info@funkytours.com +387 62 612 612

Budapest to Athens (16 Day Balkan Tour from Hungary to Greece via Croatia, Serbia, North Macedonia & Kosovo and Albania)

0
Price
From€2,195
Booking Form
Enquiry Form
Full Name*
Email Address*
Your Enquiry*
* I agree with Terms of Service and Privacy Statement.
Please agree to all the terms and conditions before proceeding to the next step
* Please select all required fields to proceed to the next step.

Proceed Booking

Save To Wish List

Adding item to wishlist requires an account

74795
16 Days | 4**** Hotels
Availability : Jan - Dec
End: Athens (Greece)
Start: Budapest (Hungary)
Max People : 8
Tour Overview

Embark on an unforgettable 16-day Balkan expedition, tracing a captivating route from the heart of Budapest to the ancient city of Athens, unlocking the secrets of Continental Croatia, Serbia, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Albania

Revel in pristine nature, rich cultures, and intricate histories while luxuriating in 15 nights of 4-star accommodations. Travel with like-minded explorers, as our small group tours (6 – 8 travelers) are designed to prioritize intimacy and authenticity.

Your adventure commences in Budapest, where the charms of this regal city set the tone for the adventure ahead. From there, we venture into the picturesque Continental Croatian village of Karanac, immersing ourselves in local traditions and savoring authentic Croatian cuisine. Continuing our expedition, we’ll explore the cultural gems of Novi Sad and Belgrade in Serbia, where history resonates in every corner.

The journey then takes us to the enchanting landscapes of North Macedonia, with stops in the vibrant capital city of Skopje and the serene shores of Lake Ohrid. As we cross borders into Kosovo, the cities of Prizren and Pristina offer insights into the region’s complex narratives and resilient spirit.

Our path leads through the rugged beauty of the Theth region, a hidden gem that reveals the raw allure of Albania’s northern landscapes. Traverse the Albanian capital of Tirana, where modern energy harmonizes with historical significance. Delve into the UNESCO-listed town of Gjirokastra, where ancient architecture and local traditions converge.

The southern expanse of Albania unfolds, inviting us to bask in sun-kissed beaches, explore charming coastal towns, and revel in the warm hospitality of the Albanian people. The final stretch of our expedition brings us to Athens, Greece, where ancient history and contemporary life coexist seamlessly.

Throughout this 16-day journey, our expert guides, intimately familiar with each destination, infuse every experience with depth and meaning. Immerse yourself in the rhythms of local life, savor regional flavors, and forge connections that will linger long after your travels conclude.

Seek personalized experiences with our private trip option tailored to your desires.

Choose Funky Tours, your premier Balkan guide, and illuminate your path through these mesmerizing lands. Join us in rewriting the story of Balkan exploration, one remarkable adventure at a time.

15D Balkan Tour from Budapest to Athens via Balkans

Highlights

PEACE OF MIND by Funky Tours

PEACE OF MIND by Funky Tours policy ensures 100% guest’ satisfaction and hassle-free experiences when booking and conducting tours and holidays with us. Learn more about our Peace of Mind policy.

  • We include all essential entrance fees in the tour costs. Our policy steadfastly avoids requiring travelers to pay essential entrance fees on-site, typically in cash, a practice often used deceitfully to show a lower advertised tour price. We are committed to transparency in pricing, ensuring our guests do not face the inconvenience of surprise additional costs for essential entrance fees. Funky Tours is all about transparency.
  • This tour stands out as the best value for money when considering the costs versus what is included and what you see. It offers a richness of experiences and convenience that cannot be matched by other modes of travel, such as buses or rental cars. From the comfort of our tour, you’ll gain in-depth insights into the local culture, history, and breathtaking landscapes – all at an unbeatable price. Every aspect of your journey is thoughtfully curated to provide maximum value, ensuring that this tour is not just a trip but a treasured experience of a lifetime.
  • Online Payment by credit card. It is hassle-free; no cash is needed when doing tours with us.

What's Included

INCLUDED
  • Accommodation at great, hand-picked 4* hotels for 15 nights (twin / double sharing).
  • Intimate Explorations: Unveiling Balkans Charms in Small Groups of a maximum of 8 travelers.
  • English-speaking local local-expert guide and driver for 16 days
    • Locally guided tours: Novi Sad, Belgrade, Skopje, Prizren, Pristina, Tirana, Gjirokastra. 
  • All entrance fees.
  • Meals included – 15 breakfasts
  • Funky Tours Treats: 7x (1x home-hosted dinner, 2x traditional food tastings, 2x wine tasting, 1x cognac tasting)
  • Funky Tours Signature Experience
  • Airport transfer and all tour overland transfers. Private Vehicle.
  • No hidden costs. All government taxes.
  • Pay safely online with a credit card. We accept payments for all types of credit cards.
NOT INCLUDED
  • Personal travel insurance is not included. Please buy it at home country.
  • Tips are not included in the tour costs. If you receive excellent service, please consider tipping.
  • Optional Activitiesstated in the itinerary. However, for any activity you consider, the Funky Tours guide (or our office) will help you arrange it. Additional costs can be paid on the spot.

Accommodation

We choose the accommodation very carefully and include only the best in the range of 4* hotels in all destinations where we spend the night. Accommodation is based on double / twin sharing rooms with breakfast. A single supplement is available.

Opt for a hand-picked 4-star hotel with Funky Tours for an elevated experience. Enjoy superior comfort, upscale amenities, and personalized service that complements our exceptional tours. Elevate your journey and unwind in style, ensuring every aspect of your adventure matches the quality and uniqueness of our tours.

1. Budapest (Hungary): 4* Hotel Ambra or similar
2. Karanac (Croatia): 3* Sklepic Apartments 
3. Belgrade (Serbia): 4* Hotel Public House or similar
4. Skopje (North Macedonia): 4* Hotel Alexandar II or similar
5. Pristina (Kosovo): 4* Hotel Emery or similar
7. Theth (Albania): 3* Gurra Family Guesthouse or similar
8. Tirana (Albania): 4* Hotel Sky II or similar
9. Gjirokastra (Albania): 4* Hotel Fantasy or similar

Single Supplement

  • 445 EUR per person

Getting There

  • Budapest Most convenient arrival point is Budapest International Airport (BUD), but you are free to require this package to start from Zagreb (ZAG) or Vienna (VIE).
  • Arrival Your arrival on Day 1 can be anytime, but better earlier if possible.
  • Departure Tour ends on the of Day 16.

Itinerary

DAY 1: Arrival to Budapest (HUN)

Destination:Budapest, Hungary
Inclusions:Budapest Airport Pickup/s | 4* Hotel Ambra (or similar) | Funky Welcome: Meet your tour leader and rest of the group over drinks (Drinks on us!)
Optional:Budapest Walking Tour

Budapest - Hungary

Arrival Note:Depending on your Budapest arrival time and hotel check-in policy, you might not be able to check into your room immediately upon arrival. Of course, you are welcome to store your luggage at the reception desk of your hotel and enjoy the bar services ideal for refreshment while discussing the rest of the day’s activities with your Funky Tours leader.

Arrival:Welcome to Budapest, an incredible city where history and modernity elegantly converge. Nestled along the banks of the Danube River, Budapest is a city of dualities, where the river divides Buda and Pest, each offering its own captivating narrative.

Whether it’s at the airport, train, or bus station, our attentive team will be there to ensure your experience is absolutely perfect from the moment of your arrival. We will provide a complimentary transfer to your hotel, ensuring a smooth check-in process and a warm welcome to the city.

Whether you opt for us to arrange a walking tour with a local specialist or decide to immerse yourselves into independently exploring this captivating city, our dedicated team will make sure to provide you unparalleled assistance and a wealth of insider tips, enabling you to uncover not only Budapest’s main attractions but also those hidden gems that await your discovery.

With the first sunset, we will finally gather and introduce you to a small, intimate group of fellow travelers who will accompany you over the next 15 days.

Evening:In the heart of Budapest, we firmly embrace the Balkan tradition that believes strong connections are forged over delectable food. Our commitment is to provide you with a dinner experience that lingers in your memory.

Picture savoring succulent goulash, a Hungarian classic that fuses tender beef with a symphony of paprika and rich broth. And for the pièce de résistance, indulge your taste buds in the exquisite layers of a flaky strudel. This culinary masterpiece is generously filled with luscious apricots that burst with sweetness or the comforting embrace of warm apple-cinnamon essence.

As we indulge in this culinary journey, the dinner table will quickly become a canvas for sharing your expectations and excitement that will set the tone for the incredible 15-day journey ahead.

WHEN YOU HAVE FREE TIME IN BUDAPEST

During your time in Budapest, you might have some free time slots, during which you can opt for some exciting activities in Budapest. We recommend a few of the following for independent explorations:

  • Chain Bridge (Széchenyi Lánchíd): Start your exploration by crossing the iconic Chain Bridge, a Budapest symbol that offers splendid Danube River and Buda Castle views.
  • Buda Castle: Venture up Castle Hill to explore Buda Castle, an impressive complex that houses museums, galleries, and stunning medieval architecture.
  • Fisherman’s Bastion (Halászbástya): Discover the fairytale-like Fisherman’s Bastion, renowned for its turrets and panoramic views over the city.
  • Matthias Church: Adjacent to the Fisherman’s Bastion, Matthias Church boasts intricate Gothic architecture and vibrant interiors.
  • Heroes’ Square (Hősök tere): Head to Heroes’ Square, where statues of Hungarian leaders stand proudly against the backdrop of the Museum of Fine Arts and the Hall of Art.
  • Vajdahunyad Castle: Stroll through the charming grounds of Vajdahunyad Castle, an architectural marvel showcasing various styles from Hungarian history.
  • Thermal Baths: Indulge in the city’s renowned thermal baths, such as Széchenyi or Gellért Baths, for a relaxing and rejuvenating experience.
  • Danube Promenade: Take a leisurely stroll along the Danube Promenade, admiring the Parliament Building and the poignant Shoes on the Danube Bank memorial.

DAY 2: Budapest to Karanac (CRO)

Destination:Budapest / Karanac, East Continental Croatia
Inclusions:3* Sklepic Apartments (or similar) | Karanac Village cooking class | Funky Tours Treat: Wine Tasting at Karanac Village | Meals: Breakfast & dinner (cooking class)
Driving Time:2.30hrs | Private Vehicle

Karanac Village in CroatiaActivity Note:Karanac is a charming village located in the Baranja region of Croatia. While it may not be as well-known as some of Croatia’s coastal destinations, it offers a unique and authentic rural experience.

Morning:After breakfast, our team will wait for you to say goodbye to Budapest and continue the journey toward the charming village of Karanac. 

During various periods, including the Austro-Hungarian Empire, parts of Baranja were under Hungarian rule. The village of Karanac is situated in Croatia. Still, due to its geographical proximity to Hungary and the historical fluctuations of borders in the region, there have been cultural and historical interactions between the two countries. We are about to discover these connections. 

Roughly 2.30 hours of drive through the picturesque tableau offering glimpses of rural tranquility will take us to the quaint beauty of village Karanac where it feels like time has paused.

Karanac Ethno Village in East Continental CroatiaUpon arrival, our hosts – devoted locals committed to nurturing Croatia’s sustainable tourism – will extend a hearty welcome. After taking care of the check-in formalities, we’ll give you a chance to unwind before embarking on enchanting village walks.

While exploring Karanac, the allure of its charming old-style buildings and the embrace of elongated houses within intimate courtyards, accompanied by inviting covered porches, will captivate your senses. Amid this captivating atmosphere, we’ll indulge in a culinary journey at Baranjska kuća. Here, once nearly forgotten, time-honored recipes are revived with a touch of innovation. We’re in for a treat, from snails in nettle sauce and roasted acacia blossom to earthy pot-cooked bean goulash and iconic Baranja dishes. 

Afternoon:After lunch, we will let you know enjoy serene strolls and embark on a journey along the “Street of Forgotten Time,” a unique destination dedicated to rekindling the cherished traditions of yesteryears. Awaits are captivating workshops where skilled artisans craft clogs, wooden baskets, barrels, clay artifacts, and more. Adding to the allure, you’ll encounter a functional blacksmith’s forge, a vintage barbershop, and a mill steeped in history.

Karanac Village Chilli PeppersLater in the afternoon, we will reconvene with our gracious hosts for a truly special experience – an immersive cooking and wine class that delves into the heart of local traditions. Our hosts, who possess warm hospitality and a treasure trove of cultural elements, including an ethnological collection, a smokehouse, and a wine cellar, will guide us through an enchanting journey that will unravel the secrets behind the region’s local delicacies.

Dinner:As we step into culinary craftsmanship, we’ll discover the meticulous art of creating the perfect wine, where each sip tells a story of the sun-soaked vineyards. We’ll delve into the nuances of crafting “kulen,” a prized sausage cherished for generations, and master the art of making homemade cheese that exudes the essence of tradition.

FUNKY TOURS TREAT

Baranja Wine Tasting & Cooking Class – Baranja is known for producing several grape varieties, with Graševina (Welschriesling) being one of the most famous. You can taste this crisp white wine, along with other regional specialties like Frankovka (Blaufränkisch) and Portugizac (Blauer Portugieser).
The Baranja traditional food cooking class in Karanac village offers a unique opportunity to learn the art of preparing authentic Croatian dishes. Participants get hands-on experience in cooking traditional Baranja cuisine, including regional specialties like stews, homemade bread, and desserts. Under the guidance of local chefs and cooks, you’ll discover the secrets of using locally-sourced ingredients and traditional cooking methods.
It’s a cultural and culinary immersion that not only teaches you to create delicious meals but also connects you with the heritage and flavors of the Baranja region. Plus, you’ll have the chance to savor the dishes you’ve prepared, making it a rewarding and flavorful experience.

But the experience isn’t just about learning – it’s about embracing the flavors. A sensory feast awaits us as we savor the fruits of our labor, indulging in the rich complexities of wine, the bold flavors of “Kulen,” and the wholesome goodness of homemade cheese. This is a chance to not only expand our culinary horizons but also to forge a deeper connection with the region’s cultural tapestry.

WHAT IS KARANAC FAMOUS FOR:

  • Wine Tasting: The Baranja region is known for its vineyards and wineries. You can visit local wineries in Karanac to sample some of Croatia’s excellent wines, including the famous Graševina white wine.
  • Countryside Strolls: Karanac is surrounded by beautiful countryside. Take leisurely walks or bike rides through the scenic landscapes, exploring the vineyards, fields, and rolling hills.
  • Traditional Cuisine: Enjoy authentic Croatian cuisine in local restaurants. You can savor traditional dishes prepared with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Don’t miss the opportunity to try regional specialties.
  • Cultural Experiences: Karanac offers a glimpse into rural Croatian life. You can visit local farms, interact with villagers, and learn about their traditions and way of life.
  • Relaxation: Karanac is a peaceful and tranquil place, making it ideal for relaxation. You can unwind, read a book, or simply enjoy the serenity of the countryside.
  • Photography: The picturesque landscapes and traditional architecture in Karanac provide excellent opportunities for photography. Capture the beauty of this rural Croatian village.
  • Local Crafts: Explore local artisans’ shops and workshops to discover handmade crafts and souvenirs that reflect the culture and heritage of the region.

