Ultimate Guide to visiting Skadar Lake in Albania

Serene vibes and epic sunsets? You will find exactly this at Skadar Lake in Albania. This vast lake in the vincinity of the Albanian Alps offers a real paradise for nature lover. Its the perfect place to soak up some views for a couple of hours or grab a bike and make a circuit along the shore. With plenty of lakeside cafes for some cooling refreshments and a lunch break, this is a great choice for a day/ half day trip. So much less crowded than many other places, Shkoder Lake makes you feel off the beaten path without having to sacrifice the view. Read below to find out more about why its worth visiting.

Lake Skadar Albania

Are Lake Skadar and Lake Shkoder/ Lake Shkodra the same place?

Lake Skadar is often referred yo as Lake Shkoder or Schkodra, depending on who you speak to where, given the lake is surrounded by Montenegro and Albania. Ultimately all these refer to the same lake, which is considered the largest lake in southern part of Europe and it also named after Schkoder city in Albania. More on visting the charming city of Schkoder, Albania further below.

Skadar Albania Map

How to get to Skadar lake from Schkoder

One the most convenient places to stay to visit Lake Skadar is from Schkoder in Albania. Located conveniently next to the Albanian side of Lake Skadar makes it the perfect place to stay. To get to Lake Skadar from Schkoder city center, these are your best options –

Lake Skadar

Local Buses

Availability: There is no bus that goes directly to Lake Shkoder, but local buses operate close to the area. The best you can do is get on the bus that goes to the edge of Shkoder that is closest to the lake.
Frequency: The bus runs throughout the day at frequencies of 20-30 minutes.
Costs: The bus prices are so cheap, around 30-50 Albanian lek, which is less than $0.50 USD. Where to Catch: From the main bus station in Shkoder or along the major streets, where they usually stop to pick up passengers

Taxis

Availability: Taxis are largely available in vast numbers throughout Shkodër and provide an easy means of reaching Lake Skadar, as they can drop visitors directly at the lake.
Cost: An average taxi drive to the lake would be about 300-400 Lek ($3-4 USD), but make sure to agree on the fare with the driver prior in order to avoid any kind of misunderstanding.
Where: Taxis can be flagged down in the streets, at the taxi stands located around the city, and some are operated through local taxi companies.
Local Taxi Options: Among the reputed taxi companies in Shkoder are Shkodra Taxi and Radio Taxi. These are known services and can often be called in over the phone or, more commonly, using an app.

Getting to Lake Skadar from other cities

Getting to Lake Shkoder from major Albanian cities is relatively straightforward, with various transport options available

From Tirana, Albania to Lake Skadar

Getting to Lake Shkoder from major Albanian cities and directly from Shkoder itself is straightforward, with various transport options available.

Lake Skadar from Tirana

Rental Car

  • Distance: Approximately 100 km (about 62 miles)
  • Driving Time: Roughly 1.5 to 2 hours by car, depending on traffic conditions.

Bus

  • Frequency: Regular buses run every 30 minutes during peak times.
  • Duration: About 2 hours.
  • Cost: Approximately 300-400 Albanian lek (around $3-$4 USD).

Train

  • Frequency: Less frequent than buses, with limited daily services.
  • Duration: About 2-3 hours.
  • Cost: Similar to bus fare, roughly 300-400 lek.

From Durres, Albania to Lake Skadar

Rental Car

  • Distance: Around 115 km (about 71 miles)
  • Driving Time: About 2 to 2.5 hours by car

Bus

  • Frequency: Departures every 30 to 60 minutes
  • Duration: Approximately 2 to 2.5 hours.
  • Cost: Around 300-500 lek ($3-$5 USD)

Lake Skadar from Montenegro

Lake Skadar from Montenegro

Its just as easy to reach Lake Skadar National Park from the Montenegro side from Podgorica, Montenegro. This is the closest city to stay in or visit Lake Skadar from in Montenegro.

Rental Car

  • Distance: Approximately 55 km (about 34 miles)
  • Driving Time: About 1 to 1.5 hours by car.

Bus

  • Frequency: Few times a day.
  • Duration: About 1.5 to 2 hours.
  • Cost: Roughly 5-10 euros, depending on the operator.

Lake Skadar Boat Trip

Lake Skadar Boat Trip

The best way to see Lake Skadar in my opinion is a boat trip on the lake! A 3 hour cruise is optimal to take in the sights at a reasonable pace and enjoy the lake. A typical three hour guided cruise covers:

  • Medieval Kom Monastery: A 15th century monastry built by hte Crnojevic family which has some of the best preserved frescoes today.
  • Lesendro ruins surrounded by meadows: Located on the small island on Lake Skadar itself, these are the ruins of the ancient fortress of Lessendro on Skadar Lake. If you have more time, there is also the Lesendro castle and surrounding fortifications worth checking out.
  • Time to sightsee and take a dip in the lake, perfect way to cool down in the summer heat!

Depending on the tour booked you can ride the lake in the traditional wooden boats for a more authentic experience. I would also recommend booking one with a English htour guide so you can learn all about the history at each of the stops.

Best places to book a Lake Skadar boat trip:

If you are looking to explore the surrounding area further, there are some amazing hikes and walks to do around Lake Skadar, offering some great views from above!

How to Spend a Day in Schkoder before visiting Lake Skadar

Make sure you leave aside some time to check out Schkoder on your way to or from Lake Skadar. Schkoder is a quaint small city often frequented by tourists enroute to nothern parts of Albania, including the ever popular Albanian Alps. We stopped in Schkoder the day before heading off on our 3 day long hiking trip to the Albanian Alps. Schkoder serves as a good place to start and end hiking trips and you will find a lot of tour companies and public transport going to the Albanian Alps use Schkoder as a starting and ending point for the journey.

Schkoder Albania

Local Markets in Schkodra

Start Your Day at the Local Market Don’t let your mornings in Shkodra pass you by without a visit to the local market, where the city comes alive with colored stalls offering fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and unique handiwork. It’s a great place for really getting off the beaten path with some souvenirs and soaking up the local atmosphere. Do not be shy to talk with the sellers; they will share some interesting stories about the products with you and give you a better idea of the local culture.

Rozafa Castle

Discover the history in the Rozafa Castle A short distance from the center, Rozafa Castle is a perfect place to visit in the middle of the morning. Climb up to the 400-year-old fortifications to the very top for amazing views over the confluence of the Buna and Drin rivers. You will take photos of the breathtaking views from the top, which will make you stay longer because the view of the place is stunning and serves as a reminder of the historical importance of the place.

Rozafa Castle

Lunch at Kole Idromeno Street

Have a local lunch on Kole Idromeno Street In the afternoon, walk to Kole Idromeno Street, the most famous pedestrian street; here, you can get lunch with typical Albanian cooking served in small and attractive cafes. Try local specialties like byrek or grab a glass of regional wine. Enjoy the pulse of the city with the people strolling about in this beautiful environment.

National Marubi Museum of Photography

Visit the National Marubi Museum of Photography In the afternoon, proceed to the Marubi National Museum of Photography. I spent hours or two in that museum, which had a great collection of photographs representing history in Albania. Besides, the museum gives an idea about the social and cultural history of the Albanians.

Traditional Albanian Dinner

For a traditional Albanian dinner head to Hotel Tradita. I was skeptical at first given the restaurant was part of a hotel, however the hotel has an indoor courtyard which converts into a huge indoor/ outdoor restaurant serving traditional Albanian cuisine at night. This actually ended up being my favourite meal in Albania! Its highly popular with locals and visitors alike, so best to go early or try and book in advance!

Hotel Tradita Schkoder

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