I have been cycling through Albania 3 times over the past 11 years and here is some tips and advice about cycling in Albania as a tour cyclist.
The roads in Albania.
The roads in Albania are quite good these days and they are nicely paved in most of the country these days. This is a big change from when I first came 11 years ago, when most of the roads were dirt roads full of potholes, but you will find that it’s only on the very small roads that things are not paved these days and you can easily go tour cycling in Albania on a road bike these days, if this is the kinda bicycle you prefer.
Road safety when cycling in Albania.
The traffic on albanian roads can be quite chaotic, but I have never felt in any danger when navigating through traffic on my bicycle in Albania. The cars are used to soft traffic as there are still many albanians who walk along the main roads with their cows, donkeys, mules, etc. Getting in and out of the bigger towns and cities requires a bit of attention, but it’s not worse than any average big city around the globe. Apart from some far flung villages in the northeast of the country, close to the Kosovo border, you do not need to worry about safety. In the far northeast of the country, there are still some pretty outlawed towns, where you should only go if you have talked to some local about the situation in advance, but this is a very very small part of the country and Albania is generally speaking one of the safest countries in Europe to cycle around and people will often stop in their cars and ask you if you need help or offer you food and drink and you should not worry when this happens. This is just traditional albanian hospitality and one of the nice aspects of cycling Albania.
Albania is both steep and flat to cycle.
Some parts of Albania is quite flat, like the western and north western part of the country, but other parts are mountainous, especially the eastern part of the country, but also the southwestern part bordering Greece. These parts of the country are also the most scenic in my opinion and if you are not afraid to climb some long hills, then you are really up for some of the most spectacular landscape you will see in all Europe.
Where to sleep when cycling Albania.
When you are cycling around rural Albania it’s generally ok to wild camp if you like that. It’s very accepted in Albania and the only thing that is likely to happen to you is that locals will come and ask if you want to sleep in their house, or have dinner with them. these days there are also many little camp sites around Albania where you can get access to showers, toilets and so, for a very small amount of money. I kinda like using these, as I like to have a shower after a day of cycling. Albania is also very well equipped with roadside hotels that are generally fairly cheap.
I have come across a few bicycle friendly hostels that has both hostel beds as well as camping offered and I think they are very ideal for tour cyclists as you get all the facilities of a hostel, with good showers, kitchen, social life, wifi and such without having to pay much for it. The places I mention here are also run by people who like tour cycling themselvesand they are really good for getting some advice about cycling Albania and they are truely friendly folks. The links to the websites of these 3 hostels/campsites are:
In Tirana: tiranahostel
In Peshkopia in east Albania: Peshkopihostel