Cultural Walking Tour - Sample Itinerary
Day 1: Arriving in Tirana and transfer to Shkoder
Walking tour of Shkoder – visit Rozafa’s Castle, the city centre with its monuments and Marubi Museum. Accommodation and overnight in Shkoder
Day 2: Shkodra – Theth National Park
(light medium walk)
Leave Shkodra towards the Albanian Alps at Theth area.
First stop at Edith Durham’s memorial.
Arrival in Theth - Lunch
In the afternoon walking (medium) tour of Theth will follow with visits of the Grunasi Canyon, Thethi waterfall (monument of nature), Ethnographic Museum, Catholic Church, the tower of the isolation (blood feud tower), a characteristic type dwelling of the area etc.
This tour requires 4 - 5 hours.
Dinner and accommodation in a local guest house
Day 3: Walking (medium) from the valley of Theth to the valley of Valbona.
After breakfast transport to Valbona Trail head.
Walk to Valbona (Local Guide and transportation horse will be with the group)
Break & Picnic lunch
Arrival in Valbona (Accommodation in a guest house)
This day we walk for 4 - 5 hours to cover the distance from the valley of Theth to the valley of Valbona. The valleys and the gorges that connect these valleys still divide the mountain communities of north Albania into clans and into tribes. We will be walking from the Catholics clans of Thethi to the Muslim clans of Valbona. The walk will go through the gorges that connect this two valleys and the nature is really uncontaminated. Natural monuments and landscapes will be visited on the way.
Day 4: Valbona – Koman – Kruje – Tirana
(light medium walk)
Departure to Fierze (packed breakfast)
Sail along the Koman Lake which is considered one of the most wonderful experiences anyone could have in Albania. Originated from the construction of three dams, Lake Koman passes along much of the beautiful Albanian Alps. Its sinuous and slim riverbed through the mountains of the north makes this trip often described as one of the most beautiful in the world - Evocative and relaxing.
Arrival at Koman and continue to visit the fortress of Kruja the medieval bazaar and the historical and the ethnographic museums.
Arrival at Kruja – Walking tour of the town
Kruja: Having survived for thousands of years, nearly disappeared at the beginning of the 20th Century and been brought back to life during the last 50 years, Kruja is a tourist attraction alongside a panoramic mountainside location. “Kruja is a strange town, all clustered around its bazaar.” Some of the main points of interests include the restored Castle and Citadel that it is tied to the legend of the hero who fought against the Turks for about 25 years. The Skanderbeg Museum located inside the castle and erected in memory of the Albanian national hero. Skanderbeg was in fact from these parts and Kruja was a strategic point in the anti-Ottoman resistance. The Old Restored Bazaar has a truly oriental look, multi-colored and overflowing with goods of every description - a typical Ottoman market right before our eyes. The citadel includes the restored house of the Pasha of Kruja, dating from the ottoman period, which hosts the Ethnographic Museum.
Lunch and transfer to Tirana.
Sightseeing tour of Tirana
Tirana: A cross between Istanbul and Naples with a pinch of Minsk. The capital and the biggest city in Albania offer a wide range of activities, museums and monuments to explore. In the main square of the city, Skanderbeg Square, and along the main “boulevard” named “The Martyrs of the Nations” are located most of the Museums buildings and monuments of Tirana. In the main square are located: The National Historic Museum with its façade decorated by a large mosaic called “Albania”, the huge statue of Skanderbeg, the Et’hem beg mosque with its delicious decorations, the Palace of Culture, where the Theatre of Opera and Ballet and National Library are located, the government buildings that close the square from the south side. Instead along the main “boulevard” and not far from it can be seen: The Catholic church of St. Paul completed in 2001, The Orthodox Cathedral,
The late medieval bridge of Tabakeve, the remains of the old fortress of Tirana, different houses in ottoman style. The building of the Parliament, the academy of Sciences building, the Gallery of Figurative Arts, The International Cultural Centre, constructed in 1988 to be the Museum of the ex communist dictator Enver Hoxha and commonly called by the people “The pyramid” according to the strange and curious pyramidal shape of the building, the Palace of the Congresses and the Presidential Residence.
The monument of Mother Albania, 12 meters high, was inaugurated in the “Heroes of the Nation” cemetery in 1971.
Check in the Hotel - Dinner in a local restaurant
Day 5: Tirana – Ohrid (Fyr Macedonia)
(light medium walk)
Afetr breakfast leave the Hotel and depart to Ohrid.
Short stop in Elbasan (Albania), ancient Skampa, to visit the legionary cohort fortress.
