Whether you want to photograph unique architecture or go off into nature, Albania is the place to do it. Balkan Tours has taken individuals and groups there many times and we can incorporate this location in your guided tour easily. What we deliver with each tour is:
Read further to acquaint yourself with the cities and natural landmarks that we consider a must. If you already have a special wish, write to Balkan Tales and you can be certain it will be part of the itinerary.
Albanian Intangible Cultural Heritage
Tirana’s monuments are numerous, among them are the Orthodox Cathedral, the Et’hem Bey Mosque from the 18th century, the Mother Albania statue, etc.
The Dajti Mountain National Park nearby is a must visit place. Its highest peak rises to 1,613 metres. The mountain is covered with forests comprising pines, as well as beach and oaks. The features are diverse, with canyons and caves, and even an ancient castle.[/accordion-item]
The old town is comprised of three parts: one on a castle hill, another at the hill foot, and the third on the Osum river’s left bank. It passes through Berat. Above, the Tomorr mountain rises, its slopes covered with pine forests, and at its foot, the gorge of the Osum forms a natural fortress. The town invites with its original location in the gorge, on the river terraces, in a very picturesque way.[/accordion-item]
Durrës offers a raft of monuments to see and marvel at. The Durrës Amphitheatre, built in the 2nd century, is among the largest on the Balkan Peninsula, it had a capacity for 20,000 people. Another ancient site is the Durrës castle, built by the Byzantine Empire’s Emperor Anastasius I. There are also mosques, like the Great Mosque and the Fatih Mosque.[/accordion-item]
The castle, located at an altitude of 557 metres, stood firm and withstood four sieges by the Ottoman army. Now it is a busy and popular touristy site, and is even shown on some Albanian banknotes. You can visit the Skanderbeg Museum in the castle. The ethnographic museum is another highlight. It is in an old villa, built in 1764.[/accordion-item]
The town used to be the ground of the ancient Butrint city. Its fame was brought by its captivating seaside location, and, too, because it is among UNESCO Heritage Sites, with the remains of the ancient Butrint. The surroundings feature diversity, not just beaches, but also bays, hills covered with vegetation: olives, citruses trees, vineyards, and mountain hills rising in the distance.[/accordion-item]
Holidays are delightful in this sun kissed spot, with over 300 sunny days a year. The panorama is unique in the bay of Vlorë, which serves as a border between the Adriatic and the Ionian seas. Karaburun is the peninsula serving as the border. Like other Albanian cities, its architecture reflects different historical periods. Nearby is the Sazan Island, which belongs with the National Marine park bearing the name Karaburun-Sazan.[/accordion-item]
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[accordion-item title=”Kruja and Sari Salltik Hiking Tour from Tirana”]
Visit Kruja, just 20 km away from Tirana. You will step into an old town, the former capital of the Albania Kingdom. There at the bazaar, handicraft souvenirs charm tourists. The Ethnographic Museum’s collection is marvellous. Yet another highlight is the museum of Skanderbeg. He was the leader of a league defeating Kruja from the Ottomans, until it was conquered, after the fourth siege. Then, from the slopes of the Kruja mountain, an amazing view will unfold; for that reason the mountain also has the nickname of Adriatic Balcony. Near the town, the cave where Sari Salltik, a Turkish dervish, respected as a saint, dwelt, draws lots of tourists.
[accordion-item title=”Vlora and Orikum Full Day Trip from Durres “]
Vlora started as an ancient colony of Greeks, back in the 6th century BC. It was also the country’s capital for a short period. In it, the Declaration of Independence of Albania was signed in 1912. The abundant sunshine, with 300 sunny days a year on average, and auspicious beaches, attract multitudes for sunbathing holidays.
