The Peaks of the Balkans is a spectacular hiking trail that winds its way through the Balkan countries of Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. The route traditionally begins in the mountain village of Theth, Albania, and is completed over 10 stages.
Along the way hikers will traverse the remote Accursed Mountains and visit charming hamlets, stay at friendly guesthouses, and experience the best of one of Europe’s least visited regions.
We’ve created this Peaks of the Balkans map guide to provide an overview and introduction to hiking the Peak of the Balkans Trail. Included you’ll find in-depth maps and navigational resources to help you begin planning for this incredible trek.
In this Guide
- Where is the Peaks of the Balkans Trail?
- Interactive Peaks of the Balkans map
- How long is the Peaks of the Balkans Trail?
- Peaks of the Balkans Elevation Profile
- Which maps should I carry on the Peaks of the Balkans Trail?
- Peaks of the Balkans GPS/GPX
Where is the Peaks of the Balkans Trail?
The Peaks of the Balkans is located in the mountainous border region of Albania, Kosovo, and Montenegro. The largest town on the route is Plav in Montenegro, although several other villages along the route have decent access to the region. These include Theth in Albania, and both Rekë e Allagës & Milishevc in Kosovo, which can both be accessed from Pejë.
The route is traditionally hiked in the anti-clockwise direction, with most hikers opting to begin in either Theth, Albania, or Plav, Montenegro. The terrain is mountainous throughout, so hikers should be prepared for strenuous days high in the mountains.
The traditional stages of the Peaks of the Balkans are as follows:
- Stage 1: Theth to Valbona
- Stage 2: Valbona to Çeremi
- Stage 3: Çeremi to Dobërdol
- Stage 4: Dobërdol to Milishevc
- Stage 5: Milishevc to Rekë e Allagës
- Stage 6: Rekë e Allagës to Drelaj
- Stage 7: Drelaj/Restaurant Te Liqeni to Babino Polje
- Stage 8: Babino Polje to Plav
- Stage 9: Plav to Vusanje
- Stage 10: Vusanje to Theth
In addition to the standard route shown above, there are also a few popular alternate trails along the route:
- The high route over Proslopit Pass between Valbona and Çeremi
- Connecting from Drelaj to Restaurant Te Liqeni and skipping a long section of road walking
To help visualize these 10 stages, we created the Peaks of the Balkans virtual fly-through video below. Give it a watch to get a sense of the route, terrain, and what you can expect!
Highlights of the Peaks of the Balkans trail include the crossing of Valbona Pass, visiting the remote summer settlement of Dobërdol, and trekking through the stunning Ropojana Valley.
Hikers will stay at traditional guesthouses along the route which provide accommodation, meals, and the wonderful experience of meeting the locals who call these mountains home. Camping is also possible along the trail, with most, if not all, guesthouses permitting tents
Interactive Peaks of the Balkans map
The interactive Peaks of the Balkans map below will allow you to zoom in on the various stages as well as view the traditional stops along the route.
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How long is the Peaks of the Balkans?
The exact distance of the Peaks of the Balkans trail will vary depending on the exact route your choose to take. If you walk the entire length of the trail, including the road section between Drelaj and Restaurant Te Liqeni, plan on walking approximately 181 kilometers.
The segment between Drelaj and Te Liqeni is just over 13 km, so if you cut out that section you’ll walk a still impressive 168 kilometers.
However, the exact distance of the walk will have very little practical value for the average walkers. In the end, you’ll of course end up walking a bit further given the opportunity for short detours to nearby peaks or a stroll into the local village.
While it may not be important to know the exact distance of the walk down the last kilometer, it is a good idea of have a sense of the distance of each stage on the Peaks of the Balkans trail. This will help you prepare for the walk, plan your itinerary, and provide valuable information to all walkers.
The map below does just that, showing the distance in kilometers for each of the standard stages on the route. Use this map to help plan your own route and remember that the distances listed don’t include any detours or side trips!
Peaks of the Balkans Elevation Profile
The Peaks of the Balkans trail has just over 10,500 meters of elevation gain and it winds its way through the Accursed Mountains. That is nothing to sneeze at, and ends up averaging out to over 1,000 m of elevation gain per day for those taking 10 days to hike the trail.
Although the elevation gain isn’t perfectly spread out across the entire hike, each stage on the Peaks of the Balkans does have at least some climbing to contend with. There are a few stages that will give your weary legs a rest, such as from Milishevc to Rekë e Allagës, but in general you should be prepared for each stage to have a good climb.
The most difficult day in terms of elevation gain is likely one of two stages: the first from Theth to Valbona, or the ninth stage from Plav to Vusanje. These have an added degree of difficulty as they are the most likely stages to be your first day on the trail as well, depending on whether you start in Plav or Theth!
For more information on what each stage is like in terms of total elevation gain and loss, take a look at the Peaks of the Balkans elevation profile below. You’ll be able to get a sense of what the various climbs on the route are like, and how they compare to other stages on the walk.
For those not familiar with reading an elevation profile, you’ll find elevation on the left (y-axis), and distance on the bottom (x-axis). Each blue dot on the route corresponds with a stop along the walk, with the stop name listed at the top.
The steepness of the line between any two points reflects the steepness of the trail for that particular stage. The distance between the two points shows the length of the stage.
Which maps should I carry on the Peaks of the Balkans?
Without discouraging you it is important to note that navigating on the Peaks of the Balkans trail is….difficult.
To say the least.
Don’t let that fact dissuade you from hiking the trail, but do make sure that you are prepared with the proper navigational tools. Paper maps are nearly useless for the route, as the trail seems to be constantly evolving.
One year the trail may meander through a meadow, and the next you may find that same trail has been paved over with an asphalt road. Such is the nature of a hiking trail in a rapidly developing region.
There are a few specific sections on the Peaks of the Balkans that can be especially difficult to navigate:
- The second half of the stage between Dobërdol to Milishevc: We ended up staying high on a ridge and then descending to the village of Roshkodol before continuing on to Dobërdol. No one else on the trail that day seemed to have an easy time find their way either!
- The pass immediately after Milishevc: This was one where you have a general sense of where you’re going, but there isn’t a clearly delineated trail to follow.
- The descent into Babino Polje: The guidebook and most maps described a direct route into Babino Polje, but a local farmer seems to have revoked access. Instead, we ended up detouring the opposite direction before crossing a stream and then following the road to Babino Polje.
To help navigate these sections, and the countless others where wayfinding is difficult, our recommendation is to bring either a dedicated GPS unit or to have a GPS app downloaded on your phone.
Of the two options, we recommend simply downloading a GPS app to your phone. This will allow you to download an offline map that you can consult to see your location, the trail, and your next stop on the route.
Our favorite app for outdoor navigation is Gaia GPS. Gaia offers an array of basemaps, is easy to use, and works well on both Android and iOS. You’ll need the premium version to download offline maps, but that is well worth it to be able to understand where you are on the trail and what is around you.
You can get 20% off an annual Gaia GPS Premium subscription here.
If you want to learn how to create your own Peaks of the Balkans route and itinerary, navigate with offline maps on your phone, and take control of your trip planning, check out our comprehensive GPS Route Making & Navigation course!
Peaks of the Balkans GPS/GPX
Stay tuned! We’re working on creating a downloadable GPS route for the Peaks of the Balkans to help you navigate on the trail.
Check back here soon for updates!
Have a great adventure!
We hope this post has given you all the information you need to get a basic overview of the Peaks of the Balkans Trail. Let us know your questions or comments below and check out our additional resources for this incredible trek: