A view above a beach in the Albanian Riviera

The Ultimate Travel Guide to the Albanian Riviera

Last Updated on January 12, 2024 by Natalia

The Albanian Riviera is an amazing travel destination, home to gorgeous beaches, coastal towns, UNESCO World Heritage Sites and more! Situated in southern Albania , the riviera stretches from Dhermi to Sarande and is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in Europe. The beaches of the Albanian Riviera make it an enticing destination, especially considering they’re substantially less crowded than other European hotspots. We spent 3 weeks discovering several amazing places to visit along the riviera, including Sarande, Himare , Gjirokaster, the Blue Eye, and of course many beautiful beaches. Find out the best places to visit, where to stay and much more with this travel guide to the Albanian Riviera.

Table of Contents

How to get to the Albanian Riviera

The easiest way to get to the Albanian Riviera is to fly into the Greek island of Corfu and take the ferry over to Sarande/Saranda, Albania. During peak season there are normally over 10 boats a day running to Sarande, so you don’t have to stay overnight on Corfu itself if you don’t want to.

Prices during peak season start from €19 one-way on the slower ferry boat or from €24 one-way on the quicker boats. The slower ferries take around 70 minutes to get from Corfu to Sarande whereas the quicker boats make the journey in just 40 minutes.

Click here to find out more and book your ferry from Corfu to Sarande!

If you decide to make your way from Corfu to Sarande then be aware that the Greek Island is one hour ahead of Albania, so make your plans accordingly.

Unfortunately the Albanian Riviera has no international airport so the other main way to get to there is to fly into the capital Tirana and travel down the coast from there. Construction is due to start shortly for an international airport in Vlore and if plans go ahead is due to open in March 2025.

Getting from Tirana down to the Albanian Riviera is easy by renting a car from the airport and driving yourself which takes around 3 hours to reach the start of this beautiful area in Dhermi. It’s also possible to get here via a bus, which means heading into Tirana’s bus terminal where buses generally go every 2 hours to Sarande and take around 5/6 hours for 1300 Lek.

Only a few airlines fly into Tirana airport, which means generally flying into Corfu is a better option. If you want to explore more of Albania though you may want to fly into Tirana before making your way down to the riviera.

Make sure to check out our guide to the best places to visit in Tirana if you plan on visiting Albania’s capital city!

Viewpoint of the beautiful turquoise sea in the Albanian Riviera

Getting around the Albanian Riviera

To discover the full beauty of the Albanian Riviera it’s best to rent a car. Renting a car allows you to travel around more freely and visit places that aren’t as easily accessible by public transport.

Driving in Albania is perfectly safe and the roads are in good condition, so it’s easy enough to get around.

Public transport in the Albanian Riviera isn’t always the most reliable as buses don’t stick to a strict timetable. This means taking day trips to beaches and towns can be an issue if you don’t rent a car.

It ends up being a lot easier to get around if you rent a car, which is why we recommend renting one for the entirety of your trip. Thankfully, renting a car is relatively inexpensive in Albania, so it won’t end up costing too much either!

Click here to find the best car rental deals for your trip!

Sunset over the beach in the Albanian Riviera

Best time to visit the Albanian Riviera

Summer is the best time to visit the Albanian Riviera, as the glorious sunshine and weather gives you the chance to make the most of the beautiful beaches. The weather is best during July and August as temperatures can exceed 30 degrees Celsius.

Unsurprisingly, with good weather comes crowds of tourists. The Albanian Riviera is increasingly popular with tourists, and so July and August is very much peak season in the area.

During peak season the beaches are at their busiest and accommodation prices are at their highest, but thankfully are still reasonable compared to other European destinations.

If you visit during the shoulder season months of June and September then the weather should still be good but the beaches won’t be as busy. Saying that, you can still get an influx of tourists at beaches during these months too, but it shouldn’t be as busy as July or August.

It’s best to avoid visiting the Albanian Riviera from October to March as the weather it isn’t as warm during the autumn and winter months. The area is a lot quieter during these months, but you can’t appreciate the beaches properly without good weather, and sunny days aren’t that likely.

April and May can be good times to visit as temperatures can reach up to around 25 degrees Celsius if you’re lucky. This makes it a good time to visit if you want to avoid crowds as well as the warmest months of the year!

Crowds generally tend to congregate in popular destinations such as Ksamil, Sarande , and Dhermi . If you’re planning to explore outside of these spots then it means there’s likely to be fewer tourists around!

Blue Sea in the Albanian Riviera

Best places to visit in the Albanian Riviera

The town of Sarande, also known as Saranda, is the main city in the Albanian Riviera. It’s a great base for exploring the area, and is also home to a number of public and private beaches.

One of the easiest ways to get to the Albanian Riviera is to travel from the nearby Greek Island of Corfu. If you’re coming from Corfu then Sarande is a perfect starting point for exploring the riviera.

The town’s location means it’s well placed near some of the best things to do in the Albanian Riviera. Find out more about what the town has to offer with our guide to the best beaches in Sarande!

A beach near Sarande in the Albanian Riviera

 Ksamil

Situated approximately a 30-minute drive from Sarande, the small village of Ksamil is home to some of the best beaches in the Albanian Riviera and Albania as a whole which makes it a must visit on any itinerary in the area. There are several beaches in the village, but the pick of the bunch is Spiaggia Di Ksamil – a wonderful sandy beach with dazzling blue water.

As one of the country’s most beautiful beaches it can get quite busy. Thankfully there are a number of other beaches in Ksamil which tend to be less busy, the only downside is that they’re pebbly beaches.

There are also some other quieter beaches on the stretch of coast between Sarande and Ksamil. For example, Monastery Beach is a lovely spot to visit if you have your own car.

If you don’t have a car then it’s easy enough to get from Sarande to Ksamil by bus, which costs just 100 Lek. However you decide to get there though, don’t miss the chance to visit the amazing Spiaggia Di Ksamil beach!

Beautiful beach of white sand and blue sea in Ksamil

The ‘Blue Eye’ is an incredible natural phenomenon in the form of a stunning blue water spring and a must visit when in the Albanian Riviera. With a pool in excess of 50 metres deep, it resembles an eye thanks to the deep blue water in the centre of the spring and the lovely turquoise water that surrounds it.

Swimming isn’t allowed in the eye itself, so it’s cordoned off to protect the wonderful nature. Many people ignore this though by going for a swim or jumping into the ‘Blue Eye’ from a viewing platform.

Fortunately you are allowed to go in to the more shallow bits of water, but swimming in the eye itself is off limits. The water is icy cold which is great hot summer days – just prepare yourself before going in!

Located around a 30-minute drive from Sarande, the Blue Eye is easy to get to if you’ve rented a car. It’s possible to park by the entrance, which is extremely convenient.

If you aren’t renting a car then take the inexpensive bus from Sarande to Gjirokaster and ask the drive to stop at the Blue Eye. Unfortunately the bus route doesn’t go directly past the entrance, so once you get off it’s around a 2-3 kilometre walk to the eye itself.

As of 2024 entrance to the Blue Eye costs just 50 Lek and 100 Lek for parking, which makes it great value even if you don’t visit for long!

Blue Eye a must see in the Albanian Riviera

Gjipe Beach

The stunning Gjipe Beach and is a must do for our travel guide to the Albanian Riviera. Located in the middle of Gjipe Canyon, it’s certainly one of the country’s most picturesque beaches thanks to the beautiful nature surrounding it.

It’s a pebbly beach, but the wonderfully blue, crystal clear water makes it an amazing spot to visit regardless.

Gjipe Beach used to be one of the best kept secrets in Europe, but has become more busy in recent years as more people take holidays in the Albanian Riviera. Nowadays the beach can get quite busy, but if you get there early hopefully you can avoid the crowds!

The beach is located around a 30-40 minute drive from the town of Himare. There is a car parking fee of 250 Lek, and it’s around a half-hour walk from the car park to Gjipe Beach itself.

If you haven’t rented a car then you can either take a bus or speedboat from Himare to Gjipe Beach.

Viewpoint of Gjipe Beach as part of our Albanian Riviera travel guide

Butrint National Park

The Albanian Riviera may be best known for its beaches, but it’s also home to some fascinating history most notably at Butrint National Park. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that’s home to some incredible ancient ruins, as well as wetlands, freshwater lakes, marshes, open plains, islands and more!

Butrint is the largest archaeological park in Albania, with ruins from various civilisations including the Greeks, Romans and Byzantines. To learn more about the site’s history make sure to visit the Venetian Castle that is now home to an interesting museum.

There’s so much history to enjoy within the national park that you can easily spend half a day, or even a full day, exploring what it has to offer!

Castle in Butrint National Park an historical place to visit in the Albanian Riviera

Butrint National Park is conveniently located around a 30-minute drive from Sarande, which is perfect if you decide to rent a car. Alternatively, you can take the bus there which should take around half an hour.

Buses drop you off directly by the entrance to the park, and to catch a bus back just return to the same spot. Although there are no official bus timetables in Albania, the buses run once an hour in each direction.

