9-Day Tour in Macedonia and Albania

Day 1: Sofia

Meet your leader and group at a welcome meeting at 6 pm – check with reception to confirm the time and place.

Day 2: Skopje

Travel to Macedonia's capital city by private vehicle (approximately 4.5 hours). In Macedonia’s political and cultural center, walk past Byzantine domes, Turkish baths, and also newly built neo-classical buildings and grand monuments, sampling gozleme and tasty baklava along the way. The 30 mosques, innumerable caravanserais, and hamams that fill its winding streets are a testament to Skopje’s Ottoman past. Take a step back to those times with a visit to the Daut Pasha Hamam, or journey through the humbling Holocaust Museum to learn how Macedonia suffered during this tragic chapter of history.

Day 3: Prizren / Skopje

Enjoy a day trip to Prizren, Kosovo’s historic, second biggest, and arguably its most beautiful city. On arrival, head out an orientation walk of Prizren, walking alongside the Bistrica river, taking in the cobbled Shadervan square and the Old Stone Bridge, all of which will help you get your bearings of the city. Explore the city’s famous mosques and contrast it with abandoned Serbian Orthodox churches that stand as somber reminders of the ethnic divisions that still simmer just under the surface. Wander the bazaar or admire some of the traditional jewelry in the many filigree shops before returning to Skopje.

Day 4: Lake Ohrid

Catch a morning bus to Lake Ohrid. Europe's oldest lake, and one of the oldest human settlements in the world, Ohrid has a wealth of historic sites and religious monuments to discover. The town is said to have once been home to 365 churches, one for each day of the year, earning it the nickname “the Macedonian Jerusalem”, while historical excavations date back to Neolithic times. Get your bearings on an orientation walk around Ohrid, maybe picking up a bargain or two in the vibrant Old Bazaar.

Day 5: Lake Ohrid

Embark on a scenic cruise on the turquoise waters of Lake Ohrid. At 34 kilometers long, 14 kilometers wide, and over 300 meters deep, all shared between Albania and Macedonia, there’s plenty of vast Lake Ohrid to explore. The afternoon is free for you to discover the area. There are many churches and monasteries to visit, but one of the most popular is the Macedonian Orthodox Church of Sveti Jovana Kaneo. The Sveti Naum Monastery is also a great option, lying on the shores of the lake south of town, with well-kept grounds that are home to peacocks.

Day 6: Berat

Take it slow as we cross the border into Albania and continue to the remote and rarely visited town of Berat, a gem of a town that was lucky to escape destruction during communist times. The real surprise of Albania is the people. Their warmth to strangers is infectious and you’re bound to find yourself swapping stories over a glass of raki or three. In the evening enjoy a traditional Balkan dinner with your group.

Day 7: Tirana

After breakfast, transfer to Tirana, a drive of about 4-5 hours, depending on road conditions and traffic into Tirana. On arrival, embark on a guided tour to get your bearings. Tirana is the capital of Albania and its biggest city, but it's still small and compact, with architectural influences from Italy and Turkey. Recently many buildings have been painted to alleviate the Soviet block feeling that pervaded. Many upgrades have been made all over town, such as new parks and wide pavements, a process that's still on-going. Perhaps take a cable car ride up Dajti Mountain for breath-taking views of the city below.

Day 8: Tirana / Kruja

Today, take a half-day trip to the mountain village and former Albanian capital of Kruja. Kruja was the last stronghold of Skanderbeg's army until the Ottomans took over the entire country. There is plenty of time to explore the citadel and the famous bazaar area. Perhaps pay a visit to the excellent ethnographical museum housed inside the fortress. You’ll then return to Tirana after lunch. Tirana is dotted with many museums. You can't miss the National History Museum – just look for the gargantuan mosaic on the facade that represents the development of Albania's history. The main sight in Tirana is the 1821 Et'hem Bey Mosque, right on the city's main square.

Day 9 International return flight

Arrive home today to complete your journey.

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