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  • Departing from?Dublin + 3
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  • When?March 2015
  • How long for?7 nights
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Explore Albania
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Explore Albania

  • 10 Night Holiday
  • B&B
View Dates & Prices

If you think you know Albania, think again. This Balkan gem offers rugged coastlines, unspoiled beaches, towering snow-capped peaks, lush national parks, UNESCO World Heritage sites, a kaleidoscope of culture and authentic local charm.

Whether you are discovering ancient ruins by horseback in Gjirokastër, sampling traditional food with the locals in Berat, hiking towards hidden waterfalls in rural Albania, independently wandering the colourful streets of Tirana or exploring Llogora National Park by foot, our small group tour of Albania is designed to allow you to uncover one of Europe’s best kept secrets.

Staying in a combination of 3 and 4 star hotels, and beginning with a 2 night stay on the Greek Island of Corfu, we will get you off the beaten track in a country that has remarkably managed to avoid mass tourism. There is still a beautiful undiscovered ambience to the country, but it will not be long before the secret is out. If you are looking for something different, look no further than our Albanian adventure.

 

Practical Information for this holiday

Currency

Albania: Lek (L) 

Greece: Euro (€)

Local Time
Ireland/UK Time +1 hour
Passport
A valid passport is required for this holiday. EU members do not need a visa, however non-EU members should check with their local embassy. 
Climate

Albania has a Mediterranean climate. The average temperatures in September can be between 15°C and 27°C.

Average Prices for Region
  • Coffee: €1.45
  • Beer: €4.00
  • Glass of wine: €3.50
  • Main course: €12.00
  • Soft Drink: €2.00
  • Bottled Water: €0.50
Packing List
  • Your valid passport
  • Sun cream
  • A continental plug adaptor
  • A small backpack
  • A sun hat
  • Sturdy walking boots with ankle support
  • Camera
Recommended Reading/Viewing

April’s Fools Day by Josip Novakovich

The Sound of Blue by Holly Payne

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

 

Holiday highlights

Gjirokastër

The late leader of Albania, Enver Hoxha, was born in Gjirokastër and helped to preserve this former Ottoman town. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is overlooked by Gjirokastër Castle, which was built in the 12th Century and offers amazing views of the surrounding area. From the 1930s up until the fall of communism in Albania, the castle was used as a prison and today you can visit its fascinating military museum.  

Bogovë Waterfall

Enjoy a short, but challenging hike to Bogovë Waterfall, located in Bogovë Nature Park. For those who are feeling adventurous you can enjoy a dip in the cool, yet refreshing, turquoise pools at the foot of the waterfall. 

Berat

Berat, which means ‘White City’ in old Southern Slavic language, became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2008. It’s located in central Albania on the Osum River and is famous for its white Ottoman houses, Berat Castle and its reconstructed medieval bazaar. You can also enjoy a visit to the National Iconographic Museum “Onufri” which is dedicated to Byzantine art and iconography.  

Tirana

Known as the beating heart of Albania, Tirana is a relatively new tourist destination and a quirky capital of Europe. After being under the Soviet Union communist regime for many years, the city has been brought to life by its colourful buildings, growing café culture, vibrant bars and Albanian hospitality. During your time in Tirana, you can discover the city’s famous landmarks, such as Scanderbeg Square, Piramida and Et’hem Bey Mosque. You may also easily and quickly access Mt Dajti National Park by taking the Dajti Express, a cable car from suburbs of Tirana, and enjoy the stunning views from the top.

Llogora National Park

During a half day hike you will explore Llogora National Park, declared as national park by Albania in 1966, which is located beside the Ceraunian Mountains and the Ionian Sea. The park contains vibrant flora and fauna. You will also journey through the Llogora pass, a high mountain pass along the Albanian Riviera within the Ceraunian Mountains.

 

Practical Information for this holiday

Currency

Albania: Lek (L) 

Greece: Euro (€)

Local Time
Ireland/UK Time +1 hour
Passport
A valid passport is required for this holiday. EU members do not need a visa, however non-EU members should check with their local embassy. 
Climate

Albania has a Mediterranean climate. The average temperatures in September can be between 15°C and 27°C.

Average Prices for Region
  • Coffee: €1.45
  • Beer: €4.00
  • Glass of wine: €3.50
  • Main course: €12.00
  • Soft Drink: €2.00
  • Bottled Water: €0.50
Packing List
  • Your valid passport
  • Sun cream
  • A continental plug adaptor
  • A small backpack
  • A sun hat
  • Sturdy walking boots with ankle support
  • Camera
Recommended Reading/Viewing

April’s Fools Day by Josip Novakovich

The Sound of Blue by Holly Payne

The City of Falling Angels by John Berendt

The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare

 

Trip Itinerary - Day by day

Day 1 – Travel to Corfu, Greece

Evening

Travel to Corfu

Your Albanian adventure will begin with a flight to the Greek island of Corfu, home to lush scenery, rugged mountains and pristine beaches. On arrival in Corfu airport you will be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel near Corfu Town.

