Kukes, a city in northeastern Albania, – 150 km away from Tirana is the next spot chosen by the team filming the latest travel show broadcasted on Euronews Albania “Travelers” that has decided to embark on a journey from the northernmost village to the southernmost tip of the Albanian coast, in order to offer viewers the opportunity to find out all this country has to offer.
Kukes, which has been inhabited since at least the Neolithic period and through to the Bronze Age, has recently experienced a great boom of tourists and visitors especially those loving mountains, nature and alpine climate.
The many natural riches available here like mountains, forests, water springs and valleys makes it impossible for just about anyone to not include this city in their go-to list.
These are the 4 hotspots we have decided to share with you and highly recommend you visit, during your stay in Kukes.
The Bad Stairs
The canyon, known by the very interesting name, ‘The Bad Staris’ is a true wonder of nature and can be found near the village of Bicaj in Kukes – around a 30-minute car drive, or 3 hours hike. This canyon is a unique natural monument, with a 1.000 m depth and 3-meter width. It can be seen with the naked eyes from the city center and is one of the most sought-after tourist attractions that should definitely not be missed.
The Gjallica Mountain, around 2.489 m above sea level offers an exceptionally stunning view, sitting stoically and watching over the entire city of Kukes. This mountain is so grand that it can be seen from anywhere in the city. It is the highest in the Kukes region and belongs to the Dinaric Alps. The limestone mountain is engulfed in forests and vegetation, mainly pines and beech. Gjallica is increasingly famous amongst alpinists but in order to organize a climbing or hiking trip, you need the help of local groups of experts and professionals.
Shishtavec is a village, located 33 km from Kukes. One of the characteristics of this village is the presence here of a Slavic population, which arrived from the former Bulgarian Empire, and have preserved their language and traditions, becoming an officially recognized Bulgarian minority within Albania.
In fact, Shishtavec is considered to be a natural monument because of a number of tourist spots, natural reliefs, the mountains of Shishtavec, found on a 2.130 m latitude, but also this very interesting spot we suggest you go to called the Morning Stone. This sandy-rock formation, found in southern Shishtavec is in the list of Albanian natural monuments. This stone, easily visible in the horizon, used to be a reference point since antiquity and the reason behind the name is the fact that during sunrise, the sunrays create a crown around the structure. It is found at a 1.900 m latitude and for quite some time now, it has turned into a must for visitors coming from all over the world. Horse riding has been a widely practiced activity in this area since a long time ago and it continues to this day.
Lake of Fierza
The artificial lake of Fierza was created on the banks of the Drin river back in 1978, in order to serve the hydropower dam of Fierza. The lake also serves as a junction connecting citizens of Kukes, Tropoja, Has and Puka. The amazing landscape at all seasons and times of the year, has to be on your must-see list while in Kukes. An interesting fact about the Fierza Lake is the fact that underneath the water, lies the old city of Kukes, which was flooded because of the construction of the dam and had to be rebuilt on the hills nearby.
Amid the alpine climate, horseback riding, traditional food and customs, but also its natural beauties like the mountains, the lake, the canyons, its forests and many valleys, Kukes has just started to gain momentum and become a favorite amongst tourists, so don’t miss out on this beautiful northern city that has a great potential to become a regional center of tourism for all nature and adventure lovers.
Trail of Colors
Part of rural tourism is also this area called as the “Trail of Colors”, as this trail offers an incredible landscape, especially in the summer season, when many multicolored flowers bloom across the alpine meadows of Kukes. This place is found close to the border connecting Albania, Kosovo and North Macedonia, and starts from the “Çaja” mountain, stretching all the way to the valley of Korab. Even though there are many connecting entry points, this is generally a 7-hour long hike, during which the group can visit natural monuments like the “Gryka e Vanave”, the Waterfall of Bel or even the lake of Kallabak. If you love long hikes and the fresh mountain air, don’t miss out on this amazing experience and breath in all the splendors Kukës has to offer!
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