DAY 3: Vukovar & Novi Sad (SRB)

Destination:Karanac / Novi Sad / Belgrade, Serbia
Inclusions:4* Hotel Public House (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast | Walking tour of Novi Sad | Free time in Belgrade
Driving Time:3.45hrs | Private Vehicle

Novi Sad Square at VojvodinaMorning: After indulging in a rich homemade breakfast featuring local treats like kulen sausage, fresh cheese, pickles, eggs, jams, and freshly baked langošica and pogačica, we’ll be fully rested to continue our journey.

The overarching aim of this excursion is to explore with a sense of depth while maintaining a leisurely and pleasant rhythm, ensuring that our experiences form lasting impressions instead of mere fleeting recollections.

Our route to Novi Sad will subtly veer towards Vukovar, a crucial destination in this region. The city’s tragic history is a somber testament to some of the gravest war crimes in post-World War 2 Europe.

We’ll amble along Vukovar’s streets, where the scars of destruction are still visible, and contemplate the vivid contrast between nature’s beauty along the Danube River and the haunting reminder of destruction—the Vukovar Water Tower. This landmark embodies the city’s resilience and courage, reflecting the strength of its people amid adversity.

Once we end in Vukovar, our journey will continue with another fascinating chapter. As we embark on the roughly two-hour drive, prepare to be mesmerized again by the breathtaking landscapes that will unfold outside our windows.

Lunch:Upon our arrival in Novi Sad, our first order of business will be a well-deserved lunch. This meal, thoughtfully crafted to reflect the city’s rich cultural diversity, will serve as the perfect introduction to the vibrant tapestry of Novi Sad.

Novi Sad is more than just a stop on our route. It serves as a bridge between different worlds, with its proximity to Hungary adding an intriguing layer to its narrative. As we indulge in our meal, remember that the flavors on your plate carry whispers of the past, echoes of influences that have shaped the city’s identity.

As we finish our lunch, a local expert, deeply connected to this city, will join us. With a heart full of passion, our guide will unveil all the cultural treasures of Novi Sad. Our journey will lead us to the majestic Petrovaradin Fortress, offering sweeping vistas of the Danube and the city below. Along the vibrant Dunavska Street, lively cafes and colorful facades paint a spirited scene.

We’ll be in awe of the grandeur of the Orthodox Cathedral of Saint George and immerse ourselves in the historic charm of Zmaj Jovina Street. But what makes this experience unique is the chance to listen to first-hand stories, legends, and personal encounters that bring the city to life.

Afternoon:Some leisure time to explore Novi Sad is a must, and as the day progresses, we’ll resume our adventure with our ultimate destination in sight: Belgrade.

As the evening approaches, we’ll arrive in Belgrade, and our team will be on hand to assist with the check-in process and share top-notch recommendations for a delightful dinner. Remember, Belgrade is renowned for being a city that never sleeps, standing tall as the most vibrant nightlife hub in the Balkans.

WHEN YOU HAVE FREE EVENING TIME IN BELGRADE:

  • Belgrade Waterfront: Begin your evening by visiting the Belgrade Waterfront, a modern development along the Sava River. Here are a few things you can do there:

    • Stroll along the Promenade: Take a leisurely walk along the picturesque promenade, enjoying views of the river and the city skyline.

    • Dine at Waterfront Restaurants: The area boasts a selection of restaurants and cafes with diverse cuisines. You can indulge in both local Serbian dishes and international fare while enjoying riverfront views.

    • Sunset Views: If you time it right, you can catch a beautiful sunset over the Sava River, creating a memorable start to your evening.

  • Belgrade’s Nightlife: Belgrade is renowned for its lively nightlife scene. Here are some nightlife options to consider:

    • Skadarlija Street: For a taste of Belgrade’s bohemian spirit, head to Skadarlija, a cobblestone street lined with traditional Serbian restaurants, cafes, and live music venues.

    • Sava Mala: This trendy district is known for its hip bars, clubs, and artsy atmosphere. It’s a great place to experience Belgrade’s contemporary nightlife.

    • Floating Clubs (Splavovi): Belgrade’s nightlife includes floating clubs along the rivers, particularly the Sava. These venues offer a unique party experience with music, dancing, and cocktails on the water.

    • Live Music: If you’re a fan of live music, check local listings for venues featuring Serbian and international bands or DJ performances.

DAY 4: Explore Belgrade (SRB)

Destination:Belgrade, Serbia
Inclusions:4* Hotel Public House (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast | Avala Tower & House of Flowers entrance fees
Driving Time:45min | Private Vehicle

Belgrade SerbiaActivity Note:Today, we are spending a full day exploring Belgrade.

Morning:We will kick off the day with a sumptuous breakfast, setting the tone for an exciting day ahead. Our journey begins with a locally guided tour of Belgrade, where we will embark on leisurely strolls through the city’s charming streets, allowing us to uncover its hidden gems and captivating history.

As we meander through the streets, our exploration will lead us to a collection of remarkable sites in Belgrade, including the grandiose Kalemegdan Fortress overlooking the confluence of the Sava and Danube rivers and Skadarlija, a quaint Bohemian quarter known for its cobblestone streets, vibrant art scene, and traditional Serbian restaurants.

After these enriching walks, our next stop will be the Museum of Yugoslavia and the House of Flowers. Here, we will delve into the intricate story of Yugoslavia, spanning its remarkable ascent and eventual dissolution. The House of Flowers is the final resting place of Josip Broz Tito, the former Yugoslav leader, adding a solemn yet thought-provoking dimension to our tour.

Following this enlightening experience, our journey will lead us to Zemun, a charming neighborhood on the banks of the Danube. Here, we will indulge in a delectable lunch infused with local flavors, savoring the authentic taste of Serbian cuisine.

Our Zemun escapade continues with a visit to the majestic Gardos Tower, an iconic landmark that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city and the river. Standing atop this historic structure, we’ll be immersed in the beauty of our surroundings, reflecting on the rich tapestry of history that has shaped Belgrade into the city it is today.

Afternoon:The afternoon is yours to craft an experience that resonates with your interests and desires. Whether you choose to wander aimlessly through charming streets or engage in specific activities, this unscripted time in Belgrade will undoubtedly leave you with cherished memories and a deeper connection to this remarkable city.

As the day gently transitions into the evening, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the city’s transformation as it takes on a different character. The illuminated landmarks and bustling evening life create an entirely new ambiance that’s equally captivating.

WHEN YOU HAVE FREE AFTERNOON IN BELGRADE:

  • Riverside Stroll: Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Sava and Danube rivers. The riverside promenades offer a serene escape where you can relish the gentle breeze, people-watch, and marvel at the iconic bridges that connect the city.

  • Bohemian Quarter Exploration: Return to Skadarlija, the bohemian quarter, for a more in-depth exploration. The artistic ambiance, charming cafes, and art galleries provide an ideal setting for relaxation and inspiration.

  • Museum and Gallery Visits: If you’re inclined towards art and culture, consider visiting some of Belgrade’s captivating museums and galleries. The National Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum are worth exploring, offering insights into Serbia’s artistic heritage.

  • Ada Ciganlija: If you’re in the mood for a more active afternoon, head to Ada Ciganlija, a recreational area known as “Belgrade’s Sea.” Here, you can rent bikes, go for a swim, or simply relax by the lake.

  • Street Art Hunt: Venture off the beaten path and seek out the vibrant street art scattered throughout the city. Belgrade’s street art scene is a testament to its dynamic cultural spirit.

