During my 2016 cycling trip from Greece to England, I spent just over a week bicycle touring in Albania. There's no need to tell me it's not long enough – I already know! Don't worry I will return next year and spend 6-8 weeks cycling in Albania to do it properly! In the mean time, here is the route I took through Albania, along with daily YouTube vlogs and other information you might find useful if you are planning to travel there yourself.
Bicycle Touring in Albania
I should start by saying that I normally do a full write up of my time on the road when I am on a bike tour. On this Greece to England cycle trip though, I have also started vlogging, which includes a commentary track. As a result, I think the daily videos (vlogs) are a better record of what happened on a day to day basis during the tour. There's no point in me creating extra work for myself by transcribing the videos, so I have just embedded them in this blog post along with the route data I recorded as I cycled.
If you are interested in Albania, or plan on bicycle touring in Albania, I strongly recommend you check the vlogs out, as there is tonnes of information there for you! You can see the vlogs and route information directly below here. If you carry on reading to the end of the article, you will also find some useful tips and general information for bicycle touring in Albania. I also have an Albania Travel Guide from a previous trip to the country. This guide to Tirana Tourist Attractions should also be useful.
Wednesday 18th May 2016 Day 11 – Cycling from Ksamil to Gjirokaster
Thursday 19th May 2016 Day 12 – Day off in Gjirokaster
As it took a fair bit of effort to get up to the old town section of Gjirokaster, I decided to stay to have a look around! Here's a little video I put together.
Friday 20th May 2016 Day 13 – Cycling from Gjirokaster to Fier
Saturday 21st May 2016 Day 14 – Cycling from Fier to Durrres
Sunday 22nd May 2016 Day 15 – Cycling from Durres to Schkoder
Monday 23rd May 2016 Day 16 – Cycling from Schkoder to Ulcinj in Montenegro
Tips for Bicycle Touring in Albania
Is it safe – I have to say, that I believe Albania is Europe's friendliest country! The people are warm, welcoming, and almost over-the-top in the way they want to treat you. It is hard to put into words, so I encourage you to visit Albania to see for yourself!
Currency – I toured in 2016, and the Albanian Lekh was pegged at 140 to a Euro. In most big towns, I was able to use either currency. In the small villages though, Lekh are preferred. How do you get Lekh? There are plenty of ATM machines in Albania to withdraw Lekh from, you can exchange Euros for Lekh, or you can pay in Euros for goods, and have your change back in Lekh.
Credit Cards – Don't expect to be able to use your credit cards everywhere. Some hotels MAY accept them, but don't bank on it (if you will forgive the pun).
Road Conditions – The road network has improved drastically over the last few years, which makes bicycle touring in Albania relatively easy. The main highways are all sealed and paved, and most major connecting roads are also sealed. get off the beaten track a little though, and you will find dirt and gravel roads galore, especially up in the mountains. I would always recommend long distance bicycle touring with 26 inch wheels (take a look at the Stanforth Kibo+ I used for this trip), but you could cycle from one end of Albania to the other on sealed roads on a road bike if you wanted to.
Road Safety – Much has been written about ‘Crazy Albanian driving'. Is it actually that bad though? If you have just landed from an orderly Northern European country, jumped on your bike, and started pedalling in Tirana, then yes, you will probably think things are chaotic and aggressive. If you have progressed southwards through the continent and reached Albania on your bike, then no, you will probably not think so. I live in Athens, and personally, I think Albanian driving is a lot saner than Athenian driving!
Accommodation – Although I didn't wild camp myself, there are plenty of opportunities around should you wish. In terms of ‘official' camping, there are a number of campsites scattered around, which were priced at 5 Euros a night per person. If hotels are your thing, for between 10 and 15 Euro per night, you can get something half decent, and normally with a breakfast.
You might find these other articles I have written have useful information for bicycle touring in Albania.