Albania Explorer Tour

Albania Explorer Tour a 9 day Small Group Tour.

Much maligned, even Michael Palin found it hard to say a good word about Tirana, Albania is a revelation.

Rich in Roman archaeological and Ottoman architectural sites, maintaining a wild and rugged natural landscape and a beautiful coastline, there’s an honesty to Albania lost in other more touristed Mediterranean countries.



Albania makes a good case as an intriguing and quirky travel experience not too far from other major European destinations.

As a geographical and cultural entity Albania has often been enigmatic and somewhat misunderstood. This ancient land offers something increasingly rare in Europe these days – a glance into a culture that is all its own.

Our 9 day small group tour focuses on the cultural and historic aspects of the country but you will also find beautiful pristine beaches and dramatic mountain citadels.

After exploring Albania, you may wish to extend your stay and make a foray into North Macedonia on our extension and sample the delights of Lake Ohrid and old Skopje.

Tour ratings.

  • Fitness
  • Off the beaten track
  • Culture 
  • History 
  • Wildlife 

Tour pace


Tour style


Relaxed Pace

Relaxed tours are easy paced with plenty of leisure time built in. The tour will in all probability still be off the beaten track, with the occasional early start and there may still be occasional long drives. In general on a relaxed pace tour you can enjoy easy-going activities and experiences with opportunities to absorb the sights and immerse yourself in the local surroundings.

Moderate Pace

Moderate pace tours are ideal if you want a tour experience that combines activities and experiences with some time to relax. Typically you will be active and busy for part of the day but then also have time to rest and recharge your batteries. In general on a moderate paced tour there may be some long journeys involved but the tour is not an expedition or a road trip. On a moderate paced tour it will be necessary to have some early starts.

Busy Pace

A busy paced tour means that you can expect to be doing, seeing or experiencing something new almost every day, and moving on from place to place to pack in as much as possible. There may be early starts, long journeys and tiring days along the way, but you’ll return home feeling you’ve really experienced as much as you possibly could.

Pioneer Class Tours

On our Pioneer tours, you will be amongst an elite group of intrepid travellers and some of the first to explore a country that few have been privileged enough to discover. Of course, exploring such areas of the world will come with its challenges; it may mean several nights camping, long journeys by 4WD and the need to maintain a degree of flexibility for when carefully laid plans change. These are challenging tours in countries and areas that may have poor infrastructure, high levels of poverty and illiteracy. This can translate in to low standards in hotels, bad roads and poor driving standards among other issues. We try and smooth out as much of these issues as we can but you should be prepared to experience the bad with the good.

Traveller Class Tours

Our Traveller itineraries are at the core of our programme. These journeys are designed for travellers who still want to discover a land away from the tourist crowds but expect minimum standards. Accommodation will be primarily hotel based, although you could still find yourself camping, or the guest of a local family. Depending on the destination and itinerary, you’ll likely be travelling in a private vehicle, with occasional use of public transport. This is adventure travel with some of the rough edges smoothed out.


(Approximate driving time 30 mins)

Arrive in Tirana and transfer to hotel accommodation. Depending upon schedule there may be time to explore the city. Overnight Hotel Austria or similar.


(Approximate driving time: three-hours)

Leaving Tirana, we head to Shkoder, one of the oldest cities in the Balkans, and once a capital of the Illyrian state. After visiting the castle there’s time explore on foot, taking in the cathedral and mosque. We have lunch in Shkoder before travelling to Kruje, historically important for its role in resistance to the Ottoman occupation. We’ll see the Skanderbeg Museum and possibly the old bazaar. Overnight Hotel Panorama. (BL)

(Approximate driving time: two-hours)

This morning we drive to the coastal city of Durres, Albania’s second largest. We explore the Roman amphitheatre and the archaeological museum before continuing to Berat. Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Berat’s characteristic white Ottoman houses cling to the hillside. We visit the citadel which contains numerous churches and mosques together with an interesting museum. Overnight Hotel Mangalemi or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: three-and-a-half-hours)

Today we visit Ardenice Monastery, a 13th century Byzantine site locally revered as the wedding venue for national hero, Skanderbeg, leader of the resistance against the Ottomans. From here we drive to the atmospheric Roman ruins of Apollonia, once a significant city, set on a remote hillside. Later we travel to Vlora on the coast for a city tour before heading to Llogara National Park.  From over 1,000 metres above sea level, tonight’s traditional forest accommodation overlooks white sandy beaches and turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea. Overnight Hotel Alpin or similar. (BL)

(Approximate driving time: five-and-a-half-hours)

After breakfast, we continue to the south of Albania, via some picturesque villages and the seaside town of Saranda, to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint, Albania’s most important archaeological site. Dating from the 7th century BC, artefacts indicate early Greek origins, later Romanisation, ultimately Venetian and Ottoman occupation. Among an attractive forested site surrounded by water we have time to explore the impressive acropolis, basilica and palace. After lunch we drive to Gjirokastra, stopping en route at the natural springs of Blue Eye, where water surges from a source more than 50 metres deep amid the Bistrica river. On arrival in Gjirokastra there’s a traditional dinner. Overnight Hotel Gjirokastra or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: two-and-a-half-hours)

