Intensive Peaks of the Balkans Trail (Self Guided)
Choose Balkans - 7 days
Regular days with
- 15 - 20 km per day
- 500 - 1000m ascent per day
- T2 Trails / no difficulty markings
> Set off on your own and conquer the most famous peaks of the Balkans
> Visit the Old Church in Theth or the famous bazaar in Gjakova
> Get surprised by the local cuisine.
> Discover the 'Blue Eye of Theth'
Being self-reliant is a challenge you will gladly accept! In this intensive program, you will discover the Peaks of the Balkans in 7 days and set off self-guided. The Peaks of the Balkans is a collection of unspoiled mountains in a remote region shared by Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro and is connected by a circular route. This route has 192km of marked trails, of which you'll cover 90km in this program. You wind through the high Alpine mountains, crossing several mountain landscapes with a diversity of breathtaking views. In this adventure you explore some of the most beautiful mountain peaks in the world!
Cross Border Permits will be fixed for you and you will have the chance to get to know the local culture while you are staying in Guesthouses and Shephard's huts. You will be picked up from Tirana (Albania) and driven to the starting point in Tamarë. In the upcoming days you can enjoy great views from the Valbona Pass (1795m) or Talijanka Peak (2057m). Climbing the roof of Kosovo; Gjeravica (2656m) is the highest in the country. Encounter many picturesque mountain villages where time seems to have stood still. Until 20 years ago, the region was virtually inaccessible to visitors, which makes it an authentic cultural experience today. Above all, be surprised, as this trek has much more to offer!
What's the plan?
Day 1: Tirana (Albania) or Podgorica (Montenegro) – Shkoder – Tamarë – Lëpushë - Talijanka Peak (2057m) - Vuthaj (guesthouse)
11km | 5 Hours | Level: Moderate| ↑ 868m | Trail type: one way
Early in the morning you head towards the starting point of the trek. You will drive towards Tamarë (North-Albania) and pass the city of Shkoder. From Tamarë, you will begin our Peaks of the Balkans adventure. The Peaks of the Balkans are part of the Dinaric Alps that start all the way in Slovenia and end in the southeast of Albania. The Albanian Alps are even the highest section of the Dinaric Alps. We will get to explore them in the days to come.
You will arrive in the small village of Lëpushë, known for its stunning nature. The name Lëpushë refers to the yellow flower that you can find there in the spring season. In the North of Albania, they are known for many delicious bio-dishes with products from the region. Their cuisine is unique, tasty and can only be found in these areas. You will have the chance to try these in the upcoming days.
Your destination for today is Vuthaj, but first you will hike to the Talijanka peak (2057m). Here you will cross the border from Albania to Montenegro. Mount Talijanka (2057m) is located in the Grbaje Valley in Montenegro. This valley is U-shaped and surrounded by the grey sharp mountain peaks. The Talijanka peak (2057m) is considered to be one of the most beautiful of the Balkan Peaks. The view of dramatic grey extraordinary-shaped mountains is a sight that even the professional hiker will be amazed by. From this peak, you can also see Lake Plav in Montenegro. You will take a minivan for the last 40 minutes to Vuthaj in Montenegro. In Vuthaj you will have the opportunity to visit the Ali Pasha springs, which is about a 40 minute walk from the guest house, or you can reminisce on the spectacular views you have seen today.
Day 2: Vuthaj – Arapi Peak (2217m) - Theth (Albania) (guesthouse)
18km | 8 Hour | Level: Moderate | ↑ 1150m | Trail type: One way
From Vuthaj, you will head towards Theth and cross the border back to Albania. During this trek, you will visit a hidden water place which is difficult to find by yourself if you don’t know the exact location. You will also pass by one of the highest peaks of the Balkans, the Arapi peak (2217m) next to Maja Jezercë (2694m). You will come across multiple shepherd’s huts, in the Albanian Alps which show the way of life away from civilization. In Theth, you will visit the Old Church and the “Lock in” Tower (symbol of Theth). The stories behind these buildings take up centuries full of history.
