Albania - Land of the Eagles

Columns of the episcopal complex in the ancient city of Byllis, Albania
Columns of the episcopal complex in the ancient city of Byllis, Albania
The interior of the dome of the Ethem Bey Mosque, Tinara
The interior of the dome of the Ethem Bey Mosque, Tinara
Temple ruins in Ancient Apollonia
Temple ruins in Ancient Apollonia
The interior of the dome of the Ethem Bey Mosque, Tinara
The interior of the dome of the Ethem Bey Mosque, Tinara
Riverside district of the old city of Berat
Riverside district of the old city of Berat
The mighty River Vjosa viewed from the mountaintop ruins of the Illyrian city of Byllis
The mighty River Vjosa viewed from the mountaintop ruins of the Illyrian city of Byllis
Oliver Gilkes in action demonstrating late antique dining practice in Butrint
Oliver Gilkes in action demonstrating late antique dining practice in Butrint
The beautiful river valley - photo taken on our 2014 tour
The beautiful river valley - photo taken on our 2014 tour
Riverside district of the city of Berat
Riverside district of the city of Berat
Baptistery at Butrint; the lovely mosaic floor
Baptistery at Butrint; the lovely mosaic floor
Monument of the Agonothetes
Monument of the Agonothetes
Oliver introduces guests to the Berat Mosque in Butrint
Oliver introduces guests to the Berat Mosque in Butrint
Ottoman houses on the hillside above the River Osum at Berat
Ottoman houses on the hillside above the River Osum at Berat
Gjirokaster, viewed from the castle
Gjirokaster, viewed from the castle
Looking out over Gjirokaster
Looking out over Gjirokaster
Ottoman houses on the hillside above the River Osum at Berat
Ottoman houses on the hillside above the River Osum at Berat
Ali Pasha of Tepelena, reclining in his boat amongst the reeds...
Ali Pasha of Tepelena, reclining in his boat amongst the reeds...

A country unlike any other in Europe and still off the mainstream tourist trail, Albania is home to pristine ruins, rich archaeological heritage and great museums. In Classical times, the Greeks and Romans built cities overlooking the sparkling waters of the Ionian sea, centuries later, Byzantine Christians and Ottoman Turks fought over dramatic mountain strongholds.

Our expert guide, Oliver Gilkes, has directed excavations in Albania for over 20 years and his encyclopaedic knowledge of culture and archaeology enlightens us on this fantastic tour. Join us as we discover Albania’s fascinating past and present.

  • Tour 2,000 years of untouched archaeological heritage
  • Spend a full day at the World Heritage Site of Butrint
  • Travel alongside our expert guide, Oliver Gilkes
  • Explore Albania’s bustling capital of Tirana
  • The wonderful church of Saint Mary in Apollonia

Themes

  • Romans
  • Medieval
  • Historic Churches
  • Ancient Greek

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • Low Single Supplement
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2019

Day 1

Arrive in Tirana and transfer to the hotel. Take the time to unwind before having dinner this evening as a group.
Hotel: Tirana International
Meals: Dinner included

Day 2

We begin with a full day in Albania’s lively capital, Tirana. We visit the National Historical Museum and the National Gallery.

After lunch, we have special access to the Archaeological Museum, located on the east of Mother Teresa Square. It was the first museum founded in this country after the Second World War and it houses exhibits from Classical times up to the Modern Period. The collections here are extensive and range from Roman Statues to jewellery and to ancient clay pots, each of which tells a different story.
Hotel: Tirana International
Meals: All meals included

Day 3

We drive to Apollonia Archaeological Park, site of the Greek colony founded by the Corinthians in 588BC, then on to one of the largest ancient cities of the Adriatic. Today the excavations are surrounded by olive and oak trees with grassy banks hinting at what may still lie buried beneath. This afternoon we drive along the beautiful Ionian coast, stopping for lunch in Vlora, before we reach our hotel at Saranda this evening.
Hotel: Hotel Brilant
Meals: All meals included

Day 4

Our entire day will be spent at Butrint, which achieved UNESCO World Heritage status in 1992 and remains Albania’s best known site. It is one of the most striking archaeological sites in the Mediterranean and our guide lecturer Oliver Gilkes has directed excavations here for many years.

After lunch at Butrint Castle, we explore the museum housed there, before walking down to catch the ferry across the Vivari Channel. Here we will explore the Venetian Triangular Fortress.
Hotel: Hotel Brilant
Meals: All meals included

Day 5

Today we arrive in Gjirokastra and have the chance to visit the Gjirokastra Museum, the Medieval Fortress and the National Museum of Armaments. This afternoon we enjoy special access to the late Ottoman mansion, Zekate House. Built in 1812, Zekate is widely considered to be one of the grandest examples of its kind, providing us with amazing an insight into the upper echelons of Ottoman life.
Hotel: Hotel Cajupi
Meals: All meals included

Day 6

We continue north through the rugged and changing landscapes to the ruins of Byllis. According to legend, the city was founded by warriors led by the son of Achilles returning from the Trojan wars. Archaeologists have yet to find evidence of Homeric heroes but have uncovered a Hellenistic era stadium, theatre and fortifications.

After lunch we will visit Byllis Cathedral, formerly known as Basilica B. Later we will drive to Berat.
Hotel: Hotel Belagrita
Meals: All meals included

Day 7

Today, we shift shift from Classical to Medieval times in the attractive town of Berat. The lower city along the riversides was the preserve of the Muslim inhabitants, while by agreement the Christians held the citadel. There are both Byzantine churches and Ottoman mosques to visit, as well as the Onufri Museum, with its spectacular collection of 16th Century religious artwork. 
Hotel: Hotel Belagrita, Berat
Meals: All meals included

Day 8

We visit Durrës, Albania’s chief port and the starting point of the Via Egnatia. Here on the site of ancient Dyrrachium we visit the 2nd century amphitheater, the largest in the Balkans, as well as sections of the mighty walls. This afternoon we continue to Kruja, an interesting town set in beautiful countryside. We visit the Skanderbeg Museum and wander through the Ottoman bazaar.
Hotel: Hotel Panorama
Meals: All meals included

Day 9

After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our individual flights home or onward travel.
Meals: Breakfast included

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - Most meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in program; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels

Travel Information

Joining the Tour

For full information about how to join the tour, please click here.

Passport & Visa Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

Enquire now

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Book now

To book your tour without flights from the US, please call our team on 888 331 3476

2019 Tour Details

Fri 12th April - Sat 20th April

Available

Guaranteed Departure

$2,895

without flights

sgl supp: $355

ALB19A

Led By: Oliver Gilkes

Fri 27th September - Sat 5th October

Available

$2,975

without flights

sgl supp: $355

ALB19B

Led By: Oliver Gilkes

Guide Lecturer

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