Visit the Selca Tombs.These 2,400 year old tombs are located 40 km from Pogradec. Selca was a town of the Illyrain tribe of Desartes founded in the sixth century B.C. It is thought that ancient Pelion, residence of Illyrian king Klit was here. Selca reached its zenith in the fourth and third centuries B.C., when the surrounding walls encircled an area of 3 hectares. (Packet fruits will be served)
Lunch in a local restaurant on the shores of Ohrid Lake
Walking (light-medium) tour of Lin an its Mosaic. The inhabitation of the peninsula of Lin began in the first period of the Iron Age and life there has continued till the early medieval time. During the archaeological excavations an Early Christian basilica with extraordinary floor mosaic from the forth-fifth century of our era was discovered. The mosaics have some beautiful figures such as fish, birds etc.
Leave to Ohrid
Arrival and check in the hotel.
Dinner in a local restaurant
Overnight stay in Ohrid
Day 6: Ohrid
(light medium walk)
Ohrid city tour – UNESCO site
The walking (light-medium) tour starts from the square of St.Clement. Then we head towards the old part of the town and we stop at the Lower Gate (one of the gates of medieval Ohrid)and the archaeological museum situated at Robevi house(1826).Just next door the museum in a 19 th century house is a unique hand-made paper workshop, one of three of a kind in Europe.
What follows is a tour of the church of St Sophia which dates from the 11th century . The church is known as the cathedral of Ohrid Archbishopric a masterpiece of architecture and fresco paintings. Due to its great acoustics it is one of the stages of Ohrid Summer festival, the most famous festival of classical music and drama of the country. then we go up to the Roman theater which dates back to the 2rd century BC.The Upper Gate, the only preserved city gate of Ohrid is 50 meters away and many ancient stones used to build it are still visible.
Then we walk to Plaoshnik, the place where we visit the reconstructed church of St Clement , which is dedicated to St Clement (the patron of Ohrid) and St Pantelejmon, and which stands beside the original site of St Clement’s University, the first university of the Macedonian Slavs started in the 9th century AD. Inside the church you can also see the tomb with St Clement’s relics. Beside the church you can see the foundations of couple early Christian basilicas and remains of a bishopical palace with beautifully preserved mosaic floors and some swastikas also discovered on the floors of a early Christian baptistery. From here we head towards the Church of St Jovan at Kaneo, which was built at the end of the 13th century, and is one of the most photographed churches of the Balkans due to its beautiful location on the cliffs directly above the lake. After this we go back to the town on foot. Another option is to return to the town by boat and at the same time to make a tour of the lake providing you with a great view of the town.
Lunch in a local restaurant
Depart to the Monastery of S. Naum
The magnificent grounds of the Sveti Naum monastery, near the Albanian border 29km south of Ohrid, are a real treat. The grounds are patrolled by peacocks and contain the source of Lake Ohrid’s water. The beautiful 17th-century Church of Sveti Naum rises on a hill above the lake, surrounded by the buildings of the Hotel Sveti Naum, which has taken over the historic monastery complex.
The original church of the Holy Archangels was built in 900 by St Naum, and the saint himself is buried here. They say that you can still hear his heartbeat if you put your ear on his tomb inside the chapel. The monastery grounds also offer a view of the Albanian town of Pogradec across the lake. Boat trip from the Monastery to the Drini springs that feed lake Ohrid.
Overnight in Ohrid
Day 7: Ohrid
(light medium walk)
We walk through parts of the National Park. Galicica is the highest mountain in Ohrid region (2254 m) and one of three Macedonian national parks. It was declared a national park at 1958 due to its location, unusual natural beauty, scenery, aesthetic values, and exceptionally diverse and endemic flora and fauna. It covers an area of 25 000 ha.
Departure from the hotel, Arrival at Korita
Walk from Korita to St.Spas meadow. Short brake at the church of St.Spas (small chapel from the 19th century, possibility of taking photos from a cliff overlooking Lake Ohrid)
Walk from St Spas to Pestani
Pestani is the largest village on the shores of Lake Ohrid. Once known as fisherman’s village today is mostly a touristic settlement. Lunch at a restaurant by the lake at Pestani
Transfer from Pestani to the Bay of the bones
Visit to the Museum on water and remains of a Roman castrum (camp) at Gradishte site. The museum on water is a reconstruction of a pile dwelling settlement from the bronze age (1200 BC-700 BC).There’s a little museum and remains of a Roman camp at the same site)\
Return at the Hotel - Dinner in a local restaurant
Day 8: Ohid – Korce – Permet – Gjirokaster
(light medium walk)
We will reenter Albanian border and drive to the city of Korca where a short visit will follow.
Arrival and walking tour of Korca
Korca is known as the center of culture and arts. The first Albanian language school, orignially for boys only, opened in 1887 and today it houses the National Education Museum. A separate school for females was opened in 1891. A French Lyceum opened in Korca in 1917 following independence. Historical documents referencing the city date from the early medieval period. The city has served as a very important trading market. Throughout the centuries Albanian caravans began their travels from here to Greece, Turkey, and Russia. In the second half of the 19th century, the city rose to be a very important economic, trade and cultural centre.
