Explore the fascinating, but little-known history, archaeology and culture of Albania with historian Jeremy Paterson. This tour offers a heady mixture of castles, monasteries, classical sites and historic UNESCO World Heritage towns, all set amidst spectacular scenery. Beginning in Tirana, we visit Kruja and Lezhe, which are associated with the great Albanian hero, Skanderbeg, and move gradually south, visiting Durres, the important ancient city of Dyrrachium, and the classical site of Apollonia. A breath-taking drive through Llogara National Park is followed by a visit to the beautiful classical site of Butrint, classical Antigonea and the historic towns of Gjirokaster, ‘the city of stone’, and Berat, ‘the city of a thousand windows’.
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Jeremy taught Greek and Roman history for over forty years at Newcastle University. He has travelled widely in Greece and the Mediterranean. His enthusiasm for the ancient world was first inspired by reading Homer and then by his fascination with the archaeological discoveries at Mycenae and Knossos. He is much in demand as a speaker at home and in many of the classical countries of the Mediterranean, where he has accompanied many groups to sites and museums.
Please note that all flight times are provisional and subject to airline schedules and changes.
HEALTH & INSURANCE – EHIC CARD
Please note that EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) only allows access to the same state-provided healthcare as a resident of the EU country they are temporarily visiting. It is NOT an alternative to travel insurance and will not provide the same level of cover as a travel insurance policy. The EHIC will not cover any private medical healthcare or the cost of things such as repatriation to the UK or lost or stolen property. It is also important to note that each country’s healthcare system is slightly different, so the EHIC might not cover everything that would be generally free on the NHS. On the EHIC application website, there is a section called Access to Healthcare Abroad which clarifies all the conditions and inclusions. We strongly recommend that you take out an appropriate travel insurance policy when you travel abroad.
Excellent quality hotels are used throughout this tour, all offering a high standard of service, facilities and comfort in ideal locations to explore the sites visited.
Hotel Panorama, Kruje
This excellent four-star hotel is well-situated in the centre of Kruje and enjoys beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding area. The hotel has a choice of two restaurants and has a bar area to relax in. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities with bath/shower, air-conditioning, TV, telephone and free wi-fi.
Hotel Panorama Website
Regina City, Vlore
Modern four-star hotel located close to the sea with private beach and pool. The hotel has contemporary décor, an outside pool with views over the sea, and restaurant with panoramic views. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, TV, minibar, air-conditioning, telephone, free wi-fi and tea/coffee making facilities.
Regina City Hotel Website
Hotel Brilant, Sarande
Comfortable four-star hotel, just 100m from the main boulevard and 50m from the sea. The breakfast room is bright and overlooks the sea – a perfect way to start the morning. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, air-conditioning, minibar, telephone, TV and free wi-fi.
Hotel Brilant Website
Hotel Argjiro, Gjirokaster
Excellent four-star, situated in the historical centre of Gjirokaster. The hotel is elegantly decorated, and has a bar, restaurant and roof garden, which offers panoramic views of the city, castle and surrounding area. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, telephone, air-conditioning, hairdryer, TV and free wi-fi.
Hotel Argjiro Website
Hotel Mangalemi, Berat
Charming historic hotel set in the old Mangalemi quarter in the heart of Berat. The hotel has a restaurant serving traditional Albanian cuisine, and a terrace which offers a beautiful panoramic view of the city and mountains. Rooms all have private bathroom facilities, hairdryer, TV, air-conditioning/heating, minibar, telephone, safe and free wi-fi.
Hotel Mangalemi Website
For full details please see the detailed itinerary
Click here to go to the itinerary
Day 1: Fly from London Gatwick to Tirana. Transfer to the Hotel Panorama at Kruja for a three-night stay.
Day 2: We begin our tour with a full day visit to Albania’s lively capital, Tirana. We visit the National Historical Museum, the early 19th century Ethem Bey Mosque, and a private visit to the Archaeological Museum. We then visit the nuclear bunker from the cold war era, newly opened as the Bunk’Art 2 Museum, a chilling memorial to the thousands imprisoned and persecuted during the Communist regime. Our final visit is the Petrela Castle, the history of which dates back to the 6th century AD.
Day 3: Today is devoted to the story of the great hero Skanderbeg, who led the resistance against the Ottomans in the 1400s. We travel to Lezhe, which was the centre of the resistance with its castle that boasts spectacular views, the grave of Skanderbeg and St Nicholas Cathedral. We return to Kruja to visit its castle that houses the Skanderbeg Museum and a fine ethnographic collection. Finally, a chance to wander through the old bazaar and possibly visit an Albanian family home.
Day 4: We drive to Durres, one of Albania’s oldest cities and the country’s main sea port. It was colonized by the Greeks in 627 BC and named Epidamnos. Under the Romans it was re-founded as Dyrrachium, a major trading point at one end of the ‘Via Egnatia’ which led through the Balkans to Byzantium. We see the Venetian Tower, the town walls, and the Roman amphitheatre, as well as an early Christian crypt with a rare wall mosaic. From Durres we travel south to a fine little monastery, Ardenica, where Skanderbeg was married in 1451. Our final visit is Apollonia, one of the most well-known classical sites in Albania. We continue to the sea to stay at Vlore, set on a beautiful bay, for a one-night stay.
