Albania is hot right now, in that it’s rapidly racing up to the top of the hiking destination leaderboard. We don’t really think of ourselves as trend setters at The Natural Adventure, however we are a little bit proud that we’ve been bringing hikers to Albania since 2010. So we like to think that we know the best places for adventures as well as the best time to go to Albania. The walking and cycling season is relatively short, mainly due to the omnipresence of the Accursed Mountains (Albanian Alps), which are snow-covered for many months. Albania is also a lot further south than many realise, and so it gets extremely hot in summer at coastal levels. Most of our cooler mountain trips run between June and September, however, with a few keeping their windows open from March until November, so you have some good choices.
Best time to go to Albania for climate
There is a definite north-south divide with Albania’s weather, and the capital city of Tirana acts as a handy dividing point. Valbona National Park, for example, in the heart of the Accursed Mountains, is over 250km north of Tirana. Peshtan, in contrast, which is the starting point for our Southern Albania walking holiday, is 216km south of big city life and at an elevation of 922m. Similarly, Llogara National Park is 200km south of Tirana, and at the heart of our Coastal Albania walking holiday. So, with geographical extremes like these, Albania doesn’t really do generic weather. In fact, Albania doesn’t do generic, period.
Weather in the Albanian Alps
The majority of our walking holidays in Albania take place in the north and are bookable for travel between June and September. Because, while the beaches of the south may be sultry in May, around 23C on average, you can take ten degrees off that in the mountains. You really don’t want to take on the mountain trails in April or early May either, when the snow is melting and everything’s a bit rainy, slushy or grey. By June, the grey has turned to green, especially the beech forests which are flecked with anemones, primulas, violets, Albanian lilies and wild strawberries.
The passes and trails are open and inviting by June, with temperatures averaging around 16C in Theth and 18C in Valbona. In July and August, expect average temperatures of 21 and 22C respectively. During these months, Tirana is around the early thirties, so be prepared for the contrasts. September brings temperatures similar to May, averaging 17C, with a possible contrast of 10 degrees higher in Shkodra, on the border with Montenegro, where many of our Peaks of the Balkans trails set out from. So you will feel the difference after a day or two as you head into the hills.
Weather in southern Albania
Our southern Albanian holidays are available for travel between late March and early June, and then from September to early November, as we don’t think it’s healthy to be hiking in the extreme heat of summer on the coast. Although our walking holiday through the south’s hidden valleys and villages of the Dhembel-Nemercke Range still hits some cooler elevations, it’s much hotter than the northern Accursed Mountains, with temperatures of 30C in July and August. So we give those months a miss, bringing you back to the hills in September, when temperatures dip to an average of 22C.
Our other southern belle is all about the coast, sauntering and swimming in Llogara National Park, in the foothills of the Ceuranian Mountains. This trip also stays clear of the peak summer season when temperatures soar, but in May, for example, the aroma of wild mountain herbs and citrus groves is perfectly piquant, and temperatures of around 23C are divine for taking on hikes to Llogara Pass (1,043m) or Dhjopuri Saddle (1,600m) just beneath Mount Qorre (2,018m). This trip is available for travel between April and June, then September and October.
Best time to walk the High Scardus Trail
Yes, there are even more mountains in Albania, with the High Scardus Trail taking you through the Sharr Mountains in the north-east of the country, which you can do guided or self-guided. Again, there’s a short window for this one, with tours running between June and September, as there is a risk of snow before and after those months. Natural highlights include the wild terrain of Korab-Koritnik Nature Park, home to Mount Korab (2,764m), the highest peak in both Albania and North Macedonia, and natural border between the two. July and August temperatures max out at around 25C, with September and June proffering a soothing 20C during the day on average but they could go to half of that at night.
Best time to go to Albania for cyclists
Cyclists also get to enjoy a longer season on our Albania tours, with this holiday available for travel from mid-march to the end of October. This cycling tour is shared with Albania’s eastern neighbour, North Macedonia, and again you are dealing with milder temperatures in some parts but enough elevations to keep the air cooler in summer, but get the blood pumping as you cycle.
For more gems of information gathered over our many years of natural adventures in the Balkan countries, check out our various blogs, starting off with Bigging up our Balkan holidays. You can dig deeper on the Via Dinarica Trail or find out more about the Peaks of the Balkans Trail.