Overnight

Accommodation

4 star hotel in Corfu (2 nights)

Day 2 – Explore Corfu, Greece

Morning

Explore Corfu

This morning you will have a half day tour of Corfu with your local expert guide. Begin by heading south towards the port city Perama, from which you will walk across the causeway by the lagoon to visit the Vlacherna church. From here you will be able to take in views of the islet of Pontikonisi, also known as “Mouse Island” before continuing to Kanoni, which was once the capital of Corfu. Visit the home of the Greek Monarch, King George I, Mon Repos Estate, including a walk around the beautiful grounds and a visit inside the palace. Afterwards continue to Corfu Town for a walking tour around the “kantounia” or narrow alleyways, as well as a visit to the church of the island’s holy patron, Saint Spiridon.

Afternoon

At leisure

You will have the remainder of the day to continue exploring Corfu independently as you wish. Your local expert guide will be happy to make suggestions to suit your taste. We recommend renting a bicycle to explore the mazes of narrow streets in the old town further, or checking out one of the many activities that are available down at the beach such as swimming, snorkelling and boat trips. Once you have worked up an appetite there is plenty to be discovered on Corfu’s food scene with plenty of eateries, coffee shops and local open markets to tempt you with traditional delicacies.

Day 3 – Travel to Albania & Explore Butrint

Morning

Travel to Albania

This morning it will be time to say goodbye to Greece and your local Greek guide as you head to Corfu port for a ferry ride to Sarande, a resort on the Albanian Riviera. (Approximate duration of the ferry: 30 minutes). Upon arrival in Sarande you will be met by your local expert Albanian guide and travel to the beach village of Ksamil where you will have some free time for lunch at your leisure.

Afternoon

Explore Butrint

In the afternoon continue towards the UNESCO World Heritage city of Butrint. Considered to be the best searched archaeological site in Albania, the ancient ruins of the city are famed for their size, beauty and tranquillity. Set in a national park on the peninsula of the lake with the same name, Butrint is also well known for its rich ecosystem. Explore the ruins which span a history of over 2,500 years before continuing to your hotel in Gjirokastër, a city situated on a valley between the Gjerë and the Drino mountains. A welcome dinner will be served at a local restaurant in Gjirokastër for you to taste local delicacies and you will have the remainder of the evening at leisure to get accustomed in to your new surroundings. (Approximate driving duration: 2.5 hours. Approximate driving distance: 110km)

Overnight

Accommodation

3 star hotel in Gjirokastër (2 nights)

Day 4 – Explore Gjirokastër

Morning

Gjirokastra Castle

This morning you will visit Gjirokastër Castle, which is situated at 300 metres above sea level, offering fabulous views of the surrounding area. Built in the 12th Century, the castle was used as a prison from the 1930s right through the communist times. Today the UNESCO protected site possesses five towers and houses, the Gjirokastër Museum, a clock tower and the stage of the National Folk Festival. After visiting the castle enjoy an authentic Albanian lunch at Shoksat Village with a local village family. (Approximate driving duration: 1 hour. Approximate driving distance: 30km)

Afternoon

Explore Gjirokastër

After lunch return to Gjirokastër where you will explore a traditional home that dates back nearly 300 years, where you can see examples of ancient craftsmanship. You will have the remainder of the day at leisure to continue exploring Gjirokastër independently at your own pace. Your local expert guide will be happy to make suggestions to suit your taste. We recommend checking out one of the modern hidden gems of the city like the Cold War Tunnel, a giant bunker which was built under the castle during the 1960s and remained unknown to locals until the 1990s.

Day 5 –Explore Antigone National Park & Berat

Full day

Explore Antigone National Park

This morning you will embark by horse back to explore Antigone National Park. Visit a local horse farm where you will be briefed on riding techniques before setting off in the saddle to explore Antigone, the ancient city of King Pirro. The ride will pass through green hilly terrain, rolling pastures, a small forest and ancient ruins. (Distance on horseback: 18km / Duration on horseback: 4 hours). After exploring Antigone National Park you will depart for Berat, with a stop included en route at the Gorge of Këlcyrë. Make sure you have your camera ready for some photo opportunities. This dramatic gorge became famous during the Capture of Klisura Pass battle during World War II. (Approximate driving duration: 4 hours. Approximate driving distance: 200km)

Evening

Traditional dinner & folk show

Berat is a city located on the Osum River in central Albania, and is well known for its white Ottoman houses, the hilltop Berat Castle and its reconstructed medieval bazaar. It is one of the world’s longest inhabited cities. Upon arrival in Berat you will have some free time to explore the area independently. In the evening there will be an authentic dinner served at a local restaurant along with a folk show performance so you can get a unique glimpse in to Albanian cultures and traditions.

