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Albanian Alps guide itinerary best things to do

The Albanian Alps are one of the most beautiful parts of the country. It was among the top 3 things to do when I visited Albania. And let me tell you – it even exceeded my expectations.

These mountains are so different from what you can experience elsewhere in Europe. The remoteness and quietness of the area, breathtaking views, and cute villages are all that you can expect. I visited the Albanian Alps on my road trip through the country, which was the best part.

So in this article, I’ll give you all the tips you need for your visit to the Alps in Albania, the best things to do, and even a detailed itinerary you can follow. Let’s explore them together.

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Where Are The Albanian Alps?

The Alps are located in northern Albania, close to the border of Montenegro and Kosovo. The main village in the Alps is called Theth, and I recommend making it your base to explore these beautiful mountains.

Here is a map of the Alps in Albania for your reference:

How To Get To The Alps In Albania

The best way to get to the Alps is by car or an organized van from Shkodra.

Shkodra is the starting point for your trip, and the drive from Shkodra to Theth (the main village in the Alps) takes approx. 2 hours.

Before 2021, the road to Theth was under construction, and the only way to get to the Alps was by an organized van. Today, the road is already finished, and it takes much less time (before it took us more than 4 hours to get to Theth).

Be careful because some sections are very curvy and narrow. So you’ll have to give way many times.

PRO TIP: I recommend taking the organized van rather than driving to the Alps. This way, you’ll have more flexibility in the Alps and can cross without returning to your car in Theth.

NOTE: If you have an expedition car or a jeep, it’s worth driving yourself. Otherwise, I wouldn’t bother driving there. But choose based on your itinerary and preferences.

How To Get Around The Alps In Albania

The best way to get around the Albanian Alps is on foot and by jeep/expedition vehicle.

The roads from Theth through the Alps aren’t well-developed, and driving through with a regular car isn’t possible. You can take jeeps with locals to where you want to go.

When you’re on the other side of the mountains, in Valbona, there are vans that your guesthouse can organize for you to drive you where you need to go.

Otherwise, it’s best to explore the area on foot and hike the popular Valbona Hike, which takes 2 – 3 days.

If you have a jeep or an expedition vehicle, it’s also a great way to explore the Alps. You’ll have a lot of flexibility.

Albanian Alps Theth
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Best Things To Do In The Albanian Alps & Map

Albanian Alps is an incredible place, and I recommend spending at least 4 to 5 days there. They have so many unexplored places, so you can just wander around with maps and see new areas.

But here are the top 4 things I recommend you do during your visit with a map:

  1. Explore Theth Village
  2. See Grunasi Waterfall
  3. Hike To The Blue Eye – Syri I Kalter
  4. Complete 2-Day Valbona Trek & Lake Koman

1. Explore Theth Village

Theth belongs to one of the most beautiful places in Albania, located in the heart of the Albanian Alps. Not long ago, there was no proper road leading to this small place, so you can imagine how remote it is.

It’s still unspoiled, and if you’re seeking a quiet place, want to disconnect, enjoy a few days in nature, and relax, this is a perfect spot in Albania to do so.

Theth is the starting point for many hikes. It has nice accommodation spots, traditional cottages, and modern huts if you want to treat yourself.

It’s worth spending 1 day in the village, just walking around, going to the river, and enjoying its sounds. Then, walk towards the church or some remote hill and enjoy the stunning views of its valley and the Alps.

traditional Albanian houses in Theth
Traditional Albanian houses in Theth

Ideal Day In Theth Village

I highly recommend waking up around 7 am and going for an early walk. The village is so quiet then that you’ll barely meet anyone. Maybe just a man riding a horse or the first jeep driving down the valley.

It’s the perfect way to connect with nature, feel the fresh air, and just relax in the quietness of the Alps. I loved this experience and am sure you’ll also love it.

Afterward, you can enjoy a traditional breakfast in your accommodation, connect with locals, chat with them, and see how people live in this remote village.

Have local dinner and taste Albanian Raki or local specialties in the evening.

Albanian breakfast
Albanian breakfast

2. See Grunasi Waterfall

You can go towards the Grunasi waterfall if you want an easy walk. It takes about 1 hour on foot to reach the waterfall from Theth.

