This eight-day private tour takes you through Southern Albania and into Northern Macedonia to visit the famous Lake Ohrid. You'll explore three UNESCO World Heritage cities, as well as the famous archaeological parks of Butrint, Antigonea, and Apollonia. Along the way you'll enjoy spectacular mountain scenery, conquer mountain passes, soak in thermal baths, and relax for two nights on the Ionian Sea.

Highlights

  • Dip into North Macedonia to stay a night at the UNESCO World Heritage City of Ohrid
  • Drive the impressive road from Korça to Përmet, with incredible views across the Pindus Mountains
  • Enjoy two nights relaxing on the Albanian Riviera
  • Visit the famous archaeological parks of Butrint, Antigonea, and Apollonia
  • Taste wine at one of Albania's best vineyards

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Tirana - Drive to Lake Ohrid Ohrid
Day 2 Drive Over Galicica Pass to Korça Korca
Day 3 Soak in Hot Springs in Benjë - Drive to Përmet Përmet
Day 4 Visit the Ancient Remains of Antigonea - Drive to Gjirokastra Gjirokastra
Day 5 Visit the Ancient Ruins of Butrint - Drive the Coast to Qeparo Qeparo
Day 6 Swim in the Turquoise Waters of Seaside Qeparo Qeparo
Day 7 Go Wine Tasting in Berat Berat
Day 8 Return to Tirana - Goodbye, Albania!  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Tirana - Drive to Lake Ohrid

Tirana, Albania
Tirana, Albania

Welcome to Albania! In the morning, your driver will meet you at your hotel. If you haven’t already explored the capital city of Tirana, enjoy a walking tour around Skanderbeg Square and the center of town. Even if you're not a museum person, the House of Leaves, which explores the role of the feared Sigurimi security police during the Communist dictatorship, is highly recommended.

By early afternoon, you'll leave Tirana and make your way to the picturesque lakeside town of Ohrid. In Ohrid you’ll stay at a small hotel in the charming Old Town. Be sure to take a boat trip at sunset, which is certainly the best time to see the city from the lake.

Total driving time (not including stops at the border): 2 hours 45 minutes

Day 2: Drive Over Galicica Pass to Korça

Korça's Bazaar
Korça's Bazaar

In the morning, spend some time exploring the charming, UNESCO World Heritage City of Ohrid. You can walk with a local guide or on your own, but don't forget the famous views of St. John Church on the lake's shores.

After lunch, your guide will drive you over the stunning Galicica Pass between lakes Ohrid and Prespa before crossing back into Albania. From here, it’s a scenic drive through rural countryside to the small city of Korça. Expect cobbled streets, crumbling pre-war villas, and a lively bazaar. Korça is also home to the National Museum of Medieval Arts, which features some truly beautiful works by the renowned 16th-century artist Onufri.

Total driving time (not including border stops): 2 hours

Day 3: Soak in Hot Springs in Benjë - Drive to Përmet

Përmet along the Vjosë  River, one of Europe's last
The City of Përmet Along the Vjosë River, One of Europe's Last "Wild" Rivers

After breakfast, you'll leave the buzzy city center of Korça and travel to Përmet, a sleepy town in Southern Albania. The driving route follows the curvy and scenic SH75 roadway. Although bumpy in places, the scenery is jaw-dropping, offering views across the Pindus Mountains into Greece.

Along the way, you can stop for lunch and a soak in the warm sulphur springs at Benjë. From here it’s an easy 20-minute drive into town. After showering away the sulphur smell, you'll meet your guide to sip raki on the main square. Përmet is famous for the quality of its rakis, a sweetened alcoholic drink often used as an aperitif in the Balkan countries.

The evening is yours to enjoy a dinner in Përmet's city center, and to stroll its quiet streets along the Vjosë River.

Total driving time: 3 hours 20 minutes

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Day 4: Visit the Ancient Remains of Antigonea - Drive to Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra and its Impressive Old Stone Houses
Gjirokastra and its Impressive Old Stone Houses

Enjoy your breakfast in the morning before meeting your guide and preparing for today's drive. You'll continue west, conquering the scenic Këlcyrë Pass and joining the main highway running south to Greece. Before reaching Gjirokastra, you'll have time to visit the ancient remains of Antigonea, built by King Pyrrhus and then destroyed by the Romans.

After arriving in Gjirokastra, you’ll settle into your hotel in the Old Town near the main bazaar. Your guide can lead you on a tour through the city. Be prepared for some steep climbs, particularly to reach the brooding castle built by Ali Pasha of Lord Byron back in the late 1700s.

Total driving time: 2 hours

Day 5: Visit the Ancient Ruins of Butrint - Drive the Coast to Qeparo

Adriatic Sea Coastline in Saranda
Adriatic Sea Coastline in Saranda

Today you'll enjoy a change of scenery. You'll start by crossing the mountains that separate inland Albania from the coast. After a coffee stop at the famous Blue Eye Spring, you'll emerge on the Albanian Riviera south of the popular beachside city of Saranda.

The first stop of the drive is the UNESCO-protected archaeological park of Butrint where you'll have about two hours to explore the ruins. After breaking for lunch in Saranda, your guide will head north along the spectacular seaside road to the peaceful village of Qeparo, which is just south of Porto Palermo and Himarë.

Total driving time: 3 hours

Day 6: Swim in the Turquoise Waters of Seaside Qeparo

The turquoise waters of the Albanian Riviera.
The Turquoise Waters of the Albanian Riviera

After so many days of driving, enjoy a day off to simply soak in the scenes of the Albanian Riviera. Relax at the beach, where you can rent sun beds and umbrellas while admiring the hue of the Ionian Sea. The turquoise waters rival those of neighboring Greece, but without the crowds of tourists.

The town of Qeparo is divided into two parts: old town and new town. If you have itchy feet, you can drive up to Old Qeparo for lunch in a delicious and traditional village taverna. And if you need a bigger break from the beach, you can also visit Ali Pasha’s castle at nearby Porto Palermo.

Day 7: Go Wine Tasting in Berat

Ottoman Houses in Berat's Ancient Citadel
Ottoman Houses in Berat's Ancient Citadel

Today your guide will take you north over the dramatic 3,300-foot (1,000 m) Llogora Pass, which descends down into the scenic Bay of Vlorë. You won’t stop in Vlorë itself, but rather you'll make your way to the archaeological park at Apollonia where you can spend some time exploring.

From here, your guide will drive you to the third and final UNESCO World Heritage City, Berat. If you're a wine lover, just before the city of Berat are the gates of Çobo Wines, one of Albania’s best winemakers. Your guide can arrange a tasting, if you wish.

Total driving time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Day 8: Return to Tirana - Goodbye, Albania!

Skanderbeg Square at Sundown
Skanderbeg Square at Sundown

Enjoy one final breakfast in the quaint town of Berat. Afterward, you'll return to Tirana to catch your flight home, or to continue to your next destination. Both Tirana's city center or airport are about two hours away by car.