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Your Ultimate Guide On Best Albania National Parks

Southeast Europe in general and the Balkans in particular are mostly mountainous and woodland regions. Albania, located in the western Balkans, is a completely undiscovered country and is much closer to you due to cheap flights from London to Tirana by Wizzair and Ryanair at prices like 40 Euro for direct round trip in low season. Dense forests cover about 30 percent of the country’s area featuring a lot of wild rivers and a diversity of wildlife with such animals as wolves, bears and lynxes. 

Albania is a relatively small country but its natural location on the shores of the Ionian and Adriatic Seas makes it unique. Moreover, it is crossed by several mountain ranges, such as the Skanderbeg Mountains, the Pindus Mountains and the Albanian Alps. You will find expansive wetlands, large lakes, and picturesque forest-covered valleys there.

Visiting one of the 15 National Parks as well as renting a car in Albania to reach them should definitely be in your to do list. They cover a territory of approximately 210,668 hectares or about 13.65% of the country’s total area.

Such outdoor activities as wildlife watching, landscape photography, cycling, hiking, rafting in Osumi canyon paragliding and rock climbing are immensely popular among both local people and tourists.

Here we have provided a review of the most iconic and attractive of them. Their breathtaking routes are worth considering.

Butrint National Park

Butrint National park is famous as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its great archaeological spots related to ancient Greek and Roman colonies. It is located at a 20 km distance from the sea resort of Saranda - one of the European winter sun destinations.

The area includes ruins and artifacts belonging to different epochs in human history - from the Iron Age to the Middle Ages. You can see an ancient Roman theater, the structures of old city walls, two ancient castles, an enormous basilica, and baptistery. Moreover, the ancient city of Butrint is surrounded by fascinating woodlands where you can encounter different wildlife species, including wolves. 

The National Park features Lake Butrint and the well-known Vivari Channel that connects the lake to the Ionian Sea. Due to many lagoons, rivers, lakes, and channels, the area has become home for various bird species. The wetland is protected under the Ramsar Convention, and it is a paradise for bird-watchers.

You can also visit the rocks of the Ksamil Islands, a part of the national park. Reach the destination by boat and see dolphins on the way.

How to Get to the Park

The coastal city of Saranda can host a lot of visitors, and you will easily get to Butrint National park from there - it is a 30-minute drive. Though, we recommend informing your driver in advance if you want a return trip. You may face a big challenge if you try to call a taxi from the park. The direct bus route is available as well and this ride will take you 45 minutes.

Many tourists who spend their vacation in Corfu, Greece use a ferry to Saranda to get to the park. Mind the difference in time zones, though - Corfu is ahead 1 hour.

Accommodation Near the Park

Here are several options for you:

  • Area Hotel, located not far from the beach in Ksamil. You can explore the Ksamil Islands from there. It’s a great option to get there by taxi boats and visit one of their perfect seafood restaurants. The hotel rooms are equipped with air-conditioning, free WiFi, a flat-screen TV, and a fridge fro your comfortable stay;

  • Villa Hamza Ksamil, is just 650 m from Ksamil Beach, it offers a garden, a terrace and air-conditioned accommodation with a balcony and free WiFi. Fishing can be enjoyed nearby.

You can find the whole list of best Ksamil hotels here.

Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park

Karaburun-Sazan Marine park involves Karaburun Peninsula, coastal waters and the largest island, Sazan. It is a unique marine park, the only one in the country and is situated not far from Vlore in the southwest of Albania. 

The most well-known feature of the park is its underwater wrecked ships dating back to the times of ancient Greek and Roman Empires, as well as to the Second World War. You will see rich marine life with different corals, three turtle species, and, of course, dolphins. You cannot miss scuba diving or snorkeling sessions there. The wildlife is also abundant. It features otters, roe deer, the chamois, and wild boars.

How to Get to the Park

The park is located in the center of the Karaburun Peninsula, at a distance of 37 kilometers from the city of Vlore. 

There are two highways to get there if you go by car. You should go to Orikum, a small town located on the northern border of the park on the sea coast.

Accommodation Near the Park

See the full list of accommodations with 9.5+ rating in Orikum here.

Theth National Park

Theth National park is one of the most well-appreciated parks in Albania. It is located in the middle of the Albanian Alps in the northern part of the country. The beautiful Shala Valley looks great with dense woodlands, stunning mountain peaks, waterfalls, rock structures and rivers all around. The park borders the famous Valbona Valley National Park in the east.

There are several small villages in the valley where you can start your nature trips. A lot of activities are available here, including rock climbing, hiking, kayaking, mountain biking, fishing, and wildlife watching.

The park provides perfect opportunities to observe animals in the wild. You can encounter wild goats, lynxes, golden eagles, and other iconic species here. Sometimes, you can even see a brown bear or gray wolf there. 

How to Get to the Park

To get to Theth National Park, you need to reach Shkoder first. Take a bus from Tirana to Shkoder and then a mini-bus will bring you to the park. 

You can also drive a car there. Though, you need to know how to drive in the mountains because the last part of the road is bumpy, winding, and it runs alongside a deep and dangerous ravine. If you rent a car, it should be safe and reliable, too.

If you are a true adventurer, you can hike to the park from Valbona Valley National Park. You will need to walk a distance of 13 kilometers across the rugged terrain. So, it will take you about 6-8 hours to get there on foot. Valbona - Theth hiking trail is the most popular and well-appreciated hiking trail in Albania.

Accommodation Near the Park

See full list of accommodations in Theth here.

Valbona Valley National Park

Valbona Valley National Park borders Theth National Park in the west and Montenegro in the north. It is located in the north of the country and is known as a perfect destination for hiking trips in the Albanian Alps.

The park features a lot of waterfalls, forested vales, barren land and steep summits, and glacial springs. Gashi River is known as a multi-unit UNESCO Primeval Beech Forests World Heritage Site. Valbona Valley is admired by visitors for its floral diversity, multiple species of wildlife and Albanian traditional food. There are lynxes, gray wolves, brown bears, chamois, and wild goats in the valley, while numerous bird species make the place an attractive destination for bird-watchers.

Among a plenty of various activities, hiking is the most popular one. You can also engage in mountain biking, mountaineering, nature photography and many others. If you like to spend your free time outdoors with your family and friends, the park is waiting for you and your kids.

How to Get to the Park

Valbona is a great place to visit if you travel around southeast Europe. It is located deep in the Accursed Mountains, so you should make some effort to get there either in your car or by public transportation. Don’t be in a hurry when you drive a car. Another option to reach the park is by minibus, the most widely used kind of public transportation in Albania. 

You can also go on a hike between Valbona Valley and Theth. This trek is 13 kilometers long, and it will take you 6-8 hours to get to the final point.

Vjose-Narte Delta Protected Area

The basin of the Vjose River is one of the last intact ecosystems in Europe. The area is 194 square kilometers. It is home for many bird species, and the most tranquil destination for visitors and nature lovers.

The area is located to the north of Vlora. It is the largest coastal wetland in Albania, famous for its biodiversity. The area features the pristine forest and beach, and is also famous for its wine making traditions. The well-known vineyard of the Narta Village is a popular tourist attraction where the best country’s wines are produced.

The great opportunities for ecotourism, namely hiking and birdwatching, as well as cultural tourism in the historic terrains of Zvernec and Treport, attract many visitors. You will have a chance to set up a tent in the wild, go fishing, and admire the beautiful sunset right in the middle of Nature. Sand dunes extending for more than 8 kilometers are also a popular sightseeing destination.

How to Get to the Area

There are two ways to get from Tirana to Vjosa-Narta Protected Area - by bus or by car. From Tirana it takes about 2 hours 50 minutes to get there by bus and about 2 hours if you drive on your own to cover the distance of 150 kilometers.

Accommodation in the Area

The nearest town is Vlore, see accommodation options here.

Dajti National Park

Dajti National Park is one of the most accessible and popular national parks in Europe. It is located in central Albania. You may also find another name for it - Dajti Mountain National Park. It lies to the east of Albania’s capital Tirana. In fact, you can get there by cable car, the Dajti Express, because it is so close to the city that the whole ride will take you about 15 minutes. The overall distance you will cover is 1 kilometer. It is the longest cable ride in the Balkans (and the most picturesque and breathtaking one).

The cable car terminus is a tourist attraction itself. There are restaurants, venues for various activities and several hotels there. You can enjoy the magnificent view of Tirana underneath the terminus. However, the most wonderful views are waiting for you ahead because nothing can compare with fantastic trails leading into the hilly forest. 

How to Get to the Park

The cable car is the most interesting way to reach Dajti. You can also take a bus to Teleferiku from the Clock Tower in Skanderbeg Square. Though, you will have to walk uphill for 5 more minutes when you get off the bus. You can get a taxi to the Dajti Express terminus from every point of the city, too.

To make your trip more adventurous, you can drive or cycle there, moving up Dajti Mountain.

Accommodation Near the Park

Take advantage of Dajti being so close to Tirana and choose one of the best accommodations here.

Llogara National Park

Llogara National Park, Albania, is famous for its variety of scenery - from the bright and sunny coasts of the Ionian Sea to the magnificent peaks of the Ceraunian Mountains. You can enjoy pristine forests, bright green alpine meadows, and dark cliffs while hiking. When you look down, you will see the crowded and busy Albanian Riviera.

The Llogara Pass divides the mountain range into an eastern and western part. When you hike along the pass, you will see white sand of the Ionian coast beaches and the nearby town of Dhermi. You can visit a few restaurants and use a parking lot on the pass.

The most interesting tourist attraction here is Caesar’s Pass. It is a pass in the mountains used by Julius Caesar to chase his enemy Pompeii.

How to Get to the Park

Llogara National Park stretches between the two coastal towns - Saranda and Vlora. You can get there by the highway, crossing Llogara Pass on the way. It is also accessible from Dhermi, one more beach town down the valley.

The best way to explore this area is by car. You can rent a car in one of the towns and enjoy the beauty of the park on your own.

Accommodation Near the Park

Please see accommodation options in Dhermi here and Orikum here.

Rrezoma Reserve

Rrezoma has been a nationally designated area since 1996. Its territory is 14 square kilometers. The reserve was formed to protect its rich flora, fauna, wildlife species’ habitats, and unique landscapes. The destination is great for true nature lovers. It is also well-known for its perfect picturesque hiking trails.

How to Get to the Reserve

The reserve is located near Saranda, Vlore County, on Varfaj-Spot Road. The nearby places are Delvine, Libohove and Gjirokaster. You can get there in your car or take a taxi from Saranda.

Accommodation in the Area

Due to the fact that Rresoma Reserve is located halfway on the road from Saranda to Gjirokaster you can choose between lodging in Saranda here and Gjirokaster here.

Final Thoughts: The Best Time to Visit National Parks in Albania

It goes without saying that April - October is the best time to enjoy the natural beauty and experience unforgettable adventures in the National Parks of Albania. You can enjoy the famous hiking trails, a variety of outdoor activities, interesting historical sites and authentic Albania cuisine.

The mountain parks are also great in spring and autumn. Roaring waterfalls, fast-flowing rivers, and beautiful wildflowers are great in spring, while autumn offers gorgeous foliage in the colorful forest-covered valleys.

Pick out the destination you want to visit and enjoy a great mix of natural wonders and history during your unforgettable trip to Albania for travel emotions that will stay vividly in your memory for many years.