It’s a perfect way to enjoy the Alps if you don’t like walking too far or don’t feel like hiking a lot.

Albanian Alps Theth nature mountains river
Theth – Albanian Alps

3. Hike To The Blue Eye

Blue Eye is quite far away from Theth (about 10 km/6 miles).

When I visited it with my friend, we got lost. We intended to walk there and asked the locals for directions. They kept directing us somewhere, and eventually, we went there, but it took us about 5 hours, lol.

PRO TIP: So don’t make this mistake and have offline maps downloaded on your phone + plan ahead.

The starting point for the hike to reach the Blue Eye is Lulash Zelna restaurant.

The best way to reach the restaurant is by taking a jeep from Theth. Then you can walk from the restaurant to the Eye, which takes approx. 30 minutes. 

💷 Price per jeep one way: 3000LEK – try to share the jeep with other 3 people
💷 Price per Minibus/Van one way: 1000LEK – share with others

Albanian Alps best things to do hiking
Me hiking around Theth – Albania

Blue Eye: Syri I Kalter

Blue Eye is a natural phenomenon in the Albanian Alps. In the Albanian language, they call it Syri I Kalter. Hiking to the Blye Eye belongs to one of the best things you can do in Albania.

You can swim inside, but the water is cold. It’s an easy walk, and you don’t necessarily need hiking boots for it. You would also manage it wearing sandals, but I recommend putting at least some proper shoes on. The way is slightly rocky, so it’s better to wear shoes.

In Albania, it gets very hot in summer, and people are selling some refreshing drinks along the way so you can get some.

Enjoy the hike, and have a nice lunch in the restaurant ‘Lulash Zelna,’ enjoying stunning views of the Albanian Alps. You can also bathe and swim in the local river.

Then you can either walk back to Theth or take the Jeep or a minivan.

Syri I Kalter Blue Eye Albanian Alps
Syri I Kalter Blue Eye: Albania

👉 READ ALSO: Epic Albania Road Trip Itinerary: 1 – 2 Weeks In Albania

4. Complete 2-Day Valbona Trek & Lake Koman

The Valbona Trek is one of the most beautiful hikes in Albania.

Plan at least 2 days for it. You can either start the hike in Theth or on the other side, in Koman.

Starting Valbona Hike In Theth

If you start the trek in Theth, you’ll first hike through the Valbona Pass. Prepare for a 3-hour rather steep hike up until you reach the peak. 

After, you’ll descend to the Valbona Valley, where you’ll spend the night. The entire hike takes around 7 hours (3 hours hiking up and 4 hours descending to the Valbona Valley).

On the second day, you’ll take a bus in the morning from Valbona, which will drive you down to Fierze. 

Fierze is a small town next to the Komani Lake, which you’ll cross. Then hop on the ferry and enjoy the ride with stunning Alps views until you reach Koman.

Finally, take another bus back to Shkodra in the afternoon/evening.

Albanian Alps Valbona Pass hike trekking
Me hiking in the Alps in Albania

Starting Valbona Hike In Koman

From Shkodra, you’ll take a bus to Koman. After, catch the ferry and enjoy the ride across Komani Lake. In 2 hours, you’ll reach Fierze. From there, take the bus directly to Valbona, where you can stay overnight.

On the next day, prepare yourself for the Valbona – Theth Hike. It’s slightly different than the hike you would do from Theth to Valbona.

If you start in Valbona, you’ll walk around 4 hours through the valley until you start hiking up the steep mountain to reach Valbona Pass. Then, you’ll descend to Theth.

Which Hike Direction Is Better?

I would start this itinerary in Theth. First, You can do smaller hikes to the Blue Eye and the waterfall and enjoy Theth. Then, on your third day, you can hike to Valbona. The hike from Theth to Valbona Pass is less steep.

If you do it the other way around, the hike from Valbona to Valbona Pass is much steeper. In contrast, from Theth to Valbona Pass, it’s continuously ascending. 

However, it’s up to you which way you want to go. Both ways are beautiful, so decide which suits you better.

Theth Church most beautiful places in Albania to visit
Theth Church

Bus & Van Connections For Valbona Hike

As you may already know, you’ll have to take vans to reach the starting points for your trek (Valbona and Theth). So here is all the information you need about the bus/van connections and prices.

