Small Group Discoveries

+ Meet the director of the Shkodra National Theater and tour the workshop where Venetian Carnevale masks have long been made.
+ Spend time with an Albanian family to learn about enduring Balkan traditions and life during the Communist era.
+ Behold the remarkably preserved ruins of Apollonia, one of the greatest cities of the ancient Greco-Roman World.
+ Hear the stories behind the seemingly impossible monasteries of Meteora, built atop pinnacles of rock.
Join an archaeologist for a special tour of Heraclea Lyncestis, founded by the great King Philip II of Macedon.
+ Walk the ancient streets of Ohrid. For 1,000 years, this was the cultural heart of the Slavic world.
+ Includes 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites c
  • Day 1 - Welcome to Tirana, Albania

    On arrival at the airport, you’ll be warmly greeted and escorted to the Hotel Plaza, our new deluxe hotel in the heart of the lively Albanian capital. Later this evening, you’ll get to know your fellow travelers over cocktails and dinner, hosted by our engaging Albanian-born Trip Leader, Stavri.  Meals D
  • Day 2 - Excursion to Shkodra

    After breakfast, you’ll embark on a full-day excursion to Shkodra. This is one of Europe’s oldest cities, filled with historic landmarks and fascinating stories from centuries past. By special arrangement, your sightseeing begins at a workshop that produces many of the colorful and highly-detailed Carnevale masks that you will find in the shops of Venice; it’s a fascinating visit and a reminder of Shkodra’s historic ties to the famous Italian city on the opposite shores of the Adriatic.
     
    Continue to Rozafa Castle. Built on a rocky hilltop, the remains of this ancient stone castle are impressive and on a clear day, its strategic setting offers terrific views of the city and open countryside all the way north to the distant mountains and Serbian border. It’s a great place to enjoy a glass of the local brandy.
     
    Heading back to Tirana, you’ll stop in Lezhë, a charming town that traces its roots to the ancient days of Greece when it was known as Lissus. Here you’ll enjoy lunch at Mrizi i Zanave, famed for its finely prepared, organic farm-to-table cuisine. Enjoy the scenic drive back to Tirana where you’ll have time to relax and refresh at our hotel before this evening’s dinner.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 3 - Exploring Tirana + Krujë

    This morning, we’ll travel to historic Krujë. At a centuries-old Dervish monastery, the caretaker will share insight into the beliefs and traditions of ancient Sufism. At the Ethnographic Museum, set in a 200-year-old Ottoman house, we’ve arranged for a private meeting with the curator; enjoy coffee as you learn more about Albania’s history and people After lunch at a restaurant set within the ancient castle walls, you’ll enjoy some free time to explore the old bazaar where you can meet artisans and carpet weavers who belong to local guilds that have functioned since Ottoman times.
     
    Return to Tirana for a guided afternoon tour of the Albanian capital including the Blloku district. Enver Hoxha’s villa was located in this neighborhood and during his dictatorship, this area was the exclusive enclave of government officials and the Communist Party elite; other citizens would not have been able to even enter. Today Blloku, or the Block, has become one of Tirana’s most vibrant districts – home to some of the city’s most popular cafes, restaurants and boutiques. It’s the perfect place to gain an understanding of Albania’s Communist-era history and its effect on the country’s modern life and attitudes. This afternoon’s sightseeing also takes you to Skanderbeg Square, where you’ll find many of Tirana’s other notable landmarks including the 18th-century Et’hem Bey Mosque and the statue of Albania’s national hero for whom the Square is named. In the 15th century, Skanderbeg was a warrior and nobleman who defended his native land in battles against the Ottomans. Mingling with residents here in the lively square offers insight into local life and culture. This evening, you’ll dine at Era.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 4 - Durrës + Apollonia + Gjirokastra

    Just 21 miles west of the vibrant capital, Durrës is a historic Adriatic port – one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Focusing upon its wealth of ancient landmarks, our guided tour this morning includes the ancient Byzantine Walls and the spectacular Roman Amphitheater. Built in the 2nd century to accommodate up to 20,000 spectators who came to witness Gladiator combats, this is one of the largest ancient Roman arenas in the Balkans. Surrounded by modern high rise buildings in the heart of town and only partially excavated, it is nonetheless an impressive site! We’ll also visit the ancient Roman Baths and the Venetian Tower, a 15th-century addition to the much older Byzantine Fortress that was one of the most powerful defensive buildings along the western Adriatic.
     
