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We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarah@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.

Tirana • Kruja • Durres • Apollonia • Vlora
Saranda • Butrint • Ksamili Islands • Phoinice • Mesopotam
Gjirokaster • Vjosa Valley • Kelçyra Gorge • Permet • Leusa • Korça

Including Igumenica, Dodona and Ioannina, Greece and Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

May 19 - 29, 2018
• 11 Days
$2840 per person, single or double occupancy* beginning and ending in Tirana, Albania
Airfare Additional
Single Supplement: Free
*Discount of $100 per person for double occupancy

Day by Day Itinerary

May 19 Arrive Tirana

Welcome to Albania! Our archaeologist/guide warmly greets us at Rinas International Airport for the group transfer to the hotel. For those who are arriving on different flights, we will organize a taxi to pick you up and bring you to the hotel.

Time to settle in and recover from jet lag. Our hotel is perfectly situated in the center of the city. It is a local family operated Boutique 3-star hotel, and well liked for its location and service.

Dine tonight as a group at a local restaurant in the middle of Tirana Park. (D)
B&B De Paris, Blloku area***+

May 20 Tirana - Kruja

This morning we make a short excursion to the famous historical city of Kruja, once defended by Scanderbeg, the 15th century hero of Albania. There we take in the Scanderbeg Museum, the Ethnographic Museum and the old bazaar brimming with local handicrafts. Enjoy a special and very interesting visit to the Tekke of the Bektashi Order, the mystical liberal Sufi Sect of Islam.

Lunch at the Castle of Kruja. Return to Tirana in the afternoon to visit the National Museum and the National Gallery of Arts, where we’ll see the collection of Social Realism. Dinner at a local restaurant. (B-L-D)
B&B De Paris, Blloku area ***+

May 21 Tirana - Durres - Apollonia
Monday Vlora - Saranda

Today we journey south along the coast. The scenic drive will allow our travelers to see one of Europe’s last unspoilt coastlines in the Mediterranean. The coastline drive is along the mountain side with beautiful beaches and coves along the way. Spontaneous beach stops will be up to the guests if they choose. With scattered villages along the way, it provides a great insight to Albania’s coastal life. Our first short stop is in the City of Durres - once a major Roman port. We also visit the Amphitheater.

Continue the drive toward Apollonia, the famous ancient Hellenic city founded in 558 BC by settlers from Corfu and Corinth. We see both the site and its museum, which is open daily.

After lunch at a local restaurant, leisurely continue our drive towards the South. Travel along the Albanian Riviera toward the coastal town of Vlora, with stops at several coastal villages. Arrive in Saranda and enjoy some relaxation time in this charming seaside fishing town. Saranda is located opposite the Greek Island of Corfu. Enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. (B-L-D)
Hotel Brilliant ***

May 22 Saranda - Butrint
Tuesday Ksamili Islands - Saranda

Visit the World Heritage site of Butrint, Albania’s most important archaeological site. A very detailed tour of the site is organized especially for our group. Butrint National Park is both a city and an archaeological site, located in Albania close to the Greek border. It was known in Ancient Greek as Bouthroton and in Latin as Buthrotum. Strategically located on a hill overlooking the Vivari Channel, the site has been inhabited since prehistoric times. Butrint was the site of an Epirot city, a Roman colony and a bishopric.
We also explore the Vrina Plain to see the most excavations of the Roman Colony of Butrint followed by lunch at a local restaurant. As a change of pace, we go to a private beach at the Ksamili Islands so we can enjoy some free time at the sea (weather permitting). Here our guide will explain the work there in undersea exploration and the recent discoveries. Completely relaxed, we dine at a local restaurant before returning to our hotel near the harbor. (B-L-D)
Hotel Porto Eda ***

May 23 Saranda - Phoinice
Wednesday Mesopotam - Saranda

After breakfast at the hotel we travel inland for an excursion to the ancient city of Phoinice where we enjoy a short presentation. It is one of the great cities of Epirus. Its theater with 15,000-18,000 seats, is one the largest Roman theaters in the world. Though not thoroughly excavated yet, it is still a fascinating place to visit.

From Phoinice we will visit Mesopotam, a 12th century Byzantine Monastery mentioned in the battle between the Norman Crusader army and the Byzantines.

Relax over lunch at a local restaurant. In the afternoon, we pay a visit to the synagogue of Saranda. This synagogue which dates from the 5th or 6th century underwent various periods of use, including its conversion to a church at its last stage, prior to being abandoned. Initial excavations began about 20 years ago. At that time, the building was identified as a church. However, recently excavated rooms adjoining an elongated hall reveal mosaic floors that depict such features as a seven-branched candelabrum (menorah), a citron (etrog), and a ram’s horn (shofar). All these symbols are associated with Jewish holidays. Guests may opt to spend the latter part of the day at the local beach in Ksamili. Dinner and overnight in the nearby hotel. (B-L-D)
Hotel Livia ***

May 24 Saranda - Igumenica, Greece
Thursday Dodona - Ioannina
Gjirokastra, Albania

We start our day with a beautiful drive towards the Greek-Albanian border only 19 miles from Saranda. Cross over to Greece and enter the region of Thesprotia traveling first to the City Port of Igumenica, then to Dodona and finally Ioannina. Dating back at least 5,000 years, the Dodona site is named for the Earth Goddess Dione. The town may be one of oldest in the Epirus region. See its well-preserved amphitheater - one of the biggest in Greece and listen to the wind in the trees as bare-footed priestesses did in times past.

