Cycling in the Balkans

Starting From

$6,295/person

Number of days

14

Start Location

Skopje, Macedonia

End Location

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Group Size

4-16

Operated by

MT Sobek

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During this Eastern European cycling tour, small challenges and amazing rewards combine to create the trip of a lifetime. The rich natural beauty and cultural diversity of the Balkans provides the kind of variety you rarely find on European rides, and the fascinating route provides the opportunity to visit five very different countries. Starting in Macedonia, we'll ride over the Dinaric Alps into Albania, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Croatia. The largely uncrowded roads allow for glorious views, and you'll have the chance to experience the area's rich culture and sample the local cuisine, including cheese, honey, smoked ham, and olives. Don't miss this unforgettable trip that will leave you challenged, fulfilled, and inspired.

Operated by:

MT Sobek

MT Sobek, the originators, innovators and leaders in adventure travel for more than five decades, crafts journeys to the world's most memorable places.

Itinerary

Arrive in Skopje

Upon arriving at Skopje airport, meet your MT Sobek trip leader outside of customs and transfer to the hotel. Take a guided city tour that includes the Memorial House of Mother Teresa, Macedonia Square, the Stone Bridge, the Ottoman-era Old Town, and the city walls of Kale. In the evening, meet the group for a welcome dinner.

Explore Galicnik & Mavrovo National Park

After a 45-minute transfer to Mavrovo National Park start cycling to the village of Galicnik, at 4,921 feet. Only inhabited during summer, it's known for its stone houses, its tasty sharp sheep cheese, and its fruit brandy. In the afternoon, cycle down to Mavrovo Lake to visit the St. Jovan Bigorski monastery, with the old wooden icons carved by the Myak masters. Cycle another 20 minutes to the village of Jance. There's a possibility for taking a single trail up on the highlands, for a distance of 3 miles.

Take the Roman Route to Ohrid Lake

Transfer to the village of Dzepiste, with stunning views of Debar Lake. Bike along the Drim River, pass the village of Trebenista, and traverse parts of the ancient Roman Via Egnatia road, built in the 2nd century B.C. After lunch in a village, arrive in Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the namesake lake. Enjoy a walking tour of the old town highlights, like St. Sofia Cathedral and the Roman Amphitheatre. (It's possible to take a 2-mile gravel road in the fields along the village road.)

Visit Saint Naum Monastery & Source of Ohrid Lake

Wake early to catch the beautiful sunrise over the lake, then cycle past Vila Biljana (the former Presidential villa of Tito), the "Bay of Bones" archaeological settlement, St. Naum Monastery - the birthplace of Cyrillic script — and the springs of Crn Drim River, one of the main sources of the lake. Lunch in a restaurant in the lagoon by St. Naum, and then cycle across the border to Pogradec, a small fishing town in Albania. This late afternoon, transfer to the village of Korce.

Discover the Isolated Grammoz Mountain Range

Leave Korce and climb steadily into the heart of the Grammoz mountain range on the borders of Albania and Greece, a landscape of barren rock interspersed with wildflowers. Climb over the Barmash Pass (5,771') to the village of Germenj, lying in its own tranquil valley. The combination of stunning scenery, quiet roads, and a feeling of isolation make today's ride one of the highlights of the tour. Spend the night in wooden bungalows in Germenj.

Continue from the River Vjosa Gorge to Gjirokaster

Climb out from Germenj to a high grassy plateau surrounded by soaring peaks. Once at the source of the Vjosa River, descend through its spectacular gorge to Leskovik. Continue down to the Greek-speaking village of Carshove before following the route to Permet, on a bluff high above the river. Then take a short but dramatic transfer to the historic town of Gjirokaster, another UNESCO Heritage site, home to stunning Ottoman architecture - including 18th- and 19th-century buildings and an Ottoman citadel believed to be the second largest in the Balkans.

Tour the Citadel at Berat & Albania’s Capital

For the next two days, take a break from cycling and visit another UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as the capital of Albania. First, see splendid Berat, the best preserved and perhaps most beautiful town in Albania. Explore the cobbled alleys between the white-walled houses and visit the citadel high above town. Then set off for Tirana, the capital of Albania and its largest city.

Explore Tirana & Montenegro

Spend some time exploring Tirana before heading off for Shkoder town and its beautiful fortress on the border between Albania and Montenegro. After lunch in Shkoder, head into Montenegro, taking a road along the northern slopes of the Rumi mountains with magnificent views of the lake and mountains in the distance. Jump in a small boat to visit Skadar National Park, with its many water birds and isolated fishing villages, and end the day in the village of Virpazar.

Ride to Cetinje, the Medieval Capital of Montenegro

Today, cycle the ancient route connecting the Adriatic coast with the hinterlands, visiting an old fishing village at the edge of Skadar Lake along the way. Climb to Cetinje, the former royal capital, for lunch and visit one of the many museums. Take one more climb to Lovcen National Park. A striking shrine to Montenegro's most famous son, Petar II Petrovic Njegos, peers down from its heights, with views stretching as far as Albania and Croatia. Stay in the park's center, Ivanova Korita, for some well-deserved stargazing.

Cycle the Ladder of Kotor

Take a panoramic tour that follows the old Austrian road once connecting Cetinje, the village of Njegusi, and Kotor. Start with a visit to the Njegos Mausoleum, then cycle downhill to the old town of Kotor. Take a short detour to the village of Njegusi, birthplace of the famous 19th-century Montenegrin ruler and poet, Petar II Petrovic Njegos. After lunch, cycle the Ladder of Kotor, with 26 serpentines and stunning views to the bay. Finish in the old town of Kotor with a short walk along the old walls at sunset.

Cycle the Bay of Kotor

Cycling the Bay of Kotor is a breathtaking ride, with views of the Dinaric Alps, the cobalt blue waters of the Adriatic, and medieval villages with waterfront views. Bike through a bird reserve and olive groves, and, weather permitting, take a small motor boat to Herceg Novi, one of the bay's best-kept secrets with its sparkling seaside location, walled fortress, and old town.

Wind through Back Roads into Bosnia & Herzegovina

Enter Bosnia via the backroads over the Orijen mountain range, where few cars venture. Stop in the meadows and meet one of the region's many beekeepers, where you have an opportunity to try the delicate honey with some pungent cheese. Then head down to Trebinje, Bosnia's most southern city, neatly tucked on the Trebisnica River in the quiet foothills of the Dinarics. Spend the night sampling some of the region's wine and slow food with a family just outside of Trebinje, known for preserving and serving traditional food.

Cycle Ancient Routes from Bosnia into Dubrovnik

Cross over the border into Croatia and head to the Konavle Valley, known for its pine and cypress forests, vineyards, olive groves, and old watermills. Today's ride leads along quiet and narrow asphalt roads dotted with small villages. It's a perfect end to the trip, with great riding, delicious local fare, and an opportunity for a late-afternoon swim in the clear-blue waters of the Adriatic. End the day with a short transfer to the hotel in Dubrovnik and dinner in its bustling old town.

Depart from Dubrovnik

After breakfast, transfer to Dubrovnik's international airport.

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