Lake Bovilla, Albania: Complete Guide to Bovilla Lake near Tirana

March 22, 2024

Lake Bovilla (Albanian: Ujëmbledhësi i Bovillës or Liqeni i Bovillës) is an artificial lake in Albania. Lake Bovilla is in fact a reservoir that provides most of the drinking water for the Albanian capital, Tirana. For this reason, it is also known as Bovilla Reservoir.

Lake Bovilla is a real hidden gem in a lesser known part of Southern Europe, and is well worth exploring.

As Lake Bovilla has become an increasingly popular destination for visitors to Albania, but relatively little information is available about it, we would like to introduce you to this fascinating place.

So, in this article, you can get to know Lake Bovilla in more detail.

Where is Lake Bovilla located in Albania?

Lake Bovilla is located about 16 kilometers (10 miles) northeast of Tirana, in the mountains of the Mount Dajt National Park. It is 4.6 square kilometers in size and varies greatly in depth, generally between 18 and 45 meters.

Map of the important places around Lake Bovilla

On Google Maps, we have marked the places you should visit or stop for a while when you travel to Lake Bovilla. Hiking trails, restaurants, campsites, Instagrammable photo spots, dam overlooks, and canyons are also included on the map.

How to get to Lake Bovilla from Tirana

Lake Bovilla is located about 16 kilometers (10 miles) from the center of Tirana, but the journey still takes an average of 1 hour!

So getting to Lake Bovilla is not easy, therefore we will give you a detailed description so that you can prepare for the trip.

Is there public transport from Tirana to Bovilla Lake?

The only way to get to Lake Bovilla is by car. There is no public transport.

However, guided tours are available, or you can take a taxi to get there.


How to prepare for the trip to Lake Bovilla

The first thing to consider is whether you want to drive. Undoubtedly, driving your own or a rental car gives you the most flexibility, and getting to Lake Bovilla on your own is the best way to get there.

However, the road is gravel, dusty and narrow in most places. In addition, there are some stretches where trucks use the road, as there is a gravel pit next to the road.

Often you have to pull over to the side of the road because of oncoming traffic, you really have to concentrate at all times. Reasonable speeds are only 8-10 km/h (5-6 mph) on the worst sections.

Driving is therefore only recommended for experienced drivers who are properly prepared.

If you don’t want to drive to Lake Bovilla, guided tours are available, where locals will take you to the lake and show you the highlights of the area.

What’s also important is that you have enough food and water with you when you travel to the lake. Although there is a restaurant near the lake, it is best to be prepared for the long journey.

If you travel by own car or rental car

If you decide to drive to Lake Bovilla, it is best to prepare for the trip in advance.

Firstly, it is important what kind of car you choose.

Preferably, the car should have all-wheel drive and the bottom of the car should not be too low.

We definitely recommend at least an SUV, but an off-road vehicle is best.

It is also an advantage to have a full-size spare wheel, although nowadays this is not standard equipment in European cars.

Travel with a guided tour

As the lake is quite remote, public transport is not available, and you can only get there by guided tours without driving yourself. Guided tours usually start from Tirana. You can find some by clicking on this link.

Route to Lake Bovilla

We will now show you in detail which road leads to Lake Bovilla from Tirana.

Along the way, there will be a GPS signal and in most cases mobile internet, so you can follow the route on the map as you go.

The first road to take from Tirana is SH53 towards Zall-Herr. This is an asphalt road for a while, then turns into a gravel road as you leave the most densely populated area.

After Tirana, there is a long stretch of gravel road where the pace becomes slow, there are many potholes and you have to watch out for oncoming traffic, sometimes pulling over to the road shoulder. This road is called Hida Road, which leads to the lake.

In the meantime, you arrive in the mountains and the scenery becomes more and more beautiful: mountains all around, and then you reach the Bovilla Canyon, which the road passes through.

When you get to the Bovilla Canyon, you have to cross a bridge, and if you are driving, be careful because the bottom of the car can touch down.

Along the way, it is worth stopping at a small bridge in the Bovilla Canyon, where you can take a closer look at the green river and the unique rock formations it has shaped. Their beauty rivals perhaps that of the Great Soca Gorge in Slovenia.

The last stretch to the lake is again an asphalt road, but winding, so drive carefully here too.

After a slight serpentine climb, you arrive at the dam of Lake Bovilla, where you can already enjoy the lake view.

Next to the dam, you will find a private parking area where you can leave your car if you do not want to drive any further.

However, the best views and the restaurant are further up, so either you park your car by the lake and walk up, or you continue the road by car. Be prepared though, this will be the most challenging section.

The elevation gain on this final, uphill section is about 250 meters (820 feet) in just 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles). A real gravel mountain serpentine.

If you walk, expect steep hills and lots of dust from cars. And if you drive, this is where you need the right car and extra attention.

Along the way, the view of the lake from the mountainside becomes more and more breathtaking as you continue upwards.

At the end of the road you arrive at the Bovilla Restaurant, where you should stop. If you arrive by car, leave your car in front of the restaurant.

The route continues on foot from the Bovilla Restaurant.

To use the last section of the trail, you will need to buy a ticket (entrance fee was €1 per person in 2023) at the restaurant, which will be checked on the way.

For this last section, it is highly recommended to wear hiking boots, as there are rocky sections and steps built into the mountainside. If you want to be safe, hiking poles are not a bad idea either.

After some uphill hiking and climbing stairs, you will arrive at the best viewpoints on the side of Gamti Mountain.

Here, you can find a metal viewing platform and several breathtaking viewpoints along the rocky mountainside.

