Peaks of the Balkans
Peaks of Balkan trek is the best way to experience Kosovo, Montenegro & Albania’s unforgettable combination of natural beauty and cultural richness. Moreover, the “Peaks of the Balkans” guide leads through one of the most remote and wild mountainous regions of the Western Balkans. By using shepherd paths and footways, the trail winds through high alpine mountains up to 2300 m above sea level.
Peaks of the Balkans trail is a 192-km cross-border trekking trail through the Accursed Mountains of Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. Considering the region’s turbulent history and once tightly controlled borders, especially during the communist period, it was impossible to move across these places. No longer. Nowadays, the trek has become very popular and people around the world are coming to visit this very remote area.
Peaks of the Balkans trail is a must-do for any hiker.
The level of difficulty ranges from easy to moderate + but requires a good physical condition and mountain equipment.
Peaks of the Balkans is a circular trekking trail through three countries of Western Balkans. The itinerary below starts from Albania, however, when booking, you can choose where to start and where to end up.
Accommodation (hotel & guesthouse) and meals as written in the daily itinerary; group airport transfer and other transports required by the itinerary; all entrance fees; skilled tour leader.
Peaks of the Balkans Itinerary
Day 1: Meet your fellow travellers in Shkoder and drive to Thethi National Park.
Meet and greet with the guide in Tirana, followed by a transfer to Shkodra, one of the oldest inhabited cities in Albania with a 2500-year-old history. It seems the city existed since the beginning of the time. After a lunch break, we continue the drive towards Theth, passing through the beautiful Valley of Boga, gate to the Albanian Alps.
Further, we will stop at Qafe Thore – the diagonal Pass, to enjoy the spectacular mountainous landscape unfolding in front of us. After that, we will switch to a local van and drive downhill to a nice guesthouse in the village where we will stay overnight and enjoy a tasty homemade meal. The afternoon is free to walk and warm up into Thethi National Park. Most importantly, we will start and finish the Peaks of the Balkans trail in Theth. Dinner included.
Driving: 3.5 hours.
Day 2: Hike the spectacular "Valbona Pass".
Today our trailheads towards spectacular Valbona Pass. It's not a particularly hard walk and is one that is attempted by many first-time mountain walkers. For the next couple of hours, the trail climbs slightly more steeply towards higher ground and we walk over a pass known as Valbona Pass. After several hours of hiking uphill, we stop at the Zefi’s housing for a hot mountain tea.
Resuming our hike for another 45-min, we continue ascending to the Valbona col (1792m) where we have outstanding views of the Albanian Alps and the Valley of Valbona.
Well rested, we continue walking down (45 min) to the Simoni cafè for lunch. After lunch, we make our way down to the valley. Of course, we can choose whether to independently continue our walking down on the main wide dried up riverbed road or take a bus to avoid it. All meals included.
Trek: 16.8 km, 7-8 hours, elevation gain: 1150m; elevation loss: 1100m.
Day 3: Hike up the epic and remote “Prejsllopi Pass” trail. Overnight in Cerem.
After a hearty breakfast and a cup of hot mountain tea with honey, we will start ascending the steep zig-zag trail to the epic and remote Prejsllopi Pass. Having several hours hiking, we'll reach the highest point of our trip today (2000m) as we hike a series of switchbacks over a pass that offers outstanding views of the snow-capped peaks of the Alps Range in every direction.
After crossing the border and thrusting in Montenegro, we will stop for lunch at Bori Pass, a flat spot with grass, a meadow for many shepherds from Cerem and Vuthaj. It’s a place where our guests always have a nap.
From here, we continue trekking another 30 minutes toward the shepherd's hut where we'll enjoy a final coffee and mountain tea. Henceforward we can see the village of Cerem where we'll stay tonight after another 2 hours of further hiking downhill to reach our destination.
Trek: 12.5 Km, 7-8 hours; elevation gain: 1089 m, elevation loss: 780 m.
Day 4: Trek from Cerem to Doberdol, a vast alpine pasture.
Leaving Çerem and the Kollata massif behind, we walk slowly in the forest for a couple of hours.
Today’s hike is a very easy walk mostly into the forest. We briefly cross the Montenegro border and return in Albania until we reach the ruins of the old military border post.
Further on we take a picnic break at the hamlet of Balqin, which is used by the shepherds during the summer season. Similarly, after a hearty lunch and coffee break, we continue to walk along a mostly flat, scenic trail through patches of beech forest. We finally reach Doberdol pasture: the heart of Peaks of the Balkans trail. All meals included.
