Amphitheatre at Butrint
Amphitheatre at Butrint

Albanian Archaeology

8 days From £1,250

7 May 2019

After 50 years of political isolation, Albania is only just emerging as a holiday destination, with a refreshing lack of modern development and a unique, timeless quality. In archaeological terms, Albania offers some of the best sites in Europe with a host of Classical cities that were once on a par with those in Greece and Italy. A dramatic landscape of high mountains and rugged coastline adds to the experience as we tour the country and visit the best of the sites. These include Durrës on the Adriatic coast, one of the largest amphitheatres in the Balkans; Apollonia, the second largest Greek colony in Albania; the UNESCO World Heritage site at Butrint, which dates from the 7th century BC, and the remote mountain city of Byllis.

PLEASE NOTE THAT A REASONABLE DEGREE OF MOBILITY IS REQUIRED TO GET THE MOST OUT OF THIS HOLIDAY AS THERE IS SOME WALKING INVOLVED

What's included?

  •  Flights
  •  Accommodation
  •  Services of a professional tour manager
  •  Comfortable coach travel throughout
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
Book Now £1,395 Deposit: £200 Single supplement: £175

Tour highlights:

  • The Roman amphitheatre in Durres, one of the largest in the Balkans
  • Apollonia, the second oldest Greek colony in Albania, dating back 2700 years
  • The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint
  • Dramatic views from the remote site of Byllis
  • The medieval town of Berat, another UNESCO World Heritage site

Tour details

Dates 7 May 2019 - 14 May 2019
Duration 8 days
Cost £1,395 Deposit: £200 Single supplement: £175 Balance due by 12 February 2019
Activity Level Moderate
Tour code BWALB19A

Book Now or call 01334 657155 if you have any questions

7 May 2019: Itinerary

We depart from London Gatwick on a direct British Airways flight to Tirana - other regional flight connections and/or overnight accommodation before or after the tour available on request. On arrival we will be met by our coach and transferred to our modern hotel. A light dinner will be served on arrival.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Vila Alba, Tirana

Following breakfast this morning we will enjoy a walking tour of Tirana including visits to the Skanderbeg Square, the Mosque of Et’hem Bej and the National Historical Museum.

We continue to Kruje, north of Tirana. The central attraction of this city is the bazaar with many souvenir and antique stalls selling many local arts and crafts. You will have free time to wander around.

At an agreed time we continue to Skanderberg Castle.

We will return to our hotel where dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Vila Alba, Tirana

This morning after breakfast we drive along the beautiful coast by the Bay of Vlora, through the Coldwater tunnel, next to the villa of former dictator Enver Hoxha, and alongside the orange plantations of Radhima. As we leave Radhima we will see the landscape change as we climb up to 1100 metres above sea level through the forest of Llogara National Park. We will stop for a photo opportunity at the top of the pass before descending back down to sea level on the recently rebuilt "Strada Bianca" road.

We continue our drive south through the seven villages of the Himara region. The region of Himara is 72 km long and is rich with natural and historical monuments such as Llamany beach and the 18th century Panormi castle of Ali Pasha. After visiting the springs of Borshi we continue our travel towards Saranda arriving late afternoon where we will overnight.

Dinner will be in a local fish restaurant this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Brilant, Saranda

Following breakfast we will depart for an all day visit to the World Heritage site of Butrint. The ancient city of Butrint was founded in the 7th century BC by the Corkirians, and has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1995. What began as a Greek colony became one of the most important towns in the Mediterranean and a Roman colony in the 1st century AD. We will admire the theatre, the temple of Asclepion, the Baptisteries, the Gymnasium, the aqueduct, the largest Basilica in south Albania. We will also visit the Venetian castle situated on top of the town, where a very interesting small museum hosts original artefacts discovered during the excavations.

In the evening just before sunset we will go to Lekuresi Castle located on top of the hill overlooking the bay of Saranda. We will enjoy the sunset with views of the Island of Corfu in the middle of the blue Ionian waters.

We return to our hotel in Saranda. Dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Brilant, Saranda

After breakfast we will drive over the mountains from Saranda to the Gjirokastra valley and the town of Gjirokastra. Our visit starts with the 8th century castle museum, which was formerly a prison. After the castle we visit the ethnographic museum, better known as the birthplace of the former dictator, Enver Hoxha. We will have some time to wander through the 18th century bazaar before we end our day with a visit to Antigonea Archaeological Park.

