Essential Albania and Macedonia

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

Albania and Macedonia are unique countries that combine incredible archaeological sites such as Butrint with the stunning nature of Lake Ohrid. Ottoman and byzantine history, beautiful landscapes, warm and welcoming people and delicious food, plus incredible value, make these countries the perfect choice for travelers that want to enjoy undiscovered destinations.

The permutation of travel possibilities through Albania and Macedonia is vast, and we recommend that you contact us to discuss your specific needs.

For custom luxury travel and tours to Albania and Macedonia, please contact one of our travel experts.

Day 1
Arrival | Arrival Tirana, Albania

Arrival in Tirana (flight cost is not included in the program). Your driver will welcome you and transfer you to your hotel to enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Exeter Services: Arrival Transfer

Hotel: Plaza

Day 2
Tirana & Kruja | Triana & Kruja

This morning, after meeting your guide and driver, you will start with a walking tour of Tirana city center. Having undergone a transformation of extraordinary proportions since the communist fall in the early 1990s, Tirana is now a bustling capital with pedestrian areas, restaurants and museums.

You will first visit the National Historical Museum of Albania, which covers approximately 60,000 years of history. You will also visit the National Art Gallery of Tirana – a small but interesting collection of 19th-century paintings, Albanian socialist realism and temporary exhibitions. Next, your guide will take you to Bunk’Art, a huge Cold War bunker that was converted into a history and contemporary art museum.

Then, you will transfer about 45 minutes north of the capital city and to Kruje – the historic hometown picturesquely situated on a hill and stronghold of Albania’s national hero George Kastrioti – Skanderbeg, who successfully fought the Ottoman invasion for more than two decades. Albanian original buildings and the old bazaar will allow you to move into the past.

Kruje was the center of the Albanian resistance against the Ottomans led by Skanderbeg. Driving along the winding mountain road, you will reach the town’s main square marked by the equestrian statue of Skanderbeg wielding his sword. Continuing uphill and above the town, you will reach the historic fortress and citadel which successfully withstood three Ottoman sieges led by Sultan Murat and later by his son Sultan Mehmed II – the conqueror of Constantinople (now Istanbul). It was only after Skanderbeg’s death that the fortress finally fell, and the Albanian resistance was suppressed.

As you enter the restored fortress, you will visit the Historical Museum, which focuses on Skanderbeg’s life and follows the Albanian struggle against the Ottoman invaders and the historical development of the citadel. With time permitting, just down the hill, you will visit the small Ethnographic Museum, which is housed in the former home of an affluent Ottoman family from the mid-18th century and offers an insight into the life in Kruje centuries ago.

Exeter Services: Albanian Guide (8 Hours); Vehicle & Driver (up to 8 Hours)

Hotel: Plaza

Day 3
Tirana to Ohrid | Tirana to Ohrid Ohrid, Albania

Meet your Macedonian driver for your transfer to the lake city of Ohrid. Upon arrival, check-in at your hotel.

You will cap the day with a private boat tour on the lake, enjoying the sunset and the panoramic views of the coast with accompanying drinks.

Exeter Services: Guide-Driver & Vehicle (up to 8 Hours); Boat ride

Hotel: Villa Sofija

Day 4
Ohrid & St. Naum | Ohrid & St. Naum Ohrid, North Macedonia

This morning, you will tour the most remarkable sights of the charming historic town of Ohrid. Protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site, Ohrid is a jewel box of medieval architecture and historical monuments and a highlight of any trip to Macedonia.

Your guide will begin with the visit to St. Sofia, a grand 11th-century building which was once the main bishopric cathedral before being converted into a mosque by the Ottomans. The church’s interior walls were whitewashed during the Ottoman period to cover the magnificent Byzantine-style frescoes from the 11th – 14th centuries, thus ironically preserving them in remarkably good condition.

Strolling along the narrow winding streets of the Old Town, you will reach the St. John (Sveti Jovan) at Kaneo Church which is perched on a hill overlooking the Lake Ohrid. This majestic medieval church was built in the 13th century in the Byzantine style and has a cruciform shape with an octagonal dome where recent restorations have revealed well-preserved frescoes with images of Orthodox saints including St. Clement – the patron saint of Ohrid. All around Ohrid there are more than 365 small churches.

