a spectacular destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers

How to Plan an Epic Vacation to the Albanian Alps

If you’re on the hunt for a distinctive and adventurous European getaway, cast your gaze upon the Albanian Alps. Nestled away like a well-kept secret, these rugged peaks are a veritable treasure trove for nature enthusiasts, adventurers, and culture aficionados alike. Referred to as the Accursed Mountains, they boast some of the most awe-inspiring landscapes, diverse wildlife, and vibrant traditions in the Balkans.


Whether your heart longs for hiking, biking, kayaking, or simply unwinding amidst breathtaking scenery, the Albanian Alps offer a plethora of experiences to indulge in. In this article, I will give you all the essential information you need to plan your trip to the Albanian Alps, such as the best time to visit, how to get there, where to stay, what to do, and what to pack.

When is the best time to visit?

Determining the prime time to explore the Albanian Alps hinges on your desired activities and preferences. Here’s a breakdown of the factors to consider when planning your trip:


May to September: This stretch marks the pinnacle time to immerse yourself in the splendor of the Albanian Alps, boasting warm, sunny weather and a kaleidoscope of colorful wildflowers adorning the mountains. It’s the ultimate season for outdoor pursuits like hiking, biking, and kayaking, with trails and roads readily accessible. However, be prepared for bustling crowds and higher prices, especially in popular areas. To evade the masses, consider venturing to lesser-known spots like Valbona or Theth, or aim for late May or early September for a quieter experience.


April or October: These shoulder months offer a pleasant compromise, with mild weather and fewer tourists compared to peak season. While wildflowers may not be as abundant, the autumn foliage paints a captivating landscape. It’s an opportune time for a tranquil escape, albeit with cooler temperatures and potential snowfall on higher peaks, particularly in October. Be sure to check for reduced services and accommodations during these periods.


November to March: Winter blankets the Albanian Alps in snow and ice during these months, rendering them unsuitable for most visitors unless equipped for challenging conditions. Roads and trails are often impassable, and severe weather prevails, leading to the closure of most services and isolation of villages. Boga ski resort offers some winter sports options but remains remote and demanding, catering primarily to skilled climbers with appropriate gear and guides.

Where To Stay in the Albanian alps

For nature enthusiasts and thrill-seekers, the Albanian Alps present an enchanting playground. However, to truly savor the essence of this region, securing comfortable and convenient lodging is paramount. The primary hubs for accommodation in the Albanian Alps are nestled within the picturesque valleys of Valbona and Theth.


Both villages boast idyllic settings, cradled by towering mountains and verdant forests. They are linked by a renowned hiking trail that traverses the breathtaking Valbona Pass, a standout feature of the area. Accommodation options in Valbona and Theth cater to various preferences and budgets. Guests can take their pick from guesthouses and hotels offering private rooms with ensuite bathrooms, or opt for campsites and homestays for a communal atmosphere and an authentic experience.


Most lodging establishments include hearty breakfasts and dinners in their rates, typically ranging from $10 to $20 per night. The cuisine is a delectable fusion of homemade delights crafted from local ingredients and traditional recipes. The hospitable hosts are eager to assist and can arrange transportation and activities, ensuring a seamless and memorable stay amidst the splendor of the Albanian Alps.

Valbona Resort & Spa is a luxurious retreat nestled in the stunning Valbona Valley of Northern Albania. Surrounded by breathtaking mountain landscapes and lush greenery, this resort offers guests a serene and picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The resort features elegant rooms and suites, each thoughtfully designed to provide comfort and relaxation. Guests can indulge in a range of spa treatments and wellness services at the on-site spa, including massages, facials, and body treatments, ensuring a rejuvenating experience. The resort also offers outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and birdwatching, allowing guests to explore the natural beauty of the surrounding area. With its tranquil setting, luxurious accommodations, and array of amenities, Valbona Resort & Spa is the perfect destination for travelers seeking a peaceful and rejuvenating retreat in the Albanian mountains. Check prices and reviews here.


