7 Best Hikes in the Albanian Alps: Scenic Trails & Hidden Gems

by Jen
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Planning a trip to Albania this year? You’ve got to check out the Albanian Alps, home to some of the best hikes in the Balkans. I’ve rounded up seven of my favorite trails for you to explore.

Situated in the Balkans, the Albanian Alps are where you head to switch off and get your fill of nature. This rugged mountain range runs through northern Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro, and it’s a playground for those who love the outdoors. It’s one of my favorite places to visit in Europe, without a doubt. Just wait until you see these epic hiking trails in Albania!

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Best places for hiking in the Albanian Alps

Ready to hit the trails? Believe me, the Albanian Alps are a paradise for hikers and a must for anyone seeking the top things to do in Europe. From the stunning Theth to Valbona path to the serene walks around the Blue Eye, each route packs a punch with its unique sights and challenges. Here’s a rundown of the seven best hikes in the Albanian Alps.

If you’re considering a visit, the best months are from May to October. This is when the weather is perfect for hiking, with comfortable temperatures and trails free from snow. Honestly, I’d avoid going outside these months. Winter brings heavy snow and freezing temperatures, making the paths pretty risky. Plus, a lot of local spots shut down, so finding a place to stay can be tough.

Getting there is straightforward. If you’re coming from Tirana, it’s about a four-hour drive to Shkodër, your gateway to the Alps. Shkodër is super close to popular spots like Theth and Valbona. These villages are famous for their trails and are perfect for starting your hikes.

Now, let’s dive into the most beautiful hikes in the Albanian Alps. You won’t be disappointed!

1. Theth to Valbona Pass

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 9.3 miles (15 km)

Starting from Theth, a quaint village in the Albanian Alps, the Valbona Pass hike is a full-day trek that covers about 15 km. You’ll need about 6 to 8 hours, depending on your pace. I’d recommend starting early to make the most of the day and avoid rushing. The trail is also doable starting from Valbona if you’re up for a change of scenery on the way back.

Why is this trail one of the best hikes in Albania? It’s all about epic views! From massive peaks to lush valleys, it’s a feast for the eyes. The path takes you through old forests and over charming stone bridges. It’s a bit of a climb to the pass, but worth it for the panoramas.

While you can drive to Theth or Valbona, the roads are pretty rough. Many opt for a bus from Shkodër. Or, get yourself on an organized tour that sorts out all the travel details for you, including the stunning Lake Koman ferry ride. The Wanderers Hostel in Shkodër can sort all of this for you, including accommodation in Theth & Valbona if desired. In my opinion, this is easily one of the best hostels in Albania.

The best times to hike from Theth to Valbona are from May to October when the weather’s on your side and the trails are clear. Outside these months, the route can be risky due to snow and cold, and many local facilities shut down

A tip from me: pack light but bring enough water and snacks. Enjoy your hike, and take lots of photos. It’s one of the best places to visit in Albania!

Theth to Valbona Pass is one of the best hikes in the Albanian Alps.
The Valbona Pass hike from Theth in the Albanian Alps takes about 6 to 8 hours for 15 km, so start early for a full day.

2. Maja e Rosit

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 12 miles (19.5 km) round trip

If you’re in Theth for the iconic Theth to Valbona hike, why not add another day and conquer Maja e Rosit? Trust me, it’s worth the extra stay. This hike shoots you up to one of the highest peaks in the Albanian Alps, and it’s a full day’s trek — about 8 to 10 hours covering around 19.5 km.

Maja e Rosit offers a more intense climb than the more traveled path to Valbona Pass. Starting from the same spot, this trail quickly parts ways, leading you through dense forests at lower elevations before hitting the rocky stretches closer to the summit. The top gives you a panoramic view that’s hard to match.

You can bunk in Theth at one of the local guesthouses. They’re cozy, offer tasty food, and it’s a great way to soak up some local culture between hikes. I recommend Guest House Rrashkadoli. It’s comfortable, affordable, and homely.

Best time to hike? Aim for June to September when the weather’s friendly and the trails are clear. Make sure to layer up, even in the summer. The peak can be chilly. Don’t forget to pack enough water and snacks — there’s nowhere to stock up once you hit the trail.

Image showing the Maja e Rosit

3. Rrogam to Valbona

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: 9.3 miles (15 km)

Rrogam to Valbona is one of the best hikes in the Balkans, starting from the small village of Rrogam. It’s a bit off the beaten path but pairs well if you’re already exploring Theth or Valbona.

