Albania (said to be Europe’s ‘Last Secret’) is a small country offering a large variety of landscapes, wild rivers, rough mountainous areas and rich history. If you are looking for nature, rural areas or spectacular ferry rides through the Alps, then explore hiking in the North Albanian Alps. This short article aims to offer you some brief information on how you can travel from Tirana to Koman Lake, Valbona Valley, Theth and the rest of the Albanian Alps:

If you are traveling from Tirana to Valbona through Koman Lake, you would need to leave Tirana at 05:00 am to get to Koman Lake for a 09:00am ferry ride. The majority of the road from Tirana to Vau Dejës is quite flat though once you pass the Vau i Dejës town, the road becomes a little bumpy and the landscapes become wild with mountains, lakes and forests. Most ferries leave Koman Lake Dam at 09:00 am to Fierza (Fierzë) Dam and the ferry ride through Lake Koman is said to be one of the best experiences while visiting Albania and the Balkans. Along the ride you experience some astonishing views of rocky mountains, waterfalls, forests and rural villages. If you take any of the smaller boats (which usually take longer to get to Fierza), you would travel like a local here. The boat will likely stop from one village to the other and you will see locals get off the boat together with their food supplies or local farming products. The ferry ride through Lake Koman passes through some very remote areas and rural villages, the majority of these using small boats as the only mean of transport to connect them to the rest of Albania. You will arrive at Fierza Dam at about midday.

Before entering the National Park of Valbona Valley, you would visit the small city of Bajram Curri, or locally known as ‘the city of Tropoja’, a north east city next to the border of Kosovo.

Ten minutes from the city of Bajram Curri you enter the National Park of Valbona Valley, noticing the clarity and unique colours of its waters. During the summer time you can swim in the river, however a warning that the water temperature is usually quite cold due to it coming from melted snow in the crown of the Albanian Alps.

Most visitors travel to Valbona Valley, Theth and the Albanian Alps as part of the ‘Balkan Peaks’ route, getting in touch with the incredible nature it offers along with mountainous rural areas while hiking the Albanian Alps. Valbona Valley has become a major destination for most tourists visiting Albania or neighboring countries nowadays, however this area was one of the most remote and unvisited areas not too long ago. Most of the guesthouses in Valbona Valley are old village homes turned into accommodation services in recent years, due to increasing demand from travelers looking for hiking adventures.  Although these guesthouses offer basic accommodation and food services, their views are spectacular, offering amazing scenery into the crown of the Albanian Alps and Balkan Peaks.

Most travelers prefer to trek and hike in surrounding natural attractions such as “Rogami’s Mountain” (2478 m), the tops of Mount Jezerca (2642 m), “Lapuka’s Mountains” (2575 m), “Valbona’s Mountain” (1966 m), Bolsh ‘s Mountain” (2414 m), Zhapora’s Mountains (2516 m) and “Band of the Bear Mountain” (2468 m).

Trekking from Valbona to Theth is one of the best hiking adventures you can experience while visiting the northern Albanian Alps. Even though the distance between Valbona and Theth is just 13 kilometers (about 8 miles), the trekking lasts about 6 – 8 hours, depending on your level of fitness. Local tour guides or professional hikers can even manage to do the path in less than 4 hours. If you are traveling with heavy luggage, no problem, local guides can also bring along caravan horses or mules that will carry your luggage throughout the whole path (each carrying up to 30kg and hired at an additional cost). Trekking from Valbona to Theth is considered medium level difficulty, so you can easily manage it even if you are not a professional hiker. You would need proper trekking shoes, water supply and a weather appropriate jacket or jumper when getting to the top of Qafa e Valbonës. Once you get to the top of Qafa e Valbones you will see that it was all worth it in the end! When you hike to this point, you will be able to enjoy the astonishing panoramic view of Valbona Valley, Theth Valley, the crown of the Albanian Alps and most of the Balkan Peaks. It is worth spending some time enjoying the incredible view from this point before you continue. From here on, the trekking becomes easier as we follow a descending slope towards the village of Theth, taking two and a half to three hours.

Most people that love the mountains and the Albanian Alps consider Theth as one of the most beautiful villages in Northern Albania. Theth has it all, it offering a combined variety of historical buildings, legendary stories of strong men, blood feuds, religious monuments, mountains, river valleys, waterfalls, springs, wildlife, culture and traditions. If you are spending some time in the Balkan region, it is definitely worth spending at least two nights in Theth. This is also a starting point for those who trek towards Montenegro in the Plav region, or towards Kosovo in Boga and Gryka e Rugoves. Theth is one of the main destinations for all travelers doing the Balkan Peaks and Via Dinarica.

There are two main ways to arrive in Theth. The one from Valbona Valley (described above) which is only reachable by foot, and the other being from Shkoder through Qafa e Thores. Most visitors traveling with a vehicle from Tirana or Shkoder will go via Qafa e Thores. The drive from Shkoder to Theth is at least three hours, passing through some beautiful villages such as Boga (Bogë in Albanian) and mountainous landscapes. However, the road from Qafa e Thores to Theth is quite bumpy, with a lot of curves and abyss on one side of the road. The view on this road is astonishing, however we recommend you to focus on the road rather than the view, unless you find a safe place to park the car and enjoy the panorama of the Alps.

Once in Theth, you could either stay at one of the typical guesthouses or choose to camp in nature. Some of the main attractions to visit in Theth are Ujvara e Grunasit (Grunas Waterfall), Kulla e Ngujimit (Lock-in Tower), Syri i Kaltër (Blue Eye), Muzeu Etnografik (Ethnographic Museum) and Shpella e Zezë (The Black Cave). Recommended physical activities in Theth National Park are hiking, climbing, mountain biking, swimming, camping, free style snowboarding and skiing.

We hope this article helped to give you a small taste of what to expect when travelling to the North of Albania, happy adventuring!