Valbona Resort & Spa

Hotel Legjenda is a unique and enchanting accommodation nestled in the picturesque countryside of Shkodër, Albania. Surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking landscapes, this charming hotel offers guests a tranquil retreat away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The hotel’s architecture and design are inspired by Albanian folklore and traditions, creating a whimsical and magical atmosphere for guests to enjoy. Accommodation options range from cozy rooms to spacious suites, each beautifully decorated and equipped with modern amenities. Guests can indulge in delicious Albanian cuisine at the hotel’s restaurant, which features locally sourced ingredients and traditional recipes. The hotel also offers a range of activities and experiences, including guided tours of the nearby attractions, hiking and biking trails, and cultural performances. With its warm hospitality, stunning surroundings, and unique ambiance, Hotel Legjenda promises an unforgettable stay for travelers seeking an authentic Albanian experience. Check rates and reviews here.


Hotel Legjenda

Natyral Razma Resort is a picturesque mountain retreat nestled in the stunning Razma Valley of Northern Albania. Surrounded by pristine nature and majestic peaks, this resort offers guests a serene escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The resort features cozy cabins and cottages, providing comfortable accommodation options for couples, families, and groups. Guests can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area through a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, horseback riding, and mountain biking. The resort also offers wellness facilities such as a sauna and massage services, allowing guests to relax and rejuvenate amidst the tranquil surroundings. With its scenic location and rustic charm, Natyral Razma Resort is the perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts seeking a peaceful retreat in the Albanian mountains. Check rates and reviews here.


Natyral Razma Resort

The Rose Garden Hotel is a luxurious boutique hotel located in the heart of Yangon, Myanmar. Nestled amidst lush gardens and tranquil surroundings, this elegant hotel offers guests a peaceful oasis in the bustling city. The Rose Garden Hotel features beautifully appointed rooms and suites, each tastefully decorated with modern amenities and stylish furnishings. Guests can indulge in a range of dining options at the hotel’s restaurants, serving a variety of international and local cuisines. The hotel also boasts a range of facilities including a rooftop swimming pool, fitness center, and spa, providing guests with ample opportunities for relaxation and rejuvenation. With its attentive service, exquisite accommodations, and serene ambiance, the Rose Garden Hotel offers a memorable stay for travelers seeking luxury and comfort in Yangon. Check rates and reviews here.


Rose Garden Hotel

Guest House Adriatiku is the perfect budget option. This charming and cozy accommodation is located in the heart of the coastal town of Sarandë, Albania. Situated just a short walk from the beautiful Ionian Sea, this guest house offers guests a comfortable and convenient stay in one of Albania’s most popular tourist destinations. The guest house features clean and comfortable rooms, each equipped with essential amenities for a pleasant stay. Guests can enjoy stunning views of the sea and surrounding landscape from the guest house’s terrace, making it the perfect spot to relax and unwind. With its warm hospitality and central location, Guest House Adriatiku provides an ideal base for travelers looking to explore Sarandë’s attractions, including its beaches, historic sites, and vibrant nightlife. Check rates and reviews here.


Guest house Adriatiku

what to do in the Albanian alps?

The allure of the Albanian Alps lies chiefly in its spectacular hiking opportunities. This region boasts some of Europe’s most breathtaking and diverse trails, catering to all levels of experience from leisurely strolls to challenging treks. Wander through lush forests, alpine meadows, rugged peaks, and pristine rivers and lakes, encountering ancient churches, stone towers, and traditional villages along the way. Among the most sought-after hikes in the Albanian Alps are:


The Valbona Pass: This iconic trail links Valbona and Theth, traversing the highest point of the Alps at 1815 meters. Taking approximately 6-8 hours to complete, the hike rewards adventurers with sweeping vistas of majestic mountains and verdant valleys. While the journey can be tackled in either direction, most opt to commence from Valbona and culminate in Theth, relishing the slightly easier and more picturesque route. For added convenience, adventurers can enlist the assistance of horses or donkeys to transport luggage or themselves if fatigued.


