Hiking in Albania, where to start? This small country in south-eastern Europe is one of many in the Balkans. Albania is remarkably diverse, with landscapes ranging from the snow-capped mountains of the Albanian Alps to the warm and sunny shores of the Albanian Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Find your way to Albania and discover golden beaches, blue lakes, unique culture and more important; friendly people! At Bookatrekking.com we know the most beautiful sights to visit and summits to encounter, in this blog we will tell you more about it. Here we go! Or in Albanian: '
Last update: September 2022
Together with Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro, Albania is part of the Western Balkans. Hiking in Albania is a great way to get to know this beautiful country. Join a hiking adventure in Albania and discover small but beautiful villages like Theth, go kayaking in mountain lakes or sleep under the stars on an empty Grama Bay beach in southern Albania. No matter if you have plenty of time or just a few days off, when it comes to hiking in Albania, there are plenty of options for everyone! At Bookatrekking.com, we share our experiences with you!
Why Hiking in Albania?
Albania may not be your first association when thinking of a beautiful mountain hike, but it really should be. At Bookatrekking.com, we know Albania has an adventure for everyone. Northern Albania contains the foothills of the Dinaric Alps where you can do several treks to explore this region. It is also the starting point of the Peaks of the Balkans trail, where you also cross the borders with Montenegro and Kosovo. In southern Albania, you'll find Mt Çika and Grama Bay, just to name a few. Climb the summit or spend the night on the beach, there are plenty of options in the south too!
Albania is comparable to Belgium in terms of surface area. Feelingly, this country may be tucked far away in the Balkans with neighbours like Montenegro, Kosovo, Northern Macedonia and Greece. However, take the boot of Italy in mind and imagine yourself standing on the heel of the boot, you can see Albania on the other side of the Adriatic Sea. The country holds beautiful mountain peaks, white beaches and the most beautiful waterfalls. Plenty to discover! Read more about the Albanian Alps with Valbona & Theth or the Albanian Riviera.
Albanian Alps - Valbona & Theth
By now you know that the foothills of the Alps also reach into Albania! The Dinaric Alps or Albanian Alps doesn't have the peaks you'll encounter in Austria or Switzerland, but with a maximum altitude of 2694m, it's definitely not a walk in the park. Discover hidden lakes, enjoy the views over the Valbona Valley or trek along the steep rock formations. A visit to Theth is also not to be missed! Below, we have highlighted the various highlights you should not skip while trekking in this region.
Komani Lake & the Ferry
Along the way, you will pass beautiful landscapes and cross Lake Komani. The ferry that operates several times a day provides connections between the remote mountain villages. After all, roads are hard to find in this region. The crossing takes about 3 hours and is full of breathtaking views. No need to get bored on the ferry! After arriving on the other side, there is a chance you will see the first shepherds passing by with their flocks.
Trek from Valbona to Theht over the Valbona Pass
Start your trek in Valbona from where you can climb some stunning peaks. In 4 hours you will be on the summit of Maja e Rosit (2533m), to name one. Valbona is also the starting point for a trek to Theth. From Valbona, you will hike to Theth in about 5 hours, an 8-kilometre trail and a real eye-catcher! The trek to Theth is undoubtedly worthwhile! The route used to be an old mule track and passes through a landscape full of impressive mountains. At one point, you can see the Theth Valley on one side and the Valbona Valley on the other. The Valbona Pass (1795m) is the absolute highlight! In whatever way you want to explore this region, this one really should be included.
Theth & Blue Eye of Theth
If you search on Theth you will come across fairytale pictures. Located just 15 kilometres from the border with neighbouring Montenegro, this mountain village is considered a hikers' paradise! Follow your nose into the old town and pass many characteristic old stone houses where you feel like you are going back in time. In the direct surroundings of Theth, you will find the Blue Eye of Theth, definitely worth a visit! From Theth, a trek to this hidden gem is easy to undertake. If you still have time to spare, the Grunas Waterfalls are worth a visit as well. The waterfall is located just outside Theth, on the western slope of the Theth Valley. From the centre of Theth, you can get here in about 50 minutes.
Getting excited? Cross Lake Komani, visit Theth and enjoy the views from the Valbona Pass! Check out all the options here!
Albanian Riviera: Sleep on the Beach and Discover the South
The Albanian Riviera stretches from Sarandë in the south to the Llogara National Park in a northerly direction. It is also where the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea merge. The coast is flanked by steep mountain cliffs where you will encounter both pebble and sandy beaches. After the fall of communism, some of the population left for more prosperous Greece, although some have since found their way back as well. It makes the Albanian Riviera still pure and unspoilt and is the holiday destination of choice for locals.
Lying on the beach at Dhërmi, enjoying the wonderful Mediterranean climate with views over beautiful mountain peaks. In the local travel guide you read more about this peak, this must be Mount Çika, at 2044m the highest peak in this region. In a few days, you completely unwind, until restlessness reappears. You've heard about the Butrint and Llogara National Parks and have become curious about the view from Mount Çika. 'I want to find out more about that!'