Overnight

Accommodation

4 star hotel in Berat (2 nights)

Day 6 – Explore Bogova Waterfall

Morning

Explore Berat Castle

This morning you will visit the hill top Berat Castle, which still has people living within its walls in traditional style houses, offering a unique glimpse in to centuries past. The castle was once home to over 40 churches, however now only 7 still remain, one of which is St Mary’s Church. Within St Mary’s is the Onufri Museum, which displays the spectacular 16th-century religious paintings of the famous Albanian painter of the same name. Two of the oldest bibles in the world can also be found in the Onufri Museum. After your visit here you will drive towards the village of Bogova. (Approximate driving duration: 2 hours. Approximate driving distance: 100km)

Afternoon

Hiking in Bogova

This afternoon will be one of real adventure as you hike towards Bogova waterfall. Situated in rural Albania, this waterfall lies hidden for only the bold to discover. Get completely off the beaten track as you make your way along a winding dusty track surrounded by lush green mountains. The hike, while relatively short, covers some challenging terrain as you cross the river, so sturdy footwear with full ankle support is essential and walking sticks are recommended. (Difficulty: Moderate / Distance: 3km / Duration: 1 hour and 30 minutes)

Day 7 – Explore Durres & Tirana

Morning

Explore Durres

This morning you will discover one of the oldest towns in Albania, Durres. Hear the stories of this former Greek Colony as you explore the ancient ruins during a walking tour of the many temples, statues and monuments with your local expert guide. Afterwards you will head towards Albania’s capital city, Tirana. (Approximate driving duration: 2.5 hours. Approximate driving distance: 150km)

Afternoon

Explore Tirana by foot

Upon arrival in Tirana you will embark on a walking tour with your local expert guide, taking in the centre’s major monuments such as Scanderbeg Square, Orthodox Church and the National Historic Museum. Your guide will point out the best places to eat, drink, shop and sightsee during this orientation tour of Albania’s lively capital city. To round off the day you will have a meal in a local restaurant to sample some traditional cuisine before having the remainder of the evening at leisure to get to know your new surroundings

Overnight

Accommodation

3 star hotel in Tirana (2 nights)

Day 8 – Tirana at leisure

Full day

Tirana at leisure

You will have the full day at leisure to explore the vibrant city of Tirana at your own pace. Often referred to as the beating heart of Albania, you will be spoiled for choice to keep yourself entertained. Tirana underwent a transformation of fascinating proportions following the fall of communism in the early 1990s and the buildings in the city centre are now painted in vibrant primary colours. We recommend renting a bicycle to explore Tirana from the saddle or taking a ride on the Dajti Express, a cable car that can whizz you from the suburbs of Tirana high up in to the mountains of Mt Dajti National Park in just 15 minutes. The views from the top are breath-taking, and there are plentiful hiking trails to enjoy. In the evening, the options are endless with many buzzing bars and cafes where you can immerse yourself with the locals at one of the popular hangouts. Your local expert guide will be happy to make recommendations to suit your taste.

Day 9 – Explore Apollonia & Zvernec Island

Morning

Explore Apollonia

Today will begin with an early departure towards the ancient city of Apollonia situated on the famous Via Egnatia, a road constructed by the Romans in the 2nd century BC. Apollonia was one of the most important cities in Roman times, built as one of the 16 cities to honour Apollo. Explore this historic location with your local expert guide before continuing towards Zvernec, an island within the Narta Lagoon.

