Albania hiking holiday: Trails of Albanian Alps

On trails of Albanian Alps you'll discover European hiking as it used to be. This Albania hiking holiday is for intrepid travellers who wish to explore wild beauty.

8 days
€780 to 780
Albania hiking holiday: Trails of Albanian Alps

The Trails of Albanian Alps is a walking tour for intrepid travellers who are eager to discover the beauty of the Albanian Accursed Mountains at their own pace. The Albanian Alps offer breathtaking natural scenery and the best hiking through some of the last untamed natural locations and wilderness available in Europe. From your starting point at historic Shkoder on Lake Skadar, you’ll have the chance to visit Rozafa Fortress. Your journey to the heart of the Accursed Mountains is an integral part of the Albanian Alps experience and includes a ride on the Koman Ferry (described as one of the world’s great boat journeys).

This Albania hiking holiday offers the chance to visit two of the most spectacular valleys: Valbona and Theth National parks. Both are dominated by towering mountains and include a walk through the Valbona Pass, along an old mule trail with breathtaking panoramas of the Accursed mountains. There’s also hike to the Peja Pass in Theth with spectacular views of Mount Arapit, the “Albanian Matterhorn”, with its magnificent 800m sheer rock face.

Included in the itinerary is a chance to visit the Albanian Blood Feud tower in Theth and the Blue Eye karst spring. The Trails of Albanian Alps hikes include rugged mountain terrain but also take you through beautiful mountain valleys, alpine meadows, and remote villages surrounded by the majestic peaks of the Albanian Alps. The return journey includes a scenic drive over the Terthoria Pass to the low lands and onto Albania’s capital Tirana for sightseeing.

Price Includes

  • GPS tracks to use via our smartphone app or on your own GPS device
  • Accommodation for 7 nights in hand-picked 2 to 4-star hotels or family-run guesthouses as listed in the itinerary
  • 5 days full board, 2 days B&B
  • Daily luggage transport to next hotel of 1 bag of up to 15 kg per person
  • All ground transfers and baggage transfers as listed in the itinerary, including airport transfers Tirana or Podgorica
  • Arrival meeting
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office in Tirana
  • Detailed pre-departure holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions and road notes; maps with daily routes and optional hikes marked

Price Excludes

  1. solo traveller supplement
  2. Flights
  3. Lunches and dinners on Days 1 and 7, drinks & snacks on all days
  4. Travel insurance
  5. Any items not explicitly mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
  6. Single room supplement

What to expect

Itinerary for Albania hiking holiday

Day 1 – Arrival in Albania and Visit of Shkodra
Your driver will welcome you at the airport in Tirana or Podgorica. During the transfer to the hotel close to Shkodra’s centre, you can gather first impressions. If the weather allows it, you have the choice to swim at the Balkans’ biggest lake or visit the Rozafa Castle. Learn about its legend and enjoy fabulous views which excite your curiosity for the days of travel through the Albanian Alps. In the city, the cafés burst with people who flock for a stroll on the pedestrian area. Lined with bourgeoisie townhouses, a reminder of the city’s rich past, it has a certain Italian atmosphere to it. Immerse in the buzz of the bazaar, at the Marubi photo library in Albania’s past, visit the museum, or enjoy an espresso with the locals. When daylight fades, you can choose between restaurants that offer carefully crafted traditional meals. On the next day, you are heading off to explore the trails of Albanian Alps!
Complimentary transfer from Tirana or Podgorica airport to Shkodra (90 min)
Check-in at a boutique hotel in Ottoman Villa, bicycles available free of charge
City tour with notes and maps
Overnight at Shkoder boutique hotel (Hotel Tradita)

Day 2 – Journey into the Accursed Mountains

You rise early for the transfer through a scenic gorge to the Koman Dam (55km/1:30h). The picturesque reservoir loops similar to a Norwegian fjord through sheer rock walls and is considered a highlight of the Alps. The custom-made ferry stops at several points to pick up locals from remote villages before arriving at Fierze (46km/3h). After lunch, you travel by minibus past traditional villages, composed of wooden shingle-covered stone houses, into the highlands and the Valbona National Park (35km/1:15h). On a first warm-up walk, you continue on foot along the crystal-clear stream and quiet berry-lined trails through the forest to the secluded Xhemes Lake for a swimming break. The walk ends at your cosy accommodation in a small hamlet. You will have itchy feet when you see the jagged peaks from the terrace; the next day will be “the day”.

