Albania ’s cuisine is a rich and varied mix of both Eastern and Western cuisine which has influenced many of the cuisines in the Balkans, particularly that of Turkey and Greece which are probably better known than the rest. Albanian cuisine varies from the dry style you can see also in the Turkish and Greek cuisine, to the other Mediterranean flavors you find in the Italian cuisine. Based mostly on Meat & Carbs, it attracts the meat lovers, which find the freshest and the organic fed kettles but in the same time, a great option for the Veggie lovers which in this country will find the last organic and natural flavored vegetables and fruits which in most cases they can collect directly from the trees.
Arrival to the “Mother Teresa” airport. After the meeting with guide we take a driven tour of the surroundings and the most interesting parts of the city of Pogradec. Just laying around the perimeter of the lake, we will visit Pogradec, Tushemisht and Drilon.
The 1st stop will give us the opportunity to see some of the characteristic houses of the area with small gardens and tight walkways.
The 2nd stop in Drilon/Voloreke will fresh you up with the shades of the park surrounded by water and swans. This is where the ex-dictator used to have its fishing villa. There we will have lunch in order to try the specialty of the area, the fish growing only in the oldest lake in Europe, a rare fish of the trout and salmon family, named Koran.
Right after we will continue with our ride to the next city, one of the most important towns of South East Albania and a well-known culinary town, the city of Korca. Korca, the city of culture, knowledge, tradition, very old churches & history, of Lakror & Kernacka. Another specialty of the area is the home-made raw honey.
Albania is famous for its honey since it still comes from the high peaks and large variety of plants in its territory. That’s why we will make a short stop at one of the factories to try some of the freshest in the Morava Factory.
After visiting the city with its churches and its architecture we will stop to check and taste one of the oldest beers in Albania. Birra Korca dating from 1928. Usually accompanied with small Kernacka, a traditional way of cooking the beef meet. After Korca will be headed to one of its small but ancient villages, one of the 13th century, where history and food will amaze you.
Voskopoja the Cradle of the National Resistance. Home to 25 churches throughout centuries, after being targeted by the Muslim invasions, remain today only 8 of them, where we can still enjoy the remaining frescoes. Dinner.
After breakfast we depart toward the city of Permet the city of flowers, the city poets & writers, of music & dance, of raki & gliko, of breathtaking nature, of hot springs and canyons, home of many largely forgotten gastronomic treasures. It produces fine white wines (from white grapes), raki (a fruit brandy found throughout the Balkans), honey and dairy products (such as white cheeses and salted sheep butter). On the way to Permet we will have the opportunity to pass through spectacular landscapes with spectacular nature with gorges, mountains, river valleys and canyons typical of the rocky area, offering a truly fulfilling experience where we will stop from time to time to take pictures. On the way we will stop for lunch at a family agriculture restaurant between Erseke and Leskovik, to try some of the delicacies of the area in the Sotira Farm.
Our next stop will be in Benje. A natural site of thermal volcanic hot waters, surrounded by the breathtaking view of the highest mountains, mixed with old architecture of stones, the bridge of Kadi, where we can relax, taking baths and enjoying 1-hour free time.
The region is also known for its warm hospitality and anyone who has the fortune to be invited into a local home, will immediately be offered some gliko, a compote made from whole fruit. Gliko is an important element of the local cuisine in Përmet and is made from many different fruits & vegetables, all grown locally by many of the valley’s small-scale farmers.
‘Walnut husk’ gliko, made from whole green walnuts, is the most common style and other popular variations include white cherry, eggplant, wild fig, plum & apricot and even onions.
Right after will proceed to the city of Permet at the hotel where we will spend the night. Will have some rest, check out the small city and meet for dinner to enjoy the delicious dishes in a family restaurant.
After breakfast will leave the hotel. We will have the chance to visit one small local embroidery, to see the traditional handmade products of the area. Right after will visit a Gliko Manufactory just on the way of leaving Permet, so you can see with your eyes the production of the products you tried in the city.
Then will head straight to the city of Gjirokaster. A UNESCO World Heritage site for its architecture of stone and also one of the most acclaimed culinary towns of south Albania. The city which was a part of the Byzantine Empire dating back on 13th century. The city of stone houses, of arts, of costume and dance, the city of the great leaders, great warriors, writers and artists. City of ancient walls of Antigonea and many castles surrounding it.
Home of many traditional dishes, spread all over the Balkans during The Ottoman Invasion. Home of the famous Dollma made of grape/cabbage leaves rolled up, filled with rice and 12 types of different fresh herbs. Home to the Tarator, a cold soup made of fresh yogurt, cucumber and garlic. Home to the best way of cooking the Byrek, made of different layers of hand worked bread and many variations of refilling, starting with vegetables and different types of meat.
Here we visit the Castle which is used as the venue for the National Festival of Folk Song and Dance and has a Museum of Armaments with weapons from WWI.
Next, optional, depending on the time, we might also visit the Ethnographic Museum which is also the house the Albanian ex-dictator and the Zekati family house, probably the most beautiful and famous house in Gjirokaster. Lunch will be at one of the town’s traditional restaurants with its delicious specialties.
After lunch will departure toward the city of Berat, another Unesco heritage site. On the way, we will stop at Nurellari winery to taste one of the best Albanian wines.
Then will restart toward the old part of Berat – a UNESCO town for its wonderful architecture where houses look as they were built on each other’s backs named “The city of the thousand windows”.
Berat dating back to its origins on the 6th century BC, is home to the Mount Tomorr and river Osum, present in all myths and legends. City of the olives and virgin oil, grapes and wines. City of vast resources of marble and petroleum.
Just about dinner time we will be accommodated for overnight in Berat so than after to enjoy the tastes of traditional food while enjoying the lights of the evening on the stones of the antiquity.
After breakfast Depending on departure time, we might visit the castle of Berat with its several small churches from the 15th century and the uniquely beautiful St. Mary’s church turned into Onufri’s museum, in honor of this great Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century.
After Berat tour, we will head toward the International Airport of Tirana.