Best Hikes in Albania
Albania consists of mostly mountainous terrain, so It is not a surprise that our country is becoming such a popular destination for hikers. We will highlight in this blog the best hikes in Albania, some well known hiking destinations, but also some others less well known and equally worth trying. We divide our suggestions geographically by the North, East, and South, some of these trails span multiple countries.
We suggest to all individuals who seek to hike in the Balkans to please do your research and be prepared for ever-changing weather and/or other dangers associated with hiking in mountains. Every year at least one tourist dies in the mountains in Albania. We share this detail not to scare or deter, as hundreds if not thousands have a safe trip, but it is an important reminder that one must be cautious and prepared.
Some of the hiking below is rather remote and not frequented by other hikers. As such, trails may not always be the most clear. If you are not an experienced hiker, we would strongly suggest you consider acquiring a local guide or someone who is familiar with the area. We would also not suggest doing these trips alone.
To the North: The Accursed Mountains or The Peaks of the Balkans, Albania, Kosovo & Montenegro
With its dramatic mountains and history and tradition of clans, hiking in the North is a unique experience. We will start with probably the most notorious hikes that are part of the “Peaks of Balkans” which is essentially a trip through the Albanian “accursed mountains” or “Bjeshket e Namuna” a term coined through time that today stretches across three countries Albanian, Montenegro & Kosovo. This is a unique hike that can take from 8-14 days and you can do it entirely or just parts of it. In modern day Albania part of this long trail is also hiking through Valbona, Theth, Lepushe & Vermosh (Kelmend Valley)
Most foreigners have heard about Valbona & Theth but not as much about Kelmend Valley. Reachable from Shkoder in 2 hours, Kelmend valley lies just west of Theth. If you are hiking from Theth it will take you 2 days to reach Kelmend Valley. This hike requires a guide or you should have a good GPS trails map or app since it is very easy to get lost and not many hikers frequent this trail. Kelmend valley remains one of our top suggestions to travelers.
Just next to Valbona, south of Dragobi mountain lies the valley of Nikaj-Mertur, this is another wonderful experience and can take you from Valbona to Curraj and from there to Theth. This is not the traditional hike but a much more adventurous and dangerous hike. It is challenging even for our guides sometimes if the weather conditions are not favorable but also the fact that often we have to open the trail from fallen trees and branches.
Both the Kelmendi & Nikaj Mertur regions are such a treasure for the Albanian ethnography & heritage, much of Albanian folk stories comes from these small villages trapped in time in between those impassable mountain chains. You will be really traveling in time if you decide to visit those regions of Albania. For climbers this is an ideal place since they can climb several peaks here such as Jezerca, Dragobia, Nikaj & Mertur, Maja e Pejes and many others.
To the East: Korabi, Gjallica, and Sharri Mountains
The high peaks of the East are another challenge for you. The Korabi mountain together with Gjallica and the Sharri mountain chain lies in the east and spreads between 3 countries today (Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia). This is another trip that can take you between 5-8 days and you will visit towns such as Prizren, Kukes, Peshkopi and Tetove. In between those towns stands the highest point in Albania, the Korabi mountain.
To the South: Llogara & Zagori
Zagori mountain is in between the towns of Permet & Gjirokaster & Kelcyre also Vjosa & Drinos rivers. Because the valley of Drinos is very low, the view from Gjirokaster site to Zagori Mountain is quite impressive. It is a less known destination but offers the chance to hike for several days in remote areas of Albania but also explore towns such as Gjirokaster, Permet, Kelcyre. There are also several peaks above 2000m for climbers to explore and countless breathtaking views.
The Llogara hike – Where the mountain meets the sea!
Another multiple day hike that can take you from the village of Dukat to Shushica Valley, crossing the Ceraunian Range and finishing at the Albanian Riviera in the small town of Himarë. From the Llogara Pass the spectacular range of Mt. Çika and Mt. Qorre extends to the southeast along the coast and gives the term “above sea level” a whole new meaning as you look down on the crystal blue waters of the Ionian sea from above 2000 m.
A more relaxed walking day, that can be further divided up, takes you from Tërbaç to Vranisht and from there to Kallarat. The trail takes you through oak forest, along turquoise waters of the Shushica river and offers nice views towards Mt. Kendrevica further inland.
There are other less known places since Albania has no lack of mountains, hopefully in the future new trails will be open in order to give the chance to the travelers to hike the entire country from north to south.
Check our list of suggestions for some hiking trips in Albania.