The Blue Eye of Theth: A brief and leisurely hike leading to one of the Alps’ most captivating natural wonders: a luminous turquoise pool fed by a subterranean spring. The approximately 2-3 hour round trip from Theth meanders past a cascading waterfall and through a picturesque canyon, culminating in a refreshing oasis ideal for cooling off and capturing unforgettable snapshots.


The Peaks of the Balkans: A demanding yet immensely rewarding trek ascending to the Alps’ loftiest summit, Maja Jezercë, towering at 2694 meters. This arduous journey entails approximately 10-12 hours of trekking round trip from Valbona, demanding a robust fitness level and hiking experience. As the trail is not extensively marked, hiring a knowledgeable guide or joining a group tour is advisable. The panoramic vistas from the summit are nothing short of awe-inspiring, justifying the physical exertion required.


In addition to hiking, the Albanian Alps offer a plethora of other activities to indulge in, including:


Rafting: Embark on a thrilling rafting excursion along the Valbonë River, immersing yourself in the untamed beauty and rapids of the waterway. Suitable for all skill levels, these tours provide equipment, expert guides, and transportation, ensuring an exhilarating and memorable experience.


Horseback Riding: Embark on a leisurely horseback riding expedition in Theth or Valbonë, offering a serene and immersive means of exploring the picturesque countryside and villages. Suitable for beginners and seasoned riders alike, these tours include horses, knowledgeable guides, and transportation.


Cultural Immersion: Delve deeper into the rich heritage and history of the Albanian Alps by visiting local museums, churches, and monuments, gaining invaluable insights into the region’s cultural tapestry and historical significance.

what to pack for a trip to the alps

Packing for a trip to the Albanian Alps requires careful consideration of the activities you plan to engage in, as well as the weather conditions. Here’s a detailed list of things and outfits to pack:

1. Clothing:
– Lightweight, moisture-wicking t-shirts for layering
– Long-sleeve shirts for sun protection and warmth
– Fleece or lightweight jacket for cooler evenings
– Waterproof and windproof jacket for rain and wind protection
– Insulated jacket or vest for colder temperatures
– Comfortable hiking pants or shorts
– Waterproof and breathable hiking pants
– Warm hat or beanie
– Gloves or mittens
– Comfortable hiking socks (wool or synthetic)
– Waterproof hiking boots or sturdy hiking shoes with good traction
– Sandals or lightweight shoes for camp or leisure
– Swimsuit for hot springs or swimming

2. Gear and Accessories:
– Lightweight and durable backpack for day hikes
– Trekking poles for stability and support
– Sunglasses with UV protection
– Sunscreen with high SPF
– Lip balm with SPF
– Insect repellent
– First aid kit with essentials like bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, etc.
– Headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
– Portable charger for electronic devices
– Camera or smartphone for capturing memories
– Binoculars for wildlife viewing
– Map, compass, or GPS device for navigation
– Waterproof bags or dry sacks for keeping electronics and clothes dry
– Refillable water bottle or hydration system
– Snacks like trail mix, energy bars, and dried fruits

3. Additional Items:
– Lightweight travel towel
– Toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, etc.)
– Personal medications and prescriptions
– Travel documents (passport, ID, travel insurance, etc.)
– Cash and credit cards
– Guidebooks or maps of the area
– Journal and pen for documenting your adventures
– Multi-tool or pocketknife
– Plastic bags for trash or dirty clothes
– Portable camping stove and cookware if camping
– Tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad if camping

4. Optional Items:
– Travel pillow or sleeping mask for comfort
– Portable camping chair for relaxation
– Yoga mat for outdoor stretching or yoga sessions
– Binoculars for birdwatching
– Sketchbook and art supplies for creative pursuits
– Paperback books or e-reader for leisure reading


Remember to pack light and efficiently, prioritizing essential items based on your planned activities and the duration of your trip. Additionally, check the weather forecast for the Albanian Alps before your departure to ensure you’re adequately prepared for the conditions you may encounter.