Meeting and pick up at Tirana International Airport followed by a transfer to the hotel in downtown Tirana. After checking in at the hotel, depending on the arrival time for the rest of the group, you'll explore the history and culture of Albania through a city tour, starting from the city centre. In case of difficult weather conditions, a tour inside the National Museum and Bunkart will be offered to revisit the different historical steps of your country. After a brief rest, the cycling guide will accompany you to a cozy, typical Albanian restaurant where traditional food will be offered in a family-style type of dinner. Here you'll get the chance to try for the first time the exquisite cuisine that our amazing country has to offer.
Tirana, the capital city of Albania, is a dynamic mixture of financial institutions, culture and entertainment. It is home to two distinct architectural styles influenced by the regimes that lately oppressed not only the capital but the whole country. It is marked by two totalitarian regimes, the Fascist regime of Benito Mussolini during the Second World War and by the Communist regime that followed it. The ministries surrounding the main square were all designed by Italian architects like Florestano di Fausto and Armando Brasini, buildings that stand to this day and have been internally reconstructed for government office purposes.
Tirana to Pogradec - altitude 174m
After a morning pick-up at 8 am, a two-hour transfer to the top of Qafë Thanë Pass, will bring you to the northern side of Lake Ohrid, where the bikes will be waiting for you with the support van. After distributing the bikes according to everyone’s needs, the descent towards Lake Ohrid and therefore our tour officially starts. After reaching the hotel, where lunch will be held, you check-in, and following a short rest you cross the border to Macedonia to visit the Monastery of St. Naum.
Lake Ohrid is one of Europe’s oldest lakes and its deepest (288m), containing a unique ecosystem and up to 200 endemic species. It is situated between Eastern Albania and Southwestern Macedonia and became worldwide famous in 1979 when it was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
Pogradec to Korçë - altitude 412m
After waking up alongside the beautiful vistas of the mountains and the lake in front of the hotel, you start cycling towards Korça, often considered the Paris of Albania. In between, a short coffee stop, and a fantastic ride alongside the well-preserved crops and viticulture that the old towns midway to the city, has to offer. Upon arrival and checking in, your leader will guide you through the city to visit one of the largest orthodox cathedrals in the country, the first Albanian school, and have drinks at the recently restored old Bazaar. After receiving considerable funds from the European Union, the whole city underwent a total makeover, making it one of the best cultural and historical cities in Albania to visit.
Korçë to Sotirë - altitude 1170m
You leave the agricultural plateau of Korce, to enter more remote areas and villages, alongside the green border with Greece where the Gramoz Mountains lie steadily on our left-hand side the whole time. The scenery is beautiful and varied, from agricultural lands to high snow peaked mountains, depending on the time of the year. After stopping for lunch at the highest town in elevation in Albania, Erseke, you'll climb even further towards the Barmash Pass situated at 1,160m above sea level to end the day in Sotire, where a beautiful trout farm awaits us, filled with animals and local wine to be served. For dinner, a delicious trout freshly caught from the pond, don’t miss it!
Sotirë to Bënjë - altitude 661m
You exit Sotire to a beautiful pine forest plain surrounded by towering peaks before reaching the old town of Leskovik. But wait, the beauty comes after, a fantastic 14km downhill on a completely paved and new road that sends us only 50m away from one of the Greek borders with Albania That is where we meet for the first time the longest river in Albania, river Vjosa, a beautiful, crystalline colored river that you'll follow for the next two days. After reaching the second guesthouse of the tour, an additional 4km of cycling towards the most famous natural thermal springs in Albania, free of charge, where warm pools await for you underneath an 18th-century Ottoman bridge, or if you feel like hiking, hike towards the Langarica river that flows from the mountains towards one of the most gorgeous canyons in Europe.
Bënjë to Gjirokastër - altitude 427m
After leaving Benje, the soaring peaks of the Nemercka mountain range reappear again in front of u as you follow Vjosa to Kelcyre, where the river has created an outstanding 20 km gorge in between the mountains of Trebeshina and Golika. Following the road is where you say goodbye to the river Vjosa to meet and follow the Drino River, which will lead you to the Drino Valley alongside the Lunxheri mountain range where right in front of it, hanging on a cliff, is situated the first UNESCO protected city on your tour, Gjirokaster. After checking in, a city tour is in the plans for you to visit the Citadel on top of it, the Bazaar, where tourists usually shop for authentic gifts, and at the end visit The Skenduli House.
Gjirokastër to Saranda - altitude 525m
The day starts with a 30min transfer at the top of the Muzina pass, situated at 550m, where the actual cycling begins, followed by a beautiful downhill all the way to sea level approaching Saranda, the first coastal city on the tour. Upon entering the city, you detour to complete a loop ride alongside the National Park of Butrint reaching the southern tip of the country. Hop on a wooden ferry to cross the Vivari channel, which connects the Ionian Sea with Lake Butrint, and have lunch near the UNESCO-protected site of Butrint. After lunch, a guide will be waiting for you to visit the ancient Greco-Roman ruins of Butrint, declared a World Heritage Site in 1992. Following, a brief cycle to Saranda after the walking tour accompanied by the view of Corfu Island on our left-hand side for the rest of the day.
Saranda to Himarë - altitude 1064m
A rollercoaster ride is waiting for you as you leave Saranda to follow the Albanian “Riviera Road”. Passing by some of our most beautiful villages and crystal clear beaches that the Ionian Sea has to offer. The view is dazzling, surrounded by mountains on one side and the sea on the other as the climbing is paid off by stunning downhills in between villages and alongside the sea. Brief lunch in Porto Palermo, in front of a fascinating Venetian Castle to end the day in Himare, an old fisherman’s village, where there will be plenty of time to relax by the beach and go to the town centre to enjoy a refreshing ice cream.
Himarë to Radhimë - altitude 1590m
Here it is, the most beautiful, varied, and challenging day of the tour. You gradually climb through forests and gorges, passing by old villages leading to the most famous beaches in Albania, Jale and Dhermi. As you cycle, in the far distance, you get a glimpse of the extraordinary Llogara Pass, where a gradual climb towards its top is waiting for us accompanied by stunning vistas of the mountains surrounding the Ionian Sea. Upon reaching the top, we descent towards the National Park of Llogara to complete the tour in Rradhime at one of the most famous hotels in the area. Relax by the sea and enjoy a mojito while admiring the sunset over the Albanian Peninsula of Karaburun.
The Farewell day starts with a 3-hour transfer to Tirana International Airport for those having a flight, and a separate transfer is offered to those staying in Tirana for a few extra days.