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A lifetime experience


The Albanians in their dresses (the most magnificent in the world, consisting of a long white kilt, gold worked cloak, crimson velvet gold laced jacket and waistcoat, silver mounted pistols and daggers), the Tartars with their high caps, the Turks in their vast pelisses and turbans, the soldiers and black slaves with the horses, the former stretched in groupes in an immense open gallery in front of the palace, the latter placed in a kind of cloister below it, two hundred steeds ready caparisoned to move in a moment, couriers entering or passing out with dispatches, the kettle drums beating, boys calling the hour from the minaret of the mosque, altogether, with the singular appearance of the building itself, formed a new and delightful spectacle to a stranger. Lord Byron


ALBANIA HIGHLIGHTS One of Europe’s first Christian countries, Albania has consequently been the original soil of Western European civilization. The Albanians are the creators and bearers of one of humankind’s fundamental languages, a language that has its unshakable place among a dozen or so of the main languages of the world.”

Come discover Albania! Population In the heart of the Mediterranean, on the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, Albania is fast becoming one of the world’s most interesting getaways. Still relatively unspoiled by globalization, tourists will notice an inspiring mixture of civilizations and cultures - making this European country truly unique.

The population of Albania is about three million (140 inhabitants per square kilometer). Almost as many ethnic Albanians (4 million) live outside of the Republic of Albania. The capital city of Tirana and other principal cities have attracted inflows in recent years. Albania’s population is young.

Explore the heritage of a country influenced by the Greeks, Romans, Italians and Turks.

Events

Nestled in between Greece, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro, and across the Adriatic from Italy, Albania boasts blue and turquoise seas, beautiful beaches, snow peaked mountains, rivers, lakes, and forests. As well as stunning nature, Albanians themselves are famous for their hospitality, and tourists are welcomed with heart-warming generosity.

Public holidays include New Year’s Day (January 1st), Easter Monday (March/April), Independence and Liberation Day (November 28-29th) and Christmas Day (December 25th). Ramadan and Bajram, two important Muslim holidays, are also celebrated.

Religion Traditionally, Albania has been 70% Muslim, 20% Albanian Orthodox and 10% Roman Catholic (mostly in the north). From 1967 to 1990 it was also the only officially atheist state in the world, all mosques and


churches were closed and religious observances prohibited. In December 1990, the ban on religious observance was lifted. The spiritual vacuum left after the fall of communism has in part been filled by US evangelists, but new churches and mosques are springing up all over the country.

Climate Albania is mostly a mountainous country. The average altitude is 708 m, i.e. two times higher than that of Europe. Albania is included in the humid subtropical zone of the Northern hemisphere, and it belongs to the Mediterranean climatic zone. Summers are dry and hot, while winters are typically cool and rainy. Average annual rainfall is 1300 mm.

Geography Albania is a country in South-Eastern Europe, in the West of the Balkan Peninsula, between the geographical coordinates: 39 16’ latitude and 42 39’ longitudes. Albania is almost midway between Equator and the North Pole, and covers a surface of 28.748 km2. The overall length of the borderline of the Republic of Albania is 1094 km, out of which 657 km are land-border, 316 km sea-border, 48 km river-border and 73 km lakeborder. The Republic of Albania, in the North and Northwest borders with Kosovo and Montenegro, on the East with the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and in the South and South-East with the Republic of Greece. On the West, the Adriatic and Ionian seas wash Albania and separate it from Italy.

When to Go The best month to visit is September, when it’s still warm, the days are long and the fruit and vegetables are in good supply. The sun shines longest from May to September, and July is the warmest month, but even April and October can be pleasant. Health and Safety Health Tips. In cases of an accident or a medical emergency, a taxi is your best transportation. When the taxi arrives, say “Tek Urgjenca” to the driver. This will get you to the emergency room where you will be given the best treatment possible. There is also an ambulance service reached by dialing 127. However, a taxi is quicker, at least outside the big cities. For other medicine needs there are many pharmacies that can sell you almost anything over the counter.

Time: GMT/UTC + 1 hour Electricity: 220 volts, 50 Hz Weights & measures: Metric Currency: Lek 1 EUR = 140 Lek

If you are hiking in the forest you should cover your arms and legs with clothing, tucking trousers into socks and boots. You should also wear a hat, use tick repellent sprays and check for ticks at the end of your day. Travel Safety Albania is a safe country for visitors. It’s tradition of hospitality affords great respect for foreigners; almost all Albanians will go out of their way to help you if you are lost or in trouble. Body language Albanians shake their heads to mean ‘yes’ and nod (or rather jerk the head backwards while emitting a bold cluck) to mean ‘no’.


Albania is a country of rich culture and fascinating ancient history, and this richness is reflected in its surviving archaeological remains, fascinating Ottoman cities and ancient villages. Albanian temples, theatres, and basilicas have impressed visitors for ages. Butrinti, Apollonia, Durrës, and Byllis are a few of the better-known sites of the classical antiquity; Butrint, one of the world’s archeological wonders and UNESCO World Heritage site in the south of Albania provides a glimpse of Mediterranean civilization from the Bronze Age through the Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman periods - all atop a cliff overlooking Corfu. Albania has a number of castles and forts from the early antiquity to the Middle Ages. Some of them continue to be inhabited to this day (the most important of these is magnificent Berat). The main castles of Albania are Rozafa, Lezha, Gjirokastra, Butrinti, Porto - Palermo, Kruja, Petrela, Kanina.

Albania, with its cultural heritage values, continues to be an attractive and open “museum” for all visitors. Situated between two major ancient civilizations, the Greek and Roman, Albania inherits a invaluable treasure of cultural heritage, which naturally belongs to the world cultural heritage. This heritage can be found anywhere, in archaeological parks, natural parks, art galleries, photographic and film archives, castles and fortresses, religious monuments and vernacular architecture, in the stone paved paths and all over the country’s museums.

Religeous Monuments

The cultural heritage is well known abroad and admired by visitors who want to see the masterpieces of culture and art, to understand the testimonies of prehistory, classical period and Illyrian civilization, and the material blend of Illyrian, Greek and Roman culture.

Ethem Bey’s Mosque This mosque is in the centre of Tirana. Its construction started in 1798 and was completed in 1821. It is a typical case of a mixture of Albanian construction tradition applied in mosque architecture. Of special interest are the painted carvings inside the dome.

Historical places Some notable historical places are: Kavaja Rock – where in 48 B.C. Caesar defeated Pompey once and for all. Shën Gjini – in antiquity it was named Nympeon and later Caesarea. Mark Anthony’s fleet landed here on its way to help Caesar against Pompey. Lezha Island - a village to the South of Lezha. In medieval times it was called Meda’s village. In 1501 Skanderbeg’s nephew or Skanderbeg Junior landed here from Italy in order to start an anti-Ottoman insurrection. Savra Field – 3 km far from Lushnja, this field is on the Lushnja - Fier road. Here the first Albanian-Turkish battle occurred in 1385. In this battle Balsha II was killed. Milot Field – In 7 September 1457 the battle of Albulena occurred here. It was the second siege of Kruja when an Albanian army led by Skanderbeg broke the surrounding Turkish army. The defeat was chronicled in considerable detail by Ottoman chronicler Evlia Çelepiu. The Battle of Albulena was one of the greatest victories of Skanderbeg. Borova village – in the region of Kolonja, a mausoleum commemorates the 107 people of Borova who were executed by Nazi Germans on 6 July 1943.

Hamam of XVI Century, Elbasan The Bazaar Hamam was built in the sixteenth century and it has been well preserved. Its roof is a chain of conical cupolas covered with stone plates. Beyond the wooden bridge there is a later structure that serves as a dressing room. The older building is located further down the road. It has hot and cold rooms. The hamam was rebuilt in 1874, it has 8 windows and a well-known Ottoman mosque.

Rubiku Church The Rubiku church is located on a rocky hill in the small industrial town of Rubik. The church is an important cult object of the 12th and 13th centuries. Its construction finished in 1272. The church is well known for its frescoes and mural paintings. The building is a monument of culture and is of interest from the construction and architectural point of view. In the past, the Rubik Church served as a Benedictine Abbey and as a Franciscan Monastery. Lead Mosque This is a famous cultural monument in the city of Shkodra. It is located behind the Rozafa castle to the South. The Lead Mosque was built in 1773 by Mehmet Pasha Bushati, in the style of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. Pojan Monastery Muradie Mosque Kuzum Baba Kapllan Pasha’s Turbe (Tomb)


Archeological parks Finiq (Phoinike) Lezha (Lissus) ORIKUM Shkodra (Scodra) Butrint (Buthrotos) Bylis Antigonea Apollonia Amantia

Archeological sites Ancient Durres Fortification of Gorica Fortified hill of Peshtan Fortress of Vokopola Albanopoli (Zgerdhesh) Aulon (Vlora) Onchsmos (Saranda) The Persqop fortress The fortified settlement of Karos near Qeparo

Museums National Historic Museum National Museum “GEORGE KASTRIOT SKENDERBEU” Archeological Museum Natural Sciences Museum Gallery of Arts National Ethnographic Museum, Kruja National Museum of Medieval Art, Korça National Museum “ONUFRI”, Berat National Ethnographic Museum, Vlora Indipendence Museum, Vlora


Symbols The national and ethnic symbol of the Albanians is the eagle, which was used in that capacity in the earliest records. The eagle appears in a stone carving dating from 1190, the time of the socalled first Albanian principality, known as Arbanon, and was used as a heraldic symbol by a number of ruling families in Albania in the late Middle Ages, including the Castriotta (Kastrioti), the Muzakaj (Myzeqe), and the Dukagjini. A black double-headed eagle also was placed by the national hero Scanderbeg on his flag and seal. This form of the eagle, deriving from the banner of the Byzantine Empire, has been preserved as an ethnic symbol by the Arberesh of southern Italy. In the late nineteenth century, the double-headed eagle was taken up by the nationalist movement as a symbol of resistance to the Ottoman Empire and was used on the banners of freedom

fighters seeking autonomy and independence. The current flag, bearing this black double-headed eagle on a red background, was officially raised on 28 November, 1912 to mark the declaration of Albanian independence in Vlorë and has been used since that time by the Republic of Albania and by Albanians everywhere as the national symbol. In Albanian oral literature and folklore, the eagle appears as a symbol of freedom and heroism, and Albanians often refer to themselves as the “Sons of the Eagle.” The popularity of the eagle among Albanians derives from the similarity between the words shqipe (eagle) and the terms for the Albanian language, an Albanian person, and Albania.


