We finished tracing the Trans Dinarica cycling route in Montenegro

Online maps are one thing, but the reality is sometimes different – and this was also shown in Montenegro, which took us a bit more time (and kilometers) than we planned. However, we can guarantee that the Montenegrin part of the Trans Dinarica will be a real treat for all mountain-loving cyclists.

 

 

To explore Montenegro, we planned the month of May, when the snow in the highest areas is gone. As we learned later from the locals, this year’s winter (as in many other places in this part of Europe) was quite mild and therefore there were no large remnants of snow. However, we noticed how nature wakes up later than in the valley from which we had just came. Montenegro was really wonderful at this time of the year.

Mountains, mountains, and some more mountains

As the name suggests, you will be dealing with mountains here, while on the other hand, the country also has a beautiful, rugged coastline on the Adriatic Sea. But Trans Dinarica will mainly cross its northern, mountainous part. When entering from Bosnia and Herzegovina, you first face a climb, but once you reach the Durmitor National Park, you find yourself in pure cycling romance. Rolling ups and downs, endless pastures with cows and horses, and snow-capped peaks in the distance. In any of the places where you will spend the night, especially in Žabljak, it is worth taking a day or two for hikes to mountain lakes, for cycling around the entire Durmitor ring (with no luggage), or for some other outdoor activities (rafting, canyoning, horse riding…).

It should be mentioned that while connecting the route to the east, trying to avoid the busy roads, we came across quite a few bad sections, which are sometimes marked as cycle routes – while we believe that a fully loaded bikepacker will not be very happy on them. In the end, we found a nice, yet still steep road, which, we believe, will be enjoyable for everyone.

 

 

Gallery of Trans Dinarica’s Montenegro part:

The research work of Trans Dinarica’s Bosnia and Herzegovina southern leg is completed

Why are there two legs (northern and southern) of the Trans Dinarica cycle route in Bosnia and Herzegovina, what can you expect from cycling and what interesting things did we learn along the way.

 

 

Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in the heart of Trans Dinarica. Already at the beginning of planning, we decided that there should be two legs in this country. Why? We were able to connect Bosnia and Herzegovina with the two neighboring countries — Serbia to the east and Montenegro to the south — and thus the Trans Dinarica cycle route is now a full circle. At the same time, it was already clear that this country is so diverse that it will be worth spending a little more time in it. And we were right.

 

The most adventurous section of Trans Dinarica?

After last year’s exploration of the ‘northern leg’, from the border with Serbia via Sarajevo to Livno, we have just completed the route from Livno through Herzegovina, Mostar and the mountains south of Sarajevo to the border with Montenegro. The GPS tracks are still being processed, but our impression is that this is one of the more adventurous sections of the Trans Dinarica with a mixture of challenging, rolling terrain that mixes asphalt with gravel. In this part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, expect wonderful scenery, but also exhausting cycling. Sometimes, from morning to evening, you will encounter nothing but some remote farm, where a sign ‘jaja’ (homemade eggs) will invite you to stop and say ‘dobar dan’. But these are also the moments when you realize (again) how friendly, warm and hospitable the locals are and that they are excellent cooks.

 

People are comming back to live (and work in the outdoor tourism!)

On the other hand, we realized that outdoor tourism is developing. In the middle of wild Bjelašnica mountain we slept in a comfortable new wooden cabin with a bicycle workshop in the basement, while in Mostar we met two active sportswomen who returned to Mostar to live – one from Slovenia, the other from Australia. Maybe the emigration trend is reversing? We hope so and believe travelers on bicycles can help with this.

Go to Bosnia and Herzegovina physically fit, equipped for all kinds of weather conditions, but also with a heart longing for adventure and warm human relations.

Gallery of Trans Dinarica’s Bosnia and Herzegovina southern part:

What’s the situation with mines along the Trans Dinarica cycle route?

On a few occasions, we’ve received the following question: “Does the Trans Dinarica come close to former minefields? Where?”

