Balkan Express5 customer review
The Balkan Peninsula for many is one of the last undiscovered corners of Europe. Cultural and natural variety abound here, forged over the centuries by numerous political changes and imperial influences from the Byzantine to the Ottoman. We contrast Tirana, Skopje, Prishtina and Podgorica with traditional towns, villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and places of untouched natural beauty. Each country offers a different culture, cuisine and tradition to discover, each growing as an independent nation in its own right and taking its place in the modern world. This is a rare chance to see the re-emergence of places kept off limits until relatively recently.
East meets West and new merges almost seamlessly with old. Over the centuries people have travelled to this region for its fertile soil, natural resources and healing waters. This enchanting land, which has remained virtually untouched by tourism, boasts rich tradition, vibrant culture and mouth-watering cuisine. With vast historical attractions, nightlife costal towns, countless national parks and 11 UNESCO sites, this adventure tour is delightfully different.
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At a glance
- 14 Nights, 3-5* hotel accommodation with breakfasts
- 14 riding days with 100% vehicle support
- 100% tarmac
- Group size 4 to 10 bikes plus local leader
- Contries 5 : Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Corfu
- 2460 km of motorcycle route
- Visit 11 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
- Ride across 5 contries.
- Journey through the beautiful Albanian Riviera.
- Discover culinary delight you didn'n even know existed.
- Ferry across the amazing Albanian fiords.
- Relax in the thermal waters of Bënjë and Peshkopia.
- Visit Enver Hoxha's nuclear bunker in Tirana.
- Explore Corfu
- Witness Bënja's bridge that has spanned the river for centuries.
- Visit Valbona, Europe's hiking Meka.
Tiranë - Kotor
Shortly after exiting Tirana we will reach the small town of Kruja, which was the epicenter of the legendary Albanian resistance to the Ottomans, led by national hero George Kastrioti Skanderbeg in the 14th century. Its location on the cliffs of mount Kruja made it an invincible stronghold in the Albanian-Ottoman wars for almost half a century. Now, this elevated location offers visitors gorgeous views of the coast and beautiful sunsets. Short walk along the famous Bazaar Street we will continue north toward Shkoder before heading west to the Albania-Montenegro Muriqan border crossing.
As we ride most of 295km Montenegro’s coastline, home to quiet fishing villages, flashy resort towns, Unesco-Recognized fjords-capes, the islet of Sveti Stefan and the remains of grand Venetian fortresses we’ll end our ride at the UNSCO World Heritage city of Kotor.
Wedged between brooding mountains and a moody corner of the bay, the achingly atmospheric Kotor is perfectly at one with its setting. Hemmed in by staunch walls snaking improbably up the surrounding slopes, the town is a Middle-Ages maze of museums, churches, cafe-strewn squares and Venetian palaces and pillories. It’s a dramatic and delightful place where the past coexists with the present; its cobblestones ring with the sound of children racing to school in centuries-old buildings, lines of laundry flutter from wrought-iron balconies, and hundreds of cats – the descendants of seafaring felines – loll in marble laneways. Come nightfall, Kotor’s spectacularly lit-up walls glow as serenely as a halo; behind the bulwarks, the streets buzz with bars, live music – from soul to serenades – and castle-top clubbing. Budva’s got the beaches, and nearby Dubrovnik’s got the bling, but for romance, ambience and living history, this Old Town outflanks them all.
Kotor - Zabljak
Today our direction is east as we ride towards Durmitor National Park. The road starts to climb into the high mountains, though we still pass through great open plains which afford far-reaching views into the valleys below. First stop of the day is Ostrog Monastery. Resting improbably – miraculously? – in a cliff face 900m above the Zeta valley, the gleaming white Ostrog Monastery (Manastir Ostrog) is the most important site in Montenegro for Orthodox Christians, attracting up to a million visitors annually. Despite its numerous pilgrims, tourists and souvenir stands, it’s a strangely affecting place.
Set your own pace as we climb steadily toward the impossibly rugged and dramatic Durmitor National Park is one of Montenegro’s – and Mother Nature’s – showpieces. Carved out by glaciers and underground streams, Durmitor stuns with dizzying canyons, glittering glacial lakes and nearly 50 limestone peaks soaring to over 2000m; the highest, Bobotov Kuk, hits 2523m.
Zabljak - Shkodër
Riding down the mountain through endless gorges and forests, the most spectacular of all is definitely Tara River Canyon, which will accompany us to Montenegro’s capital, Podgorica. Slicing through the mountains at the northern edge of the national park, the Tara River forms one of the world’s deepest canyons (1300m; the Grand Canyon plummets a mere 200m deeper).
