Adventures / Remote Rides

Cycle The Backroads of Albania

Explore the ​foothills of the Albanian Alps and journey through the dramatic fjords of Komani Lake

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Trip Ref #10054

Adventures / Remote Rides

Cycle The Backroads of Albania

Explore the ​foothills of the Albanian Alps and journey through the dramatic fjords of Komani Lake

DURATION

7 nights

LOCATION

Albania

ANNUAL LEAVE

5 days off work

SEASON

May-Sept

GROUP SIZE

Up to 14 people

MEETING POINT

Tirana Airport, Albania

ACCOMMODATION

Hotel · Guesthouse

DIFFICULTY

Moderate

You'll need a reasonable level of fitness, be comfortable doing back-to-back days with some long climbs and descents.

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

SUP 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

What's it like?

    See the photos our community shared

    All our reviews are verified

    We only invite travellers to leave a review if they have booked this trip with Much Better Adventures.

    Corina, September 2021

    A really great trip to see a beautiful country with great guides. I would do it all over again and can definitely recommend it!

    Bartosz, September 2021

    Brilliant trip ! The guides were so friendly. The group was fantastic, it's great to cycle with likeminded people. Albania is a really a beautiful country, and the cycling was some of the best I have ever done. I'll miss the food that was great and there was so much of it, that it did not help when climbing ;)

    Victoria, September 2021

    What a week! Constantly amazing views, roads in perfect condition, challenging rides, really quiet road - a cyclist dream! The food is incredible, Gjerj and his team make absolutely every effort to make the trip enjoyable for everyone, they never stop, wether on the road or in the bar they are taking care of us all the time! I would highly recommend this trip!!! I'd never have planned the North Albanian Hills as its just not known for cycling, we didn't see any other cyclists the whole time. It is a genuinely well kept secret as the roads are perfect for it!

    Polly, September 2021

    Superb guides who went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable, well fed and looked after. The scenes were incredible (those downhills!), the hospitality of the country was wonderful and the food delicious (and seemingly never-ending). The long climbs were often tough but the beer with a view at the end of the day was well worth it.

    David, September 2021

    Brilliant trip all round! The guides were so friendly and accommodating and really made the trip, and the group was brilliant - very like minded people and I am sure we'll stay close in future. Albania is a really interesting and beautiful country, and the cycling was some of the best I have ever done. I'll miss the food as well!

    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

    map

    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.

    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 is 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, vegans and other dietary requirements and allergies can be catered for - please just request on your passenger info form.

    What is the accommodation like?

    Tirana

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

    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 an extra charge, see Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).

    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 Skanderbeg 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 paddleboarding 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

    An early start this morning, as you jump in the van to Komani terminal. 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 on the switchbacks as you climb 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 the 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.

    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 and Runner's Need.

    What's included?

    • Specialized Crosstrails Disc bikes and all your SUPing 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

    • Cycle helmet
    • 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)

    Optional Private Room Upgrade

    Payable Before Departure

    Optional Private Room Upgrade

    Pre/post trip accommodation in Tirana (Single)

    Payable Before Departure

    Pre/post trip accommodation in Tirana (Single)

    Pre/post trip accommodation in Tirana (Twin/Double)

    Payable Before Departure

    Pre/post trip accommodation in Tirana (Twin/Double)

    Airport Transfer One Way

    Payable Before Departure

    Airport Transfer One Way

    We've crunched the numbers to work out the total carbon footprint of this trip, and plant enough trees to suck 2x as much back out the atmosphere.

    What's the number?
    It works out on average at 158kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

    The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal for 2022 to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

    But what does the number mean?
    Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

    • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
    • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
    • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

    What are we doing about it?
    Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. For every person booked with us since 2016 we’re planting enough trees to suck at least 2x more carbon out the atmosphere than is emitted by their trips. All native trees, as part of amazing projects that are re-foresting degraded land, tackling the biodiversity crisis and supporting local communities at the same time. We go further than that too, also funding re-wilding projects worldwide to help protect important keystone species from extinction. See the reforestation and re-wilding schemes we support. See our carbon action plan.

    Want to know more?
    Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

    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.

    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.

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

    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.

    Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all of our adventures. Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure.

    Your insurance policy should also include specific Covid-19 cover, including cancellation and curtailment cover if you, your travel companion or a close relative are diagnosed with Covid-19.

    We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

    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.

    All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

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