Bajram Curri is the largest town in the Tropoja District of northern Albania, near the border with Kosovo. It is an important gateway to the spectacular Valbona valley and the breathtaking ferry ride across Lake Koman.
The town is named for the national hero of the same name, Bajram Curri, a freedom fighter who fought for ethnic northern Albanian interests, first against the Ottoman Empire and later against the new Albanian government. He shot himself near the town in order to avoid capture, and the town was renamed after him.
Due to its physical and cultural proximity to Kosovo, the area was adversely affected by the conflict in Kosovo, with many of its residents involved either directly in combat or in assisting and housing refugees from Kosovo.
The Tropoja area is culturally and historically closer to Kosovo than to southern Albania.
Bajram Curri is an important hub for the traveller, as you are likely to change minibuses (called "furgons") here from 3 directions. They all tend to depart around the same times, so with luck you can transfer straight from one to another:
Minibuses from Shkodra bring you to the scenic ferry across Lake Koman (500 lek). They leave Shkodra at about 6:30AM and Tirana at about 5AM. The ferry leaves Koman at 9AM and arrives in Fierze at about 12:00. You will there be picked up by minibuses that bring you to Bajram Curri (costs a few Leks extra).
The town is small enough to walk.
- Statuja e Bajram Curri (Statue of Bajram Curri). The town's hero is honoured with a statue in the centre of town.
- Muzeu Historike e Bajram Currit (Historical Museum) (In the middle of town behind the statue). Appears closed.
- Xhamia e Qytetit (Down the road from the main square, visible from most of the town). This mosque is in a state of disrepair and disuse. Nevertheless it is worth seeing from the outside, set against the Albanian Alps in the background.
- Kulla e Mic Sokolit (Mic Sokoli Tower) (southwest of Bajraam Curri in Bujan village). This is the historic house of Albanian hero Mic Sokoli who is said to have been killed by willfully putting his chest in front of enemy gun artillery.
- Visit the Valbona valley. The village of Valbona is less than an hour away by taxi and can be enjoyed in a day. Hiking options abound for the more adventurous.
- Visit the Shoshani Canyon outside Bajram Curri
- There are restaurants serving Albanian food and pizza along Rruga Syleiman Vokshi (the road starting from the statue). "Byrektore" (sweet cakes and desserts) and cafes are plentiful around the town. Hotels Ermali and Vllaznimi both have restaurants.
- Chestnuts. The region is known in the whole of Albania for holding the largest chestnut plantations in the country.
- Hotel Ermali (From the statue walk along the curved road towards the school with the basketball courts on your left. The hotel is in the nondescript building just past the basketball courts.). Pleasant rooms with ensuite bathrooms. Doubles €20/ 3000 lek, a solo traveller can stay for €10/ 1500 lek.
- Hotel Vllaznimi (Beside the main town office, right in front of the main square). Nice new hotel, excellent rooms with ensuite bathrooms and airconditioning. Double: €25.
- Hotel Bashkim Byberi, Sheshi Azem Hajdari, Bajram Curri (in the center of Bajram Curri), ☎ . 19 rooms B&B € 27, full-board € 53.
There are internet cafes around the town for 60 lek an hour or so. It is also possible to tap into one of the many unsecured Wifi networks near the town centre.
The Tropoja area has an undeserved reputation as a wild lawless region beyond the control of the government and ruled by the Albanian mafia. Unexploded ordnance from the Kosovo conflict is also an issue when wandering off the beaten path. Note that the UK, Australia and Canada have travel advisories in place advising against travel to the northeast region of Albania, including Tropoja district and Bajram Curri.
That said, the law and order situation has improved greatly and travellers are likely to meet nothing other than friendly and generous locals.
- Take the Lake Koman ferry out if you didn't come by that way. It is a breathtaking journey through massive gorges on Lake Koman.
- In the other direction, head to the pleasant cities of Gjakova and Prizren in Kosovo.