Albanian National Parks are with a diverse terrain, suitable for sightseeing, fishing, relaxation, recreation, mountain climbing and winter sports. That offers opportunities for excursions, skiing, sky sports, mountain climbing, etc.
Albania has a total of 14 national parks and a marine park.They cover a surface area of 210,668.48 hectares (2,106.6848 km2) or roughly 6.7% of the overall territory. The national policy for governing and management of the national parks is implemented by the Ministry of Environment of Albania.
The National Park of “Mali Dajtit” (Dajti Mountain) is located to the east of the capital and has an area of 3,300 ha.
A typical feature of the Park is the change of the types of vegetation with the increase in altitude. Mediterranean shrubs and evergreen makia type vegetation grow 300 – 600 meters above the sea level. Oak trees and shrubs grow at 500 (600) – 1,000 (1,300) meters of altitude – an area which is also characterized by a mix of tree varieties. Beech grows at 1,000 – 1,600 meters. The alpine vegetation lies in a limited area at an altitude above 1,600 meters. On the western slope, the forest is composed of 200 years old beech trees. They are precious natural monuments and attractive sights to visit. The beech forest, with its plain layout, enjoys a micro-climate that is very conducive to relaxation and sightseeing. Dajti National Park has a rich, diverse and well-developed animal life. It is an important habitat for the large mammals, such as wild boar, wolf, badger, fox, wild hare, otter, brown bear, bats, etc. Dajti Park is also well frequented by daily visitors. Accommodation for longer stays is available. The Park offers opportunities for excursions, skiing, sky sports, mountain climbing, etc..
National Park of “Thethi” with an area of 2,630 ha, is situated in the Albanian Alps, in the proximity of Bjeshkët e Namuna (Cursed Mountains). It lies 70 km from the city of Shkodra. Thethi River, flowing at 1,000 – 1,300 l/sek., and rich in mountain trout, runs through the Park. The canyon at the ravine of Shkalla e Thethit (Stair of Thethi), an area inhabited by wild doves, is approximately 40 meters high and one meter wide. Grunas cataract is especially picturesque and captivating with water falling from a height of 30 meters.Thethi Park stands apart for its diversity of habitats and kinds of vegetation, mostly beech forests, but also shrubbery dominated by blueberry, as well sub alpine pastureland, dwarf brushwood and alpine undergrowth. Nearly 1,500 types of plants grow in the park. They represent almost half of the varieties that exist in the country. Among the 100 are medicinal plants. Worth mentioning is the presence of the relic tree of Taxus baccata. The fauna of the Thethi Park is diverse too. Twenty types of mammals live there, 50 kinds of nesting birds, almost 10 kinds of reptiles and 8 amphibians. Among the big mammals, you find the bear, wolf, wild goat, and deer. The Park gains importance given that it represents the largest population (50 heads) of bobcats (lynx-lynx) in the country, a species in danger of extinction. The native population is progressively moving to the plains, but they come back during the summer to spend their holidays and make efforts to promote the family tourism.Visitors to the Park can engage in a number of activities, such as mountain climbing, winter sports, fishing, kayaking, speleological expeditions, mountain biking.
National Park of “Lura” with an area of 1,280 ha, is located in the eastern slope of the massif “Kunora e Lurës” (the Crown of Lura). In an altitude of 1,350 – 1,720 meters above the sea level, 14 glacial lakes offer a most picturesque and captivating sight. The most notable among them are: the Big Lake – 32 ha, the Pine tree lake – 13 ha, the Black lake – 8 ha, and the Lake of Flowers – 4 ha. During the winter the lakes freeze. A meadow called the “Filed of Mares” lies in the southern part of the Park. Its diverse vegetation with multicolor flowers and century-old coniferous trees creates a relaxing environment. Lura Park is a potential destination for echo- tourism, winter sports, horse-riding, etc.The Park’s flora is characterized by two tiers: beech and alpine. Coniferous woods are among the richest in variety in the country and unmatched in the whole Europe. One finds also ensembles characterized by two layers of woods. Mountain pinewood, fir, the black pine, more rarely Taxus baccata, and some medicinal plants, like lime-tree, blueberry, roses, etc, grow in the Park besides beech. Among the typical mammals are the bear, wild goat, bobcat, etc.
