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Highlights of Albania AB

Visiting: Albania
Trip Duration 11 Days
 

Reviews for Highlights of Albania

Travellers were asked to provide a review of the trip, including highlights and tips.

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Europe's Last Frontier reviews verified by reevooReevoo

27 reviews

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Europe's Last FrontierScores 8.3 out of 10 based on 27 reviews
(9 out of 10)

Patricia

Cheshire
I am a very regular traveller with Explore and would place this visit to Albania in the top one or two of my most interesting travel experiences.
Albania is a country coming out of communism and into the free world. Its history from past civilisations into the Greek, Roman and Ottoman influences enhanced the experience. The country has some of the most beautiful and varied scenery I have seen with high impressive mountains, large fresh water lakes, very fertile valleys and a long and much undeveloped coastline.
Our tour leader Edjon was a proud Albanian, who knew his stuff. He took us too many different areas, explaining the relevant history and politics of the country with true passion. This was backed up with knowledgeable local guides.
There were unforeseen local difficulties, eg the end of Ramadan when some museums were closed, and rain and mist in the mountains, which he meticulously rearranged for us, ensuring very little was missed out. I am surprised that some members of the group grumbled about these slight changes of plan which couldn’t be avoided.
Travel through the country was difficult in places as the emerging road system is still not complete. We were carefully driven by Fati; he owned the bus and ensured we reached every destination safely.
My own highlights were the huge archaeological site at Butrint, drinking raki and mountain tea in the garden of an Albanian family, swimming in a natural outdoor hot spring under a stunning Ottoman bridge (our own “infinity pool”), as well as a dip in lake Ohrid as the sun was rising…. Magical!
Explore’s reference to this as a “full on trip” was very true… lots to do and see as well as moving on.
There was time to relax or do some local exploring, over lunches made from fresh local produce (no fast food here). I would recommend future travellers bring trekking poles and boots as castles and churches tend to be on top of steep hills.
Confirmed traveller: 21 September 2016
Published on: 16 October 2016
(6 out of 10)

Pamela

Richmond
I think the itinerary needs a rethink. We were moving on every night and because it was end of season the museums etc weren't always open at the times that fitted our schedule, several activities that I was looking forward to, were cancelled. Our leader was continually changing the plan to try and juggle things. Much time was wasted on two hour a la carte lunches. Albania is a beautiful country but we spent too much time in towns rather than walking in the country side.
Confirmed traveller: 21 September 2016
Published on: 29 September 2016
(7 out of 10)

Geoffrey

Cambridge
The tour was broadly as described in the brochure, but affected by local changes in opening times of museums etc.
Confirmed traveller: 21 September 2016
Published on: 27 September 2016
(7 out of 10)

Gordon

essex
to many overnight stops at differant hotel tour was rather rushed suggest you go back to the 2 week tour so that it can be contacted at a leisurely space
Confirmed traveller: 21 September 2016
Published on: 26 September 2016
(9 out of 10)

Susanne

Winchester
A good introduction to a fascinating country in transition with friendly people; only one long day in the bus. Although drafted in at short notice Alfred looked after us very well and conveyed well his knowledge and passion for Albania. We saw wonderful mountain scenery, hidden churches with spectacular frescos, world heritage sites as well as the results of unplanned modern development; exceptional local guide at Butrint. Food (and alcohol) was reasonably priced, using fresh local ingredients, freshly cooked which sometimes made lunch stops too long (order ahead???). Hotels were excellent with good breakfast buffets and wifi; Berat stood out as a wonderful conversion (plus v. good restaurant) and Kruje had great views; good opportunity for handicrafts there too. Walking boots and poles are a good idea for walks and cobbles (especially in the rain).
Confirmed traveller: 14 September 2016
Published on: 24 September 2016
(4 out of 10)

William

Southampton
Potentially good trip badly organised. The Tour leader (who worked hard & was a very nice guy) had two days notice & hadn't led a tour of this nature before. The coach driver was actually a school bus driver - he didn't know how to operate the coach (which was cramped) - I had to show him how to demist the windscreen & he never mastered how to work the air conditioning (or engage more than second gear - the drives were loooonnnggg). It wasn't until another driver joined that we finally got a move on & got the air conditioning working

We seemed to spend endless hours over lunch/coffee stops in the middle of no-where - which meant we often arrived late at our destination with limited/no chance of self exploration.

On the plus side the food was good, the hotels excellent & the locals friendly - but let down by the frustrating pace of the trip.