Orikum, at 15 km from Vlora, was also founded in the 6th century. Lying at the Vlora Bay’s south end, it boasts Albania’s only marina. There, the beach is long, covered with fine pebbles. From Orikum, the road leads to the Llogara National Park, with fascinating wildlife.[/accordion-item]
In the plain of the Ishëm river, Kruja lies, 20 km away from Tirana, and 37 km from Durres. Founded by the Albani tribe, an Illyrian one, it was later conquered by the Roman Republic. Byzantine, Serbian, and Ottoman rules followed. Skanderbeg, a local leader, whose museum is of special interest, led the locals in the defence against Ottoman sieges. Nowadays, the museum of Skanderbeg, founded in 1982, contains precious artifacts from that period. The Ethnographic Museum, founded in 1989, is housed in a villa from the 18th century. The exhibits in it date from 50 to 500 years ago. The castle is where the Skanderbeg museum is located.[/accordion-item]
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The setting for the lake combines vertical slopes, verdant forests, and a narrow valley. This reservoir type lake, built near the Koman village, in the period 1979-1988, has a width of 400 metres. It is fed by the rivers Drin, Shala, and Valbona. By it, the narrowest gorge is 50 metres wide, and has the steepest slopes. The terrain and the abundance of water form auspicious conditions for a plethora of animal and bird species.
Take the ferry from Koman to Fierza, which is another reservoir type lake, for two and a half hours of observation of the magnificent landscape.
Pogradec lies on the shore of the Ohrid lake, which is among Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes. The beauty of nature has stimulated rich folklore, created for centuries, in songs and in dances. The lake’s beauty is celebrated on Lake Day, held on 21 June, marked by festive events.
The landmarks are the castle’s ruins, located over the lake, and the historical centre. In the vicinity, a host of bridges in nearby villages, castles and fortifications lend interest to the area. In Selcë e Poshtme, there are Illyrian royal tombs which are candidates for sites on the UNESCO list of heritage sites.[/accordion-item]
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Dajt, a national park since 1966, has lots to fascinate with. Animals like wild boars, brown bears, red foxes, and other mammals inhabit the park. To reach it, take the asphalted road, and stop at one of the restaurants around. Another way of climbing is by gondola lift from the east. Not just the nature, the flora and fauna, but remains of prehistoric settlements will contribute to a unique experience.[/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”Albanian Riviera”]
The Riviera coastal area abounds in features: the beaches, the canyons, the coves, the caves, plus tropical vegetation: oliveand lemon trees. In the distant past, Julius Carsar rested here. Now international music festivals attract tourists as well. The two other natural parks besides Llogara are Butrint and Karaburun-Sazan. Several castles, Ali Pasha, Borsh, Kaninë, Lëkurësi, Porto Palermo, also join the list of landmarks to see and admire.[/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”Skadar lake”]
In the south and the south west, the lake sides are rocky and steep, with bays. On the north, the area is inundated, and inundation varies with water level fluctuation. The lake has several small islands. On one of them. Beška, two churches stand. On the southwest, there are remains of a fortress and a prison.[/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”Gjirokastër Castle”]
The fortress existed even before the 12th century, but it was extensively renovated in the 19th century. Now five towers rise over it. There is, too, a church, and there is a cistern. A national folk festival is held on the fortress ground. The numerous small shops sell hand made souvenirs. The views on the town are magnificent. The town itself is a Heritage Site under UNESCO.[/accordion-item]
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Their destruction would cost a lot, about 800 euros per bunker. Instead of destroying them, enterprising citizens have built some storeys over them, and a hotel or a restaurant and bar in a bunker is only to be seen in Albania. The bunkers are great for wine cellars, as the temperatore inside does not chance.[/accordion-item]
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This small country’s gorgeous trails are little known, but you will be amazed by the mountain beauty and the biological diversity. In the summer, the diversity of flowers is stunning. The canyons around mountain ridges are picture perfect. Valleys at high altitude are also picturesques, like the famed Buni Jezerce, with six glacial lakes.[/accordion-item]
[accordion-item title=”Diving and snorkelling”]
The Vlorë Bay is steeped in history, even some of Caesar’s battles took place here. In Sarandë Bay, warm periods last for 5 months a year, and the pebbles lined beaches and turquoise waters will invite you to combine snorkeling with pictures snapping and sunbathing. The Butrint, a UNESCO site, is also a great place to visit.[/accordion-item]
All you have to do to add Albania to your guided Balkan tour is to answer our questionnaire and describe what you expect of your tour at [email].