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Trails and Valleys of South Albania 37

Trails and Valleys of South Albania


One of the least-known corners of Europe, Albania has a fascinating history and dramatic mountain scenery. Undiscovered national parks, hidden valleys, ancient castles, walled towns, timeless villages, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, wonderful culture and sweeping views of the Ionian Sea, Albania’s charming south has it all. This walking holiday offers that rare opportunity to step back in time and hike along footpaths off the beaten track.


Day 1: Arrival at Tepelena or Gjirokastra

Your driver will welcome you at the airport in Tirana for a complimentary transfer to the village of Tepelena or the ferry port at Saranda (in case you arrive via Corfu Airport) for a complimentary transfer to the village of Gjirokastra.

  • Overnight at a guesthouse (private en-suite rooms) in Tepelena or hotel in Gjirokastra
  • No meals included, dinner options available on the spot

Day 2: Peshtan – Limar

A transfer through the Dropul Valley takes you into the Kelcyra Gorge shaped by one of Europe’s last wild rivers and to the village of Peshtan (45min). The Dhembeli-Nemercka and Lunxheri-Bureto Range encompass and shield off the valley. Only on an ancient caravan route, you can reach the highest pass and soon the almost deserted village of Kala, where only one family remains. The river below Limar is crossed via one of Ali Pasha’s impressive Ottoman stone bridges and you can spot remains of a cobbled road. The views to Mt Strakavec, remote feeling and the vernacular stone architecture of Limar leave a lasting impression. Overnight in the house of the teacher who takes care of the 10 pupils that remain in the village and will tell you stories about the turbulent past of the region.

  • ↑750m ↓425m ↔ 11km ⌚ 4-5h
  • Luggage transfer by car
  • Overnight: homestay (shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 3: Limar – Hoshteve

Walk on ancient footpaths to reach Hoshteve. Passing several traditional villages, you will have the chance to experience the authentic rural lifestyle, meet the locals and admire the mountain splendour above as well as the Zagoria River below. Below the village Doshnica a waterfall can be visited at a geologically interesting fold, depending on the water level you may continue along the river or backtrack to the village. Another Ottoman bridge connects Hoshteve with the neighbouring villages Nderan and Zhej. Noteworthy is also the church of the Holy Apostle in Hoshteve, a fine example of Orthodox heritage.

  • ↑725m ↓575m ↔ 14.5km ⌚ 6-7h
  • Luggage transfer by car
  • Overnight: homestay (shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 4: Hoshteve – Sheper

After yesterday’s demanding walk, a shorter and easier route allows for a relaxed walking day accompanied by views of Mt. Cajupi. Nivan is the centre of the commune. Its central square is dedicated to William Tilman, a famed British mountaineer who lived here for a year fighting together with the local resistance in German-occupied Albania during WW2. Tilman was described as “the 20th Century’s last true explorer”. Then the trail takes us to the river, a monastery and the last of Ali Pasha’s stone bridges. Over meadows, you will reach Sheper where the overnight is in a simple guesthouse of an Aroman / Vllach family, nomadic shepherds who were forcefully settled here during communism. Time can be spent with the family or exploring the village.

  • ↑600m ↓550m ↔ 12.5km ⌚ 5h
  • Luggage transport by car
  • Overnight: homestay (shared facilities)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 5: Sheper – Permet

Over the Dhembel-Nemercke Range, you will walk following an ancient caravan route. Marvelling the peaks of Mt. Cajupi Mountain’s across the valley, you will climb uphill to the summer pastures that serve local shepherds. The alpine valley is flanked by steep slopes and the Dhembel Pass (1450m) at its end offers views of the Eastern Highlands, across into Greece and to the town of Permet far below. Then a long rocky descent leads to Leuse, another beautiful stone village with an amazing fresco-covered church, probably the most beautiful in Southern Albania. It is then only a 15-minute walk to reach the city centre and your centrally located hotel. For dinner, you have plenty of options to taste the city’s famous cuisine, sample local wines and raki.

