The Far North

Albania, Montenegro, Kosovo & Northern Macedonia

10 days

Tour reference: AMKMN1-10-UK

Description:

Discovery trip to sites listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. A journey of pleasure and beauty by offering an immersion on the shores of the Ionian Sea. This itinerary leads the traveler to landscapes, cities, places… all more surprising to each other. With its incursion into Northern Macedonia and the crossing of the Shar Mountains, the beauty of this journey will leave an indelible mark.

Day 1

Arrival – Tirana


Welcome by an Italian-speaking guide at the meeting point. Departure by bus to Tirana, the capital of Albania. Luggage deposit at the hotel. Direction the cable car for the ascent of Mt Dajti. Lunch at an altitude of about 1000 meters in a panoramic restaurant, offering an exceptional view of Tirana, its surroundings and, on a clear day, the Adriatic Sea.
Return by cable car to Tirana and visit the “House of Leaves” museum, which tells visitors about one of the darkest periods in Albanian history. The museum is dedicated to all those who have endured torture, assassinations, arrests and surveillance organised by the Albanian secret services.
Visit of the Bunk’Art2 museum dedicated to the preservation of the collective memory and telling the history of the communist regime and its horrors.
Visit of the city center and its famous “Block” via the Tabakëve bridge, built in the 18th century in the heart of Tirana.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.
Day 2

Tirana – Shkodra – Bar – Sveti Stefan - Budva


Founded in the 4th century BC, Shkodra is one of the oldest cities in Albania. It was the capital of the last kingdom of Illyria. Crossed by major trade routes, the city has known several good times throughout its history. During the Ottoman period, Shkodra was a major economic and cultural center as a trading post on the road linking Prizren to Italian ports.
Visit of the city center of Shkodra and walk along Pedonalja or Kole Idromeno street where the past and present of the city blend harmoniously.
Head for Montenegro along the Velipojie Nature Park, cross the border and head for Bar. The old town of Stari Bar is perched on the authors about 4 km from the current port city. Stari Bar was partially destroyed by the Ottomans in 1878 and supplemented by the 1979 earthquake. The route crossed the new port city and will continue towards Sveti Stefan, nicknamed the jewel of the Buva Riviera.
Stevi Stefan was an ancient independent republic since the 12th century and since its existence, the place has been considered a pirate’s den. At the beginning of the 15th century, the island accepted the protectorate of the Republic of Venice to protect itself from the Ottomans. Under Tito, the last inhabitants of the island were expropriated and evacuated. Stefi Stefan became a luxury hotel where celebrities such as Orson Welles, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe, Kirk Douglas and many others took their summer habits there. Stevi Stefan is now a 5* luxury hotel. Unfortunately, access to it is therefore private.
Arrival in the evening in Budva. Budva is simply the tourist heart of Montenegro, famous for its sandy beaches, wild evenings and above all its well-preserved old town. Night visit to the Stari Grad district.
Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 3

Budva – Kotor – Cetinje - Podgorica


Kotor is the city of fairy tales in Montenegro. Kotor is a vice grip whose jaws are the mountains and the sea. Kotor breathes in the midst of medieval churches, cathedrals, palaces, monuments, ramparts. Kotor wakes up to the sound of serenade, music and falls asleep cuddling his old squares filled with modern cafés or listening to the echo left by the steps on the cobbled streets. A walk in the old town.
Direction Njegusi by taking the road to the 24 bends, all numbered. The ascent is dotted with stopping points to take pictures of Kotor Bay. Located at an altitude of 900 meters, this village is known for its famous goat cheese, smoked ham and the quality of its honey. A stopover will be necessary for lovers of specialities.
Cetinje is simply a cultural treasure. Located at the foot of Lovcen National Park, Cetinje was first mentioned in the middle of the 15th century when the Vlaska Church was built. The village was ruled by the Orthodox church until 1692 when the Ottomans eventually conquered it. Cetinje was the capital of Montenegro for centuries and according to some, was the starting point of its spirituality and state organization. Visit of the city and its most important places.
Arrival in the early evening in Podgorica. The capital of Montenegro, the city remained for a long time a military fortification used by the Ottomans, allowing them to control and secure the trade routes. Podgorica was practically destroyed during the Second World War.
Night walk in the city center.
Dinner in a restaurant and overnight in a hotel.
Day 4

