Albania Unesco Bike Tour

Albania9 (1)

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Overview

Albania has Alps and a Riviera, delicious Mediterranean food, UNESCO World Heritage Sites packed into a small area, and the largest number of coffee houses per capita anywhere in the world. Need any more reasons to visit this beautiful country?

This 10-day Albanian cycling adventure offers the opportunity to explore the four distinct geographical terrains of Albania. It takes you to the glistening Lake Ohrid, through farmland and vineyards, beside golden sandy shores with the seaside wind whipping through their hair, and along high mountain passes adorned with snow-capped mountains.

The tour offers rich cultural experiences that range from visiting a 10th-century monastery in North Macedonia to exploring monuments dating from the Greco-Roman era in Butrint. A total of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites are explored in this trip. You also get the chance to relax in Albania’s ancient thermal springs renowned for their therapeutic and curative properties.

One of the country’s best features is the Albanian Riviera, which is said to be the home of some of Europe’s most exquisite beaches, and the most popular destination that we get experience by bike in Albania.

Read a comprehensive insight into the trip on our blog here.

Start

Tirana | 18:00hrs

Finish

Tirana

Lodging

casual

Level

moderate to challenging

Avg. dist. cycled

60km/37mi

Group size

Min. 4, Max. 12

Highlights

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Alps and a Riviera

Not many countries in Europe can boast of having both the Alps and a Riviera. There’s France, there’s Italy, and then there’s Albania. The Albanian Riviera has gorgeous beaches overlooking the turquoise blue waters of the Adriatic, whereas the Albanian Alps are dramatic karsts rising well over 2,000m above the sea level. In between the two there are lush green meadows, quaint villages and rolling hills. When biking in Albania, you can expect different vistas each day.

Itinerary

Brief Itinerary

DayPlacecasual Inns or similarMealsDistanceActivity
DAY 1TiranaStarlight HotelD
DAY 2PogradecHotel MillenniumB,L40km/25micycling
DAY 3GermenjFarma SotiraB,L,D65km/40micycling
DAY 4PermetVilla PërmetB,L,D65km/40micycling
DAY 5GjirokasterHotel ArgjiroB,L40km/24micycling
DAY 6SarandeHotel NertiliB,L
DAY 7SarandeHotel NertiliB,L45km/27micycling
DAY 8HimareHotel PrinosB,L50km/32micycling
DAY 9RadhimeHotel Coral B,L,D60km/38micycling
DAY 10Transfer to AirportB

Detailed Itinerary

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Day 1: Tirana

Arrive and settle into your hotel. In the morning, you are free to explore the city on your own. Tirana is a cosmopolitan city of a little over half a million people with a pleasant climate and charming beauty.

In the evening, we meet for a tour briefing over dinner at a local restaurant where we try some Albanian delicacies. Albanian cuisine is a mix of Balkan and Mediterranean with Greek and Turkish influences, all of which combine to give Albanian food its distinct character. Make sure to try some popular delicacies including Ferges, a stew prepared using tomato sauce, cottage cheese, and peppers, Tarator, a cold yogurt appetizer, and Raki, an alcoholic drink made from twice-distilled grapes.

Meals: D
Accommodation: Starlight Hotel
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Day 2: Pogradec

This is the first day of our cycling adventure. We begin the day by taking a two-hour shuttle transfer out of Tirana in a south-easterly direction to the shores of Lake Ohrid. Lake Ohrid is Europe’s oldest and its deepest lake. Because of its unique aquatic ecosystem that supports more than 200 endemic species, and the presence of several historic monuments along its shores, the lake was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

We begin the day’s biking with a descent down to the lake. We bike all the way to our hotel, where we stop for lunch. Post-lunch, we get back on our bikes and cross the international border into neighboring Macedonia to visit the Monastery of St. Naum. A charming stone building with red-tiled roofs perched in the shadow of the Galicica mountain, the monastery dates back to the 10th century CE.

After the visit, we return to our hotel and spend the rest of the day enjoying serene views of Lake Ohrid.

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Meals: B,L
Cycling Distance: 40km/25mi
Accommodation: Hotel Millennium
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Day 3: Germenj

We start the day again with an hour-long shuttle transfer, continuing to travel in a southerly direction to reach the outskirts of Korce before beginning the day’s biking. Korce is a 15th-century town of about 75,000 inhabitants that is sometimes referred to as the Paris of Albania due to its cobbled streets, sidewalk cafes, and beautiful medieval architecture that includes a mosque and a cathedral.

We stop by for a lunch at Ersekë, one of the highest towns in Albania at an elevation of around 1050 meters (3445 feet), offering stunning views of the surrounding mountains..