Llogara National Park & Mount Çika (2044m)
Established in 1966, Llogara National Park is cut in half by the Llogara Pass. The park is known for its diversity of sharp mountain peaks and a sun-drenched coastline. The winds coming from the Mediterranean Sea leave their mark on the oak forests in this area as many trees grow crooked as a result. Explore this park on foot and feast your eyes, chances are you will see vultures hovering above you. Mount Çika (2044m) can be seen from the meadows, as mentioned, the highest peak in this region. Start early as temperatures can rise in the afternoon. Some physical fitness is required to reach the summit in about 4 hours, the view does not disappoint!
Camp on the Beach of Grama Bay
West of Mt Çika you will find Grama Bay (Gjiri i Gramës in Albanian) on the Karaburun Peninsula. The national park of the same name has few roads and for this reason has remained pure and unspoilt. Explore this peninsula on foot and spend the night on the beach.
The Albanian Riviera has so much more to offer! Wake up on the beach and follow the paths back to civilisation, here you will find all the possibilities!
Discover Albania, Kosovo & Montenegro: Peaks of the Balkan Trail
The Albanian Riviera or Northern Albania are starting to get familiar to you. Let's extend our horizons and leave Albania just for now! This has only come into play in recent years since the land borders with Kosovo and Montenegro remained closed earlier. With the introduction of a Cross Border Permit, it is possible to cross different land borders with one permit. This is how the Peaks of the Balkan Trail was born, a 192-kilometre circular hiking trail through Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro connected by unspoilt footpaths.
Peaks of the Balkan Trail
The Peaks of the Balkans are a collection of beautiful and spectacular mountains that are shared by Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. The Peaks of the Balkan Trail connects the three countries with a circular hiking trail. It is home to the brown bear, as well as animals such as the wolf and lynx. Through the so-called Balkan Green Belt initiative, set up in 1999, these animals are protected without being limited by the different country borders.
This hidden gem has many picturesque mountain villages where time seems to have stood still. Using shepherd trails, this path winds through the high alpine mountains up to 2,300 metres above sea level, passing through mountain landscapes with a diversity of breathtaking views ranging from green valleys, crystal clear mountain lakes, waterfalls and rivers. Explore this region on a self-guided trek or follow the lead of a local guide. And decide between a seven-day or 10-day trek. In all cases, the Peaks of the Balkan Trail is not to be underestimated, daily you will be on the road for 5 to 8 hours. Climb Maja e Berishdolit (1977m), enjoy hospitality in Doberdol and climb the roof of Kosovo, the Peaks of the Balkans hold everything for a great adventure.
So for the real mountain goats! If you fit this profile, check out the possibilities here!
What is the Best Season for Your Albanian Hikes?
The best months to visit Albania are from mid-June to mid-September. The summer months are relatively warm due to its geographical location. Average temperatures in July, August and September are around 25 °C in the Riviera, while temperatures are lower in the Albanian Alps. The beaches are crowded during this period and you will meet most people on the trails. September, October and the first part of November are considered the most ideal period, there is no snow yet and the trails are a lot quieter. The weather conditions in these months are ideal for a brisk trek.
In winter (November, December, January, February and March), temperatures can drop considerably. You will encounter snow in the mountains, making northern Albania in particular very suitable for winter sports. The transition periods between winter and summer are very unstable. A day with temperatures of 25 °C is certainly not unusual, however, the next day can be 15 °C cooler. This applies mainly to the months of April, May, June and October. From mid-May to around the end of June, weather conditions are good for a nice trek and you won't meet as many other hikers on the route.
Where do I Start My Albania Hikes?
The starting point in Albania is Tirana, the capital. The city can be reached by plane as it has an international airport. From the airport, it is about half an hour's drive to the city centre. Travelling to Tirana by train is also an option, although direct connections to Tirana are limited. You then travel by train via Milan to Bari (Italy) to cross by boat. A ferry is waiting for you to take you to the port city of Durrës. In Durrës, you can travel on to Tirana, or you can choose to travel directly south to the Albanian Riviera. Vlorë is considered the starting point for this region, the second largest port city in the country after Durrës. It takes about 1,5 hours to reach this destination. For the Albanian Alps, choose Theth as your starting point, about a 4-hour drive northwards from Tirana. From Theth, follow the Peaks of the Balkans trail or visit the Bue Eye of Theth. Or cross the Valbona pass towards Valbona.
Still opt for the convenience of an organised trek? Then just give our partner the address of your accommodation in Tirana and you will be picked up from your hotel. Whether you want to go for the Peaks of the Balkans or sleep on the beach, your adventure begins in Tirana. Check out all the options here!
Hiking in Albania; With or Without a Guide?