  • 625m ↓1250m ↔ 10km ⌚ 6-7h
  • Luggage transport by car
  • Overnight: hotel (private en-suite rooms)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch

Day 6 – Permet – Gjirokaster

Another stunning panorama of Nemercka Mountain awaits at the entrance of the Lengarica Canyon, and the thermal pools of Benje are said to have a healing effect on many ailments. The springs are located next to an Ottoman stone bridge with dramatic views of Nemercka, the second-highest mountain in South Albania. Soak and relax in the sulphuric waters or explore the river canyon. Transfer to Gjirokastra.

  • ↑350m ↓350m ↔ 6km ⌚ 3h
  • Luggage transport by car
  • Overnight: hotel (private en-suite rooms)
  • Meals included: Breakfast

Day 7 – Tirana or Saranda

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

If you’d like to spend the evening in Tirana:
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.

If you’d like to spend the evening in Saranda:

Explore the pearl of the Albanian Riviera, Saranda, a lively coastal resort. You can also make an optional trip to UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint (not included). Set in a beautiful forested area that sprawls across the peninsula, the ruins are very well preserved, though the amphitheatre, basilica and castle are the most impressive sights. Buses run every hour between downtown Saranda and Butrint via Ksamil for 100 lek (€0.80). The entrance fee to Butrint National Park is 700 lek (€5.60) and it takes 2 to 3 hours to visit the entire complex.

  • Overnight at a Saranda boutique hotel or Tirana – depending on your flights
  • Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8 – Departure on Onward Travel

  • Complimentary transfer to Tirana Airport (if staying in Tirana and departing from Tirana Airport) or to Saranda Ferry Port (if staying in Saranda and flying from Corfu Airport)
  • Meals included: Breakfast


Simple, clean family-run guesthouses and homestays in the mountains and middle-class hotels in towns. Facilities in homestays are shared.

Hotels and guesthouses are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates it will be replaced with a hotel of equal value and quality level; sometimes you will need to spend the night in a different building in close vicinity to the main building. While we try to arrange accommodations in private rooms, this might not be possible in mountain homestays. Exact accommodation details will be provided to you upon booking confirmation.


Meals as described in the itinerary, 3 days full board, 3 days with picnic lunch package, 1 day breakfast only. Dinner, when not included, is available either from the restaurant in your hotel or restaurants and taverns in the village/town near your hotel.


Recommended airports for this trip: Corfu or Tirana.

Flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking.

Baggage Transfers

Baggage transfer is included, and your bags will be transferred by your current hotel (or by private transfer) to your next hotel. Please note that suitcases are not suitable for transport on horses and only one piece of soft baggage (duffle or backpack) with a maximum weight of 15 kg is included.

Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance WorldNomads

We strongly recommend protecting the cost of your trip and other non-refundable travel expenses with travel insurance. Our Signature Travel Insurance allows you to insure all of your expenses. While a Signature Travel Insurance policy can be purchased at any time, purchasing a policy within 20 days of making your initial trip deposit gives you the widest range of policy options, including a Cancel for Any Reason coverage. For complete peace of mind, we also recommend enrolling with Global Rescue, the worldwide leader in field rescue, evacuation and security extraction services.

Read more and get a quote online

Albania: Country Info

Timezone: GMT +1. Language: Albanian. In big cities, many people speak English, but in remote areas, this might not be the case. However, most of the hotel staff where we stay speak English and are ready to help you. You can always call our 24/7 helpline in case of problems. Electric supply and plugs: 220V, 50Hz, two-pin round plugs. Currency: The official currency in Albania is the Albanian Lek. 1£ is about 190 Albanian Lek. We strongly recommend taking sufficient cash for your daily requirements. Banks and ATMs are available, and credit/debit card payments are widely accepted in towns and cities and big petrol station chains but might be limited at some of the villages we visit.

Detailed up-to-date cost of living data for Albania is available here. Up-to-date travel advice on Albania is available here.