To arrange these transfers, tell your accommodation staff the day before to organize one for you. You’ll pay for the transfer in the vans.

🚍 Van/Minibus: Shkodra Theth: 1200LEKtakes approx. 3hours 30 minutes (with a stop)
🏞 Hike: Theth Valbona: Freetakes approx. 7 hours
🚍 Van/Minibus: Valbona Fierze: 700LEKtakes approx. 1 hour
🚢 Ferry: Fierze Koman (across Komani Lake): 800LEKtakes approx. 2 hours
🚍 Bus: Koman Shkodra: 700LEKtakes approx. 2hours 30minutes

NOTE: These prices are approximate and change every year – have cash with you.

👉 READ ALSO: How To Get Around Albania: Buses, Taxis & Prices

Full Itinerary For The Alps In Albania

Here is my suggested 4-day itinerary for your visit to the Alps in Albania. Follow it to see and experience the highlights:

  1. DAY: Shkodra ⇒ Theth
  2. DAY: Visit Blue Eye
  3. DAY: Hike: Theth ⇒ Valbona
  4. DAY: Valbona ⇒ Fierze ⇒ Komani Lake ⇒ Shkodra

1. DAY: Shkodra ⇒ Theth

Take the minibus from Shkodra to Theth in the morning. Once you get to Theth around lunchtime, check in to your accommodation. Leave this day for yourself to explore the village and enjoy its atmosphere.

I recommend you walk to the waterfall and back, which takes about 1 hour (one way).

In the evening, have a nice traditional Albanian dinner in your accommodation. Enjoy the fresh air sitting in the garden of your accommodation, have some Raki to better digest, and go watch the stars at night. They are amazing.

2. DAY: Visit Blue Eye

On the next day, I recommend you do the hike to the Blue Eye. Walk on the left side of the river until you reach the ‘Restaurant Lulash Zelna’. Have some refreshments and continue to the Blue Eye.

After, get back to the restaurant and enjoy some local food. Once you’re ready, get a jeep back to your accommodation in Theth. Remember, the jeep drive is one of the must things to do when visiting Albanian Alps. So much fun and a bit of adrenaline, too.

Enjoy your evening again in Theth with some traditional food.

Albanian Alps best things to do

3. DAY: Hike Theth ⇒ Valbona

On the third day, you can start the Theth – Valbona hike. Take it easy, immerse yourself into the nature and stunning views around. In the afternoon, you’ll get to Valbona, where you can stay overnight.

Don’t forget to tell your hosts to book a seat in the minibus to Fierze for tomorrow. Enjoy another evening in the Albanian Alps in Valbona.

4. DAY: Valbona ⇒ Fierze ⇒ Komani Lake ⇒ Shkodra

According to the itinerary I described above, today is the day when you’ll get back to Shkodra. Enjoy Lake Komani, spectacular views, chat with locals and reflect on your trip in the Albanian Alps.

👉 READ ALSO: Is Albania Safe For Solo Female? My Experience

Practical Tips For Visiting The Alps In Albania

I’ve got some further tips to help you plan your stay in the Alps. See how many days I recommend you spend, the best time to visit, what to pack, the weather, and where to stay.

How Many Days Is Enough In The Alps In Albania?

3 to 5 days is the perfect time to spend in the Alps in Albania. This way, you’ll have enough time to explore all its natural beauties, go hiking, and have some time to relax and soak up the atmosphere.

Spend at least 3 days if you only want to wander around and make short hikes. Spend 5 days if you also want to complete the famous Valbona Hike, which takes 2 days.

Best Time To Visit The Alps In Albania

The best time to visit the Alps is June, July, August, and September. Unlike any other place in Europe and Albania, the Alps aren’t a popular destination yet, so you don’t have to be afraid of the crowds in the summer months.

Everything is open, the roads and hiking trails are accessible, and the weather is perfect.

Don’t visit the Alps in the winter, as most of the places and huts are closed, and roads might not be accessible due to snow.

Albanian Alps accursed mountains northern Albania

Where To Stay In The Albanian Alps

The two main villages where you can stay in the Alps are Theth and Valbona.

