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Group size 10                                              Start   Tirana

 Countries    3                                               End     Tirana

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  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    • Activity Level Challenging
    • Group Size Medium Group
    All about the ALBANIA & MACEDONIA & GREECE 10 DAYS.

    Greece, the “cradle of Europe”, Macedonia, the legacy of Alexander the Great, and Albania, the former bulwark of the West – three countries that made significant history, three countries that have had a significant impact on our Europe. Let your imagination be inspired by the impressive relics of the past: follow in the footsteps of the ancient Greeks, see in your mind the hosts of the mighty Macedonian kingdom marching against the Persians, follow the Roman Via Egnatia, which connected Constantinople with Rome, and fever with the Albanian national hero Skanderbeg, who defied for decades of Ottoman supremacy.This journey presents an abundance of ancient testimonies between the Orient and the Occident: you will see, among other things, the burial chamber of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great, the ancient city of Butrint, Skanderbeg’s Kruja fortress and the convents of Meteora enthroned on rocky spiers. On an exciting city tour you will discover the northern Greek Thessaloniki and Tirana, the colorful capital of Albania.

    The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
    What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.
    • 9 overnights: 2 x Tirana, 2 x Ohrid, 2 x Kozani, 2 x Saranda, 1 x Vlora.
    • All-route English-speaking guide.
    • Meals: BB + dinner in Skopje.
    • Transfer by modern coach throughout the whole trip.
    • English-speaking city tours (or other languages required): Tirana, Ohrid, Bitola, Nymfaio, Kastoria, Vitsa, Butrint, Apollonia, Berat.
    • Entrance + guided tours: all sacred buildings according to program, National Museum in Tirana, Monastery “Sveti Naum”, Samuil Castle in Ohrid; Heraclea Lynkestis in Bitola, St. Stephen’s Abbey, the Great Meteora Monastery in Meteora; Ruin site in Butrint, ruin site and museum in Apollonia, Onufri Museum in Berat.
    • Other highlights: Boat trip in Ohrid.
    • Optional: Excursion to Vergina, boat trip Saranda-Corfu-Saranda.
    What is not included in this tour?Items that are not included in the cost of tour price.
    • Visa Fee
    • Travel Insurance
    • Flights
    • Single Supplement
    • Any meals not mentioned
    • Any transfers not mentioned (e.g. first and last day)
    • Any expenses of a personal nature
    • Camera/video permits
    • Tips to the guide and driver
    1. Day 1 Arrival

      Welcome to a land between crescent and cross! Only a few years ago Albania was the no man’s land for tourists. You came here with no expectations, the more positive would be the   surprise about the rich cultural heritage and the extremely hospitable people. Your plane lands at the airport in Tirana. You will be warmly welcomed by our tour guide and taken to the hotel by a comfortable coach. After check-in and a short refreshment break we still have time for the first acquaintance with the city. Together we look behind the scenes of a city that hides many treasures. The  capital  of Albania  has a fondness  for large and oversized  buildings, but also wide   boulevards and spacious parks. The largest and most important square in Tirana is named after Prince Skanderbeg – a national hero – who stopped the Ottomans on their train to the Balkans in the 15th century. In the recent past, a dull and gloomy city Tirana surprises today with its  liveliness. Now the city is known for its colorful houses. After the fall of Communism, the mayor was tired of the gray dreariness og the city and painted the buildings in bright colors.  We visit the most important buildings of the capital: the town hall, the national theater, the government district. We pay special attention to religious diversity in present-day Albania. We visit the Et’hem Bej Mosque and learn about the Muslim traditions in the country. In the recently built first Orthodox Cathedral of the Resurrection of Jesus, we will learn about Christianity in Albania earlier and nowadays. In Tirana relatively few historical buildings has been preserved, but the visit to the National  Museum will give insight into the history of the country. For dinner you are invited to a traditional restaurant.

    2. Day 2 History close up

      On the second day we go to the Albanian-Macedonian border and make a stop at Lake Ohrid, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978, together with the town of Ohrid, which stretches along the shore. The reason for this is its uniqueness of flora and fauna. Together with Bajkal and Tanganjika it is one of the oldest (over 5 million years) lakes on earth. Fabulous landscapes, crystal clear water and uncanny abundance of fish make these shores a recreational and fishing paradise. Firstly, we drive to Ohrid itself. This modern resort was an important Christian training center at the time of its construction. In honor of the local scholar St. Kliment, a contemporary and a colleague of St. Naum, here was built the St. Kliment Cathedral. At the background of lake and mountains it looks very picturesque and monumental. We will also visit the Samuil Castle, which has recently been completely reconstructed. The magnificent view from the fortress walls and the later way back to the narrow streets leave a lot of memories for you. On this day we will also explore the monastery “Sveti Naum” nearby – an important center of Slavic and Orthodox history. Saint Naum, disciple of Cyril and Methodius (the inventors of the Cyrillic alphabet) founded the so-called Ohrid Literature School in this hidden corner. We can still read the oldest Cyrillic writings on the columns of the monastery  church. As a training roof for gifted students, there was also a craft-teaching center – impressive paintings, frescoes and carvings in the monastery were considered an example. Besides architectural focal points, the monastery has one more thing. Christians consider the relics of St. Naum as healing, especially for mental illness. For this reason, the monastery even had a special status with Ottomans. Even now, the pilgrims make a stable proportion of visitors. We  also  offer a  boat trip,  without which  an Ohrid Lake visit  would not be complete. You  can also quench your appetite in one of the fish restaurants on the shore – we have fish specialties in our program, especially recommended is the unique Ohrid trout. It is a must-eat in the place. It would be nice to observe the sunset at St. John’s Church. Around the lake there are hotels and resorts, in one of them we are expected for dinner and overnight.