Leave Korca towards Permet.
After three hours of driving and stops in towns like Erseka, we will reach the city of Permet where we have lunch.The city of Permet, lies along the river Vjosa from which, the valley takes its name. Permet District lies in the heart of Vjosa valley and is surrounded by amazing mountains with particular Flora and Fauna.There are several places of natural interest such as Bredhi (fir) i Hotoves or the thermal sulfuric water, in Langarica valley, which forms natural pools.
There is many historical monuments such as: churches, Byzantine – area Monasteries, archeological ruins from the Otoman invasion etc. The walking trail (1.2 Km, light medium) will take us to visit a very nice religious object the orthodox church of Leusa.
Leave to Unesco city of Gjirokaster.
Dinner and overnight in Gjirokaster
Day 8: Gjirokaster – Antigone – Labove e Kryqit – Libohove
(light medium walk)
After breakfast drive to the ruins of the ancient city of Antigonea.
Antigonea was a short-live city, only 150 years. It was founded by one of the most famous personages of the ancient world, King Pyrrhus of Epirus (319-272 BC), hence the phrase "Pyrrhic victory". At the beginning of the third century BC, Pyrrhus was forced to go fight in Egypt. His skills have impressed Berenice, wife of King Ptolemy of Egypt, who has decided to offer him in marriage his daughter, Antigona. In gratitude to the mother-in-law and his first wife, Pirro decided to build Antigonea..
After visiting the ruins we will drive along the hills and the fields that will bring us to visit the Labova e Kryqit church (Labova of the Cross).
The “Labova of the Cross” Church is one of the most interesting monuments in Albania dedicated to Santa Maria. The Church is one of the oldest in Albania and once contained a relic believed to be part of the true cross of Christ. The building is typical Byzantine with a central dome, with aisles and nave constructed to create the image of the cross. The main entrance is through a narthex added later to the church. There are at least 9 distinct levels of frescoes painted on the surface of the interior walls. The Church, as is seen today is mostly a building of 13 century of Epirus, but its first foundation can be dated at the time of Emperor Justinian in the years 527-565. Very impressive is the fact that this is the only Orthodox Church with Baroque elements in its structure. From here the guests can choose to continue walking until to the village of Libohova or to call for the 4x4 which will be waiting the group at the Libohova village where lunch will be served.
Arrival in Libohova - lunch
Libohovë is a small village dominated by a fortress. Furthermore it has a pleasant, leafy main street with extensive views across the valley to the west of Drino River. Libohovë is located at the foot of Mount Bureto. The evidence points to a very old settlement, which reached its peak in the 17 st century. In the centre of the village can be noticed a very big building showing a nice architecture. Is the house of a famous noble Albanian family who share their name with the village. Return to Gjirokastra
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site (town) of Gjirokastra.
Gjirokastra, an UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known by many as the City of Stone and comprises hundreds of Ottoman-style tower houses with distinctive stone roofs, wooden balconies and whitewashed stone walls. Dominated by the sheer flanks of its vast castle, Gjirokastra is a magical city with a tumultuous past. From feudal stronghold to Ottoman jewel to Italian colony, the city has known many rulers and has inspired poets, authors and artists. A walk around the network of cobbled streets will transport you back in time. A visit to the vast 13th-century Castle brings the adventurous tales of medieval rulers and communist atrocities alive. Return to the Hotel - Overnight in Gjirokaster
Day 9: Gjirokaster – Butrint – Sarande
After the breakfast continue toward Saranda. Visit the water spring of Blue Eye declared a Monument of Nature followed by a visit in the Church of Mesopotam.
Next stop will be at Butrint UNESCO site.
Butrint: is a National park that includes a very well preserved archaeological area, an uncontaminated vegetation area of Mediterranean maquis, and has also a lake that is connected to the Ionian sea by a natural channel. The wetlands around the lake are shelter for different animals and aquatic species in danger of extinction. The excavations and studies has proved that during the VII and the VI centuries BC. Butrint was a protourban centre. By the V century BC Butrint has got the full form of an ancient city. During the VI century the city was equipped with new buildings such as the theatre, the agora, the small, temple and the stoa.
Lunch in a local restaurant
Sarandë is situated on a beautiful horseshoe bay between the mountains and the Ionian Sea. The name Saranda derives from an early Christian monastery dedicated to Agioi Saranta (Forty Saints). In antiquity, Saranda was known as Onchesmus. Located opposite the Greek island of Corfu, Saranda is one of the most attractive tourist towns on the Albanian Riviera, where honeymooners traditionally spend their holidays.
