Embark on a fantastic eight-day hiking adventure in the Albanian Alps, where you can explore the breathtaking landscapes of the Accursed Mountains at your own pace. This self-guided holiday takes you through the stunning Theth National Park and Peja Pass, over the iconic Valbona Pass (1,811m), and to the crystal-clear waters of the Blue Eye natural springs. You’ll be staying in a charming mix of hotels and mountain guesthouses, offering an authentic Albanian experience. Get ready to discover the untouched beauty of Albania’s natural wonders!
Day 1: Arrival in Albania/Shkodra
Upon arrival at either Tirana Airport in Albania or Podgorica Airport in Montenegro, we will provide you with a complimentary transfer to Shkodra, which takes approximately 90 minutes. Along the way, you can swim at the largest lake in the Balkans or visit the historical Rozafa Castle. Once in Shkodra, you can enjoy the local cafe culture, admire the elegant architecture, explore the bustling bazaar, and visit numerous museums and galleries. To make your stay even more enjoyable, we offer free bicycles for our guests to use. You will check in at a boutique hotel in an Ottoman Villa and receive a city tour with notes and maps. Your overnight stay will be at the Hotel Tradita in Shkoder.
Day 2: Koman Lake - Accursed Mountains | 7km
Today, you’ll be up early for a trip to Koman Lake. This beautiful lake is often compared to the Norwegian fjords because stunning mountains surround it. You’ll take a 3-hour ferry ride across the lake to Fierze. After lunch, you ’ll travel by minibus to Valbona National Park through traditional villages. Your first walk will be a warm-up, following a crystal-clear stream through the forest to Xhemes Lake, where you can take a swim break. The walk ends at a cosy accommodation in a small hamlet, where you’ll spend the night. You’ll walk a total of 7km, with an elevation gain of 250m and an elevation loss of 50m. You’ll be picked up by a public minibus at 6:00 AM, take a 3-hour boat ride, and then make a 75-minute transfer from Fierze via Bajram Curri to the trailhead in Valbona. You’ll stay overnight at the Valbone Hotel in a private ensuite at either Vila Dini or Guesthouse Kol Gjoni. Your daily meals, including breakfast, lunch, and dinner, are included.
Day 3: Valbona - Queen of the Mountains | 12km
Embark on a hike towards the remote village of Kukaj. Along the way, you’ll traverse a winding path that leads you through vibrant meadows displaying a colourful array of spring flowers. You’ll come across a shepherd’s hut situated 1,650 meters above sea level, which used to be a military barracks during the communist era. Keep going until you reach an ancient crossing at the Montenegrin border, marked by a weathered border pyramid. From there, you can enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view of the Montenegrin Prokletije and see Mount Jezerca (2,694m) as you descend on a different path towards your guesthouse. The walk for the day will cover a distance of 12km and take approximately 5-6 hours, with an elevation of 750m upwards and 700m downwards. Suppose you opt for the extension to the Montenegrin border. In that case, you’ll spend the night at either Valbone Hotel, Vila Dini or Guesthouse Kol Gjoni, where meals will be included in the package, consisting of breakfast, packed lunch, and dinner.
Day 4: The Grand Crossing - Valbona to Theth | 15km
Today, you will embark on a thrilling journey across Valbona Pass (1,811m) with a local guide and a horse that will carry your luggage. After a quick transfer to the trailhead, you will encounter the highest point of your trip, a significant highlight. As you pass through the village of Rragam, you must tackle a few vertical segments. However, there are many places to take a break by natural springs or flower-filled meadows with breathtaking panoramic views. When you reach the Pass, you’ll be treated to sweeping valley scenery, a perfect spot to stop for lunch. Afterwards, you can descend to Theth, strolling through shady beech forests and taking in views of Mount Arapi (2,217m) until you reach your next charming guesthouse. You’ll cover a total distance of 15km and walk for 6-7 hours, with an elevation gain of 750m and a descent of 1,125m. Your luggage will be transported on a horse, and you’ll enjoy an overnight stay at the guesthouse in Theth/ private ensuite (Bujtina Polia). Breakfast, packed lunch, and dinner are included.