This 15 km trek is doable in a day. You’re looking at about 6 to 7 hours of hiking, depending on your pace. I’d recommend an early start to fully enjoy the route without rushing.

The trail is a quieter alternative to the popular Theth to Valbona hike. It offers beautiful forest sections and impressive mountain vistas. As you move along, you’ll find the terrain varies, keeping the walk interesting and engaging.

Getting to Rrogam is more straightforward if you have a car. The village is more isolated, so public transport options are limited. If you’re up for a little adventure, consider arranging a ride from Valbona or even hitchhiking — it’s common in these parts.

If you’re looking at staying in Rrogam, I’d recommend Guest House Emanueli. It’s family-owned, with wonderful views.

The best time to hit this trail is from June to September. The weather is usually perfect for hiking, and you’ll avoid the late autumn and winter snow.

Hike from Rrogam to Valbona, a top Balkan trail from a quaint village, ideal for Theth or Valbona exploration.
Hike from Rrogam to Valbona, a top Balkan trail from a quaint village, ideal for Theth or Valbona exploration.

4. Mount Jezerca Ascent

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Length: 10-12 miles (16-20 km) round trip

Mount Jezerca, peaking proudly at 2,694 meters, is one of the most rewarding trails in the Albanian Alps. Starting from the village of Valbona, you’re in for a demanding but exhilarating full-day trek. This climb can stretch to 20 km round trip, with around 8 to 10 hours of solid hiking.

Why climb Jezerca? For starters, the views are mind-blowing. You’ll traverse rocky terrain and alpine meadows, with the peak itself offering a 360-degree panorama of the Albanian Alps. On a clear day, the world feels like it’s just there under your feet.

Getting to Valbona does need a bit of planning. Driving from Shkodër, the closest major city, takes about two hours. Public buses also run this route, but I’d lean towards driving for the flexibility.

Timing-wise, hit this trail from June to September. The weather’s stable then, and you avoid the snowy seasons which can complicate the hike. Plus, there is still plenty of availability at some of the European budget hostels nearby.

I recommend starting early to make the most of your day, and gear up properly. Good boots, layers for changing weather, and plenty of water and snacks are your best friends on this climb. Good luck!

Image showing blue sky and lake in Mount Jezerca Ascent

5. Lëpushë to Vermosh

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: Approx. 8 miles (13 km)

If you’re hunting for the best places to hike in Albania, the Lëpushë to Vermosh trail is your ticket.

Starting in Lëpushë, this 13 km trek takes around 7-8 hours and ends in Vermosh, right at the Montenegro border. It’s pure alpine magic with quaint villages and sprawling meadows along the way.

Now, how do you get to Lëpushë? It’s a scenic 2-hour drive from Shkodër. I’d recommend renting a car because the buses are a bit of a gamble and you’ll want the freedom to stop and snap some photos.

Both Lëpushë and Vermosh offer snug guesthouses. They’re the perfect spot to crash, meet some locals, and maybe even catch a folk tale or two. I recommend Peraj Guesthouse in Vermosh. You can camp under the stars, or sleep in a quaint wooden cabin.

It’s best to plan this hike between June and September. The weather’s great, and the trails are clear. Trust me, you don’t want to mess with the winter snow up there—it gets pretty thick!

Discover the top Albanian hike: Lëpushë to Vermosh, a 13 km alpine journey to Montenegro.
Discover the top Albanian hike: Lëpushë to Vermosh, a 13 km alpine journey to Montenegro.

6. Curraj i Epërm Loop

  • Difficulty: Moderate to hard
  • Length: Varies, multiple trails available

Curraj i Epërm Loop is a hidden gem in Albania, perfect for those looking to immerse themselves in untouched wilderness. The loop starts and ends in the village of Curraj i Epërm. While you can technically jump on the trail at various points, starting in the village gives you a full experience of this wild area.

This hike can be tailored to your pace, but typically, it’s a full-day trek, taking around 6 to 8 hours to complete the loop. The path winds through dense forests, over small streams, and offers panoramic views that are simply hard to beat. You might even catch sight of some local wildlife, so keep your camera ready.

