Her mountains have no roads and her beaches have no parking lots or walls. Albania’s rivers run wild with glacial blue water, and her air is fresh and fragrant with the smell of wildflowers and pine. If you are seeking a true escape from the hectic routine of modern life, where you can reconnect with your inner soul, the Grand Tour of Albania is just the experience for you. With the perfect balance of comfort and natural outdoor experiences, the Grand Tour will guide participants in all that Albania has to offer. From hiking in the pristine Albanian Alps to water sports in the lakes, rivers and sea of Albania’s abundant natural waters, to evenings filled with traditional culinary treasures from the local farms and wineries, to exploring UNESCO World Heritage Sites and culture, there is something for everyone who desires rejuvenation and the experience of a lifetime in Europe’s hidden gem; Albania!
General Trip Information
Our trips in Albania do not provide high level of difficulty, but every visitor should consider:
! Kindly keep all your clothes and personal belongings in a backpack, which can be easily transported on minivan.
BONUS: Trash Bag. This 7th piece of gear is essential to making sure that the trails you love stay beautiful for generations to come. A zip lock bag is a great option as well for keeping the trash you pick up along the trail separate from the rest of your gear.
We’re really flexible and none of our itineraries are written in stone, so if you have a particular interest you’d like to include, just let us know and we can almost always make it happen. Likewise, all adventure travel requires a certain amount of flexibility and we sometimes have to make minor changes to the activities because of weather and availability.
The lunch on day VI and XV it is not included and any extra drink except of water. You’ll probably feel like tipping your local guides at the end of a fabulous trip, though you won’t need to pull out your wallet every few minutes on your Albania Rafting Group adventure tour!
DAY I TIRANA-SHKODER (about 2 hours driving time)
Arrival in Tirana airport. Meeting with the local guide. Departure to Shkodra. Local fish lake lunch in Shiroke village and 2 hours of kayaking in Shkodra lake. Arrival in Shkodra and accommodation in the hotel. During the afternoon we will visit the Promenade of Shkodra and enjoy a traditional dinner.
DAY II SHKODER – KUKES (about 2 hours driving time)
Early Breakfast (6:00-7:00). Leaving to Koman. A spectacular ferry ride into the Albanian Fjords. Arrival at village Fjerze at 12:00. Drive to Valbona village and local lunch. Accommodation in a guest houses or camping. Hiking in beautiful Valbona Valley to Xhema Lake, Old Milling. Typical dinner.
Day III VALBONA – THETH (about 1 hour driving time)
Early Breakfast (5:30 – 6:30). Drive with a local minibus to Rragam village. There we get ready for the hike into the Albanian Alps. The pass is about 8 hours. The hike is long and sometimes tough, but anyone that’s reasonably fit can do it. Accommodation in a guesthouse or camping in Theth. Local lunch. Walking to Grunas waterfall, visit the Saint John’s Church and the Isolation Tower.
Day IV THETH –LEZHA (about ,35 hours driving time)
Breakfast (07.30-08.30) and departure with local minivan to Nderlyse. Visit of the stones basins and of the Blue Eye of Theth. Local picnic lunch. Back to Theth in the afternoon and departure to Lezha. Short stop in Qafe Thore. Dinner in Boge. Arrival in lezha late in the evening and accommodation in the hotel (3* Hotel).
DAY V: LEZHA – DURRES –BERAT (about 2,5 hours driving time)
The first destination is the city of Durrës founded in 627 B.C. as was one of the most important Greek City States and later Roman centre. The most notable tourist attraction in Durrës is the amphitheatre of the Roman Emperor Hadrian with 15,000 seats, the second biggest amphitheatre in the Balkans. After a visit to the amphitheatre and the archaeological museum, we will travel towards another UNESCO site. The town of Berat is well known for its unique ottoman style houses built around two hills facing each other with the castle on top and the river in between. We will visit the Onufri Museum, Berat Castle and the historical quarters of the city. Traditional dinner. Overnight in Berat (3* Hotel).
DAY VI: BERAT -SKRAPAR-BERAT (about 3,5 hours driving time)
Day 3 will be dedicated to an unique natural monument. We will head towards the famous Osumi Canyons in Skrapar for an unforgettable rafting trip. This trip will provide magnificent scenery as you float by the Canyon walls and will certainly make for a memorable experience. Eight waterfalls, a cathedral, the unspoiled nature, and the soothing sounds of running water combine to create a truly unique trip. The river trip lasts about 2.5—4 hours, and depending largely on the water level. Local lunch in Skrapar and wine tasting in a local winery on the way to Berat. Overnight in Berat (3* Hotel).
