ROW’s “Three Country Kayak Trip” takes you to a Europe that few people know. Your adventure begins in colorful Croatia, with its stunning Adriatic coastline dotted with terra cotta rooftops and ancient architecture that continues to stand the test of time. It’s a European paradise with its Mediterranean climate, mesmerizing azure water, and sandy beaches. Next is Montenegro, a mountainous country rich with forests, steep cliffs, and fascinating sites of historical significance. This rugged and seemingly untouched region is a place of natural beauty. A few highlights include visiting the extraordinarily beautiful Montenegrin towns of Kotor and Budva and paddling Lake Skadar. Lastly is the neighboring country of Albania, a region with a tumultuous past and sites of architectural awe. There is an intriguing story behind every church, castle, and mansion. Seeing the landmarks of Europe’s best-kept secret from the unique perspective of your kayak is an experience unlike any other. Paddling enthusiasts and history buffs alike will relish the opportunity to dine, paddle, stay, and explore in some of the most fascinating regions of Europe. History is written in the walls, and our local guides have an abundance of stories to share. This itinerary includes fresh, locally-sourced cuisine and three nights in family-owned bed and breakfasts. As with all ROW trips, we practice “Leave No Trace” ethics and support the local economy by staying and dining local.
Arrive in Croatia
Welcome to Dubrovnik! Upon arrival at the airport, transfer to tonight’s accommodations, drop off your luggage, and the afternoon is yours. Dubrovnik is a fascinating old town, with baroque buildings, terra cotta roofs, marble streets, and majestic medieval stone walls that date back to the 13th century. There are plenty of restaurants, shops, and a city museum brimming with Mediterranean culture and history. Feel free to explore and immerse yourself in the city before returning to your hotel for an evening of rest and relaxation.
Transfer to Lopud
Awake, gather your luggage, and grab a quick breakfast before meeting your guide in the hotel lobby. We depart our hotel for a pleasant 45-minute ferry ride to the island of Lopud. Along the way, we pass Daksa and Kolocep, quaint islands upon which lighthouses and churches have been constructed.
Upon arrival to Lopud, we transfer to our hotel, a family-owned bed and breakfast, to drop off our luggage. Enjoy a bit of free time at your leisure before we gather for a brief instructional kayak meeting with our guide. We paddle approximately 4.5 miles, from one side of the island to the other. Paddling atop the Adriatic Sea is like a dream, with glistening azure water, white-sand beaches, subtropical vegetation, and sunshine that wraps you in its warm embrace. Look for fascinating cypress and pine parks, citrus gardens, and palm trees on the island’s coastline.
Our paddle concludes with a breathtaking Adriatic sunset near Sunj beach, where we retire our kayaks from the water and enjoy an easy walk back to Lopud. Dinner is served at a delicious restaurant by the sea. Enjoy the fresh local cuisine and a glass of regional wine as you relax and unwind in this Mediterranean paradise.
Kayaking: Sunj – Koločep - Sunj
We begin this morning with a light breakfast before walking to Sunj beach, the starting point for today’s paddle. We get settled in our kayaks and head to the island of Koločep, which is also known as Kalomota by the locals. The picturesque island is blanketed by dense pine tree forests that extend all the way to the surface of the sea. Koločep is a car-free island, with criss-crossing paths amidst the thick greenery. Several churches have been built on the island, some of which date back to as early as the 9th century.
As we paddle along the outer side of the island, marvel in the stunning rock formations and steep cliffs bordering the coastline. If weather conditions permit, we stop for a swim in the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Cave.
In the afternoon, we take a brief break from paddling to enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. This particular restaurant is famous for its savory barbecued fresh fish that has been described as “melt-in-your-mouth delicious!”
We return to our kayaks to head back to Sunj beach, where we conclude the day’s paddle and walk back to our accommodations in Lopud. The rest of the evening is yours to relax, savor a glass of wine with the sunset, and retire for a restful night of sleep.
Kayaking: Sunj – Lopud – Suđjurađj – Lopud
Awake and energize with a light breakfast and coffee or tea as we prepare for a day of approximately 8 miles of kayaking. We begin along the inner side of Lopud and cross to Šipan, the largest island on the Elafiti archipelago. There are two main villages on the island: Šipanska Luka and Suđjurađj. Today, we are headed toward the southeastern tip of the island, Suđjurađj.
Upon arrival to Suđjurađj, we take a break from our kayaks and enjoy a guided tour of the island. On the tour, we visit sites of architectural heritage including the impressive summer villa of 16th century Dubrovnik shipowner, Vice Stjepovic-Skocibuha. The unique Renaissance-style construction is among the best-preserved structures on the Adriatic.
