Balkan Explorer - Green Route (R2)

Balkan Explorer Tour (Green route) is the best possibility for travelers looking for a special experience of Balkans’ culture, nature, history, traditions, multi-ethnicity, multi-religion, etc. It is a tailor made program, carefully constructed, trying to optimize all “must to see” places for Albania, Greece, and Macedonia, This tour is a real mosaic of Balkan multicultural world as the crossroad of all East-West Mediterranean civilizations.

1127 958

Overview

Guaranteed Departure Tour 
 
Tour Name:  Balkan Explorer Tour – Green Route (R2)
Duration: 7 days (1 week)
Countries: Albania, Macedonia, Greece.
Type of tour: General, Cultural, Archeology, Nature, Gastronomy, etc.
Tour Code: AE-BE02
Depart from: Tirana, Albania

DATES (2019): 22 April 2019, 9 May 2019; 30 September 2019, 21 October 2019;
DATES (2020): 22 April 2020, 10 May 2020; 9 September 2020, 20 October 2020;
 
7-21 Days Albania, and South East Europe (Balkan) Flexible Tours from Tirana in English – Red - Blue - Green - Loops.
 
Highlights: Visit Tirana, Elbasan, Ohrid, Bitola, Thessaloniki, Meteora, Kalambaka, Delphi, Athens, Patras, Ioanina, Saranda, Gjirokastra,Tepelena, Berat, Durres.   
 
How does it work? 
·         You decide how many days you want to travel
·         Each day you can travel to a different place
For example, if you want to stop in Athens (Day 4), please select "4" in "Number of Days", and contact us. Please note the hotel accommodation is not included on the last day of your tour. List price is per person per day.  
 
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
 
Day 1 Tirane – Elbasan – Ohrid (UNESCO). After breakfast continu to Elbasan. Elbasan is a city in central Albania. It is located on the Shkumbin River. Since ancient ttimes, was a important city on Via Egnatia form Rome-Durres-Ohrid-Thessaloniki-Istanbul. The surrounding walls of the town were re-built in the 4th century, having 3 entrances and 26 towers. Its fortress was built during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (483-565) by which time Skampa had become the seat of a Bishopic with a Cathedral and a Basilica outside its surrounding walls. After the failure of the second Turkish siege of Kruja, Sultan Mohamed II rebuilt the fortress in 1466 and renamed the town Elbasan (El-basan is Turkish for Fortress). In the middle of the city is found the Saint Mary Orthodox Church. The church was built in 1830 on the foundations of an older church, which had partially burned in 1819. Paintings and frescoes of Onufri, restored by David Selenicasi and Kostadin Shelcani can still be seen. The church has been an important religious and cultural center for the Albanian language. Travel east to Elbasan, stopping en route at the remains of a Turkish fort. Continue into Macedonia and the town of Ohrid, situated on the east shore of Lake Ohrid. This UNESCO world heritage site is known as the ‘Slavic-Macedonian Jerusalem’ due to its large number of churches. See St Sophia Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in Macedonia, the Church of St Clement at Plaoshnik, where the first university in Europe was founded, and the Gallery of Icons, which has the largest collection of icons in the world. Afternoon visit to the monastery of St Naum. Its position on a rocky overhang provides excellent views across the lake. The enormous lakes renowned for the clarity of its water. Accommodation to hotel Diplomat 3*, or similar and overnight. (B)
 
 
Day 2 -  Bitola (UNESCO) – Thessaloniki (UNESCO). The tour will start from Ohrid in the early morning hours. The road to Bitola takes around 1.30 hours, The road leads to city of Resen and the biggest apple orchards in this part of the Balkans. 
First we will visit the ancient city of Heraclea Lincestis, the best preserved ancient city in Macedonia. Build in the 4th century BC, and conquered by the Romans 2 centuries latter. Through the city has passed the Via Egnatia road which was main road connecting Roman Empire with Asia – Constantinople. Heraclea Lincestis is famous for its beautiful mosaics, antique theater and roman baths. First excavations were taken after the First World War and then was discovered the beauty and importance of this ancient city – the Roman baths, Episcope basilica, Synagogue, portico, Roman theater – in which in modern times plays and music concerts are held. Then continue to cross the border with Greece and continue to Thessaloniki. Thessaloniki is one of the best places to visit not only for city breaks but also for longer holidays! And that is because Thessaloniki in not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the numerous Byzantine monuments, but it is also a beautiful modern European city full of life! Possibility to visit Galerius Arch (Kamara), Rotunda, Archaelogical Museum, St. Demetrius church, Roman Forum, Our Lady "of the Coppersmiths" church, Bey Hamam Baths (Paradise Baths, church of Holly Wisdom, Museum of Byzantine Civilization, White Tower. Overnight in hotel Augustos 3*, or similar. (B) 
 
 
Day 3 –Meteora - Kalambaka - (UNESCO).  After breakfast continue to Meteora, for a visit of the fascinating cliff-top monasteries. The cliffs, which average a height of 1,000 feet, were first inhabited in the 9th century by a group of hermit monks who lived on the rock towers. In the 11th and 12th centuries, basic monasteries were built and by the 14th century the great monastery of Meteoron was constructed. The difficult access gave the monks an ideal refuge, as well as protection during the Turkish occupation. Today 6 monasteries remain out of the original 20. Views of the entire valley from the magnificent rock towers, and the peace of the surroundings, make this a unique place to visit. At the end of the day you’ll drive to Kalambaka, a lovely city with beautiful gardens and magnificent views of the Meteora rocks. Overnight in Kalambaka, Hotel Doupiani House 3*, or similar. (B)  
 