Day 3: Theth – Valbona Pass (1795m) - Valbona (guesthouse)
12km | 6-8 Hours | Level: Moderate | ↑ 1050m | Trail type: One way
Trekking to Valbona from Theth will be an intense day as the walk takes about 6 to 8 hours in remote terrain, nevertheless unquestionably worthy! The route used to be an old mule trail and goes through a landscape full of impressive mountains. At one point, you will see the Theth valley on one side and Valbona valley on the other side. The Valbona pass (1795m) also offers a spectacular view of the Balkan Peaks and Bjeshket e Nemuna (or the Accursed Mountains). Bjeshket e Nemuna is a national park in Gjakova and Peja in Kosovo, near the borders of Albania and Montenegro. On the way you will walk through some beautiful landscapes and wild forests. You might even see some shepherds passing by with their flock. When reaching the top of the Valbona Pass (1795m), you will experience a serious shot of adrenaline.
Day 4: Valbona – Cerem (shepherd's hut)
20km | 7,5 Hours | Level: Moderate | ↑ 1150m | Trail type: One way
Your next destination on the Peaks of the Balkans tour is Cerem. Trekking through forests and meadows, you will arrive in an area that looks like a canyon and the only place that still has snow, even during the summer. You will have the option to hike to the highest peak of Montenegro, Zla Kolata (2534m), which will add another 3 hours of hiking (10 hours in total). Another magnificent element that you cross during the hike is a stone surface on the side of a mountain that looks like the face of a miserable old man. You will also pass a cave with an extremely cold wind along the trail of which no one knows the exit. So, all in all, there is definitely enough extraordinary things to see during the hike, besides the mountains. You will arrive at the shepherd’s hut in Cerem, which is located high in the mountains (1300m). There is no connection to civilization from here, because they have no Wi-Fi and no electricity. However, the delicious food and hospitality of the people make up for the basic facilities.
Day 5: Cerem - Doberdol (shepherd's hut)
15km | 6-7 Hours | Level: Moderate | ↑ 1025m | Trail Type: One way
From Cerem, you will hike towards Doberdol following a mule track. On the way you’ll cross the border to Montenegro in about two hours. The hike brings us through pine forests and you can find all kinds of berries, such as blueberries, blackberries and raspberries (depending on the season). You will also pass the only National Reserve in Albania, which has brown bears and the last population of approximately 40 lynxes in the Balkans. It is a beautiful trail with the highest point being 2100 meters above sea level. You will have a chance to enjoy a nice coffee or other drink at some of the shepherd’s hut villages. These villages are only populated during the summer by shepherds.
Doberdol, the destination for today, is about 1800m above sea level and this is where you will have another overnight in a shepherd’s hut. The village is beautiful and you can choose from different food options made from ingredients out of the region. The beds, however, are definitely not hotel beds, just matrasses and the conditions are basic. Yet again, the locals are very welcoming, the food is delicious and it will be a great once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Day 6: Doberdol – Gjeravica (2656m) – Junik – Gjakova (hotel)
14km | 6 Hours | Level: Moderate | ↑ 700m | Trail type: One way
Today you will head towards civilization, but not before concurring the highest peak of Kosovo, Gjeravica (2656m). It is also the second highest peak of the Accursed Mountains (Albanian Alps). From the top, we will see the Accursed Mountains on one side and the Sharr Mountains on the other. You will have the opportunity to swim in three different lakes, formed by the alpine and glacier waters. One of the lakes really stands out as it is heart-shaped. You will arrive in Junik, a town in western Kosovo. From Junik onward, you will have to go by 4x4 wheel drive to Gjakova.
Day 7: Gjakova – Tirana (Albania) / Prishtina (Kosovo) / Podgorica (Montenegro)
After you have had the chance to recharge from the Peaks of the Balkans hikes, you will have a short city tour of Gjakova. The city has the oldest and largest bazaar of Kosovo. Even though, it got destroyed during the first Balkan wars, the second world war and the Kosovo war, the bazaar got rebuilt again to its old state and is a nice place to enjoy a meal or to take a look at the stores that sell traditional clothing and items. You can also visit the clock tower and the Hadum mosque. The latter was built in the 16th century and somehow managed to survive the wars. Nowadays it shows the beginning of Islamic architecture in the Balkans, covered in stunning arabesque decorations. The transfer back to Tirana (Albania), Prishtina (Kosovo) or Podgorica (Montenegro) remarks the end of this fairy trail.