Along the tour, we see lush valleys of olive and fig trees, vineyards, and citrus groves. We are treated to lunch at a local farm with Family Danicic, who produces their own wine and olive oil. Lunch includes organic, garden-grown vegetables, homemade olive oil, and cheese. We return to our kayaks in the late afternoon and paddle back to Lopud in time watch the vibrant sunset.
Dubrovnik – Budva
Today, we travel to the second of our three countries: Montenegro. We begin by gathering our luggage and taking the ferry (45 minutes) from Lopud to Dubrovnik, where we then board a minibus that takes us to Budva (an approximate 2 hour 15 minute drive). En route, we stop in Kotor to stretch our legs and grab a bite to eat. Situated between towering mountains and a corner of the bay, Kotor is a delightful town dotted with old stone palaces, churches, and hidden piazzas. Take a moment to stroll the labyrinth of marbled lanes and take in the scenery before we get back on our minibus for the remainder of our transfer.
We arrive in Budva, a treasure chest of cultural heritage located on a small peninsula of Montenegro. Among the historical jewels in this old town are the Churches of Sv. Ivan, Sv. Bogorodica, Sv. Sava, and Sv. Trojica, which houses the tomb of writer and politician Stjepan Mitrov Ljubiša. This afternoon, enjoy free time to explore the city at your leisure or perhaps go for a swim.
Kayaking – Border Crossing and on to Krujë
We begin our day with a drive to our morning kayaking location: Lake Skadar. We paddle approximately 4 hours along the southern shores on a circular trip to visit two of the lake’s 14th century monasteries nestled beneath the backdrop of the grand Accursed Mountains. Periodically, we stop for rest and swim breaks.
This afternoon, we travel to our third country: Albania. We meet our Albanian guide and drive to Krujë, where we tour the Krujë Castle. The fascinating castle was at the center of Skanderbeg’s battle against the Ottoman Turks, and withstood three of their massive sieges. The sturdy castle serves as a source of inspiration to locals, as it was able to withstand numerous attacks with small defenses.
We start our day with a light breakfast before we begin our drive toward Llogora. Along the way, we stop for coffee and sightseeing. Upon arrival, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch, we drive toward the coastal city of Dhërmi, where we begin the day’s paddling. We kayak approximately 8 miles toward Himara, the location of this evenings accommodations.
Qeparo and Saranda
Awake to a delicious breakfast before we begin today’s 8-mile paddle toward Qeparo. Along the way, we stop to see the remains of Ali Pasha fortress in Porto Palermo. The fortress was built in the 15th century, and was the centerpiece of numerous conflicts with the Ottoman Empire.
We continue toward Qeparo, where we conclude our paddle and enjoy a leisurely lunch. In the afternoon, we drive approximately one hour to the bustling town of Sarandë, where we spend the night.
Butrint and Gjirokastër
Awake and sip a cup of coffee or tea before we drive approximately 20 minutes to the town of Ksamil. From here, we begin our 6-mile paddle toward Butrint Archeological Park. We take a brief break from paddling to explore the park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We eat lunch by the sea, taking in the view and reflecting on the historical significance of the archaeological park.
After lunch, we drive toward the site of tonight’s accommodations, Gjirokastër. Upon arrival, we check in at the hotel and take a short break to put our luggage in our rooms and rest. Later, we gather once again for a tour of the city. Gjirokastër is one of Albania’s three UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and is home to the Gjirokastër Castle and an ethnographic museum.
Tirana the Capital
Awake in the historical city of Gjirokastër and devour a delightful breakfast while reflecting on the sites of historical and cultural prominence we’ve visited thus far. Today, we make our way to Tirana, the capital of Albania. In the midst of the 4-hour drive, we stop to enjoy lunch at a traditional Albanian restaurant set in a working vineyard and farm. After lunch, we continue to our hotel, where we check in, drop off our luggage, and embark on the city for a tour and exploration.
This morning, enjoy a final breakfast with the group and free time in Tirana to do as you wish. This afternoon, either catch a transfer to the airport or extend your travels.
Dates & Rates
- 4-5 Guests: $4,395
- 6-9 Guests: $3,995
- 10-12 Guests: $3,495
Single Supplement Fee of $750 for solo travelers that would like a single occupancy hotel room for the duration of the tour
- 7 nights in hotels
- 3 nights in family-owned B&B
- 7 days kayaking
- English-speaking guides
- All transfers
- All meals as outlined in itinerary
- All entrance fees
- Kayaks and equipment
- Tips for guides, tour leader, and staff
- Alcoholic beverages
- Insurance of any type
- Personal expenses
- Cost of hospitalization and evacuation (if necessary)
Custom departures available for groups of 6 or more. The above departures are already set, however, we can start a departure on any day you desire!
