THE ITINERARIES ALL OVER ALBANIA - Ture, intinerare ne gjith shqiperine
A walk along Albanian territory. Running from north to south, thevisitor may experience so muchthings inside a small country, asAlbania is. If you are looking for an active hol-iday, you will ﬁnd plenty of things todo here on Albania. In this brochurewe offer you 10 suggested itinerar-ies to choose from. There are a dif-ferent attractions including moun-tains treks, deep valleys, nationalparks, archaeological sites, museumcities, castles, coastline and muchmore. A visit in our country meansthat you’ll return home relaxed andenergized at the same time. Welcome and enjoy your stay !email@example.com@akt.gov.al
SARANDA Saranda, or “the south Albania seaport”is located in a natural shelf facing the is-land of Corfu. There are daily ship depar-tures that connect Saranda with this Greekisland. Saranda’s name originates from the oldChristian monastery of “the Forty Saints”(Saranda means “forty” in Greek). The ru-ins of the monastery lay in Qafa e Gjashtës,near the city entrance.
KSAMILI Heading south, the coastline oftenchanges its appearance. You can see foursmall islands (the Ksamili area), covered byMediterranean vegetation, and surroundedby the wonderful marine fauna and ﬂora.The salt lake, (a lagoon of tectonic origin)of Butrinti is on the other side. It connectswith the sea through the channel of Vivar,3.6 km in length. A large number of seabirds nest there.
SARANDASARANDE - BUTRINT 18 km The city lies at the bottom of the Ioniancoastline of Albania and has a very pleasantavenue full of palms and pebble beaches. In the center of the city stand the ruinsof the ancient city of Onhezmi, destroyedin the ﬁfth century A.D. by the barbarianinvasions. In 2002, a synagogue was uncovered inthe same area. Just 2 km south of Saranda,on the top of a dominating hill, is the Cas-tle of Lëkurs. The castle was build by the Sultan Sulei-man during the military campaign againstCorfu. Nowadays in the fortress, a restau-rant offers a rich cuisine and a breath-tak-ing view of the deep blue of the Ionian.
BUTRINTI South of the lake, nearly 18 km from Sa-randa, sits the ancient city of Butrint, themost important archeological site in Alba-nia, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The name of Butrinti has been knownsince the seventh century B.C as the mostimportant city of Epirus. According to Di-onysius of Halicarnassus, the building ofButrint was linked to the presence of theTrojan prince Aeneas during his travel tothe temple of Dodona. He paid tribute to the oracle of Dodonaby sacriﬁcing a bull (Buthros in Greek) inthe place where the city of Butrint beganto rise.
BUTRINTI The Roman poet Virgil also mentions thevisit of Enea to Butrint in The Aeneid. There are many destinations to visitwithin Butrint. The most interesting onesare the Temple of Asclepius, the secondcentury B.C., god of good health; a 1,500-seat theatre from the third century B.C.,(which now hosts the International TheatreFestival every September); the Baptismal,a paleo-Christian monument; as well as thenymfeu, the baths, the stoa (covered walk-way), the Lake Gates, the Lion Gate, theVenetian fortress of Ali Pasha, and manyothers. Besides its historical value, Butrintis renowned for its marvelous ecologicalsystem. The ruins and the buildings of the citystand amidst an amazing subtropical jun-gle, with lots of laurel woods.
FINIQISARANDE - FINIQ 10 km As you leave Saranda, the national high-way will lead you to the legendary city ofGjirokastra, only 56 km away. But just 10 kmaway from Saranda en route to Gjirokastrayou will ﬁnd Finiq, the capital of the Kingdomof Epirus (and named Foinike at the time),which was founded in the third and secondcenturies B.C., in the territory of Kaonia.The historian Polybus called it “the mostrich and fortiﬁed city of Epirus”. Southwestof Finiq in the hilltop village of Mesopotam,you can visit the Church of Shën Kolli, builtduring the Byzantine period. One of the most pleasant surprises alongthis journey is Syri i Kaltër (the “Blue Eye”),a powerful natural spring that has created asmall lake of crystal-clear water that lookslike a giant human eye. The specialty of thenearby restaurant is the lake trout.
ANTIGONEA Antigonea is nowadays an archeological parksituated in the Lunxhëri area, east of Gjirokas-tra, close to the village of Saraqinisht. Antigonea is an ancient city of the sec-ond century B.C. It is thought that the citywas founded by King Pyrrhus of Epirus whonamed the city after his wife Antigonea. Thecity was 35 hectares in size; its ruins are lo-cated on a hill at 600 m above sea level. Tourists can visit the remains and frag-ments of the surrounding wall, the agora(market), and the stoa of the city, which is59 m long and 9 m wide. It’s worth mention-ing that in the area archeologists discovereda seven inch bronze statue representing Po-seidon, God of the sea, and the Sphinx ofAntigonea. Both objects are displayed in theNational History Museum in Tirana.
GJIROKASTRA The main object is the city fortress, theso-called Fortress of Argjiro. (The renownedstory of the famous princess Argjiro gaverise to the name “Argjirokastro” given tothe city in 1336.) The Weapons Museum lo-cated inside of the fortress displays weap-ons from the Paleolithic period up untilthe Second World War. During your stay inGjirokastra you can also visit the Ethno-graphic Museum. Gjirokastra is famous for its food special-ties such as shapkat, laropit, different kindsof pies (byrek), and several dairy productsknown all over Albania.
GJIROKASTRASARANDE - GJIROKASTER 62 km Past Qafa e Muzinës runs the nationalGjirokastër-Kakavijë highway. As you leavethe villages of Dropulli on your left, themuseum-city of Gjirokastra unfolds in frontof you, built at the eastern slope of Mali iGjerë. Due to its architecture, Gjirokastra isalso known as the “City of Stone” or “ Cityof a Thousand Stairs”. It is an ancient citywith early habitations, above which waslater constructed a fortress that served asthe center of the city. What most attract visitors to Gjirokas-tra are the traditional tall houses made ofstone, which resemble small fortresses thatform a monumental complex of architec-ture. Due to its value, Gjirokastra is a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site. There is one more interesting objectyou might visit; the Theatre of SofratikaThe Theatre belonging to the Roman cityAdrianopoli from the second century A.D.,helds 4,000 spectators in 27 tiers.