Entrance to Butrint National Park costs 1000 Lek as of 2024.

Ruins in Butrint National Park

Himare is our favourite town in the Albanian Riveira, so we definitely recommend spending a few days enjoying what it has to offer. If destinations like Dhermi and Sarande are too busy for you, then Himare is the perfect place as it’s one of the quieter towns along the coast.

The beaches in and around Himare are amazing and blessed with dazzling blue sea that will make you want to dive straight in! There are 3 lovely beaches in the town itself – Spile Beach, Prinos Beach and Potami Beach – as well as several other beautiful beaches nearby, including Gjipe Beach, Livadhi Beach, Gjiri i Filikurit Beach and Jala Beach.

With lots of great beaches to choose from, Himare is a great base from which to explore the Albanian Riviera. To top if off, there are some wonderful restaurants in the area serving good quality food at reasonable prices!

Find out more about this lovely little town with our guide to the best things to do in Himare!

Blue Sea and beach in Himare

Gjirokaster

The Old Town of Gjirokaster, itself a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the best places to visit in the Albanian Riviera. This brilliantly preserved Ottoman Old Town makes for a refreshing change from the area’s beautiful beaches, and so it’s an ideal destination for any history lovers.

Situated in a valley between the Gjere mountains and the Drino river, the city is surrounded by beautiful nature. A visit to the well-preserved Gjirokaster Castle gives you the chance to enjoy lovely views of the Old Town, as well as the surrounding mountains.

Aside from visit the castle, the main thing to do in Gjirokaster is to wander through the cobblestone streets and admire the unique Ottoman architecture of the Old Town.

Buses run every hour from Sarande to Gjirokaster, and take around 1-1½ hours to get between the two. A bus should cost around 400 Lek, and will drop you a relatively steep 30-minute walk from the Old Town, but thankfully taxis are available if you’d prefer.

View over the mountains and old houses in Gjirokaster in the Albanian Riviera

Albanian Riviera Tours

Blue eye and lekuresi castle tour.

This wonderful guided tour takes you to explore the natural wonder of the Blue Eye, as well as the ancient Lekuresi Castle in South Albania. The tour includes all entry fees and departs in the morning from Sarande.

At the Blue Eye, you’ll be amazed by the sparkling blue and crystal clear water, as well as the beautiful surrounding greenery. From Lekuresi Castle you will enjoy stunning panoramic views of Sarande, Butrint Lagoon, and the nearby Greek island of Corfu.

Tours depart from Sarande and cost just €59 per person, with a minimum of 2 people required for the trip to run. 

Click here to book an incredible tour to the Blue Eye and Lekuresi Castle on the Get Your Guide website!

Private Albanian Riviera Tour

Explore the stunning Albanian Riviera with a private guided tour that takes you to some of the region’s most beautiful spots. Over the course of around 10 hours you will visit a variety of amazing spots including Himare, Dhermi, Borsh, Qeparo, and Vuno.

Being a private tour the itinerary can often be altered slightly if there are some other spots on this list that you would prefer to visit too! These amazing tours of the Albanian Riviera start from around €64 per person, with a minimum of 3 people required for the trip to run.

Click here to book this amazing tour on the Viator website!

Where to stay in the Albanian Riviera

Blue water villa.

The Blue Water Villa in Ksamil is a wonderful option if you want to stay near the centre and close to the nicest beaches in the Albanian Riviera. Just a short walk from Ksamil’s beaches, the hotel offers modern air-conditioned rooms and free private parking on site.

Staff are kind and helpful too, so will strive to make your stay as good as it can be! Prices start from just 10,300 Lek  per night.

Click here to see the brilliant Blue Water Villa on Booking.com!

Vila Kosteli

If you’re looking for where to stay in the Albanian Riviera then Vila Kosteli is perfect. Ideally located by the Himare beachfront, it’s a lovely place to spend a few days.

All rooms at the hotel have air conditioning as well as a balcony, some of these rooms you will be able to enjoy sea views from the comfort of your room.

Prices at the hotel start from 12,000 Lek  per night.

Click here to book a stay at the lovely Vila Kosteli on Booking.com!

Beach in Ksamil in the Albanian Riviera

Elysium Hotel

The stunning Elysium Hotel is one of the best luxury hotels in the Albanian Riviera. First things first, the hotel has a huge swimming pool for you to cool off in during the hot summer days.

On top of that, the rooms are modern and luxurious, making the hotel a great place to relax. There’s free parking on site and the service is incredible too, so you’re bound to have an amazing stay!

Situated in Dhermi, the hotel is well situated for exploring the Albanian Riviera. Prices at the hotel start from 16,170 Lek  per night.

Click here to take a look at the amazing Elysium Hotel on Booking.com!

Buze Boutique Hotel

Sarande is one of the best places to stay in the Albanian Riviera, and one of the best hotels in the area is the brilliant Buze Boutique Hotel. With a lovely outdoor swimming pool and a private beach, the hotel has everything you need for an amazing stay.

There’s free private parking available at the hotel, which is perfect if you’re renting a car to explore. Prices start from 22,550 Lek  per night, with breakfast included in the price.

Click here to take a look at the Buze Boutique Hotel on Booking.com!

Looking for other places to travel in Eastern Europe? Check out our one week Montenegro itinerary.

Please note that some links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase we make a small commission at no extra cost to you. This money is used to support this website and cover the costs of keeping it online and free to access!

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The ultimate travel guide to the Albanian Riviera

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Home > Albanian Riviera Guide – What To Do, Where To Sleep, Eat & More

Albanian Riviera Guide – What To Do, Where To Sleep, Eat & More

Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

There is a stretch of shoreline along the Albania coast from Vlorë (Vlore) and Palasë (Palasa) in the North to Sarandë (Saranda) and Ksamil in the South – the Albanian Riviera; that’s where you’ll find the best-hidden beaches in Europe. Our guide has them all and much more info!

Albania Travel Blog_Guide To The Albanian Riviera

This post will go through the coast of Albania and show you how this is the perfect place for a holiday with history, natural beauty, and friendly faces.

There are UNESCO sites such as the Butrint Archaeological Site and National Park that date back to the ancient Greeks and Romans’ times. It is at the beautiful Drymades and Jale Beaches where you’ll get the suntan to show your friends back home.

You’ll find incredible nightlife in the cities that contrast with days in the small villages. There’s a lot to do in the Albanian Riviera, also called Bregu by the locals.

Here’s our special Albanian Riviera guide for you.

Skip Ahead To My Advice Here!

Best Time To Visit The Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is full of tourists during July and August when the weather is the warmest. (It averages around 28 to 30 °C during the day and 18 to 20 °C at night.) But given that Albania’s peak season sees fewer crowds than other European countries, the masses won’t make much of a difference.

Spring from April to June and Fall from September to October are the best times to visit the Albanian Riviera as the weather is not too cold or too warm.

The winter season , from November to March, sees fewer tourists, with nighttime temperatures dropping to 2 °C. If you like the cold, though, and don’t mind skipping the beach on your trip, winter is beautiful for a visit as well.

  • When To Visit Albania

What To Do On The Albanian Riviera

Here are just a few things to keep you busy on the Albanian Riviera.

1. Butrint National Park & Archaeological Site

Butrin - Things to Do In The Albanian Riviera

One can easily spend most of the day visiting the Butrint Archaeological Site and National Park like this , located 18 km south of the village of Sarande, and it’s a definite must for any family holiday in Albania .

Designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009, it is home to a diverse selection of plants and animals, including some rare flora species like the Capparis spinosa, Agrimonia eupatoria, and Laurus nobilis.

Butrint Park is also the only place in Albania where you can see the Balkan wall lizard, sand boa, Epirote frog, and tortoise. Wolves, dolphins, reptiles, and many birds make their home here.

The ancient town of Butrint, located inside the park, represents different stages of history, from the 4th BC Hellenistic temples to the 19th-century Ottoman defenses.

The settlement of Buthrotum, aka Butrint, was also referred to in Virgil’s epic ‘The Aeneid.’ Worshippers of Asclepius, the god of medicine, came here to drink the sacred Butrint waters and be healed.

The Romans took over Butrint in 228 BC, but it doubled in size in 45 BC under Augustus Ceasar.

The best preserved of the ancient ruins is the Roman Theatre of Butrint, located below the Acropolis and looking out over the Vivari Channel. It was built in the 3rd century BC on the walls of an older theatre and has undergone several renovations through the years.

You can see the remains of the Aqueducts, Dionysus Altar, Gymnasium, Forum, Nymphaeum, temples of Minerva and Asclepius, and the Lion Gate.

Find Butrint tour options here.

Get a quote on a car rental here..

Things To Do In The Albanian Riviera - Ksamil Beach

Called the “Ionian Pearl,” Ksamil has one of the best beaches in Albania . It’s popular with locals and tourists alike. It’s also easier to get to Ksamil from Greece than driving down 5 hours from Tirana. Just land at Corfu Airport in Greece and take the 30 to 40-minute boat ride to Saranda, followed by the bus to Ksamil.

The ferry costs 10 to 15 euros while the bus ride costs 100 LEK, less than a euro.

