9 nights/10 days $1500 per person shared room double occupancy or $1900 private room. A $300 Deposit per guest secures your spot. This trip has an optional 4 night/5 day Northern Macedonia -Kosovo add on that will take place May 29th-June 2nd 2022. This 10-day tour program is designed to offer a combination of best historical UNESCO sites such as Berat, Gjirokastra and Butrint with traditions, local culture and culinary wonders. This tour of Albania takes you through some of the most beautiful national parks; Dajti, Llogara, Butrint and Vjosa River. During these 10 days, you will be able to visit some medieval splendour cities such as Kruja, Shkodra, Berat and Gjirokaster and spectacular land and seascapes of Albania. You will whitewater raft down Europes last wild river the Vjosa, sample amazing wines and hike in the Llogara National Park. Check out this amazing itinerary.
Day 1: Airport to Tirana: meet and greet day
Right after arriving in the land of Eagles (Albania) you will be welcomed by our professional tour guide who will be waiting for you at the exit of the airport. Once the group gets together we will transfer you straight to accommodation in Tirana city centre. You will have some free time so you can relax from your long journey. This day is planned as a meet / greet evening giving your free time to get to know each other and explore the surrounding area by your selves.
Overnight in Tirana at the Hotel Boka https://hotel-boka.al
After breakfast, we will start our adventure by discovering Tirana, the capital of Albania. Colorful, lively, vibrant, dynamic, 24/7 and crazy nightlife - these are some of the words that better describe this city where the communist and capitalist-era buildings battle on a daily basis. Tirana offers a great combination of very interesting museums, historic sites, national parks, mountains and Ottoman, Italian and communist style architecture all clashing with each other, but offering a great pleasure to wander through. Not to be missed is Tirana’s delicious food varieties, from the tasty and cheap street food to the finest gourmet options. BUNKART1 is one of the most interesting museums in Tirana. Initially designed as a nuclear bunker offering shelter to the Albanian communist supreme leader Enver Hoxha and his close party members during the cold war. The bunker was hidden to the general public until 2014, when the Albanian government decided to initiate an interesting project that converted the nuclear bunker into a museum. BUNKART1 is video museum exhibition dedicated to the history of the Albanian communist army and to the daily lives of Albanians during the regime.
We will have a short drive towards the hilly side of Western Albania. Our first stop will be one of the best wineries in Albania. Located on the top of the hills, next to a lake with an astonishing view of Adriatic Sea, these vineyards offer one of the most unique landscapes of Albania. The influence of the sun and the Mediterranean Sea make this land a privileged place for the cultivation of grapes. We invite you to enjoy the sun and discover the special wines of this vineyard. Our experience includes a vineyards tour, wine production and preservation process and wine, Raki and olive oil tasting. After this unforgettable experience, our tour continues through a medieval village of the area. We will stop by the villages castle, visit ruins of communist buildings and stop by an old mosque. Driving downhill on a sneaky road, we arrive
in an Agro-tourism of the area, where we will have a delicious traditional lunch. Overnight in Tirana
Our next destination is one of the best Agro-tourism farms in the Balkans. We will experience a tour around the farm, learn more about its history and how it created jobs for more than 400 people of the region. The farm collects, elaborates and preserves regional fresh local products. We will also learn how this family business adopted some old communist buildings to serve as storage for local-made bio products. You will taste a unique gastronomic adventure of slow foods that combine grand mothers’ recipe with the chef’s modern touch for lunch. While enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods, we will learn about the history, culture, and food
offerings that makes the region so unique from the rest of Albania. Overnight in Shkoder.
Day 4 Shkoder City Tour
Shkodra city is situated in the north-western part of Albania, giving its name to the biggest lake in the Balkans. The oldest wall of the Shkodra castle dates from the 1st millennium BCE. The Roman historian Livy cited the town as the capital of the Illyrian king Gent, who fought the Romans in 168 B.C. At 12:30, you will have some free time to have lunch and wander around by yourself until 14:00 pm. After this, we will visit Rozafa castle offering tremendous scenery of the lake and the three rivers melting all together in the Adriatic Sea. The city’s architecture is highly influenced by the Venetian style and if you are lucky enough to join the tour of Shkodra in February you might experience the carnival festival. Most of the guests are surprised to learn that most of the Venetian masks are handmade and produced in Shkodra. The city’s favorable geographic position has always been an important trading mark through the centuries, making it possible for different civilisations to encounter.