Accommodation and overnight in Saranda
Day 10: Saranda – Ionian Riviera – Llogara National Park – Fier
Set off toward Fier driving along the Albanian Riviera
Albanian Ionian Riviera dubbed by some as “the last secret of Europe”, boasts stunning Mediterranean beaches of the Ionian coast. It’s a stretch of coastline between Vlore and Sarande in south-west Albania. This is the most beautiful part of the coast in Albania and also one of the most beautiful areas in the whole Ionian Sea. The road goes through breathtaking scenery, with mountains rising dramatically up from the coast and the deep blue sea shimmering in the sunlight. The Ionian coast here is very rugged, with rocky coves along the narrow coastal strip and steep mountains rising almost straight up along much of its length. The sea along this part of the coast has clear blue water and the beaches are usually made of small pebbles, but there are also many sandy ones, especially in the south.
First stop the village of Borsh. Walk (1.2 Km) towards the Borsh Castle. This castle is also known as the Castle of Sopot by the name of the hill on which it is located. It was built on the fourth century BC, by Epirote-Illyrian tribes. The castle was heavily damaged during the barbarian invasions of the fifth and sixth centuries AD, and it was rebuilt in the middle Ages.
11:30 Stop at “The Gulf of Porto Palermo” where we visit the Fortress of Ali Pasha Tepelena situated on an attractive island.
After driving along the coastline we will reach the national park of Llogara. Here we will continue our tour that will bring us through the woods following the same paths that Julius Cesar together with his army followed to reach the ancient city of Apollonia and to fought his rival Pompeus.
14:00 Arrival at the National Park of Logara - Lunch. The Llogaraja National Park takes its name from the passage with the same name which, is over 1000 meters in height and extend along the road that from the city of Vlore goes toward the south of the country.
Set off to Fier
Short stop in Vlora – Visit the independence square
Arrival in Fier – check in the Hotel, Dinner in the Hotel
Day 11: Fier –Apolloni – Berat – Tirane
(light medium walk)
In the morning the group will drive to the ancient site of Apollonia founded in 588 BC.
Walking tour of the park of Apolonia
Apollonia: the ancient city of Apollonia of Illyria was founded at the beginning of the VII century BC. by Greek colons coming by the cities of Corinth and Corcyra. Apollonia became an emporium of merchandising between Greeks an Illyrians and was taken by Aristotle as a model in his analysis of oligarchy due to the distinct and separate Greek and Illyrian communities. The city prospered very much in roman times. It was a vital stronghold in Caesar’s civil war with Pompey and also important in early Christian history as the resident bishop attended the councils of Ephesus and Chalkis in 431 and 451. The discovered monuments on the site are: the fortification wall of the city, the Prytaneon, the Bouleterion, the big and small Stoas, the Odeion, the Theatre, the Nympheum and many more. The museum of Apollonia is hosted in the nearby monastery of the XIV century when can be visit also the Church of St. Mary
Drive to Berat. Arrival in Berat – lunch
The tour of the city will comprise the lower quarters and the upper fortress passing by ottoman laic architectures, byzantine churches and elegant mosques.
Berat: is also known as “The town of a Thousand windows” due to the many large buildings that decorate the houses of the old town. The town is still renowned for its historic architecture and particular beauty and is declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Historical Berat consist of three quarters. The quarters of Gorica and Mangalem are situated on the slopes of two hills that are divided by the river Osum. The Kalaja (fortress) quarter stands on the top of the Magalemi hill and is enclosed by a fortification wall that dates back to the IV century BC. The town has several XV century mosques, very well decorated and a very large numbers of Byzantine orthodox churches. Several of the churches has frescoes by the well known painter Onufri and his school and from other later famous schools of frescos and icons of the Balkan area. Of particular interest are: The icons museum located in the old cathedral church of the Castle and the Ethnographic museum hosted in an old house in the Mangalem quarter.
After the visit depart to Tirana. Dinner and overnight
Day 12: Tirana – Durres – Airport
(light medium walk)
After breakfast set off to the city of Durres where, we will visit the ancient city walls, the roman amphitheatre and the byzantine forum of the city.
Durres: is the main port and the second biggest city in the country. Some important archeological monuments that testify the glorious past of the city during different periods of history are: The ancient city walls, the roman amphitheater and baths, the byzantine forum, the Venetian tower, the ottoman hamam. The city offers to the visitor also a range of interesting buildings and museums such as: the Archeological Museum, The Exhibition of Folk Culture hosted in an very elegant house of ottoman architecture, The museum of History ect. Of interest to be seen are the Italian building constructed in between the WWI and WWII that now hosts the Municipality, the Cultural centre with the Aleksander Moisiu Theater, the main Library, the philharmonic orchestra ect.
Lunch - Afternoon program and set off to the airport depends on the flight schedule