DAY 5: Belgrade to Skopje (MKD)

Destination:Belgrade / Niš / Skopje, North Macedonia
Inclusions:4* Hotel Alexander II (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast
Driving Time:4.30hrs | Private Vehicle

Nis in SerbiaMorning:After breakfast, our small group will head towards North Macedonia through the captivating landscapes of Serbia. The route will take us through diverse terrains and hidden gems, allowing for a deeper connection with the heart of the Balkans with a first stop at Žiča Monastery, a gem of Serbian medieval architecture nestled amidst picturesque surroundings.

Žiča Monastery exudes a tranquil and spiritual aura with its elegant white stone walls and striking red roof tiles. The monastery’s historical significance is matched only by its architectural charm. As you step onto its grounds, you’ll be transported back in time, captivated by the harmonious blend of Byzantine and Serbian architectural styles. The interior is equally captivating, adorned with vibrant frescoes that depict scenes from religious narratives, offering a glimpse into the artistic mastery of its creators.

Zica Monastery in SerbiaAfternoon/Dinner:After our absorbing encounter with Žiča Monastery, our journey will lead us to Niš, where a well-deserved lunch break awaits. Nis is not only steeped in history but also boasts a culinary tradition that will tantalize your taste buds. Indulge in some of the city’s delectable specialties, including the famous “Nišlijska pleskavica,” a variation of the beloved Balkan burger, and “suva kobasica,” a dried sausage bursting with savory flavors.

Niš is a fantastic city, and its blend of architectural styles that reflect its diverse past will mesmerize you. While the Ottoman influences are evident in the intricate details of buildings, remnants of Roman times stand as a testament to its ancient roots. Yet, Nis doesn’t just live in the past; it’s a city in motion, where modern life harmoniously intertwines with its historical legacy.

While in Niš, we will wander the walls, climb the towers, and enjoy the panoramic views from the famous Niš Fort. Ćele Kula (Skull Tower) built with the skulls of Serbian rebels who fought against Ottoman rule is also an unmissable waypoint.

Evening:Immersed in the historical richness, we will continue your journey towards Skopje—the enchanting capital of North Macedonia, a blend of ancient traditions and modern allure. 

Arrival to Skopje would be in the evening hours, followed by hotel check-in and free time for evening Macedonian dinner.

WHAT TO EAT FOR DINNER IN SKOPJE?

North Macedonian cuisine is known for its flavorful and hearty dishes influenced by Mediterranean, Balkan, and Ottoman culinary traditions. Here are some popular options to consider for dinner in Skopje:

  • Tavče Gravče: This is North Macedonia’s national dish and a must-try. Tavče Gravče consists of beans cooked in a rich, aromatic sauce with spices and vegetables. It’s often served with a side of fresh bread.
  • Moussaka: North Macedonian Moussaka is a layered dish made with minced meat (usually pork or beef), potatoes, and a creamy bechamel sauce. It’s baked to perfection and served hot.
  • Sarma: Sarma is a dish made from cabbage leaves stuffed with a mixture of minced meat and rice, seasoned with herbs and spices. It’s then simmered in a flavorful tomato sauce.
  • Ajvar: While not a main course, ajvar is a popular accompaniment to many dishes. It’s a flavorful red pepper and eggplant spread, often served with bread or as a condiment with grilled meats.
  • Turlitava: This is a vegetable stew made with a mix of seasonal vegetables, such as zucchini, peppers, and tomatoes, cooked with herbs and spices. It can be an excellent option for vegetarians.
  • Grilled Meats: Skopje is known for its delicious grilled meats, including kebabs, pljeskavica (a type of burger), and skewers. These are often served with a variety of salads and condiments.
  • Pita: North Macedonian pita is a savory pastry filled with ingredients like cheese, spinach, or meat. It’s similar to other Balkan and Mediterranean pastries.

Don’t forget to complement your meal with a glass of local wine or rakija (fruit brandy), and consider trying traditional desserts like baklava or tulumba to round off your dinner experience in Skopje. Skopje offers a diverse culinary scene, so you’ll find a dish that suits your taste.

DAY 6: Explore Skopje (MKD)

Destination:Skopje, North Macedonia
Inclusions:4* Hotel Alexander II (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast | Walking Tour of Skopje | Visit to Matka Canyon
Driving Time:1.10hrs | Private Vehicle

Morning:Your sixth day unfolds with exploring Skopje’s historical center, a captivating tapestry of cultures and epochs. We will meander through the city’s heart, where ancient landmarks blend harmoniously with modern elements, creating an enchanting mosaic.

We will start at the iconic Stone Bridge, an emblematic structure that spans the Vardar River, connecting the past and present and wander to Macedonia Square, a bustling hub where the colossal statue of Alexander the Great commands attention, surrounded by grand buildings and a vibrant atmosphere that captures the city’s spirit.

Our next stop will be the enchanting ambiance of the Old Bazaar, a labyrinth of cobbled streets, bustling markets, and traditional architecture. We will explore its narrow alleys, discover hidden courtyards, and engage with shops that hark back to Skopje’s Ottoman heritage. Ascend to Skopje Fortress is a must and will allow us to witness the city’s transformation through the ages.

Having uncovered the historical treasures of Skopje’s center, your journey continues to the enchanting Matka Canyon, a natural wonder that beckons with serene beauty and pristine landscapes. 

Afternoon:Upon reaching Matka Canyon, we will do some nice and easy hikes and treat ourselves to a rewarding lunch at a charming canyon-side restaurant. 

The afternoon unveils a realm of choices. You are free to make your own choice, from a serene boat ride and cave exploration, kayaking, or invigorating hikes, including the captivating trail leading to St. Nikola Monastery. The realm of possibilities at Matka Canyon caters to diverse interests, and we’ll ensure all options are presented for you to curate your ideal experience.

We will return to Skopje in the later afternoon hours.

WHEN YOU HAVE FREE TIME IN SKOPJE

Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia, comes alive in the evening with a variety of activities to suit different interests. Here are some things you can do in the evening in Skopje:

  • Explore Old Bazaar (Stara Čaršija): The historic Old Bazaar is enchanting in the evening, with its cobbled streets, Ottoman-era architecture, and numerous cafes, restaurants, and shops. It’s an ideal place for a leisurely stroll and to savor local dishes.
  • Dine at a Traditional Restaurant: Skopje offers a range of restaurants serving traditional Macedonian cuisine. Enjoy local specialties such as Tavče Gravče, kebabs, or stuffed peppers at a cozy restaurant.
  • Attend a Traditional Music Performance: Check for local events or concerts featuring traditional Macedonian music. These performances often occur in cultural centers or open-air venues, providing a taste of the country’s rich musical heritage.
  • Visit the Stone Bridge: The iconic Stone Bridge illuminated in the evening, offers beautiful views of the Vardar River and the city. It’s an excellent spot for a romantic stroll or to capture stunning photos.
  • Skopje Fortress (Kale): Explore the Skopje Fortress, also known as Kale Fortress, and enjoy panoramic city views. It’s particularly picturesque at sunset and during the evening.
  • Alexander the Great Square: Take a walk through Alexander the Great Square, where many of Skopje’s notable landmarks, including statues and fountains, are illuminated at night. The square is a lively place to people-watch and soak in the atmosphere.
  • Enjoy a Boat Ride: Take a relaxing boat ride on the Vardar River to see the city differently. Some boat tours offer dinner cruises with live music.
  • Skopje Aqueduct: Visit the ancient Skopje Aqueduct, which is beautifully lit in the evening. It’s a historical site with a tranquil atmosphere.
  • Shopping: Explore Skopje’s shopping districts, including Macedonia Square and the Ramstore Mall, which often stay open until late in the evening.
  • Cafes and Bars: Skopje has a vibrant cafe and bar scene. Enjoy a coffee, local wine, or craft beer at one of the many cafes or bars. Some places offer live music or DJ sets for entertainment.
  • Cultural Performances: Check for cultural performances, such as theater productions, dance shows, or exhibitions, at venues like the Macedonian National Theater or the Museum of Contemporary Art.
  • Nightclubs: Skopje has a growing nightlife scene with nightclubs and bars that stay open late into the night. If you’re in the mood for dancing and music, explore some of these venues.

