Revealing its former secret world to be a treasure trove, Albania is beautiful. From mountain heights to coastal coves, it tells its history with Roman ruins, Ottoman houses, Venetian castles, Byzantine churches and sprinkled time-warp villages.
The most isolated country in Europe from 1975-’91, when its borders, roads, and communication outlets were all closed to the outside world, Albania is now resurgent and re-integrated with its neighbours; and what a feast of scenic splendour and long-concealed cultural curiosities it reveals!
From the monasteries, mosques, medieval towns, and classical ruins in its unspoilt landscapes, to the Greek, Latin, Turkic and Slav blend of its intriguing language, this is a country whose layer upon layer of eras and civilisations have created a culture and character that couldn’t be replicated.
The capital, Tirana, combines broad boulevards and brightly painted buildings with communist era architecture, the modern monuments of Skanderbeg Square, superb cityscapes from the summit of Dajti Mountain, and the sub-terranean site of Bunk’Art, the 4-storey anti-nuclear bunker hewn into a hill.
Kruja was the former capital, home of the 15thcentury nobleman and national hero Skanderbeg; its castle now a museum, its well-preserved medieval market with all the atmosphere of a ‘living museum’.
Durrës is Albania’s second-largest city, set on the Adriatic coast and tracing its roots to 627BC. Wars and earthquakes have left few relics, but those still standing include a truly impressive Roman amphitheatre.
Beguiling Berat is crowned with a citadel fortress, blessed with Byzantine churches, and UNESCO listed for its tiered hillside of multi-windowed Ottoman houses.
By the ruins of Roman Appolonia, where the Emperor Augustus Octavian studied, an old Orthodox monastery is now the museum; while the ancient Illyrian site of Bylis enjoys gorgeous views of the surrounding timeless landscape.
A few miles south of Saranda’s horseshoe bay, ancient Butrint was first settled by Greek colonists, its forest ruins evidencing many centuries of continuous inhabitation; and inland, Gjirokastra’s stone-paved streets hem hundreds of characterful tower-houses.
On our Balkan Explorer tour, Jules Verne teams Albania with its neighbours, to visit Pristina, Prizren and Peja in Kosovo, and in North Macedonia, the medieval streets of beautiful Ohrid, lining the shore of its namesake lake.
Albania’s Mediterranean climate can be summarised as hot and sunny summers, mild and rainy winters, warmer on the coast than inland, and really cold only on mountain heights. In general, temperatures in spring and autumn average 21°; and summer spreads from June to September, between 25 and 32°.
With departures right through from March to November, Jules Verne tours are timed for the season most suited to the type and destinations of each tour, though it’s worth noting that sites are usually less busy in the comfortably balmy shoulder months.
Albania will be an eye-opener for those seeking colour and culture, in its unspoilt landscapes and indented shores, its long and chequered history, architectural gems, archaeological sites, and unique character.
When you choose Albania on one of our small-group journeys, you know you will be touring with like-minded travellers; and for those who enjoy travelling solo, we offer ‘No Single Supplement’ departures and exclusively Solo tour dates.
With 45 years’ experience and a passion for creating extraordinary adventures, Jules Verne takes you to iconic landmarks and lesser-known sites, with expert tour guides who share their local knowledge, and show you hidden gems. Special interludes on our journeys in Albania include a woodland walk to the natural site of the (descriptively named) Blue Eye Spring, lunch at a village home in Dhoksat, and a ‘farewell from Tirana’ dinner at an organic farm.
Our guided tours to Albania are ABTA and ATOL protected, and we offer a 100% price guarantee, so you can book with complete confidence.
Classical Tour of Albania
Unspoilt, uncrowded, and unique in its culture, Albania is a treasure chest of ancient cities, mystical mountains, museums, castles and coastline, its feast of Ottoman architecture the jewel in its crown. This tour lifts the lid on its riches, of heritage and of nature
Highlights of Albania
A four-night tour, to four fascinating cities, this short break shows you ancient, medieval, and modern Albania. From a well-placed base in Durrës, on the shore of the Adriatic, included excursions take you to characterful Kruja, the capital, Tirana, and beguiling Berat