Another beloved symbol is the Albanian prince and national hero Scanderbeg (1405–1468). His real name was George Castriotta (Gjergj Kastrioti). Sent by his father as a hostage to the Turkish Sultan Murad II (ruled 1421–1451), he was converted to Islam and, after being educated in Edirne, was given the name Iskander (Alexander) and the rank of bey. In 1443, after the Turkish defeat at Nish by John Corvinus Hunyadi (1385–1456), Scanderbeg abandoned the Ottoman army, returned to Albania, and embraced Christianity. He took over the central Albanian fortress of Kruja and was proclaimed commander in chief of an independent Albanian army. In the following years, Scanderbeg successfully repulsed thirteen Ottoman invasions and was widely admired in the Christian world for his resistance to the Turks, being accorded the title Athleta Christi by Pope Calixtus III (ruled 1455–1458). For Albanians, Scanderbeg is the symbol of resistance to foreign domination and a source of inspiration in both oral and written literature. It is common in the homes of Albanian families living abroad to find not only an Albanian flag but also a bust or portrait of Scanderbeg. The Albanian besë - besa is deeply rooted ethnic rule and highly important part of the Kanun Code obeyed by person and family through history. Besa means “to keep the oath” and “the word of honour” and creates a situation of inviolable trust. One who acts according to Besa is someone who keeps his word, someone to whom one can trust one’s life and the lives of one’s family. Rules of Besa : an Albanian can sacrifice his own son in order to keep his Besa; Besa can not be sold or bought in a bazaar; Albanians would die rather than break besa; Besa is worth more than gold. For all Albanians besa was the highest human and ethical value.

Albanian traditions Folklore Albania has a rich history or folklore and music, dating back to Illyrian times. Songs feature elaborate dances and instrumental works, in which you can see glimpses of the vibrant spirit of the Albanian people. Albanian folklore is a diverse, artistic expression which is handed down from generation to generation. It is a historical narrative of sorts and continues to be modified to reflect recent history. There are literary, musical, and theatrical and dance aspects to this continually evolving art form. Storytelling is integral to this expression and takes the form of poetry, legends, tales, anecdotes, proverbs and folk sayings. Folk-music Folk songs and dances have marked significant events in Albanian daily life since antiquity. From weddings to funerals, songs and accompanying dances are performed. These performances vary by region, but are an important aspect of cultural identity throughout the country. Throughout the centuries, there have been several famous Albanian musicians, including medieval composer and singer John Kukuzelis, who is responsible for reforming church music of all types. Albanian folk music is comprised of three distinct styles: The diatonic music of the north is characterized by solo male singers. Instrumentation consists of the Ciftelia, lahuta, and gajde. The sound produced is reminiscent of Celtic music. Polyphonic or pentatonic music is traditional in the south. It is usually sung a capella, or with no instrumentation. The sound is en-

hanced by multiple singers. This style of singing usually recounts epictales or historical events. Urban folk music, or “muzika popullore qytetare”, encompasses a variety of styles and is more popular in the less traditional urban areas. Accompaniment ranges from a single instrument to a small orchestra. National Festival of Folklore This is the largest, most significant folklore festival occurring anywhere in Albania. It is held at Gjirokastra Castle every four years. All regions and varieties of Albanian folklore are represented. Albanians also travel from all over the world, including Kosovo, Montenegro, Turkey, the United States and Greece to participate in this event. International guests show case examples of folklore from their country of origin, as well. National Typology Festival of Saze and Folk Orchestras - Korça Saze (Albanian traditional clarinet) music is celebrated at this festival. Music of this variety is played throughout southern Albania; specifically in urban centers such as Korça, Vlora, Pogradec, Përmet, Berat, and Leskovik. National Festival of Rhapsodists and Folk Instrument Players - Lezha This festival held in Lezha show cases rhapsodists from Northern Albania. It is the only event that is wholly dedicated to rhapsodists and bards who enthusiastically interpret their songs with instruments such as lahuta, cifteli and sharki. National Festival of Urban Folk Songs, Elbasan This traditional festival show cases urban folk songs and is held on the first day of summer. National Typological Festival of Iso-Polyphony-Vlora The National Typological Festival of Iso-Polyphony celebrates this unique subset of Albanian folk music. The immense significance of this style of folk singing is highlighted by UNESCO-s declaration of Albanian Iso-Polyphony as a “Masterpiece of the oral and intangible heritage of humanity.” National Festival of Folk Instruments, Gjirokastra This multicultural festival is held in Gjirokastra and features both folk music and the musical instruments used to accompany folk singers. International Festival “Multicultural Përmet” - Përmet. This is a festival of ethnic, cultural and linguistic minorities in Albania. It is sponsored by CIOFF, an international organization that promotes folklore performances and the preservation of folklore worldwide. Folklore Festival“Sofra Dardane”- Tropoja This festival seeks to preserve folklore and provide enrichment through folklore performances. It is held in Tropoja and specifically features Northern Albanian and Kosovar folklore and ethnography. Festival “Oda Dibrane”- Peshkopi Oda Dibrane is relatively new; this style of dance and song was first performed in 1994. It is humorous and popular, and has inspired this festival in Peshkopi.


Monuments of Culture Albania is a country with a unique colorful history. There are distinctly Albanian artifacts, but other civilizations have left traces here, as well. Ruins exist from Illyrian, Roman, Greek and Byzantine civilizations, adding to the mystique and rich history of this land. Handicraft The history of handicrafts in Albania is extensive and dates at least back to the Illyrians. The Arbëresh people of early medieval times are known to have developed a high level of artistic expression in the form of crafts. Many quality items are still produced today and feature folk designs or patriotic motifs such as Albania’s double eagle emblem. Artisans work in various media including wood, cooper, alabaster, bone, and ceramic. Also noteworthy are textiles and leather goods, and delicate silver jewelry found throughout the country.

Albanian Folk Costumes One of the greatest Albanian folk legacies is the authenticity and originality in the costumes and traditional clothing. It is more than simple outfits; it is an art, expressing our identity and heritage to the World.

Traditional Albanian clothing (Albanian: veshjet tradicionale shqiptare, veshjet kombëtare, veshjet popullore or kostumet kombëtare) includes more than 200 different kind of clothing in all Albania and Albanian inhabited lands. This is due to the division the Albanian principalities in the Middle Ages. Almost every region in Albania has its own traditional dress. Three generations of the Marubi photographers from Shkodra have saved us many images of folk costumes from the late 1880’s till the early 1930’s, mostly from around Shkodra. Other people like Delacroix, Pouqueville, Lord Byron, and Edith Durham have contributed to the knowledge of the folk costumes in times past. The folk costumes of Albania show a great diversity in styles and patterns, not to mention the colours used, ranging from a simple black and white to purple, green, orange and deep blue. All of this in a country of just about 3 million people, and just the size of 29.000 square kilometres. It seems every village has its own costume and within it may be divided even by religion, class, age or social position. The basic garments can be identified as belonging to just a few groups, but the way these have evolved in different places, has resulted in a great diversity.


The fustanella, or Albanian kilt, was common dress for men until the 1400s. Fustanella was a significant component of traditional Albanian dress. Common villagers and rural people wore a fustanella made from coarse linen or wool; more affluent men wore silk. During the Ottoman Empire (1468-1912), many aspects of Turkish culture were adopted by Albanians. In rural areas, men may still wear the fez, a traditional Turkish cap, and a colorful cloth belt. Women may wear embroidered blouses in the Turkish style, with loose pants - shalvaras. A man’s costume from Malësia (Malcija e Vogël area) consists of close-fitting woolen trousers with black cord trim, an apron of wool with a leather belt buckled over it, and a silk jacket with long dull red sleeves with white stripes. A long sleeveless coat may be worn over the jacket along with an outer, short-sleeved jacket (dzurdin). The head and neck may be covered with a white cloth. Traditional women costume of southern Albania features a blouse

with wide cuffs in fabric to match an embroidered vest. A pleated petticoat is worn under a full skirt, and an elaborately embroidered apron and sash complete the outfit. Gold chains cascade from the neckline, are gathered into the sash, and are tucked into a pocket at the right side of the skirt. A kerchief covers the woman’s hair. In the north, the sleeves of the blouse are wide, with lace embroidery along the edges. Embroidery on the apron is elaborate, but distinct from the style of southern Albanian women. Gold coins are worn on a headband and on several strands of necklace that adorn the bodice (upper part) of the dress. In cities, conservative Western-style dress is more common. Albanians are modest, however. Neither men nor women wear shorts or other revealing clothing. Traditional clothing is seen mostly at theatrical or folk dance performances in cities. Like in many European countries, the traditional costumes have vanished almost completely from daily life.


Cuisine Albanian cuisine offers unique flavors that have developed and evolved over the centuries. Albania’s geographic location, more or less at the crossroads between East and West, has resulted in an original culinary blend. It shows influences from Asian, Turkish, and various European sources. Agriculture flourishes here, and the organic fruits and vegetables grown in the Mediterranean climate serve to further enrich the cuisine. One traditional Albanian drink is called Raki. It is a distilled spirit usually made from grapes. Additionally the locally produced cognac, Skanderbeg Cognac, is excellent and has won many international prizes. Wine is also produced on a large scale in Albania, and many delicious varieties of red and white

are available. Coffee (Turkish or espresso varieties) is very popular and enjoyed by many Albanians throughout the day. There are a wide variety of restaurants in Albania. Larger restaurants usually feature some variety of international cuisine, in addition to some Albanian offerings. Often the best Albanian food can be found in the smaller restaurants. Some of the main stays of Albanian cuisine include: roast lamb, veal escalopes, biftek (beef ), qebab (kebobs), qofte (meatballs). Fërgesë tiranase, a traditional dish of meat, eggs, and tomatoes is cooked in an earthen ware dish and is very popular. Excellent quality, fresh seafood can be readily found when travelling anywhere near the coast.


Archeological Cities Albania is country of breathtaking landscapes, crystal clear rivers and lakes, infinite fields and meadows of lush vegetation and abundant in flowers and medicinal herbs, clean and healthy air, secluded and serene places and charming villages far away from the bustle of civilisation. Albania offers wonderful opportunities for out-door activities as walking, trekking, mountaineering, alpinism and mountain biking. Still relatively unspoiled by globalization, Albania is an inspiring mixture of civilizations and cultures, providing truly unique experiences. Many ruins and vestiges of Albania’s rich history await visitors. The most notable tourist attractions are the ancient sites of Apollonia, Butrint and Kruja. Additionally, Albania’s coastline has becoming increasingly popular with tourists due to its relatively unspoiled beauty and amazing beaches.


Apollonia

Antigonea

Situated 12 km from the city of Fier. Illyrian Apollonian was found at the beginning of the 7th century BC by the Greek colonists coming from Corinth and Corcyra. Apollonian was in Roman times, a large and flourishing city near Aos river (today Vjosa). Of great interest to be visited are; The Encircling Wall, the monuments of Agonothetes, the Library, the Odeon, the Portico, the house with mosaics, The Museum of Apollonia, the Church of St. Mary. Unfortunaly, some of the statues and object were appropriated before 1946 by other countries. Those remaining are displayed in the museum, which is housed in the monastery. The monastery courtyard enclosed a Byzantine church dating back to the 14th century.