VLORA Vlora is one of the largest, most popu-lous cities in Albania. It is 130 km from thecapital is 130 km and 120 km from MotherTeresa International Airport and has thesecond largest port in Albania. Vlora is rich with history and antiquity. This monumental city dates back to thesixth century B.C., when it was known asAulona.
VLORA Fragments of the massive wall surround-ing Aulona have been found at the center ofthe city, close to Sheshi i Flamurit (“Flag’sSquare”). In 1081, the city fell under Norman do-minion. In the 14th century it was part of the“Kingdom of Arbëria” ruled by the Balshaj,Albanian princes, until 1417 when the citywas invaded by the Ottomans. In 1812, thecity came under the control of Ali Pashë Te-pelena, and one century later, on Novem-ber 28, 1912, it became the ﬁrst capital ofthe independent Albania, ruled by the gov-ernment of Ismail Qemali.
VLORA The most interesting sights in Vlora in-clude the Independence Museum (in theheadquarters building of the ﬁrst govern-ment), the History Museum, and the Ethno-graphic Museum. Among the religious objects in Vlora,one of the most important is the Mosque ofMuradie, built in 1542 by the chief archi-tect of the Ottoman Empire, Mimar Sinani,who was originally from the region. Also,a prominent hill above the city is home tothe Bektashi tekke of Kuzum Babai. Thesite offers an amazing wide view of thecity of Vlora, the peninsula of Karaburun,the island of Sazan and the lagoon of Narta.There are also several interesting clubs andrestaurants.
RRADHIMAVLORE - RADHIME 22 km Continuing the journey southward, youwill be able to see and enjoy the panoramicview of this part of the Gulf of Vlora. Af-ter passing the tunnel in the area known asUji i Ftohtë (“Cold Water”, named after amountain source that ﬂows into the sea),you will see the tourist area of Jonufër,with its small rocky beaches well known fortheir crystal-clear waters. Beyond Jonufër lies Rradhima, which con-tinues for several kilometers up to the Du-kati stream, near the small city of Orikum.The beaches in Rradhima have beautiful col-ors, with vivid contrasts between the deepblue of the sea and the green hills with theirMediterranean olive and citrus plantations. The Gulf of Vlora is the perfect place togo diving. There are several sunken shipslike “PO”, the Italian ship that sank in 1941during the Italo-Greek war. You might alsowant to dive into the waters of Zhiron toobserve the green and black algae.
NARTAVLORE - NARTE 3 km North of the city of Vlora is the lagoon ofNarta, the second biggest in Albania. Thereare 195 species of waterfowl living in thearea, and Mediterranean woods cover thetract of land dividing the lagoon from thesea. It’s a good place to observe the sea-birds or to ﬁsh. The water is full of differ-ent kinds of ﬁsh, especially eels and bass. The village of Narta stands south of thelagoon on the water’s edge, and is surround-ed by low hills covered with vineyards thatare used to make one of the best artisanalwines in Albania. The lagoon also offers thepicturesque view of the village of Zvërnecand of the nearby island, which hosts theByzantine-style Church and Monastery ofSaint Mary. The lagoon ends with the Capeof Treporti, which joins the forest-coveredhill to form a beautiful natural ensemble.
APOLLONIAVLORE - APOLLONI 47 km Fier is 30 km from Vlora, and Apollonia is12 km from Fier. The city of Apollonia, namedfor the Greek god Apollo, was founded in thebeginning of the seventh century B.C. by Co-rinthian settlers. The ﬁrst documentation ofthe settlers’ presence dates back to 588 B.C. The city, located in proximity to the Aoos(Vjosa) River, had 60,000 inhabitants, a largecity for its time. Among 24 cities in the ancientMediterranean world with the same name, Il-lyrian Apollonia was the most important, as itserved as a middleman for trade between theIllyrians and the Hellenes (Greeks). The city remained equally prominentduring the Roman period; Octavian Augus-tus studied oratory here. The vast area covered by monuments,the wonderful view of the valley of Myzeqeand the Adriatic sea, its proximity to bigcities and the southern beaches, make theApollonia Archaeological Park easily reach-able for visitors and a destination point forcultural tourism in Albania.
ORIKUMIVLORE - ORIKUM 33 km The small city of Orikum lies south of theGulf of Vlora, near a marina that can berth650 yachts. Orikum was one of the mostimportant cities in the ancient world; thesettlers from the island of Eubea founded itduring their retreat from the Trojan War. Orikum’s strategic position turned it intothe main port of the Illyrian Amant clan andit played an important role in the civil warsbetween Caesar and Pompey. During the Byzantine period, the smallport of Orikum took the name “Jeriko”,while during the Ottoman occupation, Ori-kum took the name “Pasha Liman”. The most important archeological objectis the antique theater of Orikum, with 400-500 seats.
ORIKUMI Another notable local site is the Churchof Marmiroi, from the early Byzantine period.Orikum is a good start point if you want toexplore the peninsula of Karaburun, which en-closes the western part of the Gulf of Vlora. The western shore of Karaburun is spec-tacular, with small gulfs and isolated beacheswith deep and clear water. The marine cave of Haxhi Alia, (a 17thcentury sailor from Ulqin) lies north of thepeninsula. Antique writings have been foundin the steep slopes close to the beach ofGrame (the name derives from the Greekword Gramata).
AMANTIAVLORE - AMANTIA 20 km The ruins of the antique city of Amantiastand south of the Vlora District, close tothe village Plloçë. Amantia was declaredan archaeological park in 2005. It was thecapital city of the Illyrian Abant clan. It was founded in the ﬁfth century B.C.and covered an area of 13 hectares. The most interesting objects for visitorsare the antique stadium of Amantia, 60 mlong and 12.5 m wide, and the fortiﬁca-tions.
LLOGARAVLORE - LLOGARA 40 km The Llogara National Park lies approxi-mately 40 km south of the city of Vlora.It is situated in the Llogara Mountain andhas a surface of 810 hectares, with heightsof between 470 and 2018 m above sea lev-el. It combines the beauties of a mountainand seaside climate. You can enjoy part ofits magical natural beauty while travelingalong the Vlorë-Sarandë National Highwayat Qafa e Llogarasë, 1025 m above sea level.
