Ten Weird and Wonderful Things to Do in Batumi

If you’re into quirky tourist attractions the Batumi, Georgia is your place. This city is full of unique and bizarre things to see. Read on for a list of weird and wonderful things to do in Batumi.

Batumi was our first stop in Georgia and our first few days in the country constantly left us with a big question mark hanging over our heads. Being a lover of strange attractions (and an avid follower of Atlas Obscura) Batumi left me impressed and bemused in equal amounts. There are so many odd things to do in Batumi that try and slip past as ‘normal tourist attraction’ or everyday parts of the city.

Batumi is very walkable and lots of cool things to see aren’t necessarily on a map, so walking is the best way to see the city. We had four days in Batumi in October but two of them were filled with torrential rain so we spent a lot of time indoors. During the summer months, Batumi is a busy, beach town for (mostly) Russian tourists. I imagine the vibe is quite different during this time and the lack of tourists while we were there gave the city an even stranger feel.

Despite its oddities, or because of them, we really enjoyed Batumi. It should definitely be a stop on your Georgian travel itinerary so make sure you plan a couple of days here and check out these bizarre attractions of Batumi.

Quick Facts About Batumi

Population: 153,000

Currency: Georgian Lari (GEL) (€1 ≈ 3GEL)

Where to Stay: We had a wonderful stay at Lemon Tree Guest House. Perfect for budget travellers! Really friendly hosts, comfortable room, free laundry and only €9 per night for a private room with ensuite!

If you’re looking for something a little more upmarket try searching for a flat in the city like this one. You'll get something for under €20 per night or have the option to splash out on some luxury. 

Things to do in Batumi

Europe Square

Batumi Georgia Europe Square-min.JPG

This is the centre of the city and displays an eclectic mix of architecture. Statues, palm trees, a casino and an astronomical clock, what more do you want in a square? There are colourful and decorative buildings as well as historic and modern ones all visible from this one square. It’s very representative of Batumi itself. A great place to start your walk in Batumi.

Alphabetic Tower

Along Batumi’s waterfront you’ll find all kinds of interesting sights. One of the biggest is the ‘Alphabetic Tower’. A huge cylindrical building is meant to look like a helix of DNA. Wrapped around the building is the entire Georgian alphabet which to any non-Georgian looks like some artistic, squiggly code. The building is lit up at night in true party fashion. The letters are lit up and the disco-ball style top changes colours and light patterns. Quite a sight to see in the day or night.

Batumi Georgia Alphabet Tower-min.JPG

You can take a lift to the disco-ball at the top and enjoy some not-so-picturesque views of the giant hotels along the coast. But for a novelty experience, you can eat dinner in the restaurant which rotates while you sit. We went to a bar that did this in Tirana and it was pretty cool!

Ali and Nino Statue

A sculpture inspired by a book you say? I’m there! The novel I’m still trying to get my hands on but is meant to be the Georgian/Azeri version of Romeo and Juliet. Set in Baku it tells the story of a Muslim Azeri boy and a Christian Georgian girl in their struggle to be together.

Ali and Nino statue things to do in batumi Georgia

The giant metal figures of Ali and Nino stand just under the Alphabetic Tower. By day they’re kind of just big metal people but by night… they’re superheroes! Not really, but they are very cool lit up. At 7 pm they start moving slowly towards each other. The sculpture is designed so that each person is made up of sheets of metal which pass through each other as they touch. Showing the story of Ali and Nino never being quite able to be together. Romance and tragedy all shown through giant moving metal people. A definite must-see!

We’ve heard that the moving schedule can be a bit erratic. We were there one rainy night and they were doing their thing. But there’s been reports that they don’t every night. It just adds to the mystery and weirdness of it all. One movement cycle takes around five minutes.

Check out the book here. 

Ferris Wheel/Cable Car

If views are your thing then there are a couple of novelty ways to see the city. As well as the Alphabetic Tower there is the giant Ferris wheel on the waterfront. It costs 3GEL for a ride and takes about 10 minutes to complete a round. And, sticking with the disco lighting theme, at night it displays colourful patterns. When we were in Batumi in October the lights were going but the Ferris wheel was closed at night but we have heard of other people going on after dark. Maybe in the summer?

Georgia Batumi by Night-min.JPG

The other option is the cable car. We also skipped this due to weather conditions i.e not being able to see the actual cable car. But on a clear day, I’m sure the views are great. It costs 10GEL for a return trip.

Love Statues

love statues batumi georgia

Batumi is the city of love. I don’t think it’s any kind of official name but all throughout the city you’ll find statues dedicated to love. Our favourites were the ones featuring giant red hearts, including a man playing golf with a heart. There’s a few along the waterfront and we spotted some others in random parks green areas around the city.

 Batumi Mc Donalds

The Batumi McDonalds was named one of the world’s best buildings in 2013. It looks like some kind of futuristic, space, laser, shiny thingy. Inside there is (ironically) a whole collection of displays with words like ‘healthy’ ‘energy’ and ‘meat’. Along with some fake carrots in a glass display cabinet. I almost felt motivated to buy something.

Batumi Georgia MC Donalds Building-min.JPG

There’s an indoor garden seating area which is supposed to offset the fumes from the petrol station that sits under part of the building….yea see what I mean about the question marks?!

Mobility Scooter Ride

In case you hadn’t figured it out yet, the waterfront is where it’s at! Not in a ‘cool, hip place to be’ way. Just in a ‘that’s where most things are located’ kind of way. So instead of wasting time walking along this strip, you can hire any number of transport options. There were bikes, 4-person pedal cars and our personal favourite… mobility scooters.

They come complete with a driver at the front and a 2-person seat at the back. So you can sit back, relax and see the boulevard from the perspective of an elderly woman with hip problems!

Ferris Wheel Building

This was one of the more bizarre stories we read. The building stands in the middle of town and is immediately recognisable as one of the tallest in the Batumi skyline. It was originally built as the Technological University and has a Ferris wheel built into the side! But that’s not even the weird part…

Spot the weird Ferris wheel in the building! 

Spot the weird Ferris wheel in the building! 

The building had technical difficulties (maybe they really needed a Technological University!) and now sits empty in Batumi. No one wants to cough up the money to turn it into anything, likely a hotel, so it’s just there looking totally weird.

Abandoned Hotels

Batumi Georgia Abandoned Building-min.JPG

Walking through many Eastern European cities we came across abandoned buildings but the sheer number and size of the ones in Batumi really blew us away. Giant hotel complexes lay empty right on the beach front. On a cold, rainy day it gave the city a bit of a spooky feel!

Batumi Botanical Gardens

The Batumi Botanical Gardens were a highlight of our stay. We decided to visit them on our way out of town and almost bypassed them but turned in at the last minute. They’re not such a crazy idea in themselves, although the Georgians do love botanical gardens and have one in every city. But the Batumi ones have one of the widest varieties of flora in the world. The sections are arranged into different continents and they even have a New Zealand section!

Botanical Garden Batumi Georgia-min.jpg

My other favourite parts were the Mexican succulent garden and the Japanese garden. Max was very impressed by the giant eucalyptus trees. For a bonus weird activity, you can camp in the grounds! If the weather was better we definitely would have done this. The sign said 15GEL for a camping spot but we weren’t sure if this was on top of the entrance fee (8GEL per person).

For all things weird and wonderful Batumi is the place to be. Add some affordable prices, delicious Georgian food and easy access to the rest of Georgia and you have a recipe for a top destination. You might end up wondering what on earth you’re doing there but you’ll be thoroughly entertained, amused and awe-struck in the process.

This post contains affiliate links. This means if you book or buy something through one of the link we will make small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for the support!

Read about the most quirky and wonderful things to do in Batumi. Georgia's Black Sea beach destination. #georgia #batumi #blacksea

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Exploring Kutaisi, Gelati and Motsameta

Exploring Kutaisi, Gelati and Motsameta

Kutaisi is a slow paced little city in the middle of Georgia. It’s about halfway between Batumi and Tbilisi and is the third largest city in Georgia. This is about things to do in Kutaisi and instructions for walking from Gelati Monastery to Motsameta Monastery.

Kutaisi, as with most of Georgia, is filled with beautiful churches and is generally pretty easy on the eyes. We stayed here for 3 days with a day trip to Gelati and Motsameta monasteries which was definitely a highlight.

Five Things to Do in Kutaisi

Wander the Market

top things to do in kutaisi visit the kutaisi bazaar

There is a busy local market sprawling through a main bazaar and out into the surrounding streets. You can find everything from reading glasses to walnuts. There some great little bakeries (rooms with an oven and old woman with a rolling pin) where you can get a cheap snack while you wander.

 

Visit Bargati Cathedral

Bargati Cathedral in Kutaisi

Perched on the top a hill overlooking the town this is worth a walk up to. The church itself is impressive if you’re not already suffering from church overindulgence (a real affliction in Georgia). But the views of the city also make it a top spot to enjoy the sunset.

 

See the Colchis Fountain

Colchis fountain in the middle of kutaisi, georgia. 

The fountain in the middle of a giant roundabout in the centre of the city. The centre piece is an armoured horse because who doesn’t need a big one of those in the middle of town. Surrounding it is an army of smaller animals chilling in the water. It also gets lit up at night.

 

Visit the Kutaisi Botanical Gardens

kutaisi botanical gardens top things to do kutaisi

We visited the amazing ones in Batumi so were keen to see these too. Unfortunately they were ‘closed’ when we got there. By this I mean there were definitely people inside but all we could get out of the woman at the ticket office was ‘no!’. Not sure where we went wrong but if you can get yourself into this VIP zone it looks like a lovely place for a wander. There’s also supposed to be a chapel in the trunk of an ancient oak tree (this was 90% of our reason for going.)