The village is more remote and often has fewer people. Valbona is also remote, but there might be more people as many people like to visit the nearby Komani Lake.

Here are the best accommodations I recommend booking for your trip:

Best Accommodations In Theth

Royal Land
Villa Ujevara
Gurra Family Guesthouse
Bujtina Tinari Theth

Best Accommodations In Valbona

Valbona Resort & Spa
Breezy Hotel
Bujtina Valbone
Bujtina Malaj

Where To Eat In The Alps In Albania

The main places to eat in these villages are your guesthouses and restaurants. There is just one small shop where you can buy some food, but don’t rely on it.

I recommend bringing some food with you for the hikes, like muesli bars and snacks.

Usually, your guesthouse prepares breakfast and dinner for you. For lunch, you can eat in local restaurants. Ask your guesthouse staff for the best restaurants in the area.

Weather In The Alps In Albania

The weather in the Alps is unpredictable, as pretty much in any mountains. The weather changes throughout the day, so always check the forecast before hiking or for a longer trip.

The weather in summer is warm and mostly sunny. Temperatures range between 20°C/68°F and 28°C/82°F, but it feels mild thanks to the freshness and colder air.

Winter temperatures in the Alps in Albania range between 10°C/50°F and -20°C/-4°F. It’s freezing, and the mountains get a lot of snow.

What To Pack For The Alps In Albania

The weather in the Alps is unpredictable, like pretty much in all the mountains. So pack for all kind of weather conditions.

Here are the things I highly recommend packing for your trip:

  • Waterproof (light) jacket
  • Long-sleeve tights/hiking tights
  • Shorts with T-Shirts
  • Maps.me downloaded on the phone
  • Hiking backpack (40L)
  • Hiking boots/trekking shoes
  • Hat/Cap
  • Hiking pools
  • Sunscreen
  • Bottle for water
  • Snacks

General Tips For Visiting The Albanian Alps

Here are some general (very important) things to know and prepare before visiting the Alps in Albania:

Bring eough cash (LEK) – there are no ATMs and most of the places don’t accept cards
✅ Download offline maps on your phone
Bring some food & drinks
Arrange transfers with your accommodation a day before
✅ Prepare for all kinds of weather

Organized Tours To The Alps In Albania

Here are my favorite tours to the Alps organized by local companies. Some of them offer the cruise on Lake Komani, and some guide you through the entire Valbona Hike and arrange accommodation and transportation for you.

So, if you don’t like planning and prefer going on a hike with a local guide, check out these tours by clicking on the images below:

FAQs

I’ve also answered some of the frequently asked questions about the Alps in Albania. Check my answers below:

Where Are The Alps In Albania?

The Alps are located in northern Albania, close to the border with Montenegro and Kosovo. The closest big city from which you can reach the Alps is Shkodra. The main two towns in the Alps you can visit are Theth and Valbona.

Why Are They Called The Accursed Mountains?

The name ‘accursed mountains’ explains the harsh reality of these mountains and their raw nature.

Locals say that these mountains were created by the devil, which appeared from hell and shaped these glaciers and their shapes.

Legend says these mountains have been so harsh in the past and talks about a woman who wanted to cross them with a child and couldn’t find water. Another legend explains that the Slavs wanted to cross the mountains but couldn’t find the way.

Can You Hike The Albanian Alps In April?

No, I don’t recommend hiking in April because the conditions are very bad and dangerous. The snow is melting, everything is grey, and there is a lot of mud and water on the trails, which is not enjoyable. It also rains a lot.

What Month Is Best For Hiking In The Alps In Albania?

The best month to hike the Alps in Albania is July and August. The weather is usually great, everything is open, and all the hiking trails are accessible.

WRAP-UP: Visiting The Alps In Albania

These are the incredible Alps in Albania, my favorite place in the country. I hope this guide and my itinerary will help you plan your trip to make the most of it. Don’t rush; enjoy the relaxed atmosphere and remoteness of the place before it becomes much busier in a few years. Enjoy nature, Albanian hospitality, and culture, disconnect, and eat delicious food.

If you have any questions or need help planning your itinerary, contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com. I’ll gladly help you. Or check out my favorite travel resources and plan by yourself.

Happy Travels!

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

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