Albania - Landscapes of Illyria
£1,485 excl. flight
- The impressive UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint
- Ancient Ottoman towns, historic mosques and churches
- An affordable introduction to a fascinating country
For those with an interest in the less frequented parts of Europe, Albania, the Illyria of ancient times, holds great attraction especially for the material culture and heritage of Macedonia and Epirus. Enjoy the hospitality of the Albanian people, dramatic coastlines and wild mountain scenery, whilst exploring the ancient Greek and Roman coastal cities of Durres and the impressive UNESCO site at Butrint.
Day 1 London/ Tirana/ Durres – On arrival transfer to Durres, established in the 7th century BC, but originally settled by the native Illyrian Taulant tribe.
Day 2 Lezhe, Kruja, Durres - After breakfast head to Lezhe for the Illyrian walls and its cathedral, the burial site of Skanderbeg, Albania’s most important national hero. Travel to Kruja, birthplace of Skanderbeg, where the castle has been beautifully restored. Return to Durres to visit the Roman amphitheatre and ancient city walls.
Day 3 Durres, Berat – Morning exploring the archaeological museum. Afternoon drive to Berat, a fine example of an Ottoman town, to visit the citadel and Church of St Mary, famous for its icon collection.
Day 4 Byllis, Gjirokaster - Drive to the remarkable ancient Illyrian archaeological site at Byllis. Continue to picturesque Gjirokaster, dominated by its mighty citadel.
Day 5 Antigoneia, Saranda - Visit Antigoneia, an excavation near the site of the battle between Philip V of Macedon and the Roman Consul, which handed Illyria to Rome. Then on to Blue Eye National Park, one of the regional’s most beautiful national parks, and Saranda, now named Agioi Saranta (Forty Saints).
Day 6 Butrint – A notable highlight of this tour is impressive Butrint, ancient Buthrotum, described by Virgil as ‘Troy in miniature’. A spectacular location originally thought to have been settled in the 8th-century BC by Corfiot traders, it fell under the influence of both Epirus. Free time to enjoy Saranda, a gem on the ‘Albanian Riviera’.
Day 7 Vlora, Fier – Scenic drive along the coast via Ali Pasha’s Castle at Porto Palermo. Travel on via the mountain village of Dhermi and the Independence Museum at Vlora. Overnight in Fier.
Day 8 Apollonia, Tirana - Drive to ancient Apollonia, founded in 588 BC and used by Aristotle as a model in his analysis of oligarchy due to the distinct and separate Greek and Illyrian communities. A vital stronghold in Caesar’s civil war with Pompey it was later a Christian centre, as witnessed by the monastery and church on the site. Continue to Tirana.
Day 9 Tirana – Morning tour of the capital and the afternoon to explore at your own pace.
Day 10 Tirana/ London - Return flight to London.
Rowena Loverance worked for over 20 years at the British Museum where she was Head of e-learning and has excavated in Greece and Cyprus.
She is a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College, London and a trustee of Culture 24, the UK’s principal online cultural publisher. She edited the Bulletin of Byzantine Studies and is author of Byzantium and of Christian Art, a global account of contemporary cultural themes.
Other tours led by this lecturer:
“An excellent introduction to the Land of the Eagle which achieved a lot in a shortish time.”
P. & J. Ledger, May 2012
"An eye-opening introduction to Albania ancient and modern, I’m only sorry it couldn’t have lasted longer."
L. Gardner, May 2012
If you like this tour but our specific tour dates don't suit you we can arrange the same itinerary or similar on a tailor-made basis, please contact us to discuss.