Here, medicinal and decorative plantsmix with masses of pine trees. The parkalso is home to many different kinds of ani-mals. After 20 minutes of driving along theNational Highway, you will be able to seethe Albanian Riviera. You can stay overnight in the park andenjoy the restaurants, contemporary clubs,and different activities and excursions. The park is also a good place to enjoyaerial sports (it is known for internationalaerial sports events) like parachuting andhang-gliding.
PALASALLOGARA - PALASE 13 km After passing Qafa e Llogarasë througha road that dates back to the Pompey pe-riod, you descend into the Albanian Riviera.This warm Mediterranean zone has nearly300 sunny days a year, and the averagetemperature of July is 25°C (77° Fahren-heit). The list of places to visit begins withthe beach of Dhraleo (Palasë) known for itsclear waters. Pompey and his army stoppedat this beach in ancient times, when it wasknown as Palestra.
DHERMIUPALASE - DHERMI 3 km Dhërmiu is famous for its crystal-clearwaters, and small intimate pebble beacheslike Jaliksari, Shkambo, and Gjipea. Gjipeais a rare beauty, for it is situated at the footof a 70 m high cliff. Close to Dhërmiu is thelegendary Cavern of the Pirates. Dhërmiu is a picturesque village of a par-ticular atmosphere. It is thought to haveﬁrst been inhabited in 49-48 B.C. In Dhër-miu there is the Monastery of Shën Mëria,the Church of Shën Todhri, the Church of theIpapandia and the Church of Shën Mitri withits frescos from the 12th - 14th centuries. The main entertainments in Dhërmiu areswimming, water sports, and diving. Thereare many hotels, restaurants, pubs, disco-theques. The restaurants combine tradi-tional and foreign cuisines, and serve manyseafood specialties.
VUNOIDHERMI - VUNO 8 km Eight km south of Dhërmiu there is thevillage of Vunoi, well known for its tradi-tions and patriotism. From here, the roadgoes to the wonderful beach of Jali, whosefantastic gulfs are distinctive from those inthe rest of the Riviera. Vunoi is a uniquevillage, built on a hill facing the sea. Hereyou can visit old churches like the Churchof Shën Spiridhoni, built in 1778, and theChurch of Mesodhia with paintings from1783. There are also several architecturallandmarks such as the ruins of the House ofOdise Kasneci and the tower-like House ofShane Kote.
HIMARAVUNO - HIMARE 4 km Continuing your tour towards the south,you will come across the small city of Hi-mara, which has two neighborhoods: OldHimara built on the hill, and New Himarain the gulf of Spille. The beaches of Himaraare Spille, Llamani, Potami, and Livadhet.They are all gravel beaches with deep,clear waters. Another site to visit is the Castle of AliPashë Tepelena, built on a small peninsulain the tectonic gulf of Porto Palermo. Thecastle is built like a triangle with walls 20m high. It is said that this castle was built on topof the ruins of an ancient castle.
HIMARA Himara comes to life during the summertourist season, when visitors take up resi-dence in the hotels or in rented houses. Himara is the ancient residence and cityof the Illyrian Kaon clan. It was settled inthe ﬁfth century B.C. and its name is ofPellazgë (pre-Illyrian) origin. There areseveral religious sites to visit such as theChurch of Shën Mëria e Athalit, the Churchof Cassiopeia, the Church of All Saints, andthe House of Lilo Llazari, which has beenturned into a cultural monument.
QEPAROI & BORSHIHIMARE - QEPARO 13 km Close to the gulf of Porto Palermo standsthe village of Qeparo with its own distinc-tive beach. Old Qeparo, built on the hill-side, has several objects worth seeing, suchas the three-story Towers of Ali Pasha, theMonastery of Shën Dhimitri, and the Houseof Minella Gjika. The village of Borshi is situated a fewhundred meters away from the shore, near-ly 20 minutes from Himara. This is the larg-est beach of the Albanian Riviera, almost6 km of clear water. Built along the lengthof the beach are many hotels, clubs, disco-theques, and restaurants of all types. Thehospitality of the villagers and the tradi-tional dish of grilled lamb are distinctivefeatures you will ﬁnd in Borshi.
LUKOVABORSH - LUKOVE 16 km The last seaside village on the AlbanianRiviera is the village of Lukova, well knownfor its terraces of citrus and olives. Nearly 2 km further you will ﬁnd the pop-ular Bunec Beach with its beautiful streamof crystal-clear water ﬂowing directly tothe Ionian sea. South of Lukova and towardthe Gulf of Kakome, there stretch severalkilometers of gleaming white ﬂint stones, acharacteristic of the area. You also can ﬁnda number of underwater caves.
TOUR 4 ShkodraMontenegro Zogaj Shiroka Velipoja Shengjini Adriatic Sea Lezha Ishulli i Lezhës
SHKODRA Shkodra is one of the oldest cities in Al-bania, ﬁrst founded in the fourth centuryB.C. as the center of the Illyrian Labeatfamily. Throughout history Shkodra has been oc-cupied several times: by the Romans (168B.C.), the Serbians (1040), the Venetians(1396), and the Ottomans (1479), beforereturning to Albanian control as the feudalprincipality of the Balshaj (14th century)and then serving as the center of the Bush-atllinj Pashallëk (1757-1831). Shkodra is a city with a rich cultural heri-tage, being the birthplace of a large num-ber of artists, musicians, painters, photog-raphers, poets and writers.
SHKODRA Shkodra’s main tourist attraction is theRozafa Castle that rises upon a rocky hillwest of the city and is surrounded by thewaters of three rivers: the Drini, Buna, andKiri. The castle has Illyrian origins and ac-cording to the historian Tit Liri “it was thestrongest area of the Labeats”. Rozafa’scastle comes with a popular legend: Roza-fa was the youngest of the brides of threebrothers. The brothers were building thecastle by day but the walls always fell downovernight, so she sacriﬁced herself and al-lowed herself to become part of the wallsso that the castle could be built.