At the beginning of the trek, you will take the public transport from Tirana. All local transfers during the trek are also included in the price. At the end of the trek, you will get the local transport to Tirana Buss Terminal.
√ 3 nights accommodation in Guesthouse
Guesthouses are home to locals, they will welcome you with open arms and show you their way of life.
√ 2 nights accommodation in a Shepherd's hut
Shepherd huts are less comfortable but good enough for a well-deserved night's sleep. Be surprised by the hospitality!
√ 1 night of accommodation in a Hotel
Hotel overnight is booked for the last night, ideal to have a mental farewell to the Peaks of the Balkans and give the legs some rest.
* Prices are calculated on triple or quadruples room occupancy. The Triple/Quadruple room occupancy means you might share the room with other travelers. (who could be male or female).
√ Cross Border Pass
Permits to cross the various borders are included and prepared by our local partner Choose Balkans.
√ Transport by 4X4 wheel drive from Junik to Gjakova
Day 6 includes a transfer from Junik to Gjakova where a 4x4 wheel drive will be waiting for you.
√ Entry Tickets
Entry tickets are included for all sites you encounter along the way, for example the Old Church (Theth) and the Sinan Pasha Mosque (Prizren).
Breakfasts are included in the price of the trek. They will be provided at the accommodation where you spent the night before.
Tourist taxes, road taxes, international car insurance, and petrol are included in the price of the trek.
× Airfare and Visa
You have to make your way to Tirana. The total amount is exclusive of flights to Albania.
During this trek you will set off independently, a guide is excluded.
× Accommodation before and after the trek
Before and after the trek you have to take care of your own accommodation.
× Travel Insurance
Your international travel insurance is your own responsibility. Discuss your itinerary with the insurance company before your trek.
× Meals, drinks, and snacks
The meals during the trek are not included in the final price, except for breakfast. One meal is about 6-8 Euro. At every accommodation, there are limited food options to buy for the next hike (bread, cheese, yoghurt, meat, vegetables and honey).
× Personal expenses
Personal expenses such as souvenirs, drinks at the bar and other similar expenses are for your own account.
Mule or horse caravan, to carry heavy luggage is excluded but available on request.
During this 7-day trek, you will spend 3 overnights in a guesthouse, 2 overnights in a shepherd’s hut and the last overnight is in a hotel. Guesthouses are often small but cosy accommodations where you get the chance to meet the locals. Most guesthouses have sheets, blankets and pillows available. You will be welcomed with open arms and enjoy fresh meals made from local products — salads with cucumber, tomato and onion, or stuffed peppers with green beans stewed in milk. And top it all off with a cup of Turkish coffee! The same applies to the shepherd's huts, although you may expect less comfort. The facilities are basic but certainly sufficient for a good night's sleep! Enjoy the simple but nutritious stews or take a slice of crumbly white cheese. With a bit of luck, you can also taste some of the homemade jam.
The trekking company will take care of all the arrangements. Prices are calculated on triple or quadruples room occupancy. The Triple/Quadruple room occupancy means you might share the room with other travelers (who could be male or female). At every accommodation, there will be some food options to buy for the next hike, like bread, cheese, yogurt, meat, vegetables and honey. One meal cost about 6-8 euros.
The route is generally clearly marked, although orientation can be difficult in bad weather. The mountains are full of surprises and the weather in the Balkans can be unpredictable. During the trek you have limited phone coverage, in most villages there is a good telephone connection, but not in every town.
There are also some aspects you can take into account yourself:
- Safe important telephone numbers in your phone, just to be sure
- Do not deviate from the marked paths
- Avoid bad weather as much as possible.
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.
The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the trek. No doubt about that. If you are in good shape, this trek shouldn't be a problem for you. Remember that during these treks in Albania you will be walking many hours in the mountains for several days. If you are worried that it might be too much, you can always train in advance, walking a few hours a day and climbing some stairs.
Tipping is not a must in Albania or the Balkans. However, if you got a good service from your guide and you want to thank him, it will always be much appreciated. How much to tip your guide is up to you. Our recommendation is to tip the tour guide/driver 5 – 10 Euros per day/person as it is an international practice to tip good service.