Trek: 15 km, 7-8 hours, elevation gain: 790m; elevation loss: 440m.
Day 5: Hike Doberdol to Milishefc via Three Border Point.
After an early breakfast, today's hike begins through bilberry covered meadows of Dobërdol in the direction of the mountain ridge, which forms the border between the three countries.
Our trekking day in the magical Triple pak 2266m, with a view of the Albanian Alps behind where we walked days before. After a photo brake we walk slowly through a beautiful alpine meadow to Milishefc. All meals included.
Trek: 13 km, 6-7 hours, elevation gain: 920m; elevation loss: 980m.
Day 6: Trek from Milishefc to Babino Polia - cross the border to Montenegro.
Today’s trek starts with an early breakfast before we head off on our first full day of trekking. This is a relatively short hike which passes the three border point between Kosovo and Montenegro. It goes through beautiful mountain areas with many water sources, glacial lakes, and mountain passes featuring breathtaking views.
After passing the lakes we go gradually up to Lugu i Shkodrёs for a very beautiful landscape. After refueling with some lunch and returning to the trailhead, we continue walking to a borderland, then descent to a hidden village of Montenegro, Babino Polje. All meals included.
Trek: 11.4 km, 4-5 hours, elevation gain: 570m; elevation loss: 750m.
Day 7: Trek from Babina to Plave. Explore Old Town of Plav.
After breakfast, we set out on beautiful lake Hrid Jezero for a cool swim in the middle of a forest. After having rest, we continue to a vantage point providing magnificent views of the surrounding landscape where We enjoy a picnic lunch in this picturesque setting surrounded by a lot of beech trees.
The mostly off-trail route passes through typical patches of forest with panoramic views of the Prokletije including Albanian Alps off in the distance. After finishing the trek this afternoon, a short coffee rest in the town with a view of Plav Lake before transfer to nearby Village, our home for tonight. All meals included.
Trek: 21 km, 7-8 hours, elevation gain: 710m; elevation loss: 1150m.
Day 8: Hike to Vusanje via Bori Peak for the epic Accursed Mountain views.
After another healthy breakfast to start our day, we trek to Vusanje for the last night in Montenegro. We hike through dense beech forest encountering flowering plants before reaching the open meadows of Bori ridge.
The final approach to the high pass begins here with a steep ramp leading to the peak of Bori. At the top, the views of the surrounding peaks of the Accursed Mountains are spectacular. The trail then descends steeply and passes through a meadow then forest to Vusanje. All meals included.
Trek: 18 Km, 7-8 hours; elevation gain: 920m; elevation loss: 1150m.
Day 9: Walk overlooking the spectacular of Karanfili's massif.
Enjoy waking up with a hot drink, then settle in for a hearty breakfast, snap a few last-minute photographs, then prepare for a short drive to Grbaja Valley. Our hike starts out with a gradual uphill passing through the forest and ultimately arriving at Vallushnica Peak, the first peak for today's hike. The views here are fantastic!
The last part of the trail passes across the ridge before the final ascent, Taljanka Peak, 2056m. Finding the perfect spot for a picnic lunch, we take time to soak in all of the beauty of this special spot. After lunch, we’ll descent down to the Valley and then take a transfer back to Vusanje. All meals included.
Trek: 11.6 Km, 4-5 hours; elevation gain/loss: 880m.
Day 10: Spectacular hike from Vusanje and crossing the border to Albania.
Today’s hike into Prokletije National Park is certain to be a memorable one. This is a relatively long hike which crosses the border between Montenegro and Albania. The path passes along the craggiest part of the Prokletje/Bjeshkёt e Namuna/Alpet Shqipёtare mountains. Almost the entire hike is surrounded by steep mountains with stunning views. This itinerary allows us a glance into the region’s past when it was a forbidden zone during the Communist era.
A border military post, some bunkers and the border crossing pyramid sign still remain by the crossing. We will have picnic lunch in lush Alpine meadows carpeted with wildflowers and full of butterflies. The Peaks of the Balkans trail finishes at the very beautiful village of Theth with its traditional tower houses surrounded by steep mountains. This evening, we enjoy a delicious dinner at Polia's guest house. We'll celebrate the beautiful day and newfound friendships.
Trek: 20 km, 7-8 hours; elevation gain: 1050m; elevation loss: 1100m.
Day 11: Say goodbye Albania.
After breakfast, our adventure ends with a private transfer to Shkoder, ending our exciting trek in the heart of the Balkans.
