14 Days / 13 Nights

Albania Summer Tour

Tirana – Lake Ohrid – Korça – Përmet – Gjirokastra – Nivica – Qeparo – Berat – Kruja  

In Brief

A 14-day Albania summer tour starting in Tirana and ending in Kruja, just 30 minutes’ drive from Rinas Airport.

Day 01 – Arrive Albania. Overnight Tirana
Day 02 – Tirana to Lin (Rosa’s B&B; lake view room) 
Day 03 – Lin
Day 04 – Lin to Korça (Life Gallery Hotel) 
Day 05 – Korça to Përmet (Villa Përmet) 
Day 06 – Përmet to Gjirokastra (Hotel Praga) 
Day 07 – Gjirokastra to Nivica (Camp Nivica) 
Day 08 – Nivica
Day 09 – Nivica to Qeparo (Hotel Riviera) 
Day 10 – Qeparo
Day 11 – Qeparo
Day 12 – Qeparo to Berat (Hotel Onufri) 
Day 13 – Berat to Kruja (Hotel Panorama) 
Day 14 – Depart Albania

Created December 2022 for travel in July or August 2023.



Albania’s chaotic capital is undergoing a mini-revolution, as decrepit Communist-era buildings and pre-War Italian villas are torn down, sometimes seemingly overnight, to be replaced with huge, modern tower blocks. Whether this is a good thing or not is a matter of personal taste - the government's plan seems to be to turn it into a Balkan version of Singapore. Amid the construction/destruction you'll find a friendly and fascinating city, with great bars and nightlife and without doubt the best food in the entire Balkan region. Be sure to visit the House of Leaves museum, which explores the role of the feared Sigurimi secret police under the dictatorship, and the "secret" nuclear bunker built with Chinese cash and expertise in the 1970s - Bunk'Art.   



Most people associate Lake Ohrid with North Macedonia and the eponymous UNESCO City. But if you want a less touristic experience, the Albanian shore is the place to go. The city of Pogradec on the lake’s southwestern corner is all very well, but we much prefer the sleepy little village of Lin (secretly we want to live there). There is an extremely simple hotel, but better to stay in one of the friendly B&Bs on the waterfront. You can swim from the gardens if you like, or walk 20 minutes to the other side of the Lin peninsula for complete privacy. 



Without a doubt, Korça is our favourite Albanian city. It may not have the UNESCO prestige of Berat or Gjirokastra, but it’s much more energetic and competes with them for charm and architectural interest. Its cobbled streets are endlessly diverting, and the Museum of Medieval Art has some quite extraordinary icons by the famous Onufri. In the evening the city comes alive - be sure to head to the recently restored bazaar to eat and people-watch, and later on we’d stroll down Boulevard Republika to one of the extremely chichi bars.   



Please don’t expect a wild party when you go to Përmet. It’s perhaps the sleepiest “city” in Albania (famously, it recorded a grand total of zero crimes in 2015). Do expect a unique experience, though. Përmet seems to be stuck in 1973, right down to the Mercedes 240s that are still in use as daily transport. Lately it’s becoming a hub for adventure tourism, with rafting, hiking and horse riding all available close by. You might prefer to just sit in the main square with a raki and people-watch, before eating at one of its excellent traditional restaurants. 



Albania’s second UNESCO World Heritage City is like something from a fairytale, with crumbling old stone mansions clinging to the side of a mountain, in the shade of a huge and frankly creepy fortress. No, Gjirokastra doesn’t lack for either history or atmosphere. We think it offers so much interest, in fact, that we recommend it as a two-night stay. Be sure to visit one of the better-preserved houses (not the ethnographic museum; it’s a fake), the Cold War Tunnels and of course the castle. It’s even worth paying a couple of euros extra to visit the castle’s unreformed military museum, which is a real throwback to the Communist era. 


Camp Nivica

Until 2021, the village of Nivica had no asphalt road connections, and accordingly no entries in guidebooks. The asphalt has arrived now, but it's going to take a year or two for the guidebooks to be updated to include what is one of Albania's most enticing destinations. Undoubtedly the place to stay is Camp Nivica - six luxurious safari-style tents (with private en suite WC/shower) perched right on the edge of the huge Nivica Canyon system. The views are incredible, and the hospitality offered by Astrid, the camp's Swedish owner, is faultless. The camp has a two-night minimum stay policy, meaning you have a full day to hike down into the canyon, enjoy the extraordinary scenery, and generally disconnect from "civilisation". In 2022 the camp was featured in Condé Nast Traveller's feature on Albania - and deservedly so. 



The Albanian Riviera has a very short season - in July and August it is rammed with tourists; in the spring and autumn shoulder seasons, almost empty. At either time of year our favourite place to stay is the village of Qeparo, about 20 minutes' drive south of Himarë. Even in high summer it retains a chilled-out vibe in comparison with the party spots of Saranda and Dhërmi, and is the perfect spot to relax for a few days. If you get the chance, drive up to Old Qeparo, the most picturesque village of the Albanian Riviera (phone ahead if you want to take lunch in the tiny village shop / taverna).



The “City of a Thousand Windows” is a must-visit on any south Albania tour. Berat was an important strategic hub well before the Roman era, and its imposing Citadel has been inhabited continuously for at least 2,500 years. Berat owes its UNESCO World Heritage status to its three surviving historic neighbourhoods, Mangalemi, Gorica and Kalaja (castle). We recommend it for a one-night stay, which gives you plenty of time to explore its cobbled alleyways and take in the views from Kalaja.   



