48157.jpg

Cycle the Balkans

from $3,049.00

Explore 4 countries by bike.

  • Reviews 9 Reviews
    5/5
  • Vacation Style Holiday Type
    Guided
  • Activity Level Moderate / Challenging
  • Group Size Small Group
    5 - 16
All about the Cycle the Balkans.

The Balkans offers an intoxicating mix of beautiful countryside, fast-developing cities and historic towns. Our first ride ends at the UNESCO town of Ohrid on the vast lake of the same name, from here the route leads up towards the border with Kosovo. Small towns and villages dot the route as we wind our way across into Montenegro and through the heart of the imposing Durmitor Mountains. As the route suggests, there is a good mix of climbing and flat riding, with a few stops along the way to visit or see places of interest. Sunshine and sea come in the form of the Bay of Kotor on the Adriatic, a dramatic setting to end the ride. Few other regions offer such cultural and natural variety along with a true sense of discovery.

The tour package inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What is included in this tour?Items that are included in the cost of tour price.

* All breakfasts and 2 dinners included
* 11 nights 3 and 4-star hotels, 3 nights guesthouse
* Airport Transfers (at designated times)
* Local bike rental

13 days cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats)

What is not included in this tour?
  • Flights
  • Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
  • E-Bike (available on request)

Highlights

• UNESCO Town of Ohrid
• Magnificent Mavrov Lake and National Park
• Breathtaking Durmitor, part of Dinaric Alps

 

 

 

  1. Day 1 Start Tirana

    The group flights usually arrive in Tirana in the early afternoon and the group will be met and transferred to the start hotel. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon. In the evening our guide will hold a welcome meeting to discuss the week ahead, give advice on the local area and answer any questions, before we all go out for our welcome dinner.Hotel Austria or similar

  2. Day 2 Transfer to Lake Ohrid; cross the border into Macedonia; visit St Naum monastery before ending in Ohrid Town.

    This morning we start with a transfer to the northern side of Lake Ohrid. Upon arrival, the bikes will be unloaded and adjusted to everyone’s comfort. Our ride starts with cycling along the scenic shore of Lake Ohrid towards Pogradec. After reaching Tushemisht, just 4 km east of Pogradec, lunch will be served at a waterfront restaurant. We will continue cycling in the afternoon, crossing over into Macedonia, and visiting the monastery of St Naum. The road then takes us through Galicica National Park to Ohrid Town.Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest lakes in the world, came into existence during the Pliocene epoch as a result of tectonic shifts. It is home to unique flora and fauna and the lake is one of the largest biological reserves in Europe; with 212 known endemic species and a surface area of 358 km2 it is probably one of the most diverse lakes in the world.Villa Royal View

  3. Day 3 Climb to a high plateau bounded by mountains; continue following the gorge to Debar.

    Leaving Lake Ohrid behind, we start today by climbing to a high plateau bounded by mountains. We continue to follow the gorge for a while until the hills open up, leading to a vast patchwork plain of individual farms in the Debar region. Our ride finishes in the city of Debar where we rest for the night.Hotel Venec

  4. Day 4 Cycle towards Lake Mavrovo. 

    Today we cycle toward Lake Mavrovo. Spreading over an area of about 780 square kilometres (300 sq mi), the Mavrovo National Park features deep canyons, snowy peaks and blue lakes as well as dense forests providing a habitat for an array of wildlife. We enjoy cycling through this diverse National Park, we reach our hotel in the afternoon at the foot of the Bistra mountains.Hotel Bistra

  5. Day 5 Cycle around the east side of Lake Mavrov; descend to Via Egnatia, Cycle through villages until Tetovo.

    Today we cycle around the east side of Lake Mavrovo surrounded by dramatic mountains. We then have a long descent to what used to be once known as Via Egnatia, an old Roman path that connected Rome with Istanbul. We continue cycling through many rural villages until we reach Tetovo where we spend the night.Hotel Tetovo

