Balkan Express

5 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.


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


Highlights


  • 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.
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Arrival

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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.



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

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Pejë - Prizren

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Prizren - Mavrovo

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Dolores esse nam obcaecati praesentium quod? Accusamus ad aliquam asperiores beatae blanditiis consectetur consequuntur culpa doloremque ea exercitationem, facilis illum laborum magnam maiores necessitatibus nostrum numquam officiis quae quos, rem rerum sunt suscipit tempora vero voluptatem?

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

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Dolores esse nam obcaecati praesentium quod? Accusamus ad aliquam asperiores beatae blanditiis consectetur consequuntur culpa doloremque ea exercitationem, facilis illum laborum magnam maiores necessitatibus nostrum numquam officiis quae quos, rem rerum sunt suscipit tempora vero voluptatem?

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

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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

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Departure

Free time in Tirana, followed by the airport transfer and departure.

Solo Rider

3980

Pillion / Own Bike

2350

Bike Upgrade

350

Single Supplement

340

* Prices above are sharing room
* Motorcycle upgrade uses the GS 1200 or GS 1200 Adventure


What's included
  • 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
June 17 - July 1 Available
September 2 - September 16 Available
  • 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
In the event that your flight has lost you luggage please give the following information to the lost and found office that unless there will be another flight the same with your luggage on it, you will be traveling the next day and the destination for your luggage to be delivered should be determined by calling Motorcycle Albania at +3556730000. Motorcycle Albania and Lost & Found will make further arrangements to bring the luggage to you as soon as possible.
It is important to layer your clothing for different climates, as our tour may go through cool high mountain passes on one day and warm valley lowlands on the next. Rain in the mountains can occur unexpectedly, so you should bring a rain suit. Helmet is a must unless you have made further arrangements with us. In the event of lost luggage we will provide you with a helmet and riding gear until the arrival of yours.
You will need money only for meals and drinks. A typical dinner cost between 5-10 € and a litter of house red wine from 3-7€. Coffee is 50cent and beer 1€. Although ATM machines are common in most cities and towns there will be days where finding on could be challenging. But more challenging is trying paying with a credit card. Cash in the most easy form of payment and luckily, because of the prices in Albania, you don’t need much of it.
Because of the remoteness this tour will take us, is quite neccessary that you let Motorcycle Albania know in advance of possible medical conditions of food allergies that you might have. All our guides are competent first aid responders and will do everything to sort out the situation in the most professional manner.
We have updated our motorcycles by providing 2017 model for all our tours. On top of that, all our models now have motorcycles with lowered chassis for shorter riders. After you make you booking make sure to talk to us about the most appropriate size for you.
Crossing borders is easy and straight forward. Everyone must have their passports and driving license on them at all time. Because of our agremenst with Border Custom Controle, you can cross any border independent from the rest of the group and don't need to do any customs paperwork.
Because of limited accesabilito to most mountainous vilages this is the only way in or out for a lot of people and because of tourism and water level of the lake loading/unloading of the bikes on the ferries can be challenging. Therefore your guide might have to do that job for you.
All the roads exept for big citys are free of trafic and very well maintained. The drivers are quiet patience and forgiving.
Organic food is still the standart in the Albanain cousine. All the farmers grow their own heirloom varieties and because of the cost of chemicals used in developed countries they have followed more natural methods of agriculture. Combine the good flavor with the rich variety of traditional dishes and low prices and you landed on food paradise.

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.
Every group is different but the most common style of riding is where the guide leads and you all make the same stops and rests to which we came to know from our long experience. All the helmets will be equipped with an intercom, where you can listen the guide telling stories and histories of the traveled area or interact in private conversations with other riders from the group. There is usually two coffee stops, one before and one after lunch stop as well as common regroups in attractions sites and beautiful view points.

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.
Luka Fernando

This was my first trip to the Balkans and it was a good introduction to this misunderstood area. From great cities to great landscapes! We saw it all… It was an inspiration to see how this war torn countries have repared their infrastructure as well as their souls! I hope to return very soon.

Bob Richardson

A very enjoyable trip to 5 countries. The trip varies a lot and at the end of if it is though to remember it all. So much to see and do. I highly recommand it before this reagion becomes full of tourists.

John Lancaster

A very well organised tour from the moment we were met at the airport. Thoroughly enjoyed Albania, bikes were good, hotels were of a good standard, people were friendly and prices were low. Highlight was the rides through the mountains, lovely quiet roads and superb scenery.

Stewart Aylesbury

This was my first visit to Albania and also my first bike tour.It was an excellent introduction to both.The local tour leader and bike mecanic were very professional and ensured that everyone's needs were looked after. All the towns we visited were unique and the accommodation was of generally high standard.We ate well and were made welcome at every location. There were so many highlights.

Lucy Findlay

I was the only female rider on the group, but I never felt left behind even though I rode at my own slow pace. This trip is great for those that want to see a large area of the Balkan countries. We thoroughly enjoyed it. There was a huge variety of landscapes from remote rural backwaters in the mountains, historical cities and ruins to the beautiful coast with it's clear water and white sands. The group was great too. Our leader Armand was very professional and paid attention to numerous details. He had strong views about things, but is clearly committed to providing context and understanding of his country and reagion.

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