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  • Butrint

  • Apollonia

  • Gjirokaster

  • View from Rozafa Castle

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Tour Director

  • Travel the length of this mountainous country, discovering layers of historical wonders left behind by Illyrians and Greeks, Romans and Ottomans

  • Explore the complex of Apollonia, once home to a famous school of oratory, and discover Virgil’s ‘Troy in miniature’ at Butrint

  • Delve into the extensive archaeological remains at Antigonea, founded by King Pyrrhus of Epirus in honour of his wife

“Lived up to our highest expectations”

- ACE customer on the 2022 Albania: From the Illyrians to the Ottomans tour

Naturally stunning, spanned by majestic mountains and dazzling coastlines, Albania is home to some of Europe’s most remarkable archaeological treasures. Warmed by the gentle sun of a Mediterranean spring, we will take a voyage into Albania’s absorbing heritage and discover its place in the annals of European history. 


Our journey begins in Krujë, the city of George Kastrioti, or Skanderbeg, Albania’s national hero. Dramatically located against a mountainous backdrop, Krujë boasts layers of history and houses a museum to Skanderbeg in a historical citadel. 


Originally an Illyrian settlement, Shkodër is one of Albania’s oldest towns, and played an important part in the resistance to the Ottoman invasion. Here we will take in the Great Mosque and English clock tower, and visit nearby Rozafa Castle, which looms high on a rocky outcrop and is connected with mysterious local legends.  


The bustling port city of Durrës is a multi-layered centre which has assumed roles in both trade and conflict. It began life as a Greek colony known as Epidamnos, and its walls have since witnessed centuries of Albanian history. Home to Byzantine, Venetian and Ottoman remains, the old town centre still bears many Italianate buildings from the first half of the 20th century.


Our tour continues in the medieval hill-town of Berat, a fine example of an Ottoman town. It houses a partially inhabited citadel alongside the Byzantine Church of St Mary, home to the Onufri Icon Museum. We will also visit the Ethnographic Museum and Mangalemi quarters.


UNESCO-listed Gjirokastër, originally an Illyrian settlement, is now an impressively preserved Ottoman town dominated by its pre-12th century castle. Here, we look forward to a visit to Zekate House, a beautifully preserved example of a fortified tower house. Meanwhile, the ancient city of Buthrotum (Butrint), described by Virgil as ‘Troy in miniature’, boasts remains from both Epirote and Roman times. 


A scenic drive through the ‘Albanian Riviera’ takes us via the intriguing castle at Porto Palermo to Fier. From here we make our final excursions to the ancient site of Apollonia, founded as a Greek colony in 588 BC and later home to a famous school of oratory, and to the Monastery of Ardenica, which witnessed the marriage of Skanderbeg and noblewoman Donika Kastrioti in the 15th century. 


We stay throughout in comfortable hotels of three and four-star quality. 

This tour will be led by experienced ACE Tour Director Philip Kenrick, MA, DPhil, an archaeologist who read Classics at Balliol College, Oxford, where he gained his doctorate on pottery from British excavations at Benghazi. Philip has also worked in Libya, Sicily, Italy, Turkey and Jordan, and is the author of several books. He has been a frequent visitor to Albania, and looks forward to returning with another ACE group in 2024.

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