Experience the abundant natural beauty and hospitality of Albania, a burgeoning Balkan nation ready to step into the spotlight after decades of isolation and obscurity, on this new 14-day tour being offered exclusively by MIR Corporation. Discover the country’s communist history, marvel at forgotten remnants of Greco-Roman and Ottoman architecture, admire spectacular vistas in the Albanian Alps, and step into the lives of villagers who still hold tight to ancient traditions. The tour is scheduled for May 17-30, 2020 and starts at $4,995 per person double. Accommodations are charming, well-located, and often locally owned hotels and B&Bs. For more information, visit https://www.mircorp.com/trip/albania-beyond-the-guidebook/.
Days 1-2: Tirana
Begin in Albania’s colorful capital, Tirana, admiring its eclectic architecture and fascinating communist relics. Visit the Bektashi World Center, headquarters of the liberal Bektashi order of Sufism, and meet with the founder of the Women’s Museum to discover more about Albanian women’s contributions to history.
Days 3-5: Shkodra, Valbone
Drive to one of Albania’s most notorious communist internment camps, Spac Prison, hearing a firsthand account of life there from a former prisoner. Soak up the Italian ambiance of lakeside Shkodra, and enjoy a day of hiking in the pristine Valbone Valley National Park, taking in the gorgeous scenery of the remote Albanian Alps.
Days 6-8: Kruja, Ohrid, Korce
In Kruja, browse the medieval Turkish bazaar, and visit a workshop that specializes in making traditional Albanian skullcaps called qeleshe. Explore the Albanian side of UNESCO-listed Lake Ohrid; marvel at Korce’s fabulous collection of medieval icons; and learn about Albania’s rich culinary heritage over a cooking class in a village home.
Days 9-10: Permet, Gjirokastra
Spend a night in Permet, famed for its folk music traditions and fiery raki. Continue through the mountains to the UNESCO-listed Ottoman town of Gjirokastra, exploring its charming cobblestone streets and traditional tower houses.
Days 11-14: Butrint, Saranda, Berat, Tirana
Make a stop at the 6th century BC ruins of Butrint before dipping down to Saranda, “capital” of the lush Albanian Riviera. Drive along the breathtaking Ionian Coast to UNESCO-listed Berat, home to striking Ottoman mosques and the 13th century Berat Castle, one of the best-preserved medieval citadels in the Balkans. Back in Tirana, witness the city’s exciting contemporary arts scene at the Bunk’Art Museum before celebrating the journey at a farewell dinner.
Since 1986, MIR Corporation has been guiding travelers across Russia aboard the Trans-Siberian Railway, along the Silk Road, to St. Petersburg and beyond. MIR destination experts design imaginative trips that take travelers far from the familiar and work closely with local affiliates in Western Russia, Siberia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to carry them out.