Whether you prefer a leisurely evening by the river, cultural experiences, or vibrant nightlife, Skopje has something to offer every traveler. Enjoy the city’s unique blend of history, culture, and modernity as you explore it in the evening.

DAY 7: Explore Ohrid (MKD)

Destination:Skopje / Ohrid / Skopje, North Macedonia
Inclusions:4* Hotel Alexander II (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast | Ohrid Walking Tour
Driving Time:5.15hrs | Private Vehicle

Ohrid in North MacedoniaMorning:Embark on a captivating day tour from Skopje to the picturesque town of Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage site nestled along the stunning shores of Lake Ohrid. Your journey begins with a scenic drive through the Macedonian countryside, offering glimpses of the country’s rural beauty.

Upon arrival in Ohrid, immerse yourself in the charming ambiance of the Old Town. Wander through its cobbled streets with historic buildings, ancient churches, and traditional houses. Discover the soul of Ohrid as you explore its vibrant markets, art galleries, and local crafts.

Next, be enchanted by the shimmering expanse of Lake Ohrid, one of Europe’s oldest and deepest lakes. Gaze out at the serene waters and breathe in the fresh lake breeze while taking a leisurely stroll along the lakeside promenade. Capture postcard-worthy views of the lake and the surrounding landscape, a scene that has inspired poets, artists, and travelers for centuries.

Ohrid - North MacedoniaDuring the summer months, the inviting waters of Lake Ohrid offer a refreshing opportunity for a swim. Feel the cool embrace of the lake as you take a dip, surrounded by the stunning natural backdrop. Whether you dip your toes or indulge in a leisurely swim, embracing the crystal-clear waters adds an extra layer of enjoyment to your day.

Afternoon:Your journey continues to the St. Naum Monastery, a spiritual sanctuary located on the southern shores of Lake Ohrid. Admire the intricate frescoes that adorn the monastery’s walls, each telling a tale of devotion and artistry. As you explore the grounds, you’ll have the opportunity to witness the mesmerizing natural springs that feed into the lake, creating a harmonious blend of natural beauty and cultural heritage.

After a day of exploration and discovery, begin your return journey to Skopje, cherishing the memories of Ohrid’s enchanting beauty, rich history, and spiritual significance. Reflect on the unique experiences that have deepened your understanding of North Macedonia’s cultural tapestry.

Sveti Naum at Ohrid - North MacedoniaEvening:Throughout the day, indulge in local flavors during breaks, sampling traditional Macedonian cuisine and savoring the region’s culinary delights. Your day tour to Ohrid from Skopje is a captivating voyage that showcases the diverse facets of this remarkable country, leaving you with a profound appreciation for its heritage, natural splendor, and the joyful option of a refreshing swim in Lake Ohrid.

DAY 8: Skopje to Pristina (KOS)

Destination:Pristina, Kosovo
Inclusions:4* Hotel Emery (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast | Walking Tour of Prizren
Driving Time:3.30hrs | Private Vehicle

Prizreni (Prizren) - KosovoMorning:Today we will bring to light and uncover Kosovo, Balkan’s youngest recognized country that went through a more turbulent history that one could comprehend. Our first stop will be the amazing Prizren, whose cobbled streets are often called an “Open Air Museum”. 

From the 14th-century fortress walls to the city’s Ottoman-style teahouses Byzantine and Romanesque architecture, Prizren is the perfect place to take a step back in time.

We will visit the Town Museum to uncover its stories and explore the striking Sinan Pasha Mosque, built in 1615. We’ll cross the Old Stone Bridge, admire the Hamam Gazi Mehmet Pasha, and explore the well-preserved cobblestone streets of a vibrant bazaar with its souvenir shops. You can find hand-made clothes, shoes, and jewelry at great prices.

Lunch is on us as we simply cannot leave the city before pausing to taste the renowned Prizren Cevap. These succulent, grilled minced meat delicacies embody the region’s culinary mastery.

With full stomachs, we will embark on a 15-minute hike to Kalaja Fortress. Along the way, we’ll pass the ruins of the UNESCO-protected Orthodox Church “Our Lady of Ljevis.” Finally, we’ll reach Kalaja Fortress, a symbol of Prizren’s heritage. Dating back to the 11th century, it offers the best view of Prizren, as well as the nearby Mt. of Prokletije and Peja.

With its chambers, underground halls, and sturdy walls, the fortress is a historical playground. Take your time to explore and discover your favorite spot within these ancient walls.

Prizren - KosovoAfternoon:We will arrive in Pristina in the early afternoon and let you have some rest before the afternoon walks. To truly grasp the essence of Kosovo, Pristina stands as the optimal starting point. As the capital city, it is a significant political and economic hub within the region.

Our walks through Pristina will serve as a timeline, tracing the complex narrative that shaped this nation. From antiquity to modernity, we’ll uncover the layers of history that have defined Kosovo’s identity. Each step we take will be a portal to bygone eras, where we’ll witness the imprint of diverse cultures and aspirations.

Evening:The evening is yours to unveil Pristina on your own and enjoy some tasty local dishes over dinner.

WHEN YOU HAVE FREE TIME IN PRISTINA

Pristina, the capital city of Kosovo, offers a mix of historical, cultural, and modern attractions for visitors with free time. Here are some things you can do in Pristina:

  • Newborn Monument: Start your exploration by visiting the Newborn Monument, which is frequently repainted with new graffiti and artwork to commemorate significant events or themes. It’s a symbol of Kosovo’s evolving identity.
  • Mother Teresa Square: This central square is named after Mother Teresa, who was of Albanian ethnicity. You can visit her statue and nearby churches, including St. Mother Teresa Cathedral.
  • Bear Sanctuary: If you’re an animal lover, consider a visit to the Bear Sanctuary in Mramor. It’s a short drive from Pristina and offers a chance to see rescued bears in a natural habitat.
  • Imperial Mosque: Explore the Imperial Mosque (Xhamia e Mbretit), one of Pristina’s most important landmarks. Its striking architecture and serene atmosphere make it worth a visit.
  • Gračanica Monastery: Take a short trip outside Pristina to visit the Gračanica Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The medieval Serbian Orthodox monastery is known for its beautiful frescoes.
  • National Library of Kosovo: Admire the unique architecture of the National Library, designed by Croatian architect Andrija Mutnjaković. Its distinctive style makes it a notable building in the city.
  • Ethnological Museum (Muzeu Etnologjik): Explore the Ethnological Museum to learn about Kosovo’s cultural heritage and traditions. It offers insights into the country’s history and way of life.
  • Tomb of Sultan Murad: Discover the Tomb of Sultan Murad I, located in the city center. It’s an important historical site related to the Battle of Kosovo.
  • Street Art and Cafes: Pristina has a vibrant street art scene. Stroll around the city to admire colorful murals and graffiti. You can also relax in one of the many cafes, enjoying a coffee or local drink while people-watching.
  • Food and Dining: Savor the local cuisine at traditional restaurants or explore international options. Kosovo has a rich culinary heritage influenced by various cultures, and you can find delicious dishes to try.
  • Shopping: Visit the Kosovo Government Store for souvenirs and handicrafts or explore the city’s markets for local products and unique finds.
  • Nightlife: In the evening, Pristina offers a lively nightlife scene with bars, clubs, and live music venues. You can enjoy local music and meet locals and fellow travelers.

