9 nights/10 days $1500 per person shared room double occupancy or $1900 private room. A $500 Deposit per guest secures your spot. Albania was one of of the best European tours we ran in 2022. There is tremendous value in visiting this country while its still affordable and not over crowded. 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.
Day 1 Arrival Day
Right after arriving in the land of Eagles (Albania) you will be welcomed by our professional driver who will be waiting for you at the exit of the airport. 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. At around 11:00 am (for the ones that are already in Tirana) we will get on the cable car up to the top of Dajti Mountain National Park. Mount Dajti is considered as the balcony of Tirana offering an amazing view of the city. At about 17:00 we have organised a meet and greet activity (about 10 minutes’ walk from your hotel) where we will have the possibility to get know each other, meet with your tour guide. Most importantly we will introduce you to our special traditional drink "Raki" famous all over the Balkans. Overnight in Tirana.
Day 2 City tour of Tirana, BUNKART & Wine, Raki & Olive oil tasting in the afternoon
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. BUNKART 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. BUNKART 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.
Day 3 Tirana – Kruja – Agrotourism – Shkoder
Our first destination for today is the historic town of Kruja, symbol of the Albanian resistance against the expansion of the Ottoman Empire. The city is situated in central Albania on a rocky mountainous terrain about 560 meters above sea level, on the slopes of Sarisalltik Mountain. Walking through Kruja’s Medieval Old Bazaar (one of the biggest and oldest in Balkans) gives you a sense of a passage through the history. You will be surrounded by crafts and local products carefully designed by local artisans and housewives of the Kruja area. We will also visit the Castle of Kruja. At around 12:30, you will get some free time on all of the days during this tour to have some delicious lunch and to wander around by yourself till 14:00 pm. After lunch, our local guide will take you through some hidden paths, used by the locals to leave the castle without being noticed, during periods when the enemies surrounded the castle. 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 civilizations to encounter. Overnight in Shkoder.
Day 5 Shkoder – Vlora – Llogara National Park – Albanian Riviera
Our tour continues towards Vlora where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet. The city is known for its balmy year-round temperatures and very little rainfall, making it a popular destination. Our first stop will be “Lungomare”, a promenade by the seaside. Among all the activities to do in Vlora you can not miss the joys of walking along the seafront of the city. “Lungomare of Vlora” starts from Skela Neighborhood and goes up to “Uji i ftoht”, having access to the city and to the beach. You will have some free time to enjoy the sun surrounded by emerald seas, while on the other side of the street you can have a coffee with a fantastic view of Sazani Island and Karaburun Peninsula. After the coffee break we will drive just a few minutes and immediately notice the wild rocky beaches of the Ionain Sea, also known as Albanian Riviera. Southern Albania is blessed with beautiful beaches lapped by turquoise waters, coastal towns and hidden bays. Free afternoon by the seaside, giving you time to explore the area and taste the delicious seafood cooked by the locals or even to dive in. Overnight by the Albanian Riviera
Day 6 Free day by the seaside in the Albanian Riviera
The Albanian Riviera has some of the most famous beaches in Albania. Known for its hidden coves, pebble beaches and crystal-clear water inviting you to dive in. You will have the whole day free to absorb and store all the sunshine. Overnight by the Albanian Riviera
Day 7 Albanian Riviera – Himara – Butrint – Ksamil – Gjirokaster
After breakfast we will drive along the coastline known as the Albanian Riviera. 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 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 bazaar. 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 a 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 – Berat – Roshnik (Alpeta Winery) - Tirana
Our destination for today will be Berat, also known as the town 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. The city’s life began in the 6th-5th century B.C. as an Illyrian settlement. Later, in the 3rd century B.C., it was turned into a castle city known as Antipatrea. Uniquely today, residents still live inside of the castle walls. 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 communist era in Albania. It is also known as the birthplace of Onufri, the famous painter of churches all-over the Balkans, distinguished for creating a specific reddish colour still difficult to imitate. Our next destination will be the Gorica Neighborhood. At about lunch time we will drive into a rural village (Roshnik), to discover a unique local winery surrounded with vineyards with an astonishing view of Mount Tomorr. We will drive back to Tirana in the late afternoon.