You’ll definitely need a car to get to Curraj i Epërm as public transport is almost nonexistent. This remote setting is part of its charm but does mean a bit more planning is necessary. It’s around a 5-hour drive from Shkodër and Tirana.

Accommodation options in Curraj i Epërm are limited to a few guesthouses. In my opinion, the best option is Guesthouse Prebibaj. It’s a great spot to connect with locals and perhaps share a meal or stories of the day’s adventures.

The best months for this hike are from June to September when the weather is milder, and the trails are clearer. Outside these months, the paths can be tricky to navigate due to snow.

Tip from someone who’s been there: pack snacks and water, wear good boots, and always have a map or GPS handy.

7. The Blue Eye Trail

  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Length: Approx. 11 miles (18 km) round trip

One of my favorite Albanian Alps hikes is the Blue Eye Trail. This trail kicks off in the heart of Theth, right past the town’s charming church, and winds about 18 km round trip back to the village. Set aside 5 to 6 hours to really enjoy this trek without a rush.

Here’s why you’ll love this hike: it’s a mix of everything. Starting with a gentle climb from the village, you pass by the Grunas Waterfall and canyon — worth the detour. The path rolls through forested areas and open trails with stunning views of the mountains.

The last leg to the Blue Eye is the real workout, with a steep climb and descent, but reaching that vivid blue pool is a thrill. And yes, you can dive in! Just a heads up, the water’s icy cold.

If you’re not up for the full hike, taxis and tours can drop you closer to the endpoint. As mentioned earlier, Theth has plenty of guesthouses for a comfy stay, perfect after a day’s hike.

Best time for this adventure? Aim for late May to October. The weather is friendly, and the trail is clear of snow.

I’d highly advise downloading the maps.me app for navigating the trails. It’s a lifesaver when cell service is spotty.

Explore the scenic Blue Eye Trail, an 18 km loop starting from Theth village, ideal for a leisurely 5 to 6-hour hike.
Explore the scenic Blue Eye Trail, an 18 km loop starting from Theth village, ideal for a leisurely 5 to 6-hour hike.

Tips for hiking the Albanian Alps

Heading to the Albanian Alps? Great choice! These mountains are a hiker’s paradise, but a bit of prep can make your adventure smoother and more enjoyable. Here are some top tips I’ve found handy:

  • Get Maps.me: Seriously, download this app. It works offline and is super reliable for navigating the trails around Theth and beyond.
  • Check AllTrails: This site is gold for scoping out trail reviews and details. You’ll know what to expect on each hike.
  • Book your stay early: Especially during peak season, guesthouses fill up fast. Lock down your spots in advance to avoid any last-minute hassles. I use Booking.com, and I can’t recommend them enough.
  • The right gear is key: Weather can change fast, so layer up. Durable hiking boots, a waterproof jacket, and a hat can make all the difference. If you’re hiking to the Blue Eye, bring a swimsuit!
  • Pack snacks and water: Some trails lack places to buy food or water. Always pack enough to keep you energized and hydrated. Many guesthouses in Theth & Valbona provide packed lunches.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the best hikes in the Albanian Alps

Looking for more information about things to do in the Albanian Alps? Here are some common questions I get that should help plan your trip.

How long should I spend in the Albanian Alps?

I’d recommend spending at least three to five days in the Albanian Alps. This gives you enough time to tackle a couple of scenic trails, like Theth to Valbona or the hike to the Blue Eye, and enjoy some downtime in the charming mountain villages.

What is the most beautiful hiking trail in Albania?

The Theth to Valbona trail is renowned as Albania’s most scenic hike. It’s a stunning journey through the heart of the Albanian Alps, featuring majestic peaks and lush valleys. Hiking this trail is one of the best things to do in Albania, hands down.

The Theth to Valbona trail is Albania's most scenic hike.
The Theth to Valbona trail is Albania’s most scenic hike.

Is Albania cheap or expensive?

Traveling in Albania is quite budget-friendly compared to other European destinations. Accommodation, food, and transport are generally affordable. However, prices can vary depending on the region and the season, with tourist hotspots and peak times (from June to October) seeing higher rates.

Are there bears in the Albanian Alps?

Yes, there are bears in the Albanian Alps. The region is home to the European brown bear, which is generally shy and avoids human contact. While sightings are rare, it’s important to take precautions when hiking. Make sure to store food properly and stay aware of your surroundings.

The top hikes in the Albanian Alps for all types of travelers
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