10 Best National Parks to Visit in Albania in 2023
The countryside in Albania is absolutely spectacular, so it’s no surprise that there are plenty of incredible National Parks in Albania to explore.
Table of Contents
- Best National Parks to Visit in Albania
- 1. Mount Dajti National Park, Tirana
- 2. Valbona Valley National Park, Kukes
- 3. Blue Eye National Park, Sarandë
- 4. Vjosa River National Park, Permet
- 5. Llogara National Park, Vlore
- 6. Butrint National Park, Sarandë
- 7. Fir of Hotova National Park, Permet
- 8. Theth National Park, Theth
- 9. Sazan National Marine Park, Vlore
- 10. Driloni National Park, Pogradec
- Getting Around Albania
- Quick Itineraries for Visiting the Top Parks in Albania
- FAQs About Visiting the National Parks in Albania
- In Conclusion
I spent over 2 months as a digital nomad in Albania, and I loved the natural beauty the country has to enjoy, which isn’t limited to its beautiful coastline. One of the best ways to see some of the best-unspoiled scenery and landscapes is to visit Albania’s national parks.
You’ll see mountains, lush forests and meadows, bright blue springs, and stunning lakes and rivers. It really is a truly special place with surprising diversity.
Best National Parks to Visit in Albania
There are some incredible national parks in Albania. They’re generally very accessible and are home to some spectacular nature. Here are some of my favorite parks:
1. Mount Dajti National Park, Tirana
Dajti National Park is one of the easiest national parks to visit in Albania thanks to its location just outside the capital city of Tirana.
Dajti is served by a cable car, the Djati Ekspres, which takes you up the mountain from the north of Tirana. Once you reach the top of the cable car, you’ll find a tourist complex complete with restaurants, bars, and activities.
From the top of the cable car, you can grab dinner at the beautiful Ballkoni restaurant that has some amazing views back over Tirana. Alternatively, you can head up into the Dajti Mountains to further explore the national park.
There are various marked trails from the tourist complex up into the mountains, with incredible views over the park from the summit of Mount Dajti. I loved being able to escape the city into nature in this beautiful national park in Albania.
Location: Dajti National Park is located to the north of Tirana.
Getting There: From Tirana, you can take a bus or taxi to the Dajti Ekspres cable car or take this half-day hiking tour to Mount Dajti.
Things To Do: Taking the Dajti Ekspres is a highlight in itself. Once at the top, enjoy a drink or some food in Ballkoni restaurant and admire the view. You can go hiking, play mini golf, go paragliding, or mountain biking.
Entrance Fee: Entrance to the park itself is free.
Where to Stay: You can stay in Tirana and I would recommend Art Hotel Tirana.
2. Valbona Valley National Park, Kukes
Valbona Valley National Park is a stunning park located in the famous Albanian Alps in the north of the country. It covers over 800 hectares and is the largest protected area in Albania.
Valbona is one of the best national parks for hiking. It’s home to over 200 kilometers of hiking trails, including the amazing Valbona-Thethi hiking trail which takes trekkers through the Accursed Mountains.
This beautiful national park is packed with rugged terrain, incredible mountain ranges, and the Valbona River with lots of waterfalls to discover. I definitely recommend taking a guide or a tour and spending a few days in this amazing terrain.
Location: Valbona Valley National Park is located 25 kilometers from the city of Bajram Curri.
Getting There: Valbona is a 4.5-hour drive from Tirana, although I recommend taking this great 4-day tour to fully explore Valbona and the surrounding area.
Things To Do: Hiking the Accused Mountains is one of the top hikes in the whole of Albania. Alternatively, explore the waterfalls along the Valbona river or discover the Jezerca Lakes.
Entrance Fee: There’s no entry fee to Valbona Valley National Park.
Where to Stay: Check out Guest House Hyrmet Demushi which is located right on the edge of the park.
3. Blue Eye National Park, Sarandë
The Blue Eye National Park is one of my must-visit national parks in Albania, and stopping by the Blue Eye itself is one of my absolute favorite things to do in Albania.
The Blue Eye is a natural spring of incredibly, blue water. It’s at least 50 meters deep but the pressure of the water rushing to the surface means that divers haven’t been able to explore any further below.
