Albania & Macedonia | Via Egnatia

One of many elaborate Byzantine churches on the shores of beautiful Lake Ohrid
One of many elaborate Byzantine churches on the shores of beautiful Lake Ohrid
Roman amphitheatre of Durres
Roman amphitheatre of Durres
Ruins of ancient Apollonia
Ruins of ancient Apollonia
The Rotunda of Galerius, Thessaloniki
The Rotunda of Galerius, Thessaloniki
Reconstructed Bronze Age lake village at the Bay of Bones, Ohrid, Macedonia
Reconstructed Bronze Age lake village at the Bay of Bones, Ohrid, Macedonia
Beautiful gold-in-glass mosaic which covers the ceiling of the Rotunda of Galerius
Beautiful gold-in-glass mosaic which covers the ceiling of the Rotunda of Galerius
Emperor Galerius vanquishes his Macedonian foes- detail from the arch of Galerius
Emperor Galerius vanquishes his Macedonian foes- detail from the arch of Galerius
Roman milestone recording road-builder proconsul Gnaeus Egnatius
Roman milestone recording road-builder proconsul Gnaeus Egnatius

A journey through time and civilisations, across the dramatic landscapes of southeast Europe. Albania, Macedonia and the Balkans represent one vast patchwork of cultures and civilisations. Our tour takes in the tombs and treasures of Philip of Macedon, the late Imperial glories of Thessaloniki and the beautiful Medieval churches on the shores of Lake Ohrid.

Divided by mountains, the Balkans are united by roads which kept the disparate states and Empires both in contact and conflict. The greatest of these was the Via Egnatia, initially a series of traditional tracks used by the Romans to speed their conquest of Illyria and Macedonia and formalised as the great highway crossing mountain, river and marsh.

  • The remarkable World Heritage Site of Lake Ohrid, dotted with Roman, Byzantine, and Ottoman sites
  • View the Tomb and golden treasures of King Philip of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great
  • Receive special entry to normally closed Jeni Mosque, known for its exquisite decorative ornaments and stalactites

Themes

  • Romans
  • Medieval
  • Historic Churches
  • Ancient Greek

Practicalities

  • Special Access
  • Low Single Supplement
  • All Inclusive

Itinerary 2017

Day 1

Fly to Tirana and drive to our hotel.

Day 2

We begin our journey at Durrës, the principal terminus of the Via Egnatia, Albania’s largest and most bustling seaport with substantial monuments. We visit the circular Forum of Anastasius where the northern branch of the Via Egnatia began. We continue to Apollonia, a great Corinthian Greek colony, and the starting point of the Via Egnatia’s southern branch.

Day 3

We travel to Tirana, capital of Albania. We see the Tirana mosaic, all that remains of a late Roman villa in the suburbs of the city. We then explore the National Historical Museum. Afterwards, we continue along the Krabbe Pass to Elbasan, or ancient Scampis as it was once known. We view the fine late Roman and Ottoman walls that line the Via Egnatia here.

Day 4

We enjoy a day in wonderful Ohrid. The ancient city boasts a Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past with impressive monuments from each era. We explore the late Byzantine shrine of St. Clement and the churches of St. Panteleimon and St. Sofia and the 9th century fortress of Tsar Samuel which dominates the city. We stroll to St. Jovan Kaneo, romantically overlooking the beautfiul Lake Ohrid.

Day 5

We make our way to the Museum on the Water at ‘the Bay of Bones’ - a partial reconstruction of a prehistoric village. We continue to Lake Prespa and St. Naum, before travelling over the spectacular mountains to Kurbinovo by Lake Ohrid. We walk through the wooded landscape to the church of St George, with its fresco cycle of the time of the Commeni emperors and a resurgent Byzantium.

Day 6

We start the day in Heraklea Lyncestis. A city built by Philip II of Macedon, with remains of fine Roman and Byzantine buildings and impressive mosaics. We explore Bitola, which retains much of its late Ottoman atmosphere, thanks to its very fine 15th century mosques.

We visit the normally closed Jeni Mosque, before visiting the fine Bitola museum, established in an old Turkish military college.

Day 7

We visit the ancient site and thundering waterfalls in Edessa, which made the city famous in antiquity. We also find the Ottoman bridge that carried the Via Egnatia over the river. In ancient Aigai, the traditional Macedonian capital, we discover the great burial mound which covered the tombs of Macedonian royalty. This was one of the richest finds of grave goods in Europe.