  6. Day 6 Ride from Tetovo to the Kosovo border; continue through Brezovica and Sharri National Park.

    Cycling out of Tetovo, we reach the border crossing with Kosovo. We will ride through Brezovica, an area frequented by skiers in the winter. We continue into Sharri National Park, which was recently established in 2013. It is still relatively undiscovered with huge areas of intact ecosystems home to several threatened species in Europe, making it an important ecological area to protect.Hotel Brezovica

  7. Day 7 Climb up to Prevalle through the forest of Kodra e Diellit; descend to the historic city of Prizren.

    From the ski resort of Brezovica, we cycle up to Prevalle through the forest of Kodra e Diellit before a long descent to the historic city of Prizren, Kosovo’s cultural capital. Kosovo’s second biggest city is rich with history and traditions and is surrounded by incredible nature. Throughout history, Prizren has played a vital role in the region. The city is known in this region of the Balkans for its gastronomy and wines, traditional handicrafts and wonderful mix of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. This afternoon we go on a city tour to explore the old town. Hotel Theranda or similar

  8. Day 8 Transfer to border with Montenegro; cycle from the border to Berane via Rozaje.

    This morning we transfer to the border between Kosovo and Montenegro. We start cycling from the border and enter Montenegro. We will cycle down to Rozaje, the city is surrounded by magnificent mountains and we will see both Hajla and Turjak mountain. The area is covered in large forests and abundant with flowers. We then continue to Berana, located on the Lim river where we spend the night. Hotel Berane or similar

  9. Day 9 Pedal to Andrijevica and on to Kolasin; magnificent views of the rugged Albanian Alps.

    Leaving Berane behind, our ride this morning is along a flat road to the small town of Andrijevica. From here we take a magnificent narrow road with spectacular scenery all the way up to Kolasin. On our left hand side, we will have impressive views of the Albanian Alps and we should be able to spot the mountain of Jezerca, the second highest peak in Albania, on a good day. This evening we spend the night in Kolasin, a ski resort during the winter months.Hotel Sheraton or similar

  10. Day 10 Short transfer to Mojkovac; cycle through the Tara Canyon before reaching Zabljak.

    After a short transfer to Mojkovac, we start cycling through the Tara Canyon, one of the deepest river canyons in Europe. We will also have the chance to see the famous Tara bridge before reaching Zabljak our final destination for the day. The town is in the centre of the Durmitor mountain region at an altitude of 1,456 metres, it is the highest situated town on the Balkans.Etno Selo Sljeme (guesthouse)

  11. Day 11 Morning climb out of Zabljak through the Durmitor region; descend to Pluzine/Rudinice.

    Our day starts with a long climb out of Zabljak. As we ascend through the Durmitor region we see the magnificent mountain ranges with its dramatic high peaks. After our challenging ride this morning we are rewarded with a long descent to Rudinice village where we spend the evening at a small quiet farm stay.Etno Selo Izlazak (guesthouse)

  12. Day 12 Cycle towards Nikšić, Montenegro’s second largest city.

    Today we have an easier cycle toward Nikšić, the second largest city in Montenegro, situated at the foot of Trebjesa Hill.  It is the largest municipality by area and second most inhabited after the capital Podgorica.Hotel Trim or similar

  13. Day 13 Short transfer to Vilsu; cycle to the Bay of Kotor.

    After a short transfer to Vilsu we cycle to the picturesque Bay of Kotor. Medieval towns encased by dramatic mountains surround the lake and have been inhabited since antiquity. In the afternoon we will have time to visit the old city walls. For dinner take the opportunity to enjoy a meal on the waterfront and sample the fresh seafood on offer.Hotel Marija 2 or similar

  14. Day 14 Transfer to Bar; cycle close to Lake Shkodra; Finish Shkodra.

    This morning we drive to Bar. From here we cycle close to Lake Shkodra and cross the border back into Albania. This evening we enjoy a well-deserved farewell dinner in Shkodra!Hotel Tradita or similar

  15. Day 15 End Shkoder

    End Shkoder. Those on the group flight will be transferred to Tirana Airport (approx. 1.5hrs drive).

mvu
Where you stay

Hotels

Throughout this tour, we stay in a variety of accommodation in both cities and rural areas. We use hotels that are of a comfortable 3 and 4-star standard, all with ensuite rooms. At some points of the trip, we stay in more remote areas, here we stay in locally run guesthouses where you will experience a very warm welcome. Rooms here tend to be more basic.