Remember to check the opening hours of attractions and museums, as they may vary. Pristina is a city with a blend of cultures, history, and a youthful energy that makes it an interesting destination to explore during your free time.

DAY 9: Explore Kosovo (KOS)

Destination:Pristina / Peja / Rugova / Decani / Pristina, Kosovo
Inclusions:4* Hotel Emery (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast & Lunch
Driving Time:3.55hrs | Private Vehicle

Pecka Patrijarsija Monastery - KosovoActivity Note:Today, we will revel in Kosovo’s incredible natural beauty. Our journey will take us to the stunning Patriarchy of Peja, a gem of Orthodox heritage. Following that, a breathtaking drive through Rugova Canyon will lead us to the delightful Rugova Valley, promising an unforgettable experience.

Morning:Following breakfast, we will make our way to the outskirts of town, where the Patriarchy of Peja awaits. This intricate complex comprises a church and nunnery, dating back to the late 12th century. Adorned with mesmerizing frescoes on its walls and ceilings, this Orthodox monastery offers a captivating historical experience. Engaging with the local nuns, we’ll delve into the presence of Orthodox Christians in Kosovo, gaining unique insights.

The morning will be spent strolling through the enchanting gardens and premises of the Patriarchy of Peja. Amidst this serene setting, you’ll have the opportunity to discover inner tranquility and delve into the city’s cherished religious diversity.

Peja Monastery - KosovoAfter a serene interlude at the monastery, our journey continues with an awe-inspiring drive through Rugova Canyon. Extending for 25 kilometers and plunging to depths of up to 1,000 meters, Rugova Canyon ranks among Europe’s lengthiest and most profound canyons. Its unique geological, hydrological, speleological, and botanical attributes have earned it the status of a safeguarded testament to natural heritage.

Our initial stop will involve a brief downhill hike, affording us the opportunity to marvel at the potent, crystalline waters that mirror the striking arch bridge spanning the canyon. Adjacent to this bridge, a rock etching of an ancient athlete, dating back to the Pelasgian era, stands as a captivating testament to time.

As the road narrows, we’ll be treated to a parade of water springs, including a majestic 25-meter-high waterfall. 

Peja Natural beauty - KosovoOur arrival in Rugova Valley will greet us with picturesque village vistas and charming houses. In short order, we’ll have the privilege of meeting our welcoming Albanian hosts, who reside at a home strategically positioned near the commencement of the renowned Balkan Peaks Trail.

Afternoon:Upon meeting with the hosts, we will have a chance to experience a once-in-a-lifetime cooking class that will unveil the secrets of crafting the perfect flija. This culinary art form involves layering thin sheets of dough with an assortment of delectable fillings, forming a dish of exquisite taste and texture. The aroma and flavors will tantalize our senses.

As the flija cooks to perfection, lunch with hosts will enable us to immerse ourselves in the rich tapestry of their culture to learn about their history, traditions, and way of life. Authentic experiences such as this one are the best way to create lasting memories and deepen our appreciation for the warmth and hospitality of the people in the region we are visiting.

After lunch, your exploration continues with a visit to the magnificent Decani Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a true architectural marvel. The monastery’s exterior is adorned with intricate details, a prelude to the awe-inspiring frescoes that grace its interior. As you venture inside, you’ll be transported to a world of artistic mastery and historical significance, gaining a deeper understanding of Kosovo’s heritage.

Visoki Decani Monastery - KosovoWith hearts and minds enriched by these cultural encounters, you’ll return to Pristina in the late afternoon. The memories of Pecka Patrijarsija’s spiritual aura, the flavors of Rugova’s cuisine, and the grandeur of Decani Monastery’s artwork will accompany you, a testament to the diverse beauty of Kosovo. This day tour has offered a profound glimpse into the region’s past and present, leaving you with cherished moments and a deeper appreciation for its treasures.

FUNKY TOURS TREAT

Flija is a beloved traditional Albanian dish, celebrated for its unique preparation and delightful flavors. Crafted from a simple batter of white wheat flour, water, and a touch of yogurt for richness, Flija’s magic lies in its layering technique. Cooked over an open flame on a special shallow pan called a “sac,” each layer is patiently prepared until it’s thin, crispy, and golden brown. The result is a stack of delicate, airy pancakes that form a delectable, multi-layered masterpiece. Flija is often enjoyed with a variety of toppings, such as creamy yogurt, melted butter, or sweet honey, adding depth and character to its already delightful taste. Beyond its culinary appeal, Flija is a cultural tradition that brings people together for communal cooking and shared enjoyment, making it a cherished dish in the heart of Kosovo and Albania.

DAY 10: Northern Albania (ALB)

Destination:Pristina / Komani Lake / Shkodër / Theth, Albania
Inclusions:3* Gurra Family Guesthouse (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast | Komani Lake Ferry Ride
Driving Time:6.30hrs | Private Vehicle | Komani Ferry

Koman Lake Ferry Ride - AlbaniaMorning:Bid farewell to the enchanting landscapes of Kosovo as you embark on a captivating transfer tour into the heart of Albania. The journey will unfold with a picturesque drive from Pristina, crossing borders and entering the welcoming embrace of Albania.

Arriving at Fierze, a new chapter of the adventure begins as you step aboard a scenic ferry that will carry you across the tranquil expanse of Komani Lake. The ferry ride offers unparalleled views of the rugged terrain and pristine beauty that define Albania’s landscape. Lose yourself in the serenity of the surroundings as you glide across the shimmering waters, surrounded by majestic mountains and captivating vistas.

Moving forward on our journey, the path will lead us towards Theth, a remote and picturesque village nestled in the Albanian Alps. But before reaching Theth, we will make a lunch break in Shkodër, a city that beckons with its own stories and allure.

Located near the confluence of the Buna and Drin rivers, Shkodër boasts a history that spans through various civilizations, including Illyrian, Roman, Ottoman, and more. The city stands as a fusion of diverse influences, each leaving its mark on Shkodar’s architecture, traditions, and identity. 

Afternoon:Shkodër is also a perfect place to indulge in a rich lunch and treat yourselves to a delightful array of traditional dishes that mirror the city’s multifaceted heritage.

Rozafa Castle will be our last stop before we reach the serene Theth. Rozafa Castle, a cornerstone of Shkodër’s heritage, holds a poignant legend that has woven its way into the fabric of local folklore. The tale of Rozafa, an allegory of sacrifice and unity, speaks of familial bonds and the will to protect what is cherished. The castle’s strategic positioning atop a rocky outcrop allowed it to safeguard the city and the surrounding region for centuries.

Shkodër and Rozafa Castle - AlbaniaEvening:As the day draws to a close, we will arrive in the charming village of Theth, nestled amidst Albania’s captivating natural beauty. A warm Albanian dinner awaits, offering you a taste of the region’s traditional flavors and culinary delights. Savor each bite as you indulge in an authentic Albanian dining experience.

WHAT TO DO ON YOUR FREE DAY IN THETH

Theth, located in the Albanian Alps, is a stunning destination for hiking and outdoor enthusiasts. The rugged landscapes, pristine nature, and traditional villages make it an ideal place for exploring on foot. Here are some popular hiking options in Theth:

  • Theth to Valbona Pass: This is one of the most iconic and challenging hikes in the region. The trail takes you from Theth to the Valbona Valley, offering breathtaking views of the Accursed Mountains. It’s a full-day trek and requires a good level of fitness.