SHKODRA The legend says that the calcareous wa-ter ﬂowing at the entrance of the castle isthe milk ﬂowing from one of the breasts ofRozafa, which was left outside the wall sothat she could feed her baby. The castle’scharacteristics today reﬂect the dominionof the Balshaj family, but it passed throughother periods that left their own signs, in-cluding those of the Venetians, the Otto-mans (16th-17th centuries), and the Bush-atllinj family (18th-19th centuries). In addition to the castle, you might alsowant to visit other landmarks, including theHistory Museum and the renowned MarubiPhotographic Library.
SHIROKA & ZOGAJSHKODER - SHIROKE 4 km, - ZOGAJ 10 km Close to the city lies the Lake of Shkodra,the biggest lake in the Balkans (with a sur-face of 368 square km, 149 of which arein Albanian waters). The lake is notablefor its different banks: the southern bankis low and marshy while the northern oneis a high and rocky. Two main tourist cen-ters are located here: Shiroka and Zogaj.They are famous for their ﬁsh restaurants,whose most popular dish is the tradition-al baked carp.The lake of Shkodra enjoyswarm temperatures, with 250-260 days ofsun during the year. The main activities areswimming, sunbathing and rowing. Besidesthese amusements, the lake of Shkodraconstitutes a very important natural eco-system. There are 281 species of birds and45 species of ﬁsh including carp, eel andshtojza.
VELIPOJASHKODER - VELIPOJE 22 km The beach of Velipoja is only 22 km awayfrom the city of Shkodra. The 4 km longshore is famous for its high quality, thera-peutic sand with its high iodine content.Besides the water-based activities (swim-ming, ﬁshing), the surroundings offer sev-eral interesting natural objects worth see-ing, such as the small island of Franc Josefpositioned at the mouth of the Buna River,close to the Montenegro border.
LEZHASHKODER - LEZHE 41 km A few kilometers south of Shkodra liesthe city of Lezha, another of the oldest cit-ies of Albania, which was ﬁrst mentionedin historical documents by the name Lis-sus. In 1398, after the construction of itscastle, the city was under the control ofthe feudal family of Lekë Dukagjini, butthen was conquered by Venice. One of themost important historical events for Lezhaand all Albania was “The Assembly of Le-zha” on March 2, 1444 under the leader-ship of Skanderbeg who united the Albanianprincedoms against the Ottomans.
LEZHA You must not leave Lezha without see-ing the Memorial of the Grave of Skander-beg, who was buried in the Cathedral ofShën Kolli in Lezha in 1468, or the Castle ofLezha, a hilltop building with foundationsdating back to the Illyrian period. Insidethe castle, you might want to see the ruinsof the Ottoman period (the Mosque), theRoman Arch, and the Illyrian Tower.
SHENGJINILEZHE - SHENGJIN 7 km A few minutes away from the city of Lezhais the sandy beach of Shëngjini at the footof the mount Renci, with 200-300 sunny daysper year. The mouth of the Drini River (closeto Shëngjin) hosts amazing ecosystems thatare key attractions for ecotourism.
KUNELEZHE - KUNE 5 km The Kune-Vain National Park located inthe area has 70 species of birds, 22 speciesof reptiles, 6 species of amphibians, and 23species of mammals. One of the most pleasant surprises isthe sandy island of Kune, which turns intoa peninsula depending on the water level.Kune has dense vegetation. There are 227kinds of plants on the island and many birdsnest there, making it a good place for bird-watching.
TOUR 5 Kosova Valbona Dragobia ShoshaniRragami Bajram Curri Fierza
BAJRAM CURRI The Valbona River Valley lies in the east-ern part of the Albanian Alps. A nationalpark of 8,000 hectares, it is one of the mostbeautiful natural areas in Albania. The parklies at 20-30 km from the alpine city of Ba-jram Curri.
SHOSHANBAJRAM CURRI - SHOSHAN 3 km Before entering the valley you will ﬁndthe water source (vrellen) of Shoshan lo-cated only 3 km away from Bajram Curri.This karstic source heads to the ValbonaRiver creating an attractive canyon 2-3 mwide and 50 m deep.
DRAGOBIASHOSHAN - DRAGOBI 9 km After entering the valley, you will passseveral picturesque villages. The ﬁrst, withalpine style houses, is called Dragobia, andit is where the valley narrows. Past Drago-bia, at the foot of a mountain where theCerremi stream joins Valbona, there is thefamous cave where the national hero Ba-jram Curri was besieged and killed.
VALBONADRAGOBI - VALBONE 10 km Valbona (or Selimaj) is located 25 kmaway from the city of Bajram Curri and isthe most important inhabited center of thevalley. It is full of traditional houses thatcreate a picturesque view in symmetry withthe natural wonders of the valley, whichwidens again at this point. In Selimaj, you will ﬁnd a comfortableand traditional hotel, or you may have theopportunity to stay at a village home, forthe inhabitants’ generosity and hospitalityare well known.
VALBONA Up until May you can enjoy the contrastof the clean white snow on the treetopsagainst the blue sky. The ﬂora of the na-tional park includes a variety of plants andtrees, the most wide-spread formations ofwhich are the Hormoq tree. The rest con-sists of beechwoods, arnen, walnuts, chest-nut trees, and wild apple trees. There arealso many forest fruits such as bilberriesand strawberries.
VALBONA The zone is also known for its character-itic regional cooking, with specialties suchas “mazja”, “ﬂija”, and “pitja” masterfullyprepared in traditional village kitchens. The valley, the park, and all the sur-roundings are known for snowfall, whichstarts in early November and lasts almostuntil May. The average level of the snow in this re-gion is 100 cm.
VALBONA The animals in the park include bears,wolves, and wild cats, while on the rocksthere are herds of wild goats. Down in theriver there is the so-called “marble trout”,a rare ﬁsh of the crystal-clear waters ofthe Valbona with an exquisite and specialtaste.
VALBONA There are lots of outdoor activities thatcan take place in the national park, suchas ﬁshing, excursions and trekking through-out the valley and the streams (Cerrem,Kukuaj), canoeing along certain parts ofthe river, and skiing or mountain climbing.Valbona may also serve as a starting pointif you wish to climb the Jezerca Mountain,the second highest mountain in Albania.
RRAGAMIVALBONE - RRAGAM 10 km The ﬁnal village before you arrive atthe source of the Valbona River is Rragam.Rragam is a remote village surrounded byvirgin and intact nature. The whole valleyhas such rare colors and beauty that onemay think a divine hand made it. On oneside, you see the crystal-clear waters ofthe Valbona, and on the other the sharp butverdant mountain edges.
