South Albania Cultural Tour

A unique Albania cultural tour, including one night in North Macedonia, at the UNESCO World Heritage City of Ohrid 

Overview

This unique nine-day Albania cultural tour is designed to use asphalt roads, with overnights in comfortable 3* and 4* en suite hotels.  

The route skips the more unattractive and over-developed cities such as Pogradec, Saranda and Vlorë, and instead dips into North Macedonia to the UNESCO World Heritage City of Ohrid, and includes a night in the peaceful village of Qeparo, on the Albanian Riviera.

Along the way we pause for two nights in fascinating, UNESCO-protected Gjirokastra – in our view the most diverting city in the south of Albania and a destination that deserves a full day on any Albania cultural tour.  

Please note, we haven’t included the Thursday night on arrival in Tirana as there is also the option to fly in on Friday morning from London Gatwick with British Airways, or Friday evening from London Luton to Ohrid with Wizz Air. However, if you do fly into Tirana on the Thursday we’ll be delighted to pick you up from the airport and recommend a hotel. 

 

Itinerary

Day 01 Tirana to Ohrid

Day 02 Ohrid to Korça via Prespa

Day 03 Korça to Përmet

Day 04 Përmet to Gjirokastra

Day 05 Gjirokastra

Day 06 Gjirokastra to Qeparo via Butrint

Day 07 Qeparo to Berat via Apollonia

Day 08 Berat to Tirana 

Day 09 Tour Ends 

 

Key Information

Group size – 4-12

Minimum age – 16

Accommodation – 3-4* en suite 

Transport – air-conditioned minivan 

2020 Tour Dates

Friday 24 April to Saturday 02 May 2020

Friday 18 to Saturday 26 September 2020

2020 Prices (Euro & GBP)

Euros €1,290 per person (GBP £1,090) based on two sharing a Twin or Double room 

Single room supplement euros €195 (GBP £165)

Prices exclude international flights

Combine our South Albania Cultural Tour with our eight-day North Albania & Kosovo Tour 

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Tour Gallery

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Day-to-Day

Day 01, Friday - Tirana to Ohrid

We’ll gather this morning in a relaxed fashion, then begin our tour by exploring the centre of Tirana on foot. After a quick lunch, we’ll make a move, departing Tirana via the bizarre and impressive secret nuclear bunker on the outskirts of town, Bunk’Art. It’s not far to Ohrid in terms of kilometres (about 130), but stretches of the road are twisty and slow-going, and we’ll want to stop for coffee en route. In Ohrid you’ll be staying at a comfortable hotel very close to the Old Town – we’ll save the cultural stuff for tomorrow morning, so we can simply relax and enjoy a welcome meal tonight.   

  • Hotel Tino Ohrid 
  • Evening meal (set menu) 

Day 02, Saturday - Ohrid to Korça via Prespa

This morning you’ll explore Ohrid on foot with a local guide (Macedonian law forbids us from guiding here!). We’ll be flexible about our departure time, as there are numerous lunch options along our route today. It’s a scenic drive along the eastern shore of Lake Ohrid, probably not with a stop at the Monastery of St Naum as it’s kind of dull. Instead we’ll climb up and over Galicica Pass and descend down to Lake Prespa – the views are stupendous. After crossing back into Albania at a very sleepy border post, we’ll make our way to the charming city of Korça. Expect cobbled streets, countless pre-WWI villas in urgent need of restoration, and a lively bazaar.  

  • Bujtina e Bardhë Korça 
  • Breakfast

Day 03, Sunday - Korça to Përmet

There’ll be time to explore Korça on foot this morning, then around 11.00 we’ll hit the road. And what a road – kilometre for kilometre this has to be one of the most beautiful in the Balkans. Yes, there are a lot of bends, and a lot of bumps, but the pay-off are simply incredible views across the Pindus mountains to Greece. It’s too far to reach Gjirokastra in one day, so we’ll break the journey in Përmet, perhaps the sleepiest city in Albania (it recorded a grand total of zero crimes in 2015). Shortly before we reach Përmet, we’ll detour for a late afternoon soak in the sulphur springs at Benjë. In the evening, after showering away the sulphur, we can relax with a glass or raki in the main square before eating at one of Pëmet’s excellent restaurants. 

  • Hotel Alvero Përmet 
  • Breakfast

Day 04, Monday - Përmet to Gjirokastra

After yesterday’s sometimes bumpy drive, a much easier day! It’s only about an hour and a half to Gjirokastra, on blissfully smooth asphalt, so we’ll arrive in the early afternoon even with a couple of stops, including the atmospheric remains of Antigonea, built by King Pyrrhus of Pyrrhic Victory fame, and then soon trashed by the Romans… In the evening we’ll enjoy a sunset drink before eating together at one of our favourite restaurants, Kujtimi’s, which seemingly hasn’t changed since the fall of Communism.   

