Pushing the Boundaries - Kosovo, Macedonia & Albania

Bitola, Macedonia - © Alan Heywood
Peja, Kosovo - © Alan Heywood
Peja Bazaar, Kosovo - © Alan Heywood
Peja, Kosovo - © Alan Heywood
Rugova Gorge, Kosovo - © Alan Heywood
Skopje, Macedonia - © Alan Heywood
Skopje, Macedonia - © Alan Heywood
Skopje Old Bazaar, Macedonia - © Alan Heywood
Skopje, Macedonia - © Alan Heywood

Holiday Highlights

  • Visit parts of Europe not yet on the tourist map
  • Balanced mix of scenic rail lines, culture & recent history
  • Free time to explore Skopje, Macedonia’s stunning capital
  • Discover Pristina, Prizren, Peja, Bitola & Tirana
  • Tour to Gračanica Monastery, Dečani Monastery & Rugova Gorge
  • Peaceful Lake Ohrid
  • 13 Days from £1,790pp
BOOK NOWTailor this tour for independent travel

Tour Dates:
Wednesday 3 May to Monday 15 May 2017

With Kosovo’s independence finally recognised by the majority of UN states in late 2012, the way is now open to complete our jigsaw of the Balkans and include this beautiful area in our escorted tour range.

ITINERARY

Day 1 – To Pristina

Flight from London Gatwick Airport to Pristina, capital of Kosovo. Transfer to our four star hotel in the centre of the city. The first thing that strikes us is how friendly the people are and how grateful they are that we are visiting their country to help their fledgling economy.

Day 2 – Prizren

Full day tour by road with English speaking guide to Prizren, close to the Albanian border – a day to unwind and enjoy the scenery. Prizren has a long history and is delightfully situated on the banks of a small river.

Day 3 – Gračanica and Peja

Morning coach tour with English speaking guide to the historic Gračanica Monastery, founded in 1321 and still in use as a convent, also to Gazimestan. Afternoon train from Pristina to Peja, another riverside resort surrounded by the 9000ft high Rugova Mountains. Once again our hotel is central and at the start of the town’s pleasant traffic free zone.

Day 4 – Rugova Gorge

Peja is the terminus of the rail line but the road winds up into the mountains towards the Montenegro and Albanian borders through some magnificent scenery. Today we have a short tour of Peja plus a coach trip to the Rugova Gorge, Dečani Monastery and the small town of Gjakova.

Day 5 – Return to Pristina

After a free morning to stroll at leisure in Peja, we transfer to the station for the lunchtime train to Pristina, arriving mid-afternoon. It is a mere two or three minutes walk to the traffic free, tree lined boulevard that marks the city centre and here you will find numerous pavement cafés and restaurants.

Day 6 – Onwards to Macedonia

We have an early start today because the only train of the day to Skopje, which doesn’t involve a long wait at the border, goes at 0710! After a pleasant scenic journey we arrive in Skopje, Macedonia’s capital city, mid-morning and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free. Your tour leader will arrange a short walk to show you the layout of the city which, in our view, is one of Europe’s most beautiful. It was largely destroyed in a huge earthquake in 1963 but has been rebuilt in a neo classical-style with an abundance of green spaces, graceful bridges, statues and fountains. The city centre is less than ten minutes walk from our hotel and across the river bridge lies the old quarter with its bazaar.

Day 7 – Skopje

A free day in Skopje. Much of the city is traffic free and exploring on foot is relaxing and rewarding. In good weather, a gondola cable car to the Millenium Cross at the top of a nearby mountain is recommended.

Day 8 – Mountain Line to Bitola

Macedonia is a mountainous country and, leaving the city behind, we soon find ourselves in a stunning landscape of high mountains and wide open valleys. The train climbs steeply for much of the three and a half hour journey and, once again, we find a pleasant small town at the end of the line.

Day 9 – Return to Skopje

Bitola, situated close to the border with Greece, has a long history dating back to Roman times. We have a free morning before catching the train back to Skopje for our final evening in the capital.

Day 10 – Kičevo and Ohrid

After a free morning, we take the afternoon branch train to its upper terminus at Kičevo then transfer to a coach for the final part of our journey to Lake Ohrid where we arrive late evening. Ohrid is now both a Cultural and Natural World Heritage Site, one of only 28 sites on which UNESCO bestowed this honour. Dating from before the 10th Century, the town’s lakeside position also makes it a prime tourist spot, though not internationally well known.

Day 11 – Relax by the Lake

A full day to relax and take in the many sights which Lake Ohrid has to offer.

Day 12 – Albania

Albanian railways are totally isolated from the rest of Europe and we cross the border by road to Librazhd from where we catch the midday train to Durres – another day of wonderful mountain scenery. Coach transfer to Tirana, Albania’s capital, for short city tour before arriving at our hotel. Evening meal is included today.

Day 13 – Tirana to London

Mid-morning flight to Gatwick, arriving late afternoon.

Pleaase Note: Although there are still peace-keeping forces in Kosovo, this holiday is perfectly safe. However it may not appeal to everybody as, apart from the hotels which are all of a good standard, there is little tourism infrastructure in Kosovo and none in Albania. You are advised to read the account of our research visit before signing up for this tour.

Tour Route

Tour route map

Selected Hotels

Hotel Sirius, Pristina

Hotel Dukagjini, Peja

Holiday Inn, Skopje

Hotel Millenium, Bitola

Hotel Millenium Palace, Ohrid

Hotel Doro City, Tirana

Please note - hotels can be subject to change

Price Includes

  • Flights in Economy Class by scheduled airline
  • Rail travel as specified
  • Other travel and transfers by private coach
  • Accommodation in good quality hotels on a bed and breakfast basis plus one evening meal in Tirana
  • Excursions as stated
  • Services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour
  • English speaking local guides where appropriate

Price per person

Escorted holiday: £1,790
Single room supplement: £220
Deposit for this holiday: £200
   
Rates of exchange used are as at 1st August 2016

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