Podgorica – Peja


Direction Peja in Kosovo. The route will follow the Moraça Canyon, one of the most visited canyons in Montenegro due to its beauty and the diversity of its landscapes. A short stop in one of the most touristic villages in northern Montenegro: Kolasin, founded by the Ottomans in the 17th century. On this long journey, another stop is planned in the village of Berane. The Ottomans built a fortress there in 1862. Then to Rozaje, a village surrounded by wooded mountains, where the guide will try to get the doors of the Rozaje tower opened to visit a magnificent interior.
The small town of Peja still retains the cultural imprint of the Ottomans whose descendants still reside in the region. Walk in Peja to discover this cultural heritage: the Bazaar, the hammam or the Bajrakli mosque.
Dinner in a restaurant and overnight at the hotel.
Day 5

Peja – Prishtina


The small town of Peja still retains the cultural imprint of the Ottomans whose descendants still reside in the region. Walk in Peja to discover this cultural heritage: the Bazaar, the hammam or the Bajrakli mosque.
Direction Prishtina, capital of the last state born and not yet recognized by all nations. Since its inception, Prishtina has been at the heart of many conflicts and divisions. The Romans, then the Ottomans, the wars and finally the Serbian attempt in 1999 to put an end to the actions of the Kosovo Liberation Army left its mark on the cultural and social life of the inhabitants. Today, a young and dynamic population is trying to revive the economy of the city, the lung of Kosovo.
Prishtina is home to many cultural institutions, such as the Kosovo National Theatre, the National Museum of Archaeology, or Natural or Ethnographic Science. There are also many galleries and bookstores. But beyond these institutions, the city is teeming with life with its many clubs, bars and restaurants. Visit of the city center and the Ethnographic Museum.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.
Day 6

Prishtina - Skopje


On the way to Northern Macedonia. Before crossing the border, the trip will stop to visit the Monastery of Gračanica. Its first construction dates back to 1321 and it was built on the ruins of a 6th century basilica. It is currently under the protection of UNESCO. During the Ottoman Empire it became a very important cultural center. After the Kosovo war, the Archbishop of the Orthodox Church in Kosovo will transfer his offices there, making Gračanica a place of spiritual importance for the Kosovo Serb community.
A little further along the itinerary, a visit to the Gadima cave is a must. This cave was discovered in 1966 by a peasant who was trying to recover stones to build his house and discovered a hole containing blocks of marble. Since then, the cave has been nicknamed the marble cave. About 1500 meters long, it contains a lake and impressive stalactites several meters high in various colours.
Arrival in Skopje in the early afternoon. Skopje, the capital of Northern Macedonia, where Macedonian and Albanian culture is mixed, has an interesting mix of cultures. Being on the caravan route, Skopje flourished during the Ottoman Empire, but lost its splendour after the great war against the Turks. Skopje took about 2 centuries to recover a semblance of fulfilment. Its history allows us to find a rich heritage that can be admired today by visiting the mosques, churches, the old bazaar or the modern city. Visit of the city’s places of interest.

Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.

Day 7

Skopje – Tetovo – Shar Mountains - Prizren


Direction Tetovo, at the foot of the Shar Mountains. The city has received a very strong Ottoman influence and has acquired a rich heritage. Visit to the Sharena Mosque and the Tekke Arabati Baba.
The Sharena Mosque was built in 1438 and was financed by two sisters from Tetovo. It was rebuilt in 1833. Unlike traditional mosques covered with earthenware, Sharena is painted. During its reconstruction in 1833, Adburrahman Pasha commissioned Debar’s painters to cover the walls and ceilings of the mosque with oil-painted ornaments.
The Tekke Arabati Baba was built in 1538 by a dervish. It remained the seat of the Bektashis until 1921, when the Ottomans left the region. After the Second World War, it became a property of the Yugoslav government, which turned it into a hotel. Recently, the Bektashis order was able to recover it and began a long restoration work. However, it is one of the best preserved Tekke in the Balkans.
Return to Kosovo and travel through the Shar Mountains. Shar means colorful. The road will meander through the sandstones of the valleys and open onto landscapes that are more beautiful than the others.
The permanent colours of the vegetation, the changing light, the lack of housing, the diverse landscapes, give the impression of travelling in another universe. Stop at Prevala and relax to admire the admirable.
Prizren, famous for its ancient architecture, has always been a nerve center for the Ottomans. Indeed, its position made it possible to control all the trading routes. After its capture by the armies of the Ottoman Empire, the city became the capital of the region that extended as far as Tetovo in Macedonia. Evening visit to the Shadervan district, Sinan Pasha Mosque, and Mahmet Pasha Hamam.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.
Day 8