The ancient hilltop city of Kruja has a fascinating history – it was from here that Albania’s national hero, Skanderbeg, launched his 25-year rebellion against the Ottoman Empire. Nowadays it’s more famous for its fun little bazaar, which provides the best shopping opportunity in Albania (you can pick up detritus from the Communist and Ottoman eras, traditional handmade rugs and all sorts of handicrafts). It also happens to be very close to Rinas Airport, so makes a very convenient final night at the conclusion of any Albanian tour.    




VW Golf or similar, with AC 

Route-planning; road books 

Accommodation as indicated or near equivalents 

All breakfasts (unless super-early departure flight); 02 x evening meals at Camp Nivica 

Airport transfer on arrival, car drop-off at Rinas Airport 




Personal expenses

Personal travel insurance

Fuel, parking fees, any fines 

Meals not indicated on itinerary

Museum & attraction entrance tickets

Local guides unless indicated (can be arranged on request)

Unscheduled excursions, taxis

Alcohol (unless indicated on itinerary)



Bunk'Art 1

If you're spending any time in Tirana, you really should visit the "secret" nuclear bunker built by the Communist regime back in the 1970s, Bunk'Art. It's huge, and very, very creepy. It's also wonderfully cool in high summer - a real relief from the ferocious heat of Tirana. There is a second Bunk'Art in the centre of town, but we reckon this is the one to visit. 


There are several opportunities on this tour to stop for a wine-tasting. We try to focus on smaller family owned wineries rather than the larger more commercial places. If you've an interest in wines and gastronomy, be sure to let us know so we can plan accordingly! 

Lake Prespa

If you've time, we recommend making a detour to Lake Prespa for lunch, and perhaps a swim in summertime. This forgotten corner of Albania is supremely relaxing, and is also the place to sample absolutely the best krap tava (krap = carp). Forget everything you know about carp - this doesn't taste at all "muddy", and the sauce it's baked in has all the natural herb flavours of the surrounding mountains. 

Borovë War Memorial

If you're driving the road from Korça to Përmet, be sure to make a stop at the village of Borovë. In July 1943 Nazi forces took revenge for an attack on a convoy in brutal fashion. The memorial to the memory of the 107 villagers who were killed (mostly elderly and young children) is extremely moving.  

Ujërat Termale Bënjë

A wonderful stop at any time of year are the sulphur springs close to the village of Bënjë, about 15 minutes east of Përmet. Here you can soak in the warm thermal waters, which are famed for their health-giving properties. The Ottoman bridge here is one of the most photographed spots in Albania, and a must for any Instagrammers. 

Cookery Classes

If you've an interest in learning more about Albanian cuisine, let us know and we'll be able to arrange a cookery class or two along the way. Albanian food is the finest in the region, and completely different from Former Yugoslavia where the meatball reigns supreme. There is a strong Ottoman influence, obviously, but also Italian and Greek as well as many dishes that you just don't find elsewhere in the region (such as Albania's favourite hangover cure, paçe, tava kosi - lamb slow-cooked in yoghurt and qifqi rice balls).   

Ura e Bratit

You'll be passing one of the finest Ottoman bridges in the Balkan region on this tour - and as well as providing a great photo opportunity, it is also one of our favourite wild-swimming spots. Outside of the July/August high season you're likely to have the river to yourselves, though be aware, it is a steep 10-minute walk from the road along an uneven, rocky path. 

Lakes of Belsh

If you're driving from Tirana to Berat, we always recommend taking the scenic backroads rather than the highway. Firstly because the highway route is so ugly you'll want to scratch your eyes out and secondly as taking the backroads allows a detour to a wonderful wild-swimming spot at a clean karst lake near the town of Belsh. On a hot day, you'll really appreciate the chance to cool down in the clear waters, and even sunbathe on the "beach" for an hour or two. 

Lakes of Belsh

If you're driving from Tirana to Berat, we always recommend taking the scenic backroads rather than the highway. Firstly because the highway route is so ugly you'll want to scratch your eyes out and secondly as taking the backroads allows a detour to a wonderful wild-swimming spot at a clean karst lake near the town of Belsh. On a hot day, you'll really appreciate the chance to cool down in the clear waters, and even sunbathe on the "beach" for an hour or two. 

Old Qeparo

The hilltop village of Qeparo (not to be confused with the more modern settlement on the beach) is one of the most scenic spots in Albania, and remains wonderfully undeveloped. We recommend heading up there to stroll its atmospheric alleyways, and ideally to take a meal at the tiny café / taverna (advance notice required). Most of our clients tell us this is one of their favourite meals of the tour. 

Porto Palermo Castle

Halfway between Qeparo and Himarë on the Albanian Riviera is the picture-postcard bay of Porto Palermo. It's obviously a strategic spot - the Soviets built a large submarine base there back in the 1950s, seemingly inspired by the infamous Ali Pasha, who built a small fortress close by in the Napoleonic era. The submarine base is off-limits, but you can visit the castle and learn a little about its fascinating Ali Pasha, who had total control of this region till the Sultan ordered his death from the safety of Istanbul. 

Ujëvara e Peshturës

Undoubtedly one of the most scenic waterfalls in Albania! So scenic, in fact, that one of our clients was shortlisted for a US Fujifilm competition for her photograph. You can expect plenty of water throughout the year, apart from in high summer and autumn, when the falls dry up. Visit in springtime and you'll certainly be tempted to take a "shower", but be warned - the water's icy cold!    


Albania Travel Guide Introduction

"About 20 per cent of Albanian drivers have the firm conviction that traffic on the roundabout has right of way. Another 20 per cent believe traffic entering the roundabout has right of way. Then a good 30 per cent believe they have right of way, in any circumstance whatsoever. The remainder seem to be under the impression that a roundabout is some kind of strange circular car park, with an ornamental garden in the middle. "