TOUR 6Montenegro Vermoshi Kosova Boga Razma Thethi
RAZMASHKODER - RAZEM 41 km The alpine tour of Albania is not com-plete without a visit to the Western Alps(Alpet Perëndimore). Here you will enjoysomething unique: you will walk, breath,sleep and eat amidst the legends startingfrom Homer and ending with the moderntales of our days. This tour gives you thechance to enjoy a unique place at the heartof the Albanian Alps, “Gropa e Thethit”.
RAZMA The journey to this mountainous area be-gins from the city of Shkodra and leads tothe closest stop, 41 km away from Shkodra,the city of Razma, situated on a blackber-ry hill at the feet of the Veleçik Mountain.Razma stands amids inﬁnite forests of pinesand birch trees. There are also many mead-ows and amazing alpine pastures. The jour-ney to Razma is possible even in the winterwhen the snow is at its highest level. Thereare several hotels already and others areon their way to completion. The most com-mon activities are excursions, mountainclimbing, skiing, and during the summer,camping.
BOGARAZEM - BOGE 33 km The road will lead you from Razma to thevillage of Dedaj and then onto Boga, a vil-lage surrounded by the Alps and describedby Edith Durham in her book The Burdenof the Balkans. Boga is the perfect placefor mountain climbing, skiing, and spelunk-ing. Among the most famous caves, you canvisit the Cave of Mulliri (“Mill”), Akullore(“Ice Cream”), and Njerëzve të lagun (“WetPeople”).
BOGA The Cave of Puci is one of the most at-tractive, situated at 1,087 m above sealevel. It is 5 km long and rich in stalactites, sta-lagmites, and wall veils. The cave has manylevels, ﬁve alone in the center. By passingthrough its galleries you can connect withanother cave, the Cave of Husi.
THETHIBOGE - THETH 17 km After Boga, you will reach the main tour-ist center of the entire area, Thethi, locat-ed 70 km from Shkodra. Before arriving atThethi you must pass Qafa e Tërthores at2,000 m above sea level. From here, youdescend to Gropa e Thethit, crossed by astream with the same name. The area is rich in attractive sights likethe Cascade of Grunas, 25-30 m high. Youwill be amazed by the cold-water sourcesof Okol and the caves “Birrat me rrathë”(“Round Holes”) and “Arapi”.
THETHI In the park, you can amuse yourself bytrekking, mountain climbing, skiing (es-pecially on the eastern slope), or ﬁshing,mountain biking and exploring caverns. Theﬂora is impressive: the most common tree ofthe area is the beech, which covers almost90 percent of the surface of the park. There are different types of ﬂowerssuch as Eulfenia of Baldachi discovered bythe Italian botanist Baldachi, which canbe found only in Theth. The fauna is justas rich, distinguished by the Golden Eagleand rriqebull. The waters of the Stream ofTheth are home to marble trout.
THETHI While in Theth you can stay in local hos-tels with traditional alpine architecture. The characteristic dish of the area is“fërliku” (baked meat) and different platesof trout. From Theth, the trip continues tothe valley of the Shalë River approachingthe heart of the Alps.
VERMOSHITHETH - VERMOSH 82 km Another interesting spot of the WesternAlps is Vermosh, part of the northern-mostregion of the country. Vermosh is 95 kmaway from the city of Shkodra. Vermosh ispart of the region of Kelmend, a name thatoriginates from the Roman word “Climens”,meaning gentle, simple, and good. The ﬁrstthing that catches the eye during this jour-ney is Qafa e Rrapshit where you can seethe crystal-clear waters of the Cemi Riverthat create a beautiful contrast with thesurroundings. During summer, the ponds of the riverare perfect for sunbathing.
VERMOSHI Vermoshi stands in an alpine ﬁeld at1,100 m above sea level surrounded by highslopes. You can entertain yourself by trekking,mountain climbing, skiing, or ﬁshing fortrout. If you want to try something special fromthe traditional cuisine, be sure to taste thediary products of the area! The journey tothis part of Albania will give you not onlythe chance to live between a mythical at-mosphere and the contemporary world, butwill also let you taste the proverbial hospi-tality known and mentioned by every for-eigner who has visited this place.
POGRADECI You will enter the region of Pogradec viathe national highway where the road fromMacedonia crosses Maja e Qafthanës. Thiscrossroad offers exceptional views worthphotographing of Lake Ohri, a real pearl“shelled” between Mali i Thatë (“Dry Moun-tain”) in the east and the highland of Mokrain the west. The city of Pogradec was settled in theneolithic period, and it later became hometo the Illyrian Enkelejdë and Desaretëclans, who built the Castle of Pogradec ona hill at 870 m above sea level. You can visitthe city at any time during the year, for ithas a wonderful climate.
POGRADECI The road to Pogradec passes close to theshore of the tectonic Lake Ohri, the deep-est lake in the Balkans (285 m). This 2-4 million-year-old lake (under theprotection of UNESCO because of its uniquevalue) houses 17 species of water animals,70 percent of which are native and 30 per-cent migrant. The sponge of Ohri is foundonly here and in Lake Baikal.
LINIPOGRADEC - LIN 25 km A few meters further down, you mightstop at the peninsula of Lin and in the vil-lage with the same name, 25 km away fromPogradec. It is said that in ancient times,this was the favorite holiday destination ofthe parents of the Roman emperor Justin-ian. Besides the magical view, you can alsosee the mosaics of the Bazilika e Linit thatdate back to the 7th-6th centuries B.C.,which show an amazing ensemble of zoo-morphic, ﬂoral, and geometric decorationsresembling the mosaics of ancient Durrës.
DRILONIPOGRADEC - DRILON 4 km On the edge of the lake you will ﬁndmany restaurants, clubs and comfortablehotels. You must not miss tasting the tra-ditional ﬁsh dishes, especially the bakedspeckled trout (koran in Albanian), as wellas the famous pickles and kollofacet. Youcan also try different types of wines, butdon’t miss the traditional unique wine ofButi, or the famous Perla and Muskat rakiof Pogradec. Before leaving Pogradec you will not wantto miss seeing Driloni and Tushemisht, 4-5 kmsouth of the city. The waters of the sourceof the Drilon form a small lake, surroundedby beautiful greenery that turns the areaand the nearby village of Tushemisht into aunique oasis of calmness and rest.
