Cycle Macedonia & Northern Albania

8 days
from
£1,099
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5 / 5 from 3 reviews >
Challenging
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Trip code: 
MVO
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Cycling
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

Cycle through Macedonia and North Albania, the last hidden gems of Europe.

The border lands of Northern Albania and Western Macedonia are truly one of the last hidden gems of Europe. Sweeping gorges are carved by crystal blue waters that flow into tranquil lakes, whilst rocky peaks and plateaux rise high above the lush green landscape. Ancient villages, rarely visited by tourists nestle themselves into the valleys, some of which retain a way of life that has been unchanged for centuries. Our carefully chosen route heads through some of the best scenery these fascinating countries have to offer, complimented with some really exciting cycling that equally challenges and rewards.

Highlights

  • Cycle along the Black Drin Valley
  • Enjoy spectacular scenery at Komani Lake
  • Visit the UNESCO town of Ohrid

Key information

  • 5 nights hotels, 2 nights guesthouses
  • 6 days cycling with full vehicle support 
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus local cycling leader and driver. Min age 16 yrs
  • Trip can be combined with Cycling in Albania
  • E-bike hire available on request

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 2 dinners included
  • All accommodation
  • Transfer for group flights
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visas and vaccinations
  • Single supplement
Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 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.

6; plus 1 optional ride

Pace:

Challenging, distances per day vary from 40km to 93km.

Terrain:

100% tarmac, where some sections are in a poor condition. Undulating route with some tough climbs and long descents.

Day by day breakdown
Day 240.0km/25.0miles
Day 381.0km/50.0miles
Day 473.0km/45.0miles
Day 593.0km/58.0miles
Day 652.0km/32.0miles
Day 775.0km/46.0miles

Responsible Travel

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

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Fly to Tirana; transfer to Shkoder in Northern Albania

    Depart London; arrive Tirana and transfer to Shkoder in Northern Albania (approx. 1.5hrs drive).
    Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Transfer to Komani Lake; ferry ride from Komani to Fierze (3hrs). Cycle through gorges, forests and lakes to Dardhe

    After an early transfer to Komani we take a ferry to Fierze across the beautiful Komani Lake (which takes about 3 hours). The ferry ride allows you to take in the spectacular scenery, winding its way between high cliffs and towering peaks. From here we get on our bikes and the climbing begins as we ascend from the lake up to a high plateau. Following the line of an ancient trade route, along which the Romans built one of their great arterial roads, the Via Publica, we cycle up through spectacular gorges, forests and lakes towards Dardhe.

    Cycle approx. 40km, ascent 1175m, descent 500m.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 3

    Cycle along spectacular mountain roads with high peaks on your left and Fierze lake 800m below on your right; continue to Kukes

    Today we will cycle one of the most spectacular roads in Albania with high mountain peaks on your left and Fierza Lake, 800m down on your right. We continue along Fierza Lake until we reach the dam, which is part of a huge hydro-electric system constructed in the 1970's.

    Cycle approx. 81km, ascent 1500m, descent 1950m.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Ride to Peshkopi along the Black Drin Valley

    Today we cycle along the Black Drin Valley from Kukes to Peshkopi, following the river. The Black Drin River originates at Lake Ohrid and meets with the White Drin River at Kukes. This is the toughest day of the trip and includes a 12km climb.

    Cycle approx. 73km, ascent 2000m, descent 1700m.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Cross the border into Macedonia and on to the UNESCO town of Ohrid; afternoon city tour

    After riding past farms and villages our route passes over into Macedonia. We then continue through the Macedonian countryside until we reach the beautiful UNESCO town of Ohrid. After checking in to the hotel we will head out on a city tour through the town famed for its 365 churches, one for each day of the year. Ohrid itself is situated on the shores of Lake Ohrid, with winding cobbled streets and traditional Macedonian architecture that you will find in the old town. There is the option to take a city tour with a local guide for approximately €3 per person (price dependent on the size of the group).

    Cycle approx. 93km, ascent 900m, descent 900m.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 6

    Climb to rocky plateau above Ohrid; ride over passes before descending to Big Prespa Lake in Stenje

    In the morning we start cycling along the lake before another 12km climb to a rocky plateau with wonderful views of Lake Ohrid. We then have a long descent to the shores of Lake Prespa, where there’s time for a swim.

    Cycle approx. 52km, ascent 1350m, descent 1200m.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 7

    Cycle along the shores of the lake to Small Prespa Lake, bordering Albania, Greece and Macedonia; crossing the border back into Albania, pass Lake Ohrid en route to Pogradec

    Our route today follows the shores of the larger Prespa Lake and also the smaller Prespa Lake that borders three countries (Albania, Macedonia and Greece). Once past these lakes on the southern side we reach Lake Ohrid and eventually Pogradec in Albania. There is then a chance for a relaxing afternoon at the bay in front of the hotel.

