Why the Valbona Pass in Albania is One of the World's Greatest Hikes

Valbona Pass
Valbona Pass | © Feride Yalav-Heckeroth
Feride Yalav-Heckeroth

The Albanian Alps are still quite unknown to many travelers and that’s exactly why the hike from the Valbona to the Theth valley is so unique. Pack your rucksack and discover this trail with stunning views of unadulterated nature.

General Information

To start the hike, you’ll have to travel to the village of Valbona. To do this it’s wise to spend a night in Shkoder and ask your hotel to reserve your spot to Valbona, which includes a 6am bus ride to the Lake Koman ferry station, the ferry to Fierza, and another bus to Valbona. The hike takes around six hours, so spending a night in Valbona is also a good decision with many accommodation options available from camping sites to hotels. Make sure to visit the Journey to Valbona webpage for more information.

Valbona Pass

The Hike

The Valbona Pass trail actually begins at the end of the Rrogam village, so you can either hike there from Valbona (about an hour) or ask someone at your hotel to drive you there (about five euros). The trail is clearly marked with a trailhead that has a map as well as information about the hike from Valbona to Theth. The whole hike is 9.5-km long (about six hours), with a maximum elevation of 1,815 meters and a minimum elevation of 800 meters.

Valbona Pass

The entire path is marked with white-red-white lines that lead you in the right direction and apart from the quite steep and often arduous climb to the top, it’s not a difficult hike. Make sure you have a good pair of hiking boots on and plenty of water and something to eat for a much-needed lunch break. The path is closed between November and May. If you’re one of those hikers who enjoys their solitude, try to plan the hike for October when the weather is temperate, the leaves are a stunning yellow and red, and there is a lack of other hikers around.

Valbona Pass

The Beauty

As expected, the Valbona Pass is an absolutely stunning hike where you’ll be accompanied by beautiful views of the mountains all around. Don’t be surprised to come across shepherds who have brought their flock to the mountain to graze, since Albania still has a very strong rural culture. From beginning to end, the scenery changes many times from rocky mountain paths to green pastures, thick beech forests to village roads with cows grazing on the grass. Of course, one of the most notable points is the pass itself where you can look out over the Valbona valley on one side and the Theth valley on the other.

Valbona Pass

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