Prizren – Gjakova – Lake Koman - Durres

During the Ottoman Empire, the city of Gjakova benefited greatly from its location. Located on the Shkodra – Constantinople trade route, it quickly became a place of economic and cultural exchange. Partially destroyed during the Kosovo war, it is now one of the most beautiful cities on the peninsula. Visit of its center and its bazaar, the oldest in Kosovo.

Departure for Lake Koman to reach the city of Fierze by ferry. Lake Koman is surrounded by densely wooded hills, steep slopes, deep gorges, this cruise from about 2h30 to 3h00 hours allows you to discover these unique landscapes resulting from the erosion of the Albanian Alps by the Drin River. This crossing is an unforgettable experience.

Durres, the second largest city in the country and which was once the departure point for via Egnatia. It allowed to go to Byzantium by crossing Albania and Greece. Visit of the city center.

Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.

Day 9

Durres - Kruja


Visit to Durres the Roman Amphitheatre built in the 2nd century. This site is considered the second most important in terms of importance in the Balkans: it is inscribed on UNESCO’s list. Today, little work has been done to restore it, but it is possible to imagine the excitement that could reign there during the time of its greatness. It is currently used as an open-air museum.
Visit the Archaeological Museum of Durres, which contains art objects from the Greek, Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Drive to Kruja, an ancient medieval city. Visit the Skanderbeg Museum, one of the most visited places in Albania. Accessible via the bazaar, it is located in the heart of the historic citadel of Kruja and is dedicated to the Albanian national hero, Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. The museum also has a collection of objects dating back to the wars between Albanians and Ottomans in the 15th century.
Visit to the Ethnographic Museum of Kruja. It is located in the citadel in a house that belonged to one of the richest families of the 18th century. In a setting of elaborate ceilings and sumptuous murals, it presents objects and scenes of life that help us understand how an Albanian family lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.
Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.
Day 10

Kruja – Departure


Transfer to Rinas airport and delivery of the vehicle to the rental agency.
INCLUDED
Hotels : See tab above 9* Breakfasts
9* Dinners 1* Lunch (day 1)
Transport*

-Up to 4/5 persons: Vehicle type Skodia Fabia, VW Polo or equivalent. Insurance included. Does not include border crossing insurance and fuel or any other fees such as parking…
– Up to 6/8 persons: Minivan type Ford Transit or equivalent. Insurance included. Does not include border crossing insurance and fuel or any other fees such as parking…

Cable car
Ferry – Passengers only Roadbook in English
All local taxes (except in Montenegro) A 0.5l bottle of water per person is served with meals
NOT INCLUDED
All personal expenses of participants All visits not mentioned in this program
Beverages not mentioned above, such as alcohols Tips and gratuities
Travel insurance Air transport means

*Note: Vehicle models are given for information only. Another model can be proposed or given according to availability. Other models are available for rental and can be rented on request.

Transport

  • Up to 4/5 persons: Vehicle type Skodia Fabia, VW Polo or equivalent. Insurance included. Does not include border crossing insurance and fuel or any other fees such as parking…
  • Up to 6/8 persons: Minivan type Ford Transit or equivalent. Insurance included. Does not include border crossing insurance and fuel or any other fees such as parking…

Note: Vehicle models are given for information only. Another model can be proposed or given according to availability.

Tour based on arrival and departure times before 11:30 am.

Depending on the season and/or the availability of the restaurants, dinners may be taken in the hotels.

Local guiding services (city private local tour) can be proposed upon request.

Perast _ Vue sur l’église Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire et l'îlot No… _ Flickr.
View of Citadel with Historical Museum - Kruja - Albania
Perast _ Vue sur l’église Notre-Dame-du-Rosaire et l'îlot No… _ Flickr.

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