  • Hotel Kastro Gjirokastra
  • Breakfast; evening meal (set menu) 

Day 05, Tuesday - Gjirokastra

A car-free day! We’ll explore this fascinating UNESCO city in leisurely fashion, and on foot (though be aware, Gjirokastra is built on the side of a hill and there are some steep ascents and descents!). 

  • Hotel Kastro Gjirokastra
  • Breakfast

Day 06, Wednesday - Gjirokastra to Qeparo via Butrint

Back on the road, today. We’ll leave at 09.00 sharp as we have a lot of ground to cover. We’ll cross the coastal mountains, and (after a coffee stop at the Blue Eye Spring), make a stop at the UNESCO-protected archaeological park of Butrint. After a couple of hours exploring the ruins, we’ll break for lunch, then continue north along the extremely scenic coastal road to our overnight stop, the village of Qeparo. Here we’ll stay at a hotel right on the beach, so can enjoy a beer as the sun sinks into the Ionian Sea. 

  • Hotel Te Stefi Qeparo 
  • Breakfast

Day 07, Thursday - Qeparo to Berat via Apollonia

It’s hard to drag people away from a beach, so we’ll make a 10.00 start today. Our route this morning takes us up and over the famous Llogora Pass, then down to Bay of Vlorë – at which point the scenery plunges in quality (sorry). We’ll break at the archaeological park of Apollonia, near Fier, then continue to our final stop, Berat. After checking into our hotel, we’ll head to the main pedestrianised boulevard in order to catch the evening xhiro (or promenade). Seemingly the entire city turns up to doff their cap. After sundown, it’s up to the Citadel to eat at one of our favourite restaurants, Koço’s. Koço himself is usually drunk but his wife and daughter are the brains of the operation and hold things together – and the food is excellent. 

  • Hotel Onufri Berat 
  • Breakfast; evening meal (set menu)

Day 08, Friday - Berat to Tirana

There’s time to explore Berat this morning, then we’ll hit the road. It’s an easy run to Tirana, so we’ll get you there in time for lunch. (If you have to catch the 13.00 British Airways service to Gatwick today, we can arrange a private transfer direct from Berat to the airport.) In the afternoon you can explore more of Tirana with your guide, or if you prefer you can enjoy some downtime to do your own thing. In the evening we’ll gather again to enjoy a farewell meal at Restaurant Mullixhiu – chef Bledar Kola is winning an international reputation for his innovative take on traditional Albanian cuisine.  

  • Sarajevo Art Hotel Tirana
  • Breakfast; evening meal (set menu)

Day 09, Saturday - Tour Ends

We’ll deliver you to the airport today for any of the four flights back to the UK. 

  • Breakfast

Includes

English-speaking driver-guide

Minivan with Green Card border insurance

Fuel

Eight nights accommodation as indicated on itinerary, or near equivalents 

Meals as indicated on itinerary (7 x breakfasts; 4 x evening meals)

Airport transfer on arrival in Tirana on Thursday or Ohrid on Friday

 

Excludes

Flights

Personal expenses

Personal travel insurance 

Museum & attraction entrance fees

Meals not indicated on itinerary 

Alcohol  

Tips

 

Join the South Albania Cultural Tour - Flights From the UK

We’ve designed this tour to maximise flight options from the UK – you can fly either into Tirana or alternatively Ohrid and join the tour there. If you fly into Tirana on the Thursday we’ll gladly pick you up from the airport as a courtesy and take you to your hotel.

Thursday 
Luton to Tirana with Wizz Air 06.50 / 10.50
Gatwick to Tirana with British Airways 16.15 / 20.20
Stansted to Tirana with Albawings / blu-express 20.15 / 00.15 (+1)

Friday – Tirana  
Luton to Tirana with Wizz Air 06.50 / 10.50 
Gatwick to Tirana with British Airways 07.45 / 11.50

Friday – Ohrid
Luton to Ohrid with Wizz Air 15.10 / 19.20

Depart the Tour - Flights From Tirana to the UK

The tour returns to Tirana on Friday, and we assume most people will want to spend a night or two in the city, or will be continuing their travels in Albania.

Friday (by special arrangement)
Gatwick with British Airways 13.00 / 15.10

Saturday  
Gatwick with British Airways 04.20 / 06.15
Luton with Wizz Air 11.35 / 13.50
Stansted with Albawings 17.30 / 19.30
Gatwick with easyJet 18.35 / 20.45 
Gatwick with British Airways 21.00 / 23.00

Sunday 
Gatwick with British Airways 00.10 / 02.10
Luton with Wizz Air 11.35 / 13.50
Stansted with Albawings / blu-express 17.30 / 19.30

Book With Confidence – We Offer Full Financial Protection

As a UK-registered company, we have to comply with tough consumer-protection legislation. That’s why we’re proud to be members of Protected Trust Services. When you pay for your holiday, your money will be held in a British HSBC trust account administered by the independent PTS trustees. We only receive payment once the tour is run, so in the unlikely event of our going bust or your not being satisfied with the tour, your money is safe. To read more about how the process works, please visit the PTS website

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