The National Park “Pisha e Divjakës” (The Pine-Tree of Divjaka), with an area of 1,250 ha, is located 5 km from Divjaka and nearly 40 km from the center of the town of Lushnja. It is part of the ensemble of the Lagoon of Karavasta, an area under the protection of the International Convention of Ramsar from the year 1994. The Park vegetation is mostly coniferous with plants like the wild pine-tree, and less frequently, the cultivated variety. What draws attention is its multilayered character, starting with herbaceous plants to move up to high pine-trees with umbrella-like tops. Besides the coniferous, one encounters also the deciduous varieties like ash, elm-tree, black horn-beam, etc. Divjaka Park constitutes one of the most important ecosystems in the whole of Albania thanks to the rich fauna sustained by numerous and diverse habitats within this ligattinous, coastal ensemble. These habitats are used as winter destinations, for nesting, or migration by many kinds of birds. Observations made so far have recorded 229 kinds. The most characteristic inhabitant is the curly pelican (pelicanus crispus), whose colony represents nearly 6.4% of its population worldwide. Karavasta is the westernmost nesting location of this bird in Europe. Tern, a species under grave danger of extinction, lives in the park too. In Karavasta one meets also, though very rarely, the wild cow. In the Park, the visitors can engage in echo-tourism, blue tourism, hunting, sea-fowl observation, fishing, etc.
The National Park of “Llogara” is situated 40 km to the southeast of the city of Vlora on the border between the Adriatic and Ionian seas. The altitude increases from 470 meters to 2,018 meters. In the proximity of the Pass of Llogara one encounters trees of very unique shapes, a result of wind currents. One such is the “Flag Pine-Tree”, a rare natural monument with scientific and touristic interest. This Park proposes wonderful and captivating landscapes inside, at places of unique character or from vantage points. From the Pass of Caesar (whose name recalls the passage of Julius Caesar through this pass in the year 48 B.C. during his incursion against Pompeii), one can see Karaburun, the entrance to the field of Dukat and the inlet of Orikum. From the Pass of Llogara, the view encompasses sights within 3 km of straight-line distance, including the Ionian sea, a good part of the Albanian Riviera (the villages of Palasa, Dhërmi, Vuno, etc.). The Park is traversed by the national road Vlorë – Himarë – Sarandë as well as by pathways that promote visits by eco tourists. The dominant vegetation is coniferous consisting of the black pine and fir. Juniper and mountain pine-wood also grow there. The environment in Llogara is characterized by heterogeneity, manifested in the variety of trees and plants. Hence, the ecosystem includes numerous habitats that sustain a great number of species, 105 kinds of birds, among which 6 both rare and under danger of extinction. The mammals in the park include the wolf, wild cat, deer, marten, badger, squirrel. The most frequently met mammal is the fox. The Park of Llogara is an important tourist destination, but also a bridge to the Ionian seashore. It is amenable to the promotion of ecotourism, sky sports, excursions, trekking. It is a climacteric location where the mountain air combines with that of the sea. The Park offers accommodation for the enthusiasts of sky sports.
The National Park “Bredhi i Drenovës” (Fir of Drenova), is situated 10 km from the city of Korça and lies against the Mountain of Morava. The Park has an area of 1,380 ha. It is among the closest to residential areas and mostly frequented by the inhabitants of Korça and the surrounding villages, like Drenova, Mborja, Boboshtica, etc. The Park is rich in water springs that remain active throughout the year, a feature that contributes to the frequency of visitors. Most well-known are the spring of Shën Gjergji (Saint George), the Spring of the Old Woman, the Spring of Pilica, the springs of Izvor, the spring of the Bear, etc. The Park is dominated by woods of fir. The black pine and mountain maple also grow there. The fauna of the Park is also very rich and well developed. The populations of the big mammals, such as the bear and wolf are significant from a regional point of view. Observed birds are mainly of the genus Passer. There one finds also a few kinds of woodpeckers. Of particular interest are some relief formations carved by the wind, like “Guri i Capit” (the Stone of Cap), which has the shape resembling a sitting camel. The Park has undeniable potentials for the promotion of ecotourism, winter sports, mountain climbing, excursions, etc.
