Walking in Albania
Trek in the Albanian Alps and soak up the culture as you visit historic
Reviews 8 Reviews5/5
Vacation Style Holiday Type
Activity Level Moderate
Group Size Small Group
This fascinating, lesser-known Mediterranean country has a pristine, rugged and wild landscape waiting to be discovered. It wasn’t until the collapse of the People’s Socialist Republic of Albania in 1991 that the world got its first glimpse of the country within. Our trek is focussed in the remote Albanian Alps in the north, where ancient blood feuds and folklore mark its past. We explore the remote regions of Theth and Valbonë on foot, where Agricultural life has remained unchanged for centuries. We then have time to explore the historic towns of Berat and Krujë and delve into the captivating history of this hospitable country.
* All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners included
* 2 nights guesthouses, 5 nights hotels
* Airport transfers (at designated times)
Tour leader throughout. Group normally 5 to 16, plus leader(s). Min age 16 yrs
- Single Accommodation (available on request, inquire for supplement)
- The picturesque regions of Theth and Valbone
- The ‘Lock-in Tower’ of Theth
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Traditional folklore evening
The tour starts at our centrally located hotel in Tirana, Albania’s trendy capital. Those on the group flight arrive at lunch time and will be transferred to the hotel (approx. 30 mins drive).*Standard Hotel*
Drive via Shkodër and Rozafa Castle to Theth; short walk around the village
We have an early start this morning and drive to Shkodër (approx. 2 hrs), where we visit the Castle of Rozafa and the city centre of one of the oldest and most historic places in Albania. We recommend that you also take this opportunity to shop for anything you might want for the next three days (snacks, chocolate etc.) before we head into the more remote regions. Our journey continues into the breathtaking Albanian Alps and Theth National Park (approx. 3 hrs), an area admired for its rich flora and fauna. After checking into our quaint guesthouse in Theth, we set off on a gentle walk through the valley nestled between the wonderful surrounding peaks, gaining an insight into agricultural life as we pass locals going about their day. We continue to the Roman Catholic Church of Theth, built in 1892, which was once used as a health centre during the communist regime. The highlight, however, is a visit to the shutting tower (or lock-in tower) of Theth, known locally as ‘Kulla’. These historic stone ‘lock-in towers’ were used for protection of families that were involved in blood feuds and this is one of the few that remains today.*Basic Hotel*
Walk to Grunas waterfall, Nderlyse and the 'Blue Eye of Kapre'
Theth Valley is predominantly an agricultural region, where age-old farming practices and horse-drawn carts are still used today. We observe rural life as we begin walking to Grunas Waterfall. From here we continue on to Nderlyse where we find a string of natural water pools and a feature known as the ‘Blue Eye of Kapre’. There is an opportunity to swim here, so don’t forget your swimming things.*Basic Hotel*
Trek over Valbonë Pass to Rragam village; transfer to Valbonë, home of Albanian folk culture
We walk through some of the wildest scenery into the Tropojë District, known as the home of Albanian folk culture. We firstly ascend through forests and alpine pastures to reach the Valbonë Pass (1950m), from where we take a few moments to enjoy the spectacular views down Valbonë and Theth Valleys. We then follow a trail which brings us alongside the Valbonë River, passing some beautiful waterfalls along the way. We finish at the quaint village of Rragam, where the minibus will wait for us to transport us to our hotel. Expect some rocky mountainous terrain today, particularly as we descend.*Standard Hotel*
Follow a route below Rosi Peak, passing through forest to the 'White Circle'
Our route today takes us through beech and pine forests down Rosi Peak and leads us onto the ’White Circle’, where we enjoy panoramic views of the peaks and valleys of the Albanian Alps. There is the option to either do the full length of the ’White Circle’ or walk as far as the ridge of the ’White Circle’, then back down the valley. For those who wish to opt out of the ’White Circle’ walk, you can instead walk independently in the local area, or head to the slopes to collect some mountain tea. Please note that the total ascent/descent is 1000m if doing the full length.*Standard Hotel*
We take a boat on Komani Lake; continue to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Berat
After breakfast, we drive to Fierza (approx. 1.5 hrs). We then take a boat through the beautiful Komani Lake (which takes approx. 2 hrs). The boat journey allows us to take in the spectacular scenery whilst we wind our way between high cliffs and towering peaks. Three hydroelectric power plants have been built here at the lake, which produces approx. 70% of Albania’s electricity. We then drive for another 1.5 hrs and have lunch in Vau I Dejës, near Shkodër. After lunch, we make our way to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Berat (approx. 3 hrs), our final destination for today. Our hotel is situated in Mangalem, the historic quarter of Berat, where the castle peers down upon the area from its hilltop.*Standard Hotel*
Visit the Ethnographic Museum and the King Mosque in Berat; drive to Krujë in the afternoon, followed by a folklore evening
This morning we enjoy a guided tour around the old district of Berat, with its pretty white buildings perched on the hill amid pine forests. Our tour includes a visit to the Ethnographic Museum (a 18th-century Ottoman house) and the King Mosque. We walk through the narrow cobbled streets to finally reach Berat Castle on the slopes of Mount Tomorr, where we are rewarded with breathtaking views. Within the castle walls are dwelling houses and the Onufri Museum (Museum of Iconography). There is free time to enjoy the other sites of Berat or to perhaps absorb the relaxed café culture on the promenade.In the afternoon we drive to Krujë (approx. 3 hrs), the centre of Skanderbeg’s resistance to the Ottoman invasion in the 15th century. The town’s old bazaar is an excellent place for souvenir shopping, with traditional wares, antiques and rugs. We visit the Skanderbeg Museum and Krujë Castle and take a short walk to a teqe (a small place of worship for those practising the Bektashi branch of Islam) dedicated to the saint Sari Saltik, located on Krujë Mountain. Our hotel this evening is situated in the historic centre of Krujë. We are in for a treat tonight as our evening is filled with music and dance.*Standard Hotel*
Those on the group flight will be transferred back to Mother Theresa Airport for their lunchtime flight to London (approx. 1-hour drive to the airport).
