The location of the first-ever Regent Holidays tour in 1971, Albania was one of the last countries to gain independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912.
Discover the country’s central and southern highlights on this private tailor-made tour which journeys from Tirana to Roman archaeological sites and UNESCO World Heritage cities, and along the Albanian Riviera where the landscape changes dramatically from Adriatic to Ionian.
Stay at hand-picked boutique-style hotels, enjoy fresh, organic food and uncover a beautiful land of unspoilt countryside and off-the-beaten-track historical gems.
Opt to extend your holiday with a beach stay in the coastal resorts of Vlore, Dhermi, Saranda or Ksamil.
Our “Cultural Landscapes” itineraries are tailor-made holidays offering greater in-depth explorations with highly qualified experienced private driver/guide throughout.
Fly to Tirana. On arrival, you will be met by your private driver/guide and transferred down to Berat for an afternoon guided city tour. Berat is one of Albania’s oldest cities and arguably one of the best-preserved Ottoman settlements in the Balkans. Untouched by communist urban planning after being designated a Museum City in 1976, Berat’s attractive white houses wind their way up to the famous hilltop citadel, whose walls encircle a smattering of medieval Orthodox churches and ruined mosques as well as a superb ethnographic museum. Overnight in Berat.
Complete the tour of upper Berat and the delights tucked away within the Kalaja Fortress before departing for the archaeological park of Apollonia. Founded at the beginning of the 7th century BC by the Greeks, Apollonia became a prosperous trading city in Roman times. Here, you can see the remains of the fortified walls and the impressive monument of Agonothetes and Portico. Continue to coastal Vlore to see the Independence Square and Muradie Mosque. Overnight here. (B)
Continue south along the stunning Albanian Riviera towards Saranda stopping in the National Park of Llogara. Enjoy a short walk (of approximately 25 minutes each way) to Ceasar’s Pass, where Julius Ceaser is believed to have led his legions over the mountain. The view from the pass offers a stunning vista of the Karabaruni Peninsula and both the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Continue on to the 19th century Porto Palermo castle before reaching the impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint in the afternoon. The Greek and Roman ruins of Butrint are Albania's most important archaeological site. This rediscovered city is a microcosm of almost 3,000 years of Mediterranean history. Its 6th Century B.C. fortification evokes the city's military power and the 3rd Century BC amphitheatre symbolises the rich culture of this once thriving ancient city. Overnight on the coast in Saranda. (B)
This morning, depart for the Blue Eye Spring- a deep forest spring that resembles an eye from above. In the afternoon, tour Gjirokaster, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known by many as the City of Stone, it 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, Gjirokaster is a magical city with a tumultuous past. From feudal stronghold to Ottoman jewel to Italian colony, the city has known many rulers and has inspired poets, authors and artists. A visit to the vast 13th century castle brings the adventurous tales of medieval rulers and communist atrocities alive. (B)
Spend the next few hours travelling through the Vjosa river valley, past dramatic mountain landscapes, lush meadows and rushing river torrents. Pass Ereske, which at 1400m is the highest town in Albania. Arrive in Korce, a hub for culture and the arts. The city prospered as a centre for trade over the centuries, particularly during the early 20th Century when many of its important institutions were built. Visit the Museum of Medieval Arts and the first Albanian school, now a museum. (B)
Spend a little time in Korce's old bazaar before heading to Pogradec on the Albanian side of Lake Ohrid for a look at the iconic lake and perhaps try the famous Ohrid trout. Afterwards, continue on to Elbasan, on of the country's largest city's, to enjoy a quick tour of the walkable old town and Elbasan Castle. Reach Tirana by the afternoon for a leisurely evening. (B)
Embark on a full day tour of the nations capital. The tour begins in Skanderbeg Square, the heart of the city, where the Mosque of Ethem Bey and sprawling National Museum can be found, along with many government and buildings of cultural importance. In the afternoon visit Bunk Art 2 (housed in a former nuclear bunker), or if prone to claustrophobia, you may prefer to visit the House of Leaves- both are dedicated to documenting Communist life and persecution during Enver Hoxha’s rule. (B)
Embark on an excursion to the cradle of northern Albanian culture - Shkodra. A highlight of this lakeside town are the ruins of the Fortress of Rozafa, an ancient Illyrian castle built on a rock hill with spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the lake and the Lead Mosque. Continue on to Kruja, perched atop a hill and famous for its fortress, the Museum of Skanderbeg and the Ethnographic Museum. Spend some time wandering the Kruja Bazaar, packed full of trinkets and Albanian keepsakes. Spend the final night in Kruja. (B)
Depart for Tirana Airport for the flight back to the UK. (B)