Nestled in the Balkan Peninsula, Albania is bordered by Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Greece, its western coastline abutting the Adriatic and Ionian seas. And Albania’s landscape is overwhelmingly mountainous. In fact, around three-quarters of its land mass is made up of mountains and hills.
But what are the highest mountains in Albania? And where are they found? That’s what we’re about to discover, starting with a look at the mountain ranges that Albania’s highest peaks call home.
Albania's Mountain Ranges
Whilst mountains are found in almost every corner of Albania’s territory, the tallest mountains in Albania are found in two main ranges: The Albanian Alps and the Central Mountain Region.
An extension of the Dinarides, the Albanian Alps or “Prokletije” are home to the majority of Albania’s highest mountains. In all, they span much of northern Albania, as well as entering Kosovo and Montenegro. They’re better known by their more mysterious moniker, as Bjeshkët e Nëmuna or the Accursed Mountains. While legends abound as to the origins of this name, it may well derive from the rough, rocky, and heavily forested nature of their terrain, which remains sparsely populated to this day.
By contrast, more people live among the blocky peaks of the Central Mountain Region or “Krahina Malore Qëndrore.” Mainly composed of sedimentary rock such as dolomite and limestone, this is where one finds the highest mountain in Albania.
At the easternmost edge of the central mountains, Albania’s highest peak rises to approximately 9,030 feet. Mount Korab or “Mali i Korabit” is a vast gypsum massif within Korab-Koritnik Nature Park. Situated on the border between Albania and North Macedonia, its pinnacle, Great Korab, is the highest point of both countries, a rarity in Europe.
Considered one of the most compact ranges of its kind, it’s a mix of precipitous plunges, rugged rock, and glacial relief such as cirques. Oak and beech forests and alpine pastures are found in its highest parts, while an intricate web of rivers, streams, and lakes surround it. Not only do these provide ideal amphibious habitats, but they might also be behind the name Korab, which means “ship.”
In addition to Great Korab, there are several other impressive peaks in this range. In fact, many are not far off in terms of height. As such, one often finds their names, such as Korab II, listed among the highest mountains in Albania. However, many do not consider them mountains in their own right, but rather subpeaks of the same mountain, which is how we’ll treat them and other similar instances.
Second on the list of the biggest mountains of Albania is Mount or “Maja” Jezercë. At around 8,839 feet above sea level, this limestone behemoth is not only the highest of the Accursed Mountains but also of all the Dinaric Alps. Nevertheless, if one were to take all Korab’s peaks into account, it would be the country’s fourth or fifth highest point.
As with many of the Accursed Mountains, Jezercë is devoid of almost all flora. It does display evidence of glaciation, including a cirque. To the north of the massif, is Liqeni i Madh i Jezercës. Some say the mountain is named for this lake, referring to the word jezero, which means “lake.” Located about three miles south of the border with Montenegro, the mountain is part of the Alps of Albania National Park.
Maja e Grykat e Hapëta
Maja e Grykat e Hapëta means ‘Mount of Open Gorges’ or ‘Mount of Open Mouths,’ the name of the third highest mountain in Albania. Part of the Albanian Alps, it’s the highest peak of the Zhapora mountain range at 8,612 feet above sea level. Like Jezercë, which lies some five miles to its northwest across the Valbona Valley, Grykat e Hapëta is rough, jagged, and virtually bare, a karstic giant dating to the Triassic. It also has a quartet of subpeaks, all of which rise above 7,800 feet.
Next among the tallest mountains in Albania is another member of the Accursed Mountains, Mount Radohima, or Maja e Radohimës, rises 8,425 feet within the Albanian Alps. The highest summit of the Radohima massif, it’s joined by several others that exceed 8,000 feet.
Despite being made up of limestone and dolomite like its counterparts in the Albanian Alps, the fifth highest mountain in Albania is known as the Iron Mountain or “Maja Hekurave.” Up to around 5,600 feet, it’s covered by beech and cypress forest. Beyond this however, there’s only a limited amount of alpine flora. It rises to an altitude of 8,400 feet, its peak a jagged pyramid.
More of Albania's Highest Mountains
As mentioned above, this list of the tallest mountains in Albania is based on the elevations of distinct mountains. However, it’s worth mentioning some of the ones that didn’t make the cut. For example, in addition to its main summit, Korabi has three peaks that are higher than Mount Jezercë in terms of their reach above sea level. However, their prominence, or their projection above their surroundings, is under 600 feet. Thus, by some measures, they do not qualify as independent peaks. Another example is Maja e Popllukës in the Accursed Mountains at 8,428 feet.
The Biggest Mountains of Albania
As we’ve seen, Albania is a land rich in hills and mountains, peaks and precipices. The highest mountain in Albania, Mount Korab, tops an impressive 9,000 feet, and there’s plenty more beyond, with several over 8,000 feet and around fifty in excess of 6,000.