 

Get Lost in the Old Town

Kutaisi, Georgia old town houses

Kutaisi has so many beautiful but rundown houses. Walking around was really interesting and if you have a love of house renovation this is your playground! Almost every place comes with an adorable balcony and some grape vines growing along it. We seriously considered investing in Georgian property!

 

Where to Eat in Kutaisi

We had a really nice meal at Papavero. This place also had an amazing interior. However, the service was poor and they mysteriously added about 6GEL to various items on our bill.

restaurants in kutaisi where to eat

So we found a place a little more our style. A busy local place called Baraqa. No nonsense, cheap prices and good local food. They even had a picture menu for us clueless foreigners who can’t distinguish different types of Georgian food.

There weren’t many cafes in Kutaisi but the couple we did find where great. Tea House Foe Foe is a cosy café filled with books and arm chairs. They do all kids of speciality teas and a range of other drinks and food.

Our cafe kutaisi, georgia. cafes in kutaisi

Our Café was just that. We spent an entire day here working, drinking Georgian wine, eating cheese, sipping coffee and enjoying the amazing décor. Definite Middle Eastern vibes with lots of tiles, carpets and lamps. Lovely staff and a very relaxed atmosphere. Bottle of wine was €4! How could we refuse?!

A Day Trip to Gelati and Mostsameta Monastery

After several days of cats and dogs kinda rain we rejoiced at the sign of a sunny day and decided to get outdoors. We opted for public transport to Gelati, walking from Gelati to Motsameta and then public transport back to Kutaisi. It’s possible to walk all of these parts but only along the main road which isn’t exactly a top hiking route.

How to get to Gelati

So we started with a marshrutka (a rundown minivan used as a shared taxi) from this point. Tourist information told us they leave at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 4pm and 6pm and Max was one satisfied German when ours rolled up bang on 11am! The sign at the front of the van say ‘Gelati Monastery’ in English and in case that wasn’t clear enough, it also has a picture. The journey takes about 20 minutes and costs 1GEL (about 30c). You pay the driver as you leave.

Gelati Monastery inside 

The Gelati Monastery has been under construction for at least 18 months and doesn’t look like finishing anytime soon (we were there in Oct 2017). But as we all know ‘it’s what’s on the inside that counts’ and Gelati has the insides of a super model. It’s free to enter, women need to cover their knees, shoulders and hair. There are some headscarves at the entrance.

walking from Gelati to Motsameta Monastery

The easiest option for walking from Gelati Monastery to Motsameta Monastery is to head back down to the main road and walk along to the turn off for Motsameta (around 3km). But we opted for the scenic route which went like this; as you exit the monastery grounds take an immediate right past the graveyard. There’s a signpost (in English) to some other churches, feel free to go and visit them, I’ll wait right here....

Walking to Motsameta from Gelati
walk from gelati to motsameta monastery georgia

We didn’t go but if you did let us know if it was worth it! Anyway, take a right down the hill. The path the whole way is fairly obvious but if you’re ever in doubt make sure you’re heading down. At the first major split take the left path demonstrated for you by Max here.

Once you reach the houses just follow the road downwards passing a range of animals until you meet the main road. Turn left and cross the river, keep going until you reach the supermarket on your left. They have a great range (3) of ice creams from about 20 years ago. So go on, treat yourself! Take the path just past the supermarket with a sign to the hostel.

Here's what the paths looks like (minus the rainbow magic, that was something on the lense!)

walking to motsameta monastery from gelati monastery georgia

Follow this path uphill until you reach the train tracks and follow them to the left. We read that the train tracks were ‘disused’ but evidence suggests otherwise…

train motsameta monastery georgia

However, you won’t see much train traffic and they give you (or more likely the neighbourhood cows) fair warning with some loud whistles. There are areas to walk on the side of the tracks but we found the ‘straight down the middle’ method most effective.

You’ll see the monastery on the left of the tracks. And, if you happen to be there on a weekend, you’ll be alerted to the path by the constant stream of wedding parties heading to the monastery, drones at the ready.

walking from Gelati monastery to motsameta monastery along the train tracks

You’ll see the monastery on the left of the tracks. And, if you happen to be there on a weekend, you’ll be alerted to the path by the constant stream of wedding parties heading to the monastery, drones at the ready.

If Gelati Monastery is all beauty on the inside, Motsameta is all about the external features. No scaffolding to be seen on this baby and it has surrounding views befitting of a nature documentary. We were even treated to the sword play and singing as one of the many bridal parties entered the monastery. The walk from Gelati to Motsameta takes around 45 minutes.

Motsameta monastery georgia how to get there

Motsameta to kutaisi

To get back to Kutaisi, simply follow the road back to the main road (1.8km) and wait at the petrol station (across the road to your left) for any marshrutka . They all go to Kutaisi. We waited about four minutes for one but if it’s a slow day you could try hitchhiking.

A day trip to Gelati and Motsameta Monasteries was definitely a highlight of our time in Kutaisi and we’re glad we made the most of a sunny day as we work to torrential rain the next day, seems to be a thing in October. We’re also glad we saw these two before being monastery and churched out. There’s a lot of them in Georgia and so far these are our two favourites.

Interested in the beauty of central Georgia? Read about exploring the region around Kutaisi, including a description of a walk between Gelati Monastery and Motsameta Monastery. #georgia #kutaisi #gelatimonastery #motsametamonastery 
Interested in the beauty of central Georgia? Read about exploring the region around Kutaisi, including a description of a walk between Gelati Monastery and Motsameta Monastery. #georgia #kutaisi #gelatimonastery #motsametamonastery

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Visiting Sofia on a Budget

Three Days in Sofia on a Budget

Visiting Sofia on a budget is not a very difficult task if you’re coming from the States or Western Europe. But we had been travelling through the Balkans for a while and the cross back into the European Union was evident in our daily spending.

In general, Sofia is very affordable but after the budget paradises of Albania and Macedonia, we had to be a little savvier to stay within our daily budget. We still had a great time in this wonderful capital city but we did find some cheap and free things that left our savings feeling better at the end.

visiting Sofia on a budget

We spent an average of €52 per day for two people including all food, accommodation, transport and activities. So to help you out with your planning here are our tips for visiting Sofia on a budget.

Cheap Accommodation in Sofia

We found good, budget accommodation in Sofia hard to come by. The prices were, on average, higher than the other Balkan cities and the standards were not very high. If you’re travelling solo a dorm bed is still the most economical option and a place like Hostel Mostel offers some great, money-saving bonuses like free dinner, breakfast and beer!

The view from Hotel Gorna Banya

The view from Hotel Gorna Banya

Our value find was outside the city centre at Hotel Gorna Bania. It was €18 for an ensuite twin room. The hotel itself was a bit run down but the room was comfortable and clean. There is a bus to the city centre about 100m from the hotel and it takes around 30 minutes. It costs 80c per person so remember to factor that into your budget if you’ll be going back and forth a lot.

We had no luck with Couchsurfing across all of the Balkans (except a great experience in Ljubljana) but perhaps further in advance, it would have been possible.

Free Things to do in Sofia

Take a free tour

Sofia is a brilliant city for wandering so if you’re on a budget you can easily spend a day walking to all the sites. If you want more information about them take a free walking tour where a local guide will tell you plenty of interesting stories while taking you on a 3-hour walk through the city. It is expected that you give a tip (of your choice) at the end of the tour.

Sofia has really got involved in the free (or tip based) tour offers and there are now an amazing variety of alternativ to see Sofia and surrounding areas for free.

Balkan Bites Food Tour – This is an amazing free food tour where you visit 5 local food establishments and sample their specialities. The brilliant tour guides will tell you all about the history of food in Bulgaria and answer any questions you have about the city. This tour was one of our favourite things we did in Sofia.

free food tour sofia on a budget balkan bites

It starts at 2pm by the statue of Stefan Stambolov in Park Crystal. You don't need to reserve but there are limited places so show up around 15 minutes early. Our guides turned people away as the tour was full! More info on their website

Communism Tour- This is run by the same company and offers an interesting and fun tour teaching you about life in the communist era. It also includes a Trabi car ride! Every Saturday and Sunday at 10am meeting outside Starbucks. More info on their website

Graffiti Tour – Yip, free again. This one shows you all the awesome street art in Sofia and explains the stories behind it. Starts at 6pm from the Sveta Sofia statue on Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Here's their website

Free Cycling Tours – This one isn’t really free unless you brought a bike with you. But they have a special deal if you take the tour. It’s just €5 to hire a bike for the duration on the tour which takes you all through Sofia’s green areas. A cool way to see the city on a sunny day. 

free bike tour sofia bulgaria

The tour starts at 11am every day April-October and meets an the National Theatre. There is also a second one each day during the summer months at various times. Check their website for more details. 

Free Hiking Tour – This is a full day tour (5 hours) and gives you the chance to see some amazing views from the mountains just outside the city. It starts at the National Theatre at 11am and takes you to the Boyana Church, waterfall and lake. It's 8km long so not super challenging but bring good walking shoes and some water! 

Visit the churches in sofia

alexander nevsky sofia.jpg

There are lots of amazing churches in Sofia and the Alexander Nevsky Cathedral is one of the most impressive. It’s also free to enter!

Central public mineral baths

free things to do in sofia on a budget

In the centre of town is this huge building which is pretty impressive in itself. Unfortunately it no longer functions as a public baths but it is now the Sofia History Museum. All around it are fountains with locals filling up large containers. Now this spectacle is not unusual in the Balkans where fountains are dotted around most cities with fresh drinking water. But the water in coming from these fountains is hot and said to be really good for you. It comes for geothermal springs under the city. Many elderly who can’t afford to buy bottled water come here to fill their tanks. You can also see a person or two taking a wash!