Afternoon

Explore Zvernec Island

Zvernec Island is connected to the mainland by a 270 metre long wooden bridge. Covering an area of approximately 9 hectares, this island is abundant with tall pine trees. After crossing the bridge you will visit the well preserved 13th-14th century Byzantine Zvërnec Monastery. Admire the natural beauty of the area as you enjoy a short walk around the island with your guide before continuing to your hotel in Llogora National Park. (Approximate driving duration: 4.5 hours. Approximate driving distance: 220km)

Overnight

Accommodation

3 star hotel in Llogora National Park (1 night)

Day 10 – Explore Llogora National Park & the Albanian Riviera

Morning

Hike in Llogora National Park

Get to grips with Albania’s rustic landscapes during a half day hike in Llogora National Park, exploring large alpine meadows, vertical rock faces and dense forests by foot with your local expert guide. Your morning will begin as you set out walking along a forest path that leads to the crest of St Thanas. Take in the stunning views, with the Ionian Sea on one side and 2000 metre high Ceraunian Mountains on the other. Continue the hike following a ridge before going downhill to the Llogora pass via an old military road. A picnic lunch will be included along your hiking route before making your way back to the coach to continue the journey towards Sarande. (Difficulty: Moderate / Distance: 8.6 km / Duration: 3 hours / Incline: 830 m / Decline: 590 m)

Afternoon

Drive along the Albanian Riviera

The drive from Llogora National Park to Sarande, will take you along the stunning Albanian Riveria. Several stops will be made along the way so you can admire the views and take advantage of some idyllic photo opportunities. A visit to Ali Pasha Fort, a small castle located at Porto Palermo, is also included en route. Upon arrival in Sarande you will have the remainder of the day at leisure to spend as you wish. Your local guide will be happy to make suggestions for places to eat, drink, shop and sightsee in your spare time. (Approximate driving duration: 2.5 hours. Approximate driving distance: 90km)

Overnight

Accommodation

4 star hotel in Sarande (1 night)

Day 11 – Corfu at leisure & return home

Morning

Sarande at leisure

You will have one final morning at leisure in Sardanda before transferring to the port for your afternoon ferry ride to Corfu, Greece. (Approximate duration of the ferry: 30 minutes).

Afternoon

Corfu at leisure

On arrival in Corfu port you will be met by own local Greek representative and taken to a central location in Corfu old town for some time at leisure. This is the perfect time to do any last minute shopping or simply relax and enjoy a meal at one of Corfu’s many bars or restaurants.

Evening

Return home

In the late afternoon you will transfer by coach from Corfu old town to Corfu airport for your return flight home.

* Please note that the order of your excursions on the itinerary above is provisional and subject to change

Customer reviews

Hotel & accommodation available for this trip

Divani Corfu Palace Hotel 4

Surrounded by lush vegetation on the Kanoni Peninsula and just 3km from Corfu’s historic centre, Divani Corfu Palace Hotel is ideally located for both exploring and relaxation. After a day of exciting activities, relax by the hotel’s terrace overlooking the lagoon or take a dip i... read more read more read more

Surrounded by lush vegetation on the Kanoni Peninsula and just 3km from Corfu’s historic centre, Divani Corfu Palace Hotel is ideally located for both exploring and relaxation. After a day of exciting activities, relax by the hotel’s terrace overlooking the lagoon or take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool. The bedrooms feature modern furnishing and are decorated in warm neutral colours to ensure a pleasant stay.

Hotel address
Divani Corfu Palace Hotel
20, Nafsikas
Kerkira 491 00
Greece
Corfu
View available dates for this hotel

Hotel Oasis 4

Enjoying a seafront location close to Sarandë town centre, Hotel Oasis offers stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea. While this hotel does not have a pool, the closest beaches are just 300 metres from hotel. The modern décor, outdoor sun terrace, comfortable rooms and attenti... read more read more read more

Enjoying a seafront location close to Sarandë town centre, Hotel Oasis offers stunning views over the Mediterranean Sea. While this hotel does not have a pool, the closest beaches are just 300 metres from hotel. The modern décor, outdoor sun terrace, comfortable rooms and attentive staff offer an enjoyable stay on the Albanian Rivera.

Hotel address
Hotel Oasis
Saranda Butrinti Road
9703 Sarandë

View available dates for this hotel

Hotel Kodra 3

Dating back to 1944, this hotel was once an Ottoman style old stone house which was restored in 2013. Guests can enjoy stunning views of Gjirokaster and surrounding mountains from its roof terrace. The rustic interior décor and welcoming staff contribute to a unique experience at... read more read more read more

Dating back to 1944, this hotel was once an Ottoman style old stone house which was restored in 2013. Guests can enjoy stunning views of Gjirokaster and surrounding mountains from its roof terrace. The rustic interior décor and welcoming staff contribute to a unique experience at this historic hotel.