I attach no blame to the leader - he was put in an unenviable position of having no preparation for this.
Confirmed traveller: 14 September 2016
Published on: 23 September 2016

I’m sorry to hear that you were disappointed with some aspects of your trip, and I appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your feedback. Alfred has led a number of our trips, but is usually on our more walking based itineraries – he has received great feedback from our customers so far, but we believe he will improve with some more experience on this type of trip. Our local agent has advised that all drivers must stick to the speed limits in Albania, which can be quite low, but they are all fully licensed to operate these types of vehicles. I do hope that you returned with some positive memories of your holiday despite these points.

(8 out of 10)

Renee

Barcelona, Spain
This was an excellent - if somewhat busy - introduction to Albania. Our guide was a lot of fun and full of anecdotes about life in Albania. He was also very helpful with every sort of small problem that may have arisen - including some that were not related to the tour per se. He also was great about meals - organizing group meals when we wanted and giving us recommendations to go on our own when we felt like it. The hotels were also very good - except the one in Korca, which left a lot to be desired.

Apparently, the tour had been a two-week tour but it has now been reduced to 10 days, while trying to fit the same number of visits in. This made it a bit of a rush at times and we had very little free time to ourselves to just relax and assimilate everything we had seen.
I would suggest cutting out some of the less important museums and some of the more repetitive churches and concentrating more on the better ones. For example, the museum in Kruja was excellent, as was the one in Tirana, but I felt we were rushed through them. Other museums were less interesting and could be eliminated from the tour.

It would also have been nice to have a bit more explanation of some of the icons that we saw in the churches. In the museum in Korca, the woman gave a very good explanation of the icons there and it would have been nice to have this kind of information for some of the churches as well.

Finally, I would recommend starting the tour in Kruja (about equidistant from Tirana airport as Tirana itself), having the first night there and then spending the next morning at the History Museum in Tirana and then going on. Tirana really doesn't merit much more time, and Kruja is a much nicer town to walk around.

Having said all this - in a manner of constructive criticism - I would definitely recommend this trip. It would have been impossible to see and do all that we did if we had not been with a group and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Explore.
Confirmed traveller: 13 July 2016
Published on: 31 July 2016
(5 out of 10)

Kate

Elton
Highlights: Butrint and Apollonia and its good museum, the medieval churches, frescoes and icons of Voskopoja and Korca
Tips: take walking sticks, slippery medieval cobbled streets and helpful on walks; did not do some things as did not have them with me; ensure that the coach is large enough for the group and will be available for the whole trip; take swimming costumes, although time is limited it was possible to swim 3x, once at Lake Ohrid and then at coastal locations; take layers of clothing in Sept/Oct - very changeable weather conditions from mountains to coast including rain gear; travel kettle indispensable and own t bags/coffee; check currency exchange rate before going, better value lecs to pound than lecs to euro; most of us took euros
Confirmed traveller: 03 October 2015
Published on: 30 October 2015
(9 out of 10)

Confirmed traveller

Albania is a wonderful country and the people very friendly. It is difficult to pick out a highlight but if pushed I would probably pick out the wonderful site at Butrint. The tour was easy pace with no crack of dawn starts (2 days at 8am) and plenty of breaks in the bus journeys. The hotels were of a good standard, some better than others of course. Without exception they were clean, the plumbing worked and there was free wifi. Food and drink is very good and amazing value at about £1 for a beer and main courses starting at £3. Breakfasts were not outstanding but adequate
Confirmed traveller: 22 September 2015
Published on: 15 April 2016
(9 out of 10)

Christobel

Sussex
Superlative leadership from Edjon who is very knowledgeable, loves his country and is happy to impart that knowledge both good and bad of the Country. As we know, a leader can make or break a holiday. Unfailing helpfulness and friendliness of the Albanian people. Mostly excellent local guides. Stunning landscapes and the beautiful old towns of Gjirokaster and Berat. Butrint. Excellent accommodation (except in the Llogara National Park) with some special characterful rooms. Some long coach journeys but always thoughtfully broken with stops at suitable or interesting spots. The coach was spacious and comfortable and never a worry from the driving. Generally a balanced itinerary showing the beautiful and the ugly.

Edjon's advice should be taken on amendments to the itinerary. Time in the Llogara National Park could better be spent by more time at Durresi(?) and less at Vlora and include a stay in Shkodra before moving on to Kruja. The straight up and back walk in the Karaburun Peninsula was of little interest and revealed no more than we had already seen from the coach.

The tour with Edjon's leadership gave an insight into current life in Albania, its troubled history, emergence and determination to rise from its communist past. My preconceived ideas were dashed and this trip left me with much respect for the Albanian people.
Confirmed traveller: 19 September 2015
Published on: 04 November 2015

Thank you for your advice on the itinerary. I’ll take this into consideration when the trip is next under review.