Visit a Museum of art gallery

Many museums in Sofia have one day per month when they are free are so check out if it coincides with your visit. Or if art is more your vibe you’re in luck! The Sofia Art Gallery is free all day erryday! (except Mondays when it’s closed.)

free things to do in sofia

If you’re not there on the chosen free day of the month you can get a bit of history for free at the Serdica metro station. Take the stairs down from the street and you’ll see all of the ruins from the old East Gate of Serdica, Roman ruins from the 6th century, on display. There is plenty to see throughout the station and it really feels like you’re in a museum until a crowd of locals off the latest metro come pacing past on their way to work. I'm not really a history person but I love weird things and ancient ruins displayed in the middle of a metro station is just the kind of odd attraction I can get on board with...especially if it's free! 

The elephant bookshop

bookshop sofia.JPG

Take a browse in this funky little bookshop. Looking is free right?! They have a great range of English books, gifts and souvenirs. While you're there pick up a copy of the Sofia Cartoon Map (free) which has some really cool recommendations on it. 

Places to Eat in Sofia on a Budget

We found the presence of large, cheap supermarkets really exciting after a month in Albania. Had we stayed any longer we would have made use of this and found an Airbnb and hostel where we could cook. But since we mostly cook in the van we decided to treat ourselves.

cheap food in sofia

The main budget eat in Sofia is pizza slices and around lunch time you’ll see queues of locals at these small stalls purchasing a slice for €1. It’s a quick, easy and cheap lunch on the go. There are also lots of small bakeries with a variety of delicious pastry goods laid out to choose from. You probably know about our love affair with burek and in Sofia we could indulge our cravings easily.

We started our first day with a traditional Bulgarian breakfast at Mekitsa e kaffee. This is also a stop on the Balkan Bites tour. Mekitsa is basically a fried bread usually topped with icing sugar. But at this little café you can choose any number of sweet or savoury options and have a delicious (is somewhat unhealthy) meal for €1-3.

mekitsa in sofia cheap food

On recommendation from Maria of 203 Travel Challenges we had dinner at an authentically local restaurant, Mate Krachme Sam Doydoh, which was really good value for money. From the outside it looks a little like an abandoned building but inside it is a cute little restaurant filled with a few locals. Two meals and beers cost us €12. It's a bit difficult to find so use this google location.

local restaurant sofia on a budget

For a bit of a splash out we decided to try a place called ‘The Little Things’. This ended up being the best food we had had on our trip so far! It’s all made from fresh, locally sourced ingredients. But what made it even better was the awesome surroundings. The restaurant is in a house and each room is set up with different furniture and décor. We ate in the ‘library’ and had amazing home-made hummus, a salad with bacon and blue cheese and some insanely good white chocolate Bailey’s chocolate mousse for dessert. We turned up early and were lucky enough to snag a table before a reservation showed up but it’s best to book in advance. A meal for two with drinks was around €20.

the little things restaurant sofia-min.jpg

Getting Around Sofia

Luckily for budget travellers central Sofia is very walkable. We walked everywhere in our three days in the city and had no problems getting everywhere. But if you’re going further afield public transport is very affordable- 80c for a single trip.

public transport sofia-min.JPG

There are bike hire options in the city and it costs around €10 per day.

There is one daily public bus to the Rila Monastery which cost €11 return per person. It leaves at 10.20am from the West Bus Station. We didn't go here but we read about it and you might be able to find a cheaper deal with a taxi if you travel as a group. It looks pretty spectacular! 

rila monastery sofia

Sofia is a great place for a city break or a stop on a longer trip through the Balkans. Whether you’re used to Western European prices or trying to travel the world on a shoestring like us, visiting Sofia on a budget is doable and enjoyable!

This post contains affiliate links. If you book accommodation through one of the links we make a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thanks for your support!

Tips for travelling to Sofia on a budget. Free things to do, cheap places to eat and budget accommodation in Sofia, Bulgaria. This guide will tell you everything you need to know for enjoying Sofia on a budget! #sofia #bulgaria #budgettravel
Tips for travelling to Sofia on a budget. Free things to do, cheap places to eat and budget accommodation in Sofia, Bulgaria. This guide will tell you everything you need to know for enjoying Sofia on a budget! #sofia #bulgaria #budgettravel

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The Best Campgrounds in the Balkans

Camping in the Balkans is a really good accommodation option because of the plethora of amazing spots to enjoy the outdoors. On our road trip, we did a lot of wild camping, sleeping by beautiful beaches, lakes, rivers and the odd car park. But even though we had the basic essentials for cooking and washing in the van we also liked to treat ourselves to a night or two (or three if it was awesome) at a campground to have a proper shower and wash our clothes! Yea luxury! 

We stayed at few where we would have preferred to be wild camping in a car park but we won't mention them here. Because here we give you the gorgeous, comfortable and relaxed campgrounds of the Balkans. Ones that will have you booking extra nights and instagramming your new chill spot.  

The Best Campgrounds in the Balkans

 

Camping Rino, Lake Ohrid, Macedonia

At Camping Rino they take their slogan 'Feel Like Home' very seriously. From free coffee brought to your van every morning (even in the rain) to helpful advice, friendly smiles and a cosy camping environment you'll never want to leave. All that and they have a stunning location right on the banks of Lake Ohrid. 

best campgrounds in the balkans Macedonia camping rino

There is a small areas for swimming in the lake but it was a bit chilly by the time we arrived at the end of the season. We were able to do plenty of sitting back and admiring the views with our morning coffee though! The food in the restaurant is really affordable and delicious. There are hot showers and reliable wifi that reached to the van - heaven! 

Per night: €10 (plus free coffee)

Laundry: €4 (they wash, dry and fold it for you)

Website: https://campingrino.com/

 

Camping Legjenda, Shkoder, Albania

This place was such a great find! It was absolute luxury but on a backpackers budget. A really peaceful camping area with great toilet, shower, kitchen and hangout facilities. There is a great restaurant onsite but the crowning feature is the amazing pool! The perfect place to be on a hot Albanian day. We were there in September and it was still hot enough to swim every day. 

Best camp grounds in Albania Camping Legjenda Shkoder

Camping Legjenda is named after the legend of Rofaza Castle which sits upon the hill looking over the campground. You can see the story depicted on the walls of the restaurant. There are also cabins and rooms if you want to ditch the van/tent for a couple of nights of luxury. 

Linda and her family are so friendly and will help you out with booking whatever you need if you're planning on heading to Theth or Komani. They also have great ideas for places to visit in Shkoder and nearby. If you'll be there for a few days (and trust us you'll want to be!) then check out our Shkoder City Guide

Per night: €15

Laundry: €3.50 (to use machine)

Website: https://www.campinglegjenda.com/ 

 

Auto kamp Blagaj, Blagaj, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This campground is located just 12km from Mostar so is a great base if you want to explore the area but don't want to pay the hiked up tourist prices of the Mostar old town. It's set right on the river and there's plenty of nice seating to relax. The river is a chill 10°C so it's great for a quick dip on a hot day (it was 42°C when we were there!) But we couldn't stay in the water more than 30 seconds without going numb! Certainly refreshing though. They also have kayaks you can use for free.

auto camp blagaj bosnia.jpg

The family who run the campground are super friendly and you get a free welcome drink when you arrive. They also serve free fruit platters every morning and you can order other food and coffee.  

Per night: €15

Laundry: unknown

Website: http://www.autocamp-blagaj.com/en/index.php

 

Kamp Tura, Vipava Valley, Slovenia

This was officially the most expensive campground of our trip. But we put this down to the generally more expensive prices of Slovenia and the fact that it was peak season. 

best campgrounds in slovenia kamp tura

It was a small, well-run campground and was really well located for exploring. There are lots of great hikes in the area and the village of Vipava is super cute. We hiked up one of the mountains and over the other side to a great local restaurant for lunch, ask one of the staff to give you directions. 

Per night: €25

Laundry: Machine available but I didn't note the price. 

Website: http://www.kamp-tura.si/en/campsite

 

Ethno household Luković, Nova Varos, Serbia

We found this place by accident while searching for a wild camping spot. There were plenty of wild camping options around but we opted to 'splash out' on a shower and the hope of some wifi. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there is no wifi here. Just some cows and a few houses. 

best campgrounds in the balkans Serbia

There are some small cabins you can rent or camping is anywhere on the fields surrounding the house. The lake is around a 20 minute walk away and the owners will organise a tour to see the meanders of the Uvac river for €10 per person. This is meant to be beautiful but we got blessed with our first cloudy day so decided against it. This place is really isolated and peaceful and has beautiful views. 

Per night: €14

Laundry: Machine available, ask for price

Website: http://zlataretnouvac.rs/en/

 

Auto camp kod Boce, Durmitor National Park, Montenegro

This was the cheapest campground of our trip, just €7.20 per night! And right in the heart of the Durmitor National Park. Good toilet and shower facilities although the showers are solar powered so don't go too late or you'll be left with cold water! 

campground Durmitor national park best campgrounds in the balkans

There are kitchen facilities, cabins for rent and some temperamental wifi. It's a great location for exploring the Black Lake and hiking the surrounding areas. We were there in August and it was really cold in the evenings so you'll need your warm layers! 

Per night: €7.20

Laundry: Nothing available but perhaps they would do it for you on request

Website: http://www.kampkodboce.me/

 

Autocamp Naluka, Bay of Kotor, Montenegro

The Bay of Kotor is hugely popular and not nearly as cheap as the rest of Montenegro (check out our tips for visiting Kotor on a budget.) But this campground is in a really chilled little area of the bay, right around the other side from Kotor. There is a little beach and while the campground was full while we were there it still had a relaxed vibe. 

campgrounds bay of kotor camping in the balkans

There is a river running next to the campground and the nicest spots are situated with river access. There are a good amount of showers and toilets which are clean and have hot water. Good wifi and some small shops nearby.