Three cyclists on gravel bikes, riding the Trans Dinarica in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

 

Let us be clear about this: if you stay on the route, there is no chance for danger from mines. This, however, doesn’t mean that a few areas crossed by the Trans Dinarica have recently suffered from the war of the 1990s. In some parts of Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina you will come across red signs “Mine! Zabranjen prolaz!” (Mines! Do not pass!) on the side of the road. In other places there are also signs with maps where mined areas are specially marked (see the two photos bellow).

 

All the roads on our route have been in frequent use for many years, and there is no fear of encountering a mine. But, also, to reiterate: in places where you see such signs, keep to the route. These are not the places to wonder into the woods to pitch a tent.

Although we are strongly aware of this situation, we encourage cyclists not to focus on or emphasize the Balkan wars when communicating about the region or the cycling route. We encourage you to facilitate peace and focus on the nature and the people. We want to focus on the love of life, not the fear.

 

 

How many paved roads and how many macadams can I expect on the Trans Dinarica cycling route?

What is the road-gravel ratio on Trans Dinarica? Does it run only on paved roads? How much macadam can I expect? This information also indirectly answers the question of what bike should you use to embark on (in our opinion) one of the most beautiful cycling routes in Europe. Let’s look to the data we have so far.

 

Cyclists on the Trans Dinarica route in Albania.

 

When planning and researching the Trans Dinarica bike trail, we were guided by two main ideas: to ride away from established, busy routes and the crowded tourist spots, and at the same time to make the route accessible to as many cyclists as possible. This perfect ratio is difficult to catch on every stage: sometimes you will not meet anyone for the whole day except for a surprised shepherd, and sometimes you will have to inhale some smelly exhaust from buses and trucks, which in the Balkans do not necessarily meet high ecological standards (it’s getting better… slowly). However, at this moment we can already offer you a fairly accurate answer regarding the surface under your wheels.

 

Expect about 75% road and 25% gravel

Roughly speaking, we can say that about three-quarters of the entire cycling route is asphalted, but of course the ratio varies from stage to stage. So far, we have also recorded a stage with as much as 99% macadam (that’s in Croatian part of Trans Dinarica). Let’s add a subjective opinion that you have the feeling that there is more gravel when cycling – which is logical, since you ride slower on macadam.

When we talk about unpaved surfaces, this mostly means well-maintained, hard macadam roads, which can also be passable by a normal car. There are also a few stages that contain sections with poorer macadam with larger stones. These will be marked in the navigation packages.

 

Cyclists on the Trans Dinarica route in Albania. Gravel road.

 

Detailed info on the final map and in GPS navigation packages

In the Trans Dinarica map and GPS navigation packages, which will be available from the month of July 2024, you will get all the data with detailed ratios for each stage of the route. However, we do not expect major deviations up or down – so you can already plan to buy or prepare a bike for your next unforgettable cycling adventure.

 

Gallery with some photos of different roads

Trans Dinarica GPS navigation packages: what will they contain and how will they be available

For those of you ready to jump on the bike, let us briefly explain the form the Trans Dinarica GPS navigation packages — with GPS or GPX tracks and Points of Interest, or POIs — will take. We want to be clear about the tools available when cycling through the eight countries of the Western Balkans.

 

Cyclists on gravel bikes checking the navigational data for the Trans Dinarica cycle route.

 

1. The Trans Dinarica route will exist in digital format only.

Trans Dinarica cycling route will only be available in digital format. This Balkan cycling route will not be marked on-site. Can you imagine how many signs would be needed to physically mark approximately 5,000 kilometers of trails? So, don’t expect signs at crossroads.

 

2. The general Trans Dinarica map and data.

The general map of the entire Trans Dinarica route across all countries will be available free of charge. Each stage will be presented with an official pdf map available for free download, showing route track, vertical profile, and basic technical info about the length and elevation. This way, you will be able to see where the route leads and use it to navigate on a bicycle yourself – with some ingenuity and more clicking, of course. But, to make the life of an adventurer easier … (see point 3)

 

3. Extensive Trans Dinarica GPS navigation packages.

Navigation packages for each of the individual countries will be available for a small fee; for Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. The price of the package is expected to be 2 EUR for one stage, which should bring about 20 EUR for one country. There are discounts planned for everyone who chooses to buy packages for more than one country and an even bigger discount for the bravest – for those who choose to buy the navigation package for the entire Trans Dinarica.