 
Day 4 – Delphi (UNESCO) - Athens (UNESCO).  After breakfast travel to Tour the excavated site of Delphi and the archaeological Museum, perched on the slopes of Mount Parnassos, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At Delphi, you’ll have the opportunity to visit this important site that appears in Greek mythology. In ancient times, Delphi was considered to be the center of the universe and was guarded by a python dragon that was killed by Apollo. You’ll see the ruins of the Temple of Apollo, which was built in the 4th century B.C. and was destroyed by Emperor Theodosius I in 390 A.D. It was also here that the priestess Pythia would foretell the future from the famous Oracle of Delphi. Visit the theater that seated 5,000 spectators and hosted plays, poetry readings, and festivals. At the nearby stadium, the Pythian Games were held every 4 years. Athletes from all over the Greek world would come to compete, and these games would become predecessor to the modern Olympics.  Then continue to Athens. The exploration of Athens begins with a panoramic drive through the city center. View the Panathenian Stadium, the President’s residence, the ruins of the Temple of Zeus and Hadrian's Arch, built to celebrate the arrival of the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Continue on to visit the Acropolis, the ancient architectural masterpiece built during the Golden Age of Athens and the new Acropolis Museum, a striking modern building built at the base of the monument where many of the original statues from the Acropolis are now displayed. The rest of the day is at leisure. Be sure to walk to Constitution Square, where you might catch a glimpse of the colorfully-costumed Evzone guards, outfitted in the traditional Greek style. Tonight, perhaps walk through the lively Plaka area, the oldest section of Athens, a neighborhood of charming restaurants, shops and sidewalk cafes. Overnight in Athens, Hotel Katerina 3*, or similar. (B)  
 
 
Day 5 – Patras – Ioannina.  Departure form hotel for Ioannina, where we stop for visit in Patras. Primarily known for its busy port and ferry departures to Italy, not to mention the fantastic carnival held annually to kick off the Lenten season, Patra and the surrounding area offer a wealth of things to do and see. There is a sprawling metropolis by the sea with a wonderful old section. Neoclassical buildings, cathedrals, museums, shops, bars, cafes and vibrant nightlife make this area a treasure waiting to be found. Within easy reach are mountains, lakes, caves, and villages, all with magnificent natural scenery. Our trip continue to Ioannina. We visit the mosques, the byzantine castle and the old Ottoman citadel as well as the picturesque island which lies in the middle of Lake Pamvotis. You will also have the chance to visit the market and buy some souvenirs made of wood and silver. Overnight in Athens, Hotel Palladion 3*, or similar. (B)  
 
Day 6 – Butrint (UNESCO) – Saranda – Gjirokaster (UNESCO) After breakfast drive to Albania to arrive in Butrint. Where we we visit ruins of Butrint antic city, Albania's most important archaeological site. Butrint dates from the 7th century BC, later becoming a Roman colony, then falling under the sway of the Venetians and Turks. Virgil claimed that the Trojans settled Butrint, but no evidence of this has yet been found. Within a century of the Greeks arriving, Butrint had become a fortified trading city with its own acropolis, the ruins of which we can still visit. The rediscovered city is a microcosm of almost 3,000 years of Mediterranean history, and its 6th century BC fortification evokes the city's military power and symbolizes the rich culture of the once thriving ancient city. Exploration of amphitheater, Venetian tower, Mosaic, Lion gate, etc. Than continue to the “Museum City” of Gjirokastra. City tour, visit to its castle and  Armaments Museum. Overnight in Gjirokaster at Hotel Gjirokastra, or similar. (B)
 
 
Day 7 –Tepelena – Berat (UNESCO) – Durres - Tirana. 
We depart to Tepelene, and we stop to the castle of Tepelene. Tepelena Castle was built by Ali Pasha in the end of 18th century CE in the town of Tepelena. Continue to Berat, one of the oldest inhabited regions of Albania, more than 2400 years old, and with special status from UNESCO. Visit to its castle of Berat with Onufri museum and other churches inside; Mosque of Berat and the old Bridge of Gorica, Onufri Museum and several churches and mosques. Onufri was an Albanian master painter of the 16th. Many of his wonderfully painted icons still remain in the museum while others can be found in churches in Albania and Greece where he worked.  Continue to Durres. Durres is Albania's second largest city. Durres is one of the oldest towns in the country. Legend says that it was founded by Epidamnos, the Illyrian King of the area, who called it by his own name and named the port area after his grandson, Dyrrah. It was for centuries the largest port on the Adriatic, and the start of the Via Egnatia to Constantinople. We visit the Roman amphitheater and the Archaeological Museum, situated near the sea and rich in objects excavated in Durres. We continue to Tirana via new road and tunnel. After arrival, Tirana City tour.  located on a plain on the site of a Byzantine fortress and has been the capital since 1920 (visits to the Skanderbeg Square, Mosque of Et’hem Bey (built on 1824), the Clock Tower (built on 1822), the National Museum (the huge mosaic on front represent the Albanian history development, and the stages of this development are presented on respective pavilions),  National Art Gallery, Archeological Museum (there are presented many archeological discoveries since the Stone Age up to the Medieval), the National Heroes Cemetery, Grand Park and government buildings). Accommodation in Tirana in Hotel Kruja 3*, or similar, and overnight.  
 
Optional: Change to continue to Balkan Explorer – Blue Route (R1), or Red Route (AE)