Everyone always loves to be the first to ‘discover’ a country and a cycling adventure in Albania is a great means of summoning that spirit. Until the fall of a violent communist regime in 1991, Albania’s doors remained firmly shut, but now intrepid explorers can find what was long rumored - gorgeous beaches, spectacular mountainscapes, swooping valleys, abandoned castles, and intriguing rural villages. While this beautiful land may now be open to tourism it still flies under the radar compared to its better-known neighbors and that makes it all the more thrilling for a cycling trip.

The Albanian Riviera is undoubtedly the country’s top attraction - a spellbinding stretch of a range of beaches with golden sands and turquoise waters surrounded by cute rolling hills, olive groves, and delightful villages. Riding your bike here is a true tonic for the soul. A spectacular descent towards the seaside town of Sarandë will get your pulse racing, offer sweeping views of the Ionian Coast and en route, you can even visit the spectacular archaeological ruins of the ancient city of Butrint.

Historic sights and nature aside, Albania is also renowned for the friendly locals and its unappreciated but fantastic cuisine. While resting your legs begin your culinary journey with the famous Fëgesë - a slow-cooked stew of vegetables, spices, and cottage cheese - you will not regret it.

Back on your bike, there is much more to relish. The picturesque, communist-era fishing village of Himarë will take you back in time, and offer you the chance to grab an ice cream and have a swim in the blue azure waters. This is a welcome respite because Albania is not just all beaches, there are also some awe-inspiring mountains to tackle.

For instance, the 1403 meter (4603 ft) climb to the Llogara Pass may leave you breathless, but it will be due to both the challenge plus the insane views - on a clear day even Italy is visible. This is all the precursor for entering the gorgeous Llogara National Park, full of black pine trees and where you can discover the golden eagles that Albania is so famous for.

Elsewhere, simply cycling through the gorgeous countryside full of wildflowers and valleys will live long in the memory, particularly when it leads towards the fascinating city of Gjirokastra. Boasting views of snow-capped mountains, sweet cobbled streets, and 18th-century Ottoman houses, it is little wonder so many authors, poets and artists were inspired by the city.  

And after this incredible bike adventure around Albania, you will think this unheralded country is also a true inspiration for recovering from a tricky past and showcasing such superb beauty. So grab your helmet and hop on a bike quickly before the word gets out further.

Best Seasons:April - October
Popular Locations:Gjirokastra, Llogara National Park, Himarë, Sarandë