Our next destination is Berat, also known as the city of 1001 windows, part of UNESCO world heritage. Walking through the narrowed stone streets offers a fantastic view of the medieval old houses, with windows that seem to stand on top of each other. Berat has it all; a beautiful medieval castle, ancient churches and mosques, a lively lower town consisting of grand old houses draped on steep hillsides, an old stone bridge, great museums and remains from the communism era in Albania. Berat is also known as the birthplace of Onufri, the famous painter of churches all-over the Balkans, distinguished for creating a specific reddish color still difficult to imitate. Our tour continues towards Vlora where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet. Vlora is known as the ‘’City of the Flag’’ where on the 28th of November 1912 the independence of Albania was declared. We will visit the Flag Square where you can see the Independence Monument. Besides this, we will visit the historic center of Vlora and have a free afternoon by the seaside. Our next destination is Llogara National Park.
Day 6 Llogara National Park – Hiking to Mount Cika – Llogara national park
We start our hiking adventure early in the morning. Our objective is to reach the top of Mount Çika with an altitude of 2045 above sea level and being the highest peak of Southwestern Albania. The hike during this day will be an intense one and takes about 4 hours one way, requiring a good physical condition and proper hiking outfit. However, the view from the top is breath-taking on this corner of the world. Our day will be characterized by imposing mountain peaks blanketed in deep green forests and crystal-clear seas fringed by long white beaches inviting you to dive in. After a panoramic picnic lunch, we will head back to Llogara National Park where we spend the overnight.
Day 7 Llogara national park – Himara – Butrint – Ksamil – Gjirokaster
After breakfast we will drive along the coastline known as the Albanian Riviera. We will shortly stop at the balcony of Llogara National Park offering a spectacular view of Palasa Beach. Our next stop will be the beautiful castle of Ali Pasha at Porto Palermo. While along the Albanian Riviera, we will pass some of the most beautiful beaches of Albania; Dhermi, Llamani and Borsh beaches. We will also pass some small villages one by one, clinging to rock faces by the seaside, all tumbledown stone walls and narrow pathways, overhung with vines full of grapes, and trees heavy with figs and walnuts. Our tour continues to the National Park of Butrint. Part of the UNESCO world heritage, Butrint is the most important archaeological site in Albania. It was the first site in Albania that became part of the UNESCO list. The ruins combined with the stunning natural surroundings make it worth a visit. From Butrint, we will move towards Gjirokastra, but not before making a stop at the natural wonder of the Blue Eye. You will not be able to keep your eyes off the mesmerizing crystal-clear blue water. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuits, because you might want to take a dive in it.
Day 8 City tour of Gjirokaster
Gjirokastra is also known as “The Stone City”, part of UNESCO World heritage and is situated in Southern Albania on the eastern side of mountain “Mali i Gjere”. Gjirokastra resembles a fortified city where every single house is like a small fortress. The origin of the city starts with the castle of Gjirokastra, built in IV century A.D., and is considered as one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the Balkans. Every five years Gjirokastra becomes the capital of the Albanian folklore and traditional music, where passionate folklore ensembles gather in the “stone city” and perform their traditional music, dances and show off their costumes. Right before entering the castle of Gjirokastra you would have to pass by the medieval bazar. At 12:30, you will have some free time to have lunch and wander around by yourself until 14:00. The atmospheric old town cascading down in graceful hill crammed with beautiful narrowed stone decorated streets, where you will be amazed by the wide variety of handmade crafts from local artisans and producers.
Day 9: Gjirokaster – Permet – Rafting in Vjosa River – Tirana
Përmet, is our destination for today, considered the greenest and the cleanest town in Albania, also known as the "city of roses." The small town of Përmet is famous for its folk music, literature personalities, and the good cooking, especially sweets, the so-called 'gliko'. The area is also famous for good wine and strong Raki. Very near to Përmet is Bënja, a natural hot
thermal spring with a spectacular mountainous view. The main activities for this day will be two:
1) Rafting in Vjosa River; Europe’s last living wild rivers. Along its entire course of over 270 kilometers it is untamed and free flowing and characterized by beautiful canyons, braided river sections, islands, oxbows and meandering stretches. In some areas the riverbed expands over more than 2 km in width. However, what makes this river really outstanding internationally is the fact, that almost all its tributaries are free-flowing and intact as well, creating a living rivers network that is without par in Europe.
2) Relax in Bënja thermal waters. Very near to Përmet is Bënja, a natural hot thermal spring with a spectacular mountainous view. Everyone in the tour who is not in the mood for a rafting activity can enjoy a relaxed day in the natural thermal baths of Bënja, where mad and hot water self-treats are much fun.
After a day full of activities, we head back to Tirana, our final destination for this day. Overnight in Tirana.
Day 10: Tirana free time Airport
Today will be a free day to explore the city by your selves buy some Raki & Souvenirs for your friends and family back home. Warm greetings with the tour guide and our staff will mark the end of this amazing experience through history, culture, local culinary and adventures in this small but amazing country.
- Cable car to Mont Dajti National Park
- 1 Dinner in the unique Agrotourism on day 3 and all breakfasts
- Wine, Raki & Olive oil tasting on the last day of the tour
- Professional tour guide
- Transport provided by the company
- Hotel pick up in Tirana on the first day
- Entry tickets for the ‘’will be visited’’ sites -
Getting to Albania
You will need to fly into Tirana (TIA). Most every major European gateway has flights into Tirani. You can check out a full list of carriers and there gateways by clicking on this link. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tirana_International_Airport_Nënë_Tereza
The travel industry now considers the Coronavirus “a foreseeable event”. That means many airlines, resorts, charter companies, rental shops, etc are no longer offering refunds due to COVID issues. They expect YOU to protect yourself with “INSURANCE”. When looking at insurance options please consider plans that offer a cancel for any reason option. More and more countries and hotels/resorts/charter companies are establishing very onerous cancellation policies. The travel industry as a whole has generally adapted the attitude that you now know the risks of COVID-19 or other illnesses and THEY are not willing to accept the risks of you needing to cancel or delay your travel.
You Can’t Steal My Happy recommends that you purchase a travel protection plan to help protect you and your travel investment against the unexpected. For your convenience, we offer travel protection through Travelex Insurance Services. For more information on the available plans or to enroll, click on the link below or contact Travelex Insurance Services at 800-228-9792 and reference location number 43-0656 “Travel Insurance is underwritten by, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance Company, NAIC #22276. 55Y”
Terms and Conditions
Group Trip Cancellations.
If YCSMH has to cancel a group trip because a country has closed its borders, everyone will have a choice of receiving a refund or being rolled over to another group trip. The decision to cancel a group trip will be determined by myself and our local guides.
DEPOSITS PAID- CANCEL WITH NO REPLACEMENT
If you cancel a booking and cannot find a replacement the FULL deposit amount will be lost from the original person making the reservation.
DEPOSITS PAID- CANCEL WITH A REPLACEMENT - $100 Penalty
If YOU cancel and find your own replacement that “helps” but it doesn’t alleviate the time and effort I must spend to get your replacement up to speed (answer questions and send previous emails). A $100 fee will be charged if you cancel and find your own replacement.
FULL PAYMENTS PAID- CANCEL WITH NO REPLACEMENT- 60 DAYS BEFORE TRIP DEPARTURE
Full payments for all Happy trips are due 60 days before departure. If you cancel the trip you will not be eligible to receive a refund. You will need to file a claim with your insurance provider. As a rule most tour vendors, charter companies and hotels require full payment 60 days before arrival. Once we have made reservations MOST resorts, Charter companies, rental shops, etc hold YCSMH financially responsible (i.e. we have to pay them, hence we expect YOU to pay us).
Final payments for our Croatia Cruise are due 90 days before departure.
FULL PAYMENTS PAID- CANCEL WITH A REPLACEMENT- 60 DAYS BEFORE TRIP DEPARTURE
In the event of a cancellation, YCSMH will gladly help find a replacement but the responsibility to find the replacement is that of the person canceling. If you find a replacement to fill your spot you will be eligible for a full refund minus a $100 fee.
If YCSMH finds you a replacement you will receive a refund minus the trip deposit. As I mentioned there is a considerable amount of time and effort spent to send out emails to your replacement to get them up to speed.
I hope this helps clarify our terms as we all navigate through this post pandemic world. For those of us who are passionate travelers the small inconveniences of testing, insurance and entry requirements are well worth it.