The national park itself is full of beautiful woodland and lots of flora and fauna. The highlight is absolutely the Blue Eye, which can be accessed by a gentle walk through the park. Bathe in the cold water of the Blue Eye spring and gaze in wonder at the incredible color of the water and the tropical jungle vibes.
Location: The Blue Eye National Park is located 30 minutes from Sarandë.
Getting There: You can rent a car or scooter and drive from nearby Sarandë or Ksamil. Alternatively, take the Sarandë to Gjirokastër bus and ask the driver to drop you at the Blue Eye, which is a 30-minute walk from the bus stop.
Things To Do: Hiking up to the Blue Eye is the highlight. I would definitely combine a trip to the Blue Eye with a visit to nearby Butrint National Park. Combine both with this great day tour from Sarandë.
Entrance Fee: Entry is 100 LEK ($0.95 USD) which is payable as you enter the park.
Where to Stay: I would recommend staying in the nearby town of Sarandë. House of A&Arwen is a beautiful hotel close to Sarandë Beach.
4. Vjosa River National Park, Permet
Vjosa River has just been confirmed as a national park in Albania, making it the first wild river national park in Europe.
This national park is located in Permet, not far from the beautiful city of Gjirokastër. It’s packed full of breathtaking hills, historic bridges, hidden ruins, and the amazing Lengarica Canyon.
For adrenaline junkies, I definitely recommend rafting the Vjosa River. It’s an action-packed ride with plenty of rapids to navigate as well as swimming spots and rocks to jump from. It’s a unique way to explore the first wild river in Europe and a lot of fun.
If you’re visiting Gjirokastër, make time to visit one of my favorite national parks in Albania – you won’t be disappointed!
Location: Vjosa River National Park extends along the river itself and so can be accessed from many points along the river.
Getting There: I recommend taking a tour from nearby Permet as the best way to get to the heart of this sprawling national park. You can head to a meeting point or request pickup.
Things To Do: There are some incredible hikes in Vjosa as well as white water rafting and horseback riding.
Entrance Fee: None.
Where to Stay: Funky Guest House operates some amazing tours into Vjosa National Park and is a great place to stay.
5. Llogara National Park, Vlore
The Llogara National Park is located high up in the Albania Riviera, with majestic views over the Ionian Sea.
Llogara is one of the most spectacular national parks in Albania, home to plenty of hiking trails offering stunning views over the ocean in one direction and vertical cliffs and mountain passes in the other.
The park is named after the Llogara pass, which itself is an incredible hiking trail with pristine forests and alpine meadows along the route. From the pass, you’ll be able to see the nearby coastal town of Dhermi and the white sands beyond.
Location: Llogara National Park is located on the Albanian Riviera between Vlore and Sarandë.
Getting There: Llogara is easily accessed by car from either Vlore, Sarandë, or the nearby beach town of Dhermi.
Things To Do: Hike the Llogara Pass which divides the national park, or set off in search of Caesar’s pass, which Julius Caesar is rumored to have ventured through.
Entrance Fee: None.
Where to Stay: Head to Llogara Tourist Village which has a sauna, Turkish baths, an indoor pool, and excellent access to Llogara National Park.
6. Butrint National Park, Sarandë
Butrint is one of the most historic national parks in Albania. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to arguably the best archaeological site in the Balkans.
The ancient city of Butrint was originally a Greek Polis before it became a Roman city. It was of significant importance to the Roman Empire and was visited by Julius Caesar himself.
Inside the city, you’ll find the excavated amphitheater and Great Basilica, as well as the later Venetian castle and many other remnants from its long and fascinating history.
Outside the city, the remainder of the national park comprises 95 square kilometers of lakes, forests, and wetlands with over 1,200 species of flora and fauna to discover.
It’s no wonder that Butrint is one of the top national parks in Albania for locals and tourists alike.
Location: Butrint National Park is located in the county of Vlore and is only 30 minutes from Sarandë.
Getting There: Either hire a car or take the bus from Sarandë ferry port to Butrint which departs every 30 minutes. Alternatively, take this excellent half-day tour from Sarandë.
Things To Do: Exploring the ancient city of Butrint is the top attraction here. Throughout the rest of the park, check out Venetian Triangular Castle or take a boat to Ali Pasha Castle.
