Our Local Tour client Oscar and his partner wrote about their trip to explore Albania with a local guide.
If you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track destination that’s rich in history and culture, then Albania should be at the top of your list. And what better way to discover this hidden gem than with a local guide who can show you the real Albania? That’s exactly what we did on a recent private tour of Albania, and it was an experience that we’ll never forget.
From the moment we arrived in Tirana, we knew we were in for a treat. The guide, Agron, was waiting for us at the airport, and we immediately hit it off. He was friendly, knowledgeable and passionate about his country, and it was clear that we were in good hands.
Our first stop was the vibrant capital city of Tirana, and Agron wasted no time in showing us the best that the city had to offer. We started with a visit to the National History Museum, which was a fantastic introduction to Albanian history. The museum is a huge, modern building, and inside there are exhibits that cover everything from prehistoric times to the present day. Agron was a font of knowledge, and he brought the exhibits to life with his stories and explanations.
Next, we headed to the Et’hem Bey Mosque, which is one of the most important landmarks in Tirana. The mosque was built in the early 19th century and is a great example of Ottoman architecture. Despite being in the heart of the city, it’s a peaceful and tranquil place, and we felt a real sense of calm inside the mosque.
The next day, we hit the road and headed south towards Berat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s often called the “town of a thousand windows”. And it’s easy to see why – the town is full of beautiful Ottoman-era buildings with countless windows that give it a unique and romantic charm.
One of the highlights of our time in Berat was a visit to the castle, which is perched on top of a hill overlooking the town. The castle dates back to the 4th century BC and has been used by various empires and rulers over the centuries. Agron was a fantastic guide, and he gave a real insight into the castle’s history and the many battles that were fought there.
As we left Berat, we headed further south towards the Albanian Riviera, a stretch of coastline that’s been described as the “Mediterranean as it once was”. The scenery was stunning, with crystal-clear waters and rugged cliffs that dropped down into the sea.
Our base for the next few days was the town of Saranda, which is known for its lively atmosphere and stunning beaches. One of the highlights of our time in Saranda was a visit to the ancient city of Butrint, which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city dates back to the 7th century BC and was an important centre for the Greeks, the Romans and the Byzantines. The ruins are incredibly well-preserved, and it was fascinating to walk around and imagine what life was like there thousands of years ago.
As our tour of Albania came to an end, we both felt incredibly grateful to have had Agron as our Albania guide. He had shown us a side of Albania that we would never have experienced travelling on our own, and his passion and enthusiasm for his country was infectious. Albania may be a small and often-overlooked destination in Europe, but it’s a place that’s rich in history and culture. I would highly recommend any intrepid traveller visit now before things change too much.