Bicycling Venice to the Heart of Ancient Greece ExpeditionPlus!
From Venice's 117 islands and 409 bridges at the head of the Adriatic Sea, we'll wind eastward along the coast toward the heart of Ancient Greece. En route, we'll explore:
...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
...Greeces rural farms, crisp mountain ranges and other settings of mythical proportions
***Read more about the ExpeditionPlus! concept to see if this type of tour is for you.
We require that all participants complete the Expedition Acknowledgement form which emphasizes the daily protocols on an ExpeditionPlus! ride. ***View Day-by-Day ItineraryHide Day-by-Day Itinerary
Day 1: Just outside of Venice, Italy
Highlights: Lido di Jesolo
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.
Distance: Test ride, your choice up to 27 km (17 miles).
Day 2: Lido di Jesolo to Grado
Highlights: The wetlands of the Northern Adriatic, Caorle
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").
Distance: 102 km (64 miles).
Day 3: Grado to Trieste
Highlights: Wine villages of Friuli and the historic town of Trieste
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.
Distance: 71 km (44 miles).
Day 4: Trieste to Selce, Croatia
Highlights: A sliver of Slovenia, the region of Istria with its limestone coast
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.
Distance: 126 km (79 miles).
Day 5: Selce to the island of Pag in Croatia
Highlights: Limestone islands of the North Croatia Coast
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!
Distance: 126 km (78 miles).
Day 6: Pedaling the islands of Pag to Zadar
Highlights: Island of Pag and historical town of Zadar
Today you will discover Pag, before 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.
Distance: 53 km (33 miles).
Day 7: Bicycle Zadar to Primosten
Highlights: The coast and interior of Dalmatia
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.
Distance: 124 km (77 miles).
Day 8: Bicycle Primosten to Split
Highlights: The Ancient City of Split
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.
Distance: 70 km (43 miles).
Day 9: Bicycle and Ferry from Split to Korçula
Highlights: Islands of Dalmatia
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 between World Wars I and II. Take time to explore this stunning island.
Distance: 55 km (34 miles).
Day 10: Bicycle to Ston and on to Dubrovnik
Highlights: Fishing village of Ston and Magnificent Dubrovnik
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.
Distance: 121 km (74 miles).
Day 11: Rest day in Dubrovnik
Highlights: The City of Dubrovnik
If you prefer to avoid the hordes of tourist 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.
Distance: Relax! It is a rest day.
Day 12: Dubrovnik to Kotor, Montenegro
Highlights: Coastal Croatia and Montenegro
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.
Distance: 103 km (64 miles).
Day 13: Bicycle from Kotor to Virpazar, Montenegro
Highlights: Spectacular limestone mountains and views of the coast
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.
Distance: 95 km (59 miles).
Day 14: Bicycle from Virpazar, Montenegro to Shkodra, Albania
Highlights: Shkodra, farmlands and limestone mountain scenery
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.
Distance: 75 km (47 miles).
Day 15: Shuttle this morning and boat ride on Lake Komani
Highlights: Boat ride on Fjord-like Lake Komani
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.
Distance: 42 km (26 miles).
Day 16: Lake Fierze to the new town of Kukesi
Highlights: Beautiful views, mountain riding and the town of Kukesi
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.
Distance: 83 km (51 miles).
Day 17: Kukesi to Peshkopi, Albania
Highlights: Mountain riding on a newly paved road with little traffic
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.
Distance: 74 km (46 miles).
Day 18: Bicycle into Macedonia to Lake Ohrid
Highlights: Beautiful views of Lake Ohrid, the "Riviera" of Macedonia
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.
Distance: 92 km (57 miles).
Day 19: Rest Day on the Shores of Lake Ohrid
Highlights: Medieval churches and the pleasant village of 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!
Distance: Your choice, but why not take it easy.
Day 20: Bicycle from Lake Ohrid through Albania to Kastoria, Greece
Highlights: Two national parks, three countries, three lakes and great views
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.
Distance: 150 km (93 miles).
Day 21: Kastoria to Metsovo, Greece
Highlights: The mountains of ancient Greek Macedonia and Epirus
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.