Single accommodation is available on request. Please note, single rooms may not be available in the guesthouses in Zabljak and Rudinice due to a limited number of rooms.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 2 dinners included.

Food in the Balkans is quite varied thanks to the many influences on the country and particularly Mediterranean combining Turkish, Greek and Italian tastes. Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in almost every meal, usually locally sourced. Due to the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs and Mediterranean climate, they are still very much a subsistence culture and show very little signs of changing. In the countryside expect your food to have been reared/grown not too far from your plate.

Breakfasts are typically eggs, fresh bread, jam, honey and coffee or tea. For lunch and dinner, meat dishes are often goat or lamb, with fish dishes ranging from trout to whitebait. Courses often come in mezze form complimented with a variety of succulent vegetables, salad, freshly baked bread, homemade cheeses, local wines and of course, raki. Your guide will recommend the best options when in the towns.

This trip is classified Road

Activity Level: 4 (Moderate/Challenging)

Average daily distance 60km (37 miles)

No. of days cycling: 13

There will be a support vehicle available at all times. Limited seats available

Terrain and route: 90% tarmac, 10% poor conditions. Throughout the route, there are some sections in a poor condition with potholes and some unsurfaced areas. The terrain is undulating with some long, tough climbs.

Overall Rating
5/5
Reviewed On 20/09/2019
5/5

Beautiful Balkans, an epic jouney

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The climb through Durmitor National Park in Montenegro with its wild and rugged scenery, exposed to the elements. The very welcome Turkish coffee brewed on a portable gas stove at the top, before the stunning descent through switch backs and short tunnels. At out destination in Rudinice, we were greeted with a dramatic sunset with a double rainbow across the mountains, a delicious roast lamb dinner and comfortable stay in a log cabin. Standing up high on the castle walls at Prizren, Kosovo, hearing the call to prayer from across the city from the many mosques below with the Pashtrik mountains in the distance. The opportunity for quiet reflection on the beautiful climb through no man's land between North Macedonia and Kosovo. The thunder and lightning on the last part of our descent into Berane which thanks to our guide we avoided the worst of.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Joshua and drivers Toni and Juli made a great team - very welcoming, funny and approachable. Joshua gave detailed descriptions of the route ahead such as rough roads, descents, metal grids, tunnels, city traffic and any inclement weather. He gave advice on how to negotiate these safely and as a result there were no serious mishaps. We regrouped regularly after climbs and descents. Coffee stops and meals were efficient with a group tab system. We were given some free evenings to explore the area we were staying in and make our own arrangements for dinner which was nice to have a bit of freedom to explore/take a break from the group. This safety conscious but relaxed and friendly approach worked well and it felt like a holiday!
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take layers for cycling: the mountains were cool in Montenegro and we did encounter some rain. For the descent from Durmitor I was regretting not having my long finger gloves! Rehydration tablets I did have a slightly upset stomach on a couple of occasions, which was fixed with loperamide! Take Euros with you to pay for meals/settle the tab at the end of the holiday.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would recommend this trip, it was fantastic.

Reviewed On 20/09/2019
5/5

4 x magnificent countries

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Tara Canyon is just spectacular and the Durmitor Mountains where the view keeps changing around every bend were possibly the most beautiful varied countryside we have had the pleasure to cycle in. The first views of the Bay of Kotor take your breath away.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Josh is fairly new and enthusiastic to guiding. The trip is still in its infancy and he is trying to fine tune it. He is building his knowledge of the 4 countries and has a passion for the Balkans but we did occasionally encounter language barriers as none of the team spoke Macedonian but this was soon rectified by him Juli, or Dhimitraq. Juli our driver is a real fun character, full of life, who has friends everywhere and is always making new ones. He makes sure everyone is hydrated on the rides and checks on everyone at regular intervals. Dhimitraq is the quiet one but has lots of knowledge and passion for the countries visited and cycling. He balances the team dynamics. We loved the walks he took us on around the lake and up to the castle.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The hills are in big chunks which we were not used to..... some were 10 - 15 km long with 600-800m of elevation gain with little or no respite. They are quite challenging but saying that all of our group managed them. The reward is beautiful scenery and some awesome long descents. There were a couple of poorer condition roads which were ok on the climbs but made the downhills slower and more challenging and for me less rewarding. We had fantastic weather 40 deg most days but the weather can be variable as our guides said a few weeks earlier it had been deep snow and ice. Worth taking a bright front light and a back light for the few tunnels that you have to cycle through.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you have an adventurous spirit and love to cycle through awesome scenery (and love cheese!) then get yourself booked on this trip.