KORÇAPOGRADEC - KORÇE 41 km The next surprise after the rare city ofPogradec is the city of Korça, one of the big-gest urban centers in Albania. During thespring, the main avenue ﬁlls with the fra-grance of the sturgeon ﬂowers, while duringwinter you will enjoy a walk under the snow-ﬁlled trees. In 1887, the ﬁrst Albanian schoolopened in Korçë. During the First World War,the French invaded the city and it becamethe “Autonomous Region of Korça.” In 1917 the French Lyceum opened; oneof the most noted schools in Albania. But be-sides its history, what attracts attention inthis traditional city is the architecture withthe villa-like houses encircled by banistersand ﬂowery gardens. The zone between theRepublika and Shën Gjergji boulevards isvery interesting: here you can visit the Me-dieval Art Museum and the Prehistoric Mu-seum, located in two traditional buildingsof the city, that will give you the chance tosee nearly 1,200 objects from archeologicalexcavations from the prehistoric, Hellenic,Roman and Paleo-Byzantine eras.
KORÇA Another interesting object is the mu-seum house of the master artist VangjushMio, and the Museum of the Bratko Collec-tion, opened in 2003, presenting art objectsfrom the Far East. You might also want tovisit the bazaar (dating from the turn ofthe 20th century), the Mosque of Iliaz BejMiharori (the oldest monument in the city,dating back to 1484), and the Kathedral Ng-jallja e Krishtit (“Resurrection of Christ”),one of the biggest in the Balkans. At night it is not unusual to hear the tra-ditional bands of the city singing sweet ser-enades with guitars under the balconies. Inthe taverns of the city you will taste dishesyou have never tried before. You can sam-ple them all, but remember not to miss“lakrori me qepë dhe domate”, and “tavae korminës”. And don’t forget the Festival of Carni-vals, the biggest celebration of its kind inall of Albania.
VOSKOPOJAKORÇE - VOSKOPOJE 24 km Voskopoja was one of the most importantcenters of the Balkans. It has been knownas a city since 1330, but life here was in fullbloom by 1794, when the city had 30,000inhabitants and maintained contacts withLeipzig, Budapest, Venice, and Vienna. Thecity also had 27 churches, an academy, alibrary, and the ﬁrst printing house in theBalkans, in 1720. You will not want to miss visiting theMonastery of Shën Prodhom and the Churchof Shën Kolli (1721), which is full of picturesof famous Albanian iconographers such asDavid Selenicas and the Zograﬁ brothersfrom Korça who also worked in the SaintMountain of Athos, in Halkidiki, Greece. Besides the healthy climate and the airﬁlled with pine fragrance, Voskopoja offerscomfortable hotels and private houses forfamily tourism as well as a natural ski-runfor all skiing enthusiasts.
DARDHAKORÇE - DARDHE 20 km Another unforgettable mountain spot isthe village of Dardha, 20 km southeast ofthe city of Korça, at 1,350 m above sea lev-el. There is snow during the three monthsof winter, the air is crystalline, and the wa-ter of the village’s many natural fountainsis pure and cold. Enjoy the unique folkwomen’s costumes dominated by black andred, the colors of the national ﬂag, visit thestone houses that offer hospitality to trav-elers, and don’t forget to taste the tradi-tional plum raki and the lakrori në saq (atraditional pie made with cabbage betweentwo sheets of dough, and baked in a wood-ﬁred oven).
VITHKUQIKORÇE - VITHKUQ 27 km The mountain village of Vithkuq, birth-place of the Albanian Renaissance pioneerNaum Veqilharxhi, stands 25 km southwestof the city of Korça. It has been a popula-tion center and a well-known economic andcultural center since medieval times. During your stay, you absolutely mustdrink the water of the Bellovoda and visitthe Church of Shën Pjetër and the Churchof Shën Pavël. If you have enough time, youalso should climb Rungaja (1,750 m abovesea level) by foot or horse. Don’t worryabout the accommodation, for the peopleof the area will surely invite you to theircomfortable and characteristic houses.
TOUR 8 Frashëri Këlcyra KëlcyraMemaliajMemaliaj Tepelena Përmeti Kosina Tre Urat
As you leave either Gjirokastra or Tepel-ena, Gryka e Këlcyrës will appear in frontof you. This natural gate of the Valley ofVjosa will be the ﬁrst to say “Welcome”,showing its natural beauty, the high color-ful mountains and the magniﬁcent VjosaRiver, a rapid and blue river full of tastyﬁsh and amazing cataracts
KËLCYRA You should not continue your journeywithout eating in the restaurants of Grykae Këlcyrës, set among picturesque views ofnature, to taste their lamb and dairy spe-cialties. If you spend an evening in the ho-tels of Gryka e Këlcyrës you will see ma-jestic views of nature like you have neverexperienced.
Past the small town of Këlcyrë, knownin antiquity by the name Klistyra, as youtravel through the Valley of Vjosa, (Aoos,in antiquity), you will be able to admire thesight of the mountains Dhëmbel, Trebeshi-në, Kokojkë and, on the horizon, Nëmërçka(“a big, regal woman”) cradling a valley“embroidered” by the people of this regionthrough their wisdom and hard work.
PËRMETIKELCYRE - PERMET 20 km The restaurants of Përmet and the sur-rounding area offer a special cuisine andunforgettable service. Among the city’straditional famous dishes, you can sample“ingjinari” with olive oil, wild meat, moun-tain partridge “me përshesh”, boar meat,rabbit, and the delicious ﬁsh of the Vjosa. You will also taste the famous wine(Kabërnet, Merlot, etc) and the traditionalraki, as well as the delicious “gliko” (a kindof jelly) made from all kinds of fruits, andespecially from walnuts.
PËRMETI In Përmet you will enjoy the relaxing calmand the ﬂowers and greenery without end. You will ﬁnd hospitality and a touchingkindness in the streets, houses, restaurantsand hotels. A night in the pleasant and com-fortable hotels on the banks of the Vjosawill leave you with the impression of sleep-ing amidst the waves of river itself.
