Albania - North to South
Getting there and away
Our cycling holiday starts in Tirana on Sunday. We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world; no matter what time you arrive at the airport on the tour start date you and your luggage will be transferred to the joining hotel. Please bear in mind that if you arrive before midday you may have to wait for your room to be made available. If you decide to arrive early or stay on after the tour, redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and airport transfers at additional cost. Due to high demand for rooms there is a possibility you may be in a different hotel to the start / end hotel of your trip.
Our tour price does not include your international flight.
Visa and Passport
You must ensure that you are in possession of a full passport with at least 6 months validity from the date you enter the country. Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens. Other nationalities should either check this website Albania Visa Information or consult their local embassy or consular office to enquire if their country is on the exemption list. All visa information is subject to change. You should check the current situation with the relevant embassy prior to departure.
If you would prefer to pay an agent to get your visa, we would suggest using www.travcour.com . They have been in the visa business for 25 years & offer our customers a £5 discount on all visas purchased.
Insurance and vaccinations
It is a condition of joining our trips that you are adequately insured. All persons are expected to arrange their own insurance. Policies should cover any potential risks involved in a mountain cycling holiday. We ask for copy of your policy to be sent in with your completed booking form.
Snowcard Insurance Services specialize in all mountain sports holidays including mountain biking. Their policies include emergency medical and repatriation expenses as well as mountain rescue. They are also able to insure personal belongings including equipment as well as travel cover for cancellation, delay and missed departure. Follow the link below to obtain full information and a quote: www.snowcard.co.uk
Plan ahead for your vaccinations, some of them require more than one injection. There are no mandatory vaccination requirements for this trip. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. Rabies vaccination is recommended by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office due to the large number of stray dogs in Albania. You should seek further advice from your travel clinic. Vaccination against Tick-borne encephalitis is recommended by some medical sources if travelling in certain areas of Eastern Europe, at specific times of the year. Guidelines can change at short notice and we are not medically qualified to answer all your questions about travel health. We strongly advise you to contact a Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed before departure.
Cycling support and grading
There will be rest stops every 20-35 km depending on the terrain; you will have access to your luggage, and the opportunity to have drinks/snacks.
Not all countries of the world have the same transport facilities and regulations as those of the EU, North America and Australasia. In all destinations we ensure that transport meets the standard of local regulations; you must be prepared for this to be of a different standard than that you may be accustomed to.
You should be used to regular aerobic exercise including biking, although you do not need to be an athlete. It pays to spend some time before the trip getting into the best shape possible. This will ensure you get the most from your holiday. We can send you specific training tips on request.
Suitability for the Albania tour:
This trip is classified road and graded 6/10. Cycling up to 6-7 hours per day, on mainly tarmac roads with some long climbs, with no altitude issues. You do not need to be a highly experienced cyclist, but you do need to be in good physical shape, participating in a few cardiovascular work-outs per week. If you have any queries about the difficulty of the trip please do not hesitate to call us.
Average daily distance: 75km
No. of days cycling: 12
Vehicle support: 100%
Terrain: Our itinerary follows a mixture of back routes and a few main roads, Albania has noticeably less heavy traffic than other European countries. The terrain is mountainous and there are a few tough climbs and some long stretches of downhill cycling.
Equipment and bike stuff
Most types of bicycle are suitable for the Albanian tour. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems. However, we cannot guarantee to be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If you are not the most mechanically-minded person we suggest that you get your bike checked by a professional bike mechanic. In particular we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition to making sure the bike is well serviced you should ride with as much care and attention as possible.
We would also advise you to bring the following tools: multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels - check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, if applicable, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
Spare parts (tubes, tyre, chains etc.) are included in the price of the bike rental and will be carried in the support vehicle with a tool kit and track pump. The bikes are equipped with flat pedals. Those who prefer to use spd or clip-in pedals, are welcome to bring these with you, along with your own cycling shoes and cleats. You are also welcome to bring your own saddle. The guide will carry some spares and tools for fixing punctures etc. but we suggest bringing a couple of spare inner tubes, a pump and a puncture repair kit. If you are able to do a simple repair yourself this will avoid the need to wait for assistance should the team or support vehicle be any distance away. Helmets are not included in the bike hire; you will need to bring your own helmet.
