Albania and Macedonia with John Stapleton

  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • What's Included
  • Dates
  • Prestige Holidays

Boasting some of the most wonderful cultural heritage in Europe - Albania has a “step back in time” feel with evidence of communist rule still ever-present. This tour will treat you to the delights of four UNESCO Heritage sites including one in neighbouring Macedonia. From the white Ottoman houses of Berat to the ancient ruins dating back over 2,500 years in Butrint. You will also have chance to visit the beautiful Adriatic coastline and the gem of Lake Ohrid in Macedonia.

Do you remember when a visit to Eastern Europe felt different? There was a kind of frisson about countries where the feel of a former Communist ruled region remained in the air.  Cities like Budapest and Prague still bore the hallmarks of their pasts.  Cars were different, shops were different, restaurants were different, and international brands were thin on the ground. Now, as stunning as the countries of Eastern Europe are, a homogeneity and standardisation has spread and many places have sadly lost some of their individuality.  The frisson has gone, as Starbucks, Zara and Benetton expand on the high streets.  Little feels different now.

Slightly smaller than Belgium, Albania is located in South East Europe on the Balkan peninsula, with a stunning Adriatic coast, and some of the most wonderful cultural heritage in Europe. The country was under Communist rule for 45 years, and within that time, there was an enforced period of atheism for some 24 years. 800,000 bunkers were built to protect the country from attack from USSR. Around 200,000 bunkers remain (some in surprising places), and goats graze among historic ruins where anywhere else they would be protected by security officials amid Do Not Touch signs.  Tirana, the capital, is a delightful time-warp itself with not a Burger King or McDonalds in sight; instead, there are local restaurants, individual boutique shops and a Communist style main square, containing possibly the biggest monuments of a national hero you may have ever seen!

Highlights
  • Visit Tirana, the capital of Albania

  • Excursions to the UNESCO listed Berat, Onufri Museum, and Butrinti

  • Travel through a section of the Llogara National Park

  • Wine tasing at the Cobo Winery

  • Cross the border into Macedonia for a boat trip and a visit to its historical sites

  • Exclusive insights from special guest John Stapleton

Destinations
  • Europe
  • Albania
  • Macedonia
Tour Types
  • Cultural
  • History
  • Scenic
  • Small Group

Friday 6th April 2018                        London / Tirana

Proposed Flight: BA2648  London Gatwick (S) / Tirana   08:10/12:10

Duration: 2h55

After arriving in Tirana, we will be transferred via coach to Hotel Tirana International, overlooking Skanderbeg Square.

Accommodation — Hotel Tirana International, Tirana

Meals Included — Dinner

 

Saturday 7th April 2018                  Tirana / Kruja / Tirana

During breakfast, there will be a short pre-tour talk about what to expect, and a general overview of the region.

We will then head to Kruja (approx. 45 mins), which will give you your first sight of the famous Albanian bunkers — originally, there were some 800,000! Kruja was the medieval capital of Albania. We will visit the historical museum and Kruja Castle (from where, on a clear day, you can see the Adriatic). You will also enjoy your first experience of a bazaar, with some eclectic shopping opportunities.

Accommodation — Hotel Tirana International, Tirana

Meals Included — Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

 

Sunday 8th April 2018                     Tirana / Ohrid

After an early breakfast, we will make the 1hr45 journey to the Macedonian town of Ohrid.

After arrival at Lake Ohrid, we take a light lunch before checking into our hotel for the night. After a quick break to freshen up, we will depart for a guided tour of Ohrid Old Town, exploring this beautiful UNESCO listed area, and visiting two Orthodox churches. Tonight, we will enjoy dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Accommodation — Royal View Hotel, Ohrid

Meals Included — Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

 

Monday 9th April 2018                   Ohrid

After a relaxing breakfast, enjoy the day at leisure to explore this delightful area. Your tour manager will be happy to recommend places to visit — or why not enjoy the facilities of the hotel, and take in the marvellous lake views?

Accommodation — Royal View Hotel, Ohrid

Meals — Breakfast

 

Tuesday 10th April 2018                 Lake Ohrid / Sveti Naum / Struga / Berat

This morning, we will take a boat trip across the lake and visit Sveti Naum and its impressive Orthodox cathedral. After a coffee stop in Struga, a delightful Macedonian town with cafes and shops on its riverfront, we will continue to Berat (approx. 3 hours). Before arriving, we make a stop at one of the most famous winemakers in Albania, Cobo Winery, for tasting and snacks.