Distance: 129 km (80 miles).
Day 22: Metsovo to Kalampaka
Highlights: A short ride to Kalampaka and a guided visit of Meteora monasteries
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.
Distance: 129 km (80 miles).
Day 23: Kalampaka to Karditsa
Highlights: Traditional Greek villages
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.
Distance: 70 km (44 miles).
Day 24: Karditsa to Karpenisi
Highlights: Alpine scenery and mountain riding
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.
Distance: 102 km (63 miles).
Day 25: Karpenisi to Nafpaktos
Highlights: Bicycling to the edge of the Gulf of Corinth
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.
Distance: 113 km (70 miles).
Day 26: Nafpaktos to Lambia
Highlights: Cross the world's longest suspension bridge to the Peloponnesian Peninsula
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 Rion (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.
Distance: 103 km (64 miles).
Day 27: Lambia to Ancient Olympia and Ampeliona
Highlights: Olympia, Site of the First Olympic Games
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.
Distance: 107 km (66 miles).
Day 28: Ampeliona to Kalamata
Highlights: Frankish town of Kalamata
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.
Distance: 80 km 49 miles).
Day 29: End of the journey in Kalamata
Congratulations on your successful journey! Wherever your future travels may take you, enjoy them and thanks for joining us to bicycle from Venice to Kalamata!
HighlightsVenice, Challenging cycling, Trieste, Islands of Dalmatia, Split, Dubrovnik, Montenegro, Albania, Macedonia, Peloponnese PeninsulaKeep in Mind: We work hard to maintain consistency across all of our tours, but some trips have unique differences. Here are some things to keep in mind about this tour.
Includes29 days, 28 night's accommodation with breakfast; use of a quality 30-spd Titanium road or hybrid bike; 3 to 4 tour leaders (depending upon group size); most dinners; several lunches.
Begin/EndVenice, Italy / Kalamata, Greece
Arrive/DepartVenice / Kalamata or Athens
Total Distance2305 km (1423 miles)
Daily DistanceAverage per riding day 88 -90km (54 -55 miles)
Rating501 Expect 70-100 mile days over rolling terrain through Croatia and then challenging and mountainous terrain through Albania and Greece. This tour is one of our more difficult Expeditions and is recommended only for those who enjoy and appreciate challenging mountainous terrain. We have scheduled this expedition to run with mild weather, but riders may experience heat in Croatia and colder weather in the mountains of Albania and Greece.
TermsTerms & Conditions
Dates Price Private Room Charge Notes
* We are happy to match solo travelers who would like to share a room with someone of the same gender. If no match exists, due to hotel pricing, we will charge 50% of the private room charge. This charge will be collected at the time of the final payment. If a roommate assignment is available it will be refunded at the conclusion of the tour.
36 Hours in Venice
Tour Leader, Sara Verlicchi, shares her favorite spots in Venice.
Italy Trip Planner
Read up on country customs, transportation information, culinary specialites, and more!
Meals on Your Bicycle Tour
Information on how meals work on ExperiencePlus! Bicycle tours
We've traveled enough and loaded enough luggage to have some useful suggestions to help you pack.
Per la Cena or What's for Dinner?
Bea Tassinari coordinates meals for our tours in Italy and shares her secrets for ordering a great meal.
ExperiencePlus! has contracted with national fitness expert Joe Friel to create customized, day by day, training programs to ensure you are ready for your biking tour.
Training for an ExpeditionPlus! Tour
ExpeditionPlus! veteran, Mary Gantz explains how she prepares for an ExpeditionPlus! Tour.
Italian Recipes from Paola
University of Oregon's Alumni Magazine highlights three of Paola's recipes
- 36 Hours in Venice
This trip is absolutely the BEST Expedition trip you offer. Lots of climbing, lots of miles, outstanding guides and mostly outstanding accommodations considering we are on an Expedition. ExperiencePlus! tour leaders are the best. They perform far and above what is expected. They are very educated, very mature and are just great to be around. The local guides have been very efficient in handling all the details. I want to be doing these Expeditions until I am always the oldest one on the trip!Mary G., Sarasota, FL