Illyria (Balkan) Explorer – Golden Route (AEB05)

Illyria (Balkan) Explorer - Golden Route is the best possibility for travelers looking for a special experience of South East Balkans’ culture, nature, history, traditions, multi-ethnicity, multi-religion, etc. It is a tailor made program, carefully constructed, trying to optimize all “must see” places for Albania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria and North Macedonia. We have intentionally named ‘Golden Route’ as it has been the main and only way to connect west part of Illyrian (Balkan) Peninsula with the East part of it to continue to Silk Road via Asia Minor. This route become famous in Roman Empire time and was called ‘Via Egnatia’. This tour is a real mosaic of Balkan multicultural world as the crossroad of all East-West Europe and Mediterranean civilizations.

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Overview

Tour Name: Balkan (Illyria) Explorer – Golden Route

Duration: 7 days (1 week)

Countries: Albania, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Kosovo.

Type: General, Cultural, Archeology, Nature, Gastronomy, etc.

Code: AEB05

Departs: Tirana, Albania

Size: Small groups (1-15 pax)

Difficulty:   2 (from 1 - 5)

Tempo: 4 (from 1 - 5)   

Duration: 7 Days (up to 28 days or more)


Dates:


Year

Day/Month

Mar

Apr

May

Jun

Jul

Aug

Sep

Oct

Nov

2019

 

1

6 17

22

 

2

7  

2020

 30


4

15

 20 31


 5  


Highlights:

7-28 Days tours, Balkan Explorer, Flexible Tours from Tirana in English,   Red  -  Blue  -   Brown  -   Green  Routes, etc.

Visit Tirana, Elbasan, Ohrid, Bitola, Thessaloniki, Istanbul, Adrianopolis, Plovdiv      Sofia, Skopje, Prizren Pristine and Prizren.

How does it work?

  • You decide how many countries you want to travel
  • Each week you can travel to different places/countries. For example, if you want to continue another week exploring other amazing regions, then you can proceed to the next route, and please 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) (North Macedonia) - Bitola (UNESCO) (ancient Heraclea). After breakfast travel to Elbasan. Elbasan which was a very important city in ancient time where in Roman empire time was called “Via Egnatia” that used to connect Rome-Naples-Bari-Durres-Elbasan-Ohrid-Thessaloniki-Istanbul. City tour to visit: Elbasan Castle (dating back to 4rth Century BC), The Clock, The ethnographic Museum, Church, The Old Mosque. Then we continue the beautiful city of Ohrid, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We visit first the Sveti Naum Monastery, a beautiful site with impressive views of Lake Ohrid across to Albania. Explore its mixture of western and oriental architecture including the Orthodox Cathedral, the 11th century church of St Sofia as well as the Roman theater. Continue the road to Bitola. 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. 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. Overnight in Bitola. (Hotel Bela Kuka 3*, or similar). (B)

Day 2

Edessa (Greece) - Pella  - Thessaloniki (UNESCO). In the morning after breakfast, continue to cross the border with Greece and continue Edessa. A glorious past of Byzantine churches and Macedonian houses unfolds around you as you stroll through Varosi. Back in the present, the city will entertain you in the evening at Katarraktakia (Little Waterfalls) and serve  you local delicacies in Flamouria. The town’s gifts flow as freely as its water; enjoy them as you would a cool, refreshing drink. Then continue to Pella, which is an ancient Macedonian city    located in Greece, best known as the historical capital of the ancient kingdom of Macedon and birthplace of Alexander the Great. On the site of the ancient city is the Archaeological Museum of Pella. Then 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, Archaeological 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 Abc, or similar. (B)


Day 3

Kavala - Alexandroupolis. After breakfast, continue to Kavala. Kavala’s past and present sparkle with the first rays of dawn. It is very beautiful due to its location on the slope of the mountain: white city houses with terraces descend to the sea, along which stretches a beautiful embankment with many old and modern houses, museums, beautiful beaches, taverns, shops and simply picturesque places. Kavala has long been a tourist destination in Greece from all over the World. Walking tour in the Old Town through ancient cobblestone streets, you will visit the old Castle, a medieval fortress surrounded by four towers and the highest point of the city - the central tower from which you can see an amazing view of the whole city and the Aegean Sea. Then continue to Alexandroupolis. Its old name was in Ottomans time was Dedeagach, and it was a fishing village. During the numerous wars, it was occupied by different cultures: Bulgarians, Turks, Russians    etc. Not only is the city pretty, but so is its natural environment: located on the seashore, near Turkey and also very close to spectacular natural parks, such as those in Dadia and Lefkimi. We walk around the lighthouse; there are lots of bars and locals, with a great atmosphere. As for one of the city's main attractions, the Ethnological Museum of Thrace, the stone building is impressive, but I found the visit really boring. In this museum, you can look at artefacts to imagine how life was for the majority of Thrace's inhabitants.