Accommodation — Hotel Mangalemi, Berat

Meals Included — Breakfast, Lunch and substantial snack and wine-tasting

 

Wednesday 11th April 2018         Berat

Enjoy a relaxed breakfast and the rest of the day at leisure to explore this delightful UNESCO listed town.

Accommodation — Hotel Mangalemi, Berat

Meals Included — Breakfast

 

Thursday 12th April 2018               Berat / Fier / Apollonia / Gjirokaster

After breakfast, spend the morning visiting the UNESCO listed town, Berat, one of the oldest and most beautiful cities in Albania. We will visit the castle, the old town, and the Onufri Museum.

We will then take the 1hr30 drive to Apollonia, with a lunch stop en route in Fier, before exploring its archaeological sites, including the acropolis and temple ruins.

After our sightseeing, a further drive of approx. 2 hours will bring us to Gijrokaster, our base for the evening. Dinner will be at the hotel restaurant.

Accommodation — Hotel Argjiro, Gjirokaster

Meals Included — Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

 

Friday 13th April 2018                     Gjirokaster / Saranda / Butrinti

This morning, we will take in the UNESCO site of Gjirokaster, visiting the castle perched above the city, and the museum, which has some interesting relics from the Cold War. No house here is the same, and we will visit a traditional one.

We will then depart for Saranda, which has an almost Riviera-feel, with some good fish restaurants and a pleasant seaside promenade. We will take a light lunch in a local restaurant, before departing to today’s second UNESCO site — Butrinti.

Our evening meal will be enjoyed in the hotel’s restaurant.

Accommodation — Santa Quaranta, Saranda

Meals Included — Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

 

Saturday 14th April 2018                Saranda / Vlora / Durres

Following breakfast, we will explore Saranda, including visits to the ruins of the biggest synagogue in the Balkans, and the castle of Ali Pasha.

We will then drive to Durres, passing through parts of Llogara National Park, before another stop for a light lunch at Vlora.

On arrival in Durres, we will be treated to a drinks reception at Hotel Adriatik, and have the first chance to meet John Stapleton and Lynn Faulds Wood. During dinner, John will give his first talk.

Accommodation —Hotel Adriatik, Durres

Meals Included — Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

  

Sunday 15th April 2018                   Durres / Tirana

After breakfast, we will explore Durres and visit the historic core of the town, including the second largest Roman amphitheatre in the Balkans. John Stapleton and Lynn Faulds Wood will travel with us all day today.

We will then return to Tirana and check into our hotel for the final night, and enjoy a light lunch. We will have a short guided walk of some of Tirana’s sights, followed by some free time for last-minute shopping.

This evening, we will enjoy a special farewell traditional meal, with some local entertainment and John’s second talk to the group.

Accommodation — Hotel Tirana International

Meals Included — Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

 

Monday 16th April 2018                 Tirana / London

Proposed Flight: BA2649  Tirana / London Gatwick (S)     20:25 / 22:25

Duration: 3h

Enjoy breakfast at leisure, followed by free time to further explore Tirana, before being transferred back to the airport for our flights home.

Meals Included — Breakfast

  • Return British Airways flights from London Gatwick to Tirana

  • 10 nights’ accommodation in decent quality hotels

  • Daily breakfast, 7 lunches and 7 dinners

  • All excursions and entrance fees as mentioned in the itinerary below

  • All overseas transport with English speaking guide throughout

  • Services of an experienced Prestige Holidays Tour Manager

You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.

Dates Price Single Availability

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They were also determined to build a successful business on a sound financial footing. Additionally, they are fully bonded and hold an Air Travel Organisers Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority, reassuring all their clients that their money is safe with them.

Whilst they were originally known for their tailor made holidays to short haul and long haul destinations, they now offer a fabulous range of luxury escorted tours. From 'Off the Beaten Track in Sicily' - probably one of our most popular trips - which is usually Escorted by our fantastic Italian Specialist, Paul Stratton, or the Balkans with Martin Bell OBE, and who knows the area better than him? Or if it’s Ancient History and Culture that appeals to you - then their Alexander the Great & Aristotle tour may appeal.

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