Book your ferries in Albania here.

The sandy beaches and turquoise waters rival those in Greece and  are not as crowded . If you really look, you can also find some secluded spots to enjoy quiet time . The three islands in front of Ksamil are within swimming distance and can be accessed via boat.

To book Ksamil beach hotels close to the beach, try one of these places:

  • Click here for Hotel Meta Ksamil, a great for budget travelers
  • Click here for Hotel New Crystal, which is right on the beach

Also, visit the nearby Syri i Kalter or Blue Eye , a natural phenomenon where the dark blue bubbles amidst the turquoise waters look like an eye.

  • Our Favorite Albanian Riviera Hotels

3. Sarandë Or Saranda

Things to Do On The Albanian Riviera - Gjirokastra Castle

With views of the Greek island of Corfu, the coastal town of Saranda is the unofficial main stop on the Southern part of the Riviera . It connects the nearby cities of Tirana and Corfu Island. The beach in Saranda is pretty decent and covered with loungers and umbrellas .

If you’re a history fan, drive to or take the minibus to the town of Gjirokaster , which is 1.5 hours away. This UNESCO Heritage site is filled with stone houses overlooked by the old Gjirokaster Fortress . Gjirokaster is derived from the Greek words argyron and kastron, which means “silver castle.”

Archaeology says the city was inhabited during the Bronze and Iron Ages. The old cobblestone pathways tell tales of different times in the city’s history.

If you have one more day, go up to the Monastery of Forty Saints for a breathtaking view of Sarande Bay and the town.

  • Car Rental In Saranda
  • Best Hotels In Saranda

300*250

Besides Saranda, Himara (Himarë) is the only other big town you’ll find while driving in Albania . The part of Himara built on and around the old castle is called Kastro and has the ruins of Himara Castle. The town finds many tourists spending time here with Byzantine architecture , views of the Ceraunian Mountains, Orthodox churches, olive groves, and a beautiful bay.

To the south of the town lies the village of Qeparo. It is one of the Albanian villages that has been cultivating olives for centuries. Both Greeks and Albanians live in the charming settlement of Qeparo, and you can stroll along its narrow streets with old houses.

The beautiful castle of Porto-Palermo is located in Qeparo in the Bay of Porto Palermo. Although many believe Ali Pasha of Ionina built the castle, it may have actually been constructed long before and fortified by him. Only time and further excavations will tell. The Castle of Porto-Palermo, or Panormos, has impressive views of the Ionian Sea and the Ceruanian Mountains.

5. Swim At The Largest Beach In Ionian Sea

It may not be the most secluded beach in Europe, but Borsh Beach is – the largest along the Ionian Sea . At 7 km, it is one of the most popular & gorgeous beaches in Albania and is surrounded by mountains and olive trees.

You can find restaurants and sun loungers on most parts of the beach and absolute privacy in a few sections. Hurry, as it’ll soon be the most popular destination in the South of Albania.

6. Visit A Secluded Beach

Albanian Riviera Guide - Gjipe beach

One of the best private beaches in Europe is Gjipe Beach, on the road to Karaburun, Albania, or somewhat off the road to Karaburun. It’s so remote that it takes a 30-minute hike through a forest to get here.

If you’ve never been here before, it won’t be easy to find on your own. Best go with a guide. If you don’t like hiking through the jungle, you can hire a kayak from the neighboring Jale Beach to get here.

There are very few vendors on the beach and absolutely no restaurants. One of the best South Albania beaches to visit!

Another one of the best beaches in Albania that can be accessed only by boat is Kakome Beach.

7. Visit Dhermi Village And Dhermi Beach

Balkans Travel Guide: Best Beaches in the Balkans: Dhermi Beach

One of the longest beaches in the Albanian Riviera, the Dhermi Beach has white sands lapped by turquoise waters —no wonder it gets packed in summer months. Plus, Dhermi Village, where the beach is situated, is considered a nightlife destination by the Albanian youth.

The village of Dhermi in Himara’s Vlore county is actually composed of 3 neighborhoods: Dhermi, Gjilek, and Kondraq, which is perched on the side of the Ceraunian Mountains. You can rent villas and cottages here at reasonable rates.

8. Skip The Crowds At Drymades Beach

A beautiful white stretch of beach surrounded by olive trees, the Drymades beach is covered with pebbles on one end and sandy on the other . The beach, located in a small bay off the village of Dhermi, is perfect for a relaxing time at the beach , minus the crowds that can be seen at the nearby Dhermi Beach.

9. Drive Where Ceasar Walked

Llogara National Park_Albanian_Riviera_from_Llogara_Pass_ (1)

Caesar was here! Julius Caesar! History tells that in 48 BC, Caesar and his legions landed at Palase and crossed the Llogara Pass to chase General Pompey. And although Caesar walked or probably went up the Llogara Pass on horseback, you can drive here.

The Llogara Pass is a spectacular mountain road from Dhermi to Orikum. Sitting at a height of 1027 meters, the Llogara Pass or Qafa e Llogarasë is part of the Cika Mountain Range in the Llogara National Park.

First built in 1920, the Llogara Pass road was but a single-lane dirt road up till 2009. Now it’s well developed and gives magnificent views of the coastal drive and the surrounding mountains.

The Llogara National Park spans 1010 hectares of an alpine forest overlooking the Albanian Riviera and has been protected since 1966. You can hike or picnic in the park , stay at the small resorts or head to one of the Albanian Riviera hotels.

10. Tragjas

On the other side of the Llogara Pass is the abandoned village of Old Tragjas. Bombed in 1943, the village has been abandoned since.

Situated at the top of a hill close to the new Tragjas, Old Tragjas has good views of Orikum. The path to the new village from the old one is scattered with tombs and hence called Pass of the Tombs. Inside the village are an old Jewish doctor’s tomb and an Ottoman tomb with Arabic writing.

11. Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park

Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park - National Parks in Albania

Situated in Vlora County, the Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park is a hallmark of the biodiversity around Sazan Island and the Karaburun Peninsula. The diverse landforms and ecological systems have given birth to various plant and animal life here, including dolphins, monk seals, golden jackals, red squirrels, and some endangered species.

The park is also home to sunken ships from Ancient Greece, Rome , and World War II. Steep cliffs, inscriptions from ancient sailors, caves, and secluded beaches make the park a must-visit.

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What to eat in the albanian riviera.

Albanian Food - Trilece - Balkan Dessert

Food on the Albanian coast will keep you more than satisfied. Here are just a few of our favorite Albanian foods:

  • Ayran:  A salty yogurt drink
  • Baklava:  A flaky pastry filled with nuts and soaked in sugar syrup. The pistachio version is amazing
  • Byrek mi spinaq:  A flaky pastry filled with spinach and cheese. Meaty versions are also as tasty
  • Kaçkavall:  A South Balkan cheese used in salads or baked or fried. The fried version is to die for
  • Mussels:  Mussels from Butrint lagoon supply all of Albania.
  • Petulla: A fried doughy pastry that’s eaten for breakfast with honey, cinnamon, feta, cheese, cream, or sugar
  • Raki : An aromatized Balkan liquor
  • Speça me gjize: Red, orange, yellow, or green peppers stuffed with cottage cheese, spices, and rice before being baked
  • Tavë kosi: Lamb cooked with eggs and yogurt sauce. Originally from Elbasan near Tirana, but available everywhere

Also, try the Perime ne zgare, Qofte, and Kernaçka, and of course, the fresh fish and seafood that’s famous here.

  • Traditional Food To Eat In Albania

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Best Places To Eat & Drink On The Albanian Riviera

Things To Do In Sarajevo Coffee

Bianco Lounge Bar:  Enjoy a cocktail and music at this cozy bar overlooking the three Ksamil islands.

Guvat: Enjoy traditional dishes and fresh fish on the beautiful terrace of the Guvat Bar Restaurant in Ksamil while looking out at the three gorgeous islands .

Afrimi:  A family-run restaurant in Ksamil that serves excellent Albanian food.

Porto Palmero Restaurant:  This child-friendly restaurant serves amazing seafood risotto and has good views of the Porto Palmero Castle, which is just a short walk away.

Harmonia:  On Dhermi Beach, this little restaurant serves international and traditional Albanian food . You have a choice of sitting indoors or outdoors, and the food is absolutely delicious.

Lucianos:  With beautiful sea views, Lucianos on Dhermi Beach may get so crowded that you have to wait for your table. Try their grilled fish , house wine, and trileçe dessert.

La Petite:  This restaurant near the center of Saranda gets full very fast. Book in advance if you prefer. You’ll get excellent service and traditional Balkan food .

How To Get To The Albanian Riviera

There are no airports along the Albanian Riviera, and no international trains run to Albania . The nearest airport is in Tirana, the capital of Albania. The Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza receives flights from most international cities. It was named after Mother Teresa but is locally called Rinas International Airport.

From Tirana , you can catch a bus or minibus (furgon) from the South Interurban Station at Dogana. The buses to Saranda take the coastal road, and it takes about 5 hours to get there. There are also buses from Saranda to Vlore that pass through the villages en route.