Per night: €20

Laundry: None 

Website: http://www.campnaluka.com/en

 

B&B Skadar Lake Murici, Lake Skadar, Montenegro

This was quite out of the way but a great spot right on the lake. The lake was really dry when we were there but we did manage a quick dip and also hired a kayak from the campground to go out to see the monastery on the island. 

campground lake skadar best campgrounds in the balkans

The campground is basic but has everything you need including a nice (but pricey) restaurant, good wifi and a warm shower. They also have rooms but at €50 a night this wasn't worth it for us. You can wild camp on the lake just before the campground so if you don't need a shower then this is a good option. The restaurant is open to everyone so you can get dinner and some internet instead of paying the €20 for the night. 

Per night: €20

Laundry: Possibly on request but no facilities for public use.

Address (no website): Virpazar Murici bb, Bar 81305, Montenegro

 

Other Campgrounds in the Balkans

We also came across or researched a few other campgrounds along the way which were either full or we decided to wild camp nearby. 

Camping Sunset, Ksamil, Albania

This was right in the South of Albania and we used their bar and wifi while wild camping nearby. The campground looked small and relaxed. There is a really beautiful little beach nearby. I overheard the pricing as €10 per night for two people. 

Website: https://en.camping.info/albania/albania/sunset-camping-ksamil-26734

 

Camp Zlatorog, Lake Bohinj, Slovenia

This was full when we arrived at the lake so I suggest booking ahead in the peak season. But it looked like a really nice campground in a great location right on the lake. Beautiful views and peaceful surroundings. 

Website: http://www.camp-bohinj.si/si/o-avtokampu/kamp

 

Camp Moskato, Himara, Albania

We made the mistake of staying a night at the campground further along the road (Camp Kranea) and would not recommend it. We then spent a couple of days wild camping on the beach. But this place looked really nice and the owner seemed very friendly. They had a restaurant and it is across the road from one of the nicest beaches we found in Albania. 

Website: https://en.camping.info/albania/albania/camping-moskato-26417

 

Front Line Stay, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

This one is located on a hill overlooking Sarajevo and seems like a great location to enjoy the city. It's small so gets booked up quickly in the summer. It also has a guesthouse with rooms. If you need more convincing to go to Bosnia and Herzegovina read some reasons to go. 

Website: http://front-budget-stay.business.site/

There are lots of other great campgrounds in the Balkans which don't have websites and aren't on google maps. So don't feel you need to have everywhere booked in advance. Just keep rolling and you'll stumble upon some great places to stay. And if not, find a spot to wild camp for the night and enjoy some beautiful nature with no one else around! 

We had a complimentary stay at some of the campgrounds mentioned above but all opinions and reviews are our own and we made sure to research and find places we would usually stay at. They were all as wonderful as we say! 

Planning a road trip through the Balkans? Useful reviews on 12 of the best campgrounds all over the Balkans. Read about the best campgrounds in the Balkans to help you plan your road trip itinerary. #camping #vanlife #campgrounds #roadtrip 

Tirana City Guide: Everything You Need to Know

Quick Facts About Tirana

Population: Around 1.5 million

Currency: Albanian Lek. Around 133L to €1

Language: Albanian. In Tirana most people spoke at least basic English and many of the older generation spoke German. 

Connections: Tirana is well connected by bus to Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia. You can also fly there from most major airports. 

tirana things to do. City views from sky tower tirana

Accommodation in Tirana

We had a really comfortable stay at Central Tirana Apartment. It was very well located, clean and affordable. The hosts were incredibly friendly and helpful and the room had everything we needed to relax after a busy day seeing the sights in Tirana. 

We found couchsurfing quite difficult across all the Balkans but if you apply further in advance you might have some luck! 

There are also some good hostels in Tirana and it costs around €6-10 for a bed in a dorm. 

Things to do in Tirana

Visit the old Soviet Pyramid

Pyramid in tirana things to do

This was originally built to house a museum dedicated to Enver Hohxa but after the fall of communism it was abandoned. The building sits in the middle of Tirana and has been used as several other things such as television studios but now it just sits. It's a funky building but nobody really knows what to do with it. So for now it makes a weird tourist attraction and great slide! Climbing to the top is doable in decent shoes or bare feet. It's pretty steep though! 

Learn about Albania's History at Bunk'Art

Musuems in Tirana a guide to the city

Another slightly weird but also awesome thing to do in Tirana is head out to an abandoned bunker and learn about Albania's history. It costs 500L (around €4.50) to enter but this was actually a museum I don't regret paying for. Some of the rooms are set up with relics from the time of Hoxha including his office and bedroom. There are also a range of exhibitions spanning the last 100ish years in Albania. There's some random art display's dotted around too.

The bunker is (obviously) underground and has long dark corridors with small rooms coming off. It's spooky and a bit chilly. I didn't love it down there but found it really interesting. Think twice about going if you're claustrophobic or with young kids. 

Take the cable car up mount Dajti

Coty guide Tirana taking the cable car

This is right next to BUNK'ART so it makes sense to do both of these in the same day. The Dajti Express Cable Car takes around 15 minutes and has some amazing views of the city. At the top there is a hotel and a restaurant. This is meant to be a good area to hike for the day and enjoy the views. We decided to eat and enjoy the views! 

We had a decent meal at the restaurant. It was a little more expensive than places in the city but still Balkan budget prices. A meal for two with drinks cost us €20. We were there quite early to enjoy the sunset views. The Dajti express costs 600L return per person and the last one goes at around 9pm but double check this on their site as it changes depending on the season.

Take a Free walking TOur

A walking tour is a great way to get to know a city and nothings beats free when you're travelling on a budget! The Tirana tour is really interesting as much of the history is really recent and there are plenty of intriguing places to stop around the city. It's also great to have a local to ask all your burning questions to like, 'Why are there bunkers everywhere?!'

See the views from the Sky tower

Sky tower things to do in tirana

This is one of my favourite novelty attractions of all time. At the top of the sky tower (take the lift to the restaurant and walk up the stairs) is a bar with awesome views of the city. And.....it rotates! How cool is that?! Sit there with a beer or a coffee and see a whole 360° view of Tirana from above without getting out of your seat. 

A full rotation takes about an hour and a beer will set you back €2.50. 

Spot the electric box street art and colourful buildings

street art in tirana

This is a great project which involves every electrical box in the city being painted with some kind of cartoon or famous person. There are literally hundreds so make sure to look out for them as you walk around the city. I spent my whole day trying to spot as many as I could. 

There are also lots of colourful buildings in Tirana. This was started by the mayor who was also an artist in an attempt to jazz up the old soviet buildings. Walking along the banks of the river you'll be sure to spot a few! 

marvel at Skanderbeg Square

central square things to see in tirana

This is the central plaza of Tirana and you'll no doubt pass through here at some point during your stay. It is home to the National Historical Museum, the Opera, the Et'hem Bey Mosque and the Skanderbeg monument dedicated to the Albanian nobleman who resisted the Ottomans. 

Places to Eat in Tirana

There are plenty of great cafes and restaurants in Tirana so you want have trouble finding a place to eat. The Blloku area is the best place to wander and find a nice place to eat or have a drink at a hip bar. 

Where to eat in tirana albania

For something special you can't miss Mullixhiu. This traditional Albanian restaurant offers amazing food in a gorgeous, cosy restaurant in the park. Everything is freshly prepared from local, organic produce and tastes delicious! They even bake their own bread onsite. I thoroughly recommend the degustation menu which involves 8 courses for just €15! We even got some bonus courses as the chef was trying out some new recipes. It was a really fun, delicious and great value meal. 

Mt Dijat Tirana-min.JPG

If you're heading up Mt Dajti Ballkoni Dajtit Restaurant is worth a visit just for its amazing views! It also serves good, traditional Albanian food. Try the baked meat and cheese dishes which are like a casserole, warm and filling. 

chocolate cafe tirana-min.JPG

For a sweet treat head to Cioccolat Italiani Cafe which makes amazing chocolate products. All kinds speciality coffees, gelato, waffles and crepes all with rich, Italian chocolate. It's a chocolate lovers (me!) paradise. 

Public Transport in Tirana

The city centre of Tirana is very easy to cover by walking but for some sights you'll need to get a bit further out. Taxis are very affordable but being budget travellers we checked out the public transport options. 

Buses

The public buses in Tirana seemed to work fine. It was just 40L per ticket and the network covered everywhere we needed to go. 

Bikes

bike hire tirana-min.JPG

Tirana has recently introduced a public bike hire system similar to city bikes in London or other large cities. There are various stations located around the city. Every station is manned by a staff member and all you need is some form of ID. It costs 60L per hour and you must return your bike to the same station you rented it from (to collect your ID). 

Driving

We don't recommend driving in Tirana if you can help it. We made sure to find accommodation with free parking and drove straight there. We didn't move the van again until it was time to leave. There's a lot of traffic and Albanian drivers are known to be a little crazy. It's much easier and safer just to walk! 

Day Trips from Tirana

Tirana is well located for day trips if you're stretched for time or don't want to move around too much. Although Albania has so much to offer you should really consider seeing more of the country! If you need more inspiration check out all the awesome things to do in Albania

Durres

day trips from tirana visit durres

Durres is a small city just 30 minutes drive from Tirana. There are a couple of sights to see in the city such as the Roman amphitheatre but the beaches are the real draw card. There is a waterfront walkway in the city but south of Durres is a long stretch of sandy beach perfect for a break from the city. 

Shkoder

day trips from tirana visit shkoder

This is around a two hour drive or three hour bus trip from Tirana. People usually stay here before heading onwards to hike in the Albanian Alps. But there are plenty of things to do in the city for a day. We loved the castle! Read our city guide for more ideas. 

Berat

visit berat from tirana day trip

We didn't make it here due to the route we took along the coast. But the 'city of windows' is a popular day trip from Tirana. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and can easily be wandered around in a day. 

Lake Ohrid

visit lake ohrid from tirana

This is possible as a day trip but it'd be a long one. I'd suggest at least staying overnight in Ohrid. It's about a 2-3 hour drive between the two cities and sometimes the border crossing can take a while. But Ohrid is beautiful and the old town is a lovely place to spend a day wandering and visiting some of the hundreds of churches! 

So whether you're spending a day or a week in this city you now know all the awesome things to do in Tirana. Hopefully you've left some time to explore other parts of this amazing country too. But if not, you'll just have to come back again!

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Tirana City Guide! Everything you need to know about public transport, things to do, places to eat and day trips from Tirana. #tirana #albania #cityguide 
Tirana City Guide! Everything you need to know about public transport, things to do, places to eat and day trips from Tirana. #tirana #albania #cityguide

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Twenty Awesome Things You Need to do in Albania

Awesome Things to do in Albania

Oh Albania! Like the other Balkan countries we had really only heard about Albania's political history and didn't hold high expectations. But I can now safely say it is one of my favourite countries and I can't speak highly enough of all the fabulous things to do in Albania. 

The nature in Albania is phenomenal including mountain ranges, rivers, lakes and some of the most beautiful beaches in the world (yip I said it!) Top that off with a couple of quirky cities, UNESCO world heritage old towns and ridiculously affordable prices and you've got the stuff dreams are made of... or just really great holiday destinations. 

We (accidentally) spent four weeks here on our Balkan road trip and wanted to show you all the variety of awesome things to do in Albania. So here are the must-do things on a trip to Albania

1. Hike Theth to Valbona

top things to do in Albania

Who knew the Albanian Alps were an incredible spot for some challenging but rewarding hikes? Not us! Until we were invited by some other bloggers to join them on this adventure. The hike from Theth to Valbona takes 6-8 hours and has some of the most gorgeous scenery we've seen on our travels. Check out everything you need to know about the hike here

2. Visit Rozafa Castle in Shkoder

what to see in Albania

The city of Shkoder is definitely worth visiting for a day or two and the castle is the highlight of the city. Stunning views and amazing history, it's the place to be if you're in the area. If you have a few days check out our Shkoder city guide

3. Drink a Beer in a Rotating Bar in Tirana

what to do in Albania. Things to see in tirana albania

Yes you read right, have a beer whilst rotating a full 360° to see the views of Tirana from all angles. The Sky Tower bar is open all day but sunset is a magical time to sit and be gently rotated. 

4. Visit a Museum in an Abandoned Bunker

bunkart museum tirana top things to do in albania

You'll never run out of quirky things to do in Albania but visiting BUNK'ART in Tirana is a must. Originally one of the many bunkers built by dictator Hohxa, this is now a museum all about the history of Albania. It's kind of creepy but really interesting and very informative. They've even opened a second one in the city. 

5. Take a Cable to See the Best Views of Tirana

cable car up dajti mountain top things to see in albania

Just outside the city is Mount Dajti with some pretty awesome views over the city. There's plenty of hiking in the area or you can take the lazy man's option like we did and get the cable car to the top. The restaurant up there has some decent food and more than decent sunset views. 

For more ideas for great things to do in Tirana check out our Tirana city guide

6. Wild Camp on Albania's Most Beautiful Beaches

wild camping on the beach in albania best things to do in albania

We planned to spend a week on the Albanian coast but ended spending over two weeks. We were there right at the end of the season (September) and found ourselves alone on many of the beaches. Wild camping is legal in Albania and we found so many amazing (and a couple not so amazing) spots to spend a couple of days. If you're looking for a place to camp have a look at our favourite spots in Albania

7. Visit Beaches You Can Only Walk to

best beaches in albania what to do in albania

Along the coast of Albania there are plenty of larger beaches with hotels and restaurants. While these are great beaches and worthy of their popularity we also found some more secluded ones that required a bit of a walk to get to. The walk obviously put enough people off to make them much quieter and totally epic places to spend the day. Our favourites were Gijipe Beach and the little bay we found north of Livadh beach. 

8. Visit Berat, the City of a Thousand Windows

visit berat top places to see in albania

We didn't actually make it here as it was going to add a good few kms to our journey and we had to skip on something. But we've heard really good things about the town and it's definitely on our list for next time. It's possible to visit Berat as a day trip from Tirana. 

9. See the Flat Stone Roofs of the Gijrokaster Old Town

visit Gijrokaster best places to visit in albania

This is a UNESCO world heritage site and is an adorable little town. The old town dates back to around the 17th century and is known for its stone buildings. Even the roofs are impressively made from layers of flat stone. The castle has amazing views of the town and landscape beyond. There are also a bunch of cute cafes and restaurants in the streets of the old town. 

10. Soak in the Benja Hot Springs

thermal pools in albania top things to do in albania

We came across these by accident and wow was it a great find! Around 6km up a winding road from the small town of Permet, you get to a river with an ancient bridge and some (man made) pools formed by layers of stones. The water is a pleasantly warm temperature and is heated by the geothermal activity beneath the ground. The smell in the area is not so appealing and is caused by the sulphur in the earth. But you quickly get used to it as you bathe with fantastic views. It's 200L ( around €1.50) for 2 people and car parking. You can also camp at the thermal pools overnight. 

11. Experience the views and small villages while driving through the country

driving in albania best places to see in albania

Albania is an amazing place for road tripping. The roads vary a lot and there are often potholes, one lane roads and a variety of animals and farm machinery on the roads. So don't plan on getting anywhere in a hurry. But if you have the time you'll find yourself driving past some very impressive views and being stared at by local farmers and children as they go about their daily business. 

12. Eat Burek (for breakfast, lunch and dinner)

food in albania what to do in albania

This wonder-food is available all through the Balkans (in varying shapes) and pretty much became a staple of our daily diet in the 3 months we were there. It's basically pastry filled with with meat, cheese or spinach. Simple, delicious and cheap (around 70c). You'll find it in bakeries all over Albania.

13. Swim in Crystal Clear Waters

best places to visit in albania

We had heard the beaches of Albania were nice but didn't really know what to expect. But just...wow! I don't think I've ever seen water so clear and I've been to Fiji, Cuba and the Greek Islands. You can't look at this water without wanting to dive straight in. So that's what we did everyday! 

14. Eat at Least Ten Different Types of Trilece

tri lece albania.jpg

We were actually introduced to this dessert in Montenegro but are lead to believe it's an Albania speciality. Basically a light, spongy cake soaked in milk or cream and topped with a layer of caramel. Every restaurant, bakery and Albanian grandmother has their own recipe for the milk mixture and the caramel to cake ratio so make sure you try a few!  

*This is the only time one stayed around long enough to be photographed. It's not the most photogenic dessert but it tastes really great! 

15. Eat Some Delicious, Fresh Seafood at Really Cheap Prices

things to do in albania eating seafood

Yip, coast means there's fish and Albania means it's cheap! We ate at a variety of restaurants along the coast and every time the seafood was fresh and delicious. An average meal was around €5-10 including a drink and a side dish. 

16. Visit the First School in Albania in the City of Korce

Best things to do in albania visit albania's first school korce

Korce was a forced stop for us on the way to Macedonia but we ended up really loving it. There's enough attractions to keep you busy for a couple of days and there are lots of great places to eat. One of the more interesting attractions was Albania's first school which is now The National Education Museum. Being a teacher this obviously appealed to me. It was first opened in 1878 and aimed to teach both boys and girls the Albanian language. 

17. See the View over Korce from a Random Tower

Also in Korce is a very random looking tower at the end of the pedestrian street. It costs 50L to take to elevator to the top and enjoy the city views, so we thought why not? The views are really nice. As far as we can tell it's just a tourist attraction and holds no other significance. 

18. Spot the Bunkers

DSC06013-min.jpg

A trip to Albania would not be complete without learning something about it's past. BUNK'ART is a great way to do this and to be introduced to the bunkers of Albania. They are everywhere! Dictator Enver Hoxha built over 170,000 bunkers throughout the country in case of an attack. So everywhere you go, look out for them. Some are accommodation or cafes, some have been decorates and some are home to hundreds of goats like the one above! 

19. Take a Ferry on the Komani Lake

Ferry Komani Lake-min.jpg

This beautiful trip is a must if you're in the Shkoder area. We did it as a return trip after hiking Theth to Valbona. The views were really stunning and it made a much more leg-friendly alternative to doing the hike back the next day! 

20. Visit one of the Blue Eyes 

blue eye theth albania.JPG

These are natural water springs which produce some of the cleanest (and coldest) water we've seen. The more well known one is between Sarande and Gijrokaster. There is a second one about 2.5 hours hike or a 30 minute 4WD taxi drive from Theth. We preferred the second one (pictured) as it was harder to get so there were less people. The surroundings were also more beautiful. 

As you can see, Albania is packed with amazing things to do and most of them are freeeee! (or really cheap). September was the perfect time to visit Albania as the weather was still amazing (27-32°C) and there are very few tourists left at the beaches. 

We had our van and would definitely recommend hiring a car for your adventure as there is so much to see in between the cities and you have a lot more flexibility. We also heard mediocre reviews of the regularity and reliability of public transport in Albania. We've heard hitchhiking in Albania is easy and common. 