Entrance Fee: To enter the ancient city of Butrint, tickets are 1,000 LEK per person ($9.50 USD).
Where to Stay: I definitely recommend staying in nearby Sarandë. Yacht Villa Apartment is located right on the promenade and offers stunning sea views.
7. Fir of Hotova National Park, Permet
Hotova is the largest of the national parks in Albania and is located in the county of Gjirokastër in the south of the country.
The park takes its name from the native Hotova Fir tree, which covers most of the park. The forests present excellent walking trails and are home to lots of wildlife including red foxes, gray wolves, and even brown bears.
I love spending time in Hotove and one of the best ways is on horseback. You can cover so much ground and find yourselves all alone in nature in the middle of one of the most beautiful national parks in Albania. This amazing half-day tour is tailored to any riding ability and is such a peaceful way to explore the park, I highly recommend adding this to your itinerary!
Location: Hotova National Park is located close to the town of Permet, in Gjirokastër county.
Getting There: It’s around a 2.5-hour drive from Sarandë and 2 hours from Gjirokastër. I would recommend staying in Permet to explore the park.
Things To Do: White water rafting and horseback riding tours are two of the most popular things to do. For a more tranquil day, hiking and trekking routes are plentiful in Hotove.
Entrance Fee: None.
Where to Stay: Hotove is close to Vjosa National Park and I would again recommend Funky Guest House which runs tours and day trips into both Vjosa and Hotove National Parks.
8. Theth National Park, Theth
Theth National Park is located in the north of the country, lying in the heart of the stunning Albanian Alps.
It encompasses the Shala Valley and is an outdoor paradise. Theth has everything you need for some incredible hiking; from waterfalls and rock formations to dense forests and impressive rivers.
Theth is one of the best national parks in Albania for finding some amazing wildlife. It’s home to wild goats, golden eagles, and the biggest population of lynx in Albania. There are also a number of small villages hidden along the Shala Valley which make excellent bases for exploring this amazing national park.
Location: Theth National Park is located 1 hour and 45 minutes north of Shkodër, which is the nearest city to the park.
Getting There: There’s one road from Shkodër to Theth, although it gets a little bumpy at the end, so hire a solid car. Or you can hike the 13 kilometers from Valbona Valley National Park to Theth National Park.
Things To Do: Theth is an outdoor lovers’ dream with hiking and mountain biking trails, fishing, kayaking, rock climbing, and wildlife watching among the many amazing things to do here.
Entrance Fee: None.
Where to Stay: There are lots of great places to stay along the Shala Valley. My favorite spot is Royal Land.
9. Sazan National Marine Park, Vlore
Sazan is the only marine national park in Albania. It’s accessible from Vlore, in the Albanian Riviera, and protects almost 2 kilometers of sea and coast off the mainland.
Within Sazan National Park, the main attraction is Sazan Island itself, which is the largest island in Albania. It’s accessible by boat from Vlore and boasts incredibly clear, blue seas. Deep in these waters are some awesome shipwrecks that can be dived, dating all the way back to Roman times.
You’ll also find some amazing marine life here including dolphins, sea turtles, and beautiful corals. If you love life under the sea, Sazan is one of the best places for snorkeling and diving in Albania.
Location: Sazan Marine National Park is located on the Karaburan Peninsula, which is 37 kilometers south of Vlore. Sazan Island is 40–50 minutes by boat from Vlore.
Getting There: You can drive to the Karaburan Peninsula part of the park from Vlore. Alternatively, take a boat trip from Vlore to visit Sazan Island.
Things To Do: Explore Sazan Island itself, go snorkeling or diving to explore the marine life and the shipwrecks, or search out land-based wildlife, including deer and otters.
Entrance Fee: None.
Where to Stay: Karaburan Sunset Beach is an amazing beachside hotel located very close to the Karaburan peninsula.
10. Driloni National Park, Pogradec
Driloni National Park is a beautiful park located on the edge of the stunning Lake Ohrid in the east of the country.
Lake Ohrid is one of the world’s oldest lakes and is one of the most popular destinations in the Balkans. It’s located on the border between Albania and Macedonia.