  • Blue Eye (Syri i Kalter): A relatively easier hike, the Blue Eye is a mesmerizing natural spring where crystal-clear water gushes from the depths of the earth. The trail is surrounded by lush greenery and takes about 1-2 hours to reach from Theth.

  • Grunas Waterfall: This hike leads to the picturesque Grunas Waterfall, which is a popular spot for swimming. The trail is moderately challenging and takes around 2-3 hours to complete round-trip.

  • Circular Village Hike: Explore the Theth village itself with a circular hike. Wander through the charming stone houses, visit the Lock-in Tower (Kulla e Ngujimit), and take in the serene countryside. This is a gentle hike suitable for most fitness levels.

DAY 11: Theth Free Day (ALB)

Destination:Theth, Albania
Inclusions:3* Gurra Family Guesthouse (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast | Free day on your own
Optional:Hire a local hiking guide for hiking more demanding hiking adventure

Theth Village - Albanian AlpsToday, you can immerse yourself in the captivating landscapes and pristine surroundings of Theth. Enjoy the freedom to tailor your day according to your preferences, whether you seek adventurous hikes or serene relaxation.

For those seeking an exhilarating adventure, consider hiking to Valbona Pass. This scenic trek offers breathtaking vistas of the rugged mountains, lush valleys, and charming villages that define the region. Traverse the trail as you soak in the fresh mountain air and witness the awe-inspiring beauty surrounding you. The hike to Valbona Pass and back promises an unforgettable journey through Albania’s natural wonders.

Valbona Valley - AlbaniaAlternatively, if you prefer a more leisurely experience, set out on a hike to Theth’s renowned Blue Eye. This enchanting natural spring is a sight to behold, with its crystal-clear waters reflecting the hues of the sky. The hike to Theth Blue Eye allows you to reconnect with nature and bask in the tranquility of this hidden gem.

Blue Eye Lake near Theth - Albanian AlpsAfter your chosen adventure or relaxation, explore the village of Theth itself. Discover its unique architecture, interact with the friendly locals, and immerse yourself in the culture that thrives in this remote oasis.

As the day winds to a close, return to your accommodations in Theth, where the tranquil ambiance and warm hospitality await. Reflect on the memories you’ve created and the beauty you’ve encountered, cherishing the moments of your free day exploration in Theth.

DAY 12: Theth to Krujë & Tirana (ALB)

Destination:Theth / Krujë / Tirana, Albania
Inclusions:4* Hotel Sky II (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast
Driving Time:4hrs | Private Vehicle

Tirana main square - AlbaniaMorning:Your journey from Theth to Tirana promises a seamless blend of history, culture, and vibrant urban life. Depart from the captivating landscapes of Theth and set your course towards Kruje, a historic town that holds stories of Albania’s past.

Arriving in Krujë, you’ll immerse yourself in a tapestry of history as you explore the Krujë Castle. Perched on a hilltop, this fortress offers panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes, serving as a vantage point that has witnessed the passage of time. Delve into the stories of rulers and battles that have shaped Albania’s narrative, feeling the echoes of the past beneath your feet.

Amidst the historic charm, the bustling bazaar of Krujë beckons. Immerse yourself in the vibrant market atmosphere, where artisans and merchants showcase their wares. Meander through the stalls adorned with local crafts, textiles, and unique souvenirs, capturing a glimpse of Albania’s traditional craftsmanship.

Kruje Castle - AlbaniaAfternoon:Continuing your journey, arrive in Tirana, Albania’s dynamic capital. A flavorsome Albanian lunch awaits, inviting you to savor the authentic tastes that define the region’s culinary heritage. Let each bite transport you deeper into the heart of Albania’s gastronomic delights.

In the afternoon, your exploration of Tirana begins with a walking tour. Uncover the city’s vibrant atmosphere as you stroll through its streets, taking in the blend of architectural styles that reflect its diverse history. Tirana’s urban landscape is a testament to its evolution from Ottoman-era buildings to modern landmarks.

Tirana - AlbaniaEvening:As the sun sets, you’ll have the opportunity to delve into Tirana’s charm at your own pace during your free time. Wander through the city’s squares, engage with locals, or soak in the lively ambiance that emanates from its streets.

With the day’s journey complete, retire to your accommodations in Tirana, reflecting on the historic tales of Kruje and the vibrant energy of Tirana. This connecting tour has seamlessly woven together Albania’s past and present, leaving you with cherished memories and a deeper appreciation for its rich tapestry.

DAY 13: Tirana Free Day (ALB)

Destination:Tirana, Albania
Inclusions:4* Hotel Sky II (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast
Optional: Full day tour to Berat UNESCO site

Tirana National Museum

Morning:Enjoy the free day in Tirana. In the text below we list down the recommended things to and experiences to seek when you have free day in Tirana.

WHEN YOU HAVE FREE TIME IN TIRANA

Tirana, the capital of Albania, is a vibrant and evolving city with a mix of historical and modern attractions. Here are the top five things to do in your free time in Tirana:

  • Explore Skanderbeg Square: Begin exploring at Skanderbeg Square, the heart of Tirana. Here, you can visit the National History Museum, featuring exhibits that provide insights into Albania’s rich past. Admire the Skanderbeg Monument and the Et’hem Bey Mosque, an architectural gem known for its intricate frescoes.

  • Bunk’Art and Bunk’Art 2: Dive into Albania’s recent history by visiting the Bunk’Art and Bunk’Art 2 museums. These former communist-era bunkers have been transformed into museums, offering a unique perspective on the country’s communist period and the secret underground tunnels used by the regime.

  • Blloku District: Explore the Blloku district, which was once restricted to high-ranking communist officials but is now a trendy area filled with bars, restaurants, and shops. It’s a great place to stroll, grab a coffee, or enjoy a meal at a local eatery.

  • Mount Dajti: For a nature escape, take the Dajti Ekspres cable car to Mount Dajti, which offers panoramic views of Tirana and the surrounding countryside. You can hike, dine at a mountaintop restaurant, or simply enjoy the fresh air.

  • Pyramid of Tirana: Visit the Pyramid of Tirana, a unique and controversial architectural structure designed by Enver Hoxha’s daughter. While it has a turbulent history, it’s now a popular spot for urban exploration and street art.

These are just a few of the many things you can do in Tirana during your free time. The city’s energy, diverse cuisine, and blend of history and modernity make it an exciting place to explore. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or outdoor adventures, Tirana has something to offer every traveler.

DAY 14: Tirana to Gjirokaster (ABL)

Destination:Tirana / Durrës / Gjirokaster, Albania
Inclusions:4* Hotel Fantasy (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast
Driving Time:3.30hrs | Private Vehicle

Gjirokaster - AlbaniaMorning:Indulge in a leisurely morning in the vibrant city of Tirana before embarking on a journey to the captivating town of Gjirokaster. As you bid farewell to Tirana’s bustling streets, a world of Ottoman elegance and rich history awaits you.

Your first stop en route to Gjirokaster is Durres, a coastal gem steeped in ancient tales. Take a moment to explore the town’s historical significance and perhaps dip your toes in the tranquil waters of the Adriatic Sea. The sea breeze whispers stories of trade and exploration, adding an enriching layer to your journey.

Durres - AlbaniaAfternoon:Continuing your voyage, arrive in Gjirokaster, a town renowned for its well-preserved Ottoman architecture. Wander through its cobblestone streets and marvel at the intricate details that adorn the buildings, a testament to the town’s enduring legacy. Immerse yourself in the allure of Gjirokaster’s charm as you explore its historic heart.

A sumptuous Albanian lunch invites you to indulge in the region’s flavors, savoring dishes that pay homage to Albania’s culinary traditions. Let each bite transport you to the essence of Albanian gastronomy.

