Cycling in Albania

If you're a fan of moderate to challenging cycling routes that take you from high altitude mountain passes and wild flower-filled meadows to remote rural hamlets and shaded chestnut woodlands, then cycling vacations in Albania could be the answer to all of your pedalling prayers. Not only will you be invited to navigate parts of northern Albania's Accursed Mountains by bike, but you'll also be able to sooth weary limbs in the Ionian Sea, along the Albanian Riviera, as well as having opportunities to take a dip in Lake Ohrid that straddles the border with Macedonia.

Cycling as part of a small guided group (max 16 cyclists) or on a self guided itinerary provides practically zero impact on the environment and maximum chances to meet local Albanians. Traveling without any physical barriers – other than ill-fitting Lycra – really opens up the world around you and also makes for a much more immersive experience. You can smell the wild herbs and garlic along the winding rural roads as well as feeling the sun on your back. You just can't recreate that feeling staring out of a coach or car window.

Albania is still, as yet, way off the European cycling map and although gradual ascents and daily distances can be lengthy, the genuinely warm welcome you'll receive on arrival at a local guesthouse more than alleviates any aches and pains just as readily as a glass of homemade plum rakia.

One thing to remember: Albania’s road surfaces, even in rural regions, are totally tarmac however, several sections aren’t properly surfaced, and others are pitted with pot holes. Keep eyes peeled!

Read on for cycling vacation styles and route recommendations.

Self guided cycling in Albania

Luggage transfers, 24hr support, tried and tested accommodation and detailed route maps, allow self guided cycling itineraries in Albania to bridge the gap between small group and going it alone. A tailor made itinerary also allows you to choose how long you want to spend cycling each day as well as where you want to visit on and off the bike. Tailor made tours can be taken all-year-round whereas small group tours generally take place at set dates during the summer.

Small group cycling Albania

There's nothing that beats the camaraderie of a small group cycling vacation in Albania. Cycling with a guide, and a group leader, really takes the stress out of the experience so you can concentrate on the road and the views, without worrying about pot holes or what’s around the next bend. Luggage is transferred in between locally-owned guesthouses and farm stays, and small group trips also include a support vehicle, so you can duck out of a climb if you’re not feeling the burn or get instant access to bike maintenance in the event of an emergency. This type of tour is ideal for solo cyclists looking to become part of a peloton. There might be an option to share a twin room with another same-sex member of the group or pay for a single supplement so you can have your own space.

Local bike hire will be included on self guided and small group tours although you’re advised to bring your own helmet, padded shorts, cycling clothing and gel seat to ensure complete security and comfort. E-bikes can also be hired locally in Albania as long as you request this option in advance.

Our top Albania Vacation

Albania cycling holiday

Albania cycling vacation

A wild and rugged corner of the Balkan Peninsula

From US $1749 8 days ex flights
Small group travel:
2020: 17 Apr, 24 Apr, 1 May, 15 May, 22 May, 29 May, 5 Jun, 12 Jun, 19 Jun, 26 Jun, 28 Aug, 4 Sep, 11 Sep, 18 Sep, 25 Sep, 2 Oct, 9 Oct
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Albania or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Recommended cycling routes
in Albania

Moderate

One of the eight-day self guided routes that we recommend features average daily distances of 40km as you cycle through chestnut groves and winding rural roads in the Albanian Alps in between dreamy descents in Montenegro. Starting in Cetinje, Montenegro, the route takes you into Albania, through the Alps, to the city of Shkodër, from where you'll cross the border back into Montenegro via Lovćen National Park and an epic 25km descent towards the coast and the beautiful Bay of Kotor.

Moderate/challenging

Sometimes being part of a small group of cyclists, with a guide, leader and vehicle support, is all that you need to tackle routes that are a bit more of a challenge. There's an absolutely awesome example of just this type of tour in Albania that takes six full days cycling average daily distances of 50 to 70km, so you can cover an awful lot of ground. Starting with a climb over the Barmash Pass (1159m), in the Gramos Mountains, you'll reach the valley village of Gërmenj, close to the Greek border. From there the route continues to undulate south to the ancient archaeological ruins of Butrint, and the pine, oak and fir forests of Llogara National Park, before coming to rest on the beaches and in communist era fishing villages, such as Himarë, on the Ionian coast.

Challenging

If you're seeking a bit more of a challenge on an eight-day small group cycling vacation in Albania then there are a couple of 12km climbs, one of which is in the Black Drin Valley, which really take some pedal power. After all that uphill exercise there’s a 93km stretch around the shores of Lake Ohrid and over the border into Macedonia from where there's a well-deserved descent to the tri-country shores of Lake Prespa. After an evening or early morning dip you’ll pedal back across the border to Pogradec, on the southern side of Lake Ohrid, where the tour completes with birras all round!
Written by Chris Owen
Photo credits: [Page banner: Karelj] [Intro: Planeti] [Self guided cycling in Albania: Ehrlich91] [Moderate: Albania Off Road Cycling]
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