This scenic 9-day tour starts and ends in the bustling city of Tirana, guiding you through Southern Albania and into Macedonia to visit the famous Lake Ohrid. You'll explore three UNESCO World Heritage cities, as well as discover ancient ruins at the archaeological parks of Butrint, Antigonea, and Apollonia. Along the way you'll enjoy spectacular alpine scenery, conquer mountain passes, soak in thermal baths, and relax along the Albanian Riviera.

Highlights

  • Dip into Macedonia to stay a night at the UNESCO World Heritage City of Ohrid
  • Drive the road from Korça to Përmet, with incredible views across the Pindus Mountains
  • Enjoy a night relaxing on the Albanian Riviera
  • Visit the famous archaeological parks of Butrint, Antigonea, and Apollonia
  • Soak in the mineral hot springs in Benjë

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Walking Tour in Tirana - Transfer 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 Explore the UNESCO Hillside Town of Gjirokastra Gjirokastra
Day 6 Visit the Ancient Ruins of Butrint - Drive to the Albanian Riviera Qeparo
Day 7 Drive the Scenic Llogora Pass From Qeparo to Berat Berat
Day 8 Return to Tirana - Experience an Innovative Traditional Meal Tirana
Day 9 Depart Tirana  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Walking Tour in Tirana - Transfer to Lake Ohrid

Tirana at Dusk
Tirana at Dusk

Welcome to Albania!

Your guide will meet you for a walking tour of Albania's buzzy capital city, Tirana. You'll begin around Skanderbeg Square and the city center, where you'll see popular sites like the 18th-century Tanner's Bridge and Rinia Park. Enjoy a quick lunch before leaving the city, stopping at the bizarre and impressive secret nuclear bunker on the outskirts of town, Bunk’Art.

Next, your driver will take you to the picturesque lakeside town of Ohrid in Macedonia, following scenic roads and stopping for coffee along the way. In Ohrid you’ll stay at a small hotel in the charming Old Town. Settle into your accommodation and meet your guide for a welcome meal in the evening. If time allows, you can take a boat trip at sunset, which is certainly the best time to see the city from the lake.

Day 2: Drive Over Galicica Pass to Korça

Korca's Charming City Center
Korca's Charming City Center

In the morning, spend some time exploring the charming, UNESCO World Heritage City of Ohrid with a local, Macedonian guide. You'll particularly enjoy the famous views of St. John Church on the lake's shores. You can also see Samuel's Fortress and the Ancient Theater of Ohrid, a Greek amphitheater dating back to 200 BCE.

You'll then meet you driver to make your way over the stunning Galicica Pass between lakes Ohrid and Prespa. As you continue your route, you'll stop for lunch. With full stomachs, you'll enjoy the rural countryside as you twist and turn towards 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.

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

The Vjosa River (One of Europe's Last
The Vjosa River (One of Europe's Last "Wild" Rivers) and the Mountain Peaks in the Permet District

After breakfast, spend some time exploring the picturesque city of Korça. Before lunch, you'll travel to Përmet, a sleepy town in Southern Albania. The route follows an incredibly curvy and scenic roadway, one of the most beautiful in all of Albania. Although bumpy in places, the scenery is jaw-dropping, offering views across the Pindus Mountains into Greece.

Before reaching Përmet, you'll stop for lunch and to soak in the warm sulphur springs in Benjë. After getting settled into your accommodation and freshening up, you can 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 center and to stroll its quiet streets along the Vjosë River.

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

The Clock Tower at the Castle of Gjirokaster
The Clock Tower at the Castle of Gjirokaster

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.

In the evening, join your guide for a sunset drink in the main square. Then head to dinner at a local's favorite, Kujtimi, which seemingly hasn’t changed since the fall of Communism.

Day 5: Explore the UNESCO Hillside Town of Gjirokastra

The Souvenir Shops of Gjirokaster, Albania
The Souvenir Shops of Gjirokaster, Albania

After a leisurely breakfast, relax at your hotel before meeting your guide to explore the charming streets of Gjirokastra. Today is yours to meander through the hilly, UNESCO town at your own pace. Stop in the Gjirokaster Museum or the Ethnographic Museum to learn more about the region's history. Then see it first hand at sites like The Cold War Tunnel or the many historical houses, like the Skenduli House and the Zekate House. 

End your day with sunset views at the Castle of Gjirokastra. You'll also enjoy views of the town and its many Ottoman houses, as well as the surrounding mountain range. Freshen up before heading to dinner in the old town. Consider the traditional restaurant Odaja, popular with both tourists and locals alike.

Day 6: Visit the Ancient Ruins of Butrint - Drive to the Albanian Riviera

Driving the Albanian Riviera near Butrint
Driving the Albanian Riviera near Butrint

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.

Day 7: Drive the Scenic Llogora Pass From Qeparo to Berat

The Berat Citadel, Albania
The Berat Citadel, Albania

Wake early to grab breakfast and spend your final hours in Qeparo at the beach. Your drive today 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 the ruins.

From here, your guide will drive you to the third and final UNESCO World Heritage City of the trip, Berat. After settling into your hotel, enjoy a stroll through the main pedestrian boulevard to catch the buzz of Berat's promenade where locals convene each evening.

For dinner, head up to the citadel to eat at Koço’s, a popular restaurant serving excellent traditional Albanian food. Koço himself is a bit of a local legend, as is his wife and daughter.

Day 8: Return to Tirana - Experience an Innovative Traditional Meal

Riverside Town of Berat
Riverside Town of Berat

After breakfast, enjoy the morning exploring the streets of Berat before you departure. Your guide will meet you for the drive back to Tirana. After settling into your final accommodation of the trip, enjoy the rest of the day to stroll about Tirana's busy streets.

In the evening, you'll meet your guide for a farewell meal at Restaurant Mullixhiu. Chef Bledar Kola, the mastermind behind Mullixhiu's menu, is internationally renowned for his innovative take on traditional Albanian cuisine. After dinner, meander through Skanderbeg Square and absorb the Albanian charm one last time.

Day 9: Depart Tirana

Tirana, Albania
Tirana, Albania

It's time to say goodbye to beautiful Albania. Enjoy one last breakfast at your hotel before leaving for the airport. Your driver will take you in time to catch your flight home, or onto your next destination.