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Hidden Gems
Coastal Trails of Albania  The Natural Adventure 5

Coastal Trails of Albania

Overview

Beyond the Karaburun Peninsula and right beneath the 2000 m high Ceuranian Peaks, the Albanian Riviera stretches until the Greek border and attracts thousands of beachgoers during the hot summer months. The mountains and beaches are all yours to enjoy in spring and autumn, ideally combined on this self guided tour. Start underneath the highest coastal peaks with stunning views of the deep blue sea and the rugged coastline. Hike on empty shepherd’s trails, through citrus groves and olive trees, from one quaint stone village to another. Swim in the Ionian Sea’s shimmering, crystal clear waters on some of the most secluded beaches. Breathe in the herb-scented mountain air and enjoy the finest of Albanian food, a mix of fresh Mediterranean and hearty mountain cuisine. Experience what lies beyond the seashore and what most are missing out on, all at your own pace, while we take care of your accommodation and transfers for a hassle-free adventure.

Note that this is our newest and experimental tour for 2022, and we only recommend it to experienced and adventurous hikers.

Highlights

  • Walk and swim in the secluded places of the Albanian Riviera
  • Hike under the highest peaks of the thunder-split coastal mountains
  • Learn about the unique songs and story of the Laberia region
  • Enjoy the delicious Albanian cuisine

Click to view map

Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Albania/Llogara

Welcome to Albania! We will meet in Tirana to brief you on the upcoming days, and then a transfer to Llogara National Park will follow. As per your preference, you can continue with the public bus (depending on timing) or a private transfer (best suited if you want to visit sites on the way).

Passing the salt pans of the Narta Lagoon and the historic city of Vlore, enjoying the coastal vista of the bay, you drive up to Llogara, located in the heart of the Ceraunian Mountains. Llogara national park is an important biosphere reserve, famous in particular for its 500-year-old black pines and firs. The curious shapes the trees take from the winds, especially when engulfed by fog, create the atmosphere of an enchanted forest. Tonight you stay 800 m high in a comfy mountain hotel and are treated to various delicious traditional dishes.

  • Complimentary transfer from Tirana airport to Llogara National Park
  • Overnight at comfortable mountain hotel or guesthouse in Llogara NP (Hotel Sofo or Hotel Alpin)
  • Meals included: Dinner

Day 2: Llogara to Himara | 5 km

A short transfer takes you to today’s trailhead at the highest point of the Llogara Pass (1.043 m). A narrow, partly steep trail leads through ancient snakeskin pines. During communism, the tree giants were tapped for resin, today they rest peacefully surrounded by chamomile and sage. You steadily walk up the zig-zag shepherd’s trail with views over the endless blue of the Ionian Sea and the Albanian Riviera. Today’s goal lies beneath the rocky peak of Qorre (2.018 m) at the Dhjopuri Saddle (1.600 m). There you can take a rest and enjoy the views of the Llogara Pass, separating the Karaburun Peninsula from the rest of the riviera and the village Dukat at the foot of the mountain. Why not use the time for a high-up picnic? Later, stroll down the same way to one of the beer-garden restaurants. A transfer on a winding road, with an optional stop to visit Dhermi, takes you through the charming Mediterranean villages of the Riviera further down south to the small seaside city Himara. This will be your stay for the upcoming four nights in a hotel by the sea, from where you will start your daily hikes through the picturesque pebble beaches and the idyllic villages of the Riviera.

  • Walking for the day: 5 km, 3-4 h, ↑550 m ↓550 m
  • Overnight at a comfortable hotel or guesthouse in Himara (Hotel Dhima or Hotel Rondos)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 3: Kudhes to Qeparo | 12 km

The scenic morning drive along glistening bays ends at the foot of the inland village Kudhes. The winding cement road takes you through olive trees and houses up to the heart of the village, where the generous shade of the plane trees invites you for a coffee in the company of the friendly locals. The rocky shepherds’ path that follows upon exiting the village is adorned by bright pink oleanders and lush green cypress trees. Arriving at the terraced fields, the view opens to the deep blue sea and over to the island Corfu in the close background. Soon, you arrive at the Oldtown Qeparo on the hilltop. Time seems to stand still in the maze of stone houses and cobbled streets, and a “hidden” viewpoint overlooks the olive fields and tranquil shore. From here, you can descend to the New Qeparo by the beach or continue the walk above the shoreline, across the hillside towards Borsh, to enjoy the coastal landscape a little longer. On the drive back to Himara, there’s the option to visit the castle at Porto Palermo, overlooking the submarine tunnels.

  • Walking for the day: 12 km, 4 h, ↑400 m ↓400 m
  • Overnight at a comfortable hotel or guesthouse in Himara (Hotel Dhima or Hotel Rondos)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 4: Dhermi to Himare | 6 km

Instead of mountains, today’s route takes you across cliffs and from one dazzling beach to another. It’s by no means a flat walk, but it offers the perfect ‘hike and swim’ day through the beaches that have turned the Albanian Riviera into a rising hot spot. In the morning, a 30-min drive takes you to one of the most distinct upper coastal villages, Vuno. The white, stacked-up houses on the hillside, the centuries-old orthodox churches, the central open-air café, and the partisan memorial next to it invite for an exploratory stroll. The idyllic descent through olive groves is enjoyable as you slowly feel the salty aroma nearing the sea. Accompanied by the awe-inspiring colours and the sound of the crashing waves, you walk the red-earthed trail until you reach Livadhi beach. You can choose to stop here for some more swimming, walk through the city to reach your hotel or go the thousand-year-old cobblestone path up to Oldtown Himara and its castle. The hilltop town offers a similar atmosphere to Qeparo, a high-up view of the surroundings and is especially beautiful right before sunset.