The touristic Riviera bus was started in 2013 and runs three times a week. This is not public transport per se, but a private door-to-door service that offers complimentary refreshments and WiFi onboard . The buses go on Tue, Thu, and Sat from Tirana to Sardana and on Mon, Wed, and Fri from Sardana to Tirana.

However, since Albania’s bus service is not frequent, it’s best to get around by driving in Albania . Be prepared for an initially long drive interspersed with stops at lovely little villages.

Do you have more suggestions for what to eat, drink, and do on the Albanian Riviera? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • The Best Time To Travel To Albania

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Me and two friends are thinking of planning a trip to the Albanian Riviera in September for a girls trip. But we are wondering about the type of tourists who visit, we are hoping to talk to handsome European men! Ha. What would you say the vibe is? Are we better off just going to Italy?

Hi there! Loved reading this blog! I’ve decided to go to Albania over Croatia now! My partner and I will be heading from Greece so I think it would be good to get a ferry from corfu. Just wanted to know how you went about hiring a car? Will they have car hire in saranda?

Oh wow, how cool. Yes, you can hire a car easily there. Here is some info to help you https://www.chasingthedonkey.com/rent-a-car-saranda-rent-a-car-albania/

Hello! Thank you for sharing. Albania is a perfect place for relaxing and having a trip with someone because of its natural beauty.

Amazing content! Thanks for sharing this informative content with us.

I wd love to have my next vacation across Greece and the albanian riviera, especially, ksamil and Kurfu island. Im planing the trip on July this year…

Thank you for this great article. It covers everything! I plan to travel to Albania from Canada in June 2022. I heard it is a hidden gem, but really I know nothing about it and I have no friends to ask about this destination – so I am relying on blogs like these to help me plan.

Question, I’m 27 and traveling with my partner – we would be in the riveria the first week of June. Is that to early in the season? Will it be warm enough for beach day? Will the towns be dead quiet? We prefer it to be lively, and the possibility of making friends/partying.

I really want to visit Albania after the month of November , I know it will be cold or maybe spend the New Year there with a tour. I want to come from Egypt Airport and have been fully vaccinated .

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albanian riviera travel guide

The Ultimate Albania Riviera Guide: 20 Amazing Places to See in the Albanian Riviera + Transportation, Accommodations, and More!

Albania-Riviera-Guide

Planning a trip to Albania? If so, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about the legendary Albanian Riviera and are considering a visit. 

albanian riviera travel guide

The Albanian Riviera is, in my opinion, one of the biggest hidden gems in Europe . 

With picture-perfect turquoise waters, isolated enclaves, incredible historical sites, some of the best beaches in Europe , and budget-friendly prices , I’m surprised that this region is still relatively undiscovered!

There are so many amazing things to do along the Albania Riviera, from exploring uninhabited islands to hiking along lush paths, partying it up next to DJ Tiesto, snorkeling, and, of course, relaxing on pristine beaches.

If you’re ready to go, keep reading — this guide will go over some of the best cities and towns along the Albanian coast, plus practical tips on transportation, the best places to stay in the Albania Riviera, interesting facts, and so much more! 

WHAT IS THE ALBANIAN RIVIERA?

Before we get to the good stuff, let’s take a second to go over the basics: 

The western border of Albania covers more than 350 kilometers (215 mi) and is almost exclusively bordered by the sea (except for a small chunk up north). 

However, there’s a subtle difference that divides the western coast into two regions: the northern borders the Adriatic Sea , while the south is where the coast meets the Ionian Sea — and also where the Albanian Riviera is located!  

The Albanian Riviera gets its warm turquoise water exclusively from the Ionian Sea and is locally known as Bregu. 

Likewise, the length of the Albanian Riviera is somewhere between 130 to 200 km (depending how you measure it) and is full of small villages, secluded beaches, canyons, fruit groves, scenic mountain passes, and much more. This region is one of the most ecologically diverse parts of Albania!

There’s a popular misconception that the Albanian Riviera is only made up of a few major resorts between Saranda and Ksamil, but that’s very far from the truth. It’s actually home to dozens (if not hundreds!) of charming villages, ‘summer towns,’ boutique resorts with their own private beaches, and much, much more — you definitely won’t be bored during your trip to the Albanian Riviera! 

Where is t he Albanian Riviera?  

Now that we have a basic overview of the what, let’s move onto the where. 

The Albanian Riviera starts around the city of Vlore, and makes its way through numerous villages and beaches before ending around Ksamil. 

To make it more visual, here’s a map of the Albanian Riviera, along with most of the stops that will mentioned in this post. :) 

albanian riviera travel guide

How to get to the A lbanian Riviera

There are a few different ways to get to the Albanian Riviera, and I’ll cover each variant below: 

OPTION #1 — Fly into Tirana and take a car, bus, or taxi

If you’re planning to travel around Albania and want to add the coast as one of your destinations, it’s best to fly into Tirana Airport (TIA) and go from there. 

There are no direct buses from Tirana Airport to the Albanian Riviera, but there are buses from Tirana city to Vlore or Saranda . These typically cost about 10 to 15 EUR per person (depending on the destination) and there are a few companies that offer daily departures.

However, it’s worth noting that most buses are a little outdated and there’s no clear organization at the bus station — I’ve written about it in my Albania for Digital Nomads blog post under the ‘By Bus’ section. 

Another option is to take a taxi , which can cost anywhere from 150 to 200 EUR (depending on the size of the car). Since the cost is higher than other options, taking a taxi is only viable if you’re traveling with a group (i.e. 3 or more people) to split the cost.

Last but certainly not least, renting a car is one of the best options. There are tons of options available, and car rentals in Albania start at 20 to 25 EUR per day! If you take the same 200 EUR that would cost for a taxi, you could drive the entire length of Albania in 10 days and come out ahead. :)

If you’re interested in this option, click here to check car rentals. 

OPTION #2 — Fly into Corfu and take the ferry

If you’re traveling to Albania just to enjoy a getaway on the riviera (i.e. no plans to visit other parts of the country), I’ll divulge a really neat travel hack: fly into a neighboring country! 

As noted above, Albania only has one airport (in Tirana), and sometimes you just don’t want to spend 4 or 5 hours driving. No worries — I got you!  

The closest airport to the Albanian Riviera is Corfu International Airport (CFU) , which offers much more flexibility and convenience. In fact, there are dozens of daily flights from European cities and plenty of budget airline routes (on Ryanair, Wizz Air, TUI, easyJet, and more).

After landing at Corfu, you’ll need to take a quick 20-minute ride to the Port of Corfu and board your ferry to Saranda. You’ll have two options for the ferry: either the 30-minute speedboat or the 70-minute regular ferry. The prices vary between 20 to 50 EUR, depending on the season and type of boat you’ll take.

At the end, disembark and enjoy your time in Saranda!

albanian riviera travel guide

How to get Around the Albanian Riviera

While there are many ways to travel around the Albanian Riviera, the absolute best way is to rent a car.

With a car, you’ll have a much easier time driving along the Albanian Riviera. First, car rentals are very budget friendly (starting at 20 EUR per day) and allow you to travel wherever and whenever you want. 

You’ll be way more flexible, since you can literally get in your car and explore all of the little villages and towns around the riviera (versus having to stick to the ‘big cities’ if you’re taking the bus). 

Finally, it doesn’t matter if you start in Vlore or Sarande (the ‘start’ and ‘end’ of the Albanian Riviera), as both cities have multiple car rental agencies. 

Click here to check car rentals — I personally love this company (RentalCars) and use them all the time when I travel. 

The other option is to take the bus. One downside is that you’ll be limited to the ‘big’ cities (i.e. major places like Vlore, Himare, Saranda, etc), but it could be a nice adventure — and who knows, maybe you’ll meet some cool locals along the way. :) 

To make it easier, I’ve marked major cities with a star emoji (⭐️) in the section below ( Where to go in the Albanian Riviera ). 

guide to Albanian Riviera

Best T ime to Travel to the Albanian Riviera

Depending on your purpose, there are a few different ‘best times’ to visit the Albanian Riviera.

If you’re trying to avoid hoards of summer tourists on package vacations and the scorching heat, your best bet is to travel during the shoulder season. This is from April to early June , as well as September to the beginning of October . The closer you are to July and August, the warmer the sea will be.

July and August are peak vacation months, as many tourists come to the Albanian Riviera’s most popular cities (especially Saranda) on vacation and even on day trips from Corfu. I would try to avoid these months if possible, and if not, at least visit a few smaller towns to offset the crowds. 

Outside of spring and summer, the coast is stormy with frequent rains. If you’re planning to go during winter, I would recommend another place in Albania (such as Tirana, Elbasan, or Korce). 

Other Useful Information

albanian riviera travel guide

On a similar note, be sure to book your rental car and all accommodations ahead of time, or else you’ll face the risk of having to pay in cash (and prices might go up for hotels if it’s a last-minute booking!) 

Likewise, make sure to check if your accommodation(s) take credit cards. To avoid this issue, I recommend pre-booking and pre-paying ( Booking.com usually has this option ). 