↑250m ↓50m ↔ 7km ⌚ 3h
Transfer by public minibus (6:30 am pickup time) or private car to ferry port Koman (90min)
Boat ride through the canyons of the Koman Lake (3h)
Transfer from Fierze via Bajram Curri (optional lunch stop) to the trailhead in Valbona (75min)
Luggage transport by car
Warm-up walk with swimming opportunity (3h)
Overnight at Valbone Hotel / private ensuite (Vila Dini or Guesthouse Kol Gjoni)
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch, dinner

Day 3 of Albania hiking holiday – Valbona – Queen of the Mountains

You start your hike to Kukaj, an isolated hamlet where only two families reside, below bunkers that once protected the border and are now scattered in the riverbed. The windy path takes you over lush meadows ablaze with the colours of a variety of spring flowers to a shepherd hut at 1,650m. In the communist period, this was a no-go area and the building used as a military barrack. Admire the wild and romantic jagged mountain scenery, sample fresh milk products should the shepherd be present or opt to climb higher to an old crossing at the Montenegrin border.

At 2,040m a weathered border pyramid is a reminder of the isolation Albania once endured, from here views reach to the most dramatic parts of Montenegrin Prokletije. Catching the last glimpse at the Alps highest peak Jezerca (2,694m) you descent on a different path to another guesthouse. When daylight fades, you can watch the alpine glow over dinner in the idyllic garden.

↑750m ↓700m ↔ 12km ⌚ 5:30h
Hike to hamlet Kukaj and over flower-rich meadows to shepherd hut on 1650m, return on another trail to the guesthouse in Rragam – extension to Montenegrin border (+2h)
Luggage transport by car while you explore trails of Albanian Alps
Overnight at guesthouse Rragram** (private ensuite).
Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 4 – The Grand Crossing: Hike from Valbona to Theth

Accompanied by a local and a mule that carries your load you set out for the transfer hike across Valbona Pass (1,811m) – another highlight and the highest point of your journey. After passing the village Rragam few steep segments need to be tackled. You can pause regularly near springs and on colourful meadows to enjoy the splendid views. Reaching the pass, the surrounding peaks appear on par, and sweeping views of both valleys fascinate even the seasoned traveller. Enjoy the picturesque landscape during a lunch break ahead of the descent to Theth. The fairy-tale beech forest provides cover from the sun in the afternoon for you. By the time the woods thin out Mt. Arapi (2,217m) is visible and soon the houses of the village are reached. Spread below are the different hamlets. On a broad path, you enter another charming guesthouse in the centre of the village.

↑750m ↓1125m ↔ 15km ⌚ 6-7h
Short transfer by car to the trailhead
Transfer hike on caravan route accompanied by horsemen across the Valbona Pass to Theth
Luggage transport on a horse
Overnight at Guesthouse Theth / private ensuite (Bujtina Polia)
Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 5 – The Peja Pass or Meadows above the Clouds

Today you have the choice between the Peja Pass (at the northern end of the valley below the Matterhorn of Albania, Mt. Arapi) or the panoramic trail to the Meadow of Deneli. For the hike up the Peja Pass we recommend an early start and using transport to and from the trailhead, otherwise, add 4km or 1h walking time each way. The one-way transfer is 20€, return 30€. The trail starts near the source of the Thethi River and follows an ancient caravan path.