These fees are for the route’s sustainability. The fees will be used to offset the cost of keeping the navigation packages accurate and so that the trail is updated with local businesses that offer accommodations, food, and services. In short, we are committed to making a positive impact on communities across the region. You can find some idea about why we believe the cycle route has a positive effect on the local community in this story: Why do I believe in Trans Dinarica?

 

4. For the navigation, you’ll be using the Ride with GPS mobile app (or others).

After a thorough research of the possibilities, we decided that the navigational package will be available on the Ride with GPS platform, the excellent performance of which we have already tested in practice. A mobile app allows active turn-by-turn navigation without an internet connection after preloading the entire map. The process is fast, error-free, with plenty of display options and help along the way. For those in favor of special GPS navigational devices like Garmin, Wahoo, Hammerhead, etc., the navigational package, once purchased, will offer the possibility of downloading GPS data for active navigation with those devices, too. The Ride with GPS app enables the export of tracks in various formats (gpx, tcx, fit, …). We’re sure you’ll enjoy it.

 

Cases of using a mobile app Ride with GPS for navigation on Trans Dinarica.

 

What will the country-specific navigation package contain?

  • GPS track for the whole country.
  • Surface data (paved, unpaved).
  • Information on the height difference (altitude/climbs).
  • Useful POIs (warnings about important route characteristics, accommodations, inns, shops, bicycle workshops, natural and cultural heritage, …).
  • Descriptions of individual stages (interesting sites along the way, difficulty of cycling, specifics regarding accommodation …).
  • Information about the so-called hubs that you can use for easier logistics (connecting routes to major cities with airports, bus, and rail connections).

In short, the navigation package will be informative enough that you should have no problems planning a cycling trip and navigating through an unknown country. This still means that you will be cycling in the Balkans in a ‘self-guided’ way, i.e. on your own. Please do not count on someone from our team to help you look for a place to stay in the middle of the Bosnian mountains at 9 pm.

 

Cyclists on a wooden bridge in Albania, riding the Trans Dinarica cycle route.

 

What you are most interested in: WHEN?

Both the general Trans Dinarica map and the detailed GPS navigation packages will be available in July 2024.

 

What about guided Trans Dinarica cycling tours?

Just a bit of information for those, who are interested in guided/supported cycling tours along the Trans Dinarica: we are already in contact with local tourist agencies that will organize tours with full support (local guide, organized accommodation, luggage transport). This way of experiencing Trans Dinarica will likely be available already in 2024.

 

For now, we invite you to sign up for our e-newsletter, and we will inform you when the Trans Dinarica GPS navigation packages are ready.

Cycling on Trans Dinarica: What about stray and shepherd dogs and wild animals?

This is another question that fills our e-mail boxes: Which animals might we meet while cycling in the Balkans and can they be dangerous? Put simply, there are a lot of wild animals on the Balkan Peninsula, including brown bears, wolves, foxes, deer, and wild boars. The Trans Dinarica runs most of its route through mountainous and less populated areas with exceptional biodiversity.

Two cyclists watch a herd of goats crossing the road in Albania's section of Trans Dinarica cycle route.

It is also true that many shepherds in these lands help protect their animals in an old-fashioned but effective way – with dogs. ‘Tornjaks’, ‘sharplanins’, and ‘Karst shepherds’ are wonderful, big, and brave animals, but in principle, they are not dangerous to humans. However, they are carrying out their mission – guarding their ‘family’ (and the shepherd) – so caution and common sense apply. They might not understand you well if you ride your bike at full speed among the sheep …

Bears, wolves? We haven’t met any … yet

What can we say from experience? On our research journey, we never once met a bear or a wolf, at most a roe deer (in Serbia), a rabbit (in Albania) and a deer (in Slovenia). But that doesn’t mean bears and wolves haven’t met (seen or at least smelled) us. Wolves are considered not to be dangerous to humans, but bears are dangerous if surprised or frightened, especially a female bear with cubs. If you meet a bear, do not run, or climb a tree (bears are better at running and climbing), but leave his territory as calmly as possible. In the case of camping in the wilderness, do not leave leftover food around the tent, the bear will smell it kilometers away.