Antigonea lies on a hill about 600 meters above sea level

WHAT TO VISIT… THE MUSEUM OF APOLLONIA THE EXCAVATIONS AND THE MONUMENTS OF APOLLONIA THE ENCIRCILING WALL THE TARRACED WALL WITH THE ARCHED GATES THE MONUMENT OF AGONOTHETES THE LIBRARY AND THE ODEON THE PORTICO THE HOUSE WITH MOSAICS

The Agora of the city has been excavated and a Stoa, 59 meters long and 9 m wide has been brought to light. Coins from various city states have been found in excavations, arriving from Korkyra (modern Corfu), Apollonia, Dyrrachium, Oricum, Ambracia but also the Epirote League, most of them made of bronze and few in silver. A triconch Palaeo-Christian basilica has been found at the site, dated to the 6th century A.D., and decorated with a mosaic floor. The Egyptian god Anubis is represented on the central panel of the mosaic, and according to one interpretation it may depict Saint Christopher “the Dog-head”.

Bylis Bylis (in today Mallakastra) which is a very important archeological center in Albania, is one of ancient Illyrian citys inhabited by the tribe of Bylliones. Established in the third century B.C., Bylis flourished as a political, economic, and cultural center of the community. The city was governed by an annual council of civil servants. In 230146 B.C., it introduced bronze coins, which were used throughout this region. The handicrafts from the workshops of Bylis were competing with the handicrafts of Apollonia. The surrounding wall of Bylis, built in the second quarter of the fourth century B.C., is very well-preserved. It is 2250 m long, 3.5 m wide and 8-9 m high and it surrounds an area of 30 ha. The wall is triangular. The city consisted of several quarters and objects, such as the agora, which sheltered the inhabitants of the villages and their wealth in the event of war. It is very interesting to see:

THE CHURCH OF St. MARY THE CHURCH OF St. MARY

Butrinti Archaeological Site, perhaps the most romantic archaeological site in Albania. Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been a Roman city and a bishopric. Following a period of prosperity under Byzantine administration, then a brief occupation by the Venetians, the city was abandoned in the late middle Ages after marshes formed in the area. The present archaeological site is a repository of ruins representing each period in the city’s development.

WHAT TO VISIT IN BUTRINTI…. TEMPLE OF AESCULAPIUS THE BAPTISERY NYMPHEUM GATE WITH TOWERS

The theatre,which is larger than that of Butrint and was built in the middle of the third century B.C. The monumental fountain of the 3rd century. - Several stadium elements. - Medieval cultural objects such as Basilica In the Church of Bylis which was build on the IV-th century AD, the mosaics have Ilirian (Illyrian) motifs which for the church later where known as pagan ones


Natural Heritage Although one of the least known countries in Europe, Albania’s natural treasures are only a few years away from being discovered by nature lovers worldwide. Whilst the turquoise waters and sandy beaches of the Adriatic Sea in the West attract all kinds of travelers, the beauty of the Albanian Alps in the North and East will only reward those who enjoy hiking in the rugged realms of wolf, lynx and bear.

Coastal Tourism Adriatic Coast The Adriatic coast starts in the delta of Buna River by the city of Shkodra. By the Adriatic coast you will find clean sea waters, high quality service, traditional and modern cuisine, lagoons, lakes and rivers. There are great possibilities for nature lovers, ecotourists and others. Hunting can be practiced in the region’s rich ecosystem too.

Ionian coast The Ionian coast starts in Uji i Ftohtë (Cold Water) in Vlora and continues with few interruptions all the way to the Cape of Stillo. It has a high abrasive intensity because the sea is deep while river deltas are lacking. As a result, waves on the Ionian can reach up to 4 m while the coastline is rocky. On the coast you will find a number of small bays and comfortable beaches. Some of them are rarely visited due to the difficult access roads which may make your experience all the more intimate.


Some large tectonic bays are: Vlora Bay, Porto Palermo, Saranda Bay etc. Here you can dive, sail, fish etc. The Albanian Riviera coastline has high temperatures and therefore a subtropical flora. The Riviera is one of the most picturesque places of the Mediterranean with a lot of tourist potential. In the last few years, the number of visitors has increased exponentially.

There are a number of historical facts, cultural and archaeological objects that point to a population that lived here since the Paleolithic era. In medieval times a number of cities in the coast flourished offering visitors a rich cultural inheritance.


Rural Tourism Albania is predominantly mountainous country, and magnificent mountains and hills constitute 2/3 of its total area, but flat along its coastline with the Adriatic Sea. The highest peak of Albania, breathtaking Mount Korabi on the Macedonian border is 2.753 meters high. In the north of Albania the stunning and wild Prokletije Mountains - Albanian Alps with their highest point rise on 2.694 meters above the sea level and offers incomparable nature beauties. You have mountains behind you, and mountains alongside you, and mountains in the distance and from everywhere you could hear water falling with a rattling sound, as if it had absorbed the bellicose spirit of the country. Those are wild streams rushing from the mountains to empty into the most enchanting of lakes.


Albania has several regions where mountain and rural tourism is well developed. Among the most impressive are: - Albanian Alps. Rugged and imposing, the Alps in northern Albania offer world class mountaineering opportunities. Some cities with resources include Thethi, Vermoshi, Nderlysa, Lugina e Valbones, (Dragobia,Selimaj, Rragam). - Mountainous areas of Korรงa (Voskopoja, Dardha, Vithkuqi). - Shores of Lake Ohrid, is one of the most popular tourist areas (Lini, Hudenishti, Pogradeci and Tushemishti). - Shores of Lake Prespa. Tourism has flourished here recently, and the following towns offer a variety of activities (Pusteci, Gorica e Vogel, Gorica e Madhe and Gollomboci).

Natural resources Albania is notably recognized for its rich biological and landscape diversity. Almost three quarters of Albania is densely covered with natural vegetation making it one of the greenest countries in the world. Majority of Albania territory - about a million hectares is forested and the country is very rich in flora. About 3.000 different species of plants are grow in Albania, many of which are used for medicinal purposes. The forests are home to a wide range of animals such as wolves, bears, wild boars, and chamois. Lynx, wildcats, pine martens and polecats are rarer, but survive in some parts of the country. There are various national parks in Albania that hold a great significance in the wildlife tourism of the country. There are 13 National Parks, 4 Protected Landscape Areas, 4 Strict Nature Reserves, 26 Managed Nature Reserves, 4 Natural Monuments and other protected areas.

Flora Albania has a rich flora with over 3,221 types of plants. Among them, 489 are specific to the Balkan peninsula and 40 are located only in Albania. Oak forests are typical and comprise 20 percent of the forested area of the country. In other areas visitors can find Mediterranean shrubs up to 800m above sea level and eucalyptus, sea figs and laurels.

Fauna Albania enjoys a wide variety of animals, as well. Carnivores are represented by wolves, foxes, jackals, and a variety of wild cats. Large mammals such as deer and boar offer opportunities for hunting. Many species of birds flourish here, too. From grouse to pelicans, a broad array of more than 350 varieties is represented. Fresh and saltwater fish are abundant as well. Mullet, carp, bass and trout are just some of the species present here. Lake Ohrid boast several important species, including the endangered Koran Trout, a distinct type of eel, and a variety of snail whose origins can be traced back 30 million years!


Albanian Mountain TourIsm The territory of Albania has several regions where mountain and rural tourism is well-developed. Among the most important are the Albanian Alps:

Thethi

The alpine tour of Albania is not complete without a visit to the Western Alps (Alpet Perëndimore). Here you will enjoy something unique; you will walk, breath, sleep and eat amidst the legends starting from Homer and ending with the modern tales of our days. This tour gives you the chance to enjoy a unique place at the heart of the Albanian Alps, Gropa e Thethit. The journey to this mountainous area begins from the city of Shkodra and leads to the closest stop – 41 km away from Shkodra – the city of Razma, situated on a blackberry hill at the feet of the Veleçik Mountain. Razma stands amid infinite forests of pines and birch trees. There are also many meadows and amazing alpine pastures. The journey to Razma is possible even in the winter when the snow is at its highest level. There are several hostels already and others are on their way to completion. The most common activities are excursions, mountain climbing, skiing, and during the summer - camping.

After Boga, you will reach the main tourist center of the entire area, Thethi, located 70 km from Shkodra. Before arriving at Thethi you must pass Qafa e Tërthores at 2,000 m above sea level. From here, you descend to Gropa e Thethit, crossed by a stream with the same name. The area is rich in attractive sights like the Cascade of Grunas, 25-30 m high. You will be amazed by the cold-water sources of Okol and the caves “Birrat me rrathë” (“Round Holes”) and “Arapi”. In the park, you can amuse yourself by trekking, mountain climbing, skiing (especially on the eastern slope), or fishing, mountain biking and exploring caverns. The flora is impressive: the most common tree of the area is the beech, which covers almost 90 percent of the surface of the park. There are different types of flowers such as Eulfenia of Baldachi discovered by the Italian botanist Baldachi, which can be found only in Theth. The fauna is just as rich, distinguished by the Golden Eagle and Lynx. The waters of the Stream of Theth are home to marble trout. While in Theth you can stay in local hostels with traditional alpine architecture. The characteristic dish of the area is “fërliku” (baked meat) and different plates of trout. From Theth, the trip continues to the valley of the Shalë River approaching the heart of the Alps.

Boga

Vermosh

The road will lead you from Razma to the village of Dedaj and then onto Boga, a village surrounded by the Alps and described by Edith Durham in her book “The Burden of the Balkans”. Boga is the perfect place for mountain climbing, skiing, and spelunking. Among the most famous caves, you can visit the Cave of Mulliri (“Mill”), Akullore (“Ice Cream”), and Njerëzve të lagun (“Wet People”). The Cave of Puci is one of the most attractive, situated at 1,087 m above sea level. It is 5 km long and rich in stalactites, stalagmites, and wall veils. The cave has many levels, five alone in the center. By passing through its galleries you can connect with another cave, the Cave of Husi.

Another interesting spot of the Western Alps is Vermosh, part of the northern-most region of the country. Vermosh is 95 km away from the city of Shkodra. Vermosh is part of the region of Kelmend, a name that originates from the Roman word “Clemens”, meaning gentle, simple, and good. The first thing that catches the eye during this journey is Qafa e Rrapshit where you can see the crystal clear waters of the Cemi River that create a beautiful contrast with the surroundings. During summer, the ponds of the river are perfect for sunbathing. Vermoshi stands in an alpine field at 1,100 m above sea level surrounded by high slopes. You can entertain yourself by trekking, mountain climbing, skiing, or fishing for trout. If you want to try something special from the traditional cuisine, be sure to taste the diary products of the area!