Post lunch, we ride past quaint Albanian villages and vineyards fringed by the Morava mountains to arrive at the small village of Germenj where we stay for the night on a farm, offering a peek into the rural life of Albania. The farm lies within the Germenj-Shelegur National Park amidst pristine forests in southeastern Albania, at an altitude of 1000 meters. Wildlife footprints, including bear, wolf, hogs, and deer, are common sightings. The pine-dominated forests offer breathtaking mountain views, expansive wild meadows, and nearby lakes ideal for swimming stops.

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Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 65km/40mi
Accommodation: Farma Sotira
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Day 4: Permet

We begin the day’s biking by heading in a south-easterly direction before taking a sharp northerly course towards the town of Permet. We are now close to the southern tip of Albania, having begun our journey from Albania in the north. The exhilarating 14km downhill ride brings us to the Vjosë River, often regarded as one of the last wild rivers in Europe due to its relatively untouched and pristine nature. The day’s ride sees us riding through some very beautiful countryside consisting of farms and vineyards swaying under the shadow of Albania’s omnipresent mountains.

Once we arrive at Permet, we head off to the nearby town of Benje, famous for its thermal springs. The waters of the springs at Benje are naturally rich in several minerals and have been known by locals since antiquity to possess therapeutic powers.

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Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 65km/40mi
Accommodation: Villa Përmet
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Day 5: Gjirokaster

We continue our journey in a northerly direction along the river as we head towards the city of Gjirokaster. We arrive at Kroi i Pashait for lunch, pausing for a coffee break at Kelcyra Gorge overlooking the Vjosa River along the way. Following our meal, we transfer to Gjirokaster for a city tour. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Gjirokaster is also known as the “museum town” because of its rich architectural and cultural history. Several old houses in the city are built in white stone, and the streets are made of cobblestone, earning it the moniker of the “stone city”. We visit the Gjirokaster Castle, and Skenduli House, a famous 300-year old mansion. Gjirokaster is a thriving town of over 30,000 inhabitants and offers excellent options for experiencing Albanian culture at close quarters. Guests are free tonight to explore the city and try out local cuisine.

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Meals: B,L
Cycling Distance: 40km/24mi
Accommodation: Hotel Argjiro
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Day 6: Sarande

Today is planned as a semi-rest day and a day off the bike. Following breakfast, we transfer to Blue Eye, requiring a walk of approximately 2.5km since vehicles cannot access the entire route. This natural wonder is a breathtaking sight, featuring an underground spring with mesmerizing blue waters, surrounded by pristine and untamed wilderness. Here we have ample time to explore this natural wonder, followed by a chance to enjoy a coffee on-site.

Once we've savored the tranquility and natural splendor of the "Blue Eye," we transfer to Saranda. The destination for the day is the famous Albanian resort town of Sarande, which sits on the shores of the Ionian Sea. Sun, sand, and clear blue waters of the Mediterranean await us.

Gjirokaster to Sarande.png

Meals: B,L
Accommodation: Hotel Nertili
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Day 7: Sarande

Today's adventure takes us on a gorgeous ride through the Butrint National Park, where we have the opportunity to visit the magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint. This archaeological gem showcases ruins dating back to the Greco-Roman era, offering a fascinating glimpse into ancient civilizations.

As we pedal through the park, the panoramic views of the lake, Ionian Sea, and Corfu provide a stunning backdrop to our ride. The air becomes infused with the delightful scents of citrus fruits, as this region is renowned for its abundant citrus orchards, filling the air with a symphony of refreshing aromas.

Our route includes a fascinating crossing of the Vivari Channel aboard an intriguing wooden ferry. This unique experience allows us to seamlessly reach our lunch destination, located a mere 50 meters away from the awe-inspiring archaeological site. Indulge in a well-deserved meal while soaking in the historical ambiance and natural beauty of the surroundings.

After savoring our meal and immersing ourselves in the historical ambiance, we continue our loop back through the Butrint National Park. Today's journey is a truly remarkable adventure, seamlessly woven into the fabric of the stunning landscapes and rich historical tapestry that surrounds us.

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Meals: B,L
Cycling Distance: 45km/27mi
Accommodation: Hotel Nertili
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Day 8: Himare

We are now on the Albanian Riviera, and we continue our journey northwards by following Albania's beautiful Mediterranean coastline. The mountains loom to our east, while the dazzling blue waters of the Ionian Sea sparkle in the sun to our west as we ride through some of the beautiful scenery Europe has to offer. We stop for the night in Himare, a quaint fishermen’s village with white sand beaches. Himare is inhabited by Greek Albanians, and the culture and cuisine are a fusion of Greek and Albanian elements. You are free tonight to explore the town on your own.

While today's accommodation is modest, it boasts the finest sea views available.

