Peaks of the Balkans Trail

Peaks of the Balkans is a Balkan hiking trail that runs through the mountainous regions of Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania. This trail was developed by the national and local tourism organizations and hiking clubs in cooperation with the German Development Cooperation.

Its highest peaks reach over 2300 meters including Jezerca in Albania at 2.694 meters. The Peaks of the Balkans Trail features some of the most magnificent untouched landscapes in the region including old shepherd paths, pristine lakes, twisting rivers, grand waterfalls, and tiny villages tucked into mountain ranges.

Jezerca Mountain in Albania
Image by Alp Venturer

About Peaks of the Balkans Trail

The Peaks of the Balkans Trail includes a circuit of 192 kilometers crossing Montenegro, Kosovo, and Albania.

The best starting points for this trail are:

  1. Theth (Albania)
  2. Plav (Montenegro)
  3. Pejë (Kosovo)

The ending point is Shkoder (Albania).

Some quick facts about Peaks of the Balkans:

  • Lowest elevation: 670 meters (near Cerem, Albania)
  • Highest elevation: 2.290 meters (Dobёrdol, Albania – Milishevc, Kosovo)
  • Cumulative height uphill: ~ 9,800 meters
  • Cumulative height downhill: – ~ 9,900 meters
Peaks of the Balkans trail route map
Image by Peaks of the Balkans

Trail highlights

Although the whole trail features stunning sights, some places worth seeing are:

  • Jezerca, the highest peak on the trail at 2.694 meters
  • Visiko Decani Monastery (UNESCO site)
  • Patriarchate of Peć (UNESCO site)
  • Turkish old town of Gjakova and Prizren (UNESCO sites)
  • Vibrant city of Shkodra with its impressive castle (UNESCO site)
  • Skadar and Koman Lakes
  • The railway line between Belgrade and Montenegrin port Bar
  • Taljanka peak with a view in Grbaja Valley – considered as the most beautiful in ex-Yugoslavia

Some of the highest peaks are:

  • Kolata: 2.534 meters (Montenegro/Albania)
  • Guri i Kuq: 2.522 meters (Kosovo)
  • Jezerca: 2.694 meters (Albania)

Points of interest and highest peaks

Skill levels for Peaks of the Balkans

Peaks of the Balkans level of difficulty ranges from easy to moderate to difficult.

Easy

For those that desire an easy hike, there are comfortable paths where you can journey without a map. VALBONA (ALBANIA) – ÇEREM (ALBANIA) is considered to be an easy part of the trail.

Moderate

The moderate part of the trail includes marked paths and demands basic orientation skills and sure-footedness. Some steep inclines and the risk of falling are possible.

Here are some moderate trail routes:

Difficult

Parts of the trail are categorized as difficult and are reserved for those with excellent orientation skills as the trail lacks no recognizable paths. There are also several highly exposed sections and difficult slopes. Alpine equipment is a must while hiking these parts of the trail.

Grebaje Valley
Image by Mountain Photographer

Accommodation on the trail

The Peaks of the Balkans Trail area is rich with traditional houses along the trail in all three countries. Regional inhabitants are very generous and well known for their hospitality. You can rent a traditional stone house (called “kula”), a mountain hut or room in a small mountain lodge (called “planinarski dom”). It is best to book your accommodation in advance to be sure that you will have a safe place to sleep over.

Here are some places where you can stay overnight:

  1. Theth (Albania)
  2. Valbonё (Albania)
  3. Çerem (Albania)
  4. Dobёrdol (Albania)
  5. Milishevc (Kosovo)
  6. Reka e Allagёs (Kosovo)
  7. Liqinat i Kuçishtёs (Kosovo)
  8. Babino Polje (Montenegro)
  9. Plav (Montenegro)
  10. Vusanje (Montenegro)

If you are an experienced hiker, you might like the idea of wild camping among the route’s area. Be sure that you have all the camping equipment needed and enough warm clothes as it can get quite cold.

Where to find food and drink

Most of the Peaks of the Balkans Trail is made up of uninhabited mountain regions, so it is best to bring your own food and beverages in your backpack. Shops along the trail are sparse, and can only be found in bigger villages or small towns (Pejë, Shkodër).

Some mountain lodges along the trail offer homemade dishes made by local hosts.

Skadar lake on Peaks of the Balkans trail
Image by IBNA

Local mountain guides

It is possible to hire a local mountain guide for individuals and small groups.

Here is the list of available mountain guides for all three countries included in the Peaks of the Balkans Trail (Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro).

Peaks of the Balkans maps and guidebooks

Most of the routes are well marked, but sometimes the markers are not visible. To ensure you don’t miss  the most beautiful points of the route or get lost, buy a guide book for the trail. There is also the Peaks of the Balkans Hiking Map available that includes detailed descriptions of the different trail stages.

All the guide books and maps can be found here. Here is a beginner’s guide to the Peaks of the Balkans trail.

If you want to follow the latest trail news, follow the The Peaks of the Balkans Facebook page.

Want more nature? Check out our guides to all of Croatia’s national parks.

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