The National Park of “Lugina e Valbonës” (the Valley of Valbona), with an area of 8,000 ha is considered a miracle of the Albanian Alps. It is located 25 – 30 km from the town of Bajram Curri and lies in between high rugged mountain tops, amidst a fantastic blend of colors in every season, giving it an air of mystery and surprises. It draws enormous interest from a scientific, touristic, and recreational standpoint. Moreover, its biodiversity is significant both nationally and internationally. The high imposing rocky mountains, sides covered by woods, the brooks and Valbona River, create the semblance of a giant crater of gorgeous natural beauty. The waters flow from the slopes of the Mountain of Jezerca (2,693.5 meters), the highest of the Park and the Albanian Alps. Valbona River is the biggest of the Alps, and it flows into the Drino River. Valbona comes down tempestuously from the mountaintops, foaming and noisy due to the steepness of the terrain. Its flow calms down by the village of Valbona (Selimaj) and continues spiritedly towards Dragobia. Its waters are clean, clear and transparent up to one meter deep. Valbona runs through a diverse terrain, suitable for sightseeing, fishing, relaxation, recreation, mountain climbing and winter sports. There are many caverns and caves inside the Park. The best-know is the Cave of Dragobia, which served as shelter for Bajram Curri, a national hero and leader from the area. Besides its unique forests that match the beautiful landscape of the surrounding area, other vegetation in the Park includes the beech, mountain pine-wood, chestnut, walnut, apple, etc.. Whereas the most notable mammals are the brown bear, wolf, wild cat, wild goats, etc.. Valbona River is rich in silver trout. The village of Valbona is the most important touristic center, with several resorts. It has a number of springs with clean, cold and clear waters.An attractive destination for mountain tourism is Ceremi, one of the most mountainous villages in the country, of distinctive beauty, located amidst woods and natural pastures. The valley of Valbona has wonderful and unpolluted scenery. Its configuration, morphology, water resources, woods, pastures, diversity of flowers, the characteristic houses, the generosity and hospitality of the inhabitants create excellent conditions for the development of tourism.
The National Park “Mali i Tomorrit” (the Mountain of Tomorr), with an area of 4,000 ha is situated to the east of the museum-town of Berat. It includes the highest peak for the region of Central and Southern Albania, 2,415.7 meters above the sea level. This is the Mountain of Tomorr, which from afar appears like a gigantic natural citadel. The beauty of the Park is manifest in every season of the year. Caverns and caves have each their own legend. Castle ruins found in the proximity of the Tomorri village testify to the antique history of the region. The territory of the park is traversed by numerous paths and footways. One of them takes the visitor to the Tyrbe of Kulmak (a place of worship), 1,200 meters above the sea level, which houses the tomb of Abaz Aliu. Every year, at the end of August, thousands of people climb to this location in a week-long ritual of the Bektashi sect. Visitors interested in religious traditions would find this pilgrimage of great interest. The Park is endowed by a rich flora and fauna. Typical are beech-only forests or those mixed with mountain pine-wood. The most frequently seen animals are the brown bear, wolf, fox, marten, badger. Visitors can engage in winter sports, mountain climbing, trekking, and pilgrimages.
