Much Better Adventures

Adventures / Remote Rides

Cycle The Accursed Mountains of Albania

Explore the back roads of wild Albania and journey through the dramatic fjords of Komani Lake.

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Trip Ref #10054

Adventures / Remote Rides

Cycle The Accursed Mountains of Albania

Explore the back roads of wild Albania and journey through the dramatic fjords of Komani Lake.

DURATION
7 nights
LOCATION
Albania
ANNUAL LEAVE
5 days off work
SEASON
May, Jun, Sep
GROUP SIZE
Up to 16 people
MEETING POINT
Tirana Airport, Albania
ACCOMMODATION
Hotel · Guesthouse
DIFFICULTY
Moderate

You'll need a reasonable level of fitness and be comfortable riding on back-to-back days covering an average of 50km each day.

Cycle the high mountain passes and rolling hills of rural Albania - eyes peeled for lynx

Kayak or wild swim in the vast Lake Shkodra and stare at Montenegro over on the far shore

Enjoy a delicious lunch at a family-owned farm that’s a key part of the local slow food movement

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking guide and bike mechanic

Accommodation

4 nights in a hotel and 3 nights in a local guesthouse

Meals

Munch on tasty food throughout

Transfers

To and from the airport and everything in-between

Equipment

Specialized Crosstrails Disc bikes and all your kayaking equipment

Permits

All permits and entry fees

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

The Area

Logistics

Starts

Tirana Airport

Catch any flight on Day 1

Ends

Tirana Airport

Catch any flight on Day 8

Transfers

Private transfers between the airport and the hotel are included for any time you choose to arrive on Day 1 and depart on Day 8. If you would like to arrive early or extend your stay, your host can arrange airport transfers for an extra cost. See the Optional Extras section for details.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Tirana from major airports across the UK and Europe.

What about all the carbon?

We mitigate 4x the carbon generated by all our customer flights annually through our partnership with Cool Earth.

Day 1

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2 – Day 6

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 7

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 8

Departure day

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Under communism, Albania became a self-sustaining country due to its isolation from the world. Fortunately, it's action-packed with lush, fertile valleys, mountain springs and a warm, Mediterranean climate. Locally grown will be a recurring theme here.

Breakfasts are typically eggs, fresh bread, jam, honey and coffee or tea, while lunch and dinner will likely include meat dishes (often goat or lamb) with fish dishes ranging from trout to whitebait. Courses often come in mezze form and are served with vegetables, salad, freshly baked bread, homemade cheeses, local wines and (of course!) Raki.

Local, energy-giving cycling snacks will be provided, but if you'd like specific things then please bring them from home.

Vegetarians are well catered for, just let your host know upon booking.

What is the accommodation like?

Tirana

You'll stay in a centrally located 3/4-star hotel in a twin-share room.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for 100Euros per person (subject to availability). Please request this at the time of booking.

On the road

You'll stay in small, locally-owned guesthouses or basic hotels. These are clean and comfortable with shared facilities. Rooms are twin-share, however, there is the possibility of a night in a triple-share room, depending on availability.

Upgrades

For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for 100Euros per person (subject to availability). Please request this at the time of booking.

Day 1

Welcome to Albania

Head for your hotel in the centre of the city and if your flight time allows, explore the Old Bazaar, Bllok district and Scanderberg Square. Join your guide and fellow adventurers for your first traditional Albanian meal at a local restaurant where you'll learn all about the journey ahead.

Day 2

The Giant lake of Shkodra

Cycling

50km · 300m up · 290m down

Hop on a local bus and head into the mountains. From there, it's time to get set up with your bike and start pedalling the local back roads. Roll through the countryside and explore a hugely fertile part of the country that produces much of Albania’s food. Stop for lunch at Mrizi Zanave, a Slow Food Movement farm famed for its delicious organic produce. Well-fed, hop back on the bike and continue to Lake Shkodra, a vast body of water that lays between Montenegro and Albania - the perfect spot for some peaceful kayaking as the sun sets. For those who would rather chill, the lake is also a great spot for some wild swimming.

Day 3

Komani Fjords and Valbona National Park

Cycling

42km · 1200m up · 450m down

Hop on a ferry and enjoy the dramatic views as you cruise to the small town of Fierza where your bike will be waiting for you. Set off into the Accursed Mountains. This is a tough day, but you can cycle at your own pace and these quiet mountain roads are what it’s all about. After some long climbs and huge mountain views, explore Valbona National Park, with an optional hike to one of the nearby vantage points for those keen for even more views. Alternatively, kick back and relax at your guesthouse tucked away amidst the trees.