Day 10: Tirana free time Airport
Today will be a free day to explore the city by yourself 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.
- Skanderbeg square in Tirana
- New Bazaar in Tirana
- Cable Car
- Mount Dajti National Park
- Blloku Area
- BUNKART 2
- Vineyard near Adriatic sea
- The Old Bazaar in Kruja
- The castle of Kruja
- The Etnographic Museum OR Skanderbeg Museum
- Dollmës Tekke
- Agritourism Farm Mrizi i Zanave
- Food processing warehouse in the farm -
- Lungo Mare in Vlora
- Llogara National Park
- Dhermi village
- Butrint National Park
- Blue Eye -
- Medieval village -
- Agritourism farm
Included in the price:
- BB (Accommodation and Breakfast) for 9 overnights
- 3 different Raki tastes and some local finger food during meet and greet activity
- Wine, Raki & Olive oil tasting on the 2nd day of the tour
- 1 Dinner in the unique Agrotourism on day 3
- Professional tour guide
The fortress (Kalaja e Rozafes)
The Great Mosque
The pedestrian street (Pedonale)
The Catholic Cathedral
The fortress in Gjirokaster (Kalaja e Gjirokastres)
The old city of Gjirokaster
Medieval bazaar in Gjirokaster
Fortress of Berat
“Ura e Gorrices” – Gorrica Bridge
The Onufri Museum OR Ethnographic Museum
Xhamia e Beqarit – Bachelor’s Mosque
- Transport provided by the company
- Hotel pick up in Tirana on the first day
- Hotel drop off in Tirana on the last day
- Entry tickets for the ‘’will be visited’’ sites -
- Lunches, Dinners, Drinks & Snacks not mentioned
- Personal spending
* Tips are not a must in Albania or the Balkans, however, our recommendation is to tip the tour guide/driver 5 - 6 Euros per day/person as an international practice to tip good service.--
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
4 night 5 Day Macedonia/Kosovo Add On September 29th-October 3rd 2023 $800 Shared Room/ $1000 Private Room.
You will have a local private guide for this add on. Our onsite happy guide will not be included in the add on.
Day 1 Tirana (Albania) – Ohrid (N. Macedonia)
At 09:00 am our professional guide will pick you up at your hotel in Tirana. Struga (N. Macedonia) will be our first stop. We will have a quick drink by the beautiful source of Drini River, one of the longest in Western Balkans. Ohrid is one of the most seductive destinations in N. Macedonia, indicated as one of the oldest human settlements in all of Europe. Ohrid city and Ohrid Lake are part of UNESCO World Heritage since 1980. Ohrid Lake and its surroundings where inhabited by the Illyrian Tribe of Enkeleys. The Lake was named by the Romans as “Lyhnidas” (the Light Lake). Our tour continues to the city of Ohrid (UNESCO world heritage) an important centre of Orthodoxy. At 12:30, you will have some free time to have lunch and wander around by yourself till 14:00 pm. After lunch, we will continue our tour and visit the church of St. John, the church of St. Nicolas and the mosque Halveti Hayati Tekke. Ohrid became an important centre for the Orthodox believers during the Byzantine Empire and is famous for its 365 Orthodox churches, said to have one church for each day of the year. During the Ottoman Empire the city grew on the hills and surrounding areas by the lake. The houses were built with a very specific architecture that created narrowed streets, tunnels and tiny yards on the hilly terrain, making it possible for every house to have a good view of the lake. Today the city is famous for its architecture, the churches, the castle on top of the city, the amphitheatre, the beautiful view of the lake surrounded by mountains and the pearls from the lake. Overnight in Ohrid.
