Cycle The Accursed Mountains of Albania
Cycle on backroads through the very finest of rural wild Albania
Why it's much better
- Cycle the striking mountain passes and rolling hills of wild rural Albania
- Hop on a ferry and journey through the dramatic fjords of Komani Lake
- Optional hikes to the tree-flanked peaks of Valbona National Park, eyes peeled for lynx
- Kayak or wild swim vast Lake Shkodra, gaze over to Montenegro on the other side
- Enjoy lunch at a traditional farm, part of the local slow food movement
- Guides Expert, English-speaking local guide and bike mechanic
- Accommodation 4 nights in a hotel, 3 nights in a local guesthouse
- Meals All your food is included
- Equipment Specialized Crosstrails Disc bikes and kayaking equipment
- Support Vehicle To transport your overnight kit
- Transfers All airport transfers
- Permits All permits and entry fees
- Happiness Guaranteed We're so confident that your holiday will be your best yet, we actually guarantee it
- Feel Good Vibes We mitigate 4x the carbon emitted by all our travellers and support important conservation projects
Day 1: Welcome to Albania!
Landing at Tirana Airport you’ll be greeted by your local guide and whisked off to your hotel in the the centre. If there’s time, it’s worth exploring the city: the Old Bazaar, the Bllok district and Scanderberg Square are all fascinating spots. You’ll then head for your first traditional Albanian meal at a local restaurant. Here you’ll meet your fellow adventurers and hear about the journey ahead from your guide.
Day 2: To the giant lake of Shkodra
An early start today - you'll hop on a local bus for an hour’s journey out of the city and towards the mountains. Arriving at the start point, you’ll get set up with your bikes and start pedalling through the backroads. Get stuck into the great views across rolling countryside. This lowland area is hugely fertile and produces much of the food Albania consumes.
You’ll stop for lunch at Mrizi Zanave, a 'Slow Food Movement' spot and farm that is famed for its organic local produce. Well-fed, you’ll hop back on your bike and continue to Lake Shkodra, a vast body of water that spans Montenegro and Albania. The lake is the perfect spot for some peaceful kayaking, so you’ll spend a couple of hours on the water as the sun starts to set. For those who would rather chill, the lake is also great for some wild swimming. Overnight in Shkoder town centre.
Distance: 50km / Ascent 300m / Descent 290m
Day 3: Komani Lake Fjords and Valbona National Park
You’ll start today with a short transfer from Shkodra to Komani Lake. Hopping on the ferry, enjoy the dramatic fjord-like views as you spend 2.5 hours cruising towards the small town of Fierza. Your bike will be waiting for you on the other side as you set off into the Accursed Mountains.
This is a tough day, but you can cycle at your own pace and enjoy the landscape. These quiet mountain roads are what it’s all about; some long climbs but with huge mountain vistas as the reward. You’ll reach Valbona National Park in the late afternoon. There’ll be an optional hike to one of the nearby vantage points in the mountains for those who are keen. Or you can kick back and relax at your overnight spot: a traditional guesthouse tucked away in the trees.
Distance: 42km / Ascent 1200m / Descent 450m
Day 4: The Great Descent
A bit of a later start today as you soak up some more time in the beautiful Valbona Valley. You can enjoy all the climbing you did yesterday but in reverse - that is, on one huge descent back down the mountain you climbed! You’ll pause for a coffee in the tiny village of Lekbibaj and have time to chat to some of the locals. The downhill joy runs out near the end of the day, with a somewhat steep 3km to get to your guesthouse for the night. An entire day of downhill would be too good to be true!
Distance: 55km / Ascent 694m / Descent 1343m
Day 5: More time in the Mountains
Today you'll head off towards the village of Dardha, with a fair bit of climbing again. The first stretch is downhill, before you get stuck into a climb of approximately 7km. You’ll pause at the top as you feast your eyes on amazing views across all of Fierza and Komani Lake.
Continuing on undulating roads, you'll reach the guesthouse with some time to spare. If you fancy a walk in the woods behind your overnight spot, keep your eyes peeled for Albanian Lynx or foxes, both seen in these parts. Settle in for a final night in the mountains and perhaps join your hosts for a nightcap of Raki, sure to send you into a deep slumber.
Distance: 53km / Ascent 1190m / Descent 725m
Day 6: Puka in Puka!
Relax into a meandering day of undulating quiet roads as you make your way towards the city of Puka - famous for its local craft beer and Porcini Mushrooms, its main export to Italy. Steady cycling through the woods eventually brings you out in the city. You can head to the local microbrewery serving the craft beer, Puka, made from the freshwater springs of the area.
Distance: 53km / Ascent 785m / Descent 785m
Day 7: Back to Civilisation
Last day on the bikes today as you make your way out of the woods and rural areas. You'll be pedalling along rolling hills, on backroads, until the final flat stretch as you roll into the village of Kozmac near Shkoder. Then it's back to the main road that connects with Tirana. You’ll say goodbye to your trusty steed as you hop on the bus for the short journey back into the capital. You’ll check into the hotel, before heading out to a restaurant for a last traditional meal - a chance to celebrate all those miles achieved this week.
Distance: 65km / Ascent 1240m / Descent 2036m
Day 8: Goodbye Albania
Final breakfast at the hotel before hopping on your transfer to the airport.
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.
In Tirana, you'll stay in a centrally located 3/4-star hotel. You'll stay in twin share rooms as standard.
When on the road, you'll stay in small locally owned guesthouses or basic hotels. These are clean and comfortable and you'll be in twin rooms with shared facilities. Accommodation is usually family-run, so each will come with its own cuisine and stories. There is the possibility of one night being in triple share rooms, depending on availability. As tourism is very new to the region, there are limited options available.
Private Room Upgrade
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.
Some say that visiting Albania is as close as you'll get to travelling back in time. It wasn't until the collapse of the People's Socialist Republic of Albania in 1991 that the world got its first glimpse of the country within. You'll find huge snow-capped mountains, vast beaches, pretty rural villages, a genuine subsistence culture and an exceptionally friendly welcome. You'll cycle through the very north of the country, an area still largely unfrequented by tourists, to the mountain range known locally as the 'Accursed Mountains' or the Albanian Alps.
Your adventure begins at Tirana Airport. Airport transfers are included if you arrive on the start day, so please let your host know your flight times.
Your adventure ends Tirana Airport on Day 8. Airport transfers are included, so please let your host know your flight times.
Please note, transfers are only included if you arrive or depart on the start and end days of the trip. If you would like to arrive early or extend your stay, your host can arrange airport transfers for an extra cost.
Dates & Prices
Bespoke trips only
There are currently no planned group departures. Please contact this host to request a quote for a custom trip.Request a Quote
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