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Hidden Treasures of Albania
Albaniafrom £1,249 per person
1 passenger 11 nights Including optional travel insurance or a price reduction of £54 if not required
- Solo Travellers
- Small group 29 or less
- All breakfasts and more
Discover the historical sites and natural wonders of Albania
On this tour of Albania exclusively for solo travellers, you have the opportunity to explore the length and breadth of the country from the crystal-clear waters of the Ionian coast to the national parks of the Cika Mountains and even across the border into Macedonia on an unmissable optional excursion. On the way you will discover unspoilt areas of outstanding natural beauty, ancient cities and their sights as well as relics of the Cold War. And you will come away with the feeling that you are trailblazing a new frontier in European tourism as Albania truly feels like an eagle rising from the ashes.
11 nights in hotels
15 meals: 11 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 4 dinners
- Optional travel insurance underwritten by Great Lakes Insurance SE, UK
- Return flights and transfers
- Saga tour manager
- Porterage at all hotels
- Fast track security and airport lounge UK
- Welcome drink and dinner
- Drinks party
- Farewell dinner
- Meet and greet at the airport
- Social activities
Excursions and visits
- City tour of Tirana, including a visit to Bunk’ Art I
- Tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site Gjirokastra
- Explore UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint
- Visit Llogara National Park
- Dinner in a restaurant overlooking the city of Sarande
- Tour of UNESCO World Heritage Site Berat - ‘city of a thousand windows’
- Sightseeing tour of Elbasan
Day 1 UK-Tirana
After meeting your Solos tour manager at the airport, fly to Tirana.
Transfer to the locally rated 4-star Hotel Colosseo (4Q) for a two night stay, enjoying a panoramic tour en route. Albania’s capital is backed by the impressive Datji Mountain range. Look forward to a welcome dinner and drinks this evening where you can get to know the rest of your group. D
Day 2 Tirana
After breakfast, spend the morning exploring the city on a sightseeing tour with a local guide.
The colourful capital has a thriving street art scene and cafe culture having undergone a thorough transformation after the collapse of communism in 1992. Visit the main boulevard, Skandenbeg Square, named after the national hero of Albania, and surrounded by the Palace of Culture, National Historical Museum and the Et'hem Bey Mosque, one of the nation's most treasured buildings. You’ll also see Tirana’s concrete pyramid, a derelict museum built by the daughter of Albania’s dictator Enver Hoxha, and now a famous landmark. Learn more of the country’s fascinating history, with included tickets for the National Historic Museum.
This afternoon is free to spend at leisure, either at your hotel, or exploring independently. B
Day 3 Tirana-Pogradec
After breakfast depart on a scenic drive back to Pogradec, stopping en-route for a sightseeing tour of Elbasan.
Originally a trading post on one of the most important routes of the Roman Empire, Elbasan was established as a military stronghold in 1466 by the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II in his fight against the Albanian nationalist Skanderberg. Explore the remains of the Sultan’s castle with its mix of eastern and medieval architecture, including the ruins of a Basilica, the oldest active mosque in Albania, King Mosque, and 15th-century St Mary’s church and monastery. As with many of the sights you visit on this trip the lack of tourists and accessibility leaves you with the impression that you are blazing a new trail on the map of European tourism.
Continue your journey, stopping for lunch at your own expense en route, before arriving in Pogradec situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid – one of Europe’s deepest and oldest lakes. This afternoon enjoy an included sightseeing tour of the city with a visit to the promenade, with the remainder of afternoon at leisure. Stay two nights at the locally rated 3-star Hotel Pogradec (3Q). B
Day 4 Pogradec
Spend the day at leisure or, alternatively, join an optional excursion to the city of Ohrid. B
Day 5 Pogradec-Berat
After breakfast, begin your transfer to Berat, passing through the Belshi and Dumreja region, famed for its number of lakes – more than 85 in total! Stop for lunch at an Albanian home where you’ll experience a traditional meal, Rakia and Turkish coffee.
On arrival in Berat, transfer to the locally rated 4-star Hotel Grand White City (3Q) where you’ll stay overnight.
This afternoon, set off on a walking tour of Berat, one of the world’s oldest continually inhabited cities. Rising up from the waters of the river Osum, on terraces of limestone, Berat’s glistening white Ottoman dwellings have earned it the moniker of ‘city of a thousand windows’. As you climb the foot-worn, cobbled streets to the castle, you pass umpteen buildings of architectural and historical importance and slip into the cool cloisters of Onufri Museum, hidden in the Church of the Dormition of St Mary. Here you’ll find spectacular 16th-century paintings and the faded frescos of the chapel. B, L
Day 6 Berat-Saranda
Today journey to Albania’s southern coast, driving towards Saranda.
Pause en route in the harbour city of Vlore, where Albanian independence was declared in 1912. As you continue, your route takes you into the mountains. Perhaps treat yourself to lunch at a restaurant in the Llogara National Park, looking down to the ocean below. A national park since 1966, and benefiting from a moratorium on logging and hunting, Llogara is a haven for over 100 species of animals and birds, including deer and wild cats, so keep your eyes peeled. Continue winding your way along the Albanian Riviera, stopping to admire seaside beauty spots where the petticoats of the Çika Mountain range meet the Ionian.