🏖️ Language in Albania — Thanks to its location and history, locals along the riviera typically speak Albanian and Greek and/or Italian. English can be hit or miss depending where you go, although the most popular cities in the Albanian Riviera have many English speakers that work in tourism. 

🏖️ The Beaches — If you’re into secluded and quiet places, some hotels and resorts have their own private beaches! Some of the most popular include Stone Beach in Qeparo , Sole Luna in Borsch , and Folie Marine Beach Hotel in Jale .  

WHERE TO GO IN THE ALBANIAN RIVIERA

Now we get to the fun part: the best places to visit in the Albanian Riviera!

We’ll start at the very beginning of the Albanian Riviera (Vlore) and make our way down to the end (Ksamil). Along the way, I’ll note some of the best beaches, places to see, and accommodations. Ready? Let’s go!

Street in Vlore, Albania

Sprawled on a bay with clear waters and surrounded by the thunder-split Ceraunian Mountains, Vlore is where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet — and, thanks to this unique geographic feature, it’s officially known as the beginning of the Albanian Riviera! 

Also written as Vlora, this bustling seaside port is the third biggest city in Albania and a major destination for those looking to start their Albanian Riviera holiday. This is because the city has well-developed infrastructure, with plenty of hotels and seaside apartments, grocery stores, shops, cafes, and much more. 

On a side note, Vlore is also an excellent destination for digital nomads , and was one of my favorite cities when we traveled around Albania!

I recommend at least one or two days in Vlore to chill out, adjust, and get ready for your Albanian Riviera trip (whether that’s renting a car or just figuring out where the bus station is :)). 

What to do in Vlore

💃 Walk Along the Promenade — Vlore has a well-kept and tidy promenade that’s perfect for taking a stroll during sunrise or sunset. Near the city, there’s also a mini amusement park and excellent cafes and restaurants! 

🕌 Muradie Mosque — One of the oldest mosques in Albania, Muradie mosque was built in the 1500s and is one of the most prominent Cultural Monuments in the country. It’s especially beautiful against the backdrop of the city and has a melodic call to prayer.  

⛲️ Explore Vlore’s Old Town — Just a few blocks away from the mosque are the remnants of Vlore’s old town. While only a few buildings survived to this day, they’re very well-taken care of and charm visitors with their pastel colors and cheery facades. :) 

Top Accommodations in Vlore

albanian riviera travel guide

Just a few kilometers off the coast of Albania is this mysterious and uninhabited island with an interesting past.

Sazan Island used to be a former military base during Albania’s communist era and served as a base for submarines and arms. In fact, more than 3,000 soldiers used to live on the island, although nowadays that number has drastically fallen to a grand total of 2 (to patrol the area and catch smugglers). 

As one reviewer succinctly put it, “This is an exciting mixture of the untouched nature and the rusty relics of the military past!”

Sazan Island can easily be reached via a 30-minute boat ride from Vlore. There are plenty of tours that offer a trip to the island, typically with a stop at Haxhi Ali Cave and/or Karaburun Marine Park. 

Click here to check out the prices and tours that go to Sazan Island

albanian riviera travel guide

Despite its small size and secluded location, Orikum is a lovely town that’s full of resorts and local guest houses sprinkled around the surrounding bay. Another bonus is that there are plenty of fine pebble beaches and places to swim. 

Interestingly, Orikum takes its name from an ancient Greek city that’s just a few kilometers away. If you’d like to explore, head over to the Parku Arkeologjik i Orikumit or Marmiroi Church , which are the only surviving ruins. 

Top Accommodations in Orikum 

albanian riviera travel guide

Did you know that 3 out of 14 National Parks are located in the Albanian Riviera? 

While we’ve talked about one (Karaburun-Sazan) already and will go over another (Butrint) a little later, let’s take a look at Llogara — which is one of the oldest (and most scenic!) national parks in Albania. 

Llogara is just a short 30-minute drive from our previous stop, Orikum, or an hour away from Vlore. Although it’s further inland from most other places along the Riviera, Llogara is an excellent place if you want to get some hiking into your trip. 

If you have a day or two, I highly recommend walking the trails — thanks to its 1,000-some meter height, the views of the surrounding bays and water are just gorgeous! If not, there are also a few places to park your car and take a few photos. :) 

What to do in Llogara National Park

Go Hiking!  — As mentioned, Llogara is one of those places that deserves to be on your hiking bucket list. The Cika Hike is the most popular route, and takes anywhere from 4 to 6 hours (depending on your speed and number of stops) to reach the top. The length is about 12 km (7.5 mi). 

See One of the Most Beautiful Views in Albania — When driving along Llogara Pass, be sure to stop at this spot and take in the breathtaking views — just type in “Panorama Llogara” on Google Maps for directions. If you’re lucky (and it’s a clear day), you might even see the Greek island of Corfu! 

Bunkers – Did you know that there are more than 170,000 bunkers in Albania? You can check out the lasting remnants of the country’s communist period in many places around Albania, but perhaps one of the most well-known is the ‘Big Bunker’ near Panorama Llogara (above). 

Top Acco mmodations in Llogara National Park 

albanian riviera travel guide

Palase (also written as Palasë or Paljasa) is one of the first towns that you’ll encounter after departing Llogara National Park.

Palase’s biggest claim to fame is that Julius Caesar rested here before continuing to Llogara, although it’s also famous for its charming white houses, 400-year old plane tree, and a stunning 1.5 kilometer beach.  

Likewise, this area is famous for the numerous luxury apartments and boutique hotels, and is an excellent place to base yourself if you’re looking for where to stay in the Albanian Riviera!

Top Acco mmodations in Palase 

albanian riviera travel guide

In a nutshell, Dhermi is the poster child of the Albanian Riviera. And by that, I mean literally — you’ve most likely seen its beautiful clear waters on a travel brochure, Albania guidebook, blog post, or some other tourism-related piece.

Besides its charming good looks and world-famous beaches, Dhermi is also popular for its parties — if you’re looking for some of the best Albanian Riviera nightlife, this place is definitely for you!

From beach clubs to bars, festivals, and so much more, Dhermi is party central during the summer months. It actually hosts one of the most popular music festivals in Albania, Kala Festival, which describes itself as “an eclectic selection of artists connected by spirit rather than genre.”

Fun fact: DJ Tiesto performed in Dhermi back in 2009 — who knows, maybe he’ll be there during your vacation as well. :)  

Top Accomm odations in Dhermi 

Gjipe Beach in Albania

Nestled in a cove between Dhermi and Himara is Gjipe Beach, which is often considered to be one of the best beaches in Albania. 

In fact, if you’re planning to enjoy a beach holiday in the Albanian Riviera, Gjipe Beach should definitely be on your itinerary! What makes it special is the fact that it’s slightly out of the way for most people, as you’ll need to climb 30 minutes down a walkway to reach the beach. 

You can also take a kayak tour  to visit this secluded beach and make it into a fun day tour — just don’t forget the sunscreen! 

If you’re planning to spend the whole day here, be sure to pack some drinks, snacks, and cash, as a beach chair and umbrella cost around 1,000 Lek ($10 USD). 

Top Accommodations near Gjipe Beach 

albanian riviera travel guide

Located some 300 meters above the riviera is this charming village, which looks as if it was plucked straight out of Tuscany. 

If you’re in search of raw nature and/or to see how the locals live, Vuno is an excellent choice. The town is famous for its rolling hills (try to find the shepherds and their goats!), idyllic white and stone houses, and lush green groves. 

Top Accommodations in Vuno

albanian riviera travel guide

Jale Beach is a cute beach with neatly-lined thatched umbrellas, pristine waters, and pleasant small pebbled sands. 

Thanks to the clear waters around the area, Jale Beach is an excellent spot to go kayaking, snorkeling, and diving — or simply relaxing. 😌

Top Accommo dations near Jale

albanian riviera travel guide

Other than Vlore and Sarande, Himare is one of the three major cities in the Albanian Riviera.   

The town is well-equipped for tourism and has everything you need to enjoy a vacation, including restaurants and cafes, grocery stores, local tavernas, and even a post office. In fact, many people choose to use Himare as their base in the Albanian Riviera and explore neighboring towns as day trips. 

Other than soaking up the sun, you can also check out the famous Himara Castle (with beautiful views of the sea!), walk along the beach boardwalk, or stroll/hike through the surrounding countryside.

Top Accommodations in Himare  

With such excellent beaches and infrastructure, it’s no wonder why Himare has some of the best hotels in the Albanian Riviera. From charming boutique hotels to luxury resorts and everything in between, it’s all here.

albanian riviera travel guide

Besides its dreamy beaches and turquoise waters, one of the most famous tourist attractions in the Albanian Riviera is the Porto Palermo Castle. 

In fact, Palermo really reminded me of Herceg Novi , another city in the Balkans that’s famous for its castles and forts!