To reach Deneli, you start from the guesthouse and walk through the green Ulaj neighbourhood. After crossing the river the ascend leads through light forest and on a path in the cliffs to the football field size plain in the middle of the mountains.

Both routes return the same way, and you stay in the previous night’s guesthouse.

You have a choice between two hikes, can also be used as a rest day or for individual exploration:

A) Peja Pass: Hike on the caravan route to the karst plateau, can be shortened one hour each way with an optional car transfer (not included, payable on-site), ↑950m ↓950m ↔ 7-15km ⌚ 5:45-7:45h
B) Field of Denelli: Hike on a cliff walk to the shepherd hut on a mountain plateau, ↑1000m ↓1000m ↔ 10km ⌚ 6:30h
C) Shorter walks up to 4h within the valley
Overnight in previous night’s accommodation (Guesthouse Theth (private ensuite))
Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 6 of Albania hiking holiday – Theth – In the Heart of the Albanian Alps

A walk through the village and the green gardens reveals the full extent of Theth. Visit the iconic church, well-kept fields and dive at the lock-in tower that offered protection for men threatened by blood feud into the history of the “kanun”. It is the perfect place to learn about the highland law code of Leke Dukagjini, its origins, impact and present-day relevance.

Onward along the water channels, you ascend to the waterfall. On a cliff above the river, archaeologists discovered stone-aged terraces. You can rest there, enjoy picnic lunch and gaze into the adjacent 50m deep Grunas Canyon. Along the river, a well-worn bridle path leads downstream to Nderlysa where you stay on a farmstead. You can use your free time to sample mulberries, grapes, and plums in the garden, harvest corn and milk sheep with the family, learn to cook a typical dish, explore the surroundings, or swim.

↑150m ↓400m ↔ 8km ⌚ 3:30h
Walk through the village to waterfall, canyon and blood feud tower. Hike on bridle path to Nderlysa. Free afternoon with swimming possibility and many other options
Luggage transport by car while you hike trails of Albanian Alps
Overnight at a guesthouse in Nderlys / private ensuite (Bjeshka Guesthouse)
Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 7 – The “Blue Eye”. Tirana or Shkodra

The hike through the canyon leads to a karst spring called “Blue Eye”. The bravest can take a dip in the icy waters while butterflies swirl around you – truly a hidden oasis to relax at. Without mobile phone coverage, electricity, and road access, busy everyday life seems completely forgotten. After a meal at the guesthouse the minibus takes you to the Edith Durham Memorial, over a scenic pass road to the Boga Valley and Shkodra (3h).

Depending on the time of your flights (and the selected airport) you can choose to spend the last evening of your trip in either Shkoder or Tirana.

If you’d like to spend the evening in Tirana:
You change cars and continue for another 90 minutes. In the capital, you can visit museums, admire historic buildings and explore the “blloku” district. Once the living quarters of politburo élite it turned now into a chic upmarket neighbourhood packed with boutique shops and cafes. Tirana stands in stark contrast to the rural areas of Albania you explored in the Accursed Mountains. Your day concludes with a dinner, you recall the past week of travel and celebrate a successful and memorable journey through Albania.

↑275m ↓275m ↔ 9km ⌚ 3:30h
Return hike along the river to a karst spring (3-4h).
Transfer by public minibus (1-2 pm departure) over the Thoria Pass (1645m) to Shkodra (3h).
Transfer to Tirana or Podgorica airport – depending on flights.
City tour with notes and maps.
Overnight at Shkoder boutique hotel or Tirana – depending on your flights.
Meals included: Breakfast, lunch

Day 8 – Departure on Onward Travel

Depending on departure time possibility to further explore the capital
Complimentary transfer to Tirana or Podgorica airport (1,5h – 2h)
Meals included: Breakfast


Albania hiking holiday: Trails of Albanian Alps: From €780 to €780 for 8 days

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€780 to 780 8 days
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