The rich natural and cultural diversity of the Balkans provides the kind of variety you rarely find on European rides. This fascinating route provides the opportunity to visit three very different countries from the former Yugoslavia as we head from Bosnia over the Dinaric Alps into Montenegro and finally to Dubrovnik, on Croatia's Adriatic Coast. The largely uncrowded roads allow for glorious views, a few good challenges and the opportunity to visit many cultural highlights along the way including the historic city of Mostar. The trip concludes in the magnificent city of Dubrovnik; famous for it's ancient city walls, marbled streets and baroque architecture. A trip here will live long in the memory.
The trip starts today in the old Ottoman trading centre of Trebinje, Bosnia & Herzegovinas wine capital. Trebinje has a rich history that dates back to the Middle Ages with a beautiful intact old town that escaped damage during the war. We overnight in a hotel in the old centre.
Our first day takes us on a circuit of this wine growing region, past the villages and vineyards of Popovo Polje with magnificent views on all sides of the Herzegovinian limestone mountains. We climb up to the impressive Vjetrenica Cave, one of the largest in the Dinaric Alps. This mornings section is on the old train tracks that serviced the region until the early 70s. After lunch we head across Popovo Polje, flanked by the impressive limestone peaks of the Dinaric Alps. Having arrived at the other side of the valley, well put away our bikes for the day and take the transfer back to the Hotel.Before dinner, we enjoy a wine-tasting at one of Hercegovina'sfamily owned wineries.
Today we head off in the direction of the impressive Orijen mountain range and Montenegro. However before we can cool off in the blue refreshing waters of the Adriatic our cycling journey takes us through a beautiful valley known for its delicate honey and pungent cheeses. After a 7km climb, well make a short stop for a honey farming crash course from one of the local farmers. Here you can try your hand at extracting some of this golden elixir. The bee keeper moves his hives 3 times a year, so that the bees can visit different flowers and therefore produce different honey. As such it may be necessary to do this visit on day 2 depending on where the hives are when we visit the region.In the afternoon, we continue our climb as we enter Montenegro or the Black Mountains, with a last 3km climb section up to the border. From here we encounter rolling hills and extensive views of the Adriatic. Just before our early afternoon descent ends in the old seafarers' town of Herceg Novi, we'll stop for a picnic lunch at a beautiful viewpoint above the town. Later on we continue our ride along the beach to the hotel where we can go for a swim before dinner. We overnight in a seaside hotel.
We start the day with a 30 min boat ride across the beautiful outer Bay of Kotor from Herceg Novi to the traditional fishing village of Rose while our bikes are transported by the small ferry. We meander across the tranquil Lustica Peninsula and enjoy a warm welcome and a visit to the traditional olive oil farm of the Moric family. The road continues to the inner Bay of Kotor, winding peacefully along the shores with spectacular mountain landscapes plunging into the deep waters of the bay. We will then stop for a 45 minute swim and coffee break near the baroque town of Perast.We finish the day riding into Kotor and our hotel base just a short walk from Kotor Old Town with its historic city walls, cobbled streets, piazzas and coffee shops.
The challenge today is to ascend the incredible serpentine road leading to Lovcen National Park high above the Bay of Kotor. Each turn in the road brings a new vista and the top of the road affords breathtaking views over the bay and in total there are a dizzying 26 switchbacks! Once marking the frontier between Austria, Hungary and the old Montenegro the origins of this road are steeped in history. Upon entering the national park a much more alpine landscape opens up, contrasting sharply with the Mediterranean coastline just a few kilometres away. One of the most important sites on Lovcen Mountains, from a cultural perspective, is the mausoleum of the celebrated Montenegrin poet and philosopher Njegos, which we may be able to visit after the end our ride. We then have time to explore the area or perhaps go for a swim in our comfortable hotel in the national park.
Having climbed up to Lovcen, today we start with the descent to Cetinje, the former royal capital of Montenegro, a town of faded grandeur epitomised by the once imposing embassies and the Royal Palace. We take a short stop to explore the town itself. The descent continues towards the vast Skadar Lake, on the border with Albania. On the horizon during today's ride stand the distant but imposing peaks of the Prokletije (Accursed) Mountains, the lands of feudal tribes for centuries. The ride follows the River 'Crnojevica', a major tributary to Skadar Lake, all the way to its entry point into the lake itself. We end the ride at the fishing village of Virpazar. After visiting this charming hamlet we take a 40min transfer to our Hotel in Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro; our base for the night.
This morning we start with a long (5hr) road transfer to the Montenegrin / Bosnian border at Vrancenovici Bileca and Nevesinje. This journey allows us to climb Velez Mountain, Herzegovinas sleeping giant. Velez offers stunning views of the surrounding area, as well as a range of fortifications built by the Austrians in the late 19th Century. The highlight of today is a fast and beautiful descent along the old postal service route to Mostar. Very few people get to see Mostar from above. The route takes us directly to Mostars old bridge and the Neretva River, a fantastic way to end our riding.
We transfer (3hrs) to Dubrovnik for a well deserved tour of the town and swim in the Adriatic. Well stop along the way in the nearby village of Blagaj, with its well known Buna Spring and the adjacent Ottoman house/monastery. The spring here is amazing. It flows out of a 200m cliff wall and singlehandedly creates the Buna River. Dubrovnik is our final destination and a great way to end. This magnificent walled city lies at the southernmost tip of Croatia. Formerly a prosperous trading centre, Dubrovnik is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and its perfectly preserved Old Town and rich cultural life draw many visitors each year.
Our trip ends in Dubrovnik.You may however wish to extend your stay in the town to further explore its cobbled streets or enjoy the beautiful coastline. Should you wish to do so please ask a member of the sales team about our post tour nights.