Palermo doesn’t have many accommodations nearby, and it’s best to visit this place as a day trip — it’s only 7 km from Himare, and you can walk to the island where the castle is located via a small strip of land. 

albanian riviera travel guide

At first glance, Qeparo might look like an abandoned village, but this place has quite an interesting history. Let’s start with the name: 

Qeparo was originally called Kiparos, which means garden in Greek — and this perfectly fits the town’s history. Many years ago, Greeks and Albanians used to live in the village and cultivate some of the best olives and olive oil in the country. 

In fact, Qeparo is actually divided into two parts — Upper Qeparo (the village) and Lower Qeparo (near the beach). 

Eventually, the village was abandoned, but you can still see some of the olive trees (and traditional houses) when exploring the area.

Top Ac commodations in Qeparo 

albanian riviera travel guide

The first time I heard of Borsh I had a chuckle, since borsch is a famous soup where i’m from … but Borsh is no laughing matter. It’s literally a paradise!

While Gjipe and Jale Beach might impress with their quietness and seclusion, Borsh is famous for having the largest stretch of beach in Albania — an impressive 7 km (4.5 mi) in length! 

albanian riviera travel guide

Top Ac commodations in Borsh 

albanian riviera travel guide

Borsch Castle, so-called because of its location on a hill next to Borsch village, is a fascinating remnant that traces its history back to the 13th century. 

If you visit the castle, you might notice that there are different architecture styles — that’s because during the course of its history, the castle was rebuilt over four eras, including Byzantine and Medieval times. 

If you’re hiking to the castle from Borsh town, it takes about an hour to make the 3 kilometer trek up. 

albanian riviera travel guide

Nestled between ‘big shot’ cities like Himare and Saranda, Lukove is definitely a hidden gem in the Albanian Riviera. If you’re looking for a quieter getaway without all of the hustle and bustle of tourist crowds, this is just the place!

albanian riviera travel guide

About 150 meters beneath the village is Lukova Beach, which is famous for its dreamy blue waters and pleasant sandy beaches (and free parking!). Besides swimming and relaxing, this beach hosts a famous music festival every summer called The Element, which is a Balkan-style Burning Man with psychedelic techno music.

Top Accommo dations in Lukove 

albanian riviera travel guide

Similar to its neighbor above, Nivice is a fairly remote spot that’s home to two interesting attractions: St. Mary’s Monastery and Kroreza Beach.

St. Mary’s Monastery is a popular stop on an Albanian Riviera road trip thanks to its well-preserved condition and status as a Cultural Monument of Albania. It’s an interesting look into Albania’s Orthodoxy, especially if you check out the amazing murals inside (which were originally painted in the late 1600s!) 

Below the village is Krorëza Beach, which is the true definition of secluded — you can only reach it by taking a boat ride from a nearby city. 

P.S. — Don’t confuse Nivicë (this place) with Nivica (a remote village in Gjirokaster that’s next to a canyon)! 

Top A ccommodations in Nivice 

Sarande Albanian Riviera

Ahhh, Saranda —officially known as the capital of the Albanian Riviera, this is the city to use as a base if you want to explore nearby attractions. 

Its status as the ‘heart of the Riviera’ means that there are plenty of connections throughout southern Albania, plus excellent infrastructure, accommodations, restaurants, and more. Despite its small size, Sarande packs a punch!

Of course, Saranda is almost famed for its legendary beaches — the city regularly enjoys more than 300 sunny days per year (similar to Herceg Novi, Montenegro’s sunniest city !) and has half a dozen beaches in its vicinity. 

Not in the mood to explore? No worries — Saranda has a lovely palm-lined promenade, old ruins right in the center, and even a giant ferris wheel! 

Top Accommodations in Saranda

albanian riviera travel guide

One of the most interesting natural attractions in Albania is none other than the Blue Eye. 

So called for its shape — the deep dark waters of the center make up the pupil, while the blue water is the iris — the Blue Eye is a popular day trip from Saranda and the surrounding areas. 

If you can’t make it by car, there are tons of tours that offer a stop at the Blue Eye as well! Check some of the most booked ones here: 

🌀 Visit The National Park of Blue Eye 🌀 Buthrotum, Blue Eye Springs, Ksamil and Lekursi Castle from Saranda 🌀 Explore Blue Eye- The Monument of Nature (Top rated!) 

albanian riviera travel guide

Just like Dhermi, Ksamil has one of the most famous scenes in the entire Albanian Riviera: the legendary boardwalk photo!

Another bonus of traveling to Ksamil is that it’s closer to Greece (and/or Corfu, if you’re taking a boat), which is perfect for those who plan to stay fairly local. 

There are plenty of things to do in Ksamil, but most of them include relaxing on one of the stunning beaches or visiting one of the three nearby islands. ;) 

It’s no surprise that Ksamil Beach was voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Albania — and I’d venture out to say in the world as well. Be sure to check it out!

Top Accommodations in Ksamil

albanian riviera travel guide

Butrint National Park was the first-ever place to be listed on UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in Albania, and for good reason! 

This place is literally Disneyland for history buffs, as it used to be an ancient Greek city before it lived through Roman, Byzantine, Angevin, and Venetian rule before being abandoned in the middle ages. 

Many of the ruins are well-preserved, including a near-complete Greek theater, basilica, fortress walls, and much more.

Some 20 kilometers (12 mi) from the park is Konispol, a town near the Greek border that’s famous for its juicy and succulent mandarins. In fact, the largest mandarin plantation in the country is located here and even offers tours (with the option to pick your own fruits!) to visitors — it’s an excellent day trip or a stop on your way to Greece. :) 

Top Accommodations near Butrint 

Photo Credits : Thatched beach – Albina Shehetila | Albanian Riviera map – Lancer (Wikipedia) |  Beach and car – Caleb George | Llogara Pass – Pasztilla aka Attila Terbócs (Wikipedia) | Palase – Xhulio Selenica (Unsplash) | Dhermi – Gjoko Strezoski | Gjipe Beach – Renaldo Kodra (Unsplash) | Vuno – Shkolla Hostel | Jale Beach – Albania Beaches | Palermo – Visit Albania | St. Mary’s – Albanian Tourism | Sarande – ​​Laurentiu Morariu (Unsplash) | Blue Eye – Renaldo Kodra (Unsplash) | Ksamil –  Cannm01 (Wikipedia)  | Butrint NP – Renaldo Kodra (Unsplash) | Hotel photos: Respective hotels

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One thought on “ the ultimate albania riviera guide: 20 amazing places to see in the albanian riviera + transportation, accommodations, and more ”.

This was such a helpful article. Thank you very much. I have always wanted to visit Albania. Hopefully soon.

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albanian riviera travel guide

The Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera was a revelation a decade or so ago, when backpackers discovered the last virgin stretch of the Mediterranean coast in Europe, flocking here in droves, setting up ad hoc campsites and exploring scores of little-known beaches. Since then, things have become significantly less pristine, with overdevelopment blighting many of the once-charming coastal villages. But worry not; while some beaches may be well-and-truly swarming in summer, with a little persistence there are still spots to kick back and enjoy the empty beaches the region was once so famous for.

Your next trip starts here

Go from dreaming to planning with trip planning options made to help you craft your ideal itinerary.

Attractions

Must-see attractions.

Basilica, Ruins of 6th century Greek city, Butrint, Albanian Riviera, Albania

Early in the morning, before the tourist crowds arrive and when the rocks are still tinged in the yellow dawn light, you might just imagine that the…

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Gjirokastra Castle

Gjirokastra

Gjirokastra's eerie hilltop castle is one of the biggest in the Balkans. There's been a fortress here since the 12th century, although much of what can be…

Gjipe Beach

Gjipe Beach

Between Dhërmi and Vuno is the turn-off for this little-known gem, a gorgeous stretch of isolated white sand and rock backed by big cliffs – and as yet…

Gjirokastra, World Heritage, Zekate House, traditional house, room, wall paintings, ornaments, Albania

Zekate House

This incredible three-storey house dates from 1811 and has twin towers and a double-arched facade. It's fascinating to nose around the almost unchanged…

Cold War Tunnel

Cold War Tunnel

Gjirokastra's most interesting sight in no way relates to traditional architecture, but instead to a far more modern kind: this is a giant bunker built…

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One of the more attractive beaches on the Albanian Riviera is Drymades. It's a long, shingle white beach backed by olive groves and the first stirrings of…

Skenduli House

Skenduli House

The lovingly restored Ottoman-era Skenduli House has been in the hands of the same family for generations (apart from a few years during the communist…

Dhërmi

Dhërmi beach is well and truly under the tourist trance in summer: expect booked-out accommodation, loud music and half of Tirana sprawled on the stones…

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albanian riviera travel guide

Jun 24, 2019 • 4 min read

Albania’s rugged coastline, with traditional villages nestled in isolated bays and golden beaches lapped by turquoise waters, was a revelation when…

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Elevated city view at dusk, Saranda, Albanian Riviera, Albania

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albanian riviera travel guide

The Ultimate Albanian Riviera Guide

Looking for a guide to the Albanian Riviera? We’ve got you covered!  In this guide to the Albanian Riviera, I’ll cover all the must-see places along the coast as well as provide tips on where to stay, what to eat, and how to get around. I’ll also share my insider recommendations on the best-hidden gems that you won’t find in any guidebook. So come with me and discover the many wonders of the Albanian Riviera! 