Western Alps - Razëm - Bogë - Theth - Vermosh


The journey to this part of Albania will give you not only the chance to live between a mythical atmosphere and the contemporary world, but will also let you taste the proverbial hospitality known and mentioned by every foreigner who has visited this place.

Albania Eastern Alps: Valbona River Valley – Canyon of Shoshan – Dragobia – Selimaj – Rragami The Valbona River Valley lies in the eastern part of the Albanian Alps. A national park of 8,000 hectares, it is one of the most beautiful natural areas in Albania. The park lies at 20-30 km from the alpine city of Bajram Curri. Before entering the valley you will find the water source (Vrellen) of Shoshan located only 3 km away from Bajram Curri. This karstic source heads to the Valbona River creating an attractive canyon 2-3 m wide and 50 m deep. After entering the valley, you will pass several picturesque villages. The first, with alpine style houses, is called Dragobia, and it is where the valley narrows. Past Dragobia, at the foot of a mountain where the Cerremi stream joins Valbona, there is the famous cave where the national hero Bajram Curri was besieged and killed. The city than took his name. Valbona (or Selimaj) is located 25 km away from the city of Bajram Curri and is the most important inhabited center of the valley. It is full of traditional houses that create a picturesque view in symmetry with the natural wonders of the valley, which widens again at this point. In Selimaj, you will find a comfortable and traditional hotel, or you may have the opportunity to stay at a village home, for the inhabitants’ generosity and hospitality are well known. The zone is also known for its characteristic regional cooking, with specialties such as mazja, flija, and pitja masterfully prepared in traditional village kitchens. Beyond Selimaj, the road continues through the valley among marvelous views of nature with rich colors of both springtime and of the snow

that covers the peaks of the craggy mountains. The final village before you arrive at the source of the Valbona River is Rragam. Rragam is a remote village surrounded by virgin and intact nature. The whole valley has such rare colors and beauty that one may think a divine hand made it. On one side, you see the crystal-clear waters of the Valbona, and on the other the sharp but verdant mountain edges. Up until May you can enjoy the contrast of the clean white snow on the treetops against the blue sky. The flora of the national park includes a variety of plants and trees, the most wide-spread formations of which are the Hormoq tree. The rest consists of beechwoods, arnen, walnuts, chestnut trees, and wild apple trees. There are also many forest fruits such as bilberries and strawberries. The animals in the park include bears, wolves, and wild cats, while on the rocks there are herds of wild goats. Down in the river there is the so called “marble trout”, a rare fish of the crystal clear waters of the Valbona with an exquisite and special taste. The valley, the park, and all the surroundings are known for snowfall, which starts in early November and lasts almost until May. The average level of the snow in this region is 100 cm. There are lots of outdoor activities that can take place in the national park, such as fishing, excursions and trekking throughout the valley and the streams (Cerrem, Kukuaj), canoeing along certain parts of the river, and skiing or mountain climbing. Valbona may also serve as a starting point if you wish to climb the Jezerca Mountain, the second highest mountain in Albania.


Ionian and the “Albanian Riviera”:

Llogara – Palasa – Dhërmi – Vuno – Himara Llogara (The National Park) The Llogara National Park lies approximately 40 km south of the city of Vlora. It is situated in the Llogara Mountain and has a surface of 810 hectares, with heights of between 470 and 2018 m above sea level. It combines the beauties of a mountain and seaside climate. You can enjoy part of its magical natural beauty while traveling along the Vlorë-Sarandë National Highway at Qafa e Llogarasë, 1025 m above sea level. Here, medicinal and decorative plants mix with masses of pine trees. The park also is home to many different kinds of animals. After 20 minutes of driving along the National Highway, you will be able to see the Albanian Riviera. You can stay overnight in the park and enjoy the restaurants, contemporary clubs, and different activities and excursions. The park is also a good place to enjoy aerial sports (it is known for international aerial sports events) like parachuting and para-gliding.

Palasa After passing Qafa e Llogarasë through a road that dates back to the Pompey period, you descend into the Albanian Riviera. This warm Mediterranean zone has nearly 300 sunny days a year, and the average temperature of July is 25°C (77° Fahrenheit). The list of places to visit begins with the beach of Dhraleo (Palasë) known for its clear waters. Pompey and his army stopped at this beach in ancient times, when it was known as Palestra.

Dhërmi Dhërmi is famous for its crystal clear waters and small, intimate pebble beaches like Jaliksari, Shkambo, and Gjipea. Gjipea is a rare beauty, for it is situated at the foot of a 70 m high cliff. Close to Dhërmi is the legendary Cavern of the Pirates. Dhërmi is a picturesque village of a particular atmosphere. It is thought to have first been inhabited in 49-48 B.C. In Dhërmi there is the Monastery of Shën Mëria, the Church of Shën Todhri, the Church of the Ipapandia and the Church of Shën Mitri with its frescos from the 12th -14th centuries. The main entertainments in Dhërmi are swimming, water sports, and diving. There are many hotels, restaurants, pubs, discotheques. The restaurants combine traditional and foreign cuisines, and serve many seafood specialties

Vuno Eight km south of Dhërmi there is the village of Vuno, well known for its traditions and patriotism. From here, the road goes to the wonderful beach of Jala, whose fantastic gulfs are distinctive from those in the rest of the Riviera. Vuno is a unique village, built on a hill facing the sea. Here you can visit old churches like the Church of Shën Spiridhoni, built in 1778, and the Church of Mesodhia with paintings from 1783. There are also several architectural landmarks such as the ruins of the House of Odise Kasneci and the tower like House of Shane Kote.


– Qeparo – Borsh – Lukova


Himara Continuing your tour towards the south, you will come across the small city of Himara, which has two neighborhoods: Old Himara built on the hill and New Himara in the gulf of Spilia. The beaches of Himara are Spilia, Llamani, Potami, and Livadhet. They are all gravel beaches with deep, clear waters. Himara comes to life during the summer tourist season, when visitors take up residence in the hotels or in rented houses. Himara is the ancient residence and city of the Illyrian Kaon clan. It was settled in the fifth century B.C. and its name is of Pellazgë (pre Illyrian) origin. There are several religious sites to visit such as the Church of Shën Mëria e Athalit, the Church of Cassiopeia, the Church of All Saints, and the House of Lilo Llazari, which has been turned into a cultural monument. Another site to visit is the Castle of Ali Pashë Tepelena, built on a small peninsula in the tectonic gulf of Porto Palermo. The castle is built like a triangle with walls 20 m high. It is said that this castle was built on top of the ruins of an ancient castle.

Qeparo Close to the gulf of Porto Palermo stands the village of Qeparo with its own distinctive beach. Old Qeparo, built on the hillside, has several objects worth seeing, such as the three story Towers of Ali Pasha, the Monastery of Shën Dhimitri and the House of Minella Gjika.

Borsh The village of Borshi is situated a few hundred meters away from the shore, nearly 20 minutes from Himara. This is the largest beach of the Albanian Riviera, almost 6 km of clear water. Built along the length of the beach are many hotels, clubs, discotheques, and restaurants of all types. The hospitality of the villagers and the traditional dish of grilled lamb are distinctive features you will find in Borsh.

Lukova The last seaside village on the Albanian Riviera is the village of Lukova, well known for its terraces of citrus and olives. Nearly 2 km further you will find the popular Bunec Beach with its beautiful stream of crystal clear water flowing directly to the Ionian Sea. South of Lukova and toward the Gulf of Kakome, there stretch several kilometers of gleaming white flint stones, a characteristic of the area. You also can find a number of underwater caves.


ZvĂŤrnec


Mountainous areas of Korça: Voskopoja, Dardha, Vithkuqi The next surprise after the rare city of Pogradec is the city of Korça, one of the biggest urban centers in Albania. During the spring, the main avenue fills with the fragrance of the sturgeon flowers, while during winter you will enjoy a walk under the snow filled trees. In 1887, the first Albanian school opened in Korçë. During the First World War, the French invaded the city and it became the “Autonomous Region of Korça.” In 1917 the French Lyceum opened; one of the most noted schools in Albania. But besides its history, what attracts attention in this traditional city is the architecture with the villa like houses encircled by banisters and flowery gardens. The zone between the Republika and Shën Gjergji boulevards is very interesting: here you can visit the Medieval Art Museum and the Prehistoric Museum, located in two traditional buildings of the city that will give you the chance to see nearly 1,200 objects from archeological excavations from the prehistoric, Hellenic, Roman and Paleo-Byzantine eras. Another interesting location is the museum house of the master artist Vangjush Mio, and the Museum of the Bratko Collection, opened in 2003, presenting art objects from the Far East. You might also want to visit the bazaar (dating from the turn of the 20th century), the Mosque of Iliaz Bej Miharori (the oldest monument in the city, dating back to 1484), and the Cathedral Ngjallja e Krishtit (“Resurrection of Christ”), one of the biggest in the Balkans. At night it is not unusual to hear the traditional bands of the city singing sweet serenades with guitars under the balconies. In the taverns of the city you will taste dishes you have never tried before. You can sample them all, but remember not to miss lakrori me qepë dhe domate . (a traditional pie made with onions and tomatoes, between two sheets of dough), and tava e korminës (traditional baking pan made with paunches). And don’t forget the Festival of Carnivals, the biggest celebration of its kind in all of Albania.


Voskopoja

Voskopoja was one of the most important centers of the Balkans. It has been known as a city since 1330, but life here was in full bloom by 1794, when the city had 30,000 inhabitants and maintained contacts with Leipzig, Budapest, Venice, and Vienna. The city also had 27 churches, an academy, a library, and the first printing house in the Balkans, in 1720. You will not want to miss visiting the Monastery of Shën Prodhom and the Church of Shën Kolli (1721), which is full of pictures of famous Albanian iconographers such as David Selenicas and the Zografi brothers from Korça, who also worked in the Saint Mountain of Athos, in Halkidiki, Greece. Besides the healthy climate and the air filled with pine fragrance, Voskopoja offers comfortable hotels and private houses for family tourism as well as a natural ski run for all skiing enthusiasts.

Dardha

Another unforgettable mountain spot is the village of Dardha, 20 km southeast of the city of Korça, at 1,350 m above sea level. There is snow during the three months of winter, the air is crystalline, and the water of the village’s many natural fountains is pure and cold. Enjoy the unique folk women’s costumes dominated by black and red, the colors of the national flag, visit the stone houses that offer hospitality to travelers, and don’t forget to taste the traditional plum raki and the lakrori në saç (a traditional pie made with cabbage between two sheets of dough, and baked in a wood-fired oven).