    After lunch, we’ll visit the Ardenica Monastery, situated on a remote hilltop surrounded by a vast sweep of Albanian countryside. Originally founded by a 13th-century Byzantine Emperor, this revered landmark is home to splendid interior frescoes. But it’s also a living religious community and special arrangements have been made for us to meet with one of the resident monks. This experience promises a chance to learn about religious life in Albania since the fall of Communism.
     
    We’ll continue to Apollonia for a tour of its remarkably preserved ruins. Set in a region of gently rolling terrain and forest, this picturesque archaeological site was once home to an estimated 70,000 people who lived inside its ancient city walls. Among its impressive landmarks are the remarkable 2,000-year-old Odeon and the Monastery. Guided by one of the site’s archaeological directors, our afternoon visit promises a rich look into the ancient world. Late in the day, we’ll continue to Gjirokastra and check in to the Kalemi 2 Hotel, a charming 12-room hotel in the heart of Old Town. You’ll have time to refresh before we dine this evening at Arra.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 5 - Discover Gjirokastra

    Also recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site, Gjirokastra is a splendid town perched along the slopes of the Drino Valley. Clustered around the ancient 13th-century citadel is an outstanding collection of homes typical of the Balkans… Turreted homes reflect the city’s 17th-century Ottoman heritage while other buildings show the architectural and cultural influences of later eras, especially the early 19th century. With our expert guide, you’ll explore along Gjirokastra’s steep cobblestone streets, learning about the region’s history and culture as we visit notable landmarks including two museums set inside the fortress walls. Then spend time with the matriarch of a Balkan family for deeper insight into the city’s enduring traditions – as well as what life was like during Albania’s Communist era.
     
    In the afternoon, a literature professor from the local University will share some readings from the works of Ismail Kadare, the Nobel-nominated author who used this historic town as the setting for many of his stories. Continuing your tour of Gjirokastra, our specialist guide will bring Kadare’s literary works and characters to life as he ties various local sites to the passages you’ve just enjoyed. It’s a fascinating and entertaining way to learn more about the town and one of the country’s most beloved authors. This evening, you’ll enjoy traditional Albanian cuisine and a performance by Iso Polifonia, an internationally acclaimed polyphonic choir.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 6 - Onward to Ioannina + Kalambaka, Greece

    Departing Gjirokastra this morning, we’ll travel across the border into northern Greece to Ioannina. Founded by the Emperor Justinian along the shores of beautiful Lake Pamvotis, this historic castle town is now the vibrant capital of Epirus. Our city tour reveals a rich multicultural heritage with ancient Christian, Jewish and Islamic influences, from the oldest Byzantine fortress in Greece to the impressive Aslan Pasha Mosque, built in 1618.
     
    After lunch at a charming lakeside restaurant, we’ll continue our journey to the modern town of Kalambaka – the gateway to one of the world’s most awe-inspiring architectural assemblages. Here in a region of seemingly inaccessible sandstone peaks, medieval monks settled upon these towering pinnacles from the 11th century onwards. In the 1400’s, overcoming enormous logistical and engineering challenges, twenty four monasteries were built atop these “columns in the sky.” A century later, their remarkable frescoes heralded a key state in the development of post-Byzantine art.
     
    This afternoon, we’ll visit the Holy Monastery of Great Meteora, the largest and oldest of the monasteries. We’ll begin our tour in the lovely courtyard – embellished with remarkable frescoes from the 16th century. Inside this 700-year-old monastery, you’ll also see the original sacristy and fascinating exhibits of ancient icons and centuries-old codices and manuscripts. As the sun dips towards the horizon, our guide will lead you to a prime vantage point to take in the spectacular panorama of the sun as it sets over the Meteora hills. We’ll enjoy dinner and a tranquil overnight at the lovely Amalia Hotel.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 7 - Meteora Monasteries + Heraclea + Skopje

    Seemingly suspended in the air, only six of the original twenty four ancient monasteries remain. This morning, we’ll visit one of the most spectacular. Perched on a steep and magnificent rocky outcrop, the Holy Trinity Monastery is reached by a staircase that ascends from the foot of the sandstone pinnacle. The main cathedral of Holy Trinity was constructed in the 1400’s; its fabulous interior frescoes are the work of two monks who painted them in 1741. Also of great interest is a small circular rock-hewn church embellished with fine paintings from the late 1600’s.
     
