Cycle the Balkans

15 days
from
£1,999
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Trip code: 
MVU
Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Tailormade Adventures
Activity:
Cycling
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–16

The Balkans offers an intoxicating mix of beautiful countryside, fast-developing cities and historic towns. Our first ride ends at the UNESCO town of Ohrid on the vast lake of the same name, from here the route leads up towards the border with Kosovo. Small towns and villages dot the route as we wind our way across into Montenegro and through the heart of the imposing Durmitor Mountains. As the route suggests, there is a good mix of climbing and flat riding, with a few stops along the way to visit or see places of interest. Sunshine and sea come in the form of the Bay of Kotor on the Adriatic, a dramatic setting to end the ride. Few other regions offer such cultural and natural variety along with a true sense of discovery.

Highlights

• UNESCO Town of Ohrid
• Magnificent Mavrov Lake and National Park
• Breathtaking Durmitor, part of Dinaric Alps

Key information

  • 11 nights 3 and 4-star hotels, 3 nights guesthouse
  • 13 days cycling with partial vehicle support (limited seats)
  • 90% tarmac, 10% poor condition
  • Undulations throughout with some tough climbs

What's included

  • All breakfasts and 2 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
  • e-bike available on request
Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

13 

Days of Cycling
Terrain:

Undulating terrain with some tough climbs. 90% tarmac, 10% poor conditions

Day by day breakdown
Day 260.0km/37.0miles
Day 367.0km/42.0miles
Day 451.0km/32.0miles
Day 563.0km/39.0miles
Day 670.0km/43.0miles
Day 737.0km/23.0miles
Day 857.0km/35.0miles
Day 962.0km/39.0miles
Day 1068.0km/42.0miles
Day 1148.0km/30.0miles
Day 1262.0km/39.0miles
Day 1355.0km/34.0miles
Day 1440.0km/25.0miles

Responsible Tourism

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Tirana

    The group flights usually arrive in Tirana in the early afternoon and the group will be met and transferred to the start hotel. Land Only clients should aim to arrive at the hotel this afternoon. In the evening our guide will hold a welcome meeting to discuss the week ahead, give advice on the local area and answer any questions, before we all go out for our welcome dinner.

    Hotel Austria or similar 

    Meals included: Dinner
  • Day 2

    Transfer to Lake Ohrid; cross the border into Macedonia; visit St Naum monastery before ending in Ohrid Town.

    This morning we start with a transfer to the northern side of Lake Ohrid. Upon arrival, the bikes will be unloaded and adjusted to everyone’s comfort. Our ride starts with cycling along the scenic shore of Lake Ohrid towards Pogradec. After reaching Tushemisht, just 4 km east of Pogradec, lunch will be served at a waterfront restaurant. We will continue cycling in the afternoon, crossing over into Macedonia, and visiting the monastery of St Naum. The road then takes us through Galicica National Park to Ohrid Town.

    Lake Ohrid, one of the oldest lakes in the world, came into existence during the Pliocene epoch as a result of tectonic shifts. It is home to unique flora and fauna and the lake is one of the largest biological reserves in Europe; with 212 known endemic species and a surface area of 358 km2 it is probably one of the most diverse lakes in the world.

    Villa Royal View

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Climb to a high plateau bounded by mountains; continue following the gorge to Debar.

    Leaving Lake Ohrid behind, we start today by climbing to a high plateau bounded by mountains. We continue to follow the gorge for a while until the hills open up, leading to a vast patchwork plain of individual farms in the Debar region. Our ride finishes in the city of Debar where we rest for the night.

    Hotel Venec

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Cycle towards Lake Mavrovo.

    Today we cycle toward Lake Mavrovo. Spreading over an area of about 780 square kilometres (300 sq mi), the Mavrovo National Park features deep canyons, snowy peaks and blue lakes as well as dense forests providing a habitat for an array of wildlife. We enjoy cycling through this diverse National Park, we reach our hotel in the afternoon at the foot of the Bistra mountains.

    Hotel Bistra

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Cycle around the east side of Lake Mavrov; descend to Via Egnatia, Cycle through villages until Tetovo.

    Today we cycle around the east side of Lake Mavrovo surrounded by dramatic mountains. We then have a long descent to what used to be once known as Via Egnatia, an old Roman path that connected Rome with Istanbul. We continue cycling through many rural villages until we reach Tetovo where we spend the night.

    Hotel Tetovo

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Ride from Tetovo to the Kosovo border; continue through Brezovica National Park and the Sharri mountain range.

    Cycling out of Tetovo, we reach the border crossing with Kosovo. We will ride through Brezovica, an area frequented by skiers in the winter. We continue into Sharri National Park, which was recently established in 2013. It is still relatively undiscovered with huge areas of intact ecosystems home to several threatened species in Europe, making it an important ecological area to protect.

    Hotel Brezovica

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Climb up to Prevalle through the forest of Kodra e Diellit; descend to the historic city of Prizren.

    From the ski resort of Brezovica, we cycle up to Prevalle through the forest of Kodra e Diellit before a long descent to the historic city of Prizren, Kosovo's cultural capital. Kosovo's second biggest city is rich with history and traditions and is surrounded by incredible nature. Throughout history, Prizren has played a vital role in the region. The city is known in this region of the Balkans for its gastronomy and wines, traditional handicrafts and wonderful mix of Byzantine and Ottoman architecture. This afternoon we go on a city tour to explore the old town. 