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This article on the Albanian Riviera comes from JJ from Travel Across The Borderline

I spent a month beach-hopping along Albania’s coastline in south Albania and exploring everything the area has to offer. From ancient ruins, secluded coves, glitzy beach clubs, and mouthwatering food, there is something for everyone here in this beautiful corner of the world.

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Albanian Riviera

Take Trip to Butrint and KSamil

There’s fascinating history here at this UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as some of the most stunning views of the Ionian Sea. Make a day of it!

Where is the Albanian Riviera?

The Albanian Riviera is located in the south of Albania. The Albanian Riviera starts in Vlore and stretches down to Saranda (also known as Sarandë). It is a beautiful stretch of coastline, featuring some of the most spectacular scenery in all of Europe. With its dramatic cliffs, pristine beaches, and crystal-clear turquoise waters, it is no wonder why this region is fast becoming a favorite summer destination for travelers looking to experience a unique corner of Europe.

How to get to the Albanian Riviera?

There are several ways that you can get to the Albanian Riviera . To get to the Albanian Riviera by plane you will need to fly into Albania’s only international airport in Tirana. From Tirana airport, you can rent a car and drive down to the Riviera or alternatively catch a bus from Tirana to Saranda. If you are feeling adventurous, you can also hitchhike your way down.  You can also get to the Albanian Riviera by catching a ferry from Bari, Italy , or from the Greek island of Corfu.

  • You can check the prices of rental cars for Albania here
  • Book a ferry from Bari to the Albanian Riviera
  • Book ferries from Corfu to Albania here

Getting around the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is best explored by car. There are a lot of winding roads and the public transport system is not always reliable so renting a car or hiring a driver is the best option for getting around. 

For car rentals in Albania – get a quote from Discover Cars here

If you don’t want to drive, there are also minibusses (known as furgons) that run between the main towns along the coast.  For many of these furgons you don’t need to book (and usually can’t), but to check what you can prebook it’s best to use Busbud .

Personally, I found that the easiest way to get around the Albanian Riviera was to hitchhike . Hitchhiking is a common way to get around in Albania and is quite safe as long as you use common sense.

Weather at the Albanian Riviera

The best time to visit the Albanian Riviera is from April through October when the weather is usually warm and sunny. The temperatures range from 15-30 degrees Celsius during the day and 13-18 degrees at night.  You can expect some rain in the winter months but it usually doesn’t last more than a few days.

Best Time to Visit the Albanian Riviera

The best time to visit the Albanian Riviera is during the peak season months of July and August when temperatures are at their highest. This is also the busiest time for tourists, with beach clubs and restaurants bustling with activity.  If you prefer a more peaceful experience, then the shoulder seasons of April-June or September-October are your best bet.

How Many Days to Spend On the Albanian Riviera?

The Albanian Riviera is best explored over at least four days. This will give you enough time to explore the main towns along the coast, as well as some of the more secluded beaches and hidden gems.

If you want to enjoy the beach clubs and nightlife, then plan on spending at least one week on the Albanian Riviera. I spent a month here which was plenty of time to really get to know the area, but you can easily hit up all the main sites in a week.

Is It Safe In The Albanian Riviera?

I spent time hitchhiking and wild camping in Albania and always felt completely safe. I would say that overall Albania is one of the safest countries that I have travelled to. The locals are incredibly friendly and hospitable, so don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it.  However, it is important to use common sense when traveling in Albania, as with anywhere else, and be sure not to put yourself in any unnecessarily risky situations.

The 12 Best Things to Do in the Albanian Riviera

There is an almost endless list of things to do on the Albanian Riviera. Whether you’re looking for beach relaxation, cultural exploration, or outdoor adventure, you will find it here.  Some of the must-see attractions include the UNESCO World Heritage site Butrint , the stunning Blue Eye spring, and the ancient town of Gjirokastra.  Here are some of my favorite things to see and do on the Albanian coast:

1. Explore Butrint Archaeological Site and National Park

Butrint Archaeological Site and National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site located on the Albanian Riviera. It is an ancient city dating back to 627 BC which has been preserved over the centuries by its unique location, surrounded by marshland and enclosed within defensive walls. The archaeological site features several ruins including temples, churches, amphitheaters, baths, and much more.

You can take a day trip to Butrint from Sarande – it’s the perfect way to explore and maximizes your time in the area.  Take a look at what you can explore here.

Butrint

Butrint also offers beautiful views of the Ionian Sea as well as lush forests full of wildlife. Visitors can explore the area on foot or take a guided tour to learn about its fascinating history. With so much to see and do at this stunning historic destination, it’s no wonder why Butrint National Park is one of Albania’s most popular tourist attractions! I loved exploring the ruins as they were so well preserved.

The best part was that I practically had the whole place to myself! there were hardly any other tourists there when I visited. A stark contrast to the over-crowded ruins in nearby Greece!

2. Visit the Blue Eye Spring in Albania’s Riviera

One of the most stunning natural wonders in Albania is the Blue Eye Spring. Located on the Albanian Riviera, this mesmerizing spring has captivated visitors with its mysterious blue waters and surrounding lush forests. The crazy thing about this spring is that no one knows how deep it is! Divers have tried to reach the bottom but have never succeeded.

There are two Blue Eyes in Albania and this might be the easiest to reach.  It’s even easier on a guided tour from Sarande – check out this option for exploring.

The Blue Eye Albanian Riviera

The Blue Eye Spring is believed to have healing properties due to its high concentration of minerals and it’s said that anyone who takes a swim in its turquoise depths will have their health restored! Visitors can take a dip in the crystal clear waters or simply admire this beautiful natural phenomenon from a distance. If you do decide to go for a dip be extra careful because the water is really cold. Don’t jump in because you will get an icy shock!

3. Go beach hopping on the Riviera in Albania

The Albanian Riviera is full of stunning beaches that are perfect for an afternoon of sun-soaking and relaxation. There’s something for everyone, from secluded bays to lively beach clubs. Some of my favorite beaches include the Ksamil Beaches, Gjipe Beach, Palasa Beach, and Borsh Beach. The best way to explore the Albanian coastline is to rent a car and go beach hopping, stopping off at each spot for an hour or two.

4. Take a day trip to Corfu from Albania

If you’re looking for something a bit different, why not take a day trip to the Greek island of Corfu ? Located just across the Ionian Sea from Albania, this beautiful Mediterranean paradise is perfect for day-trippers who want to explore its traditional villages, lush olive groves, and stunning beaches. You can easily get there by ferry. The fast ferry leaves Saranda every day and only takes 30 minutes to reach Corfu. Tickets cost about 20 euros each way.  Ferries run 4 times a day in high season and you can check the timetable and the costs here.

5. Explore Gjirokastër

Gjirokastër is an ancient city located in the Albanian Riviera. It is known for its unique architecture and Ottoman-influenced buildings, making it one of the most picturesque cities in the country. The old town is full of cobbled streets and winding alleyways, lined with colorful houses and traditional bazaar stalls.

Want to explore Gjirokaster with a local?  This 3-hour guided tour is excellent value for money and the perfect way to find out more about the city. 

Gjirokastër is also home to the National Museum of Weapons and the Ethnographic Museum, both of which are great places to explore the city’s history and culture. You can also explore the fortress, find the cold war era ‘spy plane’ and hike to Ali Pasha’s bridge – an Ottoman bridge located in a stunning valley just outside of Gjirokastër.

6. Visit Porto Palermo Castle

Located in the beautiful bay of Porto Palermo, this stunning castle was built by Ali Pasha Tepelena – a 19th-century Albanian ruler and Ottoman warlord. The castle is perched on a small island in the bay of Palermo, overlooking the Ionian Sea. The island is connected to the mainland by a small strip of land so you can easily walk across to the castle. The castle has a unique triangular shape with three towers at the corners. It’s believed that Ali Pasha built the castle to protect the town of Himara. Today, it is a popular tourist destination where visitors can explore the ruins and admire stunning views of the bay below.

7. Hike Up to Himara Castle for the Sunset

One of the best things to do on the Albanian Riviera is to end your day with a hike up to Himara Castle for the sunset. Located at the top of a mountain, about 2.5km north of the modern town of Himara, this centuries-old castle is one of the most spectacular sights in Albania. The impressive castle has existed since the bronze age. It’s well worth the steep climb for unparalleled views of the Adriatic Sea and nearby islands. The sunsets here are particularly spectacular. Steep climbs are hard on the way up, often harder on the way back down and you’ll definitely find this return easier with a set of hiking poles.

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8. Kayak to Albanian Hidden Beaches

The Albanian Riviera has several small hidden coves and beaches that are only accessible by water.  One of the best ways to explore these secluded spots is by kayak or paddleboard. Rent equipment from one of the beach towns and spend a day paddling between secret beaches, stopping for swims and picnics along the way. Some spots worth checking out include Livadhi Beach, Qeparo Beach, and Borsh. Just be careful of strong currents and winds which can make paddling more challenging. Always check the weather forecast before setting off on a kayaking adventure.

