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.

Tips for cycling the Trans Dinarica: language, currency, alcohol, wild camping …

Traveling through the Balkans, especially off-the-beaten-path areas like the Trans Dinarica cycling route, offers a wild and unparalleled bike tour experience.

While these Balkan countries might seem daunting for solo travelers, the locals, in our experience, are incredibly welcoming and always ready to assist. Even if they don’t speak your language.

To give you a glimpse of what awaits, we’ve prepared some essential tips for those eager to ride this beautiful journey.


A cyclist meeting a local shepherd on the Trans Dinarica cycle route.


1. Languages

In most of the Trans Dinarica countries, the language comes from Slavic roots (the exceptions are Albania and Kosovo). Knowing Croatian allows you to communicate in Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Macedonia. However, it is important to note that Macedonian is slightly different from the other ex-Yugoslavian languages.


Some useful words:

Hvala = Thank you
Dobar dan = Hello / Good day
Doviđenja = Goodbye
Molim = Please
Oprostite = Sorry / Excuse me
Voda = Water
Pivo = Beer
Vino = Wine
Hrana = Food


The good thing about traveling the Western Balkans is that almost all young people speak English, especially in the cities. In more remote villages, gestures might be your best friend, but modern tools like Google Translate can bridge any communication gaps.


2. Currencies

Money is quite varied in the area. Slovenia and Croatia use euros because they are in the European Union (EU). Montenegro and Kosovo are not members of EU, but you can still use euros there. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, you will need to provide convertible marks (many times it is also possible to pay with euros (1 EUR is 1.95 KM), in Serbia Serbian dinars, in Macedonia Macedonian denar, and in Albania Albanian lek.


Don’t count on being able to pay with credit cards everywhere (especially not in bars, restaurants, small hotels/accommodations). When withdrawing cash, stick to ATMs of verified banks and avoid ‘tourist ATMs’ like Euronet (bad exchange rates, high fees, high pre-set withdrawal amounts.)


In general, it is recommended that you choose to charge in local currency at ATMs, which means that the conversion will be done by the bank that issued your card.


3. Meeting farmers, shepherds

If you come across a shepherd with a herd of sheep or cows, stop and if necessary, get off your bike and, at least with a facial expression, ask if you can continue. Bicycles are not as big as cars, and not as loud as motorcycles, but still: let the locals know that you respect their animals, their work, and their way of life.


In the end, this kindness may lead you to an interesting conversation, coffee, rakija, or maybe even an unplanned overnight stay. If shepherd dogs are guarding the herd, do not try to pet them – these are not pets, but guardians (also from wolves and bears).


This rule applies when traveling in any part of the world, but such interactions will be slightly more common in the Western Balkans.


The cyclist got off his bike to wait for the flock of sheep to cross the road.


4. Bicycle services, parts

Except in larger cities (Sarajevo, Podgorica, Split, …) do not expect specialized shops for bicycles and sports equipment. That’s why it’s important to always have the essentials – basic tools, air pump, set for patching tires, spare tubes, and at least one tire – with you on your bike.

People in the Western Balkans are masters of improvisation, but your gravel bike probably won’t fit a tractor tube.


5. Theft

The advice to take care of your belongings is the same as anywhere else in the world. The good thing about bicycles is that you can always put them in a garage, stairwell or woodshed overnight. Lock the bikes and take the bags with you to the room.

You know the saying: Opportunity makes a thief.


6. Alcohol

In some Muslim-majority regions, you won’t get alcohol in restaurants. Don’t be surprised if you must drink yogurt or Coca-Cola with your burek (by the way, the ‘Yugoslav Coca-Cola’ is called Cockta – it’s caffeine-free but tastes great).



7. Wild camping

The Trans Dinarica cycling route spans diverse territories, each with its own camping regulations, so we won’t speculate on what is right and what is not.

But we will note two things:



The prices for overnight stays/camps are moderate, sometimes even ridiculously cheap on most of the Trans Dinarica.



If you are already thinking of spreading the sleeping bag somewhere in the bush, first try to find the owner and ask him. Maybe he will allow you (or maybe he won’t), maybe he will even invite you to his house to stay warm.


Local accomodation on the Trans Dinarica.


8. Garbage

Certainly, the blackest stain along the Trans Dinarica is litter. Some people simply have not yet accepted that this is not right and that it is ugly and inappropriate to Mother Nature.

This should not surprise a traveler, and even less should it be the reason that we litter ourselves! If we see you throw away a piece of chocolate paper into nature, we’ll puncture your tires with our own hands.


For now, that wraps up our tips for navigating the Trans Dinarica bike tour. We will be happy if you contact us with additional questions so that we can complete this article.

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!

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.

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 2024.

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

Gallery from the last few days: