Outdoor activities in Shkoder
Outdoor activities in Shkoder involve mostly biking, swimming, hiking, tracking & kayaking. Shkodra is blessed with a tremendous variety of outdoor activities for everyone including families with little kids. With three lakes, five rivers, the Adriatic sea, four castles, several ancient Illyrian settlements, and plenty of mountains nearby that offer stunning views.
We have selected a top list of activities easily doable that you can do during your stay in Shkoder. If you haven’t booked yet and are trying to decide how many nights you should spend in Shkoder, well first read this blog so it can give you an idea about outdoor activities in Shkoder. Some of those activities are perfect for kids and some others we would suggest only for hikers in the spring or fall season.
1. Explore Shkodra lake
As locals, we will never get tired of taking our bikes for a ride to Shiroka & Zogaj villages located on the shores of Shkodra lake. There are several great places where to stop in between the villages for you to swim and if you want, you also may have lunch or dinner in one of the well-known restaurants you can try the traditional Shkodran dish “ tave krapi”. This outdoor activity is perfect also for kids. The biking lane from Buna bridge to Shiroka is safe and from Shiroka to Zogaj there is not much traffic in general just extra care doesn’t hurt. Shkodra lake by bike is one of our most popular attractions.
Another activity you can do in Shkodra lake is kayaking, this will take you to explore some special locations difficult to reach on Shkodra lake that involves bird & fauna watching. The starting point for kayaking is in Shiroka.
2. Hike to Tarabosh peak
During the spring or fall season is nice to hike from Shiroka to Tarabosh peak (300m), this should take you from 35-45 minutes. From the peak, you will have a great view of the lake and you can also see the Adriatic sea. Not recommended during summer due to the high presence of snakes!
You also can park your bike in a safe place on the paved road that will take you to the summit of Tarabosh and follow the road. Recently a few bars have opened there. The east side offers you the best view of Rozafa castle, most of our best pictures of the castle were shot from this location.
3. Discover the valley of Kiri river
This outdoor activity in Shkoder can be a half-day or full-day activity. If you are used to biking long distances you can explore Mesi Bridge by bike and after that, keep going toward Prekal and stop in one of the swimming arias in the Kiri river.
The best way is to drive from Shkoder and you can stop in multiple places up to Prekal village deep in the valley, for swimming or for taking pictures. Kiri valley offers beautiful views and at the same time, you can refresh yourself.
If you want to add more to this outdoor activity in Shkoder you can also visit Drishti citadel & castle located 4 km from Mesi bridge. The Drishti citadel is easy to reach by car but the ruins of the castle are higher and you would have to hike up there. The view from the castle is something worth experiencing.
4. Shala river & Komani lake
This is one of the top outdoor activities in Shkoder, but it requires you to make some sacrifices and wake up very early since the vans leave around 6:30 in the morning. The best time to visit this location is from June to September. During this activity, you would start a boat trip from Komani lake to Shala river and enjoy the crystal waters of Shala river. This activity will take you the entire day, best for children four and older since you would have to stay in the van for 5 hours cumulatively.
For more details about this tour check Shala river’s Unique experience.
5. The Vau Danjes lake
This attraction most likely will be a hit in the future. It is very close to Shkoder by only a 20-minute drive, also from Rragam you can go kayaking, sailing, swimming, and also visit Sarda castle located on Sarda island addition is possible to explore caves on the lake. You can also go trekking for 4 hours from Rragam to Drishti and reach Mesi bridge.
In another location near Vau Danjes is located the ruins of the castle of Danja. I have visited the ruins several times during the sunset enjoying some great views of Drini river and Zadrima valley. Itself there are plenty of outdoor activities in Shkoder just staying near Vau Danjes lake ( an artificial lake created in late 1970 when the dam was built).
6. Velipoja beach
Shkodran people during summer time will move to Velipoja to spend their holidays. It is located only 35 minutes’ drive from Shkoder and is the closest beach to the Adriatic sea. It is perfect for kids since it is an endless sandy beach, in addition, there are a lot of facilities in Velipoja to make your life easy.
7. Drini & Buna river
It is possible to swim in the Drini river outside Shkoder and the river is very close to the city you can bike or drive. It used to be the number one of all outdoor activities in Shkoder for locals, swimming in the cold water of Drini river. The water is very cold and the current is fast and will take you toward Buna river.
Buna river is the only river that starts from Shkodra lake and merges with the Drini river to the south of Shkodra. For thousands of years, this river saw ships in and out from the Adriatic & Mediterranean sea. When the communist regime isolated the country the navigation stopped.
In addition, kayaking from Buna bridge to the Delta of Buna is an exhausting but beautiful activity.
8. Kelmend Valley
To reach the valley of Kelmend from Shkoder it will take you 2 hours to drive into the deep north of Albania, Kelmend Valley. This outdoor activity in Shkoder can include, panoramic views of the Kelmend valley, swimming in Cemi river, and hiking in Selca or Lepushe. It can be done in a single day but some people can also decide to stay overnight for more activities.
9. Hike to the peak of Maranaj mountain
This hiking outdoor activity in Shkoder is for moderate difficulty hike so I require a proper preparation and a guide. Best in spring or during September. It is a 8-10 hours hike clamming to the peak of Maranaj mountain (1600m). The view is spectacular, from the peak you will see the entirety of Shkodra lake, the cities of Shkoder & Podgorica, the Adriatic sea, and to the north the best peaks of the Albanian alp.
There are many more outdoor activities in Shkoder but for logistical issues those are still a challenge at the moment. We didn’t include here Valbona & Theth since we have dedicated a separate blog for those. We also did not include in this list ancient ruins since the Illyrian times. Most likely we will be dedicating in the future another blog post regarding ancient history & castles as outdoor activities in Shkoder.