Day 1 - Airport – Vlorë
Our guide will meet you at the Airport gate and after a warm welcome and a short brieÞng, we will continue with a transfer to Vlora, the most important touristic city in Albania. On the way, we will stop in a restaurant in Maminas, famous for serving ÒTav‘ DheuÓ, a typical Ottoman dish.
In about 2 hours we will reach our hotel. After checking in we will take a walk along the cityÕs seaside promenade where you will be introduced to its history and recent developments. For the history geeks among us and if time promises, we may also visit the National Museum of Independence. Dinner will be served in a restaurant with one of the best views in Vlorë.
Day 2 - Vlorë – Ploc – Kalivaç – Tepelenë
Max Altitude: 539m
After an early breakfast and brieÞng our cycling trip begins. We will pass near the oldest mosque in Vlora and follow the famous Muradije road until we reach the ruins of the ancient city of Amantia. After a visit of the ruins and the amphitheater we will continue to Shkoz‘, where we will hop on a boat to cross the Vjosa River. A few minutes later we will reach Kalivaç, from where we cycle for 31 more kilometers to Tepelen‘. After check in we will have a relaxed evening exploring the city and tasting good raki.
Day 3: Tepelenë – Bënçë – Progonat – Nivicë – Këlcyrë – Bënjë – Përmet
Max Altitude: 980 m
The Þrst stop on this day is at a 270 years old water mill built by Ali Pash‘ Tepelena in B‘nç‘ and has been operational ever since. The second stop will be at the waterfall of Progonat. One of the most beautiful in Albania and a compulsory picture stop for many travelers. We will further continue to the Nivica Canyon, one of the Egyptian vulturesÕ last remote bastions in Europe.
Like everything in the Balkans, this region is also steeped in history, being a place where Illyrian, Macedonian, Roman, Norman and Ottoman troops have travelled in each-othersÕ footsteps through the centuries, to be followed by the soldiers of both great wars of the 20th century. You will hear many stories related to them while enjoying lunch in the garden of a local household. After lunch we will reach the thermal springs of B‘nja. A welcoming stop to rest sore muscles, the springs are found next to a beautiful Ottoman stone bridge and at the entrance of the breathtaking Langarica canyon. We will have dinner and spend the night in P‘rmet, only a few more kilometers away.
Day 4: Përmet – Gjirokastër
Max Altitude: 242m
Today, a ride of about 2,5 hours will take us to the UNESCO protected town of Gjirokastër, known also as the birth-place of the infamous dictator Enver Hoxha and the most famous Albanian writer, Ismail Kadare.
In the afternoon a walking tour of the cobbled stone alleys will take us through the old bazaar to the Argjiro fortress on top of the hill overlooking the city. There we will discover its rich history and visit the houses of some of the oldest and richest families in Gjirokastër, to marvel at their unique architecture and the antique artefacts housed within. Gjirokastër is also well known for its delicious traditional dishes and stone-grounded coffee, both of which you will have a chance to savor.
Day 5: Gjirokastër - Sarandë
Distance: 66 km
Max Altitude: 563m
The day begins along the twisting and scenic road from Gjitokastra to Muzina Pass. We will proceed until we reach the Vivari channel, where we will visit the Archaeological Park of Butrint. Arguably the most important archaeological site in Albania, Butrint was founded by the Epirotes and later became a renowned Roman colony, before an earthquake ßooded it in in the middle ages.
In the afternoon, cycling to Sarandë, we will return on the coast again. There, following an evening stroll on the seaside promenade and dinner at the Lëkursi castle, with and amazing view of the city, we will spend the night.
Day 6: Sarandë - Himarë
Length: 66 km
Max Altitude: 322m
Today we will be cycling past numerous coastal villages to arrive at our next stop, Porto Palermo, an other worldly bay with a peninsula in the middle, which houses a castle built by Ali Pasha to honor his Greek wife Vasilikia, to whom he gifted it. During this ride you will notice the remnants of tens of mushroom-shaped bunkers built by a paranoia- fueled communist regime, as the bay of Porto Palermo used to be also a top-secret submarine base during communist times.
We will taste some mediterranean food by the bay and a short Þnal ride will bring us to Himarë to spend the nights.
Day 7: Himarë – Vlorë
Length: 70 km
Max Altitudes: 1030 m
We leave Himarë and engage in the challenging climb of the Visha Pass, followed by
another panoramic section above the coast. After the village of Dhërmi, the great ascent of the Llogara pass awaits us. This is the highest point on the coastal road between Vlorë and Sarandë and is arguably one of the most scenic coastal roads in Europe. A regular switchback above the Ionian coast and besides the Çika Mountain, assure a spectacular and challenging ride. However the support vehicle will be always present. Near the highest point of the pass, we will have lunch in a panoramic restaurant, again with plenty of tasty traditional food.
In the afternoon we will be treated to a long downhill ride into a winding alpine road that marks the end of our challenge and leading back to Vlorë. There, a surprise will be awaiting the best rider.
Afterwards we will take a bus transfer to Tirana to celebrate the end of the trip at the famous ‘Blloku’, former residence of the Albanian communist elite.
Day 8: Leaving Albania
Free time to explore the city, followed by a transfer to the airport and departure