    Cycle approx. 75km, ascent 900m, descent 1050m.
    Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 8

    Transfer to Tirana; fly to London

    End Pogradec. Those on the group flight will be transferred to Tirana Airport (approx. 3hrs drive). 

    Meals included: Breakfast
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.

Combine this trip with

Essential Info

Visas

Albania

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

Vaccinations

Albania

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 2 dinners included.

Under Enver Hoxha (the communist leader of Albania from 1944-1985), Albania became a self sustaining country due to its isolation to the world. However 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. On some days lunches are picnic style eaten en route outside, whereas on other days we will eat in restaurants. Meat dishes are often goat or lamb, with fish dishes ranging from trout to endemic species from Lake Ohrid. Courses often come in mezze form complimented with a variety of vegetables and salad, freshly baked bread, homemade cheeses and local wines. In the cities there are a number of restaurants to choose from with an array of Mediterranean cuisine. In Macedonia you will find a similar Balkan cuisine that reflects its Mediterranean and Middle Eastern influences. A typical Macedonian dish is tavce gravce, a baked dish of beans, onions red peppers and parsley. It's a delicious dish worth trying.

Weather

Albania and Macedonia 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.

Tirana, Albania

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified 'Road'

Activity Level: 5 (Challenging)

No. of days cycling: 6

Vehicle Support: 100% (with limited seats)

Terrain and route: 100% tarmac, where some sections are in poor condition. The terrain is undulating with some long, steep climbs and descents. We aim to use quiet roads where possible, but occasionally we need to pass busier sections. Distances per day vary from 40km to 93km (25 miles to 58 miles). Previous cycling experience is essential and a good level of fitness is required. The itinerary is physically challenging, particularly when it is a hot day.

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 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 & Guesthouses

Throughout the tour we stay in comfortable hotels and guesthouses which are in prime locations. All rooms have en suite facilities. We use locally run accommodation (some are family-run), serving locally sourced produce from the nearby farmers as much as possible. We are usually surrounded by nature. In Dardhe, we stay in the beautiful Hotel Alpin, high in the mountains amidst the forests. In Stenje we stay at Lake Prespa in a family-run hotel. Whilst in Ohrid and Pogradec, our hotels are located on the shores of Lake Ohrid.

Single rooms are available in the hotels for a supplement of £140 (£160 from 2018). Please note, single rooms may not be available in the guest houses.

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 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.

Expert Blog Entries

Forget feeling lethargic on your travels – cycling is one of the easiest ways to blend cultural and active expl

  • Reviewed September 2016
    Martin Hall

    Northern Albania and Macedonia August 2016

    After riding the southern Albania trip last year I had to go for this one. It was a fantastic trip over the mountains with beautiful views every day, the lakes, the mountains, the valleys. It was a bit tough going at times but it was worth the effort. The scenery was quite different to the southern trip. I'm glad I did both. Macedonia was different again. Lots of small farms with their goods on display by the roadside. Ohrid, UNESCO town was very picturesque overlooking lake Ohrid.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Climbing out of Ohrid to the plateau overlooking the Lake and seeing the tiny villages bellow. Also for me it was making it up the steep sections on days 2 & 3 without getting off.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader was very fit, he often had to drop back to help someone with a problem, then ride up to the front again.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes, you need to get fit riding up 10% hills (1 in 10) and be able to ride up long hills before you take the trip or you may not enjoy the tough sections so much. Some of the shorter gradients reached 14-16% (indicated on my Garmin). You do get some good down hill bits to recuperate, and there are stops for people to catch up. Age is not the problem it's the fitness that counts. Ride at a speed your comfortable with, don't try to keep up.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Our trip was in late August and the weather was great, sun every day with morning rides starting at around 19deg to 30 at the end of the days ride.
  • Reviewed July 2016
    Elspeth Barley

    Northern albania and Macedonia cycling

    Wow - certainly a challenge, but so worth the sweat of the uphill undulations! Stunning scenery, beautiful lakes and very comfortable accommodation all the way. Go do this trip - it will push you - but it is worth it.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting off the bike at the end of each day knowing I'd done my best and it had been good enough. I genuinely thought I'd be in the bus, but I made it. A great team from Exodus motivated us all the way and the company was such fun. Standing on the top of some of the hills and looking down at where we'd started from was a great feeling of achievement.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Great giggle! He could out cycle everyone and make it look easy!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Get fit.................do lots of uphills in heat!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't expect the countries to be behind the rest of Europe - they most definitely are not. Be prepared for some children to be very capable of knowing rude words in English and also throwing sticks. The vast majority were lovely and friendly, but the odd ones were nasty - to women and men.
  • Reviewed June 2016
    Matthew Sims

    Albania June 2016

    Great trip - challenging but very rewarding.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Stunning scenery throughout- way beyond expectations.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Excellent- a relatively new trip but well organised and suitably flexible where necessary.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Albania is as safe as anywhere in Europe - don't be put off by any reports to the contrary.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    If you are thinking about it - do it. You will not regret going.

Dates & Prices

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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