    3. Day 3 Skopje

      Today we visit the capital of Macedonia – Skopje – the city with endless amount of monuments. The big earthquake in 1963 destroyed most of the historical and cultural objects, many of which were renovated, but part of it was lost.  Today Skopje surprises with its pompous monuments, among which you can find fountains, colonnades, bridges over the river Vardar and give the impression of being in a large museum. You will see the huge statues of Alexander the Great over Cyril and Methodius to the Mothers Memorial. An interesting fact that not everyone knows: Mother Teresa comes also from Skopje. Her birthplace was destroyed during the earthquake, but in 2009 the Mother Teresa House was opened – a Macedonian-style town house with Indian elements and 700 peace doves on the facade. We also admire the symbol of Skopje – a medieval stone bridge over Vardar that connects the old and the new part of the city. A colorful old market “Bazaar” in oriental style reminds us of the Ottoman past of the city. A special treasure of the city is the Kale fortress from the 6th century, the time of the Byzantine Empire. From here you can see the best views of the city. After the city tour, we sit down in a traditional restaurant and enjoy various specialties of Macedonian cuisine. On the way back we will admire one of the most important natural attractions of Macedonia – the gorge on Lake Matka, with its many caves and deep canyons. In the evening we drive back to our hotel in Ohrid.



    4. Day 4 A touch of Greece

      On the way to our next point we drive past the cozy modern town of Bitola. What would be worth seeing, however, is the ruins of the former capital of the Upper Macedonian landscape Lynkestis. The most amazing thing here are the well-preserved mosaics that still delight the eye. These mosaics are probably from the time between 300 and 500 AD, which one would never have thought of considering their condition. Here you can see the Roman baths, the colonnades and the amphitheater, the impressive early Christian basilicas and episcopal palace ruins with beautiful, well-preserved mosaic floors that represent unique trees and animals. Having already felt the taste of ancient history, we continue our journey. Our next stop is in a small village called Nymfaio, which is already on the Greek border. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Greece and Europe and it is hard to deny – the old stone buildings create the mystical ambience of ancient times. Every stone here is a work of art. The place even has the  UNESCO title for excellent management of the cultural heritage of the region and its surroundings. The village retains its character as the new buildings follow strictly the traditional architecture. After a nice walk we make our way to the next stop – the pearl of Northern Greece – to the town of Kastoria. It was built as an amphitheater and is located on a narrow peninsula, which is reflected in the Orestiada Lake and nestled between the mountains Grammo and Vitsi. You can switch off the noise of a big city taking a stroll along the narrow coastline with breathtaking views. For years, the lake reflected several Byzantine churches and strange buildings. Here you also have the opportunity to taste the traditional cuisine. In the evening we will arrive in the town of Kozani, which is located north of the picturesque valley of the river Aljakmon and from where we continue our journey through northern Greece.

    5. Day 5 Meteora and Vergina

      In the morning we drive to Meteora – one of the most beautiful cities not only in Greece, but in the world. The unique landscape and its religious and historical importance (the second most important place for Orthodox  after Athos) are declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Natural  landscapes  as in fairytale  complete the man-  built ancient monasteries  on the tops of the rocks. No wonder Meteora is translated as “hanging in the air”. The majesty of this place and its natural protection from the robber’s attacks made it possible, over time, to create a large organized monastic community with a multitude of monasteries.  The most astonishing thing is that these monasteries have been authentically preserved and still keep their doors open for the visitors. We will see the panoramas of most monasteries and visit one of the most beautiful monasteries of St. Stephen. To refresh ourselves and catch our breath, we drive back to Kozani and have free time. Optionally, we offer you to visit another important UNESCO site in Greece in the afternoon – the first capital of  the Macedonian kingdom – Vergina. This place is considered one of the most important archaeological discoveries of the 20th century with its Iron Age hilltop cemetery with approximately 300 tombs from the 11th-9th centuries BC. In addition, the Macedonian king Alexander the Great was crowned here.

