Walking – in sunshine or snow

The Albanian Alps feature some of Europe’s least explored landscapes and there is only one way to discover them: on foot. This is a land of blood feuds and folklore, where farmers’ lifestyles have changed little over the centuries. In Theth National Park you can follow a valley between dramatic mountain peaks, and discover a stone “lock-in tower” which was once used to protect families involved in historic blood feuds. There are natural wonders here too – including waterfalls and the “Blue Eye of Kapre”, a stunning turquoise pool with its own waterfall – perfect for a dip. Along the way, you’ll meet friendly villagers, horses and carts, and your luggage can be transported by horse.

Walking in Albania is not restricted to the milder seasons. In rural northern Albania, snow shoeing is used by farmers to get around their land in winter; by strapping the snow shoes on you are, literally, travelling like a local. Accompanied by a farmer, you’ll learn about life in this traditional and still rather isolated region, once characterised by blood feuds and fortresses – but now a peaceful winter wonderland of beech and pine forests and incredible rural hospitality.
Cut off from the rest of the world for over four decades, Albania was forced to become self sufficient when it came to food.

Eat, & eat some more

Although the country is slowly opening up, this subsistence culture still lingers, and today’s visitors are likely to find that their meals have travelled metres rather than miles. This hasn’t resulted in a limited diet, however, as this Mediterranean nation has fish-filled lakes and seas, fertile valleys (with vines as well as veg) and wild mountains – a hugely varied terrain offering up seasonal fruits, locally produced cheeses, goat and lamb, fresh olives and oil, and crisp salads.

Cycling holidays

Cycling holidays in Albania take you from remote mountain ranges, past beautiful Ottoman towns, through quaint villages and down to the Albanian Riviera, where you can sooth your pedal-weary calves with a dip in the Ionian Sea. Guided, small group cycling holidays cover adventurous routes – both culturally and physically – with high mountain passes, meadow-covered plateaus and isolated hamlets that have not been touched by tourism. Cycling along lush valleys and past idyllic waterfalls takes you away from big roads and big crowds – into places where traditional dress is still worn, guesthouse owners welcome you like long-lost friends and food is grown just a few metres from where it is served. Daily distances average 45-70km, so you can cover some serious ground, though e-bike hire is sometimes offered too, and there is a support vehicle to transport luggage. You can always hop in if the going gets tough.

Cycling is most enjoyable in April-June or in September, either side of the searing summer months, and away from the coastal crowds of July and August.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Albania or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
You could spend weeks exploring Albania’s nooks and crannies without getting bored – but while you’re in this part of the world, it’s worth nipping over the border.

Become a Balkan explorer

Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia are all tantalisingly close as well as equally diminutive, meaning it’s possible to explore two or even three of these countries in just a few days. The stunning town of Prizren in Kosovo is well worth a visit, with its well preserved Ottoman houses, Turkish baths and 11th century fortress; while Montenegro is best reached via the shores of stunning Lake Skadar, shared by the two countries. Macedonia combines well with northern Albania – why not explore both countries by bike, taking in Mavrovo National Park and Lake Ohrid?
Written by Vicki Brown
Photo credits: [Page banner: SarahTz] [Walking – in sunshine or snow: NH53] [Eat, & eat some more: Kj1595] [Cycling holidays: Ehrlich91] [Become a Balkan explorer: Tobias Klenze]