This morning we explore Gjirokaster’s Old Town, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its Ottoman architecture. There’s time to wander the streets and visit the imposing citadel before seeing the castle and old bazaar. Afterwards we drive along a scenic route to the small town of Permet, continuing to the village of Benja, noting the nearby 19th century Ottoman bridge across the Langarica river, before relaxing in the village’s beautiful thermal pools. Overnight Hotel Alvero or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: four-hours)

Today a winding journey through the mountains reveals wonderful panoramic views. We should arrive in Korca with some time to explore the town. Overnight Hotel Regency or similar. (BD)

(Approximate driving time: three-and-a-half-hours)

This morning we continue to the mountain village of Voskopoje, in the 18th century a cultural and commercial centre for Aromanian people. The town has interesting Romanesque architecture and several Orthodox churches featuring some of the best 18th century frescoes in southern Europe. Afterwards we continue to Tirana for a city tour of Albania’s capital. Highlights include Skanderbeg Square, dedicated to Albania’s national hero, and the Mosque of Ethem Bey, one of the oldest buildings in Tirana. Later we explore more recent history, calling in at Bunk Art 2, a former nuclear bunker, now a museum representing the days of the Albania’s communist regime. Overnight Hotel Austria. (BD)

(approx. driving time 30 mins)

Transfer to the airport for your departure (B)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 3.5 hours)

Today is the normal departure day for the Albania Explorer tour. For those taking the extension, after breakfast transfer to Ohrid in North Macedonia.  This afternoon take a tour of Ohrid including the Church St. Sofia, built between the 11th and 14th centuries. Continue the walking tour passing “St. Clement”, a classic Orthodox Byzantine church, dominating the Old Town. St. John at Kaneo, stands alone on a small peninsula which juts out into the spectacular lake at the western end of the Old Town, providing memorable views of the lake and the surrounding mountains. Also visit the old bazaar. If time allows you may be able to enjoy some leisure time for a stroll on the shores of the lake. Overnight in a central hotel in Ohrid (B)

(Approx. overall driving time today is 3.5 hours)

After breakfast we transfer towards Skopje stopping first in Mavrovo National Park. We will take a short walk to enjoy the park and also visit the Monastery of Saint Jovan Bigorski dating from the 16th Century. Upon reaching Skopje any remaining time today will be at leisure. Overnight in a central hotel in Skopje (B)

This morning we explore the key sites of the old city of Skopje including the atmospheric Turkish bazaar. This afternoon we travel to the peaceful nearby Matka Valley where we enjoy a boat ride to enjoy views of the canyon. Overnight central hotel in Skopje (B)

Transfer to the airport for your onward journey (B)

Dates & Price.

Tour Notes

This group tour operates subject to a minimum group size of 2 travellers.

Single Supplement from £125

Return flights from London to Tirana start at £245. Contact us for a quotation.

We know that for many of our destinations flying cannot be avoided. But we believe that for some of our tours, taking the train is a practical, affordable and most of all a very enjoyable alternative. Even flying in just one direction will have a very positive benefit on the environment. To compare the emissions for your next trip take a look at this easy to use emissions calculator –

One-way fares from London to Tirana by train and ferry or vice versa start at £200.

Please note that the journey will normally involve an overnight stop in Milan. The cost of accommodation is not included. We can book a wide choice of hotels and will be pleased to provide further details.

For a quote to travel from a European city other than London please contact us. We will advise you of the options, including routes and fares.

Contact us for further details about how we can help you plan the perfect environmentally friendly addition to your holiday. As well as train tickets, we can arrange stopovers along the way, including hotels and guided tours.

Kindly note that if you do not wish to travel as part of a group, this tour can also be arranged on a private basis. Prices start at £1395 per person based on 2 people travelling and sharing a room. Larger private groups or a private solo tour can be also arranged on request – contact us for details.

If you wish to have your own Albania experience tailored to your requirements please get in touch with Mark Huggins who will be pleased to design your perfect tour.

After travelling Albania, continue your exploration of the Balkans with a foray into newly renamed North Macedonia. There is plenty to impress the visitor, not least spectacular Lake Ohrid, the old town of Skopje and Mavrovo National Park. Prices start from £595 per person based on 2 people travelling and sharing a room. Single supplement on the extension from £95.

Mapped itinerary.

Want to see details of your itinerary on a map?

Download PDF.

Download the full tour dossier for this trip here.

For expert advice get in touch now with our passionate,
well-travelled team.

+44(0) 191 296 2674 from THE UK
1-800-614-2967 from THE US & CANADA
1-300-956-415 from AUSTRALIA

Tour inclusions.

  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Transport throughout
  • All accommodation
  • Daily breakfast (B), plus lunch (L) and dinner (D) as shown in the itinerary
  • Services of English speaking guide – small groups will be driver/guide
  • Entrance fees for sites listed as part of the itinerary

Tour exclusions.

  • International flights
  • Any airport taxes
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visas
  • Drinks
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tips (discretionary)

Great guide who was extremely knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. We saw a lot of Albania and the destinations were varied incorporating the landscape and nature, history and art. A great balance.

Caroline Preece, UK

We were extremely impressed with the level of accommodation throughout – every hotel just seemed to get better and better! Fantastic itineraries, great staff, flexibility and amazing quality for a fair price.

Veronica Hinchliffe, UK

Everything efficiently arranged, both in the UK and in Albania. Well chosen hotels, a good itinerary and plenty of interest throughout. Some of the mountain roads were difficult, our driver coped with them admirably.

Anonymous, UK

Good service, good trip. Well organised and good value for money.

Anonymous, South Africa