PËRMETI Përmet, a city of ﬂowers, roses, irre-placeable songs, cleanness, and tranquility(its antique name was Tryﬁlia, inhabitedby Illyrians), was known as an administra-tive center since the 15th century. Its sev-eral and rich bazaars were often visited byresidents of the surrounding countries. To-day, we invite you to see Gurin e Qytetit(“City’s Stone”), a surprising natural stonemonument that makes the city distinct. Youshould also see the churches, especially the18th century Church of Leus, famous for itsicons and wood engravings, and the 12thcentury Church of Shën Mëria në Kosinë.During summer, you will ﬁnd many beachesin Përmet that look like pools carved out ofthe river’s edge.
FRASHËRIPERMET - FRASHER 30 km Since we are talking about the Albanianpantheon, you should not miss the chanceto visit Frashër, 30 km away from the city.It is the birthplace of the Frashëri brothersand many other noted personalities thatbuilt the foundations of the Albanian na-tion and deﬁned what we call “the Albaniangene”. However, this is not the only reasonwhy we direct you to Frashër. Traveling to-wards the village you willpass through the Bredhii Hotovës National Park,meaning you will have thechance to see an incred-ible view with ﬁr-woods,endless pines, and manycold-water sources.
BËNJAPERMET - BENJE 3 km As you leave Përmet behind, the roadheads to the Greek frontier, just 30 km awayfrom the city, towards the city of Leskovik,famous for its thermal waters in Vronomeroand the saunas of Postenan. But you cannot say goodbye to Përmet without visitingthe thermal waters of Benja and the Val-ley of Lengarincë just 3 km away from thecity. There are six natural outdoor sourcesof warm curative water (even in winter!).These waters ﬂow from the beautiful can-yons of two bridges built in the time of AliPashë Tepelena: Ura e Kaikut, and Ura eDashit.
The banks of Vjosa are often crowded byﬁshing amateurs, and during the summerthere is an annual canoeing competitionthat starts from the source of Vjosa, at thefeet of the Pindi Mountains, and ends witha ceremony in the city of Përmet. Thereare two other annual rituals, the Interna-tional Multicultural Festival (during June),and Dita e verërave (Wine day) during May.
TOUR 9Berati Mali i Tomorrit Poliçani Radeshi Çorovoda
BERATI This 2,407 year-old city, the pride of Al-banian antiquity and architecture and underthe protection of UNESCO, Berati, is located120 km from Tirana. The city forms a won-derful combination of eastern and westerncultures, costumes, traditions, and outlook.Berat is a treasure-trove of Albanian historyand culture, and testimony to the country’stradition of religious harmony.
BERATI The city’s life began in the 6th-5th cen-tury B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the 3rd century B.C., it wasturned into a castle city known as Antipa-trea. The castle expanded especially duringthe feudal dominion of the Muzakaj family.
Inside the castle, they built churcheswith precious frescos and icons, and a cal-ligraphy school. Today people continue tolive inside the castle, a fact that makes itunique. The three major neighborhoods of theold city are Mangalem, Gorica and Kala.The castle itself is in Kala; in Mangalem,below the castle, you can see the famousview of the façades of the houses withwindows that seem to stand above eachother. In general, a traditional house hastwo ﬂoors, where the second is prominentand has many cambered windows and woodcarvings. With its houses built along thesteep hill, the view of Mangalem is the rea-son that another name for Berat is “City ofthe Floating Windows”.
Across the Osumi River lies the Goricaneighborhood, whose houses face those ofMangalem. The arched bridge of Gorica,built in 1780, is a beautiful architecturalmonument constructed to link Gorica toMangelem. The ensemble of the Byzantine churchesin the castle of Berat is extraordinary. Atthe foot of the castle, there is the Byzan-tine church of Shën Mëhilli, while the 13thcentury Church of Shën Mëria e Vllahernës,the Church of Shën Triadha (“The Holy Trin-ity”), and the post-Byzantine monumentCathedral of Shën Mëria are located withinthe castle. The Cathedral of Shën Mëria houses amuseum of works by the famous iconogra-phists of the 16th century: Onufri, and hisson, Nikolla.
There are over 100 icons on display andthey also include works of other artists suchas Johan Cetiri, Onufër Qiprioti and manyanonymous painters. You also can visit theMonastery of Shën Spiridhoni in Gorica. In 1417, the Ottomans occupied Berat.This conquest left its mark with the build-ing of monuments to the Islamic faith, suchas the Xhamia e Kuqe (“Red Mosque”, insidethe castle), the Xhamia e Plumbit (1555),Xhamia Mbret (16th century) and the Xha-mia e Beqarëve (1872). Other sites worth visiting are the Ethno-logical Museum, situated inside an 18th cen-tury çardak building, and the art gallery ofEdward Lear, a well-known English painterwho painted so much of Berat and Albania. In addition, Berat is known for its culinaryand traditional dishes. It is worth tastingspecialties such as “pula me përshesh” and“Çorba e Tomorrit” in the local restaurants.
MALI I TOMORRITBERAT - MALI I TOMORRIT 30 km The city of Berat is a good starting pointto explore Mount Tomorri (also called theAlbanian Olympus, or “Gods’ Throne”), 30-40 km away from the city. Mount Tomorriis famous for its mystical appearance; itlooks like a giant lion lying behind the city.This is one of the highest mountains in Al-bania, reaching 2,416 m above sea level.The western slope is the most beautiful,covered with mixed vegetation. The for-est is mostly made of beech trees, pines,maples, ash trees, and ﬁrs. Bears, wolves,foxes, weasels and rabbits make up thepark’s fauna.
MALI I TOMORRIT Mount Tomorri is perfect for mountainclimbing, trekking, and other similar activi-ties, and the area surrounding the moun-tain is an ideal place for camping. Another interesting spot on the mountainis Tyrbja e Kulmakut and the grave of AbazAliu, the saint of the bektashinj believers,situated at 1,200 m above sea level. DuringAugust pilgrims come to his grave and manyburnt offerings are made. This is the big-gest pilgrimage of the Albanian and foreign“bektashinj”.
