Find your ideal cycling holiday
Albania (with flight)
17th May 2019 - 31st May 2019 (15 days)
In 2014, the New York Times ranked Albania 4th among 50 recommended destinations. In 2011, Lonely Planet ranked it at number 1. Now is the time to visit Albania, as it emerges from its political constraints. This tour will start in buzzing Tirana before cycling over mountains, through gorges and villages. Encounter friendly people struggling with a subsistence lifestyle and visit beautiful seaside resorts on the Ionian coast. There will be free time in Berati, reputably the most beautiful town in Albania and a World Heritage site, and visits to Gjirokastrer, another World Heritage town, plus the ancient Greek ruins at Butrint. Suitable for fit cyclists able to cycle up to 90km.
- Holiday Type Guided
- Tour Manager Pat and John Ashwell
- Grade Challenging
- Booking Status Places Available
- Accommodation Hotel & Guesthouse
- Board Basis Half Board
- Travel Arrangements Air
- Road / Off Road Road
- Holiday Style Moving-on
- Vehicle Support Luggage Transfer
- Holiday Ref 01912
Friday 17th May
Fly from London Gatwick to Tirana’s Nënë Tereza airport on British Airways flight no BA2648, departing 0810, arriving 1210. Vehicle transfer to hotel in Tirana. Assemble bikes. Stay 1 night.
Saturday 18th May
Cycle to Ballkan Resort via a sinuous road, a steep descent into Elbasan and a vast gorge. 72km (965m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Sunday 19th May
Cycle to Lin Village then continue alongside Lake Ohrid to Podgradec. 77km (1131m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Monday 20th May
Cycle to Saint Naum monastery in Macedonia then on to Korca. 63km (600m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Tuesday 21st May
Cycle to Germenj. Climb into the heart of the Gramnoz mountains over Barmash Pass (1759m) to Germenj, located in a tranquil valley. 69km (1134m total ascent). Stay 1 night in cabins.
Wednesday 22nd May
Cycle to guesthouse near Petran Permet. Climb out of the valley then long descent to Permet. 59km (640m total ascent). Optional cycle to hot springs. Stay 1 night.
Thursday 23rd May
Cycle to Gjirokastrer. Continue along the valley through another gorge to Drinos where the scenery opens up into a wide plain and the town of Gjirokastrer city of 1000 steps high above. Explore the narrow cobbled alleys and Ottoman houses. 71km (498m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Friday 24th May
Cycle to Saranda by the sea. 54km (550m total ascent). Stay 2 nights.
Saturday 25th May
Optional cycle to the ancient Greek ruins of Butrint. 46km (402m total ascent), or go by bus.
Sunday 26th May
Cycle to Himare. A roller coaster ride over hills and around headlands before reaching the town of Himare. 52km (929m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Monday 27th May
Cycle to Vlora. More ups and downs along the beautiful coast, then climb the Llagaraja pass (1025m) before descending to the hotel near Vlora. 64km (1549m total ascent). Stay 1 night.
Tuesday 28th May
Cycle to Berati, arguably the most beautiful town in Albania. Explore the cobbled alleys between the white-walled houses and visit the citadel high above. 91km (717m total ascent). Stay 2 nights.
Wednesday 29th May
Day at leisure in Berati or out-and-back ride to Polican. 46km (701m total ascent). Pack bikes.
Thursday 30th May
Transfer to hotel in Tirana. Rest of day at leisure in Tirana. Stay 1 night.
Friday 31st May
Transfer by coach to Tirana’s Nënë Tereza airport for return British Airways flight no BA2649 to London Gatwick, departing 1310, arriving 1510.
Accommodation & Meals
On 12 nights, accommodation will be in 2-4 star hotels of the Albanian Tourist Board grading system with en-suite facilities. One night will be in a guesthouse with en-suite facilities, and one night will be in cabins, 4 persons per cabin, sharing a bathroom. All rooms are based on two people sharing with breakfast and evening meal included. Lunches are included on all cycling days. Vegetarian/fish meals may be available if requested.
Transport will be provided for the transfer of the group and bikes from Nënë Tereza Airport to the centre of Tirana, from Berati to Tirana and from Tirana to Nënë Tereza airport at the end of the tour. There will be a support vehicle for luggage, capable of carrying up to three riders and bikes if required.
Passports, Visa & Health
EU citizens must hold a passport that is still valid on the date of their return to their home country. Holders of non-EU passports are advised to check whether they require a visa.
There are no compulsory health related requirements for UK residents, but you are strongly advised to check that your tetanus protection has not expired. You should contact your doctor at least 3 months prior to travel to obtain the latest advice to travellers.
Clause 7 of our Booking Conditions stipulate that, for holidays outside the UK, Travel Insurance is mandatory. Details of the level of cover needed and other conditions you should check are stated in the Booking Conditions. CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours Ltd cannot accept responsibility for any costs that may be incurred due to insufficient insurance cover.
The price of £1,525 is based on a minimum number of 16 participants taking part in the tour and is calculated at a rate of 1.12 euro to £1 sterling (based on exchange rates published on www.x- rates.com on 14 September 2018; please note Booking Conditions, clause 3). If there are insufficient bookings by 8th March 2019 we will contact you and return all monies paid, although in certain circumstances the tour may still run at below minimum numbers but at the same price.