After visiting Podgorica, we will continue across the border, into Albania, along Shkodra Lake the largest in the Balkan Peninsula to Shkodra, the traditional centre of the Gheg cultural region, and one of the oldest cities in Europe. The ancient Rozafa Fortress has stunning views over the nearby lake, while a concerted effort to renovate the buildings in the Old Town has made wandering through Shkodra a treat for the eyes. .
Shkodër - Dardhë
Today we have to endure the early start to catch the ferry in Koman which will take us through one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. After relaxin on board the ferry for three hours we’ll continue on a wide plain surrounded by towering mountain peaks to the gorgeous setting of Valbone. After lunch we’ll make our way back to Bajram Curri and zig-zag endlessly to one of the most remote and amazing road in Albania.
Dardhë - Pejë
Pejë - Prizren
Prizren - Mavrovo
Mavrovo - Ohrid
Sublime Ohrid is Macedonia's most seductive destination, with an atmospheric old quarter cascading down a graceful hill, crammed full of beautiful churches and topped by the bones of a medieval castle. Its cobbled streets are flanked by traditional restaurants and lakeside cafes, but it's not a complete tourist circus just yet and still has a lived-in feel – particularly in the upper reaches of the Old Town. Best of all is that you can be skipping through historic monuments one minute and lying on a deck chair with your toes in the water the next – its location right on the edge of serene Lake Ohrid is hard to beat, and a lovely little town beach and boardwalk help make the most of its natural charms.
Ohrid - Sotirë
Sotirë - Sarandë
Today we will continue along the Greek border towards Gjirokastër and Sarande.Along the road we will visit the thermal springs of Benje with its 17century bridge spanning over the river and springs of Syri i Kaltër – known as “The Blue Eye.”
Stopover in Gjirokastër is one of the most beautiful Albanian historic towns – inscribed into the UNESCO world heritage list. Gjirokastër; the “city of stone,” extends downhill from the 13th century castle. From the walls of the castle one can admire the view of its districts and the surrounding valley of river Drinos. A stroll along the stone paved streets will bring travelers to discover the charming traditional architecture that originates from the Ottoman times. It was in these gray stone-cobbled streets that both dictator Enver Hoxha and writer Ismail Kadare grew up. We will visit the castle on arrival, and then have lunch in a restaurant in town. In the afternoon we will visit the museum of ethnography located in the family house of dictator Hoxha
One last stop before Sarande, includes a visit to UNESCO site of Butrint. Close to modern civilization yet with its monuments in thick woodland. With remains dating from so many different periods covering two and a half thousand years. Set in a marshy landscape besides the busy straits separating Corfu from Albania.
Sarandë - Corfu
Corfu - Berat
After a stopover in Dhermi, the most famos beach in Albania we will cross one of the most beautiful pass in Europe. Llogara Pass and its National Park tower 2000m from the beach below straight up. Descent on the other side to Vlore and continue riding the sunny hills of south-central Albania, untill we reach Berat, “the city of a thousand windows”. Berat is the best-preserved historic town of Albania. Illyrian and Roman walls surround Byzantine churches and Ottoman houses, coexisting with the socialist buildings in an impressive historic accumulation of more than 2,400 years.
We will walk in the characteristic neighborhood “Mangalemi” to visit the ethnographic museum. Then we’ll head to the citadel district of Berat, with its splendid orthodox churches and the Onufri Icons Museum (named after the famous 16th century master painter of icons and murals).
Berat - Tiranë
Free time in Tirana, followed by the airport transfer and departure.
Pillion / Own Bike
* Prices above are sharing room
* Motorcycle upgrade uses the GS 1200 or GS 1200 Adventure
- 14 Nights Accommodation
- Motorcycle GS 800
- Multilingual tour guide
- Support van and mechanic
- Fuel during the entire tour
- All Lunches and dinners
- All breakfasts
- All attraction site fees
- Airport shuttle service
- Tolls and ferry ticket
What's not included
- Single supplement
- Motorcycle upgrade
- Airplane tickets
- Riding gear or helmet
- Travel insurance
- Drinks with meals
- Hard case panniers
- Gratitude for guides
- Visa expenses
- Extra airport transfer
|Tour Date||Tour Status|
|May 13 - May 27||Available & guaranteed|
|June 17 - July 1||Available|
|September 2 - September 16||Available & guaranteed|
- Airline Lost & Found
- Riding Gear
- How much money do I need?
- Medical conditions and food allergies
- Motorcycle Models and Sizes
- Crossing Borders
- Ferry ride into the Fiords of Albania
- Riding in Albania
- Food and Meals
- Riding Style
Because of the cheep prices of meals we decided that everyone should have the abundant option of choosing their own dish. Nonetheless your guide will suggest the best places and dishes and make reservations beforehand. If it is favorable to you, you can let the guide choose and order the best at each destination.
Nonetheless with our GPS and and easy to follow route, you are free to ride at you own pace and enjoy the ride from your own prospective.