We will overnight in Gjirokastra - dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Argjiro, Gjirokastër

This morning after breakfast we continue north to visit the remote site of Byllis, which is dramatically situated on a mountain top overlooking the Vjose River valley. We also visit Cobo Winery where we enjoy a tour.

This evening we will overnight at Berat. Dinner will be served in the hotel this evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Mangalemi

We depart this morning after breakfast to explore the attractive Mediaeval town of Berat, situated on a hill dominating the River Osum and its gorge. Berat has been a UNESCO World Heritage town since 2008. The lower city, situated by the riverside, was once the exclusive preserve of Muslim inhabitants while, by agreement, the Christians held the citadel. During our time here, we will visit Byzantine churches and mosques before returning to our hotel where dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Hotel Mangalemi

Sadly we must check out of our hotel this morning. We still have time for some visits today before heading back to the airport. Firstly, we explore the archaeological site of Apollonia, the second largest Greek colony in Albania, which dates from the 7th century BC. We visit the Odeon, the Pritaneon, the temple of Diana and the monastery next to the site, which is built with marble and stone taken from the temple and the old Greek Theatre.

Later, we will drive to Durres on the Adriatic coast, which dates from the 7th century BC and was the historical capital of Albania between 1276 and 1920. Here we will visit one of the largest amphitheatres in the Balkans, located within the walls of the Roman castle. We will wander through the galleries of the amphitheatre and walk through the main gate to the arena where 1800 years ago people would cheer the winning gladiator asking the Emperor for his freedom.

We return to Tirana Airport in time for our return flights.

Meals include: Breakfast

7 May 2019: Additional Info

7 May 2019: Accommodation

Situated in the heart of the Old Town, Vila Alba is a boutique-style hotel. Free Wi-Fi is provided throughout the property. A private parking area is reserved for all guests and is free of charge.

All rooms at Vila Alba feature high ceilings and a combination of classical and modern design. They feature air-conditioning, a flat-screen TV, a safe and a minibar. Private bathroom provides a walk-in shower, free toiletries and a hairdryer. Some rooms have a balcony.

The hotel runs a 24-hour reception desk and offers ironing and laundry facilities, room service and business/meeting facilities. The on-site cocktail bar features a terrace overlooking the city, while the lounge cafe serves snacks and Austrian cakes and has a seating area in the garden. The underground wine cellar offers wine tastings.

This property is 3 minutes walk from the beach. Providing free Wi-Fi and free private parking just 100 yards from the town's main boulevard, Hotel Brilant Saranda has spacious rooms with LCD cable TVs, air conditioning and minibars. Front desk is attended 24/7, and you can relax in the hotel bar.

There is a grocery shop 50 yards from the hotel, nearest restaurant with Mediterranean specialities is 100 yards away, while a night club can be found at a distance of 200 yards.

Car rental services are offered by the hotel staff. The historic centre of Sarandë is about 750 yards away.

Hotel Argjiro features a garden and a terrace in Gjirokastër. This 4-star hotel offers free WiFi. Rooms have a patio.

At the hotel, each room includes a desk and a flat-screen TV. Hotel Argjiro features some units that feature a balcony, and each room is equipped with a private bathroom with a shower and free toiletries. All guest rooms at the accommodation have air conditioning and a wardrobe.

The daily breakfast offers continental, buffet or à la carte options. Guests can grab a bite to eat in the in-house restaurant, which serves local cuisine.

Speaking Greek, English and Italian, staff will be happy to provide guests with practical advice on the area at the reception.

Built on the ruins of Turkish mansions in the historic centre of the Mangalem Quarter and located 350 yards from the town centre, Hotel Mangalemi features traditional Berati architecture. It offers an on-site bar and restaurant serving traditional Albanian food, air-conditioned rooms and free Wi-Fi.

All rooms are air-conditioned and feature a flat-screen cable TV, minibar and a bathroom with a shower and hairdryer. Free public parking is available in the vicinity.

A grocery shop is just next to the Mangalemi Hotel, while historic sights, various shops and attractions can be found in the centre of Berat. The Main Bus Station is located at a distance of 1.9 miles. 

7 May 2019: Enquiries

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