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Meals: B,L
Cycling Distance: 50km/32mi
Accommodation: Hotel Prinos
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Day 9: Radhime

Today is the final day of biking on our Albanian adventure, and we’ve saved the best for the last. We continue biking along the Albanian Riviera in a northward direction, climbing the hills of the Ceraunian mountain range and passing through pine-covered forests of the Llogara National Park. The day's ride presents a challenge ahead, beginning with an ascent of 800m to the base of Llogara Pass, followed by another 800m climb to its summit. With spectacular mountains on one side and the sea on the other, we descend 4km before stopping for lunch.

Later we bike through two of the most famous beaches in Albania - Dhermi and Jale. Dhermi, in particular, is famous for offering mesmerizing views of white sand beaches and azure Mediterranean waters on one side and glorious vistas of the snow-covered Maja e Cikes mountain on the other. We end the day’s biking at the famous resort town of Radhime and check into our hotel.

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Meals: B,L,D
Cycling Distance: 60km/38mi
Accommodation: Hotel Coral

Day 10: Transfer to Airport

Later in the morning, we take a shuttle to Tirana Airport, a journey that lasts approximately 2 hours and 30 minutes, to continue your onward travels.

Meals: B
Accommodation:

Ready to plan your adventure? Download a print-ready detailed itinerary.

Map

Accommodation

Each hotel has been thoughtfully selected to ensure an exceptional and memorable experience for guests. Should the listed hotel be unavailable, we will ensure an alternative of similar quality.

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Starlight Hotel

Experience luxury at its finest in the heart of Tirana at Starlight Hotel Tirana. Located just 600 meters from Skanderbeg Square, hotel offers modern, air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, and elegant private bathrooms. Indulge in an exquisite à la carte breakfast and savor exceptional dining at our on-site restaurant and bar, which boasts a diverse selection of drinks.

Dates and Prices

Members get an estimated 10% off on this trip.

$50/yearLearn more


Single Supplement

From US $350

E-Bike Upgrade

From US $210


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Essential Info

Inclusions

LODGING

All hotels as mentioned in the tour details or similar (subject to availability).

trip leader

Expert Trip Leader(s) who look after your every need and add meaning to your vacation.

bike

Immaculately maintained bike with helmet, suited to a terrain.

shuttle

A Van support follows the group of riders and carries all belongings.

meals

Meals as per itinerary. Guests are given the opportunity to dine on their own so that they discover a location independently.

refreshments

Refreshments and mineral water while cycling.

entrance

Entrance fees to most of the monuments and temples.

E-bikes

E-bikes are available (subject to availability) on this trip at a surcharge.

Exclusions

Airport pickup and drop

We recommend to book direclty from airport or hotel.

Beverages

Beverages such as alcohol, tea, coffee, juice at a hotel or restaurant.

Gratuity

Gratuities for your guide team are not included in the trip price.

Bikes

When you have a road and the thrill of a journey ahead of you, it’s imperative to have a good bike to enjoy it. Our fleet majorly consist of the below bikes as a part of this tour. However, sometimes due to height or availability constraints, we may provide a different but similar quality bike.

Bike Image

Giant or similar

hybrid

Included in your trip price

Bike Image

Liv or similar

hybrid

Included in your trip price

Bike Image

Giant Explore e+ or similar

ebike

Available at a surcharge

Weather

Generally, the most favorable time for cycling in Albania is during the spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October). During these months, the weather is typically mild and pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 15 to 25 degrees Celsius (59 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit).

Spring is characterized by blooming flowers and lush landscapes, while autumn offers vibrant colors as the leaves change. These seasons provide excellent conditions for cycling, with lower chances of extreme heat or heavy rainfall.

Summer (July to August) can be hot, especially in the lowland areas, with temperatures often exceeding 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit). If you can handle the heat, cycling in the summer can still be enjoyable, especially in the mountainous regions where temperatures are more moderate.

January

Offseason

February

Offseason

March

Mixed

April

Mixed

May

Best

June

Best

July

Offseason

August

Offseason

September

Best

October

Good

November

Mixed

December

Offseason

Best

Good

Mixed

Offseason

Visa

Albania has implemented a visa liberalization policy for citizens of many countries, allowing them to enter Albania without a visa for short stays. These countries include members of the European Union, the United States, Canada, Australia, and several others.

For citizens of countries not included in the visa liberalization policy, they may need to apply for a visa at an Albanian embassy or consulate in their home country before traveling to Albania. The specific requirements and procedures for obtaining an Albanian visa can vary, so it's essential for travelers to check at the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for the most up-to-date information.

Reviews from our friends

Reviews—2023 and older

Tony J from USA

5.0

Wonderful Experience!

Overall we had a wonderful experience on our bike tour. It allowed us to see and do things we wouldn’t have been able to do on our own. Our guide was knowledgeable and friendly. The bikes were in good condition. It will be a while before we go back to Europe but if/when we do we’d definitely consider doing another tour with Art of Bicycle Trips.

End of reviews