On arrival in Saranda, transfer to the locally rated 5-star Hotel Santa Quaranta (4Q) for a three-night stay, and spend the afternoon at leisure. B
Day 7 Saranda
After breakfast set out on a adventure tour of Butrint, where Albania’s most important archaeological site is found.
Set in beautiful Mediterranean scenery the site features evidence of settlement dating back to prehistoric times. However the most outstanding ruins are that of a Greek theatre and paleo-Christian baptistry, which features a beautifully preserved mosaic floor adapted from a Roman ruin and paleo-Christian basilica that was rebuilt in the 9th century. Visiting the site is to experience a bygone age of tourism, leaving you with the feeling that you are among the first visitors to set eyes on these historical relics. Visit the village of Ksamil where you’ll have free time for lunch overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea, before returning to Saranda. B
Day 8 Saranda
Today you’ll have the majority of the at leisure. Perhaps unwind on the beach or by the outdoor pool, or continue exploring Saranda at your own pace.
Later this afternoon, join an included short visit to Saranda city centre and the ruined Lekursi Castle which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area. Enjoy dinner at the site and the incredible views reaching as far as Corfu island. B, D
Day 9 Saranda-Gjirokastër-Durrës
After breakfast travel to Durrës, stopping en-route in Gjirokastër.
Listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for its perfectly preserved Ottoman old town, Gjirokastër was also the birthplace of the old communist dictator, Enver Hoxha, whose former home is now a museum. Enjoy an authentic Greek coffee in the bazaar before rummaging through the traditional craft shops and exploring the military museum in the Fortress of Gjirokastër and the Castle of Argjiro. Perhaps the most bizarre relic in the grounds of the fortress is an American Air Force jet which was forced to land in Albania in 1957 and is displayed to represent Communism’s struggle with Western imperialism.
After experiencing Gjirokastër pause at the Blue Eye natural springs, a popular local tourist attraction where crystal clear water bubbles up from a 50-metre-deep sinkhole.
Continue to Durrës for a three-night stay at the locally rated 4-star Sandy Beach Resort Golem (4Q). B
Day 10 Durrës
At leisure. Relax by the hotel pool or enjoy a day on the private beach, with cooling dips in the inviting Adriatic.
Alternatively, join an optional tour of the historic sites of Durrës and a wine and local produce tasting at the oldest winery in Albania. B
Day 11 Durrës
At leisure. However, if you’re feeling adventurous, set out on an optional excursion to see the little-viewed historical sites of Kruja and Fishte.
Enjoy a farewell dinner this evening. B, D
Day 12 Durres-Tirana-UK
After breakfast and a morning at leisure, transfer to Tirana airport for your return flight to the UK. B
Stray across the Albanian border to explore the wonders of neighbouring Macedonia. Set out by coach for Sveti Naum to discover a 1st-century lakeside monastery. Journey along the eastern shore of the lake to the ancient town of Ohrid. After free time for lunch, explore the city’s Roman and medieval relics, including a stunning amphitheatre and the beautiful faded frescos of Albania’s largest medieval cathedral, St Sophia. Here, you also visit the Icon Museum, and the magnificent church of St Jovan Kaneo.
Optional on 2021 departures itinerary
Durres city tour
Enjoy a thrilling city tour of Durrës, visiting sites of global historical importance and outstanding beauty. There are none of the crowds you’d find at equivalent sites in mainland Europe, giving you the feeling that you are among the first to discover these hidden historical gems. Established in 627 BC, by Greek colonialists, Durrës boasts world-class heritage, including the largest Roman amphitheatre on the Balkan peninsula, a Roman forum and baths, Venetian tower and Byzantine city walls. In the afternoon you can also visit Albania’s oldest winery to sample delicious local produce, wines and Skanderbeg Brandy.
Optional on 2021 departures itinerary
Kruja and Fishte
Join an incredible opportunity to discover the outstanding historical sites of Kruja and Fishte. Climb the cobbled streets that lead to Kruja Castle and pass through the bazaar selling traditional wares, including handmade carpets, treen and silver and copper objets d’art. Kruja was the birthplace of national hero Skanderbeg and town’s castle played a pivotal roll in his opposition and eventual victory over the Ottoman Empire. Inside you’ll find a museum dedicated to Skanderbeg, as well as the remains of an ancient mosque, Turkish baths and National Ethnographic Museum, occupying a 19th-century residence that belonged to a wealthy Ottoman dynasty. Transfer to Fishte for lunch at a farm where Albania’s first ‘slow food’ experience blossomed. Return to the hotel in the evening.
Optional on 2021 departures itinerary
Treat yourself to an upgrade
You could choose to upgrade for your two-day stay at the Sandy Beach Resort Golem Beach Durres area to benefit from all-inclusive meals, access to the exclusive beach club and watersports.