Hotels & Guesthouses
We will spend 2 nights in a mountain guesthouse and 5 nights in 3-star en suite hotels. Ratings should not be compared to Western Europe as there is currently not a regulated system for this in Albania. The guesthouse and hotels are chosen for their character, location and welcoming atmosphere. The hotel and guesthouse in the mountains (Theth and Valbonë) are charming yet rustic. Our two nights in the guesthouse at Theth are in double and triple rooms, with shared bathrooms (triple rooms are not mixed sex, single supplements are not available here).
It is possible to book additional accommodation in Tiranna before and after the tour. For anyone looking to extend their stay additional nights can also be arranged in Berat. Please contact your sales consultant if you wish to extend your trip.
All breakfasts, 4 lunches and 5 dinners included.
Three of these lunches are packed lunches. In the itinerary, we state which meals are included on each day.
Under the leadership of Enver Hoxha (the communist leader of Albania from 1944-1985), Albania became a self-sustaining country due to its isolation to the world. However, due to the lush fertile valleys, fresh mountain springs and Mediterranean climate, they are still very much a subsistence culture and show very little signs of changing. In the countryside expect your food to have been reared/grown not too far from your plate.
Food in Albania is quite varied thanks to the many influences on the country and particularly Mediterranean combining both Turkish and European tastes. Dairy products, especially milk and yoghurt are present in almost every meal, usually locally sourced. Meals are reasonably priced at around GBP£3-5 per dish for traditional dishes such as baked rice, casseroles, stuffed aubergine and Jani Meat (beef or lamb sautéed with onions, garlic and spices). Fresh fish is also plentiful, from the sea or lakes and is an important ingredient in many dishes. Dishes that must be sampled are Tirana stew, Elbasan yoghurt and baked phyllo pie. For dessert, there are the classic cookies and puddings but most importantly the Baklava is very popular. Drinks are reasonably priced with a bottle of local beer costing around £1 yet traditional drinks need to be tried as well, Raki and ‘Scanderbeg’ Cognac for example (noted for its unique flavour and aroma).
Your leader will recommend restaurants for each evening. Vegetarians are well-catered for in Albania as long as the hotels are advised in advance – please inform us before departure of any special dietary requests. If you follow a vegan diet you should expect that the variety of food may be limited whilst on this trip. This diet is relatively uncommon in this region and we cannot guarantee that the hotels and restaurants will provide meals that have the necessary variety.
This trip focuses on the north and central regions of Albania and is a balance of walking, culture and sightseeing. During the first half of the week, we trek in the remote Albanian Alps in the north. For the second half, we visit the historic towns of Berat and Krujë.
This trek is suitable for the average walker who is prepared to put in some physical preparation. For the most part, our walks follow good trails yet the terrain can be very rocky and slippery in parts, particularly in the Theth and Valbonë regions. We will encounter sustained steep ascents/descents (sometimes with gravel slopes) and you should be confident in your ability to deal with heights.
Over the course of the week, we enjoy five walks of varying length. There are three spectacular full day walks of up to about 7 hours walking per day, and two shorter walks each of roughly 1-3 hours walking (including stops). Walking hours stated are given as approximates only. The remainder of our time is spent sightseeing in Berat and Krujë.
There will be some long drives (approx. 4 hrs in total on Day 6 plus a 2hr boat journey), which are unavoidable in order to see as much as possible. Due to certain areas still being relatively undeveloped, some of the drives will be on windy and quite bumpy roads. Some roads are full of potholes and of a much lower standard to what is mostly expected in Europe. Still, we are always rewarded with spectacular wild scenery throughout. One transfer includes a short off road section, for this journey we use local transport which will likely not have seatbelts.
Luggage is transferred by horses during the trek. Hard suitcases are therefore not suitable.