The afternoon is left open to rest and explore this ancient and very special city on your own. Perhaps you take a private walking tour to become more familiar with the city. Exploration takes to many of Shkodra's most notable sights including Castle Rozafa; Saint Stephen Church; Lead Mosque; Mesi Bridge; Orthodox Church; Ebu Bekr Mosque; The Catholic Cathedral and numerous historic buildings to explore. Breakfast included.
Driving: 2 hours.
Although we try to do our very best to carry out the schedule written above, this itinerary of Peaks of the Balkans trail is subject to change for some reasons beyond our control. This is an 10-day trip, however, we can make it shorter or even longer.
* Feel free to contact us for other departure dates.
- English-speaking local guide
- Group airport transfers
- All accommodation
- Meals from lunch day 1 to breakfast day 10
- All land transport required by the itinerary
- All entrance fees
- Luggage transport
- Airline tickets
- Travel insurance
- Airport taxes
- Tips for local staff
- Alcoholic beverages or soft drinks
- Items of a personal sort
- Airport transfers other than group transfers
- Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, the following checklist has been created to help you choose your clothing and gear for this trip. Try to keep the weight of your equipment to a minimum.
- Good walking shoes
- Day pack (20L – 35L)
- Sun cream
- Fleece Gloves
- Fleece Hat
- Fleece Jacket or Sweater
- Rain jacket
- Warm fleece jacket or jumper
- Rain pants
- Long Sleeve Shirts (Synthetic, Lightweight)
- Trekking trousers
- Warm fleece jacket or jumper
- Anti-bacterial hand gel
- Personal First Aid Kit/Medications (Lightweight)
- 2 x 1-litre water bottle
- Insect spray
- Water purification tablets (Water is provided, but very often this is from local wells or mountain streams and is not chlorinated. If you are concerned about drinking untreated water, we suggest you bring a supply of water treatment tablets.)
- Flashlight or Headlamp
- Trekking Poles
- Trainers or sandals
- Liner Socks (Synthetic)
- Shoes for Travel and Free Time
- Casual Clothing for Travel and Town Wear (Lightweight, Easily Washable)
- Spare laces
- Luggage Tags and Locks
- Camera and Accessories
- Ear Plugs
- Reading and Writing Materials
- Small Binoculars
- Reusable cloth bag for shopping (to avoid plastic bags)
Albania has a high number of climatic regions for so small an area. Generally, experiences a Mediterranean climate with summer temperatures at 25ºC on average in the day, and the warmest months are July and August where temperatures can rise to 30ºC and above.
Kosovo has a largely Continental climate, although Pristina is considered an Oceanic climate. Generally, summers are long and dry, and winters are mild and rainy, with occasional heavy snowfall in the mountains. It can get surprisingly hot in summer, between May and August, with temperatures sometimes reaching as high as 32°C (90°F). The warmest month is July, with an average high temperature of 26°C (79°F). Winters are cold and snowfall is common. The coldest month is January, with an average low temperature of -5°C (23°F).
The unit of currency in Kosovo and Montenegro is the Euro.
Note: Buying Lek is possible only in Albania
ATM Availability (While Trekking)
- Bajram Curri (17Km away from Valbona)
Montenegro Emergency numbers
- 92 (Police); 94 (Medical emergency)
- United States Consulate, Podgorica: +382 (0) 20 410 500
- Canadian Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia (also responsible for Montenegro): +381 (0)11 306 3000
- Australian Embassy, Belgrade, Serbia (also responsible for Montenegro): +381 (0)11 330 3400
- British Consulate, Podgorica: +382 (0) 81 205 460
- Podgorica International Airport: +382 0 20 444 244
Albania Emergency numbers
- 129 (Police); 127 (Ambulance)
- Embassy of United States, Tirana: +355 (0) 4 224 7285
- British Embassy, Tirana: +355 (0) 4 223 4973
- Consulate of Canada to the Republic of Albania, Tirana: +355 (0) 4 225 7274
- Tirana International Airport: +355 42 381 800
Kosovo Emergency numbers
- 112 (Police); 94 (Ambulance)
- British Embassy, Pristina: +383 (0) 38 254 700
- U.S. Embassy, Pristina: +383 (0) 38 59 59 3000
- German Embassy, Pristina: +383 (0) 38 254 500
- Pristina International Airport: +383 (0) 38 501 502 12 14
- Western Balkans - Lonely Planet
- The Accursed Mountains - Robert Carver
- Broken April - Ismail Kadare
- High Albania - Edith Durham