Vithkuqi

The mountain village of Vithkuq, birthplace of the Albanian Renaissance pioneer Naum Veqilharxhi, stands 25 km southwest of the city of Korça. It has been a population center and a well known economic and cultural center since medieval times. During your stay, you absolutely must drink the water of the Bellovoda and visit the Church of Shën Pjetër and the Church of Shën Pavël. If you have enough time, you also should climb Rungaja (1,750 m above sea level) by foot or horse. Don’t worry about the accommodation, for the people of the area will surely invite you to their comfortable and characteristic houses. You will enter the region of Pogradec via the national highway where the road from Macedonia crosses Maja e Qafthanës. This crossroad offers exceptional views worth photographing of Lake Ohrid, a real pearl “shelled” between Mali i Thatë (“Dry Mountain”) in the east and the highland of Mokra in the west. A few meters further down, you might stop at the peninsula of Lin and in the village with the same name, 25 km away from Pogradec. It is said that in ancient times, this was the favorite holiday destination of the parents of the Roman emperor Justinian. Besides the magical view, you can also see the mosaics of the Bazilika e Linit that date back to the 7th-6th centuries B.C., which show an amazing ensemble of zoomorphic, floral, and geometric decorations resembling the mosaics of ancient Durrës.


Shores of Lake Ohrid: Pogradec - Lin – Drilon The road to Pogradec passes close to the shore of the tectonic Lake Ohrid, the deepest lake in the Balkans (285 m). This over 3 million years old lake (under the protection of UNESCO because of its unique value) houses 17 species of water animals, 70 percent of which are native and 30 percent migrant. The sponge of Ohrid is found only here and in Lake Baikal. On the edge of the lake you will find many restaurants, clubs and comfortable hotels. You must not miss tasting the traditional fish dishes, especially the baked speckled trout (koran in Albanian), as well as the famous pickles and kollofacet. You can also try different types of wines, but don’t miss the traditional unique wine of Buti, or the famous Perla and Muskat raki of Pogradec. The city of Pogradec was settled in the neolithic period, and it later became home to the Illyrian Enkelejdë and Desaretë clans, who built the Castle of Pogradec on a hill at 870 m above sea level. You can visit the city at any time during the year, for it has a wonderful climate. Before leaving Pogradec you will not want to miss seeing Driloni and Tushemisht, 4-5 km south of the city. The waters of the source of the Drilon form a small lake, surrounded by beautiful greenery that turns the area and the nearby village of Tushemisht into a unique oasis of calmness and rest.

Shore of Lake Prespa In the last few years, development policies have made several areas on the shores of Lake Prespa suitable for this type of tourism: Pusteci, Small and Large Gorica (Gorica e Vogël and Gorica e Madhe), Gollomboçi.


National Parks Dajti National Park Located just east of Tirana, the Park covers approximately 3,300 hectares. It is only 50 km from the airport and 26 km from Tirana. The park contains a number of beautiful 200 year old beech trees that are really worth seeing. The Park is frequented by daily visitors and it is considered Tirana’s “natural balcony.” Accommodation is available for tourists interested in more than day-long stays.

Lura National Park Spans approximately 1,280 hectares to the east of “Lura’s Crown.” The most picturesque feature is the 14 glacier lakes of Lura which are frozen in the winter. To the south you can visit the “field of mares” which has a wide variety of colorful plants and coniferous trees. The Park has great potential for developing ecotourism.

Divjaka Pines National Park This Park is 40 km east of the city of Lushnja and 5 km from Divjaka. The Park consists of 1,250 hectares and contains part of the Karavasta Lagoon which has been under the protection of Ramsar International Convention since 1994. The Park area contains one of the most important ecosystems in the country. The Park is rich in exotic fauna such as eel and is also home to 5% of the global population of the threatened Dalmatian Pelican.

Llogara Park Located about 40 km southeast of Vlora, this Park marks where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet. Near the Llogara Pass, a cut in the mountains along the national road, thanks to strong wind currents one can observe a number of interesting tree shapes, just ask for the “Pisha Flamur” (The Flag

Pine) who’s shape reselbes that of the eagle on the Albanian Flag. From the Llogara Pass, visitors can hike to see the Ionian Sea, the steep slopes of the Vetëtima (Lightning) mountain and a good part of the Albanian Riviera. It is a great spot to enjoy the mixed mountain and sea microclimate as well as a excellent place for air sports.

Fir of Drenova National Park Located 10 km from the city of Korça, the park has an area of 1,380 hectares. It is visited frequently by locals as well as tourists. Many locally famous drinking water sources such as Shën Gjergji, Plaka, Pllica and others are located in the Park.

Valbona Valley National Park With an area of 8,000 hectares this Park is considered the gem of Albanian Alps. It is located 25-30 km to the northwest of the town of Bajram Curri. It lies between high mountain peaks and it is a festival of colors and contrasts as well being rich in biodiversity. Valbona village is the focal point of the Park. Its configuration, hydrology, forests, flowers, rustic dwellings and the hospitality of its people make this park an ideal place to visit.

Tomorri Mountain Park With an area of 4,000 hectares, the Park is to the east of the museum city of Berat. From afar, the mountain of Tomorr gives the impression of a gigantic natural fortress. Here is also the grave of Abaz Aliu (Tyrba e Kulmakut), 1,200 m above sea level. Every year, during the third or fourth week in August thousands of pilgrims go up to the holy site of Tyrba for a week of celebration of a traditional Bektashi festival.


Fir of Hotova National Park

Butrint National Park

With an area of 1,200 hectares in the region of Frashër, it is located about 35 km northeast of Përmet. The Park takes its name from the Hotova Fir which is considered one of the most important Mediterranean plant relics of the country. Thanks to its beautiful natural surroundings, healthy climate and proximity to living quarters, this Park has great recreational value year round.

This Park is located about 25 km south of the city of Saranda. It has high scientific, tourist and archaeological value as well as rich in biodiversity. The park is 2,500 hectares. The Park and surrounding region offer entertainment for all types of tourism beaches in Ksamil, ecotourism in Butrint Lake, fishing, hiking , water sports and more.

Shtam Pass National Park With an area of 2,000 hectares, the Park is 25 km northeast of Kruja. The water source “Queen Mother” is one of the most attractive spots in the Park with clean, cold and curative waters. The Park is frequented by a large number of visitors.

Thethi National Park Located in the Albanian Alps, by the Cursed Mountains (Bjeshkët e Namuna), it has an area of 2,630 hectares. It is 70 km from Shkodra and is divided by the Theth River with a overflows with mountain trout. The Grunas waterfall is particularly worth visiting. Also, there are many oak trees and a variety of animals in the park.

Zall Gjocaj National Park

Shebenik-Jabllanice National Park

Covers 140 hectares 40 km north east of the town of Burrel. It is a very picturesque park with numerous underground water sources and creeks.

It is a protected national park located in the northeastern part of the Librazhd District. The park covers an area of about 33,928 hectares and shares a border with the Republic of Macedonia. Elevations in the park vary from 300m to over 2,200m at the peak of Shebenik mountain. The park is one of Albania’s newest, created on the 21st of May of 2008. Within the park region dwell a number of different species, including the brown bear, gray wolf and the endangered Balkan Lynx. Further, the park is home to a number of endemic and rare plants.

Prespa National Park Covers approximately 27,750 hectares and straddles the borders of Albania, Greece and Macedonia. It contains the lakes of Big Prespa (Prespa e Madhe) and Little Prespa (Prespa e Vogël) and their water source. It is an area rich with cultural tradition. Eremite Byzantine churches exist by the cave of Tren, Prespa e Vogël Lake, Trajani’s castle, St. Mary’s Church and on the island of Maligrad. The two lakes have now become the Balkan Prespa Park.


ALBANIA A lifetime experience


Classic Tour of Albania

starting from 580 €

*All inclusive

Day 1. Tirana Arrival in “Mother Teresa” Airport, meeting with our representative and start the tour of the capital. Visits in Tirana: • Skanderbeg Square • Clock Tower • Et’hem Beu Mosque • National Historik Museum • National Gallery of Arts • Tabak Bridge • Boulevard “Dëshmoret e Kombit” and Mother Theresa Square Overnight in Tirana.

Day 2. Tirana – Kruja – DurrËs This morning we will drive towards Kruja. If visits of the capital are left undone from the previous day we will have a walking tour in the city. Then, we’ll continue to Kruja –one of the biggest cities in Northern Albania is the “city of history” and the best known as hometown of Albanian’s National Hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Tour-visit to the Castle, Skanderbeg Museum and Ethnographic Museum. After the visit of the castle, we’ll continue by exploring Kruja’s old bazaar with authentic and antique shops. The route continues to Durrës– the ancient Greco-Roman port city of Dyrrachium, where we will spend the night.

Day 3. DurrËs – Ardenica – Berat The morning tour in the ancient Greco-Roman port city of Durrachium includes visits in the Byzantine city walls, Roman amphitheater and the Archaeological Museum. After the visit to Durrës we’ll leave for Ardenica – where we’ll visit a monastery built in 1282 on the initiative of the Byzantine Emperor Andronicus II Paleologus of Byzantium. After the visit here, we’ll be headed to Berat. The afternoon is free for you to explore Berat, this lovely city. Overnight in Berat.


Day 4. Berat – Apollonia – Vlora After breakfast, we’ll start the tour in the marvelous city of Berat - known as “the city of thousand windows” , paying visit to the lovely painted Mosque of the Bachelors and the Tekke of the Helvetis with its beautiful portico. We’ll have lunch in Fortress, that contains some of the finest examples of his work, as well as other outstanding Albanian artists. We’ll have lunch in Fortress, where you will enjoy a rustic lunch and a wine tasting of Berat cellar. (Optional) In afternoon, our tour continues to the ancient Greek settlement of Apollonia – (founded in 588 BC). After the visit to Apollonia we’ll head to the coastal and historical city of Vlora – an historical and coastal city. Overnight in Vlora.

Day 5. Vlora – DhËrmi – Himara – Saranda The morning tour takes you to a sightseeing tour in Vlora. Later we’ll drive up to Albanian Riviera Riviera, making wonderful panoramic trip along the Riviera route to Saranda, at 3,000 feet height, enjoying the best views through the fertile slopes and villages. We’ll stop for a special lunch enjoying the food and the wonderful scenery among the pinewoods. (Optional) On route to South, we’ll stop in Porto Palermo Bay, where the castle of Ali Pasha is situated. Depart for Saranda, the hillside town facing the sea, famous for its magnificent “Butrinti” archeological site. Overnight in Saranda.