Visit the Castle of Ali Pasha and the old town of Ioannina. Ioannina was founded in the 6th century AD by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian and flourished in the 13th century when many wealthy Byzantine families fled there following the sack of Constantinople by the knights of the Fourth Crusade. It was the capital of the Despotate of Epirus from 1358 to 1416, before surrendering to the Ottomans in 1430. Between 1430 and 1868 the city was the administrative center of the Pashalik of Yanina. In the period between the 16th and 19th centuries, the city was a major center of the modern Greek Enlightenment. Ali Pasha spent the last days of his life in St. Panteleimon, waiting for a pardon from the Sultan.

Enjoy lunch near the lake shores of Pamvotida (Ioannina Lake). Free time for shopping at the Old Market area. Return towards the Albanian border for a short drive to the City of Gjirokastra. Entering the Drinos Valley through the Pass of Muzine, you are sure to be amazed by the beautiful landscape dotted with small villages nestled at the foot of the mountains. On the way, have a splendid view of city of Hadrianopolis. We then arrive in Gjirokastra, a UNESCO World Heritage City. It is one of the most venerable towns of Albania. Located 900 feet above sea level, Gjirokastra has a beautiful and dramatic setting on the side of a lush valley between the high Gjerë Mountains above and the rushing Drinos River below. Our accommodations tonight are at a traditional house which has been converted to a B&B. (B-L-D)
Hotel Cajupi***

May 25 Gjirokastra - Kelçyra Gorge
Friday Vjosa Valley

Today we start with a walk around the Old Town of Gjirokastra with a morning tour shortly after breakfast. Highlights are the Ethnographic Museum, once the house of the communist dictator Enver Hoxha, and the Castle of Gjirokastra, one of the largest castles in the Balkans, where you find the Museum of Arms. Lunch is served at a local restaurant in the Old Bazaar.

After lunch take a short drive to the Tekke of Melan where you will again visit a sect of an Islamic order - Bektashi’s. They are positioned in a remote part of the town, high up a mountain to show you first-hand even today the way Dervishes and Babas maintain their spirituality and lifestyle.

We continue our drive through the Kelçyra Gorge. The location is famous as the site of the battle between King Philip of Macedonia and the Roman army of Proconsul Paulius Emilius. Tonight stay at Hotel River near the river Vjosa under the beautiful centuries old oak trees. (B-L-D)
Hotel River, Kelçyra Gorge***

May 26 Vjosa Valley - Leusa
Saturday Permet

This morning we continue the drive along the Vjosa River. Visit the Byzantine Church of Saint Mary of Kosina and enjoy the panoramic views of the Vjosa Valley. Arrive in the small city of Permet in the late morning. Explore Permet by foot with a 1/2 mile walk to the village of Leusa, where we see the Byzantine Church. This is a great example of rural architecture. The afternoon will be spent strolling through the town of Permet where we will stay overnight in the city center. Overnight in Permet at a quaint B&B. (B-L-D)
Hotel Alvaro***

May 27 Permet - Korça

Following breakfast we drive through the rural and panoramic landscape to Korça, the regional capital of southeast Albania. Its location is dominated by the Morava Mountains to the east. The town of Korça was called “Little Paris” in the 1930’s because of its thriving intellectual life. It is interesting from a historical point of view, due to its rich cultural traditions as well as some interesting buildings from the Ottoman period. We visit a highlight of these, which is one of the oldest and most important mosques in Albania: Mirahori Mosque, built in 1418. In Korça we also visit the Museum of Medieval Arts. Dine at a local restaurant and overnight in Korça. (B-L-D)
Hotel Life Gallery****

May 28 Korça
Monday Ohrid, Macedonia, Tirana

This morning after breakfast we start our drive towards Lake Ohrid, crossing over to Macedonia to visit first the Monastery of Saint Naum. Towards the end of his life St. Naum of Ohrid built the monastery St. Archangel where he was buried in 910. Continue our drive to Ohrid. Visit the Old Town and have free time in the old market. Late afternoon cross back over to Albania to continue our journey to Tirana. Enjoy a farewell dinner tonight. (B-L-D)
B&B De Paris, Tirana***

May 29 Depart Tirana

Sadly we must bid a fond farewell to our new friends, guides and travel companions, as we transfer to the airport. (B)

B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner



We invite you to call Sarah or Gwen at 1-800-762-4216 to request the full brochure. The brochure will include Important Traveler Information (and answers to most questions) and a Reservation Form. We can send the brochure through the Postal Service or as a PDF attachment. If you would like to receive a PDF, probably the best way to keep the message from going into a SPAM filter is to send a message to sarah@serioustraveler.com. If you are already on our mailing list, no need to complete the entire brochure request form.



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