Walking Albania

Albania - Trip code ALW Walking and Trekking
Carbon Footprint Leaf Icon
228Kg of CO²e
Average carbon footprint per person
Carbon Footprint
You deserve to know everything about your holiday, from what is included, what to expect and every kilogram of CO2 emitted on average per person along the way.

We've partnered with ecollective to measure the carbon footprint of this tour based on an average group size. Find out more about how we calculate this and why we think it's important here.

Why book this trip?

Explore the beauty of northern Albania, trekking in the little visited Albanian Alps, through the spectacular scenic Valbona and Theth national parks. Encounter a traditional way of life in remote villages, learning about the country's folklore.

  • Koman Lake - Boat ride across glassy waters beneath dramatic mountain gorges, drifting through an undistributed landscape
  • Traditional Villages - spend time with the local families in Theth, enjoying a traditionally cooked lunch
  • Alpine Walking - Wildflower meadows, lush valleys and craggy passes
  • Included meals

    Breakfast: 7

    Lunch: 4

    Dinner: 5

  • Trip staff

    Explore Tour Leader


    Local Guide(s)

  • Transport


  • i


    2 nights simple guesthouse

    5 nights comfortable hotel

  • i

    Walking grade:


  • i

    Group Size:

    10 - 16


Day 1 - Join trip at Tirana Airport, transfer to Shkodra

Our trip begins at Tirana International Airport (TIA) at 3.30pm, the latest your flight can arrive is 3pm. You will need to arrive by this time to join the complimentary airport transfer today. We will travel together as a group to our hotel in Shkodra which will take approximately one-and-a-half hours. The welcome meeting with your leader will take place this evening before dinner.

Known as the 'Capital of North Albania', Shkodra is one of the oldest cities of the country. Founded in the 4th century B.C. the city is rich in cultural heritage and boasts a large number of artists, musicians, poets and writers. Time permitting we will visit the imposing Rozafa Castle that rises up on a rocky hill to the west of the city's entrance and, after dinner, take a walk around the city's pedestrian area, 'pjaca', with low elegant buildings from the Venetian period.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: None

Day 2 - Drive to Koman Lake, boat ride across the lake. Drive to Valbona via riverside walk

This morning we drive from Shkodra to the docks at Lake Koman, before boarding our ferry. Described in the Bradt guides as 'one of the great boat trips of the world' our two hour journey takes us on glassy blue waters through twists and turns of narrow waterways beneath stunning mountain peaks. A truly beautiful introduction to the amazing scenery that Northern Albania has to offer. Once at the other side we drive to Valbona and dive into an alpine landscape, stopping on route for a beautiful riverside walk that will stretch out our legs and prepare us for the weeks' walking ahead.

Today's six kilometre walk is expected to take around three hours with 220 metres of ascent and descent.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast & Dinner

Day 3 - Hiking in Valbona National Park

We spend the next two days hiking in Valbona National Park. Valbona is based in the Tropoja district of Northern Albania which, along with two adjoining districts, encompasses a region called The Malesi, roughly translated this means The Highlands. A wild and high mountainous region inhabited by fiercely independent and strong people who have never really been conquered or subdued by the various invasions in the last 2000 years! The full name of the mountains around Valbona are the Malësi e Gjakovës and this name is most often translated in English as 'The Accursed Mountains.'

A short drive after breakfast brings us to the beginning of our trail near to Drogobia village. We start a moderate climb, crossing meadows and patches of beechwood, climbing higher until we reach the elevated pastures known as 'Gjarpri I Dragobis' - the Drogobia Snake. It is the perfect spot to have a picnic lunch under the shade of a couple of isolated trees and to taste dairy products from the local shepherds that graze their herds here throughout the summer. We will loop the pastures, enjoying the spectacular views of the Dragobia Gorge on the opposite side of the valley, sided by numerous peaks, before descending to the bottom of the valley and taking a short drive back to our hotel in Valbona.

Today's 11 kilometre walk is expected to take around five hours with 720 metres of ascent and descent.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 4 - Hiking in Valbona National Park

Today we will walk straight from our hotel to the mountain slopes in front of us tha create the massif of Paplluga. The trail winds through woods of beech and fir, crossing occasionally an old road used during the regime years for timber, until we reach the plateau known as 'Rrethi i Jubanit' and continue towards a panoramic spot where we'll have a picnic lunch. In front of us tower the magnificent vertical peaks of Grykat e Hapta, that create an impressive ampitheatre of limestone stretching till the end of the valley in the south west, where the Valbona Pass awaits for us to cross it in the coming day.

After lunch we will continue to stay high on the plateau before starting the descent in the east facing slopes of 'Rrethri' to reach the hamlet of Kukaj where we will taste a cup of herbal mountain tea on the terrace of a local family's home. Refreshed, we will then descend to the bottom of the valley under the soft late afternoon light.

