Cycling through Albania

by tkos on August 31, 2012

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This is where you start to realise you’ve left home. We cycled through here late August and September, only to be warned about the weather in Turkey and Iran by the time we get there. As a result, we missed out on Montenegro and Serbia. There’s a multiple of options as to which countries you can go through and I suppose it depends on what time of year you are there and how much time you have. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on Kosovo.

Tirana, Albania’s capital, is another soon to be vibrant city and is definitely not worth missing. I was lucky enough to have a good local friend in the city who was kind enough to show us around to all the best places! Usually we avoid freeways if we can, but the ride from Tirana to Kukes is all freeway and the only way you can go. It will be the first of many, many freeways you take and is certainly nothing to worry about. There is a service lane most of the way and the huge tunnel you go through up north is not really an issue as it is well lit. Have fun!

 

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 What we loved the most:

  • Tirana has a buzz amidst the local, young professionals who live and work in the city. It has stark contrasts from areas which flirt with the poverty line, to others which could be of any European city.  But more than anything, there is a feeling that Tirana is going to get itself on the tourist map in years to come. It was great to get a sneak preview!
  • The traffic was not as bad as we expected, even cycling on the freeway, there is always plenty of space and cars generally keep their distance from you.

What grinds our gears:

  • The roads take a small dip in quality, but nothing that you should let put you off. There’s just a few more potholes to look out for.

What we didn’t, but should’ve done:

  • There are so many fabulous places to explore and plenty of advice from locals. But being on a bicycle, you tend to explore what’s on the way and not necessarily the best the country has to offer. This advice is generic for any country that you cycle through, but if you have the time, find somewhere to leave your bike and get on a train or car pool with a local for a day trip to see what’s really out there. We did this a couple of times in Tirana, but not enough to give this beautiful country justice.

What’s it worth:

  • It’s hard to gage our expenditure because we spent the vast majority of our time with a local friend. We went out to restaurants almost on a daily basis. Kimmi’s mum and sister came out to visit for a week also. All in all, we spent an average of £32.54 per day. Albania is definitely much cheaper than Italy but I think we were lucky to spend that little!

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TownKm'sNightsWhere we slept
Tirana60 (from Durres)8With a friend
Rreshen801Wild Camp
Kukes751Hotel

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