Although relatively small, Albania is home to a large number of lakes. Three of the largest lakes are Shkodra, Ohrid and Prespa.
Shkodra is the largest lake in the Balkans at 368 km Ohrid is the deepest lake in the Balkans, and Prespa is the highest, at 850 m above sea level. There are many other small lakes throughout the country that provide beauty and enjoyment, as well. Shkodra Lake is located along Albania and Montenegro’s shared border. The beautiful shore consists of marshes in the north and rocky shores in the south, with two notable beaches located at Shiroka and Zogaj. The southern part of the lake is called “the hither coast,” while the northern part is called “waterfront.” There are several villages nearby which are attractive to tourists, such as Kosani, Flaka, Kamenica, Jubica and Kalldrun. The lake is home to a tremendous variety of living creatures, including 45 species of fish and 281 species of birds.
Ohrid Lake is one of the most beautiful tectonic lakes in the Balkans, located on the shared border between Albania and Macedonia. It is 695 m above sea level and accordingly remains temperate and cool even in the warmest summers. At an estimated four million years old, it is also one of the oldest lakes in the world. It too boasts a tremendous variety of fish, some of which are unique to Ohrid. Notable among them is the Belushka Salmon, a delicious and highly prized fish, and Koran, which is the most famous and is exclusively found in this lake. Recreational opportunities abound, particularly near Pogradeci, Lini, Pojska, and Tushemishti.
Prespa lakes. Big Prespa Lake measures 285 km and straddles the borders of Albania, Macedonia, and Greece. Little Prespa Lake, located on the Albanian-Greek border, is significantly smaller, at 44 km² As with other Albanian lakes, the Prespas enjoy beautiful, clear water. The region surrounding them offers myriad opportunities for recreation, including sightseeing, wildlife observation, eco-tourism, and water sports. The area features some of the best Albania has to offer - a rare combination of resplendent natural beauty and warm, hospitable locals will make any visit to this region memorable.
The small lakes. Albania also features many small, beautiful glacial lakes. Most notable among them are Dobërdol and Sylbicë Lakes in Tropoja, Balgjai Lake in Bulqizë, and the beautiful and 60 m deep Black Lake in Martanesh. Other beautiful examples include Dushku Lake in Gramsh, the four Rajca Lakes in Librazhd, and Sheleguri Lake on Mount Gramozi (Kolonja District). Other lakes still worth visiting are the 69 wonderful lakes of Dumre Plateau, near the expansive 960 ha Merhoja Lake, and the 61 m deep Çestija Lake.
Artificial lakes (Man-made lakes). Artificial lakes and reservoirs are popular for fishing and recreation. Several large ones exist in Komani, Mati (Ulëza and Shkopet), Tirana (Farka reservoir and the artificial lake of the city), Lushnja (Thana reservoir), and Korça (Gjançi reservoir). These small, man-made lakes have a lot to offer. In addition to sporting opportunities they provide habitats for a rich variety of flora and fauna. The Komani Lake also functions as a traveling waterway.
The Albanian countryside is rich with springs, rivers, and streams. There are an estimated 200 springs, each of which bursts forth with over 200 liters of water per second. Some springs have been noted for their medicinal or curative powers and have thus been the site of spas since antiquity. These spas are located throughout the country, but several noteworthy ones exist in Leskoviku (Vronomero) Dibra, Elbasani, Bënja, and Fushë-Kruja (Bilaj).
Four springs which are remarkable for their natural beauty are the Blue Eye in Saranda, Cold Water in Tepelena, Viroi in Gjirokastra, and SyriiSheganit at Shkodra Lake. The network of inland Albanian waters consists of 11 major rivers and their 150 tributaries. Measuring 285 km, Black Drini River is the longest and it flows from Ohrid Lake to the Adriatic Sea. Other large rivers include Valbona, Buna, Fani,Mati, Erzeni, Shkumbini, Seman, Vjosa, Osumi, Shushica, Devolli, Langarica, Drino, and Bistrica rivers. Some valleys and canyons created by these ancient flows offer tremendous natural beauty as well. Among these are Valbona and Shala Valleys in the Northern Alps, Tomorica Valley, Këlcyra Outfall on the Vjosa River, and the Bënça and Osumi Canyons. The canyons, in particular, offer a beautiful backdrop for a variety of paddling sports. Waterfalls are also a part of this vast network, such as those located at Grunas and Thethi, Shoshan and Kurveleshi.