Day 5: Today, we journey along the beautiful Radhima Bay to visit the recent excavations of the Roman site at Oricum. Continuing through stunning scenery of the national park of Llogara, we head for lunch in a local restaurant by the sea, Borsh, in an area of olive and citrus groves. After lunch we have a brief visit to the Ali Pasha castle at Porto Palermo, before reaching Sarande for a two night stay.
Day 6: A short journey takes us to the wonderful site of Butrint, whose classical remains lie hidden in woods, beside an evocative lake, one of the most beautiful sites in Albania. Lunch will be in Ksamil Village seaside restaurant on the spectacular coastline of this area. Returning to Sarande, we will climb up to Lekursi Castle, overlooking Sarande town and the island of Corfu.
Day 7: A wonderful drive takes us over mountains from Sarande to the valley of Gjirokaster, with en-route visit to the Church Monastery at Mesopotam and Antigonea, the site of a short-lived Hellenistic city. At Gjirokaster our visit begins with the 8th century castle museum which was formerly a prison – the old quarter is known as the City of Stone, because the tall houses used solid stone slabs for roofing. It is the birthplace of Ishmael Kadare, Albania’s most significant modern author. There is a castle with spectacular views and some splendid traditional houses, one of which is now a fascinating folk museum and was the birthplace of Enver Hoxha, the Albanian Stalinist dictator. Overnight in Gjirokaster.
Day 8: The final leg of this journey takes us through yet more beautiful scenery as we visit the Hellenistic and Roman city of Byllis, an extensive site set within great Hellenistic walls in a spectacular mountainous region. From here we continue to Berat, a UNESCO World heritage site known as the “city of one thousand windows”. Overshadowed to the east by Tomorr Mountain at 2415m, it was founded in the 4th century B.C. The old part of the city has a remarkable collection of fine traditional houses, which are of great architectural importance, as well as Byzantine churches, a mosque, and a fortress. Overnight in Beret.
Day 9: Transfer from Beret to connect with our homeward flight from Tirana to London Gatwick.
NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion
The maximum group size on this tour is 25 passengers.
• Return flights from London Gatwick to Tirana
• Eight nights’ bed and breakfast at good standard boutique style four-star hotels, based on shared occupancy of a twin/double room
• Eight dinners at local restaurants
• Transfers, tours and entrance fees
• Jeremy Paterson, local guide and tour manager throughout
• Single room supplement
• Regional flight supplement (subject to availability)
• Holiday insurance
• Meals other than those stated
• Items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry, telephone calls
• Porterage and gratuities
You will have the option to book your own flights independently with the operator.
Offering a wide range of extended tours and cultural short breaks for the discerning traveller, Travel Editions was established in 1994 and is now one of the leading specialist independent escorted tour operators in the UK. The company started with the idea of creating itineraries that were not readily available on the high street, and the team still remains focused on offering escorted tours that appeal to travellers rather than tourists.
Over the years, Travel Editions has developed and diversified its range of escorted tours to include rail tours, air tours, history tours, Christmas tours and even specialist interest tours that have specific appeal for walkers, foodies, art lovers, music addicts and flower enthusiasts. From enjoying wonderful walks and tasty local cuisine in Crete to visiting the art nouveau buildings of Milan and exploring the architectural gems of the Netherlands, Travel Editions creates amazing tours to suit every budget and interest.
As rail transport is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel, the company has carefully developed nearly 30 exciting escorted rail tours that include trips to France, Spain, Brussels, Arnhem, Luxembourg and the Italian Riviera. Travel Editions believes that the journey becomes part of the holiday, and is why this specialist tour operator also offers a range of tours by air, such as Delphi and Mount Pelion in Greece, the beautiful Italian city of Florence, and Paphos, Nicosia and the Troodos Mountains in Cyprus. Whatever the escorted tour or the destination, Travel Editions provides holidays that are packed full of cultural and historic treasures, as well as plenty of free time to relax and soak up the local atmosphere and the regional food and wine.
One of the best things about Travel Editions is that the team can tailor-make all tours to your group’s budget and specification, be it shopping till you drop in New York or tasting the most delicious gastronomic delights of Sicily. Not only can the activities be tailored to meet your requirements but so can the travel options, hotel selection (three, four or five-star hotel) and the whole itinerary. Alternatively, you can simply pick one of the many carefully curated escorted tours listed on the Travel Editions website.
In almost all cases, daily excursions are included in the price of a trip, and all excursions are taken by private coach. The size of the group varies depending on the escorted tour, and Travel Editions limits some holidays to lower numbers to suit the nature of the specific holiday. Walking, culinary and special interest tours are limited to approximately 20-30 passengers, and the Europe by Rail and Europe by Air holidays are limited to a maximum of 35 passengers. Then there’s the UK British Heritage Tours with a maximum capacity of 49, however, some are much less than this. No matter which tours you choose, you will never feel as though you are in a big group.
Travel Editions is passionate about delivering a personal service every step of the way, and its team of experts will arrange your holiday with minimum fuss and maximum effort. Customer service and attention to detail are at the heart of everything they do, plus you will always be treated as an individual and get the benefit of affordable prices by travelling as a group. Another bonus is that Travel Editions is ABTA and ATOL protected, which means your money and your holiday will be protected from the moment you book.
In addition to offering extended tours and cultural short breaks, Travel Editions offers a large range of special events in the UK that bring the culture and history of the United Kingdom to life. These events can be found in the Art & History Abroad programme and include expert speakers, entertaining concerts and impressive dinners in historic locations.