Trip Info

Difficulty Grade: Moderate

The tour is suitable for active hikers with a moderate level of fitness. Moderate itineraries may include extended steep ascents and descents along routes. May also include high mountain (alpine) terrain which is rugged and rough underfoot (read more about difficulty grades).

Route Navigation

You will walk mostly on hiking trails and paths. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to Go

This trip is available from late March to early June and from September into early November. It is too hot for walking in July and August. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your holiday on any date in the season – so please indicate desired starting date when booking.


Since it has coastlines on the Adriatic and Ionian seas and highlands, Albania experiences a variety of weather patterns depending on the area. Albania has a Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters, especially on the coast. Throughout the year, there is abundant rainfall. Albania also has a lot of mountainous regions, where the winters can be very harsh with snowfall and low temperatures.

The dry period of the year is from June to September while it is predominately cold and wet from October to May. The lowlands have milder winters and milder summers than the coast; in the coastal regions, the daily temperatures fluctuate more. Throughout, the nights cool down significantly; all tourists should bring warm clothing and rainwear during the winter.

What to Bring

We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing no more than 15 kg (due to the limitation in baggage transfers) and a day pack for your daily essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.

  • Good hiking boots;
  • Hiking socks;
  • Several t-shirts (preferably breathable/fast drying);
  • Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood;
  • Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece;
  • Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation;
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve;
  • Hat/Baseball cap;
  • Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies).


  • 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
  • GPS tracks to use via our smartphone app or on your own GPS device
  • Accommodation for 7 nights in hand-picked 2 to 3-star hotels or family-run guesthouses and homestays as listed in the itinerary
  • 3 days full board, 1 day breakfast & packed lunch, 3 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 return transfers Tirana or Saranda on days 1 and 7
  • Arrival meeting
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office in Tirana

Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements

  • Single room supplement: due to limited availability in the mountains, single room supplement for group members is not possible
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; as costs are not shared, a solo traveller supplement is charged


  • Flights
  • Travel from/to Corfu (Airport) to/from Saranda Ferry Port
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not explicitly mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme


  • One extra night in Tirana and/or Saranda before or after the holiday



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Trails and Valleys of South Albania
Average rating:  
 1 reviews
by Michel B on Trails and Valleys of South Albania

[The most memorable part of our holiday was] the remoteness of the villages we visited while on the trail.  The hospitality from the guesthouse hosts as well as the local folks we met on the trail.  Gjirokastër town, amazing history, lovely market bizarre and great food! Be prepared for bad weather.  We encountered cold rain fog lightening while hiking. [...] Hikers should be prepared to follow a route not a path.  The markings were adequate. The stay in Gjirokastër was fantastic and Hotel Gjirokastër and hosts were amazing.  Tirana was just a large busy city ....but good food! Our drivers were excellent.  On time and professional.  A great way to move around the country. [...] Should note there is no wifi available on this route at the guesthouses.

Hospitality was wonderful. Katerina’s guesthouse in Hoshteve experience along with her food was exceptional! Hotel Gjirokastër was amazing.  A beautiful place to stay right in the Center of town.  They took our filthy boots after the hike and returned them clean.

Fantastic experience in a foreign land!

by Chester on King Ludwig Way

Delightful moderate walk building up slowly to an interesting climax over the days. Varied and friendly hotels. Kirchberger in Wildsteig deseerves... Read full review

We are a retired couple of 73 and 70 years old. We enjoyed the trip very much. The trip was well organised; all went smooth, the accommodation... Read full review

This holiday not only had erupting volcanoes, fabulous hospitality and a plethora of dramatic landscapes to walk in, it also featured gorgeous... Read full review

We had a really great holiday and appreciated the good organisation from your company. Everything went to plan, very well organised and good... Read full review

We just completed the Catalan Coast and Mountain week-long self-guided walking tour. February was perfect in the off-season! [The] itinerary... Read full review

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