    We’ll of course have a chance to take in the spectacular view from the Monastery before we continue onward to Florina, a charming Greek town close to the Macedonian border. We’ll savor the rich bounty of the region at a local restaurant renowned for its fine farm-to-table cuisine before continuing across the border. At Heraclea Lyncestis, a local archaeologist leads our exploration of this ancient city – founded by King Philip of Macedon in the 4th century BCE. Even long after King Philip’s reign, the town retained its wealth and importance due to its strategic location on an important route connecting Rome and Constantinople; among its impressive sites is an amphitheater built by Emperor Hadrian in the first century. Indeed, Heraclea Lyncestis continued to thrive through the Byzantine and Ottoman eras, and our specially guided tour reveals an ancient city that endured in wealth and power across centuries and empires.
     
    Early this evening at the Tikves Winery, we’ll sample their fine vintages before sitting down to a congenial dinner with selected wine pairings. Tonight finds us at the deluxe Marriott Hotel in Skopje.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 8 - From Skopje to Ohrid, Macedonia

    After breakfast, we’ll embark on a sightseeing tour here in Skopje, the inviting Macedonian capital. A construction boom over the past decade has graced the city with a new abundance of fountains, buildings, bridges and statues, but there are still plenty of centuries-old landmarks that attest to Skopje’s long and rich heritage - encompassing Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman eras. Notable among the landmarks we’ll see this morning is the imposing 5th-century fortress, dramatically situated on the city’s highest point overlooking the Vardar River. We’ll stand upon the monumental 600-year-old stone bridge that spans the river in the heart of town and visit the Memorial House of Mother Teresa, dedicated to the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who lived here from 1910 to 1928. We’ll also meet with a young city artist to hear their personal insight into the city’s rapid growth over the past decade and its emergence as one of Europe’s most unique capitals. Before lunch, you’ll have time to explore the cobblestone streets and browse the colorful markets of the sprawling Old Bazaar, which has existed here since Ottoman times.
     
    In the afternoon, we depart for Ohrid where we’ll check in to the inviting City Palace Hotel, ideally situated on the lakefront promenade close to the landmarks of Old Town. You’ll have time to relax or explore along the promenade before we enjoy the fine Macedonian and Continental cuisine of Belvedere, a charmingly decorated restaurant along the shores of Lake Ohrid.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 9 - Ancient Ohrid

    The captivating lakeside town of Ohrid is one of the oldest in all of Europe. The Cyrillic Alphabet was created here in the 9th century, a key development that allowed the missionary brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius, to continue their missionary work throughout the Slavic world. Indeed, for the next thousand years, Ohrid was regarded as the cultural heart of the Slavic world.
     
    Delving into these rarely-studied chapters of history and showcasing remarkable cultural treasures of the Byzantine, Renaissance and Slavic eras, our full-day sightseeing begins with important city landmarks like the 11th-century Fortress ruins that overlook Lake Ohrid and the city’s rooftops. With 18 guard towers and long sections of its massive walls still intact, it’s easy to comprehend why this was considered to be one of the most impregnable strongholds in the Balkans. In the medieval church of St. Sophia, you’ll marvel at centuries-old frescoes widely hailed as among the finest examples of Byzantine art in the Balkans. As you explore the town with our expert guide and stroll in the bustling Old Bazaar, you’ll also learn firsthand about the region’s rich artistic traditions – including fine silver filigree work, woodcarving, and famous Ohrid Pearls.
     
    We’ll end our morning on a relaxing high note with a cruise on Lake Ohrid, the perfect way to take in the beauty of the city and its surrounding region – including the mountain slopes of Galicia National Park. For lunch, we’ll enjoy the traditional Balkan cuisine of Dalga, a charming restaurant situated on the lakefront in the heart of Old Town. After a bit of free time to relax or to stroll the evocative ancient streets of Ohrid at your own pace, we’ll depart on an excursion that takes us along the eastern shores of the lake into the beautiful landscapes of Galicica National Park. Our destination is the Monastery of Saint Naum, dramatically set on a rocky outcrop where the Black Drim River flows into Lake Ohrid. Our tour of the monastery reveals a wonderful Byzantine treasure, originally built more than 1,000 years ago – but renewed and enlarged over the centuries. Inside, its wonderful icons and frescoes date mostly from the 16th and 17th centuries. But earlier etchings from the Byzantine Greek era can also be seen. After dinner at a nearby restaurant, we’ll return to the City Palace Hotel in Ohrid.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 10 - Back to Tirana

    After breakfast, we’ll depart Ohrid and make our way across the border back into Albania. In the quiet village of Labinot, we’ll stop to experience a slice of rural Albanian life. We’ll also visit small museum where residents have gathered and preserved relics of the Communist era. In Elbasan, we’ll sit down to lunch at a charming restaurant situated within the massive walls of the town’s historic 15th-century castle. After lunch, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the castle grounds including the King Mosque; built in 1482, this is the oldest active mosque in Albania. We’ll also visit St. Mary’s, an Eastern Orthodox church and monastery that also dates back to the 15th century.
     