There is also a prominent rock on the mountainside that you can climb for the best photos. However, reaching there is not easy and can be somewhat dangerous.

There is also a small cave in the mountainside, although we decided not to go in (and we think it is not a good idea).

It is worth spending more time on Gamti Mountain to enjoy the incredible views of Lake Bovilla and the surrounding mountains.

The way back will be the same as the way there, and the journey time will be similar.

How long does it take to visit Bovilla Lake?

To visit Lake Bovilla, you will need about half a day, which is on average 4–8 hours depending on the time you spend there. As we wrote, the trip is about an hour one way from Tirana and one hour return. If you only spend two hours on site, 4 hours is enough. If you want to spend more time at the lake, relaxing and enjoying the nature, then plan to spend up to a whole day.

Best time to travel to Lake Bovilla

The weather is ideal for visiting Lake Bovilla at any time when it is not raining.

Winter months would be skipped due to the colder weather and more rainfall.

But from spring to autumn, it is always worth visiting Lake Bovilla.

As for the time of day, we recommend a visit around noon, as the light is best for photography around noon. In the late afternoon, the mountains make the landscape quickly shaded.

Things to do at Lake Bovilla

As Lake Bovilla is a reservoir, there are limited opportunities around the lake. For example, there are no boat trips or water sports facilities. Nevertheless, there are excellent ways to spend your time, which we will show you.

Hiking up to Gamti Mountain

We have previously mentioned that the best views of Lake Bovilla are from Gamti Mountain. So if you visit the lake, don’t miss the stunning Gamti Mountain.

Getting there from the Bovilla Restaurant is a short hike up the mountainside. Along the way, you will encounter rocky sections and metal steps built into the mountainside. The hike is a bit challenging because of this, but definitely worth it for the view that awaits you at the top!

Dining in the Bovilla Restaurant

The Bovilla Restaurant is a nice restaurant on the mountainside, the only restaurant near the lake. They serve Albanian cuisine with breathtaking views.

One thing we noticed when we were there: the tables with the best views were all booked, despite the few tourists. So if you want a great view during your meal, make a reservation in advance.

There are many stray animals in the area, so if you have some food left, please give them a few bites!

Camping with the most beautiful views of Bovilla Lake

On the last serpentine stretch up to the restaurant, there are several grassy areas next to the lake where you can camp, and some visitors make use of them.

These areas have a fantastic view of the lake, so they are well worth a rest.

Since wild camping is not prohibited in Albania, you are welcome to spend a few hours or the night there if you feel like it. Under civilized conditions, of course!

Take photos or video of the lake with a drone

In Albania, drone regulations are still in their infancy – thankfully – so drone flying is not heavily regulated as in other parts of Europe. Feel free to bring your drone and capture wonderful shots of Lake Bovilla.

Can you swim in Lake Bovilla?

No, swimming is forbidden in Lake Bovilla. If you are looking for places to swim in Albania, the Albanian coast is a much better choice.

Where to stay near Lake Bovilla

There are three main options we propose.

  • You can camp near Lake Bovilla with a lake view: this option is mainly recommended for those arriving by camper van
  • You can book a cottage called Bovilla Village House, which also has a lake view and very reasonable prices
  • You can stay in a hotel in Tirana: the advantage is the wide choice

If you choose to stay in Tirana, we recommend the following hotels in Tirana:

mk hotel tirana: a five-star hotel at a great price. It is located near Tirana airport. Not so much for luxury, but few of the rooms we have stayed in have been as clean and comfortable as there.

Rogner Hotel Tirana: also a five-star hotel, located in the city center, closer to Tirana’s attractions. It can be booked at a slightly higher price, but it is still affordable.

Hotel Bonsai: a very affordable four-star hotel located in the southern part of Tirana in the suburbs. If a low price is important to you, this can be a good choice.

Hilton Garden Inn Tirana: A modern, four-star hotel by the Hilton chain located in the western part of Tirana, a few kilometers from the city center.

Mulaj Hotel: also a four-star hotel in the center of Tirana, close to the main attractions.

Rooftop Tirana: apartments with great views of Tirana at excellent prices.

All in all, if you’re looking for a day trip destination close to Tirana or looking for the hidden gems of Albania, Lake Bovilla is a perfect choice.

The picturesque scenery and tranquil environment offer unforgettable experiences. Whether hiking in the mountains, enjoying delicious food in an Albanian restaurant or taking breathtaking pictures, the Bovilla Reservoir will amaze every visitor.

It truly allows you to experience a unique adventure that only Albania can offer. Don’t miss this amazing destination and collect your own memories at the stunning Lake Bovilla.

Other attractions near Lake Bovilla


Tirana, Albania’s lively capital, is located near the magical Lake Bovilla.

The city has a vibrant atmosphere, full of cafés, restaurants, museums and viewpoints.

The Et’hem Bey Mosque in the heart of Skanderbeg Square is a must-see, as is the nearby Pyramid of Tirana.

Additionally, Dajti Mountain offers spectacular views of the city.

Theth National Park

The Theth National Park, located in the north of Albania, is also known as the “Albanian Alps”, and is an area of stunning scenery and natural beauty.

The national park is located not far from Shkoder, in the valley of the Shala River, and despite its remote location, it is one of Albania’s most interesting attractions.

Theth National Park is a place where you can experience nature directly. Visitors can hike exploring the area, discover mountain trails and streams, and admire the surrounding mountains and waterfalls. The park also features traditional Albanian villages where visitors can gain an insight into authentic local life.

In the Theth National Park, tourists can enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking, cycling, climbing and picnicking. The park also offers accommodation and restaurants, so visitors can stay longer in the area.

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