Day 5: Peja Pass/ Meadows above the Clouds | 7-15 km
Today, you have two options for your hike - the Peja Pass or the panoramic trail to the Meadow of Denelli. For the Peja Pass hike, starting early and using transportation to and from the trailhead is best. Otherwise, it will add 4km or an hour of walking each way. The cost for a one-way transfer is €20, and the return is €30. The trail for this hike starts near the source of the Thethi River and follows an old mule path. To reach Denelli, you will start from the guesthouse and walk through the Ulaj neighbourhood. After crossing the river, you will ascend through the forest on a cliff path. Both hikes follow the same route back, and you will stay at the same guesthouse as the night before. Option 1 is the Peja Pass, a caravan route to the Karst plateau. It can be shortened by an hour each way with an optional car transfer, which is not included in the cost and must be paid on-site. The hike is 7-15km and takes 6-8 hours, with an elevation gain and loss of 950m. Option 2 is the Field of Denelli, a hike on a cliff path to the shepherd’s hut on a mountain plateau. The hike is 10km and takes 6-7 hours, with an elevation gain and loss of 1000m. Option 3 is shorter walks of up to 4 hours within the valley.
Day 6: Theth, in the heart of the Albanian Alps | 8km
Explore the stunning beauty of Theth by taking a walk through the village. Don’t miss the chance to visit the iconic church and learn about the Kanun history at the lock-in tower, which protected those threatened by historical blood feuds. Walking along the water channels, you’ll come across the breathtaking waterfall. Archaeologists have discovered stone-aged terraces on a cliff above the river, making it a perfect picnic spot with stunning views of the adjacent 50 m-deep Grunas Canyon. Follow the well-worn bridle path downstream to Nderlysa, where you can stay at a farmstead. During your free time, you can indulge in mulberries, grapes, and plums from the garden, harvest corn and milk sheep with the family, learn to cook a typical dish, explore the surroundings, or enjoy a relaxing swim. Your walk for the day will be 8km, taking 3-4 hours with an ascent of 150m and descent of 400m. You will stay overnight at a guesthouse in Nderlys with a private ensuite (Bjeshka Guesthouse), and meals, including breakfast, packed lunch, and dinner, will be provided.
Day 7: The Blue Eye. Tirana or Shkodra | 9km
Take a hike through the canyon and experience the beauty of Blue Eye, a karst spring where you can dip in the icy waters and observe butterflies fluttering around. After a delicious meal at the guesthouse, a minibus will take you to the Edith Durham Memorial and then through a scenic pass to Boga Valley and Shkodra. Depending on your flight schedule and preferred airport, you can spend your last evening in Shkodra or Tirana.
If you spend the evening in Tirana, you must switch vehicles in Shkodra and continue the journey for another 90 minutes. The capital is home to several museums and galleries showcasing historic buildings, and the Blloku District is always a popular spot. You’ll have covered a distance of 9km on foot, taking approximately 3-4 hours and reaching an elevation of 275m.
You’ll be transferred via public minibus, leaving between 1:00–2:00 PM, over the Thoria Pass (1,645m) to Shkodra or Tirana. We’ll provide notes and maps to help you explore the city. Depending on your flights, you’ll spend the night at either Hotel Tradita or Vila 60. Breakfast and lunch are included.
Day 8: Departure
If departing later, there may be an opportunity to explore more of the capital. A complimentary transfer to Tirana or Podgorica airport, which takes 1.5 to 2 hours, is included. Breakfast is also provided.
Our accommodations include a charming 3-star boutique hotel in Shkoder, a hospitable hotel in Valbone, and many traditional mountain guesthouses. We have meticulously chosen each location and continuously monitor their quality. Our selection process considers the site, friendly service, authentic local cuisine, and dedication to sustainable tourism.
Your meals are taken care of during the trip as listed in the itinerary. You’ll have an entire board with a picnic lunch package for five days while in the mountains and breakfast only for two days while in town. If dinner isn’t included, you can enjoy it at the hotel’s restaurant, nearby restaurants, and cafes in the village or town.
Difficulty and Terrain
This tour is ideal for hikers who are physically fit and active. Some sections of the trail may have steep inclines and declines and rough and uneven terrain. While most paths are marked and easy to follow, some may need to be signposted. Sticking to the marked trails and avoiding shortcuts through unfamiliar and unmarked areas is highly recommended. We will provide you with detailed directions, maps, GPS tracking, and access to our 24/7 local assistance hotline.
When to go
This trip is available from June until the beginning of October, with the best time for walking being between July and mid-September when the weather is generally stable. While some residual snow patches may be present earlier in the season, special equipment or skills are unnecessary. We can organize this trip during the second half of May upon request and snow cover permitting. However, tours in May and up until the first week of June may be affected by snow on the Valbona Pass, which varies yearly and depends on winter snow and spring weather conditions.
During the tour briefing, you will receive the latest update on snow conditions at the pass. If there is snow, we have three options. We will proceed according to the itinerary if Valbona Pass and the regular summer route are open. If the summer route is closed and the winter one must be used, our policy is to provide a local guide to support you (€60 supplement paid on the spot) as you ascend on a steep, snow-covered section directly to the Pass (10 mins).