Accomodation in hotel (Sali 3* or similar) and overnight. (B)


Day 4

Tekirdag (Turkey) - Istanbul (UNESCO). After breakfast, continue to Tekirdagi. Tekirdağ is a city in Turkey. It is a part of the region historically known as Eastern Thrace. Tekirdağ is the capital of Tekirdağ Province. Tekirdag is on the Marmara Sea coast of Thrace, and has been settled from the beginning of history like other important places of the region. Its ancient name was Bisanthe, while today’s name originates from the color of the surrounding mountains. There are several historical places in the city, some of which are the Rakoczy Museum, the Rustem Pasha Mosque, the Tekirdag Museum and the statue of Namik Kemal, the celebrated patriotic poet whose birth-place is Tekirdag. Corlu, is a small town of Tekirdag, was a citadel on the antique road between Istanbul and West Europe in the Illyrin-Roman-Byzantine-Ottoman period. Then continue to Istanbul. Istanbul is a major city in Turkey that straddles Europe and Asia across the Bosphorus Strait. Its Old City reflects cultural influences of the many empires that once ruled here. Explore the historic Old City on a fascinating where we can see Istanbul's top 6 attractions: the Hippodrome, the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, the Basilica Cistern, Topkapı Palace and the Grand Bazaar.

Accomodation in hotel (Marcello 3*, or similar) and overnight. (B)

Day 5

Edirne (UNESCO) - Plovdiv (UNESCO) Bulgaria. After breakfast, continue to Edirne. Edirne, formerly Adrianople or Hadrianople, city, extreme western Turkey. It lies at the junction of the Tunca and Maritsa (Turkish: Meriç) rivers, near the borders of Greece and Bulgaria. The largest and oldest part of the town occupies a meander of the Tunca around the ruins of an ancient citadel. Edirne’s site and turbulent history were determined by its strategic position on the main route from Asia Minor (Anatolia) to the Balkans. We will visit Selimiye Mosque, Old Mosque, Uc Serefeli Mosque and Tower Gate in the city center. Next is we will continue to reach Plovdiv, the “City of the seven hills’’. Plovdiv is one of the oldest cities in Europe, still existing today. It was called Philippopolis in the IV century B.C. in honor of King Philip II of Macedonia. Today Plovdiv is a cultural center and is selected as European Capital of Culture for 2019. walking through the cobbled streets of Plovdiv’s Old Town, The Ancient Roman Theater, Kapana Creative District, The Roman Stadium, The Longest Pedestrian Street in Europe and  The Secretive Tobacco Town that once was the heart of the tobacco industry in Bulgaria.

Accomodation in hotel  (Evmolpia 3*, or similar) and overnight. (B)

Day 6

Sofia - Skopje (North Macedonia). After breakfast, departure to Sofia. Panoramic tour around the Bulgarian capital – an 8500-years old city called “My Rome” by the emperor Constantine The Great. Visit the most fascinating places of interest: the forum of Ancient Serdica (the old name of the city) with the newest archeological discoveries from Roman time, which are exhibited next to the Bulgarian presidency. Next is the St. Nedelya square, where 4 worship buildings of the main religions in Bulgaria are located next to each other. These are the Orthodox Church St. Nedelya, the Catholic church, the Synagogue and the Mosque. They form a quadrangle, symbolizing the peace between different religions in Bulgaria. Our tour continues with the “Alexander I” square where the Royal Palace and the National Theatre are located, “Tzar Osvoboditel” boulevard, the Parliament, the Church of ”St. Sofia” (the name means wisdom), which had given the name of the city, the Sofia University and the “Alexander Nevski” Cathedral (the biggest Orthodox church on the Balkan peninsula). Then continue to Skopje.  walk through the landmarks of the old part of Skopje, starting with the Skopje Castle placed on a hill, which gives a view to the old and the new part of Skopje. Then continue with walking down toward Mustafa Pasha Mosque (1492) and the church of Holy Savior (18th Century), then to the historical district known as the Skopje’s Old Bazaar characterized by architectural mixture of churches, mosques, inns, baths, many craftsmen’s shops, old buildings, restaurants and pubs and small shops.