You are much more likely to meet a shepherd with his sheepdogs (off-leash of course), this happened to us several times while exploring the Trans Dinarica, especially in Albania. Greet the shepherd nicely by raising your hands from a distance, get off your bike, and somehow agree if you can continue your journey in the direction (which may cross his flock). Do not try to pet the dogs, because these are not some spoiled city poodles, but beasts capable of warding off bears and wolves. In principle, these are calm, unobtrusive dogs. However, it is good to know that close encounters with aggressive dogs are possible. As a cyclist who experienced a less pleasant encounter with dogs wrote to us, it helps to place the bike between the dog and yourself, spray water from a water bottle, or throw a stone towards (not at!) the dog. If you are naturally afraid of dogs, we recommend traveling in company.

A shepherd dog lies in the middle of the road in Albania on the Trans Dinarica cycling route.

Feeding a stray dog can have consequences

Yes, it is also very likely that you will also meet a stray dog, especially in cities, but sometimes also somewhere in the middle of nowhere. From what we’ve seen, they’ll (terrified) move away on their own, or maybe at the most, they’ll come begging for their bite while you’re dining on your burek. But you can expect that if you give them food, they will follow you for kilometers (yes, it happened to us). In this case, expect a heartbreaking goodbye sooner or later.

So: enjoy cycling in the Balkans without fear and with common sense. You are far more likely to bring home a scratch from your own clumsiness than from an animal. And yes, first aid should be in the bag in any case. Good luck!

The furriest gallery of Trans Dinarica:

The Trans Dinarica Cycle Route is named Lonely Planet’s “Best in Travel” for 2024

The Trans Dinarica — the first and only cycle route linking all eight countries of the Western Balkans — has been named as one of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel experiences for 2024. The renowned travel media company, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, will release the 2024 edition of their much-anticipated annual book spotlighting the planet’s most exciting destinations on October 24, 2023.

 

Three cyclists near Prokoško jezero in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The Trans Dinarica makes the dream of cycling across this adventure-travel-rich corner of Southeastern Europe a reality for the first time. The route, which is more than 4,000 kilometers, rolls across and connects Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia. Riders will now be able to tackle around 100 stages that prioritize responsible travel, culture, national parks, and UNESCO sites while bringing a sustainable economic engine to communities across the western half of the Balkan Peninsula.

“From the beginning of the Trans Dinarica’s development until today, the idea is to give travelers a way to enjoy the region while moving safely and at their own speed,” says Jan Klavora, one of the route’s designers and a co-director at GoodPlace: a Slovenia-based, sustainability-travel-focused NGO that works with destinations to develop tourism products and strategies. “This region is perfect to discover by bicycle because of its hospitality and richness of heritage. We are proud and honored that Lonely Planet acknowledges this and has also made a priority of responsible travel.”

The route, which averages about 50 kilometers per stage (day), follows quiet asphalt roads, forest trails, and bike paths. The Trans Dinarica — supported by USAID’s Economic Development, Governance and Enterprise Growth (EDGE) Project and GIZ’s Sustainable Rural Development in Albania — was created to make it easy for cyclists of all abilities to discover the region on two wheels. To that end, visitors to the route’s website will receive basic information about the trail for free and then pay a nominal fee for all the GPX tracks and information about accommodations and services across the entire Trans Dinarica.

“We hope travelers take advantage of the Trans Dinarica so they can better enjoy themselves on bicycles,” continues Klavora. “But, more than anything, we hope people will feel the magic that we have felt while traveling in this way across the region.”

Cycling Albania: different, wild, but also a rapidly developing country

Another field exploration is behind us. There were a lot of questions before visiting Albania. For two reasons: although all of us from the team had been to Albania before, it is the least familiar country to all of us. Secondly: even the Albanians themselves don’t know which road is still dirt and barely passable, which is under construction, and which may have already been paved – this is the speed at which a country that was very isolated from the rest of the world until the 1990s is changing.

 

Above Theth in the northern part of Albania.

Above Theth in the northern part of Albania.

 

Today, Albania, Trans Dinarica’s country no. 5, is developing at the speed of light, and if you were in Tirana, the capital with half a million inhabitants, a decade ago, you would hardly recognize it today. Progress can also be seen in the countryside, especially with many new roads and other infrastructure projects, and on the coast, where tourism is booming. But we at Trans Dinarica hold the red thread – the Dinaric Mountains and the less populated mountain regions, which in Albania means that we cycled to many less-visited places. This also meant a bit more research work for us; we even had to swap our support van for an off-road pick-up truck for a few days.

 

Albania is perfect for cycling, and cyclists are perfect for Albania

This intertwining of unspoiled nature, living the old-fashioned life and on the other hand development (roads!) and openness of the country for tourism leads us to the conclusion: Albania is a perfect country for cycling, and cyclists are perfect guests for Albania. Everywhere they welcomed us with open arms, treated us well, and were enthusiastic about the idea of a cross-border cycling route. Another interesting fact: unlike other Balkan countries, there is less meat on the menu, a lot of fresh and pickled vegetables, homemade cheese, eggs, and fish. And language shouldn’t be an obstacle either: young people speak English perfectly, older people… Well, if necessary, you will use pantomime. On the road, we met three ladies on gravel bikes from England, and they confirmed just that: that neither language nor vegetarianism is a problem.

 

Roads? Be prepared for everything

The roads… Hmm, the roads will be very diverse: from perfect, new asphalt through a mountain pass to macadam, on which you’ll be forced to push the bike uphill, while the traffic in cities like Tirana or Shkoder might be a little bit chaotic. The final decision on the route will be made after a complete analysis and in a way that makes connections with Montenegro and North Macedonia logical and simple.

Albania, we are already looking forward to meeting again!

Trans Dinarica – Albania photo gallery

Our next Trans Dinarica expedition: Albania!

These days, our team is preparing for this year’s first autumn Trans Dinarica research expedition. After exploring Serbia and part of Bosnia and Herzegovina, we now await the beautiful and somewhat lesser-known country where the route will reach its southernmost point: Albania.

A twisty, empty road in Albania.

The fun will start in Theth National Park on the border with Montenegro. We continue south towards the Adriatic Sea and Tomorri Mountain National Park. Then we will turn our bikes east towards the Prespan National Park between Lake Ohrid and Lake Prespan. The route then crosses the border to North Macedonia … but we’ll have to save that country for next time.

All of us involved in this project have been to Albania several times, but we still have exciting surprises waiting for us, so we will also have a local cyclist and an excellent expert on the terrain with us. For those interested, please follow the expedition on our social channels: Instagram and Facebook. Stay tuned and thanks for being a part of the journey.

What time of the year should I cycle the Trans Dinarica? A few words about the weather in the Balkans.

Dear cyclists, we are glad that you are showing such interest in the new long-distance cycling route. The questions keep coming and one of the frequent topics is “Which month is the best to cycle the Trans Dinarica?” The answer will be a bit unclear, the way the weather is, but we’ll try to at least roughly indicate when you should take time for your next cycling adventure.

If you want a short answer to ‘When to cycle the Trans Dinarica?’ (and at the same time cover the whole route), the answer would be: from May to September. But since the route stretches for 4,000 kilometers along the Balkan Peninsula, where mountains rise over 2,000 meters not far from the coast of the Adriatic Sea (with a mild Mediterranean climate), the answer is not so simple. In Montenegro, on the extraordinary mountain plateau Durmitor, we were caught by snow already at the beginning of May, the same can happen in the mountainous part of Bosnia and Herzegovina or Albania.

On the other hand, parts of the route in the south of Slovenia, through most of Croatia, in the west of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and parts of Albania and Macedonia are perfectly fine even in March or November, while we don’t imagine cycling in these places in July or August when temperatures rise above 30 degrees Celsius. Then it is better to tackle the mountainous, forested part of the Balkans, where you can refresh yourself in streams, rivers, and lakes.

You also must understand that the weather is changing year after year: in Slovenia, for example, 2022 was hot and dry, and a year later we have a lot, even too much rain. Not to mention the fact that cyclists have different criteria for what is (too) cold, what is (too) hot, and how many rainy kilometers we are prepared to cover.

We advise you to look at the average temperatures of the area before your trip and then monitor the weather forecast daily. In any case, pack both – a swimsuit and a rain jacket. It’s all part of the adventure.

Food on Trans Dinarica: strong, meaty, but also fresh and local (tips for hungry cyclists)

A very important component of traveling (anywhere in the world) is tasting local specialties. This is especially true for the Balkans, where Eastern, Central European, and Mediterranean cuisine are mixed. It depends on where you are on this colorful peninsula.

A breakfast in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Are you counting the callories?

On the mainland, there is a lot of meat and freshwater fish, with various stews on the menu, while closer to the coast of the Adriatic Sea, of course, there will be more seafood next to the meat. The good thing about the food offering is that it’s very authentic – the locals just don’t accept Western fast food (because they have their own, although, of course, you’ll find a ‘happy clown’ in the bigger cities). Downside… Well, there isn’t a downside really, except … for vegans. Honestly: vegetarians will be fine, although the lost calories will have to be replaced mainly with cheese, spinach, or potato ‘burek’ (pie), while vegans, will have to be creative. Well, you can always order a ‘shopska salad’ without grated cheese, a ‘lepinja’ bread (which it shouldn’t be heated up on a plate next to the roast meat) and fresh vegetables and fruit. Don’t even try, they probably don’t know tofu and seitan. Although we were also positively surprised in Sarajevo, more precisely in the Bosnian restaurant Žara iz Duvara, where the owner tries to get the guests to try something other than cevapcici and burek.

Another good thing is that the ingredients for the food are often fresh, even so fresh that you may see from the terrace of the restaurant how the chef went to the tank to catch fresh trout, or that the owner of a family stay will gather most of the ingredients for dinner right in her garden.

When we explore the terrain, we usually have a hearty breakfast (it’s usually classic eggs, salami, cheese, bread, and some other fries, maybe peppers and tomatoes), then we spend the day with some yogurt, burek, preferably baked under the bell, and fresh fruit. For dinner we treat ourselves to something stronger; grilled meat, trout, and various soups are excellent, for example ‘pasulj’ (bean soup) or ‘begova corba’ (chicken soup).

  • Hint no. 1: Take time and don’t complicate too much.
  • Hint no. 2: Don’t let them get you full to their standards. If there are four at the table, there will probably be enough soup for a starter and then a mixed meat plate for two. You can still make up for it with dessert.
  • Hint no. 3: when the house offers it, eat something other than grilled meat, otherwise you may return from the Balkans, even after a cycling tour, with a few kilos more.

Dobar tek! (Bon Appetit)

The Trans Dinarica video trailer: crazy panoramas, dynamic cycling and friendly locals

The priority task of our research trips in the Western Balkans is to check roads, tracks, as well as accommodation and other important information for travelers on bicycles. But in addition, we have another mission: to show the whole world that this area is a first-class cycling destination; it’s just wild enough that cycling is a true adventure, and on the other hand, it’s developed and populated enough that we can count on a hot meal and a clean bed every day (which is actually all a cyclist really needs).

Today we are premiering a video trailer that presents the essence of Trans Dinarica in a minute. At this point, we would like to thank Matevž Hribar for recording on field various video devices, patient cyclists who may have had to cycle to the same road several times for the sake of good footage, and finally the Karata Film studio for their support with advice, equipment and professional editing.

We hope you like it.

If you want to be among the first to receive navigation packages (in 2024), sign up for e-news on our website.

What kind of bicycle for the Trans Dinarica? Gravel, touring or MTB?

We get asked frequently if you can explore the Western Balkans with a loaded touring bike, or if you might need something more off-road oriented. Here is the short answer:

Our plan is that the Trans Dinarica routes will appeal to the widest possible audience of cyclists and will therefore be accessible by almost any bicycle. Trekking or touring bikes, some call them hybrid or fitness bikes, will be very useful, and an enduro or cross-country bike can also be an excellent choice. We would only advise against folding bikes, downhill bikes, and road racing bikes. Although, you know, where there’s a will, there’s a way 🙂

We use gravel bikes for routing because they are fast on the road and relatively good on macadams. Above all, they are an excellent compromise because we don’t need a lot of luggage for our research work – a support van helps us with that.

As far as luggage (and weight) is concerned, we would advise you to take only the most essential things with you, as you will pass by the market or store almost every day (every other day for sure). What is necessary and how many extra kilograms should be carried on bicycles, opinions differ so much that it is difficult to draw a line between what is an acceptable weight and what is decidedly too much. Just be aware that sometimes roads like this await you:

How much asphalt and gravel is there on the way?

We will only be able to announce what the final ratio between the road and gravel will be after the end of the research (in 2024), but we can already say that it is necessary to be prepared for some not-really-perfect gravel roads out there. It would be a shame to limit ourselves to only well-maintained roads. When you turn off left or right, an adventure wonderland awaits you.

We can’t wait to hit the road again!

How hospitable are the locals in the Balkans? THIS much! (Description of three events in a single day)

Traveling through the country is always multifaceted; we experience it ourselves, and we are surrounded by nature, settlements, locals, animals … After our last experience in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, we believe that meeting people – locals who have been cultivating the Balkan soil for decades, is a more important component than in the case of traveling through more touristic countries. Using the example of one day, we will describe why we think so.

“Whenever you want! If it’s at 7:00 a.m., let it be at 7:00 a.m.,” answered the owner of a house in Sjenica, in which she rents out a few rooms from this year, when asked when we can have breakfast. When I went to prepare the bikes for the next trip in the morning, at 6:40 she was already walking from one kitchen to another (outside) kitchen. Inside she was putting different kinds of cheeses and pickled vegetables on plates, outside she was frying ‘uštipci’ (a kind of fried bread) and fresh green peppers, and under the tablecloth, freshly baked homemade bread was cooling. At 6:58, the table was so full that we couldn’t finish it. But she wrapped up some uštipci, cheese and some dried meat for us to go on our way. Here, we had lunch.

Early in the afternoon, there were signs of a storm coming from the west. We were late with the day’s plan, a little earlier we found ourselves on a path we wouldn’t have liked to see under a five-and-a-half-meter van. Slowly, it worked. But the scene before the rain is fantastic; we are on a high plateau, the Albanian and Montenegrin mountains can be seen in the distance, covered with snow, and we are in the screaming green mountains, overgrown with juniper and pine and spruce. We MUST take some photos and videos here! We stop near a lonely house, prepare the camera and walkie-talkie and start working. If I wasn’t really in a hurry because of the coming rain, I would first go and ask if I could park at the house, but … A minute later, when the cyclists were already moving away, a lady greets me from the porch and asks if we want coffee. Oh, please, thank you!

By the time the shots are finished and the bikes are stowed back in the van, the house already smells of strong coffee, and there is sparkling water, some candy, and slices of dried beef on the table. We talked about life in these remote places, about where the five daughters moved to, how they are waiting for a better road and how many cyclists pass by here. They refused to accept the payment.

In the evening, just a few kilometers before our last checkpoint of the day, we wanted to see the possibility of accommodation in a small village. An elderly man was outside making rakija and called his son from the house to ask for information about rooms. After a short conversation right through the windows of the van, we decided to stay right here, in the village. And here – again, in a few minutes, in addition to the promised clean beds, the table was full of homemade goodies, bread, meat, and fresh vegetables. And of course, glasses for rakija as we finished driving for the day.

You guys are just great. We will be back!

