You have the day free to explore Tirana as you please, get to know your fellow cyclists at tonight's welcome dinner and trip briefing.
After a transfer to Librazhd, our journey to the UNESCO worldwide heritage site of Pogradec begins. We'll ease ourselves in with a relatively easy ascent, ensuring you preserve some energy for the tougher one later in the day, allowing us to view the spectacular Lake Ohrid.
Today's cycling is approximately 50km with a total ascent of 855m.
We begin our ride by climbing up from the lake onto a high plateau bounded by picturesque mountains. Our route follows the gorge through this scenic region until the surrounding hills open up leading us into a vast open plain filled with a patchwork of individual farms and spectacular colours. We ride on and end our day in Korce; once dubbed the Paris of Albania, the city has a well-preserved historical centre with cobblestone streets and many surviving early 20th century villas.
Today's cycling is approximately 42km with a total ascent of 400m.
In the morning we leave behind the agricultural plateau of Korce, climbing steadily into
the border mountains through a landscape of barren rock interspersed with wild flowers.
Numerous cols and valleys lie ahead on our undulating route which offers up plenty of
stunning landscapes as we skirt the Albanian-Greek border. Our climbing takes us into
the deep heart of the Grammoz Mountains and over the Barmash Pass (1159 m) to the
town of Germenj which lies in its own tranquil valley. Our rest stop for the night is in this
little visited pleasing town.
Today's cycling is approximately 78km with a total ascent of 1,200m.
Our morning route rises easily out from Germenj to a high grassy plateau surrounded
by some magnificent soaring peaks. We reach the source of the River Vjosa before
descending through its spectacular gorge to the sleepy town of Leskovik. The descent
continues to Cashare and then we follow the wonderful cliff road high above the river
to Permet, situated on a bluff above the river. Famed for its cuisine and its strong raki,
Permet provides us with our overnight stay and an opportunity this evening to enjoy
some traditional Albanian delicacies in a local restaurant. Those with energy left in their
legs can climb up to the centrally situated “Rock of Permet” for a great observation point
across the town and river.
Today's cycling is approximately 60km with a total ascent of 630m.
Today's ride is fairly flat without any sharp climbs as we head for one of Albania's most
scenic destinations. Our morning ride continues along the valley towards Kelcyra where
the distant shark’s tooth peaks guard a further gorge. We ride between the sharp ranges
to the confluence of the Drinos River and follow another gorge until it opens opens out
into a beautiful wide plain. We finish our day in the 'City of 1000 Steps', Gjirokaster.
This UNESCO World Heritage site city clings to the slope of Gjere mountain above the
valley of the Drinos river. Gjirokaster has a charming bazaar area with Ottoman houses
and small shops facing narrow cobbled streets. Our hotel offers prime views over the
Today's cycling is approximately 70km with a total ascent of 581m.
A great day of cycling awaits us as our trail takes us over a nonchalant climb before
we descend through absorbing countryside to Saranda, the southern gateway city of
Albania. The city lies along the Ionian coast, sandwiched between the high mountains
and the Greek island of Corfu, and is characterized by a Mediterranean climate and
warm sea waters. The city is close to the ancient remains of Butrint, a 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’ll cycle out to the site this afternoon
to pay a visit, before returning to Saranda for the evening.
Porto Eda Hotel.
Today's cycling is approximately 65km with an ascent of 925m.
Our first action is to climb sharply out of Saranda to a rocky plateau. We have a roller
coaster of a ride today, ascending and descending as the morning mist is burnt off by
the sun. Then it’s over grand cols into picturesque bays and around broad headlands,
always with the stunning mountain scenery to the right and sea to the left. We finish our
ride with a last climb before descending to the long beach and the bay of Himara; one
of the top tourist destinations in Albania.
Today's cycling is approximately 52km with a total ascent of 1000m.
Today we will ride past more stunning coastal towns toward Vlore. At 25 kms an
undeniable challenge will be in front of us and we will be faced with daunting
switchbacks that climb up to 1030 m over 8 kilometres. This climb is of course optional
and the support van is available to take you to the top for an amazing downhill through
Llogara National Park. We return back down to sea level and enjoy a flat and easy ride
to our private beach in front of the hotel.
Today's cycling is approximately 65km with a toal ascent of 1,500m.
One last seaside breakfast before we transfer you to Mother Teresa Airport or to your hotel in Tirana if you have extended your stay.
Albania is fast becoming the Balkan's next big travel destination. Mammoth communist-era structures stand beside newly built luxury apartments in Tirana. Neighborhoods have been re-energised through renovation and café culture and a once closed country is now a glittering beacon on the Adriatic coast. As you get off the beaten track, you will explore old Albania. Stunning plateaus, rushing waters spilling into gigantic gorges and villages that time forgot, all await your arrival.
The best time to visit Albania is the late Spring of May and June and early autumn of September and October. Pleasant temperatures make for great cycling and you will avoid the busy summer months when the beaches are thronging and the weather can get extremely warm