  • Walking for the day: 6 km, 3 h, ↑250 m ↓325 m
  • Overnight at a comfortable hotel or guesthouse in Himara (Hotel Dhima or Hotel Rondos)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 5: Piqeras to Lukova | 6 km

Today you visit the lesser-known southern part of the riviera for a coastal mountain hike. From Lukova, a steep shepherd’s path takes you towards the ridge, with views of the terraced hills plunging into the turquoise sea. Soon, Corfu appears on the horizon too, and once at the pass, you peek at the wild, solitary inland on the other side of the mountain. Weather permitting, it’s even possible to follow a steep, straightforward path up to the Lavani peak, the highest point in sight. Transfer back to Himara. In the evening, enjoy an evening stroll at the busy centre or a cocktail by the beach.

  • Walking for the day: 6 km, 4 h, ↑400 m ↓400 m
  • Overnight at a comfortable hotel or guesthouse in Himara (Hotel Dhima or Hotel Rondos)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 6: Lukove to Borsh | 12 km

A relaxed and diverse walk takes you to the southern side of the Riviera once more. Starting in Lukova, you walk through the flower-adorned houses, down the old cobblestone alleys and even discover a small waterfall. Continue through uniform paths and endless terraces of olive groves, constructed by human hand only, without the help of any machinery. Here, during communism, political prisoners were converted to forced labourers. After a smooth descent, you land on Bunec beach. Walk along the shoreline to reach Borsh beach for a refreshing swim. The driver picks you up, and you head back to the Ceraunian Mountains and the Llogara National Park.

  • Walking for the day: 12 km, 4 h, ↑150 m ↓400 m
  • Overnight at a comfortable mountain hotel or guesthouse in Llogara NP (Hotel Sofo or Hotel Alpin)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch, dinner

Day 7: Llogara to Tirana | 11 km

Today, the trailhead lies at the highest point of the Llogara pass again, this time opposite Cika and Qorre peaks. A wide gravel path steadily leads to the radio towers at the ridge. Here, the lush green Karaburun Peninsula’s western slopes plunge steeply into the deep blue Ionian Sea. Panoramic views of the rugged Albanian Riviera and the Bay of Vlora on the other side accompany the walk along the peninsula’s spine. A rocky, partly trailless path allows climbing Mt. Gjipali (1.446 m) for a high-up picnic break, taking a moment to memorize the harsh beauty of the entire coastal line. Afterwards, descend into a mountain pasture and then enter the Deep Pass, a rainforest-like green corridor offering generous afternoon shade. Return to the hotel for your transfer to Tirana. Go on an evening stroll along the main boulevard to discover the influences that shaped the city. Choose one of the many restaurants and enjoy a last, delicious dinner as you look back on an eventful week along the beautiful Ionian coast of Albania.

  • Walking for the day: 11 km, 5 h, ↑425 m ↓625 m
  • Overnight at comfortable hotel or guesthouse (Hotel Villa 60 or similar)
  • Meals included: Breakfast, packed lunch

Day 8: Departure on Onward Travel

Time permitting, Tirana invites you to explore its streets and sights on a stroll. Sip an espresso in one of the charming bars, observe the busy morning flow and select special treats as edible souvenirs at the lively “New Bazaar”. Interested to learn more about the communist past? “Bunkart 2” and “The House of Leaves” provide insights and are only a 5 min walk away from Tirana’s main “Skanderbeg Square”. Your multi-faceted journey in Albania ends with a 40 min transfer to the airport.

  • Depending on departure time possibility to further explore the capital
  • Complimentary transfer to Tirana airport
  • Meals included: Breakfast

What to Expect

Accommodation

Accommodation is in welcoming hotels and characterful mountain guesthouses in private rooms. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default accommodations

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

All breakfasts, 6 packed lunches and 6 dinners are included.

Difficulty & terrain

The tour is suitable for active hikers with a moderate level of fitness. The itinerary includes either easier, medium-duration walks or more challenging, shorter walks. Some walking on loose underfoot, steep sections and occasional longer/harder days may be involved; still, general conditions will be fair. A walking day is typically three to five hours, and daily ascents will likely be around 300 m to 700 m, with an odd day ascending around 800 m to 900 m (read more about difficulty grades). 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, maps and GPS devise with preloaded tracks, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime.

When to go

This trip is available from late March to early June and from September to late October.

The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates, and you can start your trip on any date during the season.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Recommended airport for this trip is Tirana. Complimentary private return transfers to the airport are included in the trip cost (one arrival and one departure transfer per party).

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 overnights in city hotels and mountain guesthouses
  • All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 6 dinners
  • Luggage transfers when changing hotels (one piece of luggage per person, max 20 kg)
  • Complimentary airport transfers
  • Arrival briefing
  • Detailed route notes, maps (1 x per room) & GPS device with preloaded tracks, SIM-Card
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Airfare and connecting land transfers other than Tirana
  • Travel insurance (get a quote online)
  • Meals not listed in the itinerary as well as drinks
  • Personal expenses
  • Any other items not explicitly listed as included

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single room

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