Day 6. Saranda – Butrinti - Gjirokastra Morning tour to Butrinti, an Archaeological Site, visiting the Temple of Aesclepios, the Baptistery, Nymph, The Theatre, Lions Gate, the Acropolis, etc. Before turning back to Saranda, we’ll visit the “Blue Eye” spring, formed by underground springs and the unusual church of St. Nicholas at Mesopotam with its fine carvings of mythological beasts. Return to Saranda, rest of day at leisure. Dinner at Lekursi Castle restaurant (built on the ruins of an old castle). (Optional) After lunch, we set off to Gjirokastra known as “Museum City”. Visit the Castle and the Museum of Weapons. Known as City of One Thousand Steps, Gjirokastra is inscribed on the World Heritage List as “a rare example of a wellpreserved Ottoman town, built by farmers of large estate.” The dwelling houses have the form of medieval towers constituting a building ensemble with a characteristic architecture.

Day 7. Gjirokastra – Tirana After breakfast travel on to Tirana. En route we’ll stop to a local restaurant in Përmet; here you will find the real Albanian authentic, taste a warm and delicious homemade bread. (Optional) Drive back to Tirana. Free time to explore the city in the afternoon. Overnight in Tirana.

Day 8. Tirana - Airport Transfer to “Nënë Teresa” airport for your return flight home. Tour end.

Package Fee per person 2

€ 915,00 € 780,00 € 730,00 € 660,00 € 600,00 € 580,00

The fee includes:

Assistance on group’s arrival and departure by our guide; Minibus or Coach at disposal based to number of clients; Professional English speaking guide at disposal in Albania; Accommodation in 3* & 4* Hotels; Entrance fees to the monuments and museums; Bottle of water per person in the bus. The fee Excludes:

Meals and drinks (unless specified); Tips and gratuities; Porter age; Travel insurance; Visa procurement (if needed) Please Note

This tour will be guaranteed and operates only with a minimum of 2 persons.


Tour di 10 giorni in Albania e Kosovo starting from 640 € *All inclusive

Day 1. Airport – Tirana Meeting at the airport with our representative. Heading towards the capital Tirana, the first city to welcome you in this tour. The colorful buildings, the youthful spirit and the atmosphere full of energy, are the first introduction with Albania. The tour starts with a visit in the city center - Skanderbeg Square, home of Albanian National Hero Skanderbeg statue. Next to the statue is the Clock Tower, 35 meters (115 ft) high. The original building had three floors and 90 stairs that go in a spiral fashion, while the clock itself had an acoustic sound that marked the time by sound chimes. We follow to see the Haxhi Et’hem Bey Mosque. Its decorative frescos with trees, waterfalls and bridges are the most representative works of Albanian Islamic art and tradition. The National Library is located in front of the Mosque, and near the National Historic Museum. The tour continues with a visit inside the Museum divided in different pavilions: Antiquity, Medieval, National Renaissance (Rilindja Kombetare), Iconography, Culture of Albania, Albanian Resistance of World War II and Communist genocide. For those interested in arts, a visit in the National Gallery of Arts is suggested. Overnight in Tirana.

Day 2. Tirana – Pristina On the second day we’ll be headed to Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. After nearly 4 hours driving, we’ll reach the Newborn city for a walking tour around the city: see the statue of the national hero Skanderbeg, and visit the Grand Mosque, the City Museum and the Ethnographic Museum. Walk near the University and the modern National Library. Then, we’ll taste a traditional lunch in the city and in the late afternoon, free tour to explore Pristina and its shopping centers. Overnight in Pristina.

Day 3. Pristina– Prizren On morning we’ll depart from Pristina towards Prizren, where we will take a tour around the city. The beautiful Gorge of Caraleves is a panoramic spot during this drive. Visits in Prizren include the Castle, Sinan Pasha Mosque and Hamam (Turkish bath house), a historic 200 year old tree, the League of Prizren the 15th century Catholic Cathedral, Stone Castle Winery – the largest winery in the region. Overnight in Prizren.

Day 4. Prizren – Gjakova – Decan – Peja In this busy day we will explore 3 other traditional places; the 500 year old Gjakova, the stunning Decan and the mountainous Peja. From Prizren driving towards Gjakova, we will enjoy the visit in the Old Bazaar, the 16th century Mosque of “Hadum Aga”, the old bazaar shopping area, Ethnographic Museum and the grain market with handicrafts. Afterwards, a special opportunity to visit a Bektashi “Tekke” where you can hear the spiritual stories of Tekke leader (The Bektashi-branch of Shiite Islam). After lunch, arrival in our next destination - Decan. It is a small town located in the Deçan Gorge and visit the Deçan Monastery and alongside the River Lumbardhi. Decan Monastery is built between 1327 and 1335 by the Serbian King St. Stephen. It still preserves beautiful 14th-century frescoes. Today the tradition continues, 30 monks live in the monastery. Drive and overnight in Peja.

Day 5. Peja – Durres During the morning a visit tour in Peja: the Old Market, the Peja Museum, the Institute for Heritage Protection, Çarshia e Pejës - a traditional mill and the “Kulla” of Haxhi Zeka, a Peja patriot. Leaving behind Kosovo we drive towards Durrës, the second largest and the oldest Albanian city. Illyrians first settled here in 627 BC, and Durres became a prosperous trading harbour. The city links Albania to Western Europe and is the main port of the country. There are likewise a good number of magnificent structures that you can visit in town: The main library, the cultural center with the Aleksander Moisiu theatre, the Archaeological Museum, Ahmet Zogu’s Villa, the Museum of History and the most noteworthy of these structures is the Roman Amphitheatre which used to hold gladiator games back in the 117 up to 78 BC. Dinner with seafood and good wine, near the beach area. (Optional) Overnight in Durrës.


Day 6. DurrËs – Berat On morning we leave behind the sea and drive towards the city that is a Must for those who come to Albania – Berat, the Town of a Thousand Windows. More than 2000 years old town, it is one of the most visited and characteristic cities in Albania. Berat was a stronghold of the Christian faith in the Balkans for several centuries. Since 2008, one of its main district, Mangalem, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The architecture of the old houses, with large windows that overlook the town, is the first think that impresses the visitors. First stop: the Citadel. It overlooks the river and the modern city as well as the old Christian quarter across the river. The citadel can be reached by a steep road and is still inhabited. Inside the walls, you can visit ruined mosques and several medieval Orthodox churches, all intact and with restored frescoes and icons. Onufri National Museum is located in the inner part of “Saint Mary Church” in Castle of Berat. This Museum offers a collection of 173 belonging to the found of Albanian Churches and Monasteries. Afterwards you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, a two storied residence, with a lobby on one side. This residence is equipped with non-moveable furniture that serves for the preservation of the household objects, wooden case, wall-closets, chimneys, wells, etc. Visits in Berat: • The Ancient city of Dimal • The Saint Triad Church • The Gorica Quarter • The Gorica Bridge Overnight in Berat.

Day 7. Berat – GjirokastËr “The city of a thousand steps” or “the stone city”, Gjirokastra is a UNESCO site and museum town with beautiful and very distinct architecture. It is situated in southern Albania, perched on the steep side of the Drino valley overlooking an historic landscape framed by snowcapped mountains. This city 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. On the way we stop to visit Antigonea, an ancient town built by King Pyrrhus in honor of his wife Antigona. Afterwards we visit the fortress of Gjirokastra. It is undoubtedly one of the most magnificent structures of the city, sat on a rocky bluff with the city stretching out around it. It offers spectacular views of the Drino valley and surrounding mountains. Visit in Gjirokastra: • The City Castle • National Museum of Armaments • Artillery Gallery • Bektashi Turbe (tomb) • The prison: The entrance to the prison is in the first gallery of the National Armaments Museum. Completed in 1932, the prison was used by King Zog’s regime followed by the Italian and German occupation forces during the Second World War, and finally the communist regime until 1968. Overnight in Gjirokastra.

Day 8. GjirokastËr – PËrmet – KorÇa The morning takes us to the small town of Përmet. The wine and the raki of Përmet are renowned as some of the best products in Albania, but do not leave the city without tasting the famous cheese, meat, honey and gliko (a characteristic sweet with fresh fruits). District lies in the heart of the Vjosa valley and is surrounded by amazing mountains with particular flora and fauna. After the visits end, we reach Korça, known as the “cradle of Albanian culture” or as the “Paris of Albania”. Korca is the largest city within the region and continues to highlight its sophisticated and historic urban.We take a general tour of the city walking through the city’s many parks, clean streets and characteristic cobblestone walkways and roads. Overnight in Korça.


Day 9. KorÇë – VoskopojË – Pogradec This is the day we’ll explore the churches of Voskopoja. Twenty-six churches were built between 1630 and 1780, and today only five of them remained. The domes of the five remaining churches and the intricate frescoes on their interiors attest to the past prominence of Voskopojë as a cultural and religious center. Voskopoja is a picturesque village, situated between the mountains, surrounded by the forests, the spirituality of the churches, antiquity of its structure and most of all humanity and its people. It seems like a place to feel welcomed, fresh and young again. In the afternoon we’ll drive to Pogradec town. Pogradeci is one of the most charming tourist resorts in Albania because of its position near the Ohrid Lake, with clear water and delicious characteristic fish Koran; it is a good choice for tourists from all the destinations and group ages. In 5 km eastward we’ll visit the tourist center of Drilon. It is a panoramic point with crystal clear fountains that fill the beautiful channels surrounded with trees and by ornamental plants. For everybody, during all four seasons, this city offers opportunities to relax and have fun. Visits in Pogradec: • Pogradec Art Gallery - situated in the center of the town, exhibits works from well known Pogradec painters • Pogradec MUSEUM - Pogradec has a rich museum with antiques and ancient testimonials. • Pogradec CHURCHES - Pogradec has an old Orthodox Church, the Church of “Saint Maria” situated in the old part of the town, and a new build Church called the Church of “Resurrection” . • Pogradec Mosque - Pogradec has two Mosque, one in the Center of the town and the other in the hill, part of old Pogradec. • Pogradec parks - across the lakeside in the promenade “1 Maji”, enjoying the freshness of trees and a wonderful view. *Enjoy dinner at local restaurant in Drilon (nice spot not far from Ohrid Lake which has been a preferred holiday place for the exdictator Hoxha) – decorated with willow trees, and streams flowing down to the lake. (Optional) Overnight ……

Day 10. Pogradec – Airport After breakfast, transfer to the airport, where the tour ends.

Package Fee per person 2

€ 1.225,00 € 920,00 € 740,00 € 700,00 € 650,00 € 640,00

The fee includes:

A/C vehicle ; 9 nights of accommodation in double rooms BB (3 & 4 star hotels); English speaking guide; ***Single supplement: 200 euro The fee Excludes:

Meals and drinks (unless specified); Tips and gratuities; Porter age; Travel insurance; Visa procurement (if needed)


thethi tour

starting from 310 €

*All inclusive

Day 1 Shkodër-Theth After dhe accommodation on the Guesthouse and lunch, we’ll departure on an excursion to Natural Park of Theth. The group will visit the surroundings of Theth, one of the most famous northern Albania villages for its stunning nature and the traditional houses. The group will walk downhill from the house, and visit the attractions near by the village, including the Church, a tower house used in the past by men as a shelter against ongoing blood feud. Dinner. Overnight in the Guesthouse in Theth.

