For all cycling lovers, the bicycle is much more than a vehicle. It represents a way of life, a desire to be free of any constraints, to get to intimately know people and places which would otherwise remain distant and mysterious. It is, ultimately, a great way of becoming familiar the world and, through it, yourself.
All the aforementioned reasons have caused a huge surge in bicycle use in Albania. Additionally, its convenience and size, which disregards difficulties like parking and allows for an easy navigation of narrow streets, render it perfect for the exploration of cities and nature. From the organized tours taking the traveler through the country’s north and south to more individual offers best suited to free spirits, the options of seeing the country while riding a bike are indeed numerous.
EuroVelo cycling network
If you’re interested in the cycling network that connects Albanian cycling routes with those of other countries in the Balkans and Europe, visit eurovelo.com. Albania is part of the Mediterranean Route, where 11 countries are brought together taking into consideration its common history, culture and traditions.
Tours of the north
The majestic Albanian Alps with their imposing heights and legends which still seem to haunt them represent a favorite touristic destination. Cycling through the rare and enchanting landscapes of the Accursed Mountains, which fill your lungs with fresh air and regenerate your body, and stopping at the warm, hospitable guesthouses are experiences which true bicycle aficionados should not miss.
To find out more about tours in the north of Albania, click one of the links: CycleAlbania, XploreAlbania, Tourradar.
Tours of the south and the UNESCO tours
The bicycle tours through the south represent the best option of getting to know some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes which include the breathtaking beaches of the Ionian Sea, mountains, waterfalls, and rugged nature. In addition to its amazing natural landscapes, the south also includes the museum-cities of Berat and Gjirokastër as well as Butrint, three UNESCO heritage sites located relatively close to one another. Just a quick summary reveals what a rich and wonderful adventure a bicycle ride through the Albanian south would be!
For more information on tours of the south, click one of the links: OutdoorAlbania, XploreAlbania, Tourradar. For tours focused on the UNESCO-protected sights: CycleAlbania, OutdoorAlbania.
If you want to combine mountain biking and wild nature in one single tour, have a look at Ride Albania Mountain Biking tours. Tobi Gessler, a passionate Swiss about mountain biking and Albania, has developed trails and destinations that combine both these two passions. A limited number of guests have the opportunity to go on exclusive bike journeys into the Albanian mountains and its remote villages.
Discovering cities and their surrounding landscape
While the abovementioned tours require e bit of preparation and planning, Albanian cities are easily accessible by anyone on a spontaneous basis. Several companies offer bicycles for rent which will take you on your own path around your preferred cities.
From exploring bunkers turned into museums to pedaling your way around the beautiful lake or other parks of the city, Tirana offers up an exciting array of possible itineraries. Visiting Tirana’s many traditional neighborhoods and bicycling around the Dajti Mountain and the Castle of Petrela, both located in the outskirts of the city, are some of the most popular ways to explore the city in its entirety. For those who are looking for more of a challenge, there are many worthwhile itineraries on roads linking Tirana to nearby cities such as Durrës, Elbasan, and Kruja. For a detailed list of these itineraries, click here.
Many bicycle renting companies and shops have quickly caught on to Tirana’s potential as an ideal city to discover on two wheels. Ecovolis is the leader of the Albanian market with more than five bicycle pick-up and drop-off points strategically located around Tirana. For a map of where you can rent Ecovolis bicycles, click here. Two other great options where you can find bicycles for rent are Evergreen and CycleAlbania.
For Albanians, Shkodër is otherwise known as the “city of bicycles”! Indeed, riding around this city’s small traditional roads is one of the greatest pleasures for all locals and tourists. Historic buildings and traditional homes, three rivers which cross paths around the city, and the lake of Shkodra all combine to create countless beautiful sights and landscapes that can be especially enjoyed while riding in the open air.
Click KiriAdventures or here to check out one of the bicycles renting options in the city of Shkodër. Yet another organization which offers regular bicycle tours around the country is EKO Mendje. For a list of potential bicycle tour itineraries in Shkodër, click here.
This beautiful touristic beach town located at the very beginning of Albania’s southern Riviera is a bicyclist’s dream. An endless coastline, where the Adriatic and the Ionian seas join, framed by beautiful mountains offers the ideal background for pedaling in the outdoors. For more casual riders, we suggest the seaside promenade in the city while for the seasoned daredevils, a stab at the challenging Llogara Pass might be the way to go! The latter may be worth the effort as it reveals some of the most magnificent views of the spectacular Albanian Riviera.
For a list of itineraries around Vlorë, click here. For bicycle renting options, click here.
Similar to Shkodër in the north, Korça is the bicycling town of the south. The town’s famous cobblestone streets and alleys provide the cyclist the best terrain for chasing those beautiful and warm southern sunsets. If you are at all nostalgic about placing your shopping bags, full of fresh foods and spices from a lovely traditional bazaar, in the basket of your bicycle and riding off into the city streets, this is the place to visit. For more of an outdoor adventure, you may choose to bicycle around the famous Ohrid and Prespa Lakes or visit the numerous wonderful, hospitable villages surrounding Korça, where you can enjoy some of the most delicious meals at the end of your ride.
You can rent out bicycles at the Office of Tourist Information or at Stacioni, a lovely hostel. For bicycle itineraries in Korçë, click here.
Other cycling tours
For a general idea of bicycle tours offered around the entire country, the best way to go is Tourradar. For more customized tours of preferred cities or areas, contact CycleAlbania.
For a comprehensive list of all the itineraries in the country, click here.