LUMI I OSUMITBERAT - KANIONET E OSUMIT 30 km The Cave of Pirrogosh lies near the vil-lage of Radesh, midways to the valley ofOsum, in the stream of Çorovoda. Pirrogosh is the biggest and longest cavein Albania, stretching almost 1,500 m. Theentrance is 5 m wide. The most interestingpart of the cave is the giant corridor fullof many different karstic shapes. The caveends with a deep well full of bat colonies.Gradeci Canyon, the most beautiful andspectacular canyon of the valley of Osum,stands close to the cave.
LUMI I OSUMIT It is 4 km long, 40 m high, and in dif-ferent spots, only 1.5 m wide. Its slopesdescend rapidly into the river. To reach other canyons of Osum, youwill journey southward. These other can-yons are located 3 km south from the cityof Çorovoda. They are natural magniﬁcentobjects with a total length of 15 km. In thisarea, you can practice water sports like ca-noeing and kayaking. There are also severalspots that serve as small beaches, such asVarishta.
T O U R 10Adriatic Kruja Sea Durrësi Tirana Elbasan
TIRANA Tirana, the heart and capital of Albania,like all other European metropolises has anever-ending movement and energy. Withits clubs, pubs, cafes and taverns, Tiranais worth discovering by day and night. Thevalue and hospitality shown towards tour-ists is something that will mark your jour-ney not only in Tirana but also all over thecountry.
TIRANA There are different thoughts regardingthe origin of the name of the city. Somethink that it relates to Tyrrenia (a name ofEtruscan origins), while other believe thatit relates the word theranda (harvest), orto the Tirkan (a castle at the foot of MountDajti). Your own journey might begin by vis-iting the museums and the key spots suchas “Sheshi Skënderbej” where you will beable to see the Mosque of Et’hem Beut(built during 1798-1812) and the 35-meterhigh Kulla e Sahatit (the Watch Tower) builtin 1822 with a San Marco-style cupola.
Next, you can visit the famous Mosaic un-covered on the ﬂoor of an old Roman lodge.Its center conﬁgures the walls of the castleof the Roman emperor Justinian (520 B.C.).The monumental Tomb of Kapllan Pasha andthe Ura e Tabakëve (a bridge constructed inthe beginning of the 19th century) in Bu-levardi “Zhan D’Ark” are other interestingplace to visit. As a capital Tirana has thecountry’s ﬁnest museums, theatres and gal-leries representing the national arts. Thevisit to the National History Museum, theArcheological Museum, the Natural ScienceMuseum, the private “Mezuraj Museum”,and the National Gallery of the Arts willleave wonderful memories. You also canpass a pleasant evening in the NationalTheatre or the Opera and Ballet Theatre.
TIRANA For dining, Tirana will be glad to offer youboth a rich traditional cuisine and differentforeign ones, from Chinese to Italian restau-rants. There are also several clubs and restau-rants in Mount Dajti to discover and enjoy.
KRUJATIRANE - KRUJE 45 km The historic city of Kruja lies on a pan-oramic mountain slope 32 km away fromTirana, 600m above sea level. The city isone of the most beautiful tourist spots dueto its natural views and its history. HereGjergj Kastrioti (Skanderbeg) protected Al-bania and Europe from the Ottomans. The most important object of the city isthe Museum of the National Hero “GjergjKastriot Skënderbeu” situated in an Illyriancastle, which took its present facade duringthe 5th-6th century. The castle has nine tow-ers, a few houses, and the Teqja e Dollmasë. The hammam of the 6th century A.D.is on west of the castle. Inside the castlegrounds, you can also visit the Ethnograph-ic Museum, a typical house made of çardak,which belonged to the illustrious Toptanifamily. The traditional market of Krujastands near the castle. It is one of Albania’slargest handicrafts market. This bazaar hasoperated since the 15th century.
DURRËSITIRANE - DURRES 34 km Durrës, the biggest seaport of the coun-try, is located 34 km away from Tirana. Itis the most ancient city in Albania, with al-most 3,000 years of history. Its foundationdates back in 627 B.C. when the Corinthi-ans and settlers from Corcyra invaded theIllyrian territory of the Taulants. The city ishome to many ancient archaeological sitesand ﬁnds. The most notable tourist spot inDurrës is the amphitheatre of the Romanemperor Adrian with 15,000 seats, the sec-ond biggest amphitheatre in the Balkans.During the 9th century, a small church withmosaic-covered walls was built nearby. Youalso can see the complex of baths of the2nd century A.D and the nearby Byzantineforum of the 5th-6th century with marblecolumns. A one-third length of wall fromthe original of the city castle is still stand-ing, and you can even walk along the sameroad that Caesar himself trod!
DURRËSI The Archeological Museum is a newbuilding in the avenue Taulantia. It is oneof the most important of its kind and isof great interest to visitors. The most re-nowned archaeological object uncoveredin Durrës is “Bukuroshja e Durrësit” (Dur-rësi’s Beauty) mosaic of the 4th centuryB.C. In addition to its historical value, Du-rrës is a beautiful place to take a modernvacation due to its sandy beaches, hotelsand metropolitan outlook. You will ﬁnd ex-cellent restaurants and accommodationsall along the ocean’s edge.
ELBASANITIRANE - ELBASAN 50 km Located at the Shkumbin River, where itcrosses the famous Egnatia Road (Corridor8), the city of Elbasan – ancient Skampini –is just 50 km away from Tirana. In ancienttimes, Skampini was a typical Roman forti-ﬁcation, but in the 4th century it receiveda new administrative status and, with itsnew name Hiskampis, it became one of themajor cities of the new Epirus, home ofthe area’s only Roman legion. Accordingto the historian Tit Livi, King Pyrrhus ofEpirus was the ﬁrst to teach others how toput up a camp, which is why the city’s for-tiﬁcation is in the form of a square. In the6th century, the city broadened beyondthe walls of the castle due to its needsas center of the episcopate, with severalcathedrals and a large basilica on the hillof Tepe, near the castle.
In 1466, the Ottomans took control onthe castle of Skampini and reconstructedit almost entirely. They renamed the cityElbasan and it became center of the sanx-hak between the 17th and 18th centuries,a time in which the exchange of goods inand outside the country and the handicraftdeveloped signiﬁcantly. Today you can still touch the well-pre-served evidence of history while still en-joying a comfortable city and surroundingregion full of modern hotels, restaurants,and clubs.