Albania is a country in the Balkan peninsula. It was not part of Yugoslavia. It has its own language that is decidedly distinct. The pictures of the mountains looked nice on Google.

In other words, before my visit, I had barely heard of Albania myself. Irrespective, when contemplating a vacation destination from my East Village shower, I resolved to book a flight to Albania later that week. I wanted to go hiking and find novel adventure in immensely organized and familiar continental Europe.

I learned that Albania has a jarring recent history. From 1946 to 1992, Albania was closed in a way roughly identical to present-day North Korea. You were shot if you tried to leave. You were shot if you tried to enter. In effect, dictator Enver Hoxha closed Albania’s borders out of post-World-War-II paranoia, feeling his country was under legitimate and immediate threat of attack. For this reason, he built over 170,000 cement bunkers to protect his people during such an event.

Albania is a country I will revisit. In fact, at the time of writing, I’ll likely return in under two weeks. For now, please enjoy the photos from my first wander through its mountainous north.

The following chronicles four days of hiking from Dragobia to Theth. Included is the famed Valbona to Theth pass. Laterally, I didn’t cover much ground: I would sleep at Point A, ascend high into the mountains the next day, and camp at Point B only a few kilometers down the road.

To do this trek, I was graciously assisted by Zbulo! Discover Albania – an outdoor adventure company offering guided and self-guided adventure trips – who provided detailed day-by-day directions for trails to follow and things to see. Please enjoy the photos, and do keep Albania in mind on your next jaunt through continental Europe.

From an AirBnB in Sarajevo,