonia, built as far back as 558 BC and surrounded by a Roman wall
    • Berat, with one of the Balkans’ best-preserved medieval citadels, towering above the Old Town
    • Durres and its Roman amphitheater – largest in the Balkans

Dates & Prices

Please note:

  • Private trip prices vary by season and are subject to hotel availability for your travel dates.
  • Listed prices below are based on double occupancy and a 2 traveler minimum.
  • Hotel upgrades, additional nights, and solo traveler prices are available on request.

Land tour price, per person, starting from:

  • 2020 Dates
    Available: January - December
    Tour, double occupancy
    $3,695
    Single supplement
    $595
  • 2021 Dates
    Available: January - December
    Tour, double occupancy
    $3,795
    Single supplement
    $650

What's Included

  • Tour Includes
    • Shared accommodations as noted in the itinerary. Contact MIR for hotel upgrade prices.
    • Meals, as noted in the itinerary.
    • One arrival and one departure transfer. Additional arrival and departure transfers available at additional cost.) MIR will arrange for travelers to be met upon arrival and seen off on departure, whether or not we make your air arrangements.
    • Ground transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle (type of vehicle depends on number of travelers in your group.)
    • Services of experienced, English-speaking local guides, drivers, and other staff, as noted in the itinerary.
    • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees, as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Special events, excursions, and cultural performances, as outlined in the itinerary.
    • Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
    • Final document packet, including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
    • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost).
  • Not Included
    • International airfare and taxes/fuel surcharges.
    • Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
    • Single supplement if requested or required.
    • Baggage handling.
    • Gratuities to local guides, drivers, porters, and other service personnel.
    • Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
    • Travel-related insurance, including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
    • Visa fees, excess-baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination and other medical costs.
    • Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
    • Items of a personal nature, such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol

Activity Level

Level 2: Moderate, but Customizable

This ‘Essential’ itinerary, which is designed for private travel, features long days walking and standing, and some possibly long days in the touring vehicle. Only those fit to travel and who accept the local conditions should consider joining this program.

There is a significant amount of touring on foot, and those travelers planning to take the program as written should be able to walk one to two miles a day comfortably. Footing can be an issue and travelers should be able to negotiate cobblestones, uneven surfaces (possibly steep and/or wet), and deal with situations without handrails or ramps. In the hotels, you may find that showers/baths have steep steps up or ledges, which can become slippery and require extra caution. Some attractions are only accessible via steep staircases. Museums rarely have elevators, and hotels may not have elevators as well.

Past travelers have also encountered challenges with plumbing, bureaucratic service, variety of locally available foods, and availability and quality of public restrooms.

Accommodations in the basic program are generally three to four-star hotels, some quite small with basic amenities and services. Upgrades may be available, please call for details.

 

Traveler Reviews

  • "Our local guides were excellent. They gave us a good understanding of the history and culture of their areas in a dynamic way."

    D. & J. Kruger

    Exeter, NH