Today's seven kilometre walk is expected to take around five hours with 460 metres of ascent and 520 metres of descent.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 5 - Drive to trailhead and Hike the Valbona Pass to Thethi National Park

A morning transfer will bring us from the hotel to the top of the valley in Rrogam where the road ends. Here our luggage is loaded onto horses and we start walking uphill to reach the Valbona Springs via a steep and winding forest trail. Later the walk continues into wide alpine pastures with large glacier erratic rocks, scattered here and there. The path then continues to steepen into a narrow trail that leads to the Valbona Pass. On clear days the views from this location at the heart of the Accursed Massif are truly breath taking. From here we follow a trail that winds through fir and beech forest and descends into the Thethi valley, also surrounded by a number of 2500m high sheer rocky domes, such as the Radohima and the Harapit.

For the next two nights we stay in Pisha Villa, a traditional Albanian family house with mountain views. The rooms accommodate two to four people in each so you may be sharing with other members of the group for these nights. The rooms are basic but comfortable with shared bathroom facilities. You're receive a warm welcome from your hosts who will provide traditional meals.

Today's nine kilometre walk is expected to take around seven hours with 1,050 metres of ascent and 1,300 metres of descent.


Grade: Simple Guesthouse

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 6 - Exploring the Thethi Valley

Thethi is an iconic Northern Albanian 'malesore' (highlands) village. Enclosed in the full remoteness of the Accursed Mountains it stayed protected from the multiple invasions that afflicted the more accessible parts of the Alps and life was organised following the detailed rules of the 'Kanun' - the Unwritten Code of the Mountains. These aspects were well pictured by the Victorian traveller Ms Edith Durham in the book, High Albania, written on her journey into the area at the beginning of the 20th Century.

We will spend the day discovering the village on foot in a succession of attractions such as the stone built catholic church, Kulla e Ngujimit - the blood feud lock in tower, the waterfall and then along the Grunas Canyon's ancient terraces towards the hamlet of Nderlysa; here we will have a tasty lunch prepared by one of the local families.

In the afternoon, after some free time to relax by the natural pools of Nderlysa - created by the clear and icy water of the Kaprea Creek - a short transfer of around 20 minutes will bring us back to Thethi for dinner and overnight.

Today's seven kilometre walk is expected to take around four hours with 420 metres of ascent and 660 metres of descent.


Grade: Simple Guesthouse

Meals Provided: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Day 7 - Walk to Thore Pass; transfer to Tirana, explore the city on foot

This morning we leave our hotel on foot, passing through the village and crossing meadows and woods in a gradual climb in the direction of Thore Pass. Walking on the unsealed village road we will reach the memorial of Edith Durham, known by the highlanders as 'Krajilica e Malsis' - the Queen of the HIghlands - in respect of her support of the Albanian cause after World War One. This spot offers fantastic views on the Thethi Valley with the imposing big wall of Mt Harapit in full sight.

From here we start driving into the scenic valley of Boga, slowly leaving behind the silhouette of the Albanian Alps and heading towards the Shkodra plain. In the afternoon our drive ends in the colourful Albanian capital of Tirana, where we stay in a hotel near the city centre. A city walk gives us the opportunity to learn more about the developments of Tirana throughout the various periods of influence, and have a taste of its cosmopolitan atmosphere.

Today's six kilometre walk is expected to take around three hours with 950 metres of ascent and 170 metres of descent.


Grade: Comfortable Hotel

Single room available

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Day 8 - Trip ends in Tirana

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Tirana.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Tirana at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Tirana International Airport (TIA) a 40 minutes' drive from the hotel.

Meals Provided: Breakfast

Trip information

Climate and country information



Albania has a mediterranean climate with hot, dry summers (ranging from 9 - 11 hours of sunshine a day in Tirana). Temperatures can reach up to 40°C in July. October to April is much cooler and can be wet. Albania is a mountainous country and the high peaks are snow-capped all year with seasonal weather patterns in the mountains that can be unpredictable.

Time difference to GMT



2 Pin Round


Islam, Albanian Orthodox, Roman Catholic


Albanian, Greek, Vlach, Romani, Slavic dialects

Budgeting and packing


Bring light and comfortable clothing that can be layered according to the temperature. The weather conditions in the mountains can be changeable, and it can become cool, especially at night, so bring warmer layers. Tops made from wicking materials which keep you drier and warmer are recommended as a base layer, and walking trousers are preferable to trousers of heavier material such as jeans. A waterproof jacket is essential at all times in case of rain and wind.

-Breathable wind and waterproof jacket (you may also wish to bring waterproof trousers)
-Long sleeved tops
-Long trousers (you should dress with respect in the rural villages)
-Shorts (if you prefer to walk in them)
-Swimwear and towel
-Midlayer Fleece/pullover
-Socks (liner and thicker pair)
-Insulated jacket


We recommend you bring walking boots with ankle support- leather or fabric are both fine. Make sure that your boots are worn-in and comfortable before the start of the trip. Also trainers or sandals for relaxing and general wear.