Day 8

We explore Thessaloniki, the original terminus of the Via Egnatia. We visit the Agora and church of St. Demetrius and the remains of the palace complex of Galerius, the Rotonda, his intended mausoleum, and the great arch over the Via Egnatia. We visit the recently redisplayed and very fine Archaeological Museum and the adjacent Byzantine Museum.

Day 9

We return home from Thessaloniki.

Itinerary 2018

Day 1

We fly to Albania and transfer to our hotel.

Day 2

We begin our journey at Durrës, the principal terminus of the Via Egnatia, Albania’s largest and most bustling seaport with substantial monuments. We visit the circular Forum of Anastasius where the northern branch of the Via Egnatia began. We continue to Apollonia, a great Corinthian Greek colony which was vital for the Roman conquest of the Balkans. It was the starting point of the Via Egnatia’s southern branch.

Day 3

We travel to Tirana, capital of Albania. We explore the National Historical Museum, which gives a particular view of Albanian history. We continue via the new road tunnel below the Krabbe Pass to Elbasan, ancient Scampis. After walking through the castrum, with its fine late Roman and Ottoman walls, onto the line of the Via Egnatia, we continue to Macedonia.

Day 4

We enjoy a day in wonderful Ohrid. The ancient city boasts a Macedonian, Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman past with impressive monuments from each era. We explore the late Byzantine shrine of St. Clement, the churches of St. Panteleimon and St. Sofia and the 9th century fortress of Tsar Samuel which dominates the city. We stroll to St. Jovan Kaneo, romantically overlooking the beautfiul Lake Ohrid.

Day 5

We make our way to the Museum on the Water at ‘the Bay of Bones’ - a partial reconstruction of a prehistoric village. We continue to Lake Prespa and St. Naum, before travelling over the spectacular mountains to Kurbinovo by Lake Ohrid. We walk through the wooded landscape to the church of St George, with its fresco cycle of the time of the Commeni emperors and a resurgent Byzantium.

Day 6

We start the day in Heraklea Lyncestis. A city built by Philip II of Macedon Tthe remains of fine Roman and Byzantine buildings can be found throughout. We explore Bitola, which still retains much of its late Ottoman atmosphere, with very fine 15th century mosques. We also visit the fine Bitola museum, established in an old Turkish military college, where Kemal Ataturk studied.

Later, we cross the border into Greece.

Day 7

We visit the ancient site and thundering waterfalls in Edessa, which made the city famous in antiquity. We also find the Ottoman bridge that carried the Via Egnatia over the river. In ancient Aigai, the traditional Macedonian capital, we discover the great burial mound which covered the tombs of Macedonian royalty. This was one of the richest finds of grave goods in Europe.

Day 8

We explore Thessaloniki, the original terminus of the Via Egnatia. We visit the Agora and church of St. Demetrius and the remains of the palace complex of Galerius, the Rotonda, his intended mausoleum, and the great arch over the Via Egnatia. We visit the recently redisplayed and very fine Archaeological Museum and the adjacent Byzantine Museum.

Day 9

We return home from Thessaloniki.

What's Included

  1. Expert Guide Lecturer
  2. Tour Manager
  3. Local Travel - Private a/c coach
  4. Meals - All meals included with wine at dinner
  5. Entries & Tips - Entry to all sites in programme; tips included
  6. Field Notes
  7. Hotels
  8. Flights

Hotel Info

2 nights in a comfortable hotel on a beach outside Durres
2 nights in a lake-side hotel in Ohrid overlooking the old city
1 night in a central hotel in Bitola
1 night in a friendly and well-located hotel on the outskirts of Edessa
2 nights in a 5* hotel in Thessaloniki with pool

Useful Information

For full information about Passport validity and Visa requirements as well as Health and Vaccination information please click here.

Book now

2017 Tour Details

Sun 8th October - Mon 16th October

Call for Availability

£2,495

ex. flights: £2,095

sgl supp: £195

VIE17A

Led By: Oliver Gilkes

2018 Tour Details

Sun 14th October - Mon 22nd October

Available

£2,595

ex. flights: £2,250

sgl supp: £215

VIE18A

Led By: Oliver Gilkes

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