Hotel address
Hotel Kodra
Lagjia 11 Janari Rruga Zejtareve
Gjirokaster

View available dates for this hotel

Belagrita Hotel 4

Belagrita Hotel’s exterior design resembles a smaller and modern version of the 13th century Berat Castle, located 1.5km from this hotel. The interior decor is modern with a traditional twist. Equipped with comfortable rooms, a restaurant, bar and garden Belagrita Hotel is sure t... read more read more read more

Belagrita Hotel’s exterior design resembles a smaller and modern version of the 13th century Berat Castle, located 1.5km from this hotel. The interior decor is modern with a traditional twist. Equipped with comfortable rooms, a restaurant, bar and garden Belagrita Hotel is sure to provide an enjoyable stay.

Hotel address
Belagrita Hotel
Rruga Antipatrea
Berat

View available dates for this hotel

Capital Tirana Hotel 3

Ideally located in Tirana’s old town and within walking distance to Scanderbeg Square, National Museum and the Opera House, this hotel offers an ideal base to explore Albania’s colourful capital. The entire hotel is non-smoking and its modern rooms are equipped with soundproofed ... read more read more read more

Ideally located in Tirana’s old town and within walking distance to Scanderbeg Square, National Museum and the Opera House, this hotel offers an ideal base to explore Albania’s colourful capital. The entire hotel is non-smoking and its modern rooms are equipped with soundproofed windows to ensure a comfortable stay in the heart of this buzzing city.   

Hotel address
Capital Tirana Hotel
Rruga Qemal Stafa
Tirana

View available dates for this hotel

Llogora Tourist Village 3

Located in the heart of Llogara National Park, Llogora Tourist Village offers a variety of services such as an indoor pool, a tavern, a restaurant with traditional Albanian dishes and a Turkish bath to name a few. This resort, with its serene forested grounds and simple comfortab... read more read more read more

Located in the heart of Llogara National Park, Llogora Tourist Village offers a variety of services such as an indoor pool, a tavern, a restaurant with traditional Albanian dishes and a Turkish bath to name a few. This resort, with its serene forested grounds and simple comfortable rooms, is the perfect escape from a busy city life. Make sure to keep an eye out for the local deer and reindeer running around the resort.        

Hotel address
Llogora Tourist Village
Llogara National Park
8401 Dhërmi

View available dates for this hotel

Hotel Brilant 4

Located just 100 m from the main boulevard, Hotel Brilant enjoys an enviable location in Sarandë, on the Albanian Riviera.  With comfortable rooms and a bar and restaurant onsite, it offers ample amenities for your stay. With the historic town centre just 700m away and night... read more read more read more

Located just 100 m from the main boulevard, Hotel Brilant enjoys an enviable location in Sarandë, on the Albanian Riviera.  With comfortable rooms and a bar and restaurant onsite, it offers ample amenities for your stay. With the historic town centre just 700m away and nightlife just 200m, this hotel is the ideal base for exploring all Sarandë has to offer, both day and night.

Hotel address
Hotel Brilant
Rruga Bilal Golemi,
Sarande
Albania
View available dates for this hotel

Hotel Argjiro 4

Offering comfortable accommodation in the heart of the historic town centre, Hotel Argjiro is an ideal base for a stay in Gjirokastër, within walking distance of the Old Bazaar.  Situated in a once-abandoned building that dates back to 1885, this hotel combines refined decor... read more read more read more

Offering comfortable accommodation in the heart of the historic town centre, Hotel Argjiro is an ideal base for a stay in Gjirokastër, within walking distance of the Old Bazaar.  Situated in a once-abandoned building that dates back to 1885, this hotel combines refined decor with touches of rustic charm. Sample local Albanian cuisine at the onsite restaurant, or relax in the garden after a day of exploring.

Hotel address
Hotel Argjiro
Gjin Zenebisi St
6001 Gjirokaster 6001 AL
Gjirokaster
View available dates for this hotel

Hotel Mangalemi 3

Built on the ruins of Turkish mansions in the historic Mangalem Quarter, Hotel Mangalemi has an enviable location just 300m from the town centre of Berat. Its traditional Berati architecture featuring wood, stone and detailed decor offers a unique glimpse into local history. ... read more read more read more

Built on the ruins of Turkish mansions in the historic Mangalem Quarter, Hotel Mangalemi has an enviable location just 300m from the town centre of Berat. Its traditional Berati architecture featuring wood, stone and detailed decor offers a unique glimpse into local history.  The guest rooms, each of them individual in style, are basic but comfortable.  Unwind on the terrace overlooking the city of Berat after a day of sightseeing and try some local Albanian cuisine at the onsite restaurant, which sources many of its fresh products from local markets. 

Hotel address
Hotel Mangalemi
Rruga Mihal Komneno
tek Porta e Pashait
Berat
View available dates for this hotel

* Some hotel facilities may be seasonally operated or under maintenance and therefore unavailable at the time of your stay. Charges may apply for certain facilities.

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