Venice to Ancient Greece 2016
Italy Slovenia Croatia Montenegro Albania Greece
Tuesday 06 September, 2016 to Tuesday 04 October, 2016
|Venice to Ancient Greece|
|Dates:||6 Sep – 4 Oct 2016|
|Ave. Daily:||88-90 km/day|
|Bike Type:||Road bike / touring bike (included or BYO)|
Comfortable 3 star lodgings
All breakfasts, several lunches,
|Price:||USD $11,500 twin share|
More AllTrails rides:
- Wetlands and fisheries at the foot of the Alps
- The oft disputed border city of Trieste, and its unique blend of Latin, Slavic and Germanic cultures
- A sliver of Slovenia and the limestone islands of North Croatia and the Dalmatian coast
- Split, Croatia’s cosmopolitan coastal city, which was at one time a Greek colony, a Roman capital, a Byzantine outpost, a Republic of Venice, a Hungarian protectorate, and an autonomous city
- The fortified sea commerce hub of Dubrovnik, Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia
- Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO World Heritage site and World Network Biosphere Reserve
- Relics of the Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires
- Greece’s rural farms, crisp mountain ranges and other settings of mythical proportions
This ride is designed and operated by our reputable parter tour company in Europe. Please contact us to let us know that you are interested in this tour and we will contact our local tour operator to check availability, answer your questions, or to book you in.
Meal and accom inclusions noted as B, L, D, A (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, Accom)
Your Expedition begins just outside of Venice. We’ll meet this afternoon for introductions and a brief safety talk, you’ll get your bike fitted and be able to go out for a short warm-up ride. Tonight we’ll celebrate the start of our journey with a special dinner together. If you decide to come a day or two early to explore Venice be sure to book your hotel as soon as possible — the Venice Film Festival will be in town and hotels will fill-up quickly.
You’ll begin your journey from the Lido di Jesolo, north of the Lido of Venice. The ride takes you through wetlands and small lagunal and fishing villages like Caorle. Though the ride is through the wetlands of the north Adriatic it is anything but straight as you cross a number of important rivers flowing out of the Alps including the Piave, Livenza and Tagliamento. We spend the night in Grado, once mainly a fishing center, today it is a popular tourist destination, known commonly as L’Isola del Sole (“The Sunny Island”).
Our route is fairly short today so you will have time to explore the historic town of Trieste. Trieste, like many border cities, bounced between Italy and Austria from 1719 until after World War II when Yugoslavia made claim to it. It has been under Italian control since 1954 and is now the capital of the Friuli-Venezia-Giulia region.
Our destination today takes us along the northern boundaries of Istria, like Trieste, a disputed border dominated by the Venetians, the Austrians, Marshall Tito’s Yugoslavia and is now a part of Croatia. Tonight you’ll be in the coastal village of Selce, where you can enjoy your first swim in the Adriatic, or relax at the hotel spa.
You’ll spin along the coastline of the historic Roman “Dalmatia,” before taking a ferry to the island of Pag. This area is known for its “Bura” winds which have created a unique vegetation and trees with remarkable shapes. This rocky limestone island is home to a surprising number of sheep who thrive because of their ability to find aromatic herbs, thin grass and sage tucked between the rocks. The result of this special diet is a unique and delicious sheep’s cheese which you must try!
Today you will discover Pag, before you start riding on the mainland. A highlight of the day will be Zadar which was an ancient commercial capital of Dalmatia that competed with and was eventually taken over by Venice.
Today you’ll pedal south and east, partly along the coast and partly into the interior to Primosten, a lovely coastal village famous for its wines.
Split was one of the principal cities of Roman Dalmatia and site of the Roman emperor, Diocletian’s magnificent palace in the 4th century AD. Over the centuries Split was Roman, Byzantine, an independent rival of Venice and eventually a Venetian subject. The ride today is purposely short today so you can enjoy this wonderful city.
The ferry this morning takes you to Vela Luka on the island of Korçula. Take your time to explore this fascinating island once famous for its fine wines. The wine industry was devastated by the phylloxera root disease resulting in massive migration of Korçula residents to Australia during and between World Wars I and II. Take time to explore this stunning island.
The ride today takes you the length of the spectacular Peljesac peninsula to the small fishing villages of Ston and Mali Ston, famous in the past for their production of salt. Stop for lunch before heading on to Dubrovnik.
If you prefer to avoid the hordes of tourists that descend from cruise ships take an early morning walk, and a late afternoon aperitif and dinner once the tourists have left. Otherwise jump in the mix and enjoy excellent opportunities to people-watch. This fortified city once rivaled Venice for control of commerce throughout the Adriatic Sea.
Leave the hubbub of Dubrovnik behind and head down the coast to Montenegro. Your destination is Kotor, on a natural inlet from the Adriatic Sea. Kotor’s natural harbor, surrounded by limestone mountains, made it an important Medieval trading center and seaport.
