Shala River: Albania’s Own Thailand or Alpine Superstar - Into Albania

Shala River: Albania’s Own Thailand or Alpine Superstar

Hailed as the Thailand of Albania, the pristine Shala River and its surroundings are a spectacular summer alternative to the Riviera and other coastline favorites.

Known for its clear aquamarine waters, Shala River’s popularity has sky rocketed in the last few years with more locals looking to the north for their summer fun. Perfect for swimming, Shala River is surrounded by a spectacular landscape and amazing caves. Take a dip inside the caves is a must!

Photo courtesy of Enea Mustafaraj

The 37 km-long Shala River flows from its source at Radohina Peak, part of the Albanian Alps, locally known as Bjeshkët e Namuna (Accursed Mountains). The river flows into the wonderous Koman Lake, another favorite among local and international tourists. In fact, because of their proximity, the two are often linked via water ferries. If you take the ferry, keep in mind that most people who have experienced it cannot stop talking about it. So prepare to be amazed and annoy your friends after this trip!

Photo courtesy of Enea Mustafaraj

Climate and topography

Because of its location in the northern mountains, the air around Shala River as well as its waters are super crisp and invigorating. A splash here is decidedly different than one in the sizzling southern Riviera. Nonetheless, though the winters are harsh in this region, the summers are surprisingly mild and pleasant so it never gets cold. The Shala Valley, located entirely within the geological zone of the Albanian Alps, is also characterized by a lot of black limestone. Just something to keep in mind as you enjoy the spectacular view!

Food and Accommodation

Tours to Shala River generally include overnight stays in some of the area’s hospitable and cozy guesthouses. The hosts are wonderful and will help guide your around the area should you visit the area by yourself and not as part of a tour. The food served in the guesthouses includes homemade delicious dairy products, oils and breads. But, don’t leave without trying the famous river trout!

Something to keep in mind

Due to its rise in popularity in recent years, accommodation availability is not always guaranteed. While for most adventurers this is no big deal (they prefer camping, anyway!), for those who prefer to stay in, make sure that you reserve your room ahead of time via your preferred tour operator or by yourself.