National Park “Bredhi i Hotovës” (the Fir of Hotova), with an area of 1,200 ha, is situated in the region of Frashër, 35 km to the northeast of the town of Përmet. The characteristics feature of this Park is the fir of Hotova, which is regarded as one of the most important Mediterranean relic plants of the country. The black hornbeam, red and black juniper, raspberry, etc. also grow in it. The Park is shaped like a giant green tiara of visible contrasts, making it very attractive to the eyes of the visitor. The fauna is quite diverse with animals such as the brown bear, wolf, fox, marten, gazelle, wild bear, wild hare, etc..
Thanks to the wonderful and picturesque landscape, the health climate, clean air as well proximity to residential areas, the Park offers opportunities for tourism, ecotourism, camping, excursions, as well as recreation and sports in every season of the year.
National Park of “Qafë Shtamë” (Shtama Pass), with an area of 2,000 ha, is situated 25 km to the northeast of the town of Kruja. The overall scenery of the Park, which has a round shape, is very picturesque. A most attractive sight is the fountain of “Queen Mother”, with very clear and cold waters. This characteristic as well as the natural landscape make this a well-frequented location. A holiday resort lies on the northern border of the Park. The lakes lying close to it, in the northern part, offer good prospects for tourism. The black pine, oak, juniper, and strawberries are representative of the plant life of the Park. Among the animals living in it are the wolf, fox, wild boar, mountain partridge, etc. The Park has a lot of potential for the promotion of ecotourism, health tourism (for the illnesses affecting the respiratory tract), mountain climbing, etc.
National Park “Zall Gjocaj” with an area of approximately 140 km, is situated nearly 40 km to the northeast of the town of Burrel. The overall scenery of the park is very picturesque. The presence of several springs and a network of brooks adds to its beauty. The Park has the typical vegetation of mountainous regions: the black pine and beech. The gigantic old trees of over 150 – 200 years, covered by creepers, moss and fungus, offer a very attractive sight. The brown bear, wolf, fox, wild boar are among the animals that inhabit the Park. These features make the park a potential destination for eco tourists.
The National Park of “Prespa” with an area of 27,750 ha, is located where the national borders of Albania, Greece and Macedonia meet. It is composed of the lakes of Prespa Major and Prespa Minor, as well as their reservoir basin. Prespa stands out for its rich vegetation consisting of nearly 1,500 kinds, 71 of which trees and undergrowth. Its significance is augmented by its fauna with 6 species of mammals, 15 reptilians and 11 fish. The area of Prespa is also one of the richest culturally with the eremite byzantine churches, as well as those post-byzantine; the cave of Tren in the Lake of Prespa Minor where exploration has uncovered signs of a settlement belonging to the early Bronze period; the castle of Trajan, one of the major prehistoric settlements in the area; the protective wall in Zvezde, built in the 8th century B.C.; the church of Saint Mary in the island of Maligrad, erected in the 14th century, etc. This region is considered of great potential for tourism, currently unexploited, considering its geographical position as a nodal link between the three neighboring states. By an agreement signed at the prime ministerial level, the Lake of Prespa Major (the Macedonian part) and that of Prespa Minor (the Greek part) are included in the Balkan Park of Prespa. The area offers many opportunities for the promotion of tourism, ecotourism, recreation, fishing, gathering and selling of medicinal plants, family tourism, observation of sea-fowl, blue tourism, water sports, etc.
National Park “Butrinti” is situated approximately 25 km to the south of the town of Saranda. It has high interest from the scientific, archaeological, touristic, social and recreational standpoint. Its biodiversity is of both national and international significance. The area of the Park is 2,500 ha. The sector Canal of Çuka – inlet and islands of Ksamil is especially appealing and relaxing. The islands are like an oasis of wonderful sights of the sea and land. They are covered by lavish typical Mediterranean vegetation. The antique town of Butrint lies inside one such forest, a true subtropical jungle, dominated by high trees and laurel.
This is an area of particular importance for tourism in Albania, primarily the cultural tourism targeting the antique town of Butrint, protected by UNESCO-s, the blue tourism in Ksamil, ecotourism, water sports, fishing in the lake of Butrint, etc.