Tucked into the northern interior, the Albanian Alps are a perfect destination. Known, as the Accursed Mountains, this realm of jagged karst peaks is a dream for hikers, where lynxes roam spruce forests and wildflowers cover valley floors. Those looking to tackle the region’s challenging trails can set off on a new, eight-day, tour. There are mountain passes, traditional home stays and a visit to the village of Theth, starting point of the Peaks of the Balkans hiking trail.
The flagship region are the Albanian Alps, the National Parks of Thethi, Valbona and the Region of Kelmendi.
Valbona is 25 km away from the city of Bajram Curri and is the most important center of the valley. It is full of traditional houses within the natural wonders of the valley. In Valbona, there is a comfortable and traditional hotel, or you can stay at a village home. The area is also famous for its cooking.
There are many outdoor activities in the national park. Skiing, mountain climbing, fishing, excursions and trekking throughout the valley and streams (Cerremi, Kukaj). Also, canoeing along certain parts of the river. Valbona is a starting point if you wish to climb the Jezerca Mountain, the second highest mountain in Albania.
Another interesting spot of the Western Alps is Vermosh. 95 km from Shkodra is the region of Kelmend (from the Roman word “Clemens,” meaning gentle, simple, and good). The first thing you see is Qafa e Rrapshit. You notice the crystal-clear waters of the Cemi River creating a beautiful contrast with the surrounding landscape.
Situated on a blackberry hill at the feet of the Veleçik Mountain, Razma stands amid lush forests of pine and birch trees. Meadows and amazing alpine pastures abound, drenching any visitor with a keen eye in the beauty of the Balkans. Even in the depths of winter when the snow drifts tout highest level of the season, adventure tourists visit Razma. There are several hotels there. Common activities on the excursions are mountain climbing, skiing, and, weather permitting, camping. The road turns from Razma to the village of Dedaj and then onto Boga, a village surrounded by the Alps and described by Edith Durham in her book, “The Burden of the Balkans.”
Located 70 km from Shkodra, you must pass Qafa e Tërthores at 2,000 m before descending to Gropa e Thethit by crossing a stream bearing the same name. It is a journey you’ll want to have your camera ready for, full of extended mountain views, with water cascading down craggy hillsides and trees reaching for sunlight on rocky slopes. The area is rich in sights such as the waterfall of Grunas, 30 m high, the amazing cold-water sources of Okol, and the caves of Birrat me Rrathë (Round Holes) and Mount Arapi.
The mountains don’t stop in the north. Mountains and hills makeup two-thirds of the territory of Albania and extend from North to South. The most important mountainous centers are Dajti, Llogara, Dardha, Bozdoveci, Voskopoja, Valbona, and Thethi.
Skiing is especially developed in the area of Korça in the south. In particular, the city of Voskopoja has a well-known resort that has only increased in popularity over the years.
Dajti Mountain National Park
It is located in the eastern part of the capital Tirana, so enjoying the snow and its magic for a few hours, has never been easier. You can go by car if you want to enjoy a road trip or use the cable car for 10 dollars round trip if you do not have a problem with the heights and want to get a good bird eye view of Tirana for about 20 minutes. Dajti offers all the possibilities for one-day entertainment and more, comfortable accommodation, quality food in many of the new restaurants, and opportunities for winter sports. You can often do horse riding, even in the winter.
Voskopoja is located about 13 miles (21 km) from Korca. It’s a mountainous village about 3800 ft (1160 m) above sea level. It blows a fresh wind even in the summer, so you can just imagine the winter winds, perfect to form the right layers of snow for professional skiing. Voskopoja is one of the favorite destinations to celebrate Christmas Eve or New Year because restaurants and hotesl offer live folk music and very good food.
Dardha (aka Dardhë, Dardha) is a tourist village about 12 miles (20 km) southeast of Korce, at an altitude of about 4400 ft (1350 m) above sea level. Dardhe is perfect for you! Why? Because you’ll have the whole village to yourself. There aren’t many local people here, except the ones who are fully vested in the tourism industry, such as inn and hotel owners, restaurant owners, and such.
FUN FACT: Dardha, or Dardhe, holds the name of the pear fruit.
Dardha is the dream of every vacationeer who wants to enjoy some alone time away from the crowds.Dardha offers a very healthy climate full of fresh air. Winter sports, especially skiing, attract lots of passionate tourists. Whether you’re a professional or beginner, there’s always a track suitable to you, and lots of opportunities and time to improve.
The Llogara National Park is located about 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Vlora. Many travelers know it by the name Llogara Pass, which is the crossing point of southern beaches and a rest area if you’re traveling from Vlora to the southern part of Albania, like Himara and Saranda. The Llogara Park is actually one of the most beautiful parks in Albania, especially in the winter. You’ll enjoy a few winter adventures in the area, such as air sports, hiking, mountain climbing, etc. And once you’re done with these activities, enjoy the special cuisine of the area.