It's our 40th Birthday! Take a look at our birthday offers page here

A diary in the Balkans - Balkan Trilogy Road Cycle

Take a look at KE's Kit Wilkinson's diary from when he joined our Balkan Trilogy Road Cycle Tour. Over the week Kit cycled across Monteneg... Read more
A diary in the Balkans - Balkan Trilogy Road Cycle

Take a look at KE's Kit Wilkinson's diary from when he joined our Balkan Trilogy Road Cycle Tour. Over the week Kit cycled across Montenegro’s beautiful Lovcen National Park to Cetinje, rode Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast and visited medieval towns such as Kotor and Dubrovnik, the jewel of the Adriatic.

Read what Kit has to say:-

Day 1.

I had a late flight out of Manchester and it was 10pm by the time I got to the arrivals hall at Dubrovnik Airport. I was met by Darko, who works with KE hiking and family groups in Croatia, and we drove for 40 minutes or so to the Hotel Dubrovnik in Dubrovnik. Time to crash.

Day 2.

After an excellent breakfast, during which I met the group, we had an 8.30 rendezvous with our cycling guide, Ivo and support vehicle driver (and local agent) Tomi. We spent an hour or so getting fitted out with our hire bikes, before transferring just a few kilometres to the start of the ride at Dubac. A short ascent on a quiet road took us to the border with Bosnia-Herzogovina and we then continued through a hilly, rural region with very few houses, climbing to around 900 metres, crossing into Montenegro and dropping down to the Bay of Kotor. It had been quite chilly under cloud high up, but the sun was out now and it was much warmer as we rode the last 20k through pretty seaside villages to Kotor. We had a great dinner at a restaurant on the quayside with a couple of massive cruise boats sitting at anchor in the bay. After dinner, I had a quick look around the old, fortified part of Kotor with Ivo and Tomi.

Day 3.

The day started with the drive up to Njegusi at the top of the 'Kotor loops'. From here, we cycled through the picturesque Lovcen National Park on a road which climbed from 850 metres up to 1400 metres, then descended for 20k to the former Montenegran capital of Cervinje. It was pretty hot down here, as I checked one or two of the impressive foreign embassy buildings which date from around 1910. We then biked back through the park, with regular stops for photos; a roadside shepherd and the Autumn colours were highlights. It was cold again up at our high point as the cloud rolled in atmospherically and we were all looking forward to the descent to Kotor. This was a major highlight of the trip; the road surface is good and perfectly wide enough for some flowing descending. There are 22 hairpins and I stopped at several of them to photograph Kotor, its bay and the same 2 cruise ships.

Day 4.

Kotor was still in shade as we set off. But, we were soon in the sun as we continued our ride around the bay on a quiet road, passing seaside houses and fishing boats with views across to Perast and the famous Kotor Bay islands. A 15-minute ferry ride took us across the mouth of the bay and we then rode hard and fast for half an hour on the only busy road of the trip to Herzog Novi. We took a sea front (promenade) route from here and then climbed up to cross into Croatia on a quiet road. We had lunch in an olive grove and rode on through the tranquil region of Conavle with its farmland and forest. This is where Ivo and Tomi do their weekend cycling and another hard and fast section of riding ensued on a perfect country road with Ivo and Joe (the youngest and strongest of the clients) setting the pace. Together with a couple of the other clients, I was just about hanging on for 10k until a long, gentle drag just before Cavtat caused me to sit up. After checking in at our Cavtat accommodation, I hot-footed it down to the delightful harbour for an ice-cream, a swim and a G&T… in that order. I had been to Cavtat with my family just a month before and had been looking forward to reacquainting myself with its charms.

Day 5.

Thousands of swifts were whirling and chasing high above Cavtat as we ate breakfast outside our hotel. We transferred 10k to Dubac and cycled up to the Bosnian border post again, this time turning off to ride on the former rail track of the ‘Ciro’ which we followed for the next 40k. Super cycling and pan flat through a wilderness of oak and ash forest, protected in places by signs that say 'MINES' keep out. There are a few old station houses and the odd scattered hamlet, just a couple of which appear to be inhabited. At Poljice, there were 2 churches with well-tended graveyards and the older of the churches appeared to be pock-marked by bullets (from the early 1990’s Bosnian Conflict?). Gradually the valley floor became more cultivated with vineyards and apple orchards and we met the only car we saw during 2 hours of cycling on the Ciro, the postman. At Zavala, the station has been renovated and turned into a café and we stopped for an excellent coffee which we paid for with Croatian kunar despite now being in Bosnia? Here, we left the track and began the process of crossing back over the coastal range. This was brilliant riding, with maybe 650 metres of ascent in total. Half an hour up, we pulled off the road for lunch where there were a couple of picnic tables and a great view across the limestone landscape. The road here was excellent, smooth and no traffic, and as we crossed back into Croatia, there were some sweeping downhill sections and, ultimately, views of the sea and scattered islands – simply amazing. We stopped at Ston for an ice cream with views of this small coastal town’s impressive fortification, before continuing to our hotel in Mali Ston on the other side of the bay. Another opportunity for a swim before dinner.

Day 6.

Taking photographs of the group departing from the pretty harbour area outside the hotel, I was left playing catch-up as Ivo and young Joe once again set the pace, aided and abetted by the Cheltenham CTC boys, Andy and Joseph. Everyone was having a blast and it took me 15k to reconnect. Heading out along the beautiful Peljesac Peninsula, we dropped down to the coast and passed through a couple of seaside villages, Zuljana and Trstenik, following a scenic minor coast road with a couple of sections of climbing, the second longer than the first. Regrouping at a tunnel that cut back inland, we rejoined the main road and continued to gain a bit of height before starting a fast 8k descent to the ferry port at Orovic. Lunch beside the sea gave us another chance for a dip before we boarded the ferry which took about 15 minutes to cross to the island of Korcula. It was still sunny and hot as we cycled the final 5k from the ferry port to our accommodation in the quiet seaside village of Lumbarda.

Day 7.

Heavy rain at breakfast time delayed our departure for a couple of hours. Then, setting off on wet roads, we started a longish climb from the town of Korcula, gaining more than 250 metres over 5k, whilst the sky cleared. Rain jackets were soon discarded and through most of a short day’s ride it was sunny and warm. At Pupnat we turned onto a minor road and began a long, sinuous descent to the coast with views of the sea. Great riding and no traffic! We passed through and close to a couple of small towns and through some very nice countryside with vineyards and olive groves. A second significant climb took us to a point overlooking the rooftops of Blato and we cycled through this little town and on to our final destination, Vela Luca, as the skies darkened again. We biked around the extensive harbour to a place where we could set up our picnic lunch, close to a tiny beach consisting of clean, coarse sand. A final dip, lunch and then it was time to pack up and drive back to Dubrovnik, but not before we were caught out by a rainstorm of biblical proportions. We didn’t care, we had cycled the length of Korcula Island in the dry when it hadn’t looked very likely 6 hours earlier. Back in Dubrovnik, Tomi chose a nearby pizza restaurant for our final evening meal which was a great success.

Day 8.

My homeward flight was late in the day. So, I had time to look around the old part of Dubrovnik in the morning and to spend the rest of the daylight hours in Cavtat. I had plenty of time to reflect on what is a very special road cycling experience in a fascinating corner of Europe.

Footer logos
Your Wishlist
No Wishlist Items

Start your next adventure.

Click the heart icon on the search or holiday pages to save a holiday to your wishlist.

Holiday Search