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Kruja, Gjirokaster and Other Archeological Sites

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  • 3 Hours

Tour Details

This tour is a journey through the most visited archeological sites in Albania! You will have the opportunity to visit Durres, Kruja, Butrint, Berat, Gjirokaster , Saranda and Vlora in 8 days. We managed to include all these sites in a perfect itinerary. 

Departure & Return Location

Tirana

Duration of the Tour

8 Days

Photos

About the trip

Day 1

Tirana – Kruja 40 min – Tirana 40 min

  • Meet at Mother Tereza Airport in Tirana and depart for Kruja. On the way we will stop  at Albanopoli, only 10 km from the airport. After this we proceed to Kruja, where we visit the Skanderbeg Museum, Ethnographic Museum and the Old Bazaar.
  • Archeological site: Albanopoli

On a hillside near the village of Zgerdhesh (Kruje) are the ruins of the ancient city of “Albanopolis”, the capital of the Illyrian tribe “Alban” which flourished from the end of the 3rd century A.D. Its name is mentioned for the first time by Ptolemy in the 2nd century A.D. It is from the “Alban” Illyrian tribe that the country started to be called “Albania ” and the people “Albanians”.

Transfer to the hotel in Tirana, where the night will be spent.

Day 2

Tirana – Durres – Berat 2 hrs

  • We start the day with a visit to the “Archaeological Museum” in Tirana. It was the first museum created after the  “World War II”. The Tirana Archaeological Museum has displayed about 2000 objects and it has a fund support of 17000, which is increased annually by the systematic archaeological finds. 

The museum gives full information on the earliest ancient dwellings in Albania, especially on the periods when the process of Illyrian tribes’ formation takes place. It also provides summarized information on Late Antiquity and early Middle Age when the transition from Illyrians to Arbers takes place.

  • Afterwards enjoy a delicious lunch in Durres and then visit the Site of Epidamnus. The city of Durres dates to the 7th century B.C., according to traditional reports from ancient sources in the year 627. The modern city is built on top of the ruins of ancient Epidamnus or Dyrrachium, the latter transformed into Dyrrachium in the Roman period.

Depart for Berat where spend the night.

 

Day 3

Berat

  • This morning we will start exploring the ancient city of Berat.

More than 2000 years old, it is one of the most visited and characteristic cities in Albania. Since 2008 Mangalem District has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The architecture of the old houses, with large windows that overlook the town, is the first thing that impresses the visitors. First stop: the Citadel. It overlooks the river and the modern city as well as the old Christian quarter across the river. 

The citadel can be reached by a steep road and is still inhabited. Inside the walls, you can visit ruined mosques and several medieval Orthodox churches, all intact and with restored frescoes and icons. 

Onufri National Museum is located in the inner part of “Saint Mary Church” in the Castle of Berat. This Museum offers a collection of 173 belonging to the founder of Albanian Churches and Monasteries. Afterwards you can visit the Ethnographic Museum, a two storied residence, with a lobby on one side. 

This residence is equipped with non-moveable furniture that serve for the preservation of the household objects, wooden case, wall-closets, chimneys, wells, etc.

  • Archeological site: Mbjeshovë

Mbjeshova Castle is situated near the village of Mbjeshova, in the northern part of Shpiragu mountain and it covers a surface of about 1,5 – 2 ha. The surrounding wall is well maintained along the length of the hill.The fortification is double, formed by an inner wall serving at the same time as a staging ground for soldiers and a lookout. At the east side are situated three towers and an entrance.

  • Archeological site: The fortress of Vokopola

The castle of Vokopola known as Ali Pashë Tepelena’s castle, is located on a hill at the northern-west part of Vokopola village near the city of Berat. The fortification is situated on a hill 765m above sea level. The castle’s technique construction shows that the structure may have served as a military garrison.

 

Day 4

Berat – Bylis – Antigone – Gjirokaster 4 hrs

  • After breakfast we depart for Gjirokaster, a UNESCO site and museum town with beautiful and very distinct architecture. On the way, stop at the ancient city of Bylis to visit the ancient remains.

It was the center of the Illyrian tribe and one of the most important and largest Illyrian cities, which developed during the 4th century B.C. During the 3rd century B.C. were built the theater (8000 seats), the stadium, the gymnasium etc. By the 1st century A.D. Bylis became a Roman colony. During the 5th and 6th centuries, it became an important diocesan center, which is proved by the discoveries of 6 basilicas whose floors are laid with mosaics of early Christian motifs.

  • Before arriving in Gjirokaster, we will  visit the ancient site of Antigonea; a city founded in the 3rd century B.C.
  • Arrival in Gjirokaster in the afternoon. Visit the “Ethnographic Museum”, which is also the house where the Albanian dictator was born.
  • Archeological site: Sofratika Theater
    Located in Drino valley in Gjirokastrt region by a village bearing the same name, this is Roman Adrianopolis of the second century A.D. The theater was excavated in 1984 and has a capacity of 4,000 seats in 27 steps.

Day 5

Gjirokaster – Saranda 1 hrs

  • In the morning we depart for the coastal town of Saranda. On the way we will  stop to visit the beautiful “Blue Eye” spring, a natural spring shaped like an eye of beautiful blue and turquoise green colors among old maple trees. Then visit the archaeological site of the fortified hill of Peshtan.
  • Stop for lunch at the Lekuresi Fortress in Saranda, with beautiful views of the bay of Saranda and the Island of Corfu situated only 7 km away. After lunch we proceed to visit the ancient city of Butrint. A pleasant narrow road overlooking the sea and marshes leads to Butrint through a landscape of olive and orange tree plantations. Butrint is situated 15km south of Saranda. The ancient city of Butrint, which is declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was first inhabited by Illyrians.
  • The archaeological excavations show that Butrint has been an important center of the Kaonian Illyrians, one of the big tribes of southern Illyria. According to discoveries made in the area, it has been proved that the site was inhabited as early as the Paleolithic period.
  •  Butrint was captured by the Normans in the eleventh century and passed to Venice from 1690 to 1797, when Ali Pasha Tepelena captured it. With the fall of the Pashallek of Janina, in 1822, Butrint passed under Ottoman rule until 1913. Several excavations dating from the 1st and 4th centuries AD can now be visited, among them the Old Amphitheater, the Temple of Asklepios or Aesculapius, the Baptistery, Nymphaeum and the ancient city walls. 

Do not miss the Baptistery, with a floor of colorful mosaics. An old fortress house and a small museum watches over the whole site.

  • Archeological site: The fortified hill of Peshtan – Tepelene

The hill of Peshtan is located near the homonymous village. The settlement has been localized on top of the hill, covering an area of about 2 ha, and several narrow terraces at the east, south and west sides. These sides of the hill are relatively smooth, while the northern side, which is the narrowest one, constitutes the natural defense of the hill.

Late afternoon return to Saranda where we spent the night.

Archeological site: Sinagoga

Day 6

Saranda – Albanian Riviera – Vlora 4.5 hrs

  • After breakfast we depart for Vlora driving through the Albanian Riviera. Stop at the town of Himara. Lunch at the “Llogara Tourist Village”; 1000 m above sea level. Very close by is a field where Julius Caesar camped his troops for a battle during the war against Pompeii. After lunch , we continue to Vlora. We stop at the town of Oricum, thought to have been founded by Greek colonists from Euboea Island.

 Oricum was used as a base by Roman armies in their wars against Illyria and Macedonia. Here we can see some remains of walls and roads visible under water in the lagoon as well as part of a mini-theatre of around 400 seats in the nearby hill of Palokastra. Most of the remains are from the 1st century B.C. and later.

  • Afterwards, we visit the original house where the independence document was signed in 1912 turned into the “Independence Museum”. The house was the first seed of an Independent Albanian Government. Overnight in Vlora.

Day 7

Vlora – Apollonia 1 hrs – Ardenica 1 hrs – Durres 1 hrs

  • After breakfast we depart for the ancient city of Apollonia. Apollonia was named after the god Apollo. It was founded in 588 B.C., also by Greeks of Corfu, and it prospered because of its role as a link between Brundisium (now Brindisi) in Italy and southern Albania. Many smaller Greek settlements were established around Albania during this time, but Epidamnus, Butrint, and Apollonia were the most important. Visit the city and an Orthodox monastery turned into an archaeological museum. (Entrance fees) .
  •  Afterwards we proceed to the Monastery of Ardenica. Ardenica Abbey (church) was in the Middle age argued by a stone in entrance dating back to 1417, but the first building belongs at the beginning of XVIII century. Today inside the church you can admire pictures of 1743-1745 years, by Albanian artists.

         Afterwards we depart for Durres, another important ancient town founded in 657 B.C. by Corinthians.             Sightseeing tour of the Amphitheater situated in the middle of the modern town.

         Overnight in Durres.

Day 8

Durres – Tirana Airport 30 min

  • After breakfast we visit the Archaeological museum rich in artifacts found in and around the city. Drive to the Airport where our service ends.

Map

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