Single room occupancy
Single room occupancy is possible for EUR 30 extra per person per night. Please ask our trekking experts about the possibilities.
If you want to get more in-depth information you can check out the following blog posts from Bookatrekking.com about hiking in the Balkans:
Hiking in Croatia
Hiking in Montenegro
Balkans-Challenge accepted! But what should I actually take with me? That's a hard question to answer, because you don't want to compromise on quality but certainly don't want to carry too much weight as well. Perhaps this packing list will help you to prepare for the trek. Use these as a guideline, our trekking experts are happy to advise you if you have any questions.
- Hiking boots
- Hiking trousers
- Fleece/down jacket
- Rainwear (jacket, trousers, poncho, etc.)
- Hiking socks
- Hat or buff
- Swimwear (in the summer months)
- Sun protection (sunglasses, sunscreen, etc.)
- Travel towel
- Water bottle and/or water bottle
- Plastic bag (for rubbish)
- Travel and/or mountaineering insurance
- Cash money
- Camera for capturing memories
Choose Balkans & Bookatrekking.com
Choose Balkans has been Bookatrekking.com's preferred partner in Albania and the Balkans since 2019. Alban and his team are operating from their office in Tirana and they have excellent knowledge of the region. Arranging the local logistics, but also showing the hidden gems of their country is one of their specialities. They also have broad experience in Guided and Self-Guided hiking Trips in Albania and on the Peaks of The Balkans Trail.
If you book your tour through Bookatrekking.com, we will be glad to help you with making the right choice and advise you in the best way possible. Once the booking is made, we leave Choose Balkans to do where they are best. Arranging your accommodations, routes, and all other travel plans to make your hiking trip in Albania an unforgettable experience!
How to Book
How does it work?
On Bookatrekking.com you can find and compare the adventures of your dreams. Is this trekking adventure your match? In that case you can proceed to booking. At Bookatrekking.com you make a deposit of 20% of the total amount. You pay the remaining amount on location prior to the trek directly to the trekking company.
Bookatrekking.com uses only the safest payment methods. Once your booking has been received, your place is reserved, your place is safe and you can look forward to your chosen trekking.
After you have made your booking, you will receive an e-mail confirmation with all necessary information and the contact details of the trekking company. If you have any questions or if you want to clarify something, you can obtain information directly from the right person. Of course, you can also always ask us your question. Send us an e-mail on firstname.lastname@example.org
The trekking company will also receive your details and can therefore always contact you and provide you with extra information.
You wish you didn’t have to, but there is no other way: You find yourself having to cancel your plans. In this case, you lose your deposit, but since you haven’t paid the large sum yet, you at least save that. Please do let us know if you cannot make it. A no-show can be a small disaster for your trekking provider, who did its best to block your dates. View our complete cancellation policy here.
These treks you might like
Umbwe RouteOperated By Top Climbers Expeditions
Searching for the most challenging route on the Kilimanjaro? You just found it! The Umbwe Route is famous for its short, steep and direct...
Paine & Fitz RoyOperated By Antares Patagonia
This trek is designed to give you the whole Patagonia experience. Not only will you get to visit the Torres del Paine National Park in...
Short Trek to Crater Rim Senaru (recommended for experts)Operated By Herman Trekker
You will spend one day trekking to mount Rinjani: from Senaru Village to Senaru Crater Rim. The trek will end in senaru village within the.....
Malerweg With the Bastei Bridge for a WeekendOperated By Bookatrekking.com Trips
Walk two stages of the Malerweg, experience the beauty of the Bastei Bridge, and enjoy the highlights of Saxon Switzerland.
Upper Dolpo TrekOperated By Alpine Club of Himalaya
Reach the maximum of 3,840m on the Lo-Manthang with the Mustang Trek. Enjoy 14 days in this legendary kingdom of valleys, canyons and...
Moselsteig Wine and Castles: from Neef to CochemOperated By Bookatrekking.com Trips
Walk along Europe's steepest wine mountain and past some of the most beautiful castles and fortresses. This is the Moselsteig from Neef to.....