Albania holidays, small group tour

“UNESCO sites and local communities come to the fore in this tour of Albania which presents the country's highlights and a tourist industry still in its infancy.”

Highlights

UNESCO sites, including Berat, Butrint and Gjirokastra | Beach time in Dhermi | Blue Eye natural springs | tour of Tirana including the natural history museum | Elbasan Fortress | Korka | Dhoksat and Voskopoja villages | Erseke mountain village | Apollonia | Permet |

Description of Albania holidays, small group tour

This Albania is a ten day cultural tour around this highly underrated Mediterranean country which is packed with Byzantine and Roman history, just as its neighbouring Greece is, and yet so much further off the cultural tourist’s radar. As well as its ancient civilisations, architecture and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Albania also has its own Alps, known as the Accursed Mountains, with remote villages bearing little change since times when blood feuds were the norm and small family farms tucked into exquisite valleys still are.

During this Albania holiday we travel in a circuit, starting in the culture clash capital city of Tirana where Italian architecture, Ottoman minarets, mosques and crumbling communist remnants sit side by side. You can see all of its history just walking down one street. From here, we head south taking in a mixture of military heritage, such as the ancient fortress at Elbasan or the National Museum of Weapons located in Gjirokaster fort which was not to be argued with, located ominously on a remote mountain slope. Most impressively of all things militia, however, is the mediaeval citadel of Krujë the site of the resistance made to the omnipotent Ottomans.

It is not all battle scars on this trip, however, with some extraordinary natural heritage to explore as well. We spend some time at Pogradec on the shores of the great Lake Ohrid, surrounded by mountains. We enjoy mountain villages such as Ersekë, enveloped by the luscious green slopes of the Gramos Mountains and also visit the ‘Blue Eye’, famous for its seven natural springs that come to the surface here. And we also take time to enjoy the Mediterranean climes by sauntering and swimming at Porto Palermo Bay.

Every day is different on this trip, and along the way we not only stay in small locally owned guesthouses that are still unchanged by the modern face of tourism, but also enjoy local food and wine, this aspect of Albanian culture another of Europe’s well kept secrets. In fact, Albania is still one big hidden secret when it comes to tourism, and so the feeling is generally one of ‘get in quick’, before the word gets out.

Travel Team

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20 Mar 2020
£1049
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03 Apr 2020
£1279
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Our top tip:
This is a concentrated tour and as such you will be on the go in order to take in as many experiences as possible. Pack light to facilitate changing hotels on a daily basis.
Trip type:
Small group. Avg size 12. Min age 16.
Activity level:
Leisurely. Sightseeing, hot springs and a couple of windy, bumpy roads via private bus (max 5hrs on day 4).
Accomm:
3-star hotels and pensions, all en-suite.
Included:
Accommodation, transport, listed activities, tour leader throughout.
Meals:
All breakfasts and 1 lunch.
Solos:
Solo travellers welcome. Single room supplements available.
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Albania holidays, small group tour

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Accommodation & Meals:
The vast majority of the pensions on this trip are small, family run businesses and even the larger hotels in the capital are locally owned so that the economic benefit goes to local communities. In many cases, the hotels in several locations offer fresh, organic produce such as eggs, honey, local cheeses and homemade jams. However, we have a company policy that with very few exceptions all meals should be planned at local restaurants. This because we believe that not only is the experience of dinning outside the hotel more authentic but it helps distribute the income. For example, we take every group for a meal with a family from a village close to Gjirokastra. This home cooked meal is one of the most popular parts of the trip and offers a great insight into rural, domestic life in Albania whilst also showcasing and encouraging traditional methods of cooking.

Local Crafts and Culture:
In terms of supporting culture, our local guides are very enthusiastic about their national arts, history and ways of life. There will be several opportunities to visit cultural landmarks such as the Natural History Museum with its socialist mosaic façade, the 15th Century Elbasan Fortress and the artists' village of Voskopoja, just to name a few. Here we encourage donations and purchasing of local crafts which help to sustain and celebrate the lesser known, yet highly rich culture of Albania. There is also space in the itinerary dedicated to exploring local markets (Gjirokastra bazaar, Korca Bazaar, Kruja Bazaar) which is a great way of supporting the economy and giving visitors a real taste of life here.

Charity:
We always try to operate with the local and wider communities in mind and are conscious of our ability to help disadvantaged groups. We have fundraised within our company and with our partners to help children with learning disabilities in Albania. This has been really successful in providing school materials for a day care centre in the outskirts of the capital Tirana. This year we have also been involved in the organisation of Albanian Paralympic activities. By providing vehicles for the events, we helped people from around the country with different disabilities to participate in several Tirana schools.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

16 Reviews of Albania holidays, small group tour

4 out of 5 stars
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In depth story review

“As well as the trip being well organised and doing what it set out to achieve, it was actually all supplemented by Ed, our guide and what he did. The holiday really conveyed history, culture and landscape.”

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2019 by

The whole trip was so informative and interesting made more so by the most fantastic and knowledgeable guide. Read full review

Reviewed on 01 Oct 2019 by

An truly excellent and memorable tour with a great group. We knew little about beautiful Albania, but returned home having learnt so much, seen so much and experienced so much. Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Nov 2019 by

The most memorable part of the holiday was visiting Butrint National Park and the village of Voskopoja. Read full review

Reviewed on 12 Sep 2019 by

Lovely country and people. Read full review

Reviewed on 25 Jul 2019 by

the most memorable part of the holiday was the mountain villages and towns, wonderful icons, Roman excavations, swimming in Lake Ohrid and the Mediterranean Read full review

Reviewed on 02 May 2019 by

Very good. Read full review

Reviewed on 14 Sep 2018 by

One of the best holidays we've ever had! Read full review

Reviewed on 09 Jul 2018 by

The whole trip was fascinating. Everywhere we went in Albania was amazing. Some highlights were the farmhouse luncheon in the mountains, Blue Eye Spring, the archaeological sites... the lake resort at Podredec … to name a few. Read full review

Reviewed on 17 Oct 2018 by

Good...Overall the itinerary was fine but it could be enhanced. Read full review

Reviewed on 21 May 2018 by

Seeing a new country was the highlight. Read full review

Reviewed on 16 Sep 2017 by

Loved walking around the Spa town of Vrnjacka Banja in Serbia. Would liked to have stayed here overnight. Read full review

Reviewed on 12 Oct 2017 by

It was a berat--beautiful city Read full review

Reviewed on 25 Apr 2017 by

We loved Albania so it is hard to think of one memorable part but the visits to the Blue eye, Gjirokaster, Butrint & Berat stand out. Read full review

Reviewed on 19 Apr 2017 by

A brilliant experience. Fun, educational and eye-opening. Read full review

Reviewed on 16 Sep 2015 by

I feel that it supported local conservations in terms of restricting visitor numbers to archaeological sites, local museums. Read full review

Reviewed on 04 Jul 2015 by

Very enjoyable with some lovely memories Read full review

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