So what are you waiting for? Get planning your trip to Albania!

 
Travel inspiration for Albania. Twenty awesome things you should do in this underrated amazing country. 20 great ideas to plan your trip to Albania. #albania #travelinspiration 
Travel inspiration for Albania. Twenty awesome things you should do in this amazing underrated country. 20 great ideas for planning your trip to Albania. #albania #travelinspiration

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Wild Camping in Albania: Top Spots for Beach Camping

Free or wild camping in Albania is easy and legal and there are plenty of great free camping spots along the coast. If you’re on a roadtrip through the Balkans, Albania is definitely a place to visit. And if you have a van or tent it is very easy to travel Albania on a (very small) budget.

These spots are for free camping in Albania in a van but many of them are possible with a tent too. We were in Albania in September, just as the season was closing. As a result the Albanian coast was mostly empty and we had many of the beaches to ourselves.

We spent 2 and a half weeks wild camping on the Albanian coast,swimming in crystal clear waters, relaxing on deserted beaches and enjoying stunning sunsets. So we have collected a list of our favourite places to wild camp in Albania, how to get there and what you can expect there.

Before you head off on your wild camping adventure check out our essentials for living in a van

Rrjolli Beach

Free camping in Albania spots

If you’re in the North of Albania you should spend some time in Shkoder and also consider hiking Theth to Valbona before relaxing on the beach. This little beach was completely abandoned when we were there. Only a few workers from the local bars were there to close up for the season. We heard that it is also a quiet beach even in the peak season and there is not a lot around so I imagine free camping is easy all year round.

Location: 41.857591, 19.484940

Ok for tents: Yes in September, possibly the rest of the season.

Toliet situation: None, unless you ask the local beach bars.

Showers: None that we saw.

Wifi access: Not that we found but possibly at the bars in high season

Shade: None on the beach but there were trees further back which may have had possible parking spots.

Durres

Best places to wild camp in Albania

This was a great spot for exploring nearby Durres and camping on the beach, we ended up staying three nights. Parking is under pine trees and there are many nearby bars and restaurants. There are people around throughout the day and evening but nobody minded and the nights were peaceful. This is a public parking area so free camping in peak season should also be ok.

Location: 41.257828, 19.520450

Ok for tents: Unsure, there’s definitely space and no signs against it.

Toilet situation: You can access the toilets at the bars without having to buy anything.

Showers: There are lots of freshwater showers along the beach. We washed and filled up water for dishes and washing without problems.

Wifi access: In the cafes and bars, none that reached the van.

Shade: Completely shaded under the trees.

Divjaka-Karavasta National Park

Where to free camp in Albania coast

This area is through a national park. You’ll drive through a leafy forest area and come out at a wide beach. Be careful how close to the sea you drive as another van got stuck when we were there and needed to be towed out. Huge long coast area with lots of space. It may be busier in the summer but there is so much space that parking overnight shouldn’t be a problem.

Location: 40.842476, 19.394994

Ok for tents: Absolutely

Toilet situation: Nothing around.

Showers: None that we found. We used our solar shower for a wash!

Wifi Access: Again, nothing.

Shade: You can park in the treeline before the beach but otherwise it’s very open and flat.

Narte

Wild camping spots Albania 

As it was the end of the season here, the bars and restaurants on this little beach were closed apart from one. We free camped under the pine trees and enjoyed a beer at the little bar. No one else in sight. In the height of summer I imagine this area is much busier but again, this is a public parking area so it would be possible to stay overnight.

Location: 40.495917, 19.427497

Ok for tents: Yes, at this time in the season.

Toliet situation: There were toilets out the back of the bar but the water had been cut off. Otherwise there is plenty of forest.

Showers: There was one by the bar but we didn’t use it.

Wifi Access: The bar had good wifi that we managed to use in the van.

Shade: Lots of trees.

Orikum Beach

places to wild camp Albanian beaches

This is a small stretch of beach consisting of restaurants, a strip of parking and the beach. Most places were closed while we were there and it was fine to stay for a night but not great for longer.

Location: 40.327386, 19.455650

Ok for tents: Not really. It may be possible to pitch a tent on the beach but there are no other sheltered areas.

Toilet situation: The sea?

Showers: There were a few showers along the beach.

Wifi Access: We guessed the password to one of the nearby restaurants.

Shade: Nope

Gjipe Beach

Wild camping on Gjipe beach Albania

This is a popular, chilled beach which requires a 20 minute walk to get to. There are signs that forbid free camping on the beach but people were doing it anyway. There is also a ‘campground’ on the beach which looked very basic. If you have a 4-wheel-drive it is possible to drive onto the beach and stay there, otherwise you can park overnight in the carpark. Be prepared to pay the lady 200L for a day’s parking and another 200L for the night although she’s not very persistent if you refuse and drive away.

Location: 40.127178, 19.669711

Ok for tents: Yes

Toilet situation: There were some toilets at the beach.

Showers: There were signs to some at the campground but we didn’t use them.

Wifi Access: None

Shade: Not a lot down at the beach but some trees up at the carpark.

Livadh Beach

free camping in Albania

This was probably our favourite spot for wild camping in Albania and was more of an unofficial campground. It’s a large area of stony beach next to a small tourist town. It’s a very relaxed area with a couple of shops, restaurants and three campgrounds. There were about 10 other vans parked at the beach while we were there and no one seems to mind. The water is crystal clear and there are also some stunning smaller bays that you can walk to over the hill.

Location: 40.110691, 19.719834

Ok for tents: Yes

Toilet situation: There is a bar on the beach or plenty of shrubbery.

Showers: Plenty at the nearby bars.

Wifi Access: We used the wifi from the beach bar which reached our van.

Shade: None. Make sure you invest in some good sunscreen!

Ksamil

This was not an easy place for free camping. The road doesn’t run along the beach like in other areas and the beaches are small and mostly attached to a hotel. We ended up parking in the parking lot of an abandoned disco. There was also a public parking area and a campground. It was right at the beach but not nearly as relaxed as many of the other places we found further north.

Location: 39.780059, 20.007616

Ok for tents: No

Toilet situation: The beach area is run by the neighbouring hotel and campground which both have toilets.

Showers: There is a shower around the side of the hotel.

Wifi Access: Also available from the hotel or campground.

Shade: A few trees around.

Other wild camping spots in Albania

There are so many opportunities for free camping in Albania, why stop at just the coast?! We continued our journey inland and found a couple of noteworthy spots.

The Blue Eye

Places to wild camp in Albania

This is one of two Blue Eyes in Albania. It is a clear, blue water spring over 50m deep, the water is ice cold but beautiful for swimming. There is also one in the north near Theth and it’s worth visiting at least one on your trip. This one is easier to get to unless you are heading to Theth for hiking. It costs 50L per person and 100L per vehicle to get to the carpark next to the blue eye but you can easily park there overnight.

Picture of our friend Alex from TravelNotes360 travelling the world in their converted truck! This is #vangoals!!

Location: 39.923735, 20.192041

Banja Thermal Pools

Banja Thermal pools free camping

We came across these by accident but are so glad we did. Again, you will pay a small fee (200L) to park and visit the pools. But there is plenty of space to camp. There are 3 main pools to enjoy and a small café next to them. Tents and all kinds of vehicles are welcome.

*Don't pay the guy who comes around in the evening with the receipts without official stamps. Wait until the official guy comes in the morning. 

Location: 40.244026, 20.433025

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These were our favourite places to wild camp in Albania but of course we parked in lots of less beautiful places too. As well as splashing out on campgrounds every now and again for a proper shower and some decent wifi.

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Looking for a beautiful spot to camp in Albania? But don't want to pay for a campground. Read about wild camping in Albania. Here are some perfect spots for camping on the beach! #wildcamping #vanlife #beach #albania
Looking for a beautiful spot to camp in Albania? But don't want to pay for a campground. Read about wild camping in Albania. Here are some perfect spots for camping on the beach! #wildcamping #vanlife #beach #albania

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Shkoder City Guide: Exploring North Albania

Shkoder City Guide: Where to Stay, Eat and Things to Do in Shkoder

Shkoder is a small city in the North of Albania. It’s usually a thoroughfare for hikers heading to other parts of the country but there are plenty of things to do in Shkoder that make it a worthy stopping point.

Things to do in Shkoder

Shkoder is charming, cheap and will most likely be on your trail if you’re heading to the Albanian Alps or Komani Lake. It’s a great base for relaxing before or after hiking Theth to Valbona. There’s a lively café and bar scene, you can stock up at the supermarkets or fruit stands and there’s a range of good accommodation in Shkoder. But if you have the time it’s worth spending a day or two seeing the sights of this chilled little city.

Heading to Tirana too? Check out our Tirana City Guide

Accommodation in Shkoder

Accommodation Shkoder

We can’t recommend enough the little campground we stayed at just outside the city - Camping Legjenda. It’s small and relaxed and run by an amazingly friendly family. Linda, a local English teacher, and her husband, an artist, have set up a little slice of heaven on the land behind their home and restaurant. There’s a luxury pool, hammock chill out area, clean, warm showers and a kitchen area. The restaurant is set in a leafy garden area and serves good, affordable food.

Where to stay in Shkoder

If you’re not lucky enough to be travelling by van (you should consider it!) They also have rooms and have recently finished building the most adorable little cabin with a double bed.

Alternatively, check out booking.com for some more accommodation options in the city.