* Rafting is available February-June. For tours organized during June-November, it is available on a shorter trail canyon exploration (river hiking).
Optional trip: Mule Caravan Riding/ hiking in the holy mountain of Tomorr.
DAY VII: BERAT – APOLLONIA – VLORA (about 3,5 hours driving time)
We will resume the tour after breakfast towards Vlora and stop to visit the ancient town of Apollonia which was one of the most important cities in the Balkans where the Roman Emperor Augustus was educated. Than we will leave to Vlora, a beautiful coastal city which hosted the first Independent Albanian government, where we will have a fish based lunch. We will visit Karaburun Penisula with a speedboat and snorkel in the pristine beaches. Free dinner and accommodation in Vlora (3* Hotel).
DAY VIII: VLORA – ZVERNEC MONASTERY – BUTRINT (UNESCO) – SARANDA (about 4,5 hours driving time)
The first destination of day 5 is the Monastery of Zvernec which is situated in a beautiful natural small peninsula in Narta lagoon. Birdwatching in one of the most important sites in the country due to its amazing biodiversity. Then we will enjoy a beautiful drive through the Albanian Riviera towards Saranda. On the way we will have a local lunch. Very close to Saranda we will explore with kayak the UNESCO’s heritage site Butrint, Albania’s top archaeological attraction. After the visit to Butrint we will have dinner in Saranda and spend the night in the city. (Hotel 3*)
DAY IX – SARANDA – BLUE EYE – GJIROKASTRA (UNESCO) (about 3,5 hours driving time)
After breakfast we will head towards a spectacular natural monument called the Blue Eye which is an underground spring that creates a very distinct shape resembling a beautiful human eye. From there we will head for UNESCO’s town of Gjirokastra where we will visit the fortress, ethnographic museum which is also the childhood home of Albania’s infamous communist dictator Enver Hoxha. Overnight in a guest house in Peshtan village . (Hotel 3*)
DAY XI: PERMET (about 1 hour driving time)
(Thermal Bath & canyon of Lengarica/Rafting)
We will head to Përmet and depending on the time of the year we will go rafting in the Vjosa River which is Europe’s last wild river. We will also make a visit to the natural thermal baths of the Langarica Canyon (Vjosa River) and enjoy a great organic meal in one of the local business. Overnight in Përmet. (Hotel 3*)
DAY XII: ERSEKE – KORCA (about 4 hours driving time)
The day will start with our trip to Korça and several stops on the way to enjoy the beautiful natural sceneries. Lunch will be served in a local agro-tourism farm in Erseka. We will use the rest of the day to visit Korça, its impressive city center, traditional market and cathedral.
DAY XIII: KORCA – PRESPA LAKE (about 1 hour driving time)
After breakfast we will drive to Prespa Lake and take inflatable kayaks to reach the beautiful island of Maligrad which hosts the Church of Holy Mary. After a quick walk within the island we will get the kayaks to get back to Korça and enjoy a traditional dinner with traditional music (serenades). Overnight in Korça (Hotel 3*)
DAY XIV: KORCA – POGRADEC – ELBASAN – TIRANA (about 4 hours driving time)
The day will start with a visit of the Medieval Museum of Arts, the Mirahori Mosque which is one of the oldest in Albania and the Mbroje Church (14th century). We will continue to Pogradec and lake Ohrid. We will make a visit to the national park of Drilon and the beautiful villa where the dictator would spend his fishing holidays and have a local lunch. On our way back we will visit the castle of Elbasan and continue to Tirana for an overnight stay. Dinner in Tirana. (Hotel 3*)
DAY XV: TIRANA – AIRPORT
Breakfast. Visit of Tirana city. 20 years ago Albania’s capital used to regularly top the list of Europe’s underdeveloped cities. Decades of Stalinist rule left Tirana grey and grim, lacking in both infrastructure and services. The collapse of communism in 1992 required rapid changes for the City.
Considered one of the safest cities in Europe you will be able to spot remnants of its past and traces of the fast changes that it has gone through. We will visit the main sites like the Ethem Bey Mosque, clock tower, Scanderbeg Square, Orthodox Church and the BUNK'ART 2. BUNK'ART 2 is the first major video museum exhibition dedicated to the victims of communist terror. Optional free lunch. Departure to the airport.