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Trails of Albanian Alps

Tour details

Average rating:   5,  17 reviews
Activity type
Self Guided Walking
8 days & 7 nights
June - September


Day 1: Skodra
Day 2: Koman Lake
Day 3: Valbona and Kukaj
Day 4: Valbona to Theth
Day 5: Peja Pass
Day 6: Theth
Day 7: Tirana/Skodra
Day 8: Departure

Overview for 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).

The tour 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.


Itinerary for Trails of Albanian Alps

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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 the 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 – 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
  • 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 – 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
  • 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

Hotels for Trails of Albanian Alps

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Simple, clean family-run guesthouses and middle-class hotels. Accommodation includes a boutique 3-star hotel in Shkoder, a welcoming hotel in Valbone, and several characterful guesthouses in the mountains.

Sample hotels and guesthouses: Hotel Tradita, Vila Dini, Guesthouse Kol Gjoni, Bujtina Polia, Bjeshka Guesthouse, Vila 60

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 with en-suite bathrooms, this might not be possible on this particular trip on all days, especially in the high mountain. Exact accommodation details will be provided to you upon booking confirmation.


Meals as specified, 5 days full board with picnic lunch package, and 2 days 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.

Travel for Trails of Albanian Alps

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Recommended airports for this trip: Tirana or Podgorica.

Transfers to/from Airports: Included in the price of the trip (Tirana and Podgorica airport only).

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 transporting only one piece of soft baggage (duffle or backpack) with a maximum weight of 15 kg is included.

Travel Insurance

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A comprehensive and reputable travel insurance policy is essential to your enjoyment and peace of mind while on an active holiday. It is highly recommended when booking with us that all group members have valid travel insurance which includes cover for all activities included in your trip. We have teamed up with World Nomads to offer you adequate cover at a great value from a reputable insurer, and it takes only a few minutes to buy online.

Buy travel insurance 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 for Trails of Albanian Alps

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Difficulty Grade: Moderate

The Trails of Albanian Alps 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 and some sections of scrambling (read more about difficulty grades).

Route Navigation

You will walk mostly on hiking trails. Most – but not all -of the trails are well marked and signposted. 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 June until September. Weather is best in July – September. 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. If travelling during the summer tourists should bring light, cotton clothes but also a light sweater for summer nights.

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).

Included for Trails of Albanian Alps

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  • 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 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

Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements

  • Single room supplement: due to limited availability in the mountains, single room supplement for group members is possible only on Days 1 and 7
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; as costs are not shared, a solo traveller supplement is charged


  • Flights
  • Lunches and dinners on Days 1 and 7, drinks & snacks on all days
  • 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 Skodra before or after the holiday

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Reviews for Trails of Albanian Alps

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Trails of Albanian Alps
Average rating:  
 17 reviews
by Lyn Allen and friends on Trails of Albanian Alps

The Albanian Alps are very beautiful, and well worth the steep and occasionally narrow pathways and roads. Our thanks to local organisers and drivers! The food was delicious at all the guesthouses, and we were made very welcome.

by Dorit on Trails of Albanian Alps

We enjoyed ​spending time with our daughters in the beautiful landscape of northern Albania. The hotels chosen were good picks and so was the food.


by Sandy M on Trails of Albanian Alps

We loved it - thank you so much. The boat trip, horses, walking over the pass, the waterfalls and blue eye, people in the accommodation, the views - extraordinary country!

by Marianna V on Trails of Albanian Alps

We had a fantastic trip! Below is our feedback. We will definitely be booking with you again. It was pretty seamless with minor blips that don't even count as things to be improved. We were obviously tourists, of course we were foreigners but nothing felt like exploitation or detrimental tourism.

by Mark H on Trails of Albanian Alps

The trip was superb. Thoroughly recommended - the hikes, the local hospitality, the adventure - everything is well organised.

by Alex G on Trails of Albanian Alps

Walking over the pass and the meadows below Rama’s hut was a highlight, boat trip very good. You should tell people who arrive by ferry at Durres that they need to go over the walkway bridge to the bus carpark to meet driver. Very comfy beds throughout. Nderlysa had a delightful host and great meals in the garden.

by Janet C on Trails of Albanian Alps

Walking the pass between Valbona and Theth [was the highlight of this itinerary]. Take tour of Tirana beforehand to get feel/ background on Albania.

by Becky S on Trails of Albanian Alps

We had a fantastic time! We are keen to book another trip for next year! Or possibly two trips...

We loved this trip! The  mountain scenery was beautiful and the streams were turquoise blue and so clear! We particularly enjoyed swimming in the lakes and speaking with local people. Bring swimming clothes! And maybe some aqua shoes for paddling in. Pack light for the horse transfer.  The ferry on Lake Koman was very exciting too. The trails were all beautiful, and there were streams everywhere to freshen up in. The food at the different guesthouses was excellent. A fantastic trip!

by Linda & Bob on Trails of Albanian Alps

Especially enjoyed our Albanian mountain  experience. The route and trails were well marked in the main and enabled us to see the beautiful the unspoilt countryside.[...] The logistics were reliable and efficient -some of the travelling was adventurously bone shaking because of the poor quality of local roads but we always felt confident in the travel. All accommodation was comfortable ,clean and welcoming . Particularly specially was the NDERLYSA Guest House experience  -talking to the family via their younger daughter. Their hospitality  -eating inside their house- being entertained by a visiting musician and their   local food was exceptionally good. Hotel Dini food was also special. All local people were helpful and attentive and we did exchange conversations in a very friendly manner -sometimes by signing and laughing. Basically we had a really wide ranging, fascinating experience of a country and people. Thank you for all your care.

by Portia L on Trails of Albanian Alps

It was a great trip, thank you! We would definitely tell our friends to visit Albania and the Alps.

by Stuart on Trails of Albanian Alps

We had a great time in the Accursed Mountains - I think they must be cursed with beauty...

by David H on Trails of Albanian Alps

Accommodation was basic but adequate and was very clean.  The hosts were very friendly and helpful – especially the manager at Vila Dini and the owner of the accommodation at Nderlysa.  The company drivers were also excellent.

by Peter D on Trails of Albanian Alps

We really enjoyed our time in Albania. We did not expect the Albanian Alps to be so spectacular.  The local people we met were wonderful - they make a huge difference to a traveller's experience. The scenery was beautiful beyond our expectations. All the information about what to take was accurate. We didn't get the accommodation and information sheet until the day before the trek when we realized it was missing. But this problem was fixed immediately by the company. Otherwise all excellent. The smartphone app was outstanding - we relied on it exclusively.  Our local representative Dori was wonderful. Full of valuable practical information about what to see, what and where to eat, as well interesting historical information. The transfers were all smooth, something that removes one of the anxieties of travel. The trails were for us (we are 62 and 60) very well designed. The combination of longer and shorter days was perfect. We would recommend this holiday to anybody with a reasonable level of fitness.

by Myriam on Trails of Albanian Alps

We were overall very impressed with the organisation. The best was the walk between Valbona and Theth. We enjoyed the path, the lovely cafes in the mountains. In general terms we really enjoyed being in a country that did not yet seem to be totally in the grip of unbridled tourism.  Expect simplicity and lovely friendly people. For us the walking could have been longer especially on the last 2 days. We felt they were too short, although lovely. We did use your smartphone app (my son did anyway) and it worked fine. In fact better than the GPS.

by Gilbert W on Trails of Albanian Alps

Many thanks for a wonderful experience in this unspoiled, beautiful country with the most open and generous people I have ever come across.

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