Things to do in Shkoder

Rozafa Castle

Castle Shkoder

Rozafa Castle the biggest tourist attraction in Shkoder and I think it might be one of my favourites. It dates back to the 14th century and legend has it that it was built by three brothers. In order for the castle to stand one of the brother needed to sacrifice his wife to be buried within the walls. The youngest brother's wife (Rozafa) agreed but asked for her right side to be left exposed so she could care for her infant son. An image of her feeding her baby is carved into the wall of the castle. You can also see this story portrayed on the walls of the restaurant at Camping Legjenda.

What to do in Shkoder

It costs 200L (around €1.50) per person to enter the castle grounds, this is collected by an unofficial looking guy at the gate. But once inside you are left to your own devices. Old stone walls, staircases and archways are yours to explore and the overgrown grass and foliage around some of the ancient structures makes it feel like a recently discovered treasure.

Things to do Shkoder

It’s a 30 minute walk uphill from the city centre to the castle. Give yourself at least an hour to explore inside, longer if you’re a castle geek as there are info points in English. Sunset is the best time to visit when the views over the castle and city are bathed in a golden glow.

Museums

There are several museums in Shkoder which we decided against visiting due to the beautiful weather and our attachment to the pool at the campground! But if you’re the museuming type there are a couple of interesting sounding museums in Shkoder.

Museum Shkoder

Marubi National Museum of Photography is located on the main street of town and holds some photos from Albanias first photographer. Some photography-enthusiast friends visited the museum and said it was interesting and worth going to but not as extensive as they’d hoped. It’s 700L or 200L for students.

The Site of Witness and Memory is housed in an old prison and displays information about Albania during the communist era. It sounds like a good museum but we were saving ourselves for BUNK’ART in Tirana.

The Shkoder Historical Museum has mixed reviews but might be worthwhile if you are interested in the Ottoman Period. 

Skadar Lake

Lake Shkoder

This huge lake crosses the border to Montenegro and in fact only one third of it is in Albania. While we were there it was very dry and not so nice for swimming but earlier in the season it’s usually a great place to hang out. On the Montenergrin side we hired kayaks which was a fun day trip. There is also a campground by lake outside Shkoder which hire kayaks and stand-up paddle boards at very reasonable prices.

The town

Restaurant Shkoder Albania

Wandering round the town is one of the nicest things to do in Shkoder and the best way to get to know the city. The pedestrianised streets are home to a great range of cafes, restaurants and bars and in the evenings it’s the place to be!

What to see Shkoder

There was even a beer festival on while we were there so keep an eye out for events throughout the summer months. The focal point of the town is the square where you can see all the religions come together. A mosque, catholic church and orthodox church all sit within a stone’s throw of each other. And look pretty impressive!

 

What to eat

We ate at a couple of nice restaurants but if you wander the pedestrian streets you’re bound to find something to your taste and budget. The Italian influence on Albania means there is great pizza everywhere as well as lots of yummy traditional Albanian food. Sofra on the main street was affordable and delicious.

Things to do Shkoder

The restaurant at Camping Legjenda is popular with locals and has the most gorgeous garden setting. With the owner being Italian there is a range of delicious pizza options as well as Albanian food. Great service and very well priced.

Cafe Shkoder

For dessert we came across my idea of heaven. Il Piacere is a small café with a mouth-watering assortment of homemade desserts in large sizes! We loved the Albanian specialty Tre leche but also loved the soufflé and chocolate pudding (yes, we went more than once!)

Trips from Shkoder

Hiking Theth to Valbona

Hiking Shkoder Albania

As I mentioned before, Shkoder is the perfect base for seeing parts of Northern Albania. From here we took a taxi to Theth to do the hike to Valbona which is really stunning and a fun adventure. The hike is an exhausting 7-8 hours but the views are definitely worth it. It was a highlight of our Balkan road trip

Komani Lake

Komani Lake from Shkoder

As a return trip we took the ferry along the Komani Lake which had breath-taking views and is only accessible by boat. Doing this trip as a loop was the perfect use of our time and making sure we managed to see everything. But if hiking is not your thing you can also do the Komani Lake as a day trip.

RRjolli beach

rrjolli beach from Shkoder Albania

This was recommended to us by our campground host and was a great introduction to the Albanian coast. We were there in early September and there was noone else on the beach but we were told that even in high season it is much quieter than most places on the coast. The beaches in the south are certainly more picturesque but that also comes with a lot more tourists. If you're craving some sea and sand after a trip to the mountains this is only 30 minutes drive from Shkoder. 

Montenegro

Kotor from Shkoder Albania

Realistically, the Montenegrin coast is within a day trip of Shkoder. About two hours drive away are the beautiful towns of Ulcinj, Bar and Budva. Even Kotor is within driving distance if you were tight on time and wanted to squeeze in a quick visit. Although we recommend spending more time in this area and have put together some advice on visiting the Bay of Kotor on a budget

So if you're in the north of Albania there are plenty of things to do in Shkoder and the area around to keep you busy for a few days, or weeks!

Exploring Albania!? Read this article for information about things to do in Shkoder the jewel in the north of Albania. #albania #shkoder #cityguide 
Exploring Albania!? Read this article for information about things to do in Shkoder the jewel in the north of Albania. #albania #shkoder

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of the links I will make a small commission at no extra cost to you! Thanks for the support!

Balkan Roadtrip Itinerary: Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo

Road trip in the Balkans

A couple of summers ago we spent three weeks road tripping through the Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.) This year we amped it up a notch and took our van on a road trip through the Balkans as the first stage of our two-year world trip!

Roadtrip in the Balkans

This area of Europe has very similar draw cards for travellers. Great landscapes, interesting cities, widely accepted free camping and really affordable prices. The one thing that trumps the Baltics is the great weather in the Balkans, being that bit further south and bordering the Mediterannean.

So if you’re on your way to Scandinavia or Russia or feel like heading North you can read our Ultimate Baltics Roadtrip Itinerary. But if you’re Balkans bound then read on for our favourite stops in this amazing part of the world. This post covers Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. Stay tuned for part two: Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia.

Slovenia

Slovenia was a brilliant place to start our road trip. Since this country became independent 20 years ago and it’s recent introduction to the EU it has been on a steady path to success. They have great roads, super-friendly locals and a thriving tourism industry built around their stunning nature which is well cared for. As a result it is a little more expensive than some of the other Balkan countries but it is more than worth visiting on any Balkan road trip.

Lake Bled and Bohnij

Ultimate Balkan Roadtrip Itinerary Lake Bled

This area is no secret and is probably one of the most touristed areas of the Balkans. But you can’t go to Slovenia and not see the beauty that is Bled! A stunning lake set among mountains complete with an island church in the middle and a castle looking out over the lake. It really is a fairy tale destination.

DSC03907-min.jpg

For some slightly less touristy lake vibes head to nearby Lake Bohinj. A little more difficult to get to the water but stunning mountain scenery and crystal clear waters make for a worthwhile stop.

Ljubljana

Ljubljana Slovenia

Slovenia’s capital city has a brilliant mix of old town historical and young, artsy vibes. A great place for a couple of days exploring and as a base to see the rest of the country. For more ideas of things to do, places to stay and things to eat check out our Ljubljana city guide.

Caves and the Rakov valley

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This area of the country is home to some brilliant landscapes and places to see. There are plenty of caves in Slovenia but the two most well known are Postonja and Skocjan.

Nearby is the Rakov Skocjan valley which is great place for hiking and adventuring. This area was once a giant cave which collapsed forming a vast valley filled with walking tracks, rivers, smaller caves and natural bridges. For more info and photos read about our day in the Rakov valley.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

We skipped Croatia as it was peak tourist season and our patience and budget didn’t stretch that far. So we continued onwards to a country we knew very little about but we found plenty of reasons to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For us, the most beautiful parts of Bosnia were the in between parts. The random mountain tops, rivers and lakes we continuously stumbled upon as we struggled to understand the logic behind out GPS -selected routes. But if you don’t have a vehicle or you’re on a limited time frame make sure you don’t miss these spots.

Sarajevo

Road trip in the Balkans Sarajevo

The capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina is a focal point for road trips in the Balkans as it is located within driving distance of Belgrade, Montenegro, Zagreb and Dubrovnik. Sarajevo is also so packed with history it’s hard not to be interested in what has happened here in the last few hundred years.

Sarajevo Bobsled track

There are many good museum exhibitions and sights to see in the old town, I loved the town hall which has been amazingly restored. But also some quirky sights such as the Olympic bobsled track from the 1984 Olympics which remains mostly intact but abandoned.

Sarajevo has great food and café options as well as several places to enjoy great views of the city.

Mostar

The biggest tourist attraction in Bosnia and Heregovina, this place can be very busy during the summer months. But the charm of the old town and its famous bridge can still be found. Take some time to wander the cobbled streets, eat at one of the many traditional restaurants and watch people jumping the 27metres off the old bridge into the river below.

Mostar Bridge Oldtown

We stayed a really nice campground about 12km out of Mostar in a little town called Blagaj. There were other campgrounds along the river too and it was a great place to chill but still be within a short driving distance of Mostar.

Jajce and nearby waterfalls and lake

Jajce Bosnia

The old town of Jajce makes a good stop when driving through Bosnia and Herzegovina. There is a castle and old town walls to wander. There is also an impressive waterfall which is worth stopping off at but a little too built up for tourism. Instead head along the river and you will pass Konoba Slapovi a gorgeous restaurant set next a cute little waterfall and hanging trees. Further along the river are good swimming spots and a lake where you can hire boats.

Serbia

We only visited the South West of Serbia due to time constraints and the route we chose to take. But we found some nice areas and met some very friendly locals who invited us for beers and dinner.

National Park Tara

National Park Tara Serbia

This covers a huge area and is perfect for hiking. You can stay in small bungalows in villages, camp in the forest or stay in the towns and walk from there. A really nice area to explore.