The afternoon unfolds with a visit to the Gjirokaster Fortress, an imposing stronghold that overlooks the town and its surroundings. As you ascend to the fortress, you’ll be greeted by panoramic vistas that stretch to the horizon, revealing the tapestry of Gjirokaster’s landscapes. Explore the fortress’s storied halls and chambers, feeling the weight of history that lingers in every stone.

As the sun sets, settle into your accommodations in Gjirokaster, a town that has preserved its past while embracing the present. Reflect on the day’s journey, from the tranquil shores of Durres to the timeless elegance of Gjirokaster, and anticipate the experiences that await you in the days ahead.

Gjirokaster Fortress - Albania

DAY 15: South Albania (ALB)

Destination:Gjirokaster / Blue Eye / Butrint / Saranda / Gjirokaster, Albania
Inclusions:4* Hotel Fantasy (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast
Driving Time:3.35hrs | Private Vehicle

Butrint National Park - UNESCO - AlbaniaMorning:Embark on an exhilarating day trip from Gjirokaster, delving into the natural and historical wonders that await you. Your adventure takes you to three captivating destinations, each offering a unique perspective on Albania’s diverse landscape and rich heritage.

Your first stop is the mesmerizing Blue Eye, a natural spring of stunning beauty. Witness the crystal-clear waters that seem to emanate from the depths of the earth, creating a vivid blue pool that captures the imagination. Let the tranquility of the surroundings envelop you as you take in this remarkable sight, a testament to the enchanting power of nature.

Blue Eye - South AlbaniaAfternoon:Continuing your journey, you’ll arrive at Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that beckons with ancient ruins and natural splendor. Explore the archaeological treasures that hint at the lives of civilizations long past. Wander through the remains of a Roman amphitheater, Byzantine churches, and Venetian fortifications, each echoing with the whispers of history. As you traverse the park’s pathways, you’ll immerse yourself in a captivating narrative spanning centuries.

Butrint National Park - AlbaniaThe day’s exploration culminates in Saranda, a coastal town that blends modern allure with echoes of its past. Stroll along the waterfront promenade, taking in the views of the Ionian Sea and the town’s vibrant energy. Embrace the opportunity to engage with the local culture, perhaps sampling fresh seafood or enjoying a leisurely coffee by the sea.

As the sun sets on your day trip, you’ll return to Gjirokaster with memories etched in your heart. From the enchanting Blue Eye to the ancient tales of Butrint and the coastal charm of Saranda, this journey has given you a glimpse into Albania’s multifaceted identity. Reflect on the experiences you’ve gathered, cherishing the moments of discovery and anticipation for the adventures that lie ahead.

Ksamil - South Albania

FUNKY TOURS TREAT

Cognac Skënderbeu at Kruje:  Whether you’re a connoisseur of fine spirits or simply seeking an unforgettable encounter, the Skënderbeu Cognac tasting at Kruje Fortress is a journey into the heart of Albanian culture and a celebration of the finer things in life. 

Skënderbeu Cognac, named after the legendary Albanian hero Gjergj Kastrioti Skënderbeu, is not just a libation; it’s a testament to the nation’s enduring spirit. As you hold the glass, the amber-hued liquid reflects the very essence of Albania – a blend of strength, resilience, and sophistication. It’s a symphony of flavors and a testament to the enduring spirit of a nation, making your Balkan adventure truly extraordinary.

DAY 16: Transfer to Athens (GRE)

Destination:Transfer to Athens, Greece
Inclusions:4* Hotel Sky (or similar) | Meals: Breakfast
Driving Time:5.45hrs | Private Vehicle

As your 15-day adventure draws to a close, bid farewell to Gjirokaster and embark on a direct transfer to Athens, Greece. Reflect on the diverse landscapes, cultures, and experiences you’ve encountered along your remarkable journey.

Your 15-day tour through the heart of the Balkans has been a captivating odyssey, filled with cultural immersion, historical exploration, and culinary delights. As you arrive in Athens, carry with you the cherished memories and newfound perspectives gathered along the way.

Map

What to Bring

What Do I Need to Bring?

  • Passport (please check up in advance if you need visa for any of the 7 countries in the itinerary)
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Waterproof jacket in case of rains (usually autumn and winter period)
  • Warm jacket (during the winter period)
  • Light-weight, breathable walking shirts and trousers
  • Warm hat and light gloves (during the winter period)
  • Sun protection (especially for hiking tour)
  • Bathing suits (summer time)

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why should I book this tour with Funky Tours?
    With over 20 years of experience, hundreds of verified reviews, and our unique packages, tours, and experiences, we are the only Balkan-based and unbiased tour operator constantly striving to offer a unique and life-changing experience via service excellence. If this doesn’t convince you, your tour manager is happy to set up and meet over a video call and respond to any questions or concerns you might have. We love learning about our guests and their preferences, so we strongly encourage each of you to get in touch with our team!
  2. Is this tour for me?
    This package requires an average physical activity. You should be able to walk a reasonable distance on, sometimes, uneven or cobblestoned ground.
  3. Can I travel with my children?
    This is an entirely family-friendly tour, so children over 3 are welcome to join Funky Tours tour.
  4. Is it safe to travel to the Balkans?
    The Balkans are safe to explore in a group or even independently. Funky Tours team would never put our guests in any danger, and each part of the itinerary is carefully thought through.
  5. Can I book as a solo traveler?
    Yes you can. A significant number of our fellow travelers are solo.
  6. Can I extend my stay and explore further the Balkans?
    Absolutely. We encourage our guests to enhance their Balkan experience by choosing some unique trip extensions or on their own. For those who are into independent explorations, the Funky Tours team can arrange pre- and post-hotel nights before and/or after a tour.
  7. Are the “last minute” bookings accepted?
    If we have last-minute spots available, we will be more than happy to take you with us.
  8. Are all of the attractions available all year round?
    Yes, the itinerary is perfectly created to meet your expectations and better than anticipated throughout the year, no matter your chosen season.
  9. How much should I tip?
    Tips are not included in the tour costs or are heavily expected in Balkan culture. However, when you receive excellent service, we recommend tipping.
  10. Is EUR accepted in the Balkans?
    Other than Croatia, Greece, and Kosovo, EUR is not accepted in countries we will be visiting. Credit card is widely accepted, but pocket money is recommendable. Your tour leader will assist you all the way.
  11. Will there be one guide all the way through a trip?
    Local guidance and first-hand stories are a valuable addition to the overall experience. Besides a full-time tour leader/guide and driver who will be both at your disposal 24/7, you will also meet local experts for each country we visit.
  12. Can I join the group from other than the starting point location? 
    Yes, if you find a more affordable arrival destination, please get in touch with our team so we can find the best way for you to join our departure.
  13. Can I book a private customized trip based on this one? 
    Yes, you can. Custom-tailored trips are our specialty. Please get in touch with our team with your preferences; we will be happy to work on it accordingly and suggest some fantastic options.
  14. How much pocket money should I have for personal expenses?
    In general, Balkans are much more affordable than other European countries. Depending on the country, you should have between 25 and 50 EUR per day for personal expenses such as food and small shopping.

Terms & Conditions

This tour package is covered by Funky Tours General and Multi-day Tours Terms and Conditions.
Funky Tours makes every effort to adapt the Terms & Conditions to its valued travellers and we sincerely ask you to pay attention to them at this link.

We are at your disposal for any questions at +387 62 612 612 (WhatsApp or call) or info@funkytours.com.

Proceed Booking

Start WhatsApp Chat
1
24/7 Assistance
Let's talk about the Balkans!
Thinking of Balkans? We are the experts!