Start in Albania’s capital of Tirana, before starting your walking trip exploring the port city of Durres, complete with its Roman amphitheatre, before heading to the hills of Berat for Ottoman white-washed houses, historic centre and a working castle. Continue into the Albanian Riviera and the Bay of Vlore’s coastline. Take the ferry across the Vivari Channel to the Butrint National Park’s ruins, before exploring the hillside village of Gjirokastra and Kruja, home of Albanian national hero and military commander, Skanderbeg. Head into nature at Lake Shkodra on the border with Montenegro to see the rare Dalmatian pelican. If you’re feeling adventurous, travel into Albania’s Accursed Mountains for fairytale villages and thick forests, before ending across the border in Kosovo’s Prizren, where you can go wine-tasting and explore the food scene.

Key information

Destinations Destinations Balkans
Activity Activity Beach, Nature & Wildlife, Culture
Physical Level Physical Level Moderate
Season Season May - September

Suggested itinerary

Enjoy Albanian hospitality in Tirana

Enjoy Albanian hospitality in Tirana

Day 1 in Tirana

Tirana’s small size makes it a perfect place to explore in a day, but to truly get under its skin, try out its cafe culture for coffee, beer and pastries. If you’re lucky, a local will invite you for a rakija (plum brandy) and a chat.

Visit the Durres amphitheatre

Visit the Durres amphitheatre

Day 2 in Durres

The port town of Durres is home to Albania’s liveliest beach, but it is the town’s amphitheatre that is the main attraction. One of the Balkan’s most impressive surviving architecture, the amphitheatre was built in 100AD by Roman emperor Hadrian and could seat 20,000 spectators. Make sure to visit the onsite chapel.

Marvel at Berat – the town of a thousand windows

Marvel at Berat – the town of a thousand windows

Day 3 in Berat

Head up through the hills to Berat and you’ll notice the seemingly endless number of windows on the white Ottoman houses lining the way. Once there, stroll around the old town, get a bird’s eye view from Kala Castle and see the Bachelor’s Mosque in the city centre.

Laze on the Albanian Riviera’s beaches

Laze on the Albanian Riviera’s beaches

Day 4 in Albanian Riviera

Head to the Albanian Riviera for uncrowded shorelines, turquoise waters and the beauty of the Greek Islands without the price tag. Try the fishing village of Himara for its pebbled bay, exclusive Dhermi for its stunning mountain backdrop and the Bay of Vlore for beach-hopping.

Don't miss

Take a scenic drive on Llogora Pass

Take a scenic drive on Llogora Pass

Take the road from Dhermi to Orikum in the Albanian Riviera and you’ll drive through the Llogora Pass, 1,000m above the Ionian Sea in the Cika Mountains. The views are spectacular.

See ancient ruins at Butrint National Park

See ancient ruins at Butrint National Park

Day 5–6 in Butrint National Park

Found close to the beaches of the Albanian Riviera, Butrint National Park is one of the Balkans’ largest archaeological sites, with ruins from several different ethnic groups, including Greek, Roman and Venetians.

Experience village life in the Drino Valley

Experience village life in the Drino Valley

Day 7 in Gjirokastra and the Drino Valley

The Drino Valley in southern Albania is the perfect place to see traditional Albanian villages. Make sure to try the local Kallmet wine, check out the 6th-century Dhuvjan Monastery complex and visit the castle at hillside Gjirokastra.

See Albania’s national hero in Kruja

See Albania’s national hero in Kruja

Day 8 in Kruja

Gjergj Kastrioti, also known as Skanderbeg, was a military commander famous for resisting Turkish invaders in the 1400s. Skanderbeg was born in Kruja and made it his citadel. As soon as you reach Kruja, you’ll come face-to-face with an enormous statue of Skanderbeg and his mighty sword, before exploring the museum in his name.

