Albania’ cuisine is rich and varied with a notable influence from Ottoman cuisine which has influenced many of the cuisines in the Balkans particularly that of Turkey and Greece which are probably better known than the rest. Albanian cuisine has many similarities to them , however it varies from the dry style of the Turkish and Greek cuisine, due to the fact that it has many dishes in the forms of casseroles. Similar to Greek cuisine it does away with middle eastern strong spices, substituting them with Mediterranean herbs, making the tastes more subtle and European.
Duration: 10 days - 9 nights
Meet at airport and transfer to Tirana where we take a driven tour of the capital’s major attractions including the colorful buildings and we will visit the National Historic Museum in Tirana offering an in depth introduction to Albanian history from prehistory to present day. Welcome dinner is a traditional affair at one of the traditional restaurants in town, with a rustic setting and a first taste of Albania’s culinary delights. The cuisine of mid-Albania has strong Ottoman influences and therefore meats on charcoal grill, as well as grilled vegetables and yogurt sauces prevail. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast drive to Shkodra the most important city in North Albania, set in a beautiful plateau in front of the largest lake in the Balkans named after the town, and with the Albanian Alps as a backdrop we will visit the castle with spectacular views all around. We will continue to Shkodra Lake and we have lunch Carp baked in the oven Shkodra style. For those not so keen on carp, there are plenty of other choices. Afterwards we continue to Shkodra a town with Italian and Austrian architectural influences .We will have such a delicious delicacy for our dinner at one of the best traditional restaurant.
After breakfast we depart to Kruja - the centre of Albanian resistance against the Turks under our National Hero Scanderbeg. He kept them from crossing into Western Europe for 25 years, thus earning the title “Protector of Christianity” given by the Pope. We will visit some interesting sites such us the castle with its rich Scanderbeg and Ethnographic museums. After visits a traditional Albanian lunch with several specialties of the area at a restaurant in the castle including: lamb and potatoes baked in an earth ware pot, raisin rice and meat dessert, a unique desert of this region. Afterwards we continue to Durres for special dinner and for overnight.
After breakfast drive to Berat - a UNESCO town for its wonderful architecture where houses look as they were built on each other’s backs. Just before arriving we stop at Cobo winery to taste one of the best Albanian wines with some finger food specialties.Here we visit the inhabited castle where many families still live within its walls, several small churches from the 15th century and the uniquely beautiful St.Mary’s church turned into Onufri museum, in honor of this great Albanian Icon master painter of the 16th century. Lunch in a traditional restaurant in Berat castle run by a family living in the castle, where home cooking will be experienced . After lunch free to explore further this wonderful town. Traditional dinner with Berat specialties’ at Mangalemi and overnight will be at a traditional house in the old quarter turned small hotel. A unique experience.
After breakfast, depart for Vlora. On the way we stop at the Monastery of Ardenica, supposed to have been built in the middle ages in the 15th century as seen in one of its stones. However the first building belongs to the beginning of XVIII century. Today inside the church you can admire icon paintings of 1743-1745, by Albanian artists such as Konstandin and Athanos Zografi, as well as Konstandin Shpataraku. The Albanian National Hero Scanderbeg was married at the chapel of this church. Afterwards proceed to the ancient city of Apollonia situated on the famous Via Egnatia - one of the most important cities in Roman times. The Roman Emperor Augustus Octavian studied here. A characteristic lunch of the Muzeqe region with small hens baked in the oven with rice will be had in traditional village resturant. After lunch a visit of the site and continue to Vlora for overnight. Dinner will be a fresh seafood specialty affair in a local restaurant.
After an early breakfast we depart for Saranda. Drive on the spectacular Albanian Riviera looking down at the Ionian Sea. Breathtaking views await us at the Llogara pass - 1000 m above sea level where we stop in a panoramic restaurant to sample the delicious sheep’s yogurt as a local delicacy. We continue on to Saranda where a wonderful seafood lunch with, fish carpaccio, and fresh fish grilled awaits us at Ksamil, immediately on the beach in front of turquoise waters at a seaside Restaurant run by a dedicated family. Afterwards we proceed visit the ancient city of Butrint a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was first settled by Greek colonists and was continuously inhabited for centuries. It is considered the most important archeological site in Albania and the monuments it unveils in a beautiful peninsula among dense vegetation, are a live testimony of this. After visits return to Saranda, check in and relax at the hotel. Dinner will be on the patio of local restaurant by the sea where we enjoy a delicious fish dinner while the aroma of the sea caresses our nostrils. Overnight in Saranda
After breakfast drive to Gjirokastra a museum town. On the way a quick visit at the interesting Blue Eye natural spring an amazing spring in the shape of a deep blue eye. Afterwards continue to Gjirokastra a UNESCO World Heritage site for it architechture of stone, and also one of the most acclaimed culinary towns of south Albania. Here we visit the Castle which is used as the venue for the National Festival of Folk Song and Dance and has an Arms Museum with weapons from WWI. Next we visit the Ethnographic Museum which is also the house the Albanian dictator was born in and the Zekati family house, probably the most beautiful and famous house in Gjirokastra. Lunch at one of the town’s traditional restaurants with specialties such us; pasha qofte soup, kukurec, qumeshtor etj. After lunch proceed to permet through the spectacular gorge of Kelcyra on the banks of vjosa river. Permet is one fo Albania’s well known regions for its delicious cousine with some unique delicacies such us tomato jam, which we will be able to sample at a traditional restaurant. Overnight in Permet.
After breakfast drive to Korca one of the most important towns of South East Albania and a well known culinary town. The path takes us through spectacular landscapes with spectacular nature with gorges, mountains and river valleys offering a truly fulfilling experience. Lunch in the traditional family restaurant in Boboshtica just before reaching Korca. After lunch we visit the Museum of Medieval Arts and the Mosque of Mirahori one of the oldest in the country. Dinner wil be in a uniquely conceived restaurant which in its dinning room houses a large collection of all kinds of items from Albania’s 50 years of communism. Overnight in Korca
After breakfast continue any Korca visits not completed the day before and then drive to Pogradec on the shores of Lake Ohrid, where we will visit the Drilon area where the dictator used to have its fishing villa. Lunch in family restaurant to enjoy unique Koran fish a rare fish of the trout and salmon family, found only in this Lake. Visit at Drilon where the old fishing villa of the dictator is situated. Departure for Elbasan, visit at the castle where a stop for refreshments. In Tirana we will have a farewell fine gourmet dinner at one of the best restaurants in Tirana. Overnight in Tirana.
After breakfast, free to explore until time of transfer to Airport. End of our services
We are now on our way back to the uk and I wanted to let you know what a wonderful time we had. The entire trip was excellent and the choice of restaurants was great and itinerary was well thought out. The country is beautiful and drive across the Albanian riviera was spectacular. We really liked Berati and room in the hotel in Gjirokaster was very good. Please pass on my thanks to Klodian as well. He is an excellent guide and a very safe driver. He was knowledgeable and funny in equal measures and we really enjoyed our conversations with him. His recommendations for food and wine were always spot on. He was always ready to help and he really made the trip great. Thanks for organizing everything. We do hope to visit Albania again.