Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo & Serbia
25 May - 1 June 2019
Round off your odyssey in the former Yugoslavia with this tour visiting some lesser-known parts of the Balkans.
Stay in Tirana, the capital of Albania, which is gradually emerging from its Communist funk into a vibrant, fascinating city. Beautiful Lake Ohrid in Macedonia is a tranquil interlude. Skopje, also in Macedonia, is steeped in Byzantine and Ottoman history. Learn about the history of Kosovo in Prizen. Finally, another day to take in some more of Belgrade.
A trip for the adventurous – with all the best of the region included for you to enjoy.
SATURDAY 25 MAY 2019 HERCEG NOVI – TIRANA B,L
Depart Montenegro to drive to Albania. Stop in the medieval town of Kruë. Explore the castle, which was the centre of Albanian resistance against the Ottoman Turks. Enjoy dramatic views across the valley to the sparkling Adriatic Sea in the distance. Wander through the narrow streets of the Old Bazaar, which has a wonderful selection of authentic antiques and souvenirs You can buy traditional Albanian costumes, books, musical instruments and many items from the Communist days.
Have lunch in Krujë before continuing on to Tirana, now a colourful buzzing city. Start learning about Albania at the National History Museum that covers the times of ancient Illyria through to the post-Communist era. Get your head around contemporary art in a museum converted from a Cold War bunker, which was built for Albania's political elite in the 1970s and remained a secret for much of its existence. Then discover the Block Area of Tirana, now the city’s hippest and most vibrant district.
Free time for dinner on your own.
SUNDAY 26 MAY 2019 TIRANA B,L,D
Today we drive to Berat, a 2,400 year old town perched on steep slopes overlooking the river with the icy peak of Mount Tomorr in the distance. Visit the ancient castle and wander through the Kala neighbourhood inside the castle's walls where people still live. If you walk around here for long enough you'll invariably stumble into someone's courtyard thinking it's a church or ruin (though no one seems to mind). Admire churches of many denominations. The town is known as the City of the Floating Windows, for its collection of white Ottoman houses tumbling down the steep hill below the castle.
Enjoy lunch in Berat and have some free time for your own exploration before returning to Tirana for dinner at the hotel.
MONDAY 27 MAY 2019 TIRANA – ORHID B,L,D
Today we nip across the border to the Macedonian side of beautiful Lake Ohrid. Visit St Naum Church and Monastery, flanked by lovely sandy beaches. Wander through the tranquil gardens and take in views of the lake from the monastery walls. Have a local lunch and then take a short boat trip to the Springs of St Naum, which you can see bubbling up from the lake bed as the water is so clear. Discover the remains of a pre-historic settlement.
At the end of the day drive on to the town of Ohrid to your hotel. Dinner tonight at a city restaurant.
TUESDAY 28 MAY 2019 OHRID – SKOPJE B,L
This morning take a guided tour of Ohrid’s atmospheric old quarter that cascades down a hill. It is crammed with beautiful churches (we won’t visit them all – just the best two!) and topped by the bones of a medieval castle. The town’s cobbled streets are flanked by traditional restaurants and lakeside cafes. Admire Byzantine icons displayed in a small museum.
Imagine yourself in the 2,000 year old amphitheatre watching gladiator fights! Lunch today is in the old town with lake views.
Drive on to Skopje and take a walking tour that includes the old Turkish bazaar, the 15th century Stone Bridge and Tvrdina Kale Fortress, Skopje's guardian since the fifth century.
Seek out a quaint restaurant for dinner on your own tonight.
WEDNESDAY 29 MAY 2019 PRIZEN (KOSOVO) – SKOPJE B,D
Today drive over to Kosovo. One cannot ignore the past and a visit to the Prekaz War Memorial will serve to remind you of the terrible events in Kosovo such a short time ago. Arrive in Prizen, Kosovo’s second largest town, for a brief tour of the old city before having free time to explore on your own and have lunch.
Drive to Gjakova to visit Kosovo’s oldest bazaar dating from the Ottoman Empire and now being reconstructed. You will have time to discover the local arts and crafts in the small wooden shops around the bazaar. On the way back to Skopje see the 14th century Decani Monastery situated in a picturesque valley surrounded by mountains and forests.
Dinner will be at the Skopje hotel restaurant tonight.
THURSDAY 30 MAY 2019 SKOPJE – BELGRADE B
Today fly to Belgrade. The rest of the day and evening day are at leisure.
FRIDAY 31 MAY 2019 BELGRADE – AUSTRALIA B
Depart for Australia travelling via Doha arriving on 1 June.