Day 4

The great descent

Cycling

55km · 694m up · 1343m down

Soak up your time in the beautiful Valbona Valley and then enjoy the long, winding descent back down the mountain, pausing for a coffee and a chat with the locals in the tiny village of Lekbibaj. The downhill joy runs out near the end of the day, with a steep climb up to your guesthouse – but then an entire day downhill would be too good to be true!

Day 5

More time in the mountains

Cycling

53km · 1190m up · 725m down

Cycle to the village of Dardha, pausing to feast your eyes on the amazing views across the Fierza and Komani Lakes. Continue along undulating mountain roads to tonight’s guesthouse, arriving with time to spare. If you fancy a walk in the woods, there’s a perfect route just behind the guesthouse - keep your eyes peeled for Albanian Lynx or foxes. Settle in for a final night in the mountains and join your hosts for a nightcap of Raki that’s sure to send you into a deep slumber.

Day 6

Puka

Cycling

53km · 785m up · 785m down

Enjoy a meandering, mesmerising ride along quiet roads and through picturesque woodland as you make your way to the city of Puka - famous for its local craft beer and Porcini Mushrooms. Relax at the guesthouse or head to a local microbrewery that uses water straight from the nearby spring in its outstanding beer.

Day 7

Return to Tirana

Cycling

65km · 1240m up · 2036m down

Enjoy a last day on the bike as you make your way out of the woods and roll into the village of Kozmac. From there, you’ll say goodbye to your trusty steed and hop on the bus for the short journey back to the capital. After checking into your hotel, head out to a restaurant for a last Albanian meal and a chance to celebrate all those miles achieved this week.

Day 8

Goodbye Tirana

After a final breakfast at your hotel, head back to the airport in time for your flight home.

Please Note

All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.

15% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.

What's included?

  • Specialized Crosstrails Disc bikes and all your kayaking equipment

What do I need to bring?

Clothes

  • Padded cycling shorts
  • Sports top or cycling jersey
  • Fleece jacket or similar for the evenings
  • Trousers/leggings for the evenings
  • Waterproof jacket
  • Cycling gloves
  • Buff or neck scarf
  • T-shirts Underwear & socks Swimwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunhat
  • Something to sleep in
  • Cycling shoes (bring your own pedals if using cleats)
  • Sandals

Other

  • Bumbag or a small and light rucksack for riding
  • Padlock for left luggage
  • Universal travel adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel Insurance documents
  • Earplugs
  • Insect repellent
  • Suncream
  • Personal first-aid kit (including blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Energy bars and snacks (if you have a personal preference)

This trip is designed for cyclists of average fitness, who are comfortable riding on back-to-back days covering an average of 50km each day. As you’ll be cycling in the mountains, there’s also a reasonable amount of climbing, however, this can be taken at your own pace with plenty of stops for water and snacks. The pace is approximately 15km an hour and there will also be a support vehicle on hand for those who need a rest.

Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Your host will provide you with clean safe drinking water from large containers. Bring a refillable bottle, it will be well used.

Albania is known for its long sunny days, averaging 10 hours of sunshine a day between May and September. The coast and Tirana can get very hot and reach average temperatures of 30 °C throughout the summer. As most of the riding is done in the mountains, you can expect it to be cooler, usually hovering around the mid 20's °C. This is perfect cycling weather and, although rainfall is a possibility, it's rare in the summer months, though you might get a short downpour.

Any excess luggage can be safely stored at your hotel in Tirana until you return.

We recommend checking out the country specific information here and also talking to a travel nurse.

We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.

We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

For current advice about travelling in Albania, have a read of the UK Foreign Office pages here.

All of our group adventures are especially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded.

"I cannot recommend this highly enough! The people on the trip were amazing. Easily the best trip I've ever been on!" Charlotte, 2019, Trustpilot.

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

The terrain is 100% tarmac, however, there will be some stretches in rural areas where the roads are potholed and of poorer quality. Your guide will let you know any particular points of concern.

You'll be using Specialized Crosstrail Disc bikes. These are light, aluminium hybrid bikes that are perfect for riding comfortably on the road. They are also equipped with a water bottle cage and standard flat pedals. If you would like to bring your own SPD pedals and saddle, these can be fitted for you.

It's no secret that we love cycling, in fact, many of us at HQ think it's the best way to see a country. However, we realise that organising your own cycling adventure can be a total faff. On our cycling trips, we’ve found a local guide who has put together a perfect route and will navigate for you all the way. We also send a van that transports your overnight luggage and provide high-quality bikes and delicious snacks to keep you going. Faff eliminated!

All you have to do is turn up, pedal and take in the amazing landscape with your fellow tourers. You’ll cycle at your own pace, with regular stops to regroup, so no-one gets left behind. These trips are not just open to lycra-clad roadies, although these are welcome too!

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