We suggest that on international flights you either carry your walking boots in your hand luggage or wear them - should your luggage be lost or delayed, your own boots are the one thing that will be irreplaceable.



Luggage: On tour

Bring one main piece of luggage and a 20-30 litre day sack is recommended. You will need to carry what you need for the day which may include a raincoat, jumper, camera, sun-cream, water and picnic lunch. On hot days you will carry fewer clothes but more drinking water.

Remember you are expected to carry your own luggage so don't overload yourself. Please bear in mind there are lots of stairs in Albania and no porterage in the hotels.


-Sun cream
-Small Torch (with spare batteries and bulb)
-Walking poles (if you usually use them)
-Personal toiletries
-Personal first aid kit - On each walk a first aid kit is carried but you should have your own blister kit, supply of plasters, aspirin and other essentials.
-Small waterproof dry bag (for items such as your mobile phone)
-Reusable water bottle (minimum 1 litre) - Get 15% discount on a Water-to-Go bottle www.explore.co.uk/about-us/responsible-travel/water-to-go-discount-with-explore
-Lunch bag/Tupperware (for packed lunches)


Explore leader
Tipping isn't compulsory, and we work hard to ensure that our leaders all receive a fair wage. You may however, want to recognise a leader that has done a great job or really added to your trip by giving them a tip. We're often asked about the recommended amount. It is a tricky one, and down to personal preference, but we would recommend £15 to £20 per person per week as a guideline.

Local crew
Although voluntary, tipping is a recognised part of life in this region of the world. Some local staff will look to members of the group for personal recognition of particular services provided. Accordingly, you should allow approximately £20 of local currency for tipping.

In order to make things easier for you, the Explore Leader may organise a group's tips kitty and if this is the case, they will account for it throughout the trip.


Food and drink

The costs for meals may vary depending upon location, type of restaurant and number of courses eaten and so the prices given are an average guide. Local restaurants located off the beaten track may be less expensive, whereas an upmarket restaurant located in the centre of a major city may charge more.

Lunch price
Dinner price
Beer price
Water price
Foreign Exchange
Local currency
Albanian Lek.
Recommended Currency For Exchange
Sterling, US Dollars and Euros cash is widely accepted in bureaux de change in major towns and cities. Most transactions in Albania are done on a strictly cash only basis using the Lek.
Where To Exchange
Bureau de change in major towns and cities.
ATM Availability
Most larger towns.
Credit Card Acceptance
Credit cards are not widely accepted in Albania.
Travellers Cheques
Travellers Cheques are not widely accepted in Albania, though you should take some as a back-up in case of emergencies.
Transport, Accommodation & Meals

Transport Information


Accommodation notes

Due to the size of the accommodation in the National Park areas a single room is only available on certain nights on this trip. On days five and six we stay at Pisha Villa in Thethi, this is a traditional Albanian family house and the rooms are simple but comfortable. There are modern bathroom facilities with showers, but not en-suite, towels will be provided. The number of rooms are limited and they accommodate two to four people in each so you may be sharing with other members of the group for these two nights. A private room at the Pisha Villa is available on request only, costing £40 please discuss with the sales team.

Essential Information

Government Travel Safety Advice

We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.

Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.

Under 18 immigration guidance

Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.

Price Guarantee

Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions

Visa and Passport Information

Albania: Visas are not required by UK, Australian, New Zealand, US and Canadian citizens.

Other nationalities should consult their local embassy or consular office. You should confirm all visa related questions with the relevant Embassy prior to departure.

If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.

It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.

Booking conditions

Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.

Minimum age restrictions

For our group tours, the minimum age is 16. The minimum age on Family trips varies between 7 and 11 - please check the 'Family information' section of the trip page for more information. 


Find out more about Trip Transfer Terms and Conditions before you book.

Booking a land only package with Explore

Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information. 

You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.

Joining Tour Abroad

Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.

The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.  

Free transfers are not available for Self-Guided, Polar, Tailormade or Tours for Churches customers.

If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.  

For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here


It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.

Flight information

Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.

Flight Information

You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.


Booking a flight inclusive package with Explore

We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.

On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.

Maximum altitude (m)




We recommend protection against hepatitis A, typhoid, polio and tetanus. Rabies vaccination is recommended by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office due to the large number of stray dogs in Albania. You should seek further advice from your travel clinic. Tick-borne encephalitis is recommended by some medical sources if travelling in certain areas of Eastern Europe, at specific times of the year. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.

Walking and Trekking information
Walking grade
Trek details
Walks on 6 days for between 3 to 7 hours. Most walks are on well-defined footpaths, mountain trails and some dirt tracks.
Max walking altitude (m)
Award Winning Explore Leaders
Find out more
Price Guarantee Promise
Find out more
Airport Transfers
Find out more
Print Trip Notes

Table of contents

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Got it!