Day 2 Breakfast. The tour will proceed with a visit to the Ndërlysë, Cyclopean stone walled terraces dating from the late bronze era, discovered in 2007, discovering wonderful hidden places through the valley of Nderlyse. Trekking from our departure point of Theth to Nderlyse, we pass through the mountain streams that wend their way through sunken bathtubs created by tempers of nature. Arriving at the village of Ndërlysë, the feeling of desolation and loneliness becomes tangible. Going from one abandoned house to another we hear about the difficulties of life in former times. Lunch and further visits of the scenery. Return to the village. Dinner and overnight in the guesthouses of Thethi.

Day 3 After breakfast at the guesthouse visit to the Thethi Waterfall, and the Canyon of Grunas. Return to the guesthouse after the lunch in this picturesque village surrounded by vertical slopes with peaks above 2000m high. After the lunch we leave Thethi and departure to Shkodër. Return to Tirana. Option alternative Lunch: We go out to one of the restaurants at the lakeside to enjoy the traditional fish specialties looking at the panorama of the lake of Shiroka.

Package Fee per person 2

€ 440,00 € 420,00 € 400,00 € 390,00 € 315,00 € 310,00

The fee includes:

2 nights in Guesthouse (3 meals); Transport: Tirane – Shkoder-Tirane; Transport: Shkoder – Theth – Shkoder; Tour Guide. The fee Excludes:

Meals and drinks (unless specified); Tips and gratuities; Porter age; Travel insurance; Visa procurement (if needed)


Archaelogical tour around Albania

starting from 480 â‚Ź *All inclusive

Due to its Mediterranean location and geographical proximity to some of the centers of world civilization, a number of important archaeological discoveries have been made in Albania. The sites that are found in the North as well as in the South are great tourist destinations for those interested in ancient history as well as for the merely curious. Archaeological research shows that Albania has been populated since the Paleolithic Age (Stone Age). The first areas settled were those with favourable climatic and geographic conditions. In Albania, the earliest settlements have been discovered in the Gajtan cavern (Shkodra), in Konispol, at Mount Dajti, and at Saranda. Fragments of Cyclopean structures were discovered at Kretsunitsa, Arinishta, and other sites in the district of Gjirokastra. The walls, partly Cyclopean, of an ancient city (perhaps Byllis) are visible at Gradishti on the picturesque Viosa River. Few traces remain of the once celebrated Dyrrhachium (today DurrĂŤs).


Day 1: Tirana– Kruja - Tirana Meet at Mother Tereza Airport in Tirana and depart for Kruja. On the way we stop at the Albanopoli, only 10 km from the airport. After this we go ahead to Kruja, where we’ll visit the Scanderbeg Museum, Ethnographic Museum and the Old Bazaar. Archeological site: Albanopoli On a hill side near the village of Zgërdhesh (Krujë) are the ruins of the ancient city of “Albanopolis”, the capital of the Illyrian tribe “Alban” which flourished from the end of the 3rd century A.D. Its name is mentioned for the first time by Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. It is from the “Alban” Illyrian tribe that the country started to be called “Albania” and the people “Albanians”. Transfer to the hotel and overnight in Tirana.

Day 2: Tirana – Durres – Berat We start the day with a visit in the Archaeological Museum in Tirana. It was the first museum created after the World War II. Tirana Archaeological Museum has displayed about 2000 objects and it has a fund support of 17000, which is increased annually by the systematic archaeological finds. The museum gives full information on the earliest ancient dwellings in Albania, especially on the periods when the process of Illyrian tribes’ formation takes place. It also provides summarized information on Late Antiquity and early Middle Age when the transition from Illyrians to Arbërs takes place. Afterwards enjoy a delicious lunch in Durrës and then visit the Site of Epidamnus. The city of Durrës dates to the 7th century B.C., according to traditional reports from ancient sources in the year 627. The modern city is built on top of the ruins of ancient Epidamnos or Dyrrachion, the latter transformed into Dyrrachium in the Roman period. Depart for Berat where spend the overnight.

Day 3: Berat This morning we start exploring the ancient city of Berat. It is called the Town of a Thousand Windows. More than 2000 years old town, it is one of the most visited and characteristic cities in Albania. Since 2008 Mangalem District is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visits in Berat: • The Ancient city of Dimal • The Saint Triad Church • The Gorica Quarter • The Gorica Bridge The architecture of the old houses, with large windows that overlook the town, is the first think that impresses the visitors. First stop: the Citadel. It overlooks the river and the modern city as well as the old Christian quarter across the river. The citadel can be reached by a steep road and is still inhabited. Inside the walls, you can visit ruined mosques and several medieval Orthodox churches, all intact and with restored frescoes and icons. Onufri National Museum is located in the inner part of “Saint Mary Church” in Castle of Berat. This Museum offers a collection of 173 belonging to the found of Albanian Churches and Monasteries. Afterwards you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, a two storied residence, with a lobby on one side. This residence is equipped with non-moveable furniture that serves for the preservation of the household objects, wooden case, wall-closets, chimneys, wells, etc. After exploring the city we drive back to Tirana. A quick stop in The Monastery of Ardenica can be arranged. Archeological site: Mbjeshovë Mbjeshova Castle is situated near the village of Mbjeshova, in the northern part of Shpiragu mountain and it covers a surface of about 1,5 - 2 ha. The surrounding wall is well maintained along the length of the hill.The fortification is double, formed by an inner wall serving at the same time as a staging ground for soldiers and a lookout. At the east side are situated three towers and an entrance. Archeological site: The fortress of Vokopola The castle of Vokopola known as Ali Pashë Tepelena’s castle, is located on a hill at northern-west part of Vokopola village near the city of Berat. The fortification is situated on a hill 765m above sea level. The castle’s technique construction shows that the structure may have served as a military garrison.


Day 4: Berat - Gjirokastra After breakfast we depart for Gjirokastra, a UNESCO site and museum town with beautiful and very distinct architecture. On the way, stop at the ancient city of Bylis to visit the ancient remains. It was the centre of Illyrian tribe and one of the most important and largest Illyrian cities, which developed during 4th century B.C. During the 3rd century B.C. were built the theatre (8000 seats), the stadium, the gymnasium etc. By the 1st century A.D. Bylis became a Roman colony. During 5th and 6th centuries, it became an important diocesan centre, which is proved by the discoveries of 6 basilicas whose floors are laid with mosaics of early Christian motifs. Before arriving in Gjirokastra, we visit the ancient site of Antigonea; a city founded in the 3rd century B.C. Arrival in Gjirokastra in the afternoon. Visit the Ethnographic Museum, which is also the house where the Albanian dictator was born. Archeological site: Sofratika Theatre Located in Drino valley in Gjirokastra region by a village bearing the same name, this is Roman Adrianopolis of the second century A.D. The theatre was excavated in 1984 and has a capacity of 4,000 seats in 27 steps.

Day 5: Gjirokastra –Saranda In the morning we depart for the coastal town of Saranda. On the way we stop to visit the beautiful Blue Eye spring, a natural spring shaped like an eye of beautiful blue and turquoise green colours among old maple trees. Then visit the archaeological site of the fortified hill of Peshtan. Stop for lunch at the Lekuresi Fortress in Saranda, with beautiful views of the bay of Saranda and the Island of Corfu situated only 7 km away. After lunch we proceed to visit the ancient city of Butrint. A pleasant narrow road overlooking the sea and marshes leads to Butrint through a landscape of olive and orange tree plantations. Butrint is situated 15km south of Saranda. The ancient city of Butrint, which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was first inhabited by Illyrians. The archaeological excavations show that Butrint has been an important centre of the Kaonian Illyrians, one of the big tribes of southern Illyria. According to discoveries made in the area, it has been proved that the site was inhabited as early as Paleolithic period. Butrint was captured by the Normans in eleventh century and passed to Venice from 1690 to 1797, when Ali Pasha Tepelena captured it. With the fall of the Pashallek of Janina, in 1822, Butrint passed under Ottoman rule until 1913. Several excavations dating from the 1st and 4th centuries AD can now be visited, among them the Old Amphitheatre, the Temple of Asclepius or Aesculapius, the Baptistery, Nymphaeum and the ancient city walls. Do not miss the Baptistery, with a floor of colourful mosaics. An old fortress house a small museum watches over the whole site. Archeological site: The fortified hill of Peshtan - TepelenÍ The hill of Peshtan is located near the homonymous village. The settlement has been localized on top of the hill, covering an area of about 2 ha, and several narrow terraces at the east, south and west sides. These sides of the hill are relatively smooth, while the northern side, which is the narrowest one, constitutes the natural protection of the hill. On late afternoon, return to Saranda where we spend the night.


Day 6: Saranda - Vlora After breakfast we depart for Vlora driving through Albanian Riviera. Stop at the town of Himara for lunch in the “Llogara Tourist Village”; 1000 m above sea level. Very close by is a field where Julius Caesar camped his troops for a battle during the war against Pompeii. After lunch we continue to Vlora. We stop at the town of Oricum thought to have been founded by Greek colonists from Euboea Island. Oricum was used as a base by roman armies in their wars again Illyria and Macedonia. Here we can see some remains of walls and roads visible under water in the lagoon as well as part of mini-theatre of around 400 seats in the nearby hill of Palokastra. Most of the remains are from the 1st century B.C. and later. Afterwards we visit the original house where the independence document was signed in 1912 turned into “Independence Museum”. The house was the first seed of an Independent Albanian Government. Overnight in Vlora.

Day 7: Vlora – Apollonia- Ardenica - Durres After breakfast we depart for the ancient city of Apollonia. Apollonia was named after the god Apollo. It was founded in 588 B.C., also by Greeks of Corfu, and it prospered because of its role as a link between Brundisium (now Brindisi) in Italy and southern Albania. Many smaller Greek settlements were established around Albania during this time, but Epidamnus, Butrint, and Apollonia were the most important. Visit the city and an Orthodox monastery turned into archaeological museum. (Entrance fees) – Afterwards we proceed to the Monastery of Ardenica. Ardenica Abbey (church) it was in the Middle age argued by a stone in entrance dating back to the 1417, but the first building belongs at the beginning of XVIII century. Today inside the church you can admire pictures of 17431745 years, by Albanian artists. Afterwards we depart for Durrës another important ancient town founded in 657 B.C. by Corinthians. Sightseeing tour of the Amphitheatre situated in the middle of the modern town. Overnight in Durrës.

Day 8: DurrËs – Tirana Airport After breakfast we visit the Archaeological museum rich in artefacts found in and around the city. Drive to the Airport where our tour ends.