TIERED PRICING EXPLAINED: Our trips are budgeted for full or near full sign-ups which enables us to offer trips at the lowest possible price. Because of numerous fixed costs, it is more expensive to operate a trip for a small group. Therefore, on some of our trips, in order to avoid having to cancel a trip, we have a “tier-pricing” system to avoid canceling a trip with a low number of sign ups. We have found that most people also prefer this alternative to having a trip cancelled. Thus, you will note on our trip prices there may be different price for 6-8 people versus 19-12, etc.
ALL PRICES IN US DOLLARS. We will do our best to adhere to the itineraries and trip descriptions listed on our website. However, tour itineraries or sub contractors (such as taxi, cruise boats or hotels) may change slightly due to reasons beyond our control including but not limited to Acts of God, wind, waves, inclement weather or other. We always welcome you to call us to clarify any item - often this is the best way to fully clarify expectations - call us collect or on our toll-free number. You will be sent pre-trip email with latest details within a month of your tour - it is your responsibility to check in with us prior to your trip to see if you have all the information you need. We will always do our best to provide you with the best possible tour and to fully meet your expectations to the best of our ability.
We may initially invoice you at the higher tier price, and refund the difference depending on the final group size. Trip costs quoted are based on foreign exchange rates current at the time of this printing. We reserve the right to raise the trip fee if there are exceptional cost increases beyond our control.
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FAQ & More
Several airlines offer daily flights to Dubrovnik, from Amsterdam, Paris, Vienna, Frankfurt and other European cities.
We do not arrange international air travel but we do have a great air travel specialist we can refer you to if you’d like.
While you are primarily touring the Adriatic via kayak on this tour, your focus will be on the exotic scenery, deep history, welcoming people, fascinating culture and delicious cuisine of the region.
We will provide you with a full packing list upon reservation. All kayaking gear is provided for this tour.
The kayaking portion of the trip is appropriate for first-time kayakers, however we do recommend that you have previous paddling experience and conditioning prior to the trip. We won't be carrying any gear in the kayaks, so they will be light. The other parts of the trip include easy walks over uneven surfaces. Please call our office if you have any questions.
You will kayak a total of 7 days on this tour, paddling between 7.5 km to 18 km depending on the day. (Please see itinerary for specific day to day paddle distances).
Balkan cuisine has a strong Mediterranean flair but is composed of its own unique dynamic palate traits. In Italy, they say that the fish and shellfish on the Croatian side of the Adriatic Sea are better, because the bottom is mainly rocky, unlike the Italian side, where it tends to be muddier. And as Rebecca West remarks in her historic and monumental travel book published in 1941, "Black Lamb and Grey Falcon," people in this part of the Balkan peninsula "cook lamb and suckling-pig as well as anywhere in the world," especially in the hills behind the coast, where sage, thyme and basil grow in lush, perfumed profusion. Tastes of Turkey also are evident in dishes such as like burek, a flaky pastry filled with cheese, delicious when fresh and hot and a remnant from the centuries of Ottoman occupation of the interior.
July and August are considered Croatia’s ‘season’. It is summer during that time, and tourism is in full swing. The weather is hot, the sea is blue, and the coast is at its best. The weather in Croatia varies from the north to the coast. The north has a Continental climate with temperatures averaging around 77 degrees Fahrenheit in August. The coastal areas have a Mediterranean climate and the temperature can reach as high as 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Croatia, Montenegro, Albania
Kayaks and Equipment used in Croatia:
Rainbow - Laser Expedition
Rainbow Freccia Expedition
Rainbow Atlantis Expedition (tandem kayak)
Life jackets Hiko Aquatic
Kayaks in Montenegro:
Sevylor Colorado and Z-Pro Tango inflatables
Kayaks and Equipment used in Albania:
Prijon Odyssee and Seayak
Paddles by Ainsworth
You can get transportation in to Old Town Dubrovnik from the airport by bus, taxi, or pre-organized private transfer. Bus fares are around 40 kuna (5-6 EUR) and take about 30 minutes to get from the airport to Old Town. There is a taxi rank outside of the arrivals terminal that you can simply jump into. Taxis from the airport in to Old Town cost between 170-200 kuna (22-28 EUR) one way and take about 20 minutes.
We recommend taking a taxi from your hotel in Tirana to the airport on your departure day. Your hotel in Tirana will be happy to arrange this transfer for you, or you can organize a taxi on your own. The journey from Tirana to the airport takes 20–25 minutes, depending on traffic, and costs about 2,500 Leke (18 EUR) one way.