- Return flights between London Gatwick to Nënë Teraza airport, Tirana
- 12 nights hotel, sharing room, half-board
- 1 night guesthouse, sharing room, half-board
- 1 night cabin, 4 persons per cabin, 2 persons per room, half-board
- Lunches on all cycling days
- Vehicle transfers from Nënë Teraza airport to Tirana/return and from Berati to Tirana
- Support vehicle with English speaking driver/guide to carry luggage and up to 3 riders and bikes if required
- CTC Cycling Holidays & Tours costs
Price Does Not Include
- Travel to and from London Gatwick airport
- Lunches on non-cycling days or refreshments at morning/afternoon stops
- Gratuities for support crew
- Any other personal expenses
- Travel insurance
A deposit of £160 per person is payable upon booking, with the final balance of £1,365 per person to be paid ten weeks prior to departure, by 8th March 2019.
Should you be forced to cancel your booking for any reason you must notify us in writing. Cancellation charges are as follows:
Written notice received:
Before 8th March 2019
From 8th March 2019 through to departure
The Area Covered By The Holiday
The tour covers the area of the country south of Tirana. It is mountainous, and the cycling can be quite strenuous. The main roads follow valleys, often following rivers that have carved out huge gorges. There is an extensive plateau around Lake Ohrid and Gjirokastra, providing a patchwork landscape of fields and remnants of the collective farms.
The beautiful Ionian coast is heavily indented, the land being covered in pine forest offering some shade to the new road as it snakes its way up and down through fishing villages. We will overnight in Saranda, the largest town in the south, and along the coast in Himare and the port of Vlora. There will also be the opportunity to visit the ruins of the ancient Greek archeological site of Butrint, either by bike or local bus.
Inland, the museum towns of Gjirokastra and Berati allow you to wander through their cobbled alleyways, taking in their architectural beauties of white-washed Ottoman houses whose courtyards are covered in trailing vines shaded by trees. In contrast, buzzing Tirana, like any other European city, has cafes, bars, restaurants, hotels and shops.
Rides & Rest Days
This tour is classified as challenging and suitable for experienced touring cyclists capable of riding up to 90kms per day. Roads are sealed and generally in good condition, but there are some rough stretches. On several days there are demanding climbs, but the distances are generally modest, and a support vehicle will carry all luggage and provide assistance to tired riders if requested. It is not practical to ride as one group, and you are free to progress at your own speed. We will regroup occasionally throughout the day. GPS files and detailed route instructions will be provided approximately 3 weeks prior to the start of the tour. There will be rest days in Saranda and Berati (with optional cycling).
Accommodation & Meals
Accommodation will be in 2-4 star hotels of the Albanian Tourist Board grading system except one night in a guest house and one night in cabins. Adequate breakfasts are provided at the accommodation. Lunches will be taken at local restaurants. Evening meals are traditionally meat based, but vegetarian food is also available on request (in advance). Desserts are not normally served.
British Airways operate the only direct flights from the UK to Tirana, and they have limited the number of bikes carried on these flights to 15. As your Tour Managers will be travelling on these flights there will be 13 group seats available with bikes. Any further bookings will be sold either with flights from Gatwick without bikes or ‘land only’ (hire bikes are available from our agent in Tirana).
British Airways’ current free checked-in baggage allowance is one bag (or bike) with a maximum weight of 23kgs. Your bike must be properly boxed or bagged, handlebars turned, pedals removed and tyres deflated. If you are taking an additional checked-in bag, there is a charge of £35 each way (payable at the check-in desk at Gatwick - price correct as at 1 October 2018). You will be able to avoid this cost if you pack some items with your bike and travel with hand luggage only. The current free cabin baggage allowance is 23kg, up to a maximum size of 56cm x 45cm x 25cm together with one personal bag up to 40cm x 30cm x 15cm. The cost of an extra checked-in bag is not included in the tour price.
The maximum number of participants will be 18 excluding the Tour Manager(s).
Weather & Clothing
At this time of year the weather should be sunny and warm, with cool early mornings and temperatures dropping rapidly at night in the mountains as the sun goes down. Rain or thunder storms are possible in the mountains. It is recommended you take a fleece and long trousers for evenings and waterproof cycling jacket and gloves in case of rain. Sunscreen is essential, as is a covering for your head.
Cycles & Equipment
Touring bikes, lightweight mountain bikes or hybrid bikes will all be suitable if geared for long climbs. Ensure that your bike is well maintained and that you have tools and spares for simple roadside adjustments and puncture repairs. You will not need to carry luggage as this will be transferred, but a bar bag, rack pack or saddlebag will be needed for wet weather gear, camera and snacks etc. Mudguards are optional. Lights are not required.
Giant Rove and Giant Roam bikes are available for hire directly from the agent in Tirana. These bikes are well maintained and the gearing is suitable for the terrain. Please contact the Tour Managers if you require further information.
Maps & Guides
Reise Know-How Veriag Map - ISBN-10: 3831772673 has been used when planning this tour. Detailed route sheets, daily profiles and gpx tracks for Garmins will be provided. Bradt Travel Guide - Albania – ISBN-13 978 1 84162 387 0 – is a useful source of information.
Travel Insurance & Advice
Make sure you have read Clause 7 in the Booking Conditions. Before booking you should check the Foreign Office 'Travel Advice by Country' at www.fco.gov.uk or on 0845 850 2829.
Money: The currency in Albania is the Lek (approximately 150 Lek = £1).