Valbona Valley National Park: The Hidden Gem of Albania
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The Valbona Valley National Park in Albania is a beautiful and unique destination for anyone who loves nature and hiking. Established in 1996, the park covers 8,000 hectares and is located in the highest part of the Albanian Alps bordering Montenegro. The park is known for its stunning rocky landscape, forests, and diverse plant and animal species. The valley stretches for 27 km (17 miles) and is formed by tectonic and glacial forces. The Valbona river runs through the valley and is responsible for the entire water supply in the village of Valbona and its surroundings.
Valbona is a valley in the far north of Albania, approximately half an hour northwest of the town of Margegaj Bajram Curri. The road to Valbona is a scenic drive that gradually rises and becomes more breathtaking as the mountain landscapes come into view.
The area has a real Alpine climate and therefore experiences cooler temperatures in the summer months. In spring, the valley is a fairy tale with blooming fruit trees and picturesque old farms and residential houses scattered throughout. Many of these serve as guesthouses or homestays, with a few campsites and hotels available for those who want to stay longer. If you are looking for a special place to stay we recommend Bujtina Tinari Theth. This place was our absolute favorite on our trip in Albania. The location is super quiet, but it is still close enough to the starting point of the hiking trails and market/restaurants.
One of the most popular reasons to visit Valbona is to embark on the famous Valbona-Theth hike. The hike takes approximately 6 to 9 hours and crosses an amazing pass into the next valley. This hike is recommended only for fit people, but there are easier hikes available for those who want to explore Valbona at a more leisurely pace. The valley has several signposts and information boards with hikes of varying lengths and difficulties.
The park has various microclimates that make it rich in flora and fauna, making it a paradise for nature lovers. The area is also known for its friendly people and delicious cuisine, offering visitors a unique and unforgettable experience. If you're planning a trip to Albania, be sure to include Valbona on your itinerary.
The best time to visit Valbona Valley is during the summer months of July and August, when the temperature is pleasant for outdoor activities. However, spring is also a great time to visit as the valley is in full bloom with beautiful flowers. Winter can be very cold and snowy, making it more suitable for winter sports enthusiasts.