This new holiday uses the gateway of Corfu to access the highlights of south and central Albania, visiting the UNESCO sites of ancient Butrint, Gjirokastra and Apollonia Archaeological museum. Take a break from these fascinating historical sights by relaxing on Ksamil Beach located around 8 miles outside Saranda. Here, swim and snorkel in the clear Ionian waters among small emerald-green islands. Spend evenings grazing on juicy green olives and sipping raki in one of the many cafés on the promenade in Saranda with the lights of Corfu twinkling across the sea.
Stroll across to Corfu’s new port and catch the morning ferry to Saranda, a short hop across the water. Set beside a beautiful horseshoe bay, nestled between mountains and the Ionian Sea, the name Saranda is derived from an early Christian monastery dedicated to Agioi Saranda. Spend two nights here. (B)
Free day to relax in Saranda or perhaps opt to head out of town to Ksamil; one of the countries prettiest beaches. (B)
Take a morning drive to the UNESCO heritage site of Butrint, a national park which includes well preserved archaeological ruins and unspoilt Mediterranean flora and fauna. The park has a lake which connects to the Ionian Sea by a small channel and the wetlands which surround the lake is a wonderful protected habitat for animals and aquatic species which are in danger of extinction. During Roman times, Butrint was a popular holiday resort for the Roman aristocracy and the well preserved baptistery with its richly decorated mosaic floor and the Great Basilica date back to this period. Continue to Gjirokastra for lunch, visiting the ‘Blue Eye’ water spring en route. Gjirokastra is another UNESCO heritage site, known to many as the ‘City of Stone’, due to its hundreds of Ottoman-style tower houses with their distinctive stone roofs, wooden balconies and whitewashed stone walls. Spend time here walking around the ancient cobbled streets and visit the vast 13-century castle, which dominates the city. (B)
Today drive to the town of Berat known as the ‘town of a 1000 windows’. Berat is one of Albania’s oldest cities and arguably one of the best-preserved Ottoman settlements in all of the Balkans. 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. Visit the excellent Onufri museum which contains a wonderful collection of Albanian icons. After lunch transfer to Albania’s capital - Tirana. (B)
Enjoy a morning city tour of Tirana often described as a cross between Istanbul and Naples with a pinch of Minsk. Head south and visit the ancient archaeological site of Apollonia. Founded in 558 B.C by settlers from Corfu and Corinth, Apollonia was an important port along the route between Rome and Byzantium. Continue along the stunning coastal road to Saranda and check in to the hotel for 2 nights. (B)
Free day to relax in Saranda. (B)
Departures may be possible from your regional airport - please contact us for details