The tour starts in the marvelous city of Thessaloniki, where your plane will land, founded about 2400 years ago and bearing the nickname “Second Jerusalem”. While in Thessaloniki you will visit its major attractions, starting with a view of the White Tower, the Fortress of Thessaloniki, the Arch of Galerius, a visit of the archaeological museum (one of the most rich museums in the region), and many other attractions along the way and during the walking tour in Thessaloniki. Dinner and overnight will be in Thessaloniki.
Day-2 Thessaloniki – Bitola – Ohrid
Today you start your journey heading to Macedonia, with Bitola as the first destination. The first sight to visit in Bitola is Heraklea, the ancient city build by Philip II of Macedonia in middle of 3rd century BC, dedicated to the mythological hero Heracles. It used to be one of his greatest cities but most of the ruins are from the Roman Empire. Don’t miss the mosaics all over the site, the statues and the walls of the old town of Heraklea. In the center of it is the theatre, build by the Roman emperor Hadrian. Very close to the theatre, is located the necropolis.
After this short taste of ancient history, you will have another taste of Macedonia now, a taste of food.
After Heraklea and lunch, you will go to Bitola. Upon your arrival in the city, you will explore Bitola from within, starting with the Ottoman quarter, really well preserved from time. Next, you will visit other landmarks of Bitola, such as the Sacred Heart Church, Efendi Mosque, the clock tower, the House of Officers, etc.
Leaving Bitola behind, you will head to Ohrid, the pearl of Macedonia. There you will be for dinner and overnight to start fresh new the tour tomorrow.
Today you will be in Ohrid, the Jeruzalem of the Balkans. In Ohrid you will enjoy the history and traditions of this city, the beauty of the lake and will be amazed by the churches and cathedrals that are located in every narrow street in the town on the hillside. The Cathedral of Jon Caneo and the St. Sophia Church are of expeptional beauties, listed in the UNESCO World Heritage List. Don’t forget to get also to the amphitheatre, the Robevci museum and to the Castle of Samuil.
Following the created atmosphere from the tour, you will have lunch in a traditional restaurant with fresh caught fish from the lake.
Afterwards, take another look of Ohrid with a short boat trip in St. Naum Monastery, to enjoy Ohrid and the lake from another point of view. Very close to the monastery is the place where the waters that feed Lake Ohrid enter to the lake. Finishing with this other perspective, you will return back to the city to have some free time for what is left of the afternoon.
Dinner and overnight in Ohrid.
Day-4 Ohrid – Elbasan – Tirana
After breakfast, take the last look of Ohrid while driving around it to go to the border with Albania. After passing, you will depart to Elbasan, where you will first have lunch, a traditionla lunch with the best of Central Albania. After the taste of Elbasan, it’s time to start the visit inside the castle, where you see the different layers of rocks in the walls of the castle. Afterwards, a walk among the houses with a fine preserved Ottoman architecture will bring you back a few centuries.
Leaving Elbasan, you will head for Tirana, the capital of Albania. You will take a look at the Scanderbeg Square, where our national hero stands strong like he stood agains the Ottoman invaders, sorrounded by the historical buildings of the Ministries, the Opera, the Tirana International Hotel, the National Historic Museum, Bank of Albania and Et’hem Beg Mosque. Each of these buildings are symbolic representatives of the era of their construction. Your stroll continues south along Martyrs of the National Boulevard, passing other important landmarks and ending up to Mother Theresa Square at the Polytechnic University.
Dinner and overnight in Tirana.
Day-5 Tirana – Kruja – Shkodra
Leave the hotel and drive to the historical town of Kruja. Visit the museum of Gjergj Kastriot Scanderbeg, our national hero, who fought heroically against the ottoman invasion. Proceed to visit the Ethnographic museum, where are exposed folk dresses, objects and other things.You live Kruja by visiting the bazaar, where you will have the opportunity to purchase souvenirs, wool carpets, wooden-made objects etc. After sightseing all the spots of Kruja, you will have a delightful traditional lunch at a restaurant nearby the castle, to get a better Albanian taste. The rest of the afternoon will be at your leisure to explore other parts of Kruja.
After the historical town of Kruja, you depart to the ancient city of Durres, founded in 627 B.C. Firstly, for lunch you can try the best of Albanian seafood close to the port of Durres.
After lunch, you will start the tour of the city. Today Durres is one of the biggest towns and most important seaport in Albania. Visit the fortress of the city, the amphitheatre, and the archaeological museum.