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Excellent trip

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    If you mean 'What were my highlights?' then: Old Town of Ohrid Tara Canyon and the zipwire ride across the gorge. Painted Mosque at Tetovo Durmitor National Park Kotor
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader Dhimitri was good and always briefed the night before on the next days cycling and during the ride for meet up points. Juli was excellent (he used to be a guide) and was on top of his game as well. When my wife had an accident they both stepped up a gear and Juli called a contact who could translate at the hospital for us. Nothing was too much trouble for these guides. On a negative note - (1) They were focussed on the cycling and had to be badgered to say anything about the area/countries we were in. Many requests had to be made before any history/politics were forthcoming. (2) This is a fault that we have found before on Exodus trips - the guides are so focussed on meeting the main group flying in that they don't leave any meet-up info at hotel receptions for those overlanding or arriving at a different time.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    When you reach Ohrid (N. Macedonia) go for a walk around Old Town and around Kotor (Montenegro).

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Stunning

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The mountains of Montenegro and the Tara canyon were particular hi-lights, but when you just thought you had reached peak scenery and taken every possible photo, around the corner was even better.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Josh was great and is really passionate about The Balkans and their history. We would have learnt a lot if not so tired after the days cycling. We had thorough briefings about the rides ahead and he would often take personal responsibility for minor things that went wrong that were really out of his control. Dhimitri is full of knowledge and is quietly efficient, even to the point of serving us breakfast at one slow hotel. Juli is loudly efficient, caring and tremendous fun!
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The climbs tend to come in big hits, which can mean 2-3 hours of constant climbing. We managed them all though and thank you for all those who waited patiently for us at the top! Be warned though, despite the mammoth climbs, miles and the burning of 27,000 calories, somehow we still managed to put on weight ! All those lovely cheesy dishes, beer and coke I think.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our only concern now is how do we top that ?

Reviewed On 26/07/2019
5/5

Do it

  • What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It has got to be the climb out of Zabljak through the Durmitor region. The most scenic route on a bike ever!! Tara Canyon second - you can just "Lose Yourself" there.
  • What did you think of your group leader?

    Dhimitri was our group leader. I must say he did an amazing job briefing us the night before and nothing was too much trouble for him throughout the trip. He organised the most amazing food for us, keeping a running total of the bill, which wasn't easy when there are multiple currencies involved. It made our lives easy. He is a genius, very kind and trusting. Juli was his wingman and kept us entertained, watered, snacks, tunes en route and the bikes running smoothly throughout the trip. Excellent safe driver and can reverse a trailer to a tee!! The two of them made a great team and worked hard to make our trip enjoyable, what an asset they both are to Cycle Albania.
  • Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try the black chocolate ice cream in Kotor and have a walk around. Take some warm clothes for the downhills in the mountains. No need for the uphills.
  • Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Just book it and go

LEAVE YOUR COMMENT

Package Confirmed Dates Trip Status Trip Status Price (PP) Excluding Flights Price (PP) Including Flights  
May 1, 2020
Available
$3,049.00
N/A
May 15, 2020
Available
$3,049.00
N/A
May 29, 2020
Available
$3,049.00
N/A
June 12, 2020
Available
$3,049.00
N/A
June 26, 2020
Available
$3,049.00
N/A
August 28, 2020
Available
$3,049.00
N/A
September 11, 2020
Available
$3,049.00
N/A
September 25, 2020
Available
$3,049.00
N/A