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With its rich variety of plant and animal species, and breathtaking views, the legendary Shkodra Lake is the ideal place to get in touch with Albanian nature. It’s also an excellent alternative beach hot spot during the warm summer months.
In the Northwest of Albania lies the beautiful Shkodra Lake, the largest in the Balkan Peninsula, and one of the many natural wonders of this part of the country. With a vast surface area of 368 km2, the lake stretches beyond the country and across the border with Montenegro, with 149 km2 of it lying in Albania. The lake beautifully frames the historic and artistic city of Shkodra, a calming and refreshing area, reflecting effect of the water which gracefully surrounds it.
Perhaps the best way to experience the beauty of Shkodra Lake is by travelling along the road to Shiroka, where you’ll traverse the gorgeous Buna River delta. While you can drive along this road, many adventurers choose to cycle, or join a bike tour in order to fully immerse themselves in its idyllic natural beauty. In the summers, several spots along the lake’s shoreline serve as wonderful alternatives to the beaches along the coast – with its crystal clear waters, and close proximity to the city! While you are here, you should definitely try the restaurants lined up along the waterline, which serve the famous local carp from the lake in all kinds of delicious dishes.
Shkodra Lake is also the ideal spot for avid birdwatchers, hosting an impressive 270 distinct species – in fact, almost 80% of all the bird species that can be found in Albania are found here, including seagulls, pelicans, cranes, and eagles, to name but a few of the menagerie of feathered creatures that can be spotted here.
45 species of fish swim Shkodra Lake’s waters throughout the year. In addition to the common carp, the most popular fish found here are mullet, flatfish, bass, and eel, and as previously mentioned, can be found served in many of the restaurants that line the waters. Also, the lake bed is a rich in biodiversity, thanks to the hundreds of types of microalgae that lay there. The lotus in particular, a plant with an edible fruit, is one of the most unique to be found in the lake. This extraordinary plant only bears fruit when it rains during the summer months, despite its roots being planted firmly in the water!
If you climb the legendary Rozafa Castle, you’ll get a breathtaking view of the lake, as well as the point where the Drin, Kir, and Buna Rivers join. It’s thanks to Buna River that the lake can naturally flow into the Adriatic Sea! Other notable spots to visit around Shkodra Lake are Bishtiqendia, Shegani, and Stërbeqi.