The Uvac river

Lake Serbia

We spent some time by the lakes free camping and then went further to the gorge. We almost went on a boat tour along the gorge and then to a view point to see the meanders of the river from above. There is also a chance to spot the white eagles that live in the area. Unfortunately the day we picked to go was about the only cloudy day we’ve had on our trip and the low hanging cloud meant we might not be able to see much. But from the pictures the trip definitely looks worth it on a clear day.

Kosovo

Often skipped out from people’s Balkan road trip intinerary is the small and beautiful Kosovo. But it was one of our favourite places on our trip and somewhere we definitely recommend for other travellers. Safe, affordable, friendly locals and hardly any other tourists. Read our article for a full list of things to do in Kosovo. But here’s a quick summary of the top stops.

Pristina

Balkan roadtrip Kosovo

The country’s capital is a bustling city filled with great cafes and bars. We tend to judge cities by their cafe culture and Pristina passed with flying colours! There are several interesting attractions to see in Pristina such as the ‘Newborn’ monument and the National Library. Locals here will be quick to strike up conversation in their excellent English and/or German and will tell you all about their country. For great coffee and snacks head to Dit' e Nat' or for a good hearty meal head to Home restaurant.

Prizren

Prizren Kosovo-min.jpg

This town has all the charm of an old Italian town with the prices of South East Asia and the tourism levels of Mallorca in the winter. Wander the old town, grab a coffee or beer for some fuel and get yourself up the hill to the fortress. Here you’ll find beautiful views of the town and surrounding area. If you’re there in August try and time your visit to coincide with Dokufest, a large film festival.

Rugova Canyon

Roadtrip in the Balkans Kosovo

We spent a few days in this area on our way to Montenegro. There are plenty of amazing hikes in this area as well as activities such as ziplining and caving. There is an information centre at the start of the road which will provide you with maps and advice for different tracks and things to see. There is plenty of accommodation within the gorge but free camping is also easy. 

Other Stops on a Balkan Roadtrip

These are the must-sees on a road trip in the Balkans but if you're travelling by car you'll discover lots of little places in between which are just as wonderful but able to be explored in a lunch time stop or just overnight. Here are a few honourable mentions!  

Vipava Valley, Slovenia

Vipava Valley Slovenia

This was our first stop in Slovenia and a made a great first impression - look at those views! Vipava is a small town with some beautiful streets to wander but the main attractions in this area are the wine and the hiking, both equally good! 

Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Banja Luka Bosnia and Herzegovina

We booked three nights here without knowing much about the city. We needed a place to relax, do some washing and get acquainted with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Banja Luka did the job! There are a few cool things to see such as the church, mosque and castle. This is also a base for rafting trips. 

Kravice Waterfalls, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Balkan Roadtrip Intinerary Kravice Waterfall

These waterfalls were beautiful and absolutely worth stopping at if you're in the area. The only thing that put us off was the amount of tourists and consequently rubbish in the area. But the water is lovely and if you walk further along the river you'll come to lots of swimming spots with noone else around. 

Gjakova, Kosovo 

Kosovo Gjakova-min.jpg

We stopped for a coffee and to check out the bazaar but ended up staying the night. The old town is gorgeous and has a great cafe and bar scene. The place is buzzing in the evening and the main street is just cafes and bars next to each other so pick one you like the look of and sit and watch some local life. We splashed out and had a comfortable stay at Hotel La Villa.

Mitrovice, Kosovo

Mitrovice Kosovo

This was our first stop in Kosovo and was a really interesting introduction to the current situation in the country. The town is divided into two parts, the North speaks Serbia, uses dinar and has Serbian flags hanging in the street. In contrast, the South speaks Albanian, uses the Euro and is decorated with Albanian and Kosovan flags. We found it very safe and the people on both sides of the town were very welcoming and friendly. 

 

These were our favourite places during the first part of our trip through the Balkans. Look out for part two featuring Montenegro, Albania and Macedonia! 

This post contains affiliate links. If purchase something through one of the links I will make a small amount (at no extra cost to you!) Thanks for the support!

 

Roadtrip fan? Here is the first part of our epic Road Trip around the Balkans! Read more for detailed information about places to stop in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. #balkans #roadtrip #slovenia #bosnia #serbia #kosovo 
Roadtrip fan? Here is the first part of our epic Road Trip around the Balkans! Read more for detailed information about places to stop in Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Kosovo. #balkans #roadtrip #slovenia #bosnia #serbia #kosovo

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Hiking Theth to Valbona, Albania

Hiking Theth to Valbona

Hiking in Theth in the North of Albania was a great introduction to the country. Shkoder to Valbona (or in reverse) is a popular route in this area and makes for a great few days of adventures, small mountain villages and epic views. While it is a common route information online and in the area varies greatly and prices, distances and experiences seem to change daily. So here are our experiences and tips getting from Shkoder to Valbona and back.

 

Theth to Blue Eye.jpg

Day 1 Taxi Shkoder to Theth

Shkoder is a great base for this area and we found the perfect campground (also a hostel)to relax before and after our adventure -complete with luxury pool, hot showers and a restaurant. For more things to see and do in and around Shkoder read our Shkoder City Guide.

We ummed and ahhhed about taking our van to Theth and in the end decided against it after hearing some stories about the road. We also decided on a round trip to Shkoder so we left the van there. The owner of our campground organised a 4-wheel-drive to take us the Theth for €10 per person. Most accommodation should be able to organise this but if not, just outside of Shkoder on the way to Theth all of the 4x4s hand out waiting to be filled so you can head there.

Hiking Theth to Blue Eye

The drive is about three hours and is asphalt for the first half. After that it’s winding gravel roads that our van would have made it along but not been so happy about, he's done more than his far share of crappy Balkan roads! The 4x4s leave early so you should arrive in Theth around 11am with some time to relax or explore. We got dropped a little before Theth to hike to the Blue Eye.

Hiking to the Blue Eye, Theth

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We were dropped here and we hiked down a very steep path to the Blue Eye, this took around two hours. Our driver took our bags on to our guesthouse in Theth. We then took the path back to Theth which is around 30 minutes of narrow track and then a further two hours along a gravel road. This was far less challenging than the way there although the gravel path is not sheltered at all so it was a very hot walk!

Hiking to Blue Eye Theth

I would recommend just driving all the way to Theth and walking to the Blue Eye and back from there. The Blue Eye is beautiful and makes a nice day hike but we ended up being very tired and having sore legs the next day for the main hike to Valbona. There 4x4s that can take you most of the way to the Blue Eye so if you’re not super fit or don’t feel like an extra day hiking this could be a good option.

Day 2 Hiking Theth to Valbona

Guesthouse Theth.jpg

We stayed at Guest House Gjergy Harusha which provided great food (dinner and breakfast) and a super comfortable ensuit room for €20 per person per night. It even had wifi! So after a filling breakfast we began the hike to Valbona. We started around 8am to beat the heat of the day and give ourselves time for some stops.

We travelled as a group of 5 of different fitness levels and completed the hike in nine hours including at least two hours of stopping. We heard stories of anywhere from 5-10 hours depending on pace but I recommend planning around 6-7 hours of walking plus stops. And you'll want to stop and enjoy the views!

Hiking Theth to Valbona

The hike takes you to the top of a mountain and back down the other side. A lot of the way is steep and gravelly but there are also some flatter parts. There are four cafes along the way, two on the Theth side and two closer to Valbona. All of the cafes have water springs so bring a reuseable water bottle. There is quite a long way between café 2 and 3 including a stop at the peak. So make sure you have enough food and water.

hiking Theth to Valbona views.jpg

The views from the top are well and truly worth it. Leave your bag at the turn in the path and walk the extra couple of minutes of uphill to see the amazing panoramas over the valley on either side. From the top it is an easy 50 minutes descent to the next café to fill up water and rest for a while.

Hiking Theth to Valbona

The final stages involve some steep downhill followed by a few kilometres along a dry, stoney riverbed to the town of Valbona. There are guest houses located along the main road but we had booked Hotel Margjeka which was thankfully the first accommodation we came to. We did the hike in running shoes but some parts were very slippery and the next day there was rain so if you have space get yourself some proper hiking shoes. We also carried our backpacks of between 20-50L. 

Day 3 Valbona to Shkoder

ferry komani lake

We bought tickets for the boat back at our campground in Shkoder but I'm sure they are easy to organise from Valbona. We paid €15 per person for the entire way including taxis. A taxi collects you from your hotel, ours was a little late so we ended up racing along past herds of cows and sheep to the port in Fierze. 

Ferry Komani Lake

The ferry from Fierze to Koman is a beautiful journey along the Komani Lake. It takes around three hours and you'll be entertained by stunning scenery on all sides. It can get quite chilly so take a jacket! Our merino wool hoodies kept us cosy and oh so stylish! 

Ferry Komani Lake

From the boat we were met by a minibus which took us the last hour and half from Koman to Shkoder and dropped us at our campground to find our van safe and sound. The hike from Theth to Valbona is one the of the best hikes we've done and I thoroughly recommend it to anyone on a trip through the Balkans. Taking the ferry back is a great way to relax and enjoy some brilliant views on the way back. 

This trip is also possible in reverse if you're coming from another part of the country or simply prefer to mix things up! 

Interested in hiking? This hike in the Albanian mountains from Theth to Valbona with its breathtaking views should be on your bucket list! #hiking #albania #bucketlist
Interested in hiking? This hike in the Albanian mountains from Theth to Valbona with its breathtaking views should be on your bucket list! #hiking #albania #bucketlist

This post contains some affiliate links. This means if you purchase something through one of these links we will make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks for the support!