Cultural & food tour of Albania
“Ardi was a tremendous guide. Professional, but with a great sense of fun! The trip was wonderful, the food all excellent.”
Richard Cusden, April 2017
2020 departure dates: Any
Albania is a fascinating country for many reasons, but one that you may not have considered is its cuisine! A fantastic mixture of eastern and western dishes, Albania is a foodie’s delight, whether you’re visiting a Michelin-starred restaurant or a mountain family’s dining room.
Add into this mix a hugely eventful and interesting history and you have yourself a holiday that combines all the most interesting cultural locations with some of the very best culinary experiences that you could hope to experience, every bit the equal of those in Italy or France! All the while you will learn about blood feuds, the sworn virgins of the mountains, life under Enver Hoxha, one of the most crazed of all European dictators, and much, much more besides.
This holiday is not suitable for vegans.
Looking for a longer lasting adventure spread over 14 days? This holiday combines brilliantly with our 7 day Multi-Activity Holiday at Lake Skadar.
Your Tour Leader: Ardi is one of the best freelance guides in Albania and after spending a lot of time in Northern Ireland, has been working with us for 2 years. His passions for his country’s history, its cuisine and his encyclopedic knowledge of communist era motor vehicles are un-matched! He speaks English, German and of course Albanian.
Day 1 – Arrival
Transfer from Podgorica airport to the Albanian border where you meet your guide and driver. Drink and snack on the way to Theth, via a stunning mountain pass that is driveable only a few months a year (and one section is for 4x4s only!). Overnight at Villa Gjecaj, dinner with a local family.
Day 2 – Hike from Thethi to Valbona
After an early breakfast is a stunning mountain hike to the village of Valbona, around 7-8 hours away. We will enjoy the wild beauty of the highest peak in the Dinaric Alps – Jezerca, a beautiful introduction into what Albania can offer with its untouched and pristine nature. At the end of the hike we stay in the beautiful village of Valbona the newly opened Villa Dini with good opportunities to relax. Great dinner with local cheese and other delicious Valbona made products.
Day 3 – Lake Komani Boat ride, Mrizi i Zanave
We’ll wake up early for breakfast and then we will drive to the town of Bajram Curi, near to which we will experience one of the best attractions in Albania at this moment – the Komani Lake boat ride. Lake Komani is a man-made lake filling a steep mountain gorge that some say is among the 5 best such trips worldwide. There are some really tiny isolated villages on the way and we might even organise a stop for a little turkish coffee and a raki at one of them! We’ll reach the western side of the lake in about 4 – 5 hours, before a short 90 minute car ride to the small village of Fishte in nearby Lezhe province to visit the famous foodie’s delight of Mrizi i Zanave, an outstanding organic restaurant, where we will eat dinner (yum!). Local delicacies of 100% organic provenance are married to lovely local wines and served with an artistic flourish that really has to be experienced to be believed! We overnight in the restaurant’s simple rooms, which come in all sizes and are located just behind the dining area in a separate building.
Day 4 – The Town of 1000 windows
Breakfast at Mrizi i Zanave is ever bit as delicious as dinner! It’s a great way to start the day. Afterwards, there is a 2 and a half hour drive south past the capital, Tirana (don’t worry, we’ll be back!) to the UNESCO Heritage site of Berat, the town of a thousand windows. This stunning hillside village on the steps of the Tomorr mountains is a place of great beauty and tranquility, and the service at the exquisite Hotel Mangalemi is every bit as perfect. There will be time – between more delicious meals! – to visit the Church of the Holy Trinity, a gorgeous 13th century Byzantine church in the ancient citadel of Berat at the top of the hill and explore the town by foot.
Day 5 – Tirana
After a gentle morning, we head back north to Albania’s capital, Tirana. This vibrant city has plenty for both the roving gourmet and the cultural traveller to enjoy – we stay at the Lowen Inn B&B, which has excellent facilities, lovely rooms and is located a mere 800m away from Skenderbeg Square in the centre of town. Your guide will take you to all the most interesting cultural sites, including Et’Hem Bey mosque, the National Art Gallery, the Pyramid and the bustling, vibrant Blloku district. You will of course also get to taste some more outstanding Albanian cuisine, such as the charming and authentic Oda restaurant, where you eat on low tables as if in a distant relative’s own house.
Day 6 – Tirana to Shkoder
After some more early morning exploring around the town, we shall head back up north to Shkodra where we will register into a beautiful, traditional guesthouse (Hotel Tradita). In the afternoon, you can relax and take the complimentary bicycles out into town before returning to the guesthouse for dinner. The Tradita’s restaurant is justly as famous as their rooms, a large fire dominating the balconied mezzanine above you, where a wealth of local delicacies will be prepared for you to savour!
Day 7 – Exploring Shkoder
Shkoder has much to enjoy for your final day with us. After showing you the beautiful Castle of Rozafa and its legends we will also enjoy a little stroll in the streets of downtown Shkoder in the evening. Dinner is at the lipsmacking Miško’s, on the river Bojana bordering Montenegro for some seafood and other fish specialities. Overnight in the Tradita once more.
Day 8 – Transfer back to Podgorica Airport
Prices include all accommodation, transportation, meals and guided excursions.
Maximum Group size of 4.
MRIZI I ZANAVE