    6. Day 6 Mystic Villages

      Today we return to Albania, but on the way we will visit another unusually beautiful and colorful Greek place – in the area of the villages of Zagori. They are situated in the beautiful gorges and are famous for their medieval
      atmosphere and graceful stone bridges. The color of this place is marked by its history: here live people, who speak no Greek, but an ancient rare Aromanian language. We take a leisurely stroll through the village of Vitsa
      and admire the several bridges (for example the Plakidas Bridge).
      In the afternoon we arrive in Saranda and have the rest of the day at our disposal.

    7. Day 7 Mix of cultures


      Saranda is a picturesque port city where you can enjoy the real Albanian Riviera. You can spend the day here and enjoy the crystal clear turquoise waters with snow-white sand on   scenic beaches. You can also visit the 16th century Lekuresi Castle, which towers over the city and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area and even of one of the most beautiful and green Greek islands – Corfu. But  our most  tempting suggestion  is to return to Greece  and take a ferry to already  mentioned Corfu island, which smells of orange trees in the spring and olive trees in the summer. Corfu (gr. Kerkyra) is known for its relaxed Mediterranean  atmosphere and architectural treasures as well as its natural beauty and aquamarine beaches. Thanks to these, the old town belongs indisputably to UNESCO Heritage List. We walk through the central square Spianada (Europe’s second largest square), along the aristocratic Leeston Street, look at the St. Spiridon Church and the St. Michael Palace, admire the Venetian heritage: romantic houses together with the mighty forts. The island’s rich history, warmed by the Mediterranean sun, makes it attractive not only for vacation on the beach but also for acquaintance with the cultural heritage of the country. Here merge Ottoman, Greek and Italian cultures, as Corfu belonged to the Republic of Venice for almost 400 years. A walk through the cobbled streets will leave you with an unforgettable impression of the local culture. After such rich on impressions trip we return to the same hotel in Saranda.

    8. Day 8 Albanian Riviera

      Today we leave Saranda and drive further up the Albanian Riviera. Our day begins with a visit to a Troy city Butrint. According to legend, Aeneas intended to bring an animal sacrifice to Gods for his successful escape from burning Troy from Corfu, but the wounded bull wanted to flee and died only on the other side of the sea. Just at this point, the mythological hero decided to found a new city. Nobody other than Benito Mussolini (he considered himself an Aeneas descendant) generously but unsuccessfully promoted the continuation of archaeological finds to confirm this legend. Such is the latest history of Butrint – former great ancient Greek and Roman spa resort with later Byzantine vestiges and now considered a historic well-reaching extensive ruins site. Then  we go  to Gjirokastra, where  we can enjoy a leisurely  city tour of the unique historic  city center with its fortress, narrow streets and ancient buildings. The story comes alive here in every stone with hints of Byzantine and Ottoman times. Thanks to beautiful tower-like houses, Gjirokastra was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List 2005. When it rains, the flat roofs of the houses sparkle like silver – which is probably why this settlement is called “the silver city”. In the evening we reach the last town in the Albanian Riviera – Vlora, on the coast of which the Ionian and Adriatic Sea meet, and stay overnight in a hotel.


    9. Day 9 In the city of a thousand windows

      Today we continue our acquaintance with the Balkans in the city of Apollonia. From the former port town, with its busy trade under Apollo’s patronage, you can see the remains of the amphitheater, the temples and the Acropolis. For Aristotle Apollonia was considered a prime example of oligarchy. Due to climate change, the seashore has become a swampy landscape, and Apollonia testifies through its history that  nothing on earth is everlasting. The former Greek giant colony has now been converted into a historic monument. The finds can be seen as exhibits in the archaeological museum. Next, we  visit Berat  – picturesquely  called “City of the Thousand Windows”. In  reality, the houses resemble the swallows nesting on the rocky mountain, and only their windows are visible. At the top the old castle towers over the city. Afterwards we take a walk across Kalaja – the UNESCO World Heritage listed old quarter with its crooked lanes, churches and mosques, the citadel and the ethnographic museum. We also visit the Onufri Museum at the St. Nicholas Cathedral, where valuable icons of the Albanian painter of the same name are exhibited. The visit to the Ardenica Monastery, built on remnants of the ancient temple, completes our day. Even the oldest buildings from the 15th century are made of antique building blocks. The monastery courtyard is decorated with ancient Greek statues. A small frescoed church is also an interesting and unique building that is definitely worth a visit. In the evening we reach Tirana and spend our last night in this beautiful country here in the hotel.



    10. Day 10 Departure

      On this day, our journey is coming to an end. In the morning we have some time to walk around the city and buy souvenirs or gifts. Around lunchtime we make our way to the airport. You will take home with you unforgettable impressions as well as the feeling of having experienced something special. You have spent a nice and eventful time and we hope, you are firmly convinced that someday you will definitely want to come here again. You are always welcome!



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