Cycling in the Balkans

Overview

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.

  • Cycle the ancient Via Egnatia road, built by Romans in the 2nd century B.C.

  • Visit remote villages and walled cities, including five UNESCO Cultural and Natural Heritage sites

  • Marvel at natural wonders like the majestic Ohrid and Skadar lakes, and the Dinaric Alps

  • Arrive: Skopje, Macedonia
  • Depart: Dubrovnik, Croatia
  • Duration: 14 Days
  • Group Size: 4-16 Guests
  • Minimum Age: 18 Years Old

Itinerary

  • Day01

    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.

  • Day02

    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.

    • Accommodation: Hotel Tutto
    • Activity: 5-7 hours/37 miles cycling with 2,970' ascent & 6,145' descent
    • Transportation: 45-minute private van transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day03

    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.)

    • Accommodation: Hotel Royal View
    • Activity: 5-7 hours/41 miles cycling (7 miles gravel road) with 2,267' ascent & 2,330' descent
    • Transportation: 1-hour private van transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day04

    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.

    • Accommodation: Hotel Life Gallery
    • Activity: 4-6 hours/25 miles cycling with 1,913' ascent & 1,913' descent
    • Transportation: 30-minute private van transfer
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day05

    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.

    • Accommodation: Farma Sotira Bungalows
    • Activity: 6-8 hours/44 miles cycling with 3,904' ascent & 3,573' descent
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day06

    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.

    • Accommodation: Hotel Kalemi 2
    • Activity: 4-6 hours/31 miles cycling with 2,267' ascent & 4,695' descent
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day07

    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.

  • Day08

    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.

    • Accommodation: Hotel Vir
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day09

    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.

    • Accommodation: Hotel Monte Rosa
    • Activity: 5 hours/42 miles cycling with 2,411' ascent & 6,480' descent
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day10

    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.

    • Accommodation: Hotel Hippocampus
    • Activity: 5 hours/22 miles cycling with 328' ascent & 5,250' descent, surface
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day11

    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.

    • Accommodation: Palmon Bay Hotel & Spa
    • Activity: 5 hours/31 miles cycling with 1,033' ascent & 1,050' descent
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day12

    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.

    • Accommodation: Hotel Platani
    • Activity: 4 hours/28 miles cycling with 4,560' ascent & 3,773' descent
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day13

    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.

    • Accommodation: Hotel Pucic Palace
    • Activity: 4 hours/28 miles cycling with 1,804' ascent & 2,132' descent
    • Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
  • Day14

    Depart from Dubrovnik

    After breakfast, transfer to Dubrovnik's international airport.

    • Meals: Breakfast
Want to extend your adventure?
Contact our Regional Specialists for more travel ideas!

Upcoming Departures

  • AvailableMay 26 - Jun 08, 2019
  • AvailableJul 28 - Aug 10, 2019
View More Departure Dates
From: $6,295.00 What's Included?
14 Days
Book This Trip Build your own

Got Questions?
Speak with an expert.

Samantha Bromberg

MT Sobek Regional Specialist

1.888.831.7526CallEmail

Cycling in the Balkans Map

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Why take this trip with us?

Reason #01

MT Sobek is the only American tour operator offering a cycling trip along this route. Visit 5 countries with 5 different cultures by bike!

Reason #02

Cyclists are treated half- to full-day biking routes accompanied by seasoned MT Sobek guides of the Balkans - all expert in long-distance bike touring.

Reason #03

In just two weeks' time, witness the Balkan region's rich and complex cultural history, featuring five UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Meet Our Guides

Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.

What To Expect

  • Activities

    Cycling up to 8 hours per day on asphalt roads, with some gravel sections. Stops at ancient sites, remote villages, traditional farms, and pristine nature parks.

  • Lodging

    A diverse mix of fantastic lodgings, from rustic bungalows and inns to Ottoman-era, Baroque-style and modern luxury hotels, featuring standard to deluxe amenities.

  • Climate

    Temperatures during this trip in May and June are ideal for cycling. Mornings are cool, days are warm, then it cools off again in the evening.

FAQ

  • Who will meet me on arrival?

    Your trip leader will meet you in the arrivals hall of the Skopje airport (SKP) between 9AM and 9:45AM, and again between 12:30PM and 1:00PM for later arrivals.

  • Do you provide helmets?

    Yes, we can provide helmets, if you do not wish to bring one. Please let us know in advance if you will need a helmet. Helmets are required for all participants.

  • Do you provide water bottles on the bikes?

    Yes, we can provide water bottles, if you do not wish to bring your own. Please let us know in advance if you will need a water bottle.

  • Do you provide SPD pedals (clipless pedals)?

    No, we do not provide SPD pedals. If you would like to bring your own pedals with your shoes, our guides will be happy to help you put the pedals on your bike.

  • Can I bring my own bike?

    Yes, you can bring your own bike, but we discourage it. It can be difficult and expensive to travel with your bike. If you are bringing your own bike, please let us know and please also tell us if your bike box is a hard or soft case.

Dates & Pricing

Pricing Dates

Scheduled Dates

  • Available
    May 26 - Jun 08, 2019
  • Available
    Jul 28 - Aug 10, 2019

Customize Your Trip

Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!

Book This Trip Customize A Trip
2019
$6,295.00 Price per person

Additional Cost

  • $900.00 Single Supplement

Special Offer

Price Includes

  • Expert leadership from experienced adventure guides
  • Accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • Meals as noted in the daily itinerary
  • Potable water and snacks throughout
  • 1 glass of wine or beer at dinner
  • All tips and gratuities for support staff with the exception of your lead adventure guide(s)
  • All necessary cycling gear
  • All group entrance fees, activities, and ground transportation
  • Arrival and departure day group airport transfers

Price Does Not Include

  • International airfare, any airport taxes, or excess baggage charges
  • Optional tips to your lead adventure guides
  • Personal expenses such as medical immunizations, phone calls, laundry, or souvenirs
  • Airport transfers if arriving outside of the group transfer
  • Optional travel protection other than the basic medical and evacuation protection noted above

Testimonials

  • "I am so very, very pleased with my recent 350 mile bike trip through the Balkans. I would highly rate and recommend this trip adventure for many reasons... the hotels were well planned out and very nice and some were exquisite...[The Trip Leaders] all outperformed my expectations. Because of Sabine, Sandra and Loren the trip was magnificent and without them it would not have been the same."

    Bob T.

    MT Sobek Guest, Cycling in the Balkans

  • "I've taken six MT Sobek trips and they have all exceeded my expectations. The staff, the food, the logistics and the communications have always been exceptional. Thank you for being my "go to" adventure travel company!"

    Margaret I.

    MT Sobek Guest

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