A 13-day trip in Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey
Day 1. Tirana (Albania)
Arrival in Rinas airport. Transfer in the capital, Tirana, and visit of the Historical museum or the archaeological museum and the monumental centre of the city. After the visits check in and overnight in hotel in Tirana.
Day 2. Tirana - Durres - Apollonia (Albania)
In the morning visit of Durres city. This was the city from where the “Via Egnatia” started. We will visit the roman amphitheater, the ancient city walls, the Byzantine Forum and the Archeological Museum. After lunch, depart to visit the site of Apollonia, the western start of “Via Egnatia” as the ancient historian Strabo attests. The city, founded in 588 b.C. from Greek colons coming from Korkyra, was one of the most important and prosper Illyrian centers. This status was maintained during the whole roman period until an earthquake in the III century d.C. that started an progressive decline. Some of the fine and very well preserved archeological monuments to be visited are: The bouleterion, the fountain, the stoà, the Odeon and the theatre. After the visits, check in and overnight in hotel in Fier.
Day 3. Fier (Albania) - Ohrid (Macedonia)
In the morning leaving Fier toward the city of Ohrid, UNESCO world heritage site. We will travel along the “Via Egnatia” and on the way we will stop to visit the legionary cohort in the city of Elbasan. Once in Ohrid we will visit the Hellenistic theatre, the fortress of Tsar Samuil and the byzantine church of Saint Sophia and the monastery of Sveti Naum. We will visit also the Museum of the Icons that holds one of the most important collections of the Balkans.
Day 4. Ohrid - Heraclea Lyncestis - Bitola (Macedonia)
After the breakfast we will continue our trip toward the city of Bitola. Here in the vicinity of the city, we will visit the site of the ancient Heraclea Lyncestis. In this city founded by Philip II of Macedonia, we will visit the monuments of the Hellenistic, roman and late antique period. In the afternoon visit of the city of Bitola and its characteristic architecture of the Scirok Sokak. After the visits check in and overnight in hotel in Bitola.
Day 5. Bitola (Macedonia) – Edessa – Pella – Thessaloniki (Greece)
In the morning we will leave Bitola driving along the Egnatia road with final destination Thessaloniki. Along the way there will be two stops, Edessa and Pella. In Edessa we will visit the archeological area, the Museum and the Cathedral. After the lunch in Edessa we will continue to Pella.
In Pella we will visit the Museum and the archeological area. In the evening arriving in Thessaloniki, check in and overnight in hotel.
Day 6. Thessaloniki, classical and late antique period (Greece)
In the first day we will visit the Archeological Museum of Thessaloniki; the visit of the agora (or roman forum, and the small Odeon aside), a part of the fortifications and the monumental complex constructed by the emperor Galerius: the arch on the “Via Egnatia”, the mausoleum and the palace. Dinner and overnight in Thessaloniki.
Day 7. Thessaloniki, Byzantine period (Greece)
In the morning visit of the museum Lefkos Pyrgos. Visits of the paleochristian churches of the city: Panagìa Acheiropoietos, Agaia Sofia, the basilicas of Agi Paraskevi, Agios Dimitrios, Dodeka Apostoli and Agios Nikolaos Orfanos.
Day 8. Thessaloniki – Amphipolis – Philippi – Kavalla (Greece)
After two days in Thessaloniki, we will continue our tour along the Via Egnatia with the final destination Kavalla. The first stop will be done at Amphipolis, where we will visit the small but interesting archeological museum and the area of the excavations. There are visible remains of structures dating in the Hellenistic period (a private house, the gymnasium and the acropolis) and in the paleochristian period (basilicas with very well preserved mosaic pavements).
After Amphipolis the next visit will be at Philippi founded in the IV century b.C. from Philip II of Macedonia. Important are most of all the remains of the roman period such as the theatre. After visits in Philippi we will continue to the city of Kavalla, check in and overnight in hotel.
Day 9. Kavala – Alexandroupolis (Greece)
In the morning before leaving toward Alexandroupolis we will visit the charming Panagia old quarter of Kavala. The town was known as Neapolis in antiquity and Christoupolis in the byzantine period. We will visit the remain of the Byzantine aqueduct, the archeological museum. After we will continue to the city of Alexandroupolis. This is the main grek city next to the border with Turkey. Possibility to visit the ethnographic museum.
Day 10. Alexandroupolis (Greece) - Edirne (Turkey)
This day we will cross the border from Greece to Turkey and we will reach the city of Edirne ex roman Adrianopolis. It was conquered by the turks in the XIV century that made it the capital of their empire since the capture of Constantinople (Istanbul). The visit in the city will include the Selimiye Mosque, a grandiose piece of the Ottoman art of 16th century. It is considered the zenith of Ottoman architecture and has been listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2011. Also visit will be done in the Old mosque, in the Macedonian Tower and the ancient city walls, the old quarter, archeological museum and much more. After the visit check in and overnight In Edirne.
Day 11. Edirne - Istanbul (Turkey)
In the morning continue the second part of the visit in Edirne. This day we will visit different monuments such as: the Medical Museum which was awarded “European Museum of the Year” in early 2000s, once part of Beyazıt Complex, the two Ottoman bridges connect Karaağaç to downtown and Gazi Mihal Bridge, a long arch bridge built during Byzantine period and then repaired in 1420 the Sarayiçi and Yeniimaret areas that are linked to city centre by their respective medieval bridges. After lunch in Edirne continue to Istanbul. Check in and overnight in Istanbul.
Day 12. Istanbul (Turkey)
In this day we will visit some of the peninsular monuments that Istanbul offers. A wealth of historic and religious places from roman, byzantine and ottoman period.Visit different monuments like: the Hagia Sophia, Topkapı Palace.
Sultanahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), and Basilica Cistern that are located around Sultanahmet Square.
Also visit the Church of St Savior in Chora, entire inside of which is covered by mind blowing frescoes and mosaics. Next to this particular church we will visit an impressive section of mostly intact Theodosian walls, which mark the full length of western boundary of the peninsula. Overnight in Istanbul.
Day 13. Istanbul (Turkey)
This day will be reserved to explore the other more important parts of Istanbul, like the Golden Horn estuary where can be visited the city’s holiest Islamic shrine and just to see what daily life in Ottoman Istanbul was like.
Across the Golden Horn, is Galata, where we will visit the Galata Tower and Galata Convent of Whirling Dervishes. A dancing hall of the mystical Mevlevi order, shut down in 1925 along with all other 'reactionary' movements in Turkey. Today the building houses the Museum of Divan Literature.
After we will reach the banks of Bosphorus, that is lined by pleasant neighbourhoods full of waterfront mansions and a number of waterside palaces where you can admire what money could buy in times gone by.
Across the Bosphorus to east is Asian Side, centred around the historical districts of Kadıköy and Üsküdar, we will see the Maiden’s Tower, the Beylerbeyi Palace and the Çamlica Hill. Overnight in Istanbul.