In the afternoon, head towards the St. Naum Monastery, which is located in a very picturesque setting at the south-eastern shores of the lake Ohrid, only a mile away from the border with Albania. The St. Naum church is cruciform and similar in its Byzantine architecture to the one of the St. Panteleimon Monastery in Ohrid. The interior frescoes are mainly from the 19th century although fragments from the wall paintings from the 16th – 17th centuries can also be seen. If you wish, you can board one of the boats docked here to visit the protected natural springs of Ohrid Lake.

Exeter Services: Driver-Guide & Vehicle (8 Hours)

Hotel: Villa Sofija

Day 5
Ohrid to Skopje | Ohrid to Skopje

This morning meet your driver for the transfer to the capital, Skopje.

En route, you will stop at Bitola, the second biggest city in the country and known as the city of the consuls. The city was founded in the 4th century BC by Philip II of Macedonia, and you will have the chance to visit the Old Town, the monument to the founder, and the Turkish bazaar.

Exeter Services: Transfer with Driver-Guide

Hotel: Marriott Skopje

Day 6
Skopje | Skopje

Located in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, Skopje has been at the crossroads of the region’s history for nearly two millennia. From Roman to Byzantine, Ottoman to Yugoslav and now Macedonian rule, this city has an incredible array of architectural styles and historical sites.

Your guide will meet you today and will take you on a walking tour of the historical center of the city. On your tour, your guide will take you through Skopje’s Old Bazaar; one of the oldest and largest marketplaces in The Balkans. As the city’s center for commerce and trade since the 12th century, the bazaar’s winding cobblestone streets are a treasure trove of excellently preserved Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. From here, make the short walk to Skopje Fortress, commonly referred to as “Kale” (Turkish for “Fortress”).

In the new town, you will see the famous 15th century Stone Bridge, and the 100 feet-tall statue of Alexander the Great at the center of the newly rebuilt Macedonia Square. Finish your tour with a walk to the old historical Railway Station, where the Museum of Skopje is located nowadays.

Exeter Services: Guide-Driver & Vehicle (4 Hours)

Hotel: Marriott Skopje

Day 7
Kosovo Day Trip | Kosovo Day Trip

Meet your driver and guide today for the two-hour journey to Pristina.

Kosovo was declared independent in 2008 from Serbia. Its history starts in antiquity when the lands of modern- day Kosovo were inhabited by the Illyrian tribes of Dardanai. They prospered and even created their own kingdom but after a strong defense, they were defeated and became part of the Roman Empire. The region was not noted for much during the Middle Ages but started flourishing again in the late medieval times and in the Ottoman Empire with cities as trade centers and on trade routes. The region was part of Ottoman Empire until 1912 when was invaded by Yugoslavia and was then under Yugoslav rule. During the 1990s and until 2008 it was part of the Republic of Serbia.

Pristina, the youngest capital in Europe, is a fast-changing city that offers an eclectic urban landscape. Today you will start your visit with the old quarter of Pristina, where you can still find the traditional Ottoman houses. Numerous religious buildings as well as historic landmarks like the Clock Tower or the Kosovo Museum are located in this area. Leaving behind the old quarter you will then visit the modern city. The destination is the Newborn Square.

You will also see the Monastery of Gracanica. It is one of Kosovo’s best religious monuments built in the time of the peak of the Serbian kingdoms in 1321. The paintings and frescoes are from different periods of time and fortunately most of them are well preserved through centuries and from the wars. Its location in a Serbian enclave in the heart of Kosovo makes it more special.

If you wish, on your way back to Skopje, your guide will take you to Prizren, the cultural capital of Kosovo. Here you can visit the Old Town, which holds the largest number of preserved Ottoman buildings in the country.

Exeter Services:

Driver-Guide & Vehicle (10 Hours)

Hotel: Marriott Skopje

Day 8
Departure | Departure

Today after check-out, meet your private driver for your transfer to the airport and your flight onward.

Exeter Services: Departure Transfer

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