Wintertime 

Albania & Montenegro

10 days

Tour reference: WAM1-10-UK

Description:

A discovery tour that invites visitors to explore the history of a region, but also to admire the cultural treasures left by our ancestors. The route crosses picturesque and mountainous landscapes that only nature can offer. High in color and architecture, the itinerary leads to cities and sites that are part of UNESCO’s heritage.

Day 1

Airport – Tirana

Welcome by an English-speaking guide at the “Mother Theresa” airport in Tirana. Departure by bus to Tirana, the capital of Albania. Luggage deposit at the hotel.

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 tortures, 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.

Direction the cable car for the ascent of Mt Dajti. Dinner at an altitude of about 1000 meters in a panoramic restaurant, offering an exceptional view of Tirana, its surroundings and, in clear weather, the Adriatic Sea.

Overnight at the hotel.

”Day
Day 3

Budva – Kotor – Perast - Budva

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 city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the way for a complete visit of Kotor Bay.

Perast is a small town with a street right next to the sea. Perast’s houses look like well-dressed members of a choir performing on a miniature stage. They rise and sing their ode to the beautiful bay and islands in front of them, while being carefully supervised by the choir director – St. Nicholas Church. Like the entire Bay of Boka, Perast was the target of Byzantium, Venice, Austria-Hungary and France, which left their mark on the city’s architectural and cultural DNA. Walk along the bay and visit its museum.

The museum is located in the former palace of Captain Visko Bujovic, built in 1694 and a symbol of Perast’s golden age after his liberation from Turkish rule.

The route continues along the bay, passing through villages like Risan to Kamenari. Crossing the bay by ferry to reach Donji Stoliv, then Muo. This tour is a combination of majestic history, culture and incredible nature on the Montenegrin coast.

Dinner in a restaurant and overnight in a hotel.

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 city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

On the way for a complete visit of Kotor Bay.

Perast is a small town with a street right next to the sea. Perast’s houses look like well-dressed members of a choir performing on a miniature stage. They rise and sing their ode to the beautiful bay and islands in front of them, while being carefully supervised by the choir director – St. Nicholas Church. Like the entire Bay of Boka, Perast was the target of Byzantium, Venice, Austria-Hungary and France, which left their mark on the city’s architectural and cultural DNA. Walk along the bay and visit its museum.

The museum is located in the former palace of Captain Visko Bujovic, built in 1694 and a symbol of Perast’s golden age after his liberation from Turkish rule.

The route continues along the bay, passing through villages like Risan to Kamenari. Crossing the bay by ferry to reach Donji Stoliv, then Muo. This tour is a combination of majestic history, culture and incredible nature on the Montenegrin coast.

Dinner in a restaurant and overnight in a hotel.

Day 4

Budva - Cetinje – Podgorica - Shkodra

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 its city centre and the National Museum of Montenegro. King Nikola Palace offers a unique opportunity to familiarize yourself with the rooms that have hosted some of the most significant events in Montenegrin history. Authentic artifacts will bring the habits and lifestyle of the Royal Family of Montenegro closer together.

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. Downtown walk.

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 centre as a trading post on the road linking Prizren to Italian ports.

Visit of the city centre of Shkodra and walk along Pedonalja or Kole Idromeno street where the past and present of the city blend harmoniously.

Dinner in a restaurant and overnight in a hotel.

Day 5

Shkodra - Durres

In Shkodra, visit the National Museum of Photography in Marubi. The museum houses more than ½ million photographs of the Marubi dynasty’s heritage from 1856 to 1989, including negatives, historical images and photographic objects belonging to three generations of photographers. It is a unique opportunity to learn more about Albania’s history through a rare collection of photos.

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 centre.

Visit of 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.

A walk in the city center.

Dinner in a restaurant and overnight in a hotel.

Day 6

Durres – Ardenica - Apollonia – Vlora - Llogara

South-facing road and stop for a visit to the Nativity Monastery of Theotokus of Ardenica, also known as the Ardenica Monastery. It was originally built in 1282 after the victory of the Angevins at the siege of Berat. Kastriot Skenderbeg, Albanian national hero, celebrated his marriage there in 1451. It offers a collection of murals, icons and religious art objects. His bookstore of more than 32,000 books was unfortunately burned down in 1932.