Accomodation in hotel  (De Koka 3*, or similar) and overnight. (B)

Day 7

Pristine - Prizren (UNESCO candidate) - Tirane. After breakfast drive to Pristina. Explore the city visiting its main sites such as the Orthodox Church and the Carshi Mosque, dating back to the early 15th century. We then head to the ruins of Ulpiana, an ancient Roman city that was once one of the most powerful in the Balkans. Later we visit the spectacular Gracanica Monastery, one of Kosovo’s most beautiful sites and containing some impressive frescoes. and Ulpiana antic Darnadian-Illyrian city remaining form roman period. Then continue to Prizren. this city, probably is the most attractive town in Kosovo with superbly preserved buildings from the Ottoman era. We visit the castle which is one of the oldest in the Balkans (almost 3 millenniums), built to protect the city from attacks, the ornate Bajrakli Mosque and the old Turkish Hammam among other sights. Prizren is an absolute highlight of any visit to Kosovo and to see the old houses of the old town in low light as the sun sets is a delight. Then we continue to Tirane. After arrival and check in the hotel, we start exploring Albania’s capital. We visit Skanderbeg Square, dedicated to Albania’s national hero, the Mosque of Ethem Bey, one of the oldest buildings in Tirana, and the Archaeological Museum among other sites. Panoramic walking tour to visit the Skanderbeg Square, Mosque of Et’hem Bey (1824), the Clock Tower (1822), and government buildings, and BunkArt.

Overnight Hotel Vila Verde 3*, or similar. (B)

Day 8

(Optional). Change to continue to Mediterranean Explorer - Orange Route (AEM01). In this case, you will enjoy the other segment of Via Egrnatia from Rome to Durres    and enjoy the amazing nature, Adriatic and Tyrrhenian pristine waters, fascination surrounding mountains, great history and cultural historical and archaeological heritage.

PRICES:
157 € single supplement pp

59 € entry/fees supplement pp

 

Pricing Policy 

  • Price listed is per person, and is quoted based on a certain minimum number of participants. To operate the tour with only 1 participant there is an extra charge of +190%, to operate the tour with only 2 participants, there is an extra charge of +70%.
  • Tour Operator reserve the right to postpone (with the approval of client) or to cancel the service, in cases when required minimum participants is not guaranteed, or other subjective reasons. If service is canceled by Tour Operator, then 100% of booking fee will be refunded to respective customer.

    • Currency: All prices are shown in Euro (EUR) except admission and meal fees which are paid upon arrival.
    • Child fare: 2 - 11 year old share a room with two adults (no bed). No charge for infants under 2 years old.
    • Pre Accommodation (Same as Tour): Available on the day before (one night) or after the tour(one night). Hotel accommodation is not included on the last day of your tour.
    • EUR€38 per person per night (twin share basis), there is no charge for children sharing a room with two adults. EUR€78 per night applies for Single Room.

    • Airport transfers (pick up / drop off): Available in each city as per program. Airport, hotel, meeting place transfer (available between 7am and 10pm), EUR€29 each way per person (minimum 2 people). The transfer service needs to be placed at least 2 business days in advance.

 

Price Includes

    • Hotel: Accommodation 3* hotels on double occupancy. Twin share basis for 7 overnights as per program. For child 2 - 11 year old sharing a room with 2 adults. (Hotel information is confirmed 24 hours prior departure.
    • Transportation: Air Conditioned modern van/minibus/bus and other transportation listed in itinerary
    • Breakfast: Daily breakfast. All others meals not listed are at your expense.
    • Guide: English speaking tour leader.

 

Price Excludes

  • Admission/entry Fees:
    • Entry fees prices are subject to change without prior notice.
    • If you would like to join the optional activities, please pay the fee in cash to the tour guide. The tour guide will arrange the tickets for the group.
  • Travel insurance, visa fees
  • Any charges for additional itinerary are not listed in itinerary
  • A mandatory service fees for tour guide/bus driver (min. 5 Euro /day per person).
  • Excess baggage charges from Airlines
  • Personal expenses such as room service, telephone, laundry service charges
  • Losses or additional expenses: The Company will accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to accident.
  • Lunch and Dinner charges (if applicable)
  • Everything not mentioned in “Inclusions”

 

POLICIES:

 Confirmation

  • mmediately after submitting your reservation you will receive a receipt of booking by email. Within 72 hours of submitting your reservation you will receive a confirmation email confirming the booking status. Please do not book any airline tickets until you receive the status of your booking.

 Redemption

  • You will receive a confirmation voucher in 2-3 business days after you receive the e-ticket. Complete Operator information, including local telephone numbers at your destination and departure details, is included in your confirmation voucher. When you reserve your attractions and services you will be asked to print the confirmation voucher to present when you arrive at your destination. It is your proof of purchase.

 

 

 

 

    Activity
  • Land Activity