The expoloration of the Balkans, starts in Montenegro with the landing in the small airport of Tivat. From there, you will be transferred to the city, which is the first major city in the Bay of Kotor. A walk along the promenade is one of the sweetest things to do here, still amazed by the strong blue colors of the Bay of Kotor.
In Tivat you will be for dinner and overnight and will start the tour tomorrow with more Balkan wonders.
Day-2 Shkodra – Kruja – Tirana
After your first touch with Montenegro, you will drive south heading to Shkodra, after crossing the border entering in Albania. Shkodra, the most important city of northern Albania is your first contact with Albanian culture and Albanian history. The Rozafa Castle, with all it’s glory, history and legends, is the first landmark you should visit atop of the hill overlooking the city and the whole region. A short walk to the pedestrian street, the street of all Shkodra’s culture and famous buildings.
You can’t leave Shkodra without having lunch, and finishing lunch with a dessert from the area called “sheqerpare”.
From there, you 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.
Continuing further south, you will be headed to 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-3 Tirana – Durres – Berat
Meeting with your guide at the hotel lobby, you depart firstly to the ancient city of Durres, founded in 627 B.C. Today is one of the biggest towns and most important seaport in Albania. Visit the fortress of the city, the amphitheatre, and the archaeological museum. For lunch you can try the best of Albanian seafood.
After Durres, you will depart towards the city of a thousand and one windows, Berat. The exploration of this 2400 year old town starts of course, with the citadel, located on a hilltop overlooking the whole area. Besides quite a few landmarks inside the castle, you will go for a visit to Onufri museum, well known for it’s special style in paintings, and you will also step into a few of the many churches that Berat has.
After the combined magic of Durres and Berat, you will stay in Berat for dinner and overnight.
Day-4 Berat – Elbasan – Ohrid
Waking up from the enchantment of Berat, you depart to Elbasan, going through the Belsh region accross the Dumrea lakes, a “collection” of 85 lakes created out of the melt of carstic rocks. Upon your arrival in Elbasan you 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.
Lunch will be served in a fine restaurant inside the walls of the castle, and after lunch, you continue for 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. Dinner and overnight in Ohrid.
Day-5 Ohrid – Peja
Today you will depart north heading for Pec. The trip is in a serpentine road passing in mountains and rivers and forests of National Parks of both Macedonia and Kosovo, and you will surely enjoy the trip with nature following you at every kilometer. There will also be some stops along the way for you to appreciate more what you have in the way.
After the drive, you will go to Peja, where you will be for lunch, a delicious lunch with the best of Kosovo tradition.
After the lunch with traditional food from Kosovo, you will take a stroll around Peja, on the main boulevard and in the old quarter of Peja.
The next destination is the Decan Monastery, where is located one of the most special Serbian Orthodox monasteries. Build in the 14th century with the request of the Serbian Sing Stephan Uros III, buried in the monastery, you will truly feel the spiritual atmosphere differently.
After your religious dose, you will head to the Gorge of Rugova, a special canyon created out of a few million years of river erosion streching for about 25 kilometers. The gorge is not only a place of awe, but also a pretty good spot for alpinists.
After your guided tour of the day, you will have the afternoon free in the city of Peja and also you are for dinner and overnight there.
Day-6 Peja – Kolasin
Remember the Rugova Gorge of yesterday? Well, today you will drive it all up to the end and beyond it, passing the border to Montenegro, heading to Kolasin. Over 2000 meters above sea level, you will breathe the cleanest air you can find here in the Durmitore National Park. And you will agree that this is the perfect place to have lunch.
After lunch, you will drive a bit further to the Moraca Monastery. Build in the bank of the river with the same name, the monastery had it’s first construction stone in 1252. History and legends are all around the Moraca town and especially about the monastery, but you will leave the fascinating stories behind and will be in Kolasin for dinner and overnight.
Day-7 Kolasin – Podgorica – Kotor
Descending the Montenegrin Mountains, you will head firstly to the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica. The capital, set in 1944, is quite a special one, with a unique combination of modernity and history. There you will visit the clock tower, a Turkish clock tower build in 1667 and one of the few old landmarks still standing after the war, the Millenium bridge, a 140 meters long cable bridge representing the new age of Montenegro, the old town of Podgorica, etc.
With another short drive you arrive in Budva. You will have a visit in Budva, one of the pearls of this side of the Adriatic. Besides the beach, you will take a walk around the old citadel of Budva, inside the high thick walls of the castle filled also with a lot of history and legends.
Before leaving behind Budva to continue north to Kotor, first you will have lunch in a fish restaurant by the sea.
Upon your arrival in Kotor, you will be stunned even in the first glimpse that this city can offer. The visit of Kotor starts with the castle, an Illyrian one used from Queen Teuta. In it, is the old town, the Rector Tower, the clock tower, the St. Triphon Cathedral, etc. The rest of the day is free time at your choice.
For dinner and overnight you will be in Kotor.
Day-8 Kotor – Tivat – Onward
This is the day of conclusion of your Balkan adventure. Depending on the flight time, you will have some free time and then departure to the airport.
The exploration of Balkans starts with landing in the small port of Tivat in Montenegro, and you transfer to Albania, starting with Shkodra. The citadel atop the hill that separates two rivers gives you quite a rare view. From that hilltop, you will jump to another hilltop, sorrounded not by rivers but by mountains, to Kruja Castle. The Ottoman style of the citadel is of the most special and there is where you will get quite some essence of the Albanian culture. Continuing in Tirana you will experience the modernity of Albania in the capital and will have quite a good combination with the antiquity of Durres’s archaeological sites. The city of a thousand windows, Berat, is one of a kind in all you’ll experince there, and the way to Ohrid is almost designed specifically for you. In Ohrid you will feel a total different atmosphere, with the calm that the 365 churches and monasteries offer and with the marvel from Ohrid Lake. Passing though mountains, you will arrive in Peja from where more of spirituality will accompain you, before departing for the mountains around Kolasin. Kolasin is one of Montenegro’s top destinations and after it you will drive to the end of your tour in the capital and in Kotor, in the longest fjord of Southern Europe. The tour ends here but on the plane home you will also have the highlights of this part of the Balkans.
Countries visiting: Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo
Highlights: Castle visits, Bay of Kotor, Religious highlights, Mountain scape, historical towns, etc.
Transport: Coach, ferry, boat
Accommodation: 7 nights in hotels