Visit of the archaeological site of Apollonia in Fier. Exceptionally preserved, it was built in the 6th century BC by Greek settlers from Corfu and Corinth. It was an obligatory point of passage for travelers taking the Via Egnatia. The city flourished in the 4th century, becoming an important place of exchange and trade that could accommodate up to 40,000 people. The site houses an archaeological museum: the Sainte Marie church and its monastery.

Arrival in Vlora. Visit of the historical center: the Independence Square, where Ismail Qemali raised the national flag and proclaimed Albania’s independence on 28 November 1912. Unfortunately, two years later, Italian troops invaded Albania. Visit of the history museum and then the Independence Museum.

Direction Llogara and the Albanian Riviera.

Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.

Day 7

Llogara – Butrint - Gjirokaster

Beautiful winding road. The itinerary winds along the Albanian Riviera, offering plunging views of a turquoise sea, a symphony of colours and rich landscapes where each moment of the day will unfold its nuances of colours like a painter in his canvas.

A stop in the villages of Kudhes and/or Borsh or Qeparo or Himara can be made. These typical villages of the region have a long history. As villages of farmers or sinners, they have managed to preserve their traditions and cultures despite the oppression exercised by communism.

Shortly after Saranda, visit the monastery of Saint George. Dating from the 14th century, it is one of Albania’s cultural monuments. Its position allows you to admire the Ionian Sea on one side, and Lake Butrint on the other.

Butrint has been on UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites since 1992 and has been inhabited from prehistoric times to the Middle Ages. The current site, combining archaeology and nature, is a true museum representative of each period of the city’s development. Its Roman theatre, baptistery, mosaic, basilica ruins and ancient fortifications give this place outstanding universal value.

The birthplace of Ismail Kadaré, an Albanian writer often nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature, Gjirokaster is on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites. Its winding and paved streets, its typical bunched houses and particular roofs have earned it the nickname of “Stone City”.  It is the exceptional testimony of a society and a way of life that has almost disappeared.

Head for the old bazaar in the city center, where you can immerse yourself in Albanian culture and discover a wide variety of local products.

Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.

Day 8

Gjirokaster - Berat

Also in Gjirokaster, visit the Argjiro citadel and its museum, which houses remains of the Second World War and various artifacts. A repository of symbols of Albanian traditions and culture, the citadel has hosted the festival of polyphonic groups since 1986. Their interpretation is classified as cultural heritage by UNESCO.

Direction Berat, the city with 2400 years of history. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008, Berat, better known as “the city of 1000 windows”, is unique in its kind.

Visit of the fortress and the National Museum of the Icons of Onufri, a 16th century Albanian painter famous for having used pink – then rare – in his works. The museum is housed inside the Sainte Mary’s Church, built in the 10th century.

Visit of the Gorica district, then of the Mangalem district with its typical houses, which can be reached by crossing the Osum river.

Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.

Day 9

Berat – Kruja

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 allow us to understand how an Albanian family lived in the 18th and 19th centuries.

End of the afternoon free for the visit of the bazaar.

Dinner in a traditional restaurant and overnight at the hotel.

Day 10

Departure

Period: From November to March.

INCLUDED
Hotels: See list of hotels below 9* Breakfasts
9* Dinners Transportation
English-speaking guide Local guide in Montenegro
Cable car All visits mentioned in this program
All local taxes 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

– Day 1: Hotel Mondial 4* https://www.hotelmondial.al/

– Day 2: Hotel Harmonia 4* https://www.harmoniahotel.com/

– Day 3: Hotel Harmonia 4* https://www.harmoniahotel.com/

– Day 4: Hotel Rozafa 4* https://www.hotelrozafa.al/

– Day 5: Hotel Blue Marine Residence 4* https://bluemarineresidence.com/

– Day 6: Hotel Tourist Village Llogara 3* http://llogora.com/

– Day 7: Hotel Argjiro 4* http://www.hotelargjiro.al/

– Day 8: Hotel Grand City White 3* http://www.whitecityberat.com/

– Day 9: Hotel Panorama 4* http://hotelpanoramakruje.com/

– Day 5: Hotel Panorama 4* http://hotelpanoramakruje.com/

Tour based on arrival times before 11:30 am.

Depending on weather conditions and/or restaurant availability, dinners may be picked up at hotels.

The program can be slightly modified according to the opening and closing hours of the places visited.

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