Package Fee per person 2

€ 920,00 € 850,00 € 830,00 € 560,00 € 500,00 € 480,00

The fee includes:

A/C vehicle; 7 nights of accommodation in double rooms; English speaking guide; Entrance fees: Tirana: National historic Museum; Berat: Fortress and Onufri Museum; Gjirokastra: Fortress , Ethnographic Museum; Apollonia (and Orthodox Church); Durres: Amphitheatre (and Archaeological Museum); Kruja: Fortress, Scanderbeg Museum and Ethnographic Museum; Butrint & Blue Eye The fee Excludes:

Meals and drinks (unless specified); Tips and gratuities; Porter age; Travel insurance; Visa procurement (if needed)


ALBANIAN ALPS / VALBONA starting from 310 € *All inclusive


Day 1 Departure from Tirana to Shkodër. After the arrival in Shkodër, Albania’s historical capital, we’ll pay a visit the fortress of Shkodra, Rozafa. According to Barletius, the fortress of Shkodra was an important and valuable feature of the city: “It is a town strong by naturem but also made strong by human hand”. This is related to the famous and popular legend of Rozafa. The fortress looms high on top of the hill andd it is surrounded from the waters of three rivers: Buna, Drini and Kiri. Most parts of the rubbles of this castle belong to the Venetian period, Ottoman period (XVI - XVII centuries), and Bushatllinj period (XVIII - XIX centuries). The walls of this castle have a length of 880 meters and made up a surface of 9 hectares. Other objects inside the castle are the water basins from the XV century and the cathedral from the XIII century, later on turned into a mosque from the Ottomans. In this castle there is also located the Rozafa museum that explains the different time periods of this castle. Lunch in a traditional restaurant in Shkodër or Shirokë (near the lake). After lunch, accommodation at the hotel. During the afternoon, tour around the city, at Mesi Bridge and in city pedestrian area. Mesi Bridge is 8 km away from the Shkodra town, built in 1768, over the Kir river. It is 108 meters long, with 13 archs and built with stones in an ottoman style. It connects the north regions with the Shkodra town. In Albania there are about 100 brigdes built with stones and Mesi bridge is one of the most beautiful, located in a picturesque landscape. Dinner. Overnight at hotel.

Day 2 Breakfast in hotel at 07.00. Departure to Koman to experience an amazing ferry ride on Lake Koman for 2 and a half hours, navigating tight mountain gorges with sheer cliffs rising 5000ft above us on either side. Then we’ll take the road towards Valbona Valley, discovering its hidden attractions and pristine panoramas for about 3 hours. Arrival in Han, where will stay overnight in the guesthouses of a local family. Dinner at 20.00-20.30, to taste a delicious traditional dinner with home-grown vegetables will be prepared.

Day 3 After breakfast we’ll continue our journey on minibus to “Fusha e Gjese”. From here we’ll continue our journey by foot toward Gjelaj, the last quarter of Valbona. The end of valley is the most attractive part of Valbona, surrounded with high breathtaking mountains, peaking 2300-2400m. The Valbona Valley is dominated by Beech Forest (the Beech is called “Ah” in Albanian). A typical walk through these woods will take you through stands of virgin beech trees, gorgeous in their sinewy and speckled smooth trunks, with airy fluttering canopies which transform the light from above into a cozy mystery. For the young of heart, these trees are perfect for climbing, their branches frequently forming baskets in which the climber can curl up and even roll around in without falling out. Picnic Lunch. Back to Han. Option 1: Depart to Tirana late night. Option 2: Dinner in Han.

Day 4 After breakfast depart to Tirana via Nation Road. Lunch at restaurant “Klubi Dardhës”.

Package Fee per person 2

€ 440 € 420 € 400 € 390 € 315 € 310

The fee includes:

1 night Hotel in Shkodër 2 nights in Guesthouse (3 meals) Transport: Tiranë – Shkodër-Tiranë Transport: Shkodër – Valbonë – Shkodër Ferry Koman – Fierzë - Koman Tour Guide.


Explore the Wonders of Albania This tour takes in the part of the country south of Tirana. It is mountainous and therefore difficult to move across. The main roads follow the valleys, often following the rivers that have carved out huge gorges. The Ionian coast is heavily indented, the land being covered in pine forest offering some shade to the new road as it snakes its way up and down through fishing villages.

Highlights: Guided • Albanian Riveria - Picturesque trails and villages • Gjirokastra and Berat- Walking tour of the historic UNESCO towns • Butrinti - Visit 2,500 year old archaeological site (UNESCO site) • Llogora National Park - Pine forest walks and mountain and sea scenery • Osumi canyon - one of the most magnificent canyons in Europe • Hot Springs - after a full day ride, relax at the hot springs of Benje, Përmet • Kruja - Home of Skanderbeg, Albanian’s national hero (Walking tour)

Day 1: Arrival in Tirana Meet at Mother Teresa Airport, Tirana, and head north to city of Kruja for a walking tour in the city. The main highlight here is the citadel, from where Albania’s greatest hero, Skanderberg, led the resistance against the Ottoman domination. He succeeded in ousting the Turks in 1443 and Albania was free for the next 30 years. Today the fortress is a place of pilgrimage and inspiration for Albanians; it enjoys a classic setting high on a ridge staring out to the Adriatic coast, approached via pine clad hills. Dining and overnight in Hotel in Kruja.

Day 2: Cycle to Apolonia & Vlora (60km) Our journey begins today cycling amongst the south-western Albania, lying some 155 kilometres to the south of Tirana. Apolonia, located 12km from Fier, is one of the most known archaeological sites in Albania. Visit in the old city. Head down into Vlora – city that hosts two beautiful seas, climbing to 100m over sea level. Dining and overnight in Hotel**** in Vlora.

Day 3: Cycle to Dhërmi (40km – 700m over sea level) Leaving the hotel after breakfast we cycle towards Dhërmi. Home to black pine, Eurasian otter and golden eagles, the area is covered by the Llogora National Park, a scenic expanse of protected woodland that encompasses the forests on the northern side of the Llogora Pass (1150m over level sea). Head down into the picturesque village of Dhermi, nestling amongst the rocky slopes of the Ceraunian Mountains. We will have time to relax and enjoy a little of our surroundings next to the beach before dinner this evening. Overnight in Hotel ***.

Day 4: Cycle to Himara (25km – 400m over sea level) After breakfast, continuing south along the National Road to the ancient city of Himara, This is one of the most beautiful landscapes of Albanian Riviera. Upon arrival, visit the 5th century B.C Castle of Himara, positioned prominently on the hill above the city. The most beautiful church within the walls is the Church of Saints Sergius and Bacchus (also known as the Church of All Saints), overlooking Himara and Ionian Sea. After enjoying this peaceful spot amongst the citrus and olive trees, continue on to lower Himara and its beaches. Overnight in Hotel ***.


Day 5: Cycle to Borsh (25km – 200m over sea level) After breakfast, cycle towards the castle of Palermo Bay a small tectonic bay, approx 10 km south of Himara. The old fortress of Ali Pasha of Tepelena is a small castle located on a lovely peninsula in the middle of the bay, which was also known as Panorama Bay in ancient times. Palermo Bay is also home to great diving opportunities. Passing through Qeparo coastal village, visit the old town uphill of Qeparo and then heading to Borsh - the longest stretch of coastline in the Riviera. This beach is surrounded by a 150 ha field with orange, lemon and olive plantations. Shkama Beach is a secluded beach worth a dip, together with 4.5 km long Kamorezes Beach rich with underwater sources. A visit at the ancient settlement near Sopoti (Borshi) Castle where the only mosque of the area is found is recommended. Overnight in Hotel ***.

Day 6 : Cycle to Saranda by way of the Albanian Riveria (52km – 700m over sea

level)

Visit ancient Butrint. Continuing along the Albanian Riviera. We pass through the small villages of Piqeras and Lukova en route to Saranda. The gateway to southern Albania, Saranda lies along the Ionian coast, sandwiched between the high mountains and the sea and close to the ancient remains of Butrint. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Butrint is one of the county’s most important archaeological sites, tracing its origins back to the Greeks and the Romans. We’ll cycle out to the site this afternoon to pay a visit, before returning to Saranda for the evening. Overnight in Saranda, Hotel ***.

Day 7 : Cycle to Gjirokastër via the Muzina Pass (65 km– 300m over sea level) This morning we turn away from the coast and head inland, travelling by way of the Blue Eye Spring before tackling the climb up over the Muzina Pass and into the Drino Valley. Our next stop is the historic city of Gjirokastër, another UNESCO Heritage site that is home to some truly stunning Ottoman architecture. After checking in to our hotel, this afternoon we have a chance to explore its historic heart, taking in its beautiful 18th and 19th century buildings and the dominating presence of its Ottoman citadel, believed to be the second largest in the Balkans. Overnight in Gjirokaster, Hotel ***.

Day 8 : Cycle to Permet (70 km – 200m over sea level) Gjirokastër is magnificently set between the towering Mali i Gjerë and the Drino River, providing us with a beautifully scenic ride this morning as we pass through the Drino Valley and on to the Këlcyra Gorge. Continuing on into the Vjosë River Valley we cycle through some of the most spectacular landscapes of our journey today, following the edge of the Trebeshinë-Dhëmbel-Nemërçkë Mountains on to the town of Përmet. Famed for its cuisine and its strong raki, Përmet provides us with an opportunity this evening to enjoy some traditional Albanian delicacies in a local restaurant. Here, bike cycling ends. Overnight in Permet, Hotel ***.

Day 9 : Rafting through the Osumi Canyon to Berat (46 km) Two hours rafting over the gentle waters of the Osumi down to-wards the beautiful town of Berat. As we continue along the canyon, the imposing walls of Mount Tomorr rise up before us, its dominating presence lording it over a national park that is home to a number of rare and endangered species. Our adventure ends on the streets of Berat later this afternoon. Staying in a traditional hotel in the historic neighbourhood of Mangalemi, we should have some time to explore a little something of this World Heritage site before dinner. Overnight in Mangalemi, Hotel ***.

Day 10: Transfer to Tirana Before we head back to Tirana this morning, we pay a visit to the Onufri Iconographic Museum, located in the sanctuary of St Mary’s Church in the inhabited quarter of Berat Castle. Home to a remarkable collection of religious paintings, the museum is named af-ter a famous 16th century icon painter whose works were characterised by post-Byzantine and Venetian influences. Depending on the flight we have time to visit the capital and the Nation Museum. Transfer at Mother Teresa Airport (17 km).

Package Fee per person

749 €

*All inclusive

The fee includes: 9 overnight on the hotels, car with drivers from arrival until departure from Albania; Italian/English/German/French speaking guide at disposal during all the stay, entrance fees into museums, historical sites, etc. The fee does not include: Accident Insurance, personal expenses, everything not mentioned under “The Package Includes”.


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