Tirana, Kruja and Durres Private Day Tour, Albania
This tour will introduce you to the local history and the 3 most important historical cities in Albania, including Durrës, the ancient Illyrian capital of the region, Krujë, the most important city when Albania was under the Ottoman rule, and Tirana, the capital and the largest city of Albania.
8AM. You will meet your guide at the lobby of your hotel and get the general idea of the upcoming tour. Then, you will begin the walking tour around Tirana historical city center. The area that today corresponds to the city's territory has been continuously inhabited since the Iron Age. First, the land belonged to Illyrians, then, in succession, it was becoming an integral part of the Roman, the Byzantine and the Ottoman Empires. Today, Tirana offers a blend of traditional and modern architectural styles that reflect the influential periods in its history. Your first stop will be at Skanderbeg Square, the main plaza in the center that is surrounded by significant buildings and sights. From there, you will head to the National History Museum that is famous for its large mural mosaic titled The Albanians. It depicts figures from Albania's history from ancient times to the modern day. Also, the museum has a number of pavilions, including the Pavilion of Antiquity, Middle Ages, Renaissance, Independence, Iconography, National Liberation Antifascist War, Communist Terror and Mother Teresa. The guide will take you to the Palace of Culture of Tirana that includes the National Library of Albania and the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet of Albania. You will pass the National Museum of Fine Arts that features the works of Sadik Kaceli, as well as works of other well-known Albanian artists and the permanent collection of Socialist Realism art. Then, you will explore the peculiar museum Bunk'art 1, the main bunker that was opened to visitors in 2014 and was dedicated to the modern history of the country and the events of World War II. Other sights of interest will include the Pyramid of Tirana, the Government area, the Blloku area, Mother Teresa Square and the house of Enver Hoxha, an important political figure in the country.
10AM. You will depart to the historical town of Kruje, driving for about 45 minutes.
11AM. Arriving in Kruje, you will walk around the old town and have some time to wander on your own. You will visit the Old Bazaar, also known as Pazari i Vjetër, which is the cobblestone narrow street filled with quaint shops, peculiar artifacts and memorable souvenirs. Another site that you surely wouldn't miss will be the Skanderbeg Museum at the historic citadel of the Krujë castle.
Originally conceived as a memorial, the museum's architecture blends well with history and the medieval arts, and its chronological exhibit takes visitors through ceramic, bronze, iron, copper objects, original icons and swords of the period. There, you will also see a beautiful bell that dates back to 1462 and stunning frescoes that cover the museum walls.
1PM. You will have lunch at a local restaurant, tasting the traditional cuisine of Kruje.
2PM. After lunch, you will head to Durrës, which is located on a flat plain along the Albanian Adriatic Sea Coast.
3PM. Upon your arrival, you will head to Durrës Castle, the fortified old city that was built by the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I back in the 5th century. It used to be one of the most fortified cities on the Adriatic, being reconstructed and reinforced numerous times due to an earthquake and ongoing wars. Another remarkable site that you will visit there will be the Amphitheater of Durrës, the largest amphitheater in the Balkan Peninsula. Built by Romans in the 2nd century AD, it was included on the tentative list of Albania for inscribing it as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Afterwards, you will have some free time, walking by the Adriatic Sea or relaxing in a cafe.
5PM. You will leave Durrës.
6PM. After a comfortable drive, you will return to Tirana.
Highlights: Skanderbeg Square, the National History Museum, the Palace of Culture of Tirana, the National Library of Albania, the National Theater of Opera and Ballet of Albania, the National Museum of Fine Arts, Bunk'art 1, the Pyramid of Tirana, the Government area, the Blloku area, Mother Teresa Square, the house of Enver Hoxha, Historical Town of Kruja, the Old Bazaar, the Rodoni Castle, the Skanderbeg museum, the ethnographic museum, Durrës Castle, the Amphitheater of Durrës.
Departure: daily. Includes: a private guide, driver, hotel pick-up and drop-off, transfer from and to Tirana, entrance fees, tea/coffee with snacks. Optional: a visit to the ethnographic museum, meal.