    We’ll continue our journey back to Tirana for another night at the deluxe Hotel Plaza. You’ll have time to relax and refresh before we get together for our Farewell Dinner.  Meals B+L+D
  • Day 11 - Depart Tirana

    Transfer to the airport for your onward journey. Meals B

Extend Your Trip

  • Journey to Croatia + Montenegro

    The mountains, sea and stories of this pristine region are showcased in one of our most unique small group journeys – and presented with insight and passion by our expert Trip Leader.

    View Day by Day »

  • Bulgaria + Romania

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Similar Trips

Check In!

  • Hotel Plaza - Tirana, Albania

    Perfectly located close to the city’s principle cultural sites, our new deluxe hotel offers spacious guestrooms designed with contemporary flair.

  • Hotel 2 Kalemi - Gijtokastra, Albania

    Situated in the old district of Gjirokastra it offers a panoramic view of the town. Kalemi Hotel is one of the characteristic Albanian hotels that have developed in recent years, out of the entrepreneurial spirit of the local families. The owner has completed a great amount of work in restoring one of the traditional Gjirokastra houses, almost 200 years old, not only to its former glory but also into a very interesting guest house. As a result inside Kalemi Guest House, you will be able to admire many traditional elements such as: a 200 year old wooden ceiling, traditional architectural elements, authentic wooden chests and cupboards. This hotel offers you the chance to enjoy a special accommodation experience. 

  • Amalia Hotel - Kalambaka, Greece

    Our welcoming hotel is surrounded by 14 acres of landscaped grounds that offer fine views of the breathtaking Meteora landscapes.

  • Marriott Hotel - Skopje, Macedonia

    Our bright and modern hotel offers spacious, well-appointed guestrooms and an ideal location on Macedonia Square in the heart of the capital.

  • City Palace Hotel - Ohrid, Macedonia

    A warm welcome awaits you at our comfortable hotel, wonderfully situated on the Lake Ohrid Promenade close to the landmarks of Old Town.

Our Small Group Journey Value

+ No Solo Supplement on all departures
+
Comprehensive, expertly-guided sightseeing with never more than 16 guests including all entry fees
+ All 29 meals: 10 breakfasts, 9 lunches and 10 dinners
+ 10 nights in our first class and deluxe hotels
+ All on-tour transportation including airport transfers
+ Luggage handling and all hotel taxes and service charges

Trip Pricing

  • Traveling as a single?

Arrive Tirana - Per Person Double

Dates   Standard Accommodations
Departure Return   Regular Deal
9/19/2017
Sold Out
9/29/2017 $3599 $3099
 
10/10/2017
Sold Out
10/20/2017 $3599 $3099
 
4/24/2018 5/4/2018 $3599 $3099
 
5/8/2018 5/18/2018 $3799 $3299
 
6/19/2018 6/29/2018 $3799 $3299
 
9/18/2018 9/28/2018 $3799 $3299
 
10/9/2018 10/19/2018 $3799 $3299
 
5/7/2019 5/17/2019 $3799 $3299
 

Select all Deals that apply for best available price.

  • Save $1,000 per couple + $500 solo on all of our Small Group, Small Ship and Private Journeys when you book and pay-in-full before Dec 31, 2017.
  • Travel is one life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
    • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
    • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
    • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
    • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!
    For Groups of 8 or more please call 800.221.2216

Extend Your Trip

  • Journey to Croatia + Montenegro

    The mountains, sea and stories of this pristine region are showcased in one of our most unique small group journeys – and presented with insight and passion by our expert Trip Leader.

    View Day by Day »

  • Bulgaria + Romania

    Accompanied your own personal, expert guide, our original itinerary reveals the rich heritage, colorful stories and UNESCO World Heritage Sites of this often overlooked corner of Europe.

    View Day by Day »

Our Private Journey Value

Comprehensive, expertly-guided sightseeing including all entry fees
23 meals: 10 breakfasts, 6 lunches and 7 dinners
10 nights in our first class and deluxe hotels and lakeside resorts
All on-tour transportation including airport transfers
Luggage handling and all hotel taxes and service charges

Trip Pricing

  • Traveling as a single?