A spectacular and well-deserved view of Kotor Bay awaits you on the Jezerski Vrh summit. Your destination is Virpazar, a tiny town on the shores of the biggest lake in the Balkans: Skadar Lake.
You’ll bicycle into Albania today from Montenegro crossing a major historic boundary between 16th century Venice and the Ottoman empire. This boundary zone gave rise to the Albanian league under the rule of George Kastrioti Skanderbeg. Our destination is Shkodra, an ancient city that was once an Illyrian capital.
Shuttle this morning to Komani at the head of the lake of the same name. The dam built here is a part of a series of dams built amid the limestone mountains of northern Albania. You’ll board our private boat and cruise approximately 35 km (21 miles) with spectacular views of one of the most remote regions in Albania. Eventually docking in Fierze where you’ll pedal past a second dam, “the Light of the Party,” and continue to the hotel high above Fierze Lake.
Your destination today is Kukesi, which had to be rebuilt in 1976 when the town was flooded by the dam that we passed yesterday. Stroll through the alleys which separate five-story tall apartment buildings built at the height of Enver Hoxha’s control over Albania. Broad boulevards, wide sidewalks and alleys with no parking characterize the city where few residents owned an automobile at the time.
Today’s ride is through a formerly remote mountain region now connected with a fine paved road. Enjoy the views, stop for photos and to rest as you’ll climb over 6500 feet. Our destination is Peshkopi where local authorities have closed down one of the main streets in the center of town to favor the afternoon and evening “giro” or promenade.
The ride today takes you along the shores of Lake Ohrid, a UNESCO world heritage site and one of the World Network Biosphere Reserves. The lake is distinguished by its depth and tectonic origins which are similar to Lakes Baikal and Tanganyika. We’ll spend this evening on the shore of Lake Ohrid.
Take a ride along the lake shore if you’d like today but we suggest making this a complete rest day as you prepare for the mountains of Greece!
Your ride today takes you through two national parks and along Lake Ohrid and Prespa Lake, which is split among Greece, Albania and Macedonia. The ride is long but the views are spectacular and the grades are quite doable. Kastoria, Greece was a Byzantine city and an Ottoman stronghold under the Turks until 1912. It is located on a narrow isthmus on the lake of the same name. Kastoria has been a center for furriers long after the beaver once trapped here disappeared.
A mountainous ride today takes you through ancient Greek Macedonia, an important border region between classical Greece and the central Balkans. Rome was able to bring peace to the region as it expanded the empire in the 2nd century BC. Over the centuries the Albanian, Macedonian and Bulgarian populations in the region have formed a real melting pot of historic cultures. You’ll be in Metsovo this evening.
Enjoy a half rest day today and lunch together before visiting two of the famous monasteries perched on remnants of sandstone deposits dating to 60 million years ago. Our hope is to eat lunch in one of the monasteries. Stay tuned for news on that. After our visit you’ll be free to relax and enjoy a rest this afternoon.
Today is a little respite from the mountains as you wind our way among Greek farm villages on your way to Karditsa. Take your time as we have several mountain days coming up.
The ride today takes you to the “Switzerland of Greece,” in Karpenisi. The town and surrounding villages are famous for their alpine settings, clean air and great views. Enjoy a relaxing evening in the square or “plateia” this evening.
The route today takes you over one last mountain range before plummeting to sea level on the historic Gulf of Corinth. Your return to sea level, means you’ve left the ancient Ottoman Empire and Byzantium, and are back in Venetian territory. The Venetians consolidated their hold over this coast in the 16th century when they fortified Nafpaktos against the Ottomans.
Just 15 kilometers from Nafpaktos this morning we pedal across the Rion-Antirion suspension bridge. We actually begin in Antirion and pedal the nearly 3 km bridge to Rio (about 1.8 miles). The bridge was inaugurated in 2004 for the Olympics in Athens. From here we pass around Patras and into the center of the Peloponnesian Peninsula which constitutes the southernmost part of mainland Greece. While technically it may be considered an island since the construction of the Corinth Canal in 1893, it is rarely referred to as an island. It has two land connections with the rest of Greece, a natural one at the Isthmus of Corinth, and an artificial one by the Rio-Antirio bridge.
Our route takes us to the site of the ancient Olympic games that were first held in the 8th century BC. We’ll stop for a brief guided visit together and we’ll suggest lunch here before heading on to our lodge in Ampeliona.
Kalamata, famous for its olives, and the remote capital of an even more remote southern Peloponnesian peninsula. The founders of ExperiencePlus! Bicycle Tours, Rick and Paola Malpezzi Price began their walk with Benjamin the donkey here in the spring of 1974. That walk eventually gave rise to bicycle and walking adventures throughout Europe and South America. Enjoy Kalamata’s mosaic of history, take a walk to the beach and we’ll have a final dinner together this evening to celebrate our journey.
|Full Tour (28 nights)|
|USD11,500 twin share|
|USD1000 single room supplement|