Photo gallery:

Serbia’s Section of the Trans Dinarica Cycle Route is Complete

The Serbian stages of the new Trans Dinarica Cycle Route have been researched, laid out, and are now ready for cyclists to discover more about this beautiful Western Balkan country.

Trans Dinarica Cycling Route - Serbia, Uvac river

Starting near the town of Tutin, in the far south of Serbia, the route pedals through the mountainous Sandžak Region and then continues north and west past UNESCO sites and protected areas such as the Tara National Park along the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina. From Tutin, Serbia’s Trans Dinarica heads to Novi Pazar before heading northwest to Sjenica and the Special Nature Reserve Uvac. The trail then rolls toward the resort town of Zlatibor and the beautiful, ethno-architecture tourism center in and around Mokra Gora, perched in the Dinaric Alps. The route finishes its Serbian section along the banks of the Drina River in the town of Bajina Bašta.

The Serbian stages of the Trans Dinarica include seven main stages (with several alternate possibilities) and nearly 350 kilometers with around 800 meters of daily elevation change. The route travels across both paved and unpaved stretches — providing both seasoned and new cyclists diversity and access to communities throughout the region.

The Trans Dinarica is the first and only cycle route to connect all eight countries of the Western Balkans. The route — linking Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, and Serbia — visits national parks, UNESCO sites, villages, and diverse points of interest. A cultural corridor as well as a bicycle itinerary, the Trans Dinarica provides a way to discover the region and its traditions with slow-travel intention. The route creates a main backbone bicycle trail for the entire Western Balkans and encourages local travel operators to utilize the Trans Dinarica as a responsible tourism engine.

The process of the Trans Dinarica’s creation in Serbia actually began in early 2022 when the GoodPlace team, a Slovenia-based NGO that creates sustainably minded trails and routes, began working with country experts to create a virtual blueprint. The next step was to test this blueprint “on the ground” to make sure, among other considerations, that all the stages — surfaces, inclines, distances — met the team’s high expectations of safety and navigation ease. After traveling to Serbia in May and June 2023, the route is ready to be enjoyed by cyclists.

Can we get the Trans Dinarica navigation data already this year?

The answer, unfortunately, is not quite yet. The map we published on the website’s front page is a draft compiled from our cartography experience and our team of local experts. So, the route is roughly settled, but we haven’t fully examined the Trans Dinarica in its entirety.

We will release the data only after we can attest to every details of every kilometer along the roughly 5,000-kilometer cycle route across all eight countries. At that point, we will say: “Here it is, it’s ready, we are confident in it … now go enjoy it all at once or piece by piece!” We want the Trans Dinarica to be ready and clear when riders set out on their big adventure across a region we all love very much.

Thank you for your understanding, let’s stay in touch!

Live from Serbia’s section of Trans Dinarica: We love it. Honestly.

Dear cyclists, adventure lovers … and Western Balkans devotees:

It is with great pleasure that — after many months of office research, studying maps, dissecting the terrain, browsing through memory, and coordinating routes and sites with local experts — we are officially working from the field along the Trans Dinarica Cycle Route: the first cycling route to connect all eight countries of the Western Balkans.

Our trail development fieldwork began along the Serbian and Bosnian sections of Trans Dinarica, and, after a few days, we can report the following brief impressions:

  • Although we have all visited Serbia many times, the country, its south and west, stunned us. It’s hard to say what’s more exceptional: the nature or the hospitable locals.
  • The Trans Dinarica is exactly what we wanted: bicycle exploration of these incredible countries on forest paths and quiet roads as possible, and at the same time getting to know the local culture, history, and cuisine.
  • The type of tourism mentioned in the previous point (yes, even cycling is tourism) is exactly what the Trans Dinarica intends to present: An authentic, pure, original, enriching, inspiring window into beautiful culture.

Keep up with us for more updates on our Facebook and Instagram pages. We also invite you to sign up for our email newsletters, in which we will inform you about the continuing development of Trans Dinarica. The final result — a cycling route through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, North Macedonia, Kosovo, and Serbia — will be ready in July 2024.

We can’t wait to see you on the Trans Dinarica.

Gallery from the last few days: