For a quick introduction to hiking in Albania, the accessible Krujë Mountain is easily reached by bus from nearby Tirana. With options for hiking up the face or a longer (and gentler) route along the road, this is an ideal day-trip excursion.
Whether you drive or take the bus, your first stop should be the center of town where you can check out the Castle of Kruja and the Old Bazaar. After this short detour, the trail heads straight up the face of the mountain. At the top, you’ll see a wonderful example of a Bektashi Temple before winding your way down the paved Mountain Road back to the start.
Type of Hike: Steep trail/paved road
Distance: 8.2 kilometers
Time: 4 hours
Starting Point: https://goo.gl/maps/
Head up Rruga e Malit (aka “The Mountain Road) north from the city center and you’ll find a clearly marked signpost. There might be some issues with parking here so you might want to leave the car back in town.
On the Hike
Hope you are ready to hike because we are going straight up. You quickly get some expansive views of the Castle of Kruja and the Adriatic Sea.
The path, while not well well marked, is fairly straightforward.
I hiked on a very grey day in December with lots of smog. Even this late in the year, there was no sight of snow and I spent most of the hike in a t-shirt.
At the summit is an interesting Bektashi Temple. A Sufi Islamic creed, the Bektashi have an almost mystical history in Albania mixing elements of Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism. Like most religious structures in the country, this temple was destroyed during the dictatorship of Enver Hoxha but was rebuilt in 1991. I also got to watch a guy skin a goat, so that’s a thing that also happens up here.
From the top of the mountain, you can choose to return back to Kruja on the same path or head down the Mountain Road.
The Mountain Road is a very mellow route that takes you down the backside with views of some other valleys. It’s quite a peaceful road with lots of room to avoid speeding drivers. Eventually, you will arrive back at the trailhead and a celebratory drink at one of the numerous cafes around town.
Details, Details, Details
How to Get Here: Buses leave hourly from Tirana. You have to go to the North Bus Station (either take the city bus or taxi) and once there you can easily ask around for the Kruja bus. Albanian bus stations don’t have counters or really any services. They are usually just a parking lot.
Supplies and Water: You can get everything you need in Kruja. There are a couple of restaurants up at the summit. There is also a spring on the trail near the summit, but in general, I don’t trust the water in Albania for drinking.
A perfect day hike, this route can be easily done in four hours leaving plenty of time to explore the other major sites around the city like the 400-year old Kruja Bazaar and the famous Castle of Kruja.