On the Albanian side of the southern bank is Driloni National Park. It’s one of the smaller national parks in Albania and is a great place to visit if you’re staying in nearby Pogradec. The river Drilon flows through the middle of Driloni supplying 20% of the water of Lake Ohrid.
It’s a beautiful spot for a stroll and to stop at the many cafes and restaurants located throughout its grounds. It’s more of a social park than a hiker’s paradise, but I think it’s a lovely spot to escape into nature nonetheless.
Location: Driloni National Park is located 10 minutes from Pogradec on the southern banks of Lake Ohrid.
Getting There: Walk or take a taxi from Pogradec, or stop in if you’re driving over the border from Albania to the popular summer destination of Ohrid.
Things To Do: Explore the park and order a coffee from one of the local cafes. Explore nearby Pogradec and stroll the banks of the impressive Lake Ohrid. Alternatively, do all 3 and visit Korca on this excellent day tour from Tirana.
Entrance Fee: None.
Where to Stay: Stay in nearby Pogradec. I recommend the stunning Nesti Hotel, which has a private beach on the banks of Lake Ohrid – it’s really special here.
Getting Around Albania
The best way to visit the incredible national parks in Albania is either by car or by bus. There’s a limited train service in Albania but this isn’t particularly quick or reliable.
For short trips from major cities, local buses are a good option. For example, you can take the local bus to Blue Eye or Butrint National Parks from Sarandë.
To reach the more remote national parks, I recommend hiring a car. They’re inexpensive and readily available in all major cities and airports. Be sure to spend a day or two at these national parks to really embrace the stunning nature on offer.
If you’re short on time, there are some incredible day tours from Tirana, Sarandë, and Permet to many of the best national parks in Albania.
Quick Itineraries for Visiting the Top Parks in Albania
Here are a few simple itineraries to follow when visiting the national parks:
3 Days in Albania
If you’re visiting Tirana for 3 days, you’ll likely arrive in the capital, Tirana. From here, you can easily visit Djati National Park which is located just outside the city itself.
If you want to venture further afield, this amazing day tour from Tirana will take you to the Shala River in Theth National Park. You’ll hike through the park and take a small boat onto Lake Koman.
One Week in Albania
If you have a week in Albania then you have various options from Tirana.
If you want to explore as many national parks in Albania as possible, then combine the 3-day itinerary above with a move to Sarandë or Ksamil. Aside from staying at a beachside destination, you’ll have easy access to Butrint and Blue Eye National Parks.
If you prefer to immerse yourself in a more rural location, consider this magical 4-day tour from Tirana. You’ll take in Theth and Valbona National Parks and many stone houses and ancient pathways in between. The tour includes all food and accommodation and provides total immersion into the Albanian countryside.
10+ Days in Albania
With 10 days, you’ll have plenty of time to visit the best national parks in Albania. Start with the 3-day itinerary above and then move to Sarandë, as suggested in the one-week itinerary, to take in the Blue Eye and Butrint.
Next, move on to the stunning stone Ottoman city of Gjirokaster. As well as being a magical place in its own right, it’s also well located to visit the Vjosa River and Hotove National Parks.
FAQs About Visiting the National Parks in Albania
Answers to some commonly asked questions about visiting the parks and reserves in Albania:
There are 14 national parks in Albania in total. Combined, they cover 813 square miles and over 6% of the country.
If you love hiking, then Valbona Valley National Park is the best national park in Albania. It offers stunning hikes through the Accursed Mountains. For those that love ancient history, check out Butrint National Park.
All the national parks in Albania are free to enter. There’s a charge in Butrint National Park if you want to enter the archaeological site of Butrint itself (which I absolutely recommend).
Fir of Hotove National Park is the largest of Albania’s parks. It covers over 132 square miles.
Valbona Valley National Park is the best national park in Albania for hiking. You can trek through the Albanian Alps and the Accused Mountains, and even hike from one national park to another (Valbona Valley to Theth).
Albania’s National Parks showcase what a truly beautiful, and totally underrated country this really is. In terms of wildlife, landscapes, and nature, it has it all. From national marine parks to those in the mountains with hidden springs and waterfalls, you’ll be caught off guard by the beauty on offer here.
I hope this post helps you plan which of my favorite National Parks in Albania to visit during your own trip!