Day 2 Ohrid – Boat Tour St Naum –Ohrid
Ohrid Lake and its surroundings where inhabited by the Illyrian Tribe of Enkeleys and the lake was named by the Romans as “Lyhnidas” (the Light Lake). We will visit the church of St. John, the church of St. Nicolas and the mosque Halveti Hayati Tekke. Ohrid became an important centre for the Orthodox believers during the Byzantine Empire and is famous for its 365 Orthodox churches, said to have one church for each day of the year. During the Ottoman Empire the city grew on the hills and surrounding areas by the lake.
We will continue our tour to St Naum near the Albanian border and one of the most beautiful locations in Macedonia. On our way there, we will have to go through the Galichitsa National Park, located between the Albanian border, Ohrid Lake and Prespa Lake, with again stunning nature and impressive mountains. The monastery of St Naum is also known as Sveti Naum where stunning nature blends with religious heritage, creating a picturesque location. Your trip through Macedonia would not be complete without visiting this monastery. Overnight in Ohrid.
Day 3 Ohrid – Skopje - Pristina (Kosovo) – Prizren
Our tour continues towards Skopje, the capital of Macedonia. The Stone Bridge connects the new part to the old part of the city. Impossible to miss in Skopje is the Alexander the Great Statue in the centre. Another bridge that stands out is the Art Bridge that leads to the Archaeological Museum. The bridge is lined with flamboyant street lanterns and statues of Macedonian artists and musicians. We will leave N. Macedonia and head towards the capital of Kosovo, Pristina. Here we will make a city tour. Not to be missed is the Newborn monument symbol of their independence and being a young new country. We will also visit the Cathedralof Saint Mother Teresa with its own clock tower. The National Library of Kosovo is a building that definitely stands out from the rest, consisting out of 73 white domes. The main boulevard in the capital, Sheshi Nena Tereza, is a nice street to stroll through and enjoy a delicious meal or coffee at one of the restaurants. Here we will also pass the Skanderberg square with the statue of Skanderberg himself, the national Albanian hero. We will visit the Old Bazaar in Pristina with nearby the ethnographic museum that shows the traditional Kosovar life. We will continue our tour towards Prizren. Overnight in Prizren.
Day 4 Prizren – Decan monastery UNESCO – Prizren
Right after breakfast we will continue our tour toward the Monastery of Decan. This one stands out for its white color, but even more remarkable is the fact that Orthodox monks still inhabit the monastery and make fresh organic food there, such as cheeses and great wines. The monastery became part of UNESCO in 2004 because of its frescoes, which portray people’s lives during the 14th century as well as the Palaeologan renaissance in the Byzantine way of painting. We return to Prizren, considered as the cultural capital of Kosovo, mixing its rich history,incredible nature, religious tolerance and gastronomic delights. Prizren has played an important role in the region as an Illyrian settlement and a crossroad for the Byzantine and Ottoman empires, contributing to the unique architecture of the city. The river flows through the heart of the old town and under the many bridges that crisscross the city. If you are looking toexperience a lively international experience you should visit Prizren during August when the medieval city becomes home to one of the most famous short film festivals in the world named Dokufest. The best way to explore the town is by wandering through the streets passing by elegant medieval houses that fight for your attention.
Day 5 Prizren city tour – Tirana
On our last day in Prizren we visit the filigree artisanal techniques for precious metals are Prizren’s joy and pride. Don’t miss the unique experience of shopping in one of the many filigree shops of the town, where you are welcomed to also see the metalsmithing magic happen. Did you know that The Church of Our Lady of Ljevis is a UNESCO World Heritage site? If you have to choose just one mosque to visit then visit the Sinan Pasha Mosque, rich in arabesque colour and pattern. The view from the fortress on the hill above the town offers a great panorama of this astonishing town. We drive back to Tirana. This marks the end of this amazing experience through history and culture.
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).
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.