Baggage allowances and your bike
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and to this end we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day-pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance - but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
In terms of clothing this is a general guide as to what to take. It is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs: sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes, cycling footwear, lightweight socks (3 pairs), underwear (4 pairs),lightweight trekking shorts, padded cycling shorts (2 pairs), shorts, T-shirts (2), lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, swimming costume, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket waterproof (breathable fabric), fingerless biking gloves, headlamp & spare bulbs/batteries, spare laces, sunglasses, toiletries, basic first aid kit, towel (small), small padlock, 2 large plastic bags (for keeping items dry in your bag), sun cream, lip balm. If you have any questions about this list, please feel free to contact us.
First aid - On all our tours the guides carry a medical kit. However, you are recommend to bring your own first aid supplies which should include: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, a cold medication, diarrhea treatment, pain killers, plasters, insect repellent and re-hydration salts.
What's included and what's not
All accommodation will be in hotels, guest-houses or cabins. We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are available at extra cost.
Most of the food is provided on the tour, we provide most meals (see trip notes for details) along with snacks and mineral water during cycling days. All transportation and local guides within Albania are included. International flights are not included in the tour costs.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £200 will be more than enough to cover the 14-day tour. You can expect to pay around £4 - £10 for a meal in a restaurant.
Tipping is an accepted part of everyday life, and although it is always at your discretion, you will be expected to tip to reward service. £25 for the guide and team at the end of the tour is recommended.
ATM Availability: Most larger towns.
Credit cards are not widely accepted in Albania.
Travellers Cheques are not widely accepted in Albania, though you should take some as a back-up in case of emergencies.
Local Currency: Albanian Lek.
Recommended Currency for Exchange: Sterling, US Dollars and Euros. Cash is accepted in bureaux de change in major towns and cities. Most transactions in Albania are done on a cash only basis using the Lek.
The lekë is the official currency, though the euro is widely accepted; you'll get a better deal for things in general if you use lekë.
Albanian banknotes come in denominations of 100, 200, 500, 1000, 2000 and 5000 lekë. There are five, 10, 20, 50 and 100 lekë coins.
Albanian lekë can't be exchanged outside the country, so exchange them or spend them before you leave.
Albanian cuisine is a distinctive mix of Mediterranean flavours. Fresh local ingredients are widely available. Meat dishes are most commonly prepared using goat or lamb. Typical dishes include byrek: minced meat, vegetables, eggs and cheese in flaky pastry; tavëkosi: (traditional Albanian meal) mutton baked in a dish with yogurt and eggs; tavëkorani: a kind of trout unique to Lake Ohrid baked with nuts, sauce and onions; pasha qofte: a hot soup that is a meal in itself containing meatballs, rice and eggs. Typical Albanian drinks are Scanderbegâ cognac, with a unique flavor and aroma and Raki usually made from grapes, though there are also other kinds made from plums, mulberries, and walnuts. As a rough guide you can expect to pay the following for food: Lunch £: 4.00, Dinner £: 10.00, Bottle of Beer £: 1.50, Water £: 0.50
Major religions: Muslim: The majority of Albanian Muslims are secular Sunni with a significant Bektashi Shia minority. Christianity is practiced by 16.99% of the population.
Monetary unit: lek
Internet domain: .al
International dialing code: +355
Best time to go: Spring/Autumn
Time: Central European time
The trip information here is given in good faith. Brochure information is correct at the time of publication, but we reserve the right to make amendments to the brochure. Any changes will form part of your booking agreement with redspokes. Details may become outdated and inaccurate. Please refer to the trip notes and online itineraries for up to date information. A variety of factors such as unpredictable weather conditions, landslides and other disruptions may affect the itinerary. You must be prepared to be flexible and agree change arrangements where necessary.