Albania has more than 450 km of coastline, dramatic landscapes, and boasts 300 days of sun, making it a perfect place to cycle. To bike Albania is like travelling back in time with its rugged mountains, hilltop palaces, and commanding fortifications that span centuries. Its rural villages cling to the traditional ways and its ancient stone-built towns are a symbol of this country’s enduring way of life. Albanian cycling holiday takes you to one of Europe’s secret treasures. As recently as 1991 Albania opened to the outside world after years of isolation. Tourism is still in its infancy and Albanians give visitors a warm welcome. 70% of the country is mountainous with spectacular landscapes and pristine coastline along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas.
Itinerary for Cycling in Albania:
After checking into the hotel in Tirana, there will be time to tour the mysterious Albanian capital. The walking tour start from Skanderbeg Square, (photo stop at Skanderbeg’s Monument), National Museum (the huge mosaic on front represent the Albanian history development and the stages of this development are presented on respective pavilions) then you continue to see other important buildings: Palace of Culture, Opera House, National Library, Mosque of Ethem Bey, the Clock Tower, Tirana Castle, Parliament, Ura e Tabakeve, National Art Gallery, mean government buildings, catholic and orthodox cathedrals, the Pyramid, Prime Minister building, Palace of congresses, Mother Teresa Square, Archaeological Museum (there are presented many archaeological discoveries since the Stone Age up to the Medieval), Presidential palace, Ex-Blloku (which used to be the most beautiful and protected zone were the ex-communist leaders families lived). Visit the Cold War corner (one Bunker, part of famous Spac Political Prison, and a piece from Berlin Wall). Overnight in Tirana.
After the morning transfer to the Albanian-Macedonian border you will start cycling clock-wise around the lake, stopping for lunch at the UNESCO town of Ohrid. After lunch, the tour continues along the shore all the way to Tushemisht, the other Albanian-Macedonian border. Overnight in Pogradec.
Morning cycling leads from the lake to a high plateau bounded by mountains. You will follow the gorge for a time until the hills open to a vast plain, a patchwork of individual farms and colors. Final destination today is Korcë, high in the Albanian hinterlands. The locals are quite influenced by the close proximity to Greece in more than one way. Many are fluent in both Greek and Albanian. Overnight in Korca.
Leaving behind the agricultural plateau of Korcë , the route climbs steadily into the border mountains through a landscape of barren rock interspersed with wild flowers. Numerous cols and valleys lie ahead, climbing into the heart of the Gramoz Mountains and over the Barmash Pass (1159 m) to Germenj lying in its own tranquil valley. Overnight in Germenje.
Cycling out of Germenj the tour leads to a high grassy plateau surrounded by soaring peaks before reaching the source of the River Vjosa and descending through its spectacular gorge to Leskovik. The descent continues to Cashare and the route then follows the corniche route high above the river to Përmet situated on a bluff above the river, famed for its cuisine and its strong raki. After lunch, you can take a short ride to the thermal springs for a swim Overnight in Permet.
Your Albanian bike tour continues along the valley towards Kelcyra and the distant shark tooth peaks, which hide a further gorge. You will ride between the peaks to the confluence of the Drinos following yet another gorge which opens out into a wide plain with the town of Gjirokastra (City of 1000 steps) high above, perched on the steep side of the Drino Valley. This is a UNESCO World Heritage comprised of hundreds of Ottoman-style tower houses with distinctive stone roofs, wooden balconies, and whitewashed stone walls. You will want to explore the narrow cobbled alleys of this magical city. Overnight in Gjirokastra.
The gateway to southern Albania, Saranda, lies along the Ionian coast, sandwiched between the high mountains and the sea and close to the ancient remains of Butrint. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Butrint is one of the county’s most important archaeological sites, tracing its origins back to the Greeks and the Romans. Overnight in Saranda.
The morning brings a roller coaster ride that begins as the mist is burned off by the sun, climbing steeply out of Saranda to a rocky plateau, through cols into bays and around headlands. You will cycle with the stunning mountain scenery to the right and sea to the left before descending to the long beach and the bay of Himarë. Overnight in Himara.
Today’s route is as challenging as it is spectacular. Cycling up to the Llogara pass 1000 m above the blue water of the Ionian sea and its National Park , home to black pine, Eurasian otter, and golden eagles. The park is a scenic expanse of protected woodland that encompasses the forests on the northern side of the Llogora Pass. After lunch, we cycle downhill all the way to Vlore. Overnight in Vlora.
After breakfast we will transfer to Tirana Airport. End of our Service.
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