After a walk in the main promenade, you will return to Tirana for dinner and overnight.
Day-6 Tirana – Apolonia – Vlora – Saranda
Waking up in the modernity of Tirana, you will head south to Apolonia, a Greek colony of more than 2000 years ago where now stand the ruins of the old city, once in such importance and development, that Ceazar studied there.
Leaving behind the Archaeological Park, you head towards Vlora, the city of independency, where you will be stopping for a delicious lunch with sea food, of course, by the sea.
The journey continues with the departure to Llogara, the famous National Park of Llogara, where nature has put a special consideration for this area. The forest is probably with the purest air you’ve seen and the mountains that go 90 degrees into the sea are really breathtaking.
After getting your dose of fresh air, you will now descend the mountain range (called Thunder Mountains form ancient Greeks) and head to Saranda, once called Porto Edda from Musolini, where firstly you will have lunch in a fancy restaurant by the sea. In Saranda you will feel like in a tropical paradise; the half-horseshoe bay, the islands around, the mountains overlooking the great island of Corfu and all encompassed by a pretty nice beach with peebles that hides the modern city.
After this long journey from Tirana to Saranda, you will have dinner and overnight in Saranda.
Day-7 Saranda – Butrint – Gjirokastra – Saranda
Saranda with it’s modernity is probably just as an appetizer and Butrint feels like the main dish. And so, today you depart for Butrint, where lie the ancient ruins of another Greek colony. You will surely be stunned in every turn after tree to see a new mancion, another religions spot, another wall, another piece of history. The ampitheatre is probably one of the views you will always keep in your mind.
Lunch time will be not far from there, will be in Ksamil, right in front of three small wonders of nature, the Islets of Ksamil, the best place to digest the big chunk of history that Butrint is.
After lunch in crysal clear waters of Ionian Sea, you will depart among mountains to reach Gjirokastra, the stone city. Being for a long time under Ottoman occupation, Gjirokastra really got an Ottoman face, with the cobblestone, the houses in that specific architecture, the bazaar and above all, like a guardian in centuries, the castle overlooking the whole city, hometown of our ex-dictator Enver Hoxha, and Valley of Drin.
For dinner and overnight you will return in Saranda.
Day-8 Saranda – Ioanina – Meteora – Thessaloniki
From Saranda and all the history of the south of Albania, you will depart to pass the border to Greece via Gjirokastra. The destination of the day is actually Meteora, but before Meteora, you will have a lunch stop in Ioanina, the main town of the great Pashallek of Ali Pashe Tepelena, an Albanina originated ruler that stood against the Ottoman Empire for about two decades. The view of the restaurant is quite panoramic and the city in the hills around makes a perfect combination.
Leaving behind Ioanina, you continue to reach Meteora, one of the most important complex and largest of Greek Orthodox Monasteries. There are six monasteries build in rock pillars, all located in a valley of exceptional natural beauty. The view here will never get out of your mind.
After the breathtaking views of the day, you will head to the Thessaloniki, where you will be for dinner and overnight.
Day-9 Thessaloniki – Onwards
Your journey has come to and end. Wave goodbye to Greece and to Balkans as you leave the city heading for the airport to take the flight back home along with numerous memories.
This one is truly a tour one of a kind. You start your journey in Thessaloniki, the “co-capital” of Greece. After getting your dose of Greek culture, you continue north reaching Bitola and Ohrid, where another experience awaits you since from antiquity. Ohrid will really give you the impression of the Jerusalem of the Balkans, with another church just around the next corner. Jumping over to Albania, you will have a completely different experience, starting with Tirana, the modern capital with many historical landmarks. But the Albanian experience is not limited just with Tirana, but you’ll reach also other cities like Shkodra and Kruja to have a complete Albanian time. You can’t miss places like the archaeological parks or the Albanian Riviera and you will surely be surprised of them. Finishing with the highlights of southern Albania, you will continue to Greece again and before reaching the final destination of the tour, you’ll get the dessert of the tour; the Valley of Meteroa, where your eyes will wonder in amazement while being breathtaken. Will such amazing memories, you’ll return home wishing to come back again soon.
Countries visiting: Greece, Macedonia, Albania
Highlights: Greek taste, Natural Sites, UNESCO Sites, Archaeological Parks, The Meteora Valley, Ottoman style cities, Ohrid Lake, Medieval castles and citadels, Mountainside drives, Seaside drives, etc.
Transport: Coach, boat
Accommodation: 8 nights in hotels