    Hotel Theranda or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Transfer to border with Montenegro; cycle from the border to Berane via Rozaje.

    This morning we transfer to the border between Kosovo and Montenegro. We start cycling from the border and enter Montenegro. We will cycle down to Rozaje, the city is surrounded by magnificent mountains and we will see both Hajla and Turjak mountain. The area is covered in large forests and abundant with flowers. We then continue to Berana, located on the Lim river where we spend the night. 

    Hotel Berane or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 9

    Pedal to Andrijevica and on to Kolasin; magnificent views of the rugged Albanian Alps.

    Leaving Berane behind, our ride this morning is along a flat road to the small town of Andrijevica. From here we take a magnificent narrow road with spectacular scenery all the way up to Kolasin. On our left hand side, we will have impressive views of the Albanian Alps and we should be able to spot the mountain of Jezerca, the second highest peak in Albania, on a good day. This evening we spend the night in Kolasin, a ski resort during the winter months.

    Hotel Sheraton or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Short transfer to Mojkovac; cycle through the Tara Canyon before reaching Zabljak.

    After a short transfer to Mojkovac, we start cycling through the Tara Canyon, one of the deepest river canyons in Europe. We will also have the chance to see the famous Tara bridge before reaching Zabljak our final destination for the day. The town is in the centre of the Durmitor mountain region at an altitude of 1,456 metres, it is the highest situated town on the Balkans.

    Etno Selo Sljeme (guesthouse)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Morning climb out of Zabljak through the Durmitor region; descend to Pluzine/Rudinice.

    Our day starts with a long climb out of Zabljak. As we ascend through the Durmitor region we see the magnificent mountain ranges with its dramatic high peaks. After our challenging ride this morning we are rewarded with a long descent to Rudinice village where we spend the evening at a small quiet farm stay.

    Etno Selo Izlazak (guesthouse)

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 12

    Cycle towards Nikšić, Montenegro’s second largest city.

    Today we have an easier cycle toward Nikšić, the second largest city in Montenegro, situated at the foot of Trebjesa Hill.  It is the largest municipality by area and second most inhabited after the capital Podgorica.

    Hotel Trim or similar 

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 13

    Short transfer to Vilsu; cycle to the Bay of Kotor.

    After a short transfer to Vilsu we cycle to the picturesque Bay of Kotor. Medieval towns encased by dramatic mountains surround the lake and have been inhabited since antiquity. In the afternoon we will have time to visit the old city walls. For dinner take the opportunity to enjoy a meal on the waterfront and sample the fresh seafood on offer.

    Hotel Marija 2 or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 14

    Transfer to Bar; cycle close to Lake Shkodra; Finish Shkodra.

    This morning we drive to Bar. From here we cycle close to Lake Shkodra and cross the border back into Albania. This evening we enjoy a well-deserved farewell dinner in Shkodra!

    Hotel Tradita or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Albania

No visa required for most nationalities, including UK passport holders, most other EU nationalities, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand.

Macedonia

No visa required for British Passport holders.

Kosovo

No visa required for most nationalities, including UK passport holders, most other EU nationalities, US, Canadian, Australian and New Zealand.

Montenegro

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Albania

There are no specific health risks.

Macedonia

There are no specific health risks.

Kosovo

There are no specific health risks.

Montenegro

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts and 2 dinners included.

Food in the Balkans is quite varied thanks to the many influences on the country and particularly Mediterranean combining Turkish, Greek and Italian tastes. Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in almost every meal, usually locally sourced. Due to the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs and Mediterranean climate, they are still very much a subsistence culture and show very little signs of changing. In the countryside expect your food to have been reared/grown not too far from your plate.

Breakfasts are typically eggs, fresh bread, jam, honey and coffee or tea. For lunch and dinner, meat dishes are often goat or lamb, with fish dishes ranging from trout to whitebait. Courses often come in mezze form complimented with a variety of succulent vegetables, salad, freshly baked bread, homemade cheeses, local wines and of course, raki. Your guide will recommend the best options when in the towns.

Weather

Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo and Montenegro have a temperate, Mediterranean climate. March 15th is officially the first day of spring and things really start to hot up toward the end of the month when clear skies and balmy temperatures provide a nice way to ease into the heat of summer. Summer brings sunshine and maximum temperatures of between 20-35 degrees Celsius. Summer days are long with sunrise before 6:00am and sunset after 8:30pm. Evenings tend to be cooler, so it is a good idea to bring layers. We will be cycling through mountainous regions where weather can be unpredictable so rain can be expected at any time. July and August tend to be the driest months.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified Road

Activity Level: 4 (Moderate/Challenging)

Average daily distance 60km (37 miles)

No. of days cycling: 13

There will be a support vehicle available at all times. Limited seats available

Terrain and route: 90% tarmac, 10% poor conditions. Throughout the route, there are some sections in a poor condition with potholes and some unsurfaced areas. The terrain is undulating with some long, tough climbs.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

Throughout this tour, we stay in a variety of accommodation in both cities and rural areas. We use hotels that are of a comfortable 3 and 4-star standard, all with ensuite rooms. At some points of the trip, we stay in more remote areas, here we stay in locally run guesthouses where you will experience a very warm welcome. Rooms here tend to be more basic.

Single accommodation is available on request. Please note, single rooms may not be available in the guesthouses in Zabljak and Rudinice due to a limited number of rooms.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
020 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

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Dates & Prices

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An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 020 8772 3936