Arrive Tirana - Per Person Double

Dates   Standard Accommodations
Departure Return   Regular Deal
1/1/2017 12/31/2017 $5699 $5199
 
1/1/2018 12/31/2018 $5699 $5199
 

Select all Deals that apply for best available price.

  • Save $1,000 per couple + $500 solo on all of our Small Group, Small Ship and Private Journeys when you book and pay-in-full before Dec 31, 2017.
  • Travel is one life's most rewarding experiences, perhaps even more so when it's shared with those you love! Combine our limited-time pay-in-full discount with our Family & Friends offers and save even more:
    • Save $50 more per person when 3 guests go
    • Save $100 more per person with 4 people
    • Save $150 more per person with 5 people
    • Save $200 more per person with 6 or more people!
    For Groups of 8 or more please call 800.221.2216

Extend Your Trip

  • Journey to Croatia + Montenegro

    The mountains, sea and stories of this pristine region are showcased in one of our most unique small group journeys – and presented with insight and passion by our expert Trip Leader.

    View Day by Day »

  • Bulgaria + Romania

    Accompanied your own personal, expert guide, our original itinerary reveals the rich heritage, colorful stories and UNESCO World Heritage Sites of this often overlooked corner of Europe.

    View Day by Day »

Private Tour Add-Ons

  • Rome

    4-day FreeStyle Travel package

    Our 4-day FreeStyle Travel package includes 3 nights in your choice of city-center hotel, daily breakfast, chauffeured airport transfers and city sightseeing with your own private guide

  • Florence

    4 Day FreeStyle Tour

    Our 4-day FreeStyle Travel with a choice of fine hotels, breakfast daily, sightseeing, and private car transfers

  • Istanbul

    4 Day FreeStyle Travel

    Our 4-day FreeStyle Travel package with a choice of fine city-center hotels, breakfast daily, chauffeured airport transfers, and in-depth sightseeing with your own personal car, driver and guide

  • Athens

    4 Day Private Tour

    Enhance your European travels with our perfectly-planned stay in Athens. We include private airport transfers, 3 nights at your choice of city-center hotel, daily breakfasts, and a private city tour featuring the Acropolis and New Acropolis Museum.

Trip Reviews

Average Traveler Rating:  Review This Trip »

(22 Traveler Reviews)

  • Aline from FL gives this tour 

    The trip was excellent, to the last detail and very professional done. Highlights were the Monastery at Meteora, the beautiful Frescos on Macedonia's Churches and Gjirokastra, Albania. Read More »

  • Mei Ku from IL gives this tour 

    Everything was delightful! Read More »

  • Raymond from FL gives this tour 

    Guide was great. Read More »

  • Carol from CA gives this tour 

    The archeological ruins and the frescos in the churches were amazing Read More »

  • Carolyn from OH gives this tour 

    I am glad your company is adding new trips to more places. Will be looking at some of your newest for the fall of 2017! Read More »

  • Linda from MA gives this tour 

    Delighted by: Music at dinner, small art museum, great food, beautiful countryside. Read More »

  • Jo Ann from OH gives this tour 

    Loved seeing the historical sites, and learning about the countries, histories and politics. Our guide was wonderful, very knowledgeable and well organized. Read More »

  • Alan from PA gives this tour 

    Delighted by: Monasteries, museum, lake castle Read More »

  • Anthony from AK gives this tour 

    Everything was delightful! Read More »

  • Linda from OK gives this tour 

    I loved the mix, not all ruins, not all history. Going places American's never go. Today + history combined. I enjoy Alexander + Roberts for small groups, unusual places to see with absolute belief that will provide safe, interesting journeys, good hotels, good food and outstanding travel guides. Read More »

Save $1,000 Per Couple
+ $500 Solo

Pay in full at time of booking
before December 31, 2017.

A Short History of
the Cyrillic Alphabet
 

The Slavic family of languages is a cultural tie that unites the peoples of Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and the vast expanse of the Former Soviet Union: some 315 million people speak a Slavic language, and more than two-thirds... Read More >>

It’s Time For Tirana.
Yes, Really!
 

There was a time, not so long ago, that announcing that you were going to Albania would evoke a range of reactions from abject horror to sarcastic laughter.  Happily, however, those times are firmly in the rear view mirror and Tirana, Albania’s... Read More >>