Albania Bike Tour
Eight nights; eight days of cycling on paved roads through Albania. Three UNESCO sites, snow-capped mountains, inviting beaches on the Albanian Riviera, a genuine untouched subsistence culture, and exceptionally friendly people.
“The views of mountains and coastline are unbeatable. Routes were generally the right length. You know we love it, as this is our second year doing the trip!” - Jill J.
Start: Tirana, Hotel Sky Tower 2, 09:00, day one. Please contact us to arrange alternate plans, if necessary.
Finish: Tirana, Hotel Sky Tower 2, 12:00, day nine. Please contact us if you would like to be dropped off at the airport, or for other arrangements.
Meet in Tirana, transfer (~2 hrs) to Qafe Thane, then cycle 34km to Tushemisht
Transfer from your hotel in Tirana to the small town of Qafe Thane on the Albania-Macedonia border, then cycle along the placid shoreline of the UNESCO recognized Lake Ohrid toward the town of Pogradec, where we will stop for lunch. After lunch you will continue along the lake's edge and have the option to cross the Macedonian border to explore the nearby Monastery of St. Naum. The ride finishes in Tushemishtas as the sun sets over the ancient waters of Ohrid. LD (Meal inclusions provided for guided trips.)
Hotel Millenium, Tushemisht
Tushemisht to Korçë 42km
Today’s ride begins with a climb out of the lake valley to the mountain-flanked plateau above. After pulling yourself away from the gorgeous views of the valley below, the ride continues through a colourful patchwork of lost-in-time farmland on wonderfully empty rural roads. After a day on the road make sure not to miss the bustling markets of the mountain city of Korcë, your destination for the night. BLD
Life Gallery Hotel, Korçë
Korçë to Gërmenjë 78km
Today is a long hilly day but you’ll barely notice as you soak up the stunning mountain scenery. The ride starts on the agricultural plateau, but quickly ascends into mountains of rugged rock and colourful wildflowers. Your ride will conclude after summiting the Barmash Pass (1159m/ 3800ft) and descending into a pine-covered valley, where you will spend the night in the peaceful solitude of the lush mountains. BLD
Guesthouse Farma Sotira, Gërmenjë
Gërmenjë to Përmet 60km
Again you will begin the day with a climb, but the descent (~1000m/3280ft over 50km/31mi) will make up for it. Descending through majestic gorges surrounding the gentle town of Leskovik, all the way to Cashovë, the hardest decision you’ll have is whether to pull over and gape at the jaw-dropping scenery or enjoy the ride all the way to the bottom! This evening you stay a short ride (or drive) away from a natural hot spring nestled between two beautiful mountain ranges – the perfect place to rest your muscles before a gourmet dinner. BLD
Guesthouse Coli, Përmet
Përmet to Luzat 42km; transfer to Gjirokastër ~1hr
With a backdrop of jagged mountains, you will ride along the Vjoysa and Drino Rivers, sometimes in valleys, sometimes along spectacular gorges. Ride for half the day before hopping in the van for a transfer to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gjirokastër. The old town, known for its stone roofs and foreboding 12th century citadel, contains remarkably well-preserved examples of Ottoman houses, many built between the 17th - 19th centuries. Wander the stone streets before sitting down for a dinner packed with regional specialties. BLD
Hotel Cajupti, Gjirokastër
Gjirokastër to Sarandë via Butrint 65km
Today’s ride takes you from the interior mountains to the beautiful coast of the Ionian Sea. As you will ride south to the sea you’ll visit the UNESCO site of Butrint. This historically relevant site was once both a Greek colony, and a Roman city and bishopric. You will see the ruins of an amphitheatre built in the 3rd century, which would once have been able to hold 1500 people. After exploring the ruins of Butrint the ride continues along the scenic Albanian Riviera before arriving in Sarandë, a maritime city perched between lofty mountains and the tropical sea. BLD
Hotel Porto Eda, Sarandë
Sarandë to Himara 52km
Expect a hilly day today as you follow the stunningly picturesque coast, with endless seascapes on your left, and lofty mountains on your right. You will enjoy a long decent at the end of the day as you come to the seaside town of Himara. Although this town is renowned as a favourite destination in Albania due to the proximity to beautiful sandy beaches, you will find that it is still relatively relaxed and peaceful. While sun bathers hit the beach, history aficionados will have plenty to see and learn. BLD
Hotel Rondas, Himara.
Himarë to Vlorë 72km
You will continue to follow the coast north, although it won’t always be visible. A mid-ride climb takes you through the Llogara Pass (1043m/3422ft) to an unforgettable look-off over the cerulean sea below. An adrenaline pumping descent puts you back on the coast along winding roads to Vlorë, a popular resort town, and your destination for the night. BLD
Hotel Nimfa, Vlorë
Transfer ~2.5 hrs to Tirana
Enjoy a morning dip in the Adriatic, or relax in the sun before hopping into the van for a transfer to the nation’s capital to continue your adventures on your own, or catch your flight. B
Note about the route:
Most roads are recently paved. There are some climbs but the wonderful descents make it worth the work. Hotels are 3-4 star, and refreshingly good for a nation with such a recently developed tourism network. Drivers are patient and helpful, as are your guides. Traffic volume is generally low.
Some say that visiting Albania is as close as you’ll get to travelling back in time. Until the dissolution of the People’s Republic of Albania, it was rare that foreigners had a chance to visit this mystery-shrouded country. Since the borders opened in 1991, anyone visiting Albania quickly realizes that this is a very special place.
Unlike Croatia, just a few hundred kilometres up the coast, Albania has remained undiscovered by mass tourism. We feel that this sets it apart among our destinations. People in many isolated areas are still filled with excitement and curiosity to see visitors in their villages, especially those travelling by bicycle. You will be welcomed with open arms and warm, sincere hospitality.
The history of Albania is long and complex. This area has been populated for over 4000 years, and has been conquered by the Romans, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Normans, and Serbs. In 1468 Albanian came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire, which remained the case until 1912, when they declared independence. The country’s economy has seen an upturn since 2002, resulting in significant upgrades in infrastructure, which you will surely appreciate. The roads are mostly paved, and although at times quite steep, you will be distracted from the climb by stunning views, and rewarded by adrenaline pumping descents.
Map & Elevation
Tirana, Hotel Sky Tower 2, 09:00, day one. Please contact us to arrange alternate pickup location.
Tirana, Hotel Sky Tower 2, noon, day nine. Please contact us to arrange drop off at the airport or alternate location.
All details and pricing are subject to change without notice.