One of the last undiscovered wildernesses in Europe, Albania is blissfully untouched by the tourism that its surrounding neighbours get. And that’s only a good thing if you’re travelling to this small Balkan country on the Adriatic Coast. Unspoiled natural beauty, incredible hiking, and a range of outdoor activities await you on your journey to Albania.
In this post, we’ll take a look at some of the best things to do in the Albanian Alps. Hopefully, it’ll make you curious enough to experience this European hidden gem for yourself.
Lose yourself in the beautiful Theth National Park
To those who make it as far as Theth National Park, it is known as a beautiful location with towering and rugged mountains, epic waterfalls, and bright blue lagoons. The park covers an area of just over 26 square kilometres in the Albanian Alps. Supposedly, this area used to be the home of nymphs, goddesses, and other creatures. Whether or not you believe that can’t take anything away from this absolutely stunning part of the Balkans! It’s best visited with your own transport or as part of an organised tour – so you can learn more about this incredible place.
Hike the Valbona Pass – the most famous hiking trail in the Alps
If you’re in Theth National Park, it’s all well and good to drive through it and stop off every so often to appreciate the views. However, you’ll have a much better experience if you challenge yourself with the Valbona Pass Hike. Albania’s most famous hiking trail, you’re able to stop off at Rragam Village to appreciate the views of the surrounding valley from more than 1,700 metres above sea level. The path is quite steep but the hike itself isn’t difficult. As long as you have good boots and follow the trail (it’s marked) you’ll be fine. The trail is closed between November and May.
Hike to Jezerca Peak
If 1,750 metres isn’t quite high enough, you can go higher than the Valbona Pass. Maja Jezerce (Jezerca Peak) is the highest peak in the Accursed Mountains which straddle the border of Albania and Kosovo, and the second highest peak in all of Albania. It’s about a 10-12 hours climb from Valbona, and there are some technical parts where you’ll need to climb with the aid of a cable. It’s also recommended to wear a helmet. Should you make it to the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the surrounding forests and valleys.
SUP on Komani Lake
While it’s popular to visit Komani Lake on a boat trip, there’s a more active and rewarding way you can get to know the lake that little bit better. And that’s through stand up paddle boarding. The fastest growing water sport in the world is a wonderful workout for your core. Not only that, it’ll allow you to take in the beauty of your surroundings in a way that will leave you completely in awe (don’t forget to grab the proper SUP gear). Being on a SUP means that you’ll be able to appreciate the mountains reflecting into the clear blue waters without being disturbed by anyone else. About as close to paradise as you can get in Albania!
See the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Gashi River
Declared a nature reserve in 1996, it’s not so much the river itself that is the attraction here, but the UNESCO protected beech forest that are some of the last virgin woods in Albania. The Gashi River is rich in both flora and fauna, and you should look out for brown bears, wolves, wild boars – which are just some of the 60+ species that call this area home. Be sure to stop at Doberdol and Sylbica glacial lakes to see more of the most beautiful locations in the Balkans.
Visit an area untouched by tourism – the Kelmend Region
Though it’s not an isolated one, there’s every chance you’ll be the only tourist there is on your visit to Albania’s northernmost region. Kelmend is the last stop between Albania and Montenegro, and it’s largely untouched by both tourism and development. Should you be using your own transport or biking, the Leqet e Hotit Mountain Pass is a road not to be missed (unless you’re afraid of heights), with the opportunity to view the road from above through a glass balcony. There are numerous natural sites and traditional Albanian villages in the region too.
Now that you know how to spend your time in the Albanian Alps…
It’s time to book your trip. Whether you want to stand up paddle board across a beautiful lake, hike to the highest peak in the Accursed Mountains, or explore an almost untouched region of Europe, there’s so much to love about Albania.