Albanian Odyssey

Ferry on Lake Koman, Albania - © Dan Tautan/shutterstock
Koman Ferry, Albania – © Andrew Marshall
Lake Ohrid – © Ramona Cazacu
Rural Life in Albania – © Ramona Cazacu
Mes Bridge, Albania – © Andrew Marshall
Vila Falo Voskopoje – © Alan Heywood

Holiday Highlights

  • Visit parts of Europe not yet on the tourist map
  • Comprehensive tour to all parts of Albania
  • Mix of rail travel, culture and history
  • An amazing railway journey from Podgorica to Belgrade
  • Three capital cities balanced by some of the remotest scenery in Europe
  • Koman ferry through the mountains
  • 15 Days from £2,050pp
BOOK NOWTailor this tour for independent travel

Tour Dates:
Wednesday 6 May to Wednesday 20 May 2020

Albania is a part of Europe rarely visited by most Europeans. Apart from Tirana and the narrow coastal belt, it is mountainous and sparsely populated yet has a rich and varied history. Above all, its people are friendly and welcoming – after years of isolation they really appreciate our visit.

ITINERARY

Day 1 – London to Tirana

Afternoon direct flight from London Gatwick for an evening arrival in Tirana, capital of Albania. Transfer to our city centre hotel.

Day 2 – Lake Ohrid and Voskopojë

A short walking tour of the Tirana highlights includes the clock tower, the Palace of Culture and the newly opened Bunk’ Art 2 Museum dedicated to the memory of the tens of thousands who were imprisoned and persecuted during the communist regime. Drive to Durrës and then by train to Elbasan in Albania’s central mountains. Finally by road to beautiful Lake Ohrid and the tiny village of Voskopojë where a late evening meal awaits us.

Day 3 – Korcë

There is time for a stroll in the village before the short drive to nearby Korcë, a bustling cathedral city which owes its existence to its proximity to both Macedonia and Greece. Return to Voskopojë for overnight.

Day 4 – South to Permet

The mountains are spectacular as we drive along minor roads towards our next destination. We have lunch at the Farma Sotira bio fish farm and pass close to the Greek border before arriving at the spa town of Permet. Dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 5 – Gjirokastra

Morning drive to Gjirokastra for a 2-night stay. Birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the town is built on two levels, the upper level of which includes the old city with its pre-Ottoman citadel affording striking views of the Drino River below. We visit the citadel, once a political prison but now a weapons museum.

Day 6 – Sarandë, Butrint and a Beautiful Coastline

Drive via the Blue Eye fresh water spring to the lovely coastal town of Sarandë and the UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site at Butrint, originally settled by the Ancient Greeks.

Day 7 – Return to Durrës

We head north via Tepelenë to Durrës, Albania’s second city and a busy port. If the train timetable permits, we will do the last stage of the journey from Fier by rail. In Durrës there are archaeological traces of an Ancient Greek civilisation (first settled in 627BC) but here they are few and far between as the area has been continuously developed since then. Overnight in Durrës.

Day 8 – Train to Shkoder

Our exploration of the northern half of Albania starts with a train journey to Shkodër, the largest city in the north west of the country and, once again, a place of rich history dating back to the Bronze Age. We have a 2-night stay here.

Day 9 – Mes Bridge and Shiroka

A full day’s sightseeing starting with the famous Mes Bridge, an 18th Century stone viaduct over the Kir River, once part of an important trade route linking Shkodër with Constantinople. We then continue to the lakeside fishing village of Shiroka.

Day 10 – The Koman Ferry

We drive into the Albanian Alps, the wildest and remotest region in the whole country. Highlight is a 2 hour trip on a ferry linking the dam at Koman with the small village of Fierza where we rejoin our coach to reach our final destination of Valbonë. Here we are surrounded by snow covered peaks, beautiful and rarely visited.

Day 11 – Return to Shkoder

Heading back down the valley we arrive at the town of Bajram Curri (named after a 19th Century local hero who played a big part in Albania’s struggle for independence) and return the way we came. The lake was created in the eighties by flooding the valley of the River Drin and is now one of a series of important hydro-electric schemes. The only other reasonable road route into the Valbonë valley is via Kosovo. Overnight in Shkodër.

Day 12 – Montenegro

A morning transfer brings us to Podgorica, capital of Montenegro. Short afternoon sightseeing tour.

Day 13 – Montenegro’s Scenic Main Line

The main railway line from here to Belgrade in Serbia is justifiably famous as one of the most scenic in Europe. For the first 80 miles, the line climbs high above the valley and there are wonderful views of the surrounding mountains.

Day 14 – Belgrade

Free day in Serbia’s capital city. Our hotel is within easy walking distance of the city centre sights including the fortress and Kalemegdan Park.

Day 15 – Home Again

Mid-morning flight to London arriving at lunchtime. Please note that this flight returns to Heathrow.

Due to the limited number of rooms in the rural accommodation, this tour will be limited to 15 persons.

Click here to read a blog of the research trip for this holiday.

Tour Route

Tour route map

Selected Hotels

Opera Hotel, Tirana

Vila Faro, Voskopojë

Hotel Alvero, Permet

Hotel Kalemi 2, Gjirokastra

Hotel Nais Beach, Durrës

Hotel Tradita, Shkoder

Vila Dini, Valbonë

Hotel Evropa, Podgorica

Queen’s Astoria Hotel, Belgrade

Please note - hotels can be subject to change

Price Includes

  • Flights in Economy Class by scheduled airline
  • Rail and ferry travel as specified
  • Other travel by private mini-coach
  • Accommodation in good quality hotels or guest houses with en suite facilities
  • All breakfasts, 4 lunches (2 of these box lunches), 11 evening meals
  • Museum entrance fees
  • Airport and other transfers
  • Services of a tour leader from London and throughout the tour plus local professional Albanian guide

Price per person

Escorted holiday: £2,050
Single room supplement: £330
Deposit for this holiday: £200

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