Whether you want to trek independently or opt for a guided trek, both is possible! On an independent trek you are on your own, with remote support if needed, and you get every chance to clear your head. On the other hand, a guided trek is perfect for people who don't want to worry about the route to follow. We at Bookatrekking.com know that not everyone is the same, and we have adapted our offer accordingly!
Whether you want to go for the Peaks of the Balkan Trail, explore the Albanian Riviera or do a trek from Valbona to Theth, you can always choose between a self-guided or a guided trek. If you're not quite sure yet, we'd like to list some of the pros and cons for you:
You Are up for the Challenge of Going Out on Your Own:
- You are completely on your own to clear your head
- As an avid map-reader, you will get your money's worth
- You set your own pace
- You are never completely independent, remote support is available
- Not unimportant: self-guided is considerably cheaper
You Choose the Convenience of a Guided Trek:
- Get told where to go without worrying about the route to follow
- Discover the secrets of the region shown by your local guide
- In case of unforeseen circumstances there will always be someone with you for support
If you still need some advice, don't hesitate to contact us! We will be happy to help you.
Where Do I Stay Along the Albania Hiking Trails?
There is nothing better than taking off your shoes after a long day of walking and plopping down on your bed, we know the feeling! In Albania, you will come across different types of accommodation, some more luxurious than others, but all equally welcoming!
The so-called guesthouses are provided by locals and offer hikers a simple place to sleep. They are often small but cosy accommodations where you get the chance to meet the locals. Sheets, blankets and pillows are available at most guesthouses.
You will be welcomed with open arms and get to enjoy fresh meals made from local products. Salads consisting of cucumber, tomato and onion, or stuffed peppers with green beans stewed in milk. In short, something for everyone. Finish off the whole thing with a cup of Turkish coffee! Don't drink your mug completely empty, there's always a bit of coffee-drap left behind.
The shepherd's huts are basically the same, although you can expect a little less comfort here. The facilities are basic but certainly sufficient for a good night's sleep! Enjoy the simple but nutritious stews or have a slice of crumbly white cheese. With a bit of luck, you can taste some of the homemade jam.
We save the best for last! The Albanian Riviera is home to several bays that can only be reached on foot (and boat of course). You get the chance to pitch your tent there and be hushed to sleep by the swell of the sea. The first thing in the morning is a refreshing dip in crystal-clear water. We call this an autentic experience!
Price-Break-Down: What Will My Hike in Albania Cost?
You're taking up the Albania challenge - an excellent idea! But what costs should you take into account? Hiking options in Albania range between €400 and €1600 per person. Whether you want to hike for a few days or challenge yourself a bit more, there's something for everyone!
As for the trek, you are completely covered. However, there are still some costs to take into account:
- First of all, the trip to Tirana. For a return flight from London to Tirana (Albania) you will pay around € 300,-.
- Accommodation before and after the trek, for a half-board you pay around € 25,- per night.
- Show your appreciation by tipping. It is certainly not an obligation, but as a token of good service, a tip of € 5,- to € 10,- per day is a good guideline.
- And finally, any personal expenses, a nice souvenir from Tirana or a drink at the bar. Reserve another €100 for that.
Would you like to secure private accommodation or take a donkey with you on your trek? Then check with our trekking experts for options and costs.
Is Luggage Transport Also Possible?
You will be travelling for several days, you won't make it with just a toothbrush. Whether you are going to explore the Albanian Riviera or cross the Valbona Pass, you will be carrying a backpack! The trick is not to take too much, but certainly not too little either. Find more information on what to bring here. But should you always carry your own stuff? Fortunately not, some stubborn donkeys are waiting for you!
Stubborn but sweet, and it makes your adventure just a little more authentic. Besides bringing a donkey to carry your luggage, there is also someone along to accompany the donkey. A local who knows the region like the back of his hand, but communication will be difficult unless you speak Albanian! If you prefer the convenience of a donkey carrying your gear, ask our trekking experts about the possibilities.
Where Do I Book My Albania Hiking Tour?
Chances are, while reading this blog, you have asked yourself a few things:
- Which region in Albania do I want to explore?
- How many days do I want to be on the road?
- Will I go self-guided or accompanied by a guide?
We would be happy to help you answer the above questions, feel free to contact us! If you have already found the answers, then book a great trek directly with Bookatrekking.com. Ready to discover this country for yourself, check out all the possibilities here! Is your interest in the Balkans stirred up and you're not done reading yet? Then read all about the Peaks of the Balkans trail here. Have fun reading!
Albania really does have something for everyone! Are you nevertheless looking for something different, for example hut-hiking in the Alps or the Pyrenees? Then check out one of our next blog posts:
Peter Habeler Runde
Via Alpina 1
Julische Alpen met Triglav
Alta Via 1
Alta Via 2
Walker's Haute Route
Tour du Mont Blanc
Tour du Mont Thabor
Carros de Foc
La Porta del Cel
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