Explore pretty Shkodra

Explore pretty Shkodra

Day 9–10 in Shkodra

Known to Albanians as the ‘city of bicycles’, Shkodra is a pleasant place to spend a couple of days pootling around. Look for the historic Rozafa Fortress for views over Lake Shkodra, visit its collection of quirky museums and enjoy the Old Town.

Take a trip into the Accursed Mountains

Take a trip into the Accursed Mountains

Day 11–12 in The Accursed Mountains

The Accursed Mountains (also known, less dramatically, as the Albanian Alps) feel a world away from the rest of Europe.

Stretching across northern Albania and into Kosovo and Montenegro, the range comprises no fewer than 19 peaks that reach higher than 2,400m, with Maja Jezercë standing as the second tallest mountain in Albania. The region offers some of the quietest hiking anywhere in Europe, and is widely offered by specialist walking and trekking companies.

Hikers will enjoy stunning views and quiet national parks, with highlights including the 30m Grunas Waterfall, in Theth National Park, which, when the sun is shining, will produce a rainbow on its surface. Experienced climbers can traverse the cliffside to locate the waterfall's spring.

Surrounded by alpine trees is Hrid Lake, also known as 'the lake of happiness.' Located along the famous 120-mile Peaks of the Balkans hiking trail and accessible from the town of Plav, it is a prime example of the many glacial lakes that have formed in the Accursed Mountains. The Valbona River, which winds its way through The Valbonë Valley National Park, is a popular kayaking spot as well as showcasing a wide variety of birds, trees and mammals. Nature lovers can spot golden eagles and look out for the rare chamois. The area is home to the largest population of grey wolves and brown bears in Europe.

Although the Accursed Mountains are sparsely populated, pretty stone villages—some dating back to the 15th century—are dotted across the range. Theth is a popular base for hikers and has a rich history – there still stands one of the last 'lock-in' towers, a place of safety for those targeted by ancient rivalries.

Don't miss

Take a ferry ride through the Accursed Mountains

Take a ferry ride through the Accursed Mountains

The Lake Koman ferry ride has been called one of the world’s great boat journeys. Lasting between 2-3 hours, this journey on Koman’s turquoise waters takes you through spectacular mountain scenery from Koman to Fierzë.

Explore cultural Kosovo in Prizren

Explore cultural Kosovo in Prizren

Day 13–15 in Prizren

Kosovo’s second city is its cultural heartland, packed with history, handicrafts and Kosovo’s best food. Try wine-tasting in the nearby Rahovec region, grilled meat kebabs in its restaurants and local Shar cheese.

Where to stay

Superior

Hotel Boutique Kotoni

Situated in the heart of Tirana's upmarket Blloku area, Hotel Boutique Kotoni offers stylish, air-conditioned suites, a 2-floor à-la-carte restaurant serving Albanian and international cuisine and a large terrace for al fresco dining.

Superior

Hotel Argjiro

A fully-restored Austro-Hungarian building in the historical centre of Gjirokaster, with fantastic views of the old bazaar. This 4* hotel features comfortable air-conditioned rooms, a stylish shared lounge and garden and a restaurant offering traditional and international cuisine.

Book this itinerary

This route booked with one of our specialist tour operators would cost from £3,043pp. Pricing varies by accommodation class, and can be tailored to suit your budget.

Pricing is typically inclusive of hotels, transfers, meals, and all guided excursions and activities.

Other itineraries you might like

Why Horizon Guides?

Impartial guidebooks

Impartial guidebooks

Our travel guides are written by the leading experts in their destinations. We never take payment for positive coverage so you can count on us for impartial travel advice.

Expert itineraries

Expert itineraries

Suggested itineraries and routes to help you scratch beneath the surface, avoid the tourist traps, and plan an authentic, responsible and enjoyable journey.

Specialist advice

Specialist advice

Get friendly, expert travel advice and custom itineraries from some of the world’s best tour operators, with no spam, pressure or commitment to book.