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Albania - Classic

Itinerary


Day 1: Tirana

You will be met on arrival and transferred to your joining hotel. Tirana's small centre is easy to navigate, Sites of interest include Skanderbeg Square's 1789 Et'hem Bey Mosque, the 1830 Sahat-Kulla (Clock Tower), the Puppet Theatre, once home to King Zog's puppet parliament and the Peace Bell made from old cartridge shells, remembering Tirana's tempestuous history. There are many restaurants and bars in "The Block" (Bloku) the area where communist leaders once lived under strict protection. This evening we will have a group meeting and tour briefing.
Accommodation: Hotel (D)


Day 2: Tirana - Pogradec - Korçë

This morning we will transfer by vehicle to Pogradec. In 1980, the town was declared a UNESCO world heritage site. Located on the shores of Lake Ohrid, in the past the town has compared less favourably to its Macedonian neighbours on the far side of the water. Lately Pogradec has been enjoying a renaissance. The surrounding area is rich in historic culture and unique flora and fauna.

We set out on the bikes northwards along the shores of Lake Ohrid. The first 10km are relatively flat, followed by 15km uphill as we head away from the water up to the mountain plateau. Heavily wooded and populated by many species this is a beautiful area and we'll enjoy stunning views. We head downhill through a gorge for the next 15km towards Lake Prespa. From here we follow wide open road cutting a path through farmland and small holdings south west to Korcë. The route gently undulates for 20km before a final flat stretch. Korçë has Illyrian and Ottoman historical roots, close to the border with Greece this is Albania's cultural capital, with a traditional bazaar and a museum of medieval art.

Cycling Distance: 60km (37 miles)
Accommodation: Hotel
(B,L,D)


Day 3: Korçë to Sotirë

Heading into the mountains the landscape changes from an agricultural collage of fields into rocky mountainside scattered with forget me nots and other wild flowers and the odd shepherd's hut here and there. We climb the Gramoz Mountains, with a view of snow-capped peaks in the distance, cycling over the Bramash pass. We then head down into the valley beyond to reach the remote and beautiful Sotire. Located on the edge of Tomorre mountain national park, our stop for the night is an organic farm hotel where we will sample the produce at dinner this evening.

Cycling Distance: 77km (48 miles)
Total Climb: 1,470m (4,823ft)
Total Descent: 1,375m (4,511ft)
Accommodation: Cabins (B,L,D) 


Day 4: Sotirë to Përmet

The day begins with an uphill cycle away from Sotire through dramatic mountain scenery onto the verdant plateau. We then descend on a steep ravine road to the River Vjosa; the pathway, which was originally created by waterfalls, bends and curves dramatically down into wide open valley where animals graze. The Vjosa is one of Europe's last existing wild rivers. Along its entire course, it is free flowing and in some areas the riverbed expands over more than 2 km. Sadly, it is under threat from hydropower development although proteset groups are campaigning for the area to be given national park status.

We continue uphill on a tiny road cut into the mountainside up to Përmet perched on the cliff high above the river. The town is famed for its cuisine, especially sweets, 'gliko' (preserves) and its wine and strong raki. Named the "city of roses" it is said to be the greenest and the cleanest town in Albania. Përmet is also famous for folk music. We cycle on a little further to nearby Benje where there are popular thermal springs - a perfect antidote for tired cyclists' legs.

Cycling Distance: 59km (37 miles)
Total Climb: 675m (2,215ft)
Total Descent: 1,425 (4,675ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 5: Përmet to Gjirokaster

Today we continue along Kelcyra valley through scenery of peaks and gorges, cutting westward through a gap in the mountains. We reach a wide plain; high above us sits the majestic Gjirokaster (known as the Stone City because of the many roofs covered with flat stones). Built by wealthy landowners, Gjirokaster is a beautifully preserved Ottoman town with steep cobbled streets. The town has UNESCO world heritage status. Gjirokaster Castle, at the heart of the town, dates all the way back to the 4th century. The fortress overlooks the plateau, and route along the river valley with an imposing presence. The town is the birthplace of Albania's former communist leader: Enver Hoxha.

Cycling Distance: 61km (38 miles)
Total Climb: 325m (1,066ft)
Total Descent: 350m (1,148ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 6: Gjirokaster to Sarande

We head west today up over a 700m pass in the mountains followed by a twisting descent down onto the coastal plain. We pass villages, farms and roadside fruit vendors. There are more concrete bunkers dotted in the hillsides. Sarande is described as the gateway to southern Albania, nestled between the mountains and the Ionian coast. The city is close to the ancient remains of Butrint, another 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.

We can relax this evening and enjoy panoramic Mediterranean views in this lovely coastal resort

Cycling Distance: 96km (60miles)
Total Climb: 1,035m (3,396ft)
Total Descent: 1,315m (4,314ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L)


Day 7: Sarande to Himarë

We follow the coastal route northwards today towards the resort of Himarë.  The day begins with a steep climb we continue cycling a series of climbs and descents with mountains and of stunning sea views. Himarë is a popular beach side town stretching along  white sanded shore line. Terraced hills where olives and citrus trees grow reach down to the sea.

Cycling Distance: km (32 miles)
Total Climb: 1,075m (3,527ft)
Total Descent: 1,080m (3,543ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 8: Himarë to Orikum to Tirana

Our final day's cycling takes further north to Orikum. We climb up to the famous Llogara Pass (Qafa e Llogarasë), a spectacular winding road, rising up to 1,043m with spectacular views of the Albanian Riviera and pine forested hillsides. This is the highest point on the main coastal road between Vlore and Sarande. Down over the pass we cycle one hairpin bend after another in the Dukatit valley. Towards the end of today's ride we re-join coastal road with views of gravel beaches and lovely clear blue seas. Late this afternoon we will transfer to Tirana and this evening we will celebrate the end of our Albanian cycling adventure with a farewell meal.

Cycling Distance: 61km (38miles)
Total Climb: 1,810m (5,938ft)
Total Descent: 1,820m (5,971ft)
Accommodation: Hotel (B,L,D)


Day 9
Transfer to Tirana Airport for your journey home.

Albania Cycling Holidays

9 days from
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$1,439
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