9. Indulge at the Beach Clubs on the Albanian Riviera

There are some fantastic beach clubs along the Albanian Riviera. Some of my favorites are Mulino Beach in Ksamil and the Folie Marine beach club at Jale Beach. These beach clubs serve up some of the best food, drinks, and cocktails in the country. Enjoy sunset dinners with live music, sunbathe on their sandy beaches, and swim in their crystal clear waters. One of my favorite memories of the Albanian Riviera was from dancing the night away at Folie Marine beach club after spending the day lounging in the sun.

10. Hike Gjipe Canyon

Gjjipe Beach is one of my favorite beaches in Albania and is a must-visit for any trip to the Albanian Riviera. The beach is remote and can be reached by boat or by hiking through the Gjipe Canyon. The hike is spectacular and I highly recommend taking this option.  It’s about an hour’s hike through the canyon from the main road. You’ll be rewarded with stunning views and the beautiful secluded beach waiting for you at the end. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sun protection!

11. Explore the Llogara Pass

The Llogara Pass is a winding mountain road that cuts through the Albanian Alps. The views here are breathtaking and it’s a great spot to take some Instagram-worthy photos. There are also several small villages along the way where you can stop for lunch or dinner at one of the local taverns. The Llogara Pass is a must-visit spot when exploring the Albanian Riviera.

12. Take a Boat Tour of the Albanian Riviera

Finally, take a boat tour and explore the dramatic coastline of the Albanian Riviera. There are many different options available, from full-day trips to half-day excursions. Sail around the beautiful coast and small islands to find secret beaches, snorkel in crystal clear waters and admire spectacular views of the cliffs.

The Best Albanian Coastal Towns

Picking where to stay on the Albanian Riviera is tough, there are so many great options, so here are a few words on the best coastal towns of the Riviera

Himare is a small coastal town in Albania and it’s a great place to base yourself for an Albanian Riviera vacation. With its buzzing beachfront promenade, cute cafes, and stunning views of the bay and nearby islands, there’s plenty to explore here.

Himare Albanian Riviera

Spend the day at the beach before hiking up to the castle in Himare’s old town for incredible sunset views.

Explore our recommendations of the best spots to stay in Himare here.

Ksamil is one of the most popular towns in Albania, and it’s easy to see why. With its sandy beaches, crystal clear water, and nearby islands, Ksamil offers plenty for beach lovers. The town has a bustling promenade full of restaurants, cafes, and bars which are perfect for a night out. Rent a kayak or paddleboard and paddle around the bay for some of the best views in Albania.

Check out our recommendations of the best spots to stay in Ksamil here.

Saranda is the perfect spot for a beach getaway in Albania. With its picturesque harbor, stunning views of the Ionian Sea and nearby islands, and vibrant nightlife, this city has something for everyone. Spend the day lounging on one of Saranda’s beaches before heading out to explore the city’s restaurants and bars. If you’re looking for a quieter spot, take a tour to nearby Blue Eye Springs and relax in the turquoise waters, or head to Butrint’s archaeological park to admire the well-preserved ruins.

Here are our recommendations on where to stay in Saranda here.

Dhermi is a small, charming town situated in the heart of the Albanian Riviera. With its stunning sunsets and gorgeous beaches, it’s the perfect spot for a relaxing beach vacation. Spend your days lounging on one of Dhermi’s beautiful beaches or head out to explore the nearby villages.

Albanian Riviera Dhermi Beach

There’s plenty to explore in Dhermi, from the unique architecture of the churches to the nearby archaeological sites.

Find the perfect place to stay in Dhermi here.

Best beaches on the Albanian Riviera

One of the best reasons to come to the coast of Albania is beach life.  So here are some of the Albanian Riviera’s best beaches to explore.

Jale Beach Albanian Riviera

Borsh beach

Borsh is my favorite beach on the Albanian Riviera! At 7km long, It is the largest beach along the Ionian Sea. It’s a popular beach but as it is so big you can still find a quiet spot to yourself.

I wild camped here and woke up to see dolphins swimming close by. It was magical. 

Gjipe beach

Gjipe Beach is a remote, secluded beach that can only be reached by boat or by hiking through the Gjipe Canyon. The hike is worth it for the stunning views and the beautiful stillness of the beach waiting for you at the end. Be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen!

Drymades beach

Drymades Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Albania, located in the small fishing village of Dhermi. Its breathtaking beauty and crystal-clear blue waters make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The beach is unique as half of it is pebbled and the other half is sandy!

Ksamil Beach is a great family-friendly spot, located close to the city of Saranda. It is the most popular beach on the Albanian Riviera so it does get a little crowded during the summer months. The beach has shallow waters and plenty of activities nearby, including snorkeling and boat trips.

Ksamil

One of the best things to do in Ksamil is to rent a kayak and paddle around the uninhabited Ksamil islands, which lie a short distance offshore.  There are also plenty of restaurants and bars right on the beach where you can get delicious freshly caught seafood and some great cocktails!

Best Places to Eat & Drink on the Albanian Riviera

When you’re visiting the Albanian Riviera, it’s hard to miss out on the delicious seafood restaurants that line the beachfront. Most restaurants offer a mix of traditional and international cuisine, perfect for those who are adventurous eaters.

In Himare, you can find some great restaurants like Restaurant Piazza which offers a range of seafood dishes, Mediterranean cuisine, and great wines. It’s also in a great location for watching the sunset.

In Saranda, be sure to check out Oceanic Restaurant – a Mediterranean restaurant with stunning views of the beach. It’s an incredibly romantic setting if you’re looking for something special. They also serve some great vegetarian and vegan options here.

Ksamil is also not to be missed when it comes to food and drinks. There are many restaurants scattered along the beachfront, serving up some of the freshest seafood you can find in Albania.

Finally, if you’re looking for a lively night out, head to Saranda or Himare where you will find plenty of bars playing everything from rock ‘n roll to modern hits. The vibe is always lively and you’ll be sure to have a great night out.

Where to stay on the Albanian Riviera?

There are plenty of great Albanian Riviera hotels. I recommend staying in either Saranda or Himare and using these larger towns as a base to explore the rest of the Albanian Riviera on day trips.

Saranda is the most popular town on the Albanian Riviera and provides plenty of accommodation options from budget hostels to luxury hotels. You can also find some great Airbnb options here too. Himare is a smaller, more traditional town with plenty of guesthouses and hotels to choose from.

If you want something a little more unique and adventurous, then consider renting a campervan and driving around the coast. It’s a great way to explore the different beaches on the Albanian Riviera without having to worry about accommodation. You can wild camp on many of the beaches in Albania. I camped on Gjipe, Borsh, and Himara beaches and had a wonderful experience.

Tips for traveling the Albanian Riviera

1. You should always carry cash as some places don’t accept cards.

2. Don’t forget to bring plenty of sunscreen and mosquito repellent with you when traveling the Albanian Riviera in the summer! It gets incredibly hot.

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3. If you are driving, be careful on the roads as they can be quite narrow and winding and not well maintained. Albanians also have a reputation for being bad drivers, so be warned!

4. Public transport is limited in the region so it’s best to hire a car or take taxis if you want to get around quickly and easily. You can also try hitchhiking. Hitchhiking is both common and relatively safe in Albania.

5. Don’t forget to bring your camera! The Albanian Riviera is a great place to go if you are into photography as it offers some truly stunning landscapes and beaches.

6. Make an effort to get to know the locals. Albanians are some of the most friendly, welcoming, and hospitable people in the world.

Safety in Albania

Albania is a pretty safe place to travel to.  Follow all the usual precautions that you would when traveling.

  • Keep valuables out of sight
  • Always lock your valuables away when they’re not with you ( read how we use a portable travel safe here )

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  • Use a VPN when utilizing public WiFi networks in hotels, hostels, and guesthouses ( read about VPNs here )
  • It’s not recommended to drink tap water in Albania. Consider taking a refillable water bottle to reduce the use of single-use plastic.  We always travel with a filter water bottle, which I wrote about here.

Travel Insurance for Albania

Albania and the Albanian Riviera are pretty safe locations to travel to, but accidents can happen.  If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip to Albania, then you can get a quote from World Nomads for your travel insurance for Albania

Travel Tips for Exploring Albania

  • Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more.
  • Arriving by air? Book your airport transfer with Welcome Pickups here
  • Download and install a VPN BEFORE you travel to Albania > discount coupon here
  • Book Transport in Albania with Bookaway
  • Rent a car in Albania with Discover Cars
  • Book the best Albanian tours and guides on Get Your Guide
  • Book accommodation in Albania with Booking

Final Thoughts on the Albanian Riviera

So what are you waiting for? Pack your bags and explore the Albanian Riviera!  The Albanian Riviera is one of the most underrated destinations in Europe and is sure to offer you a unique holiday experience. With its stunning coastal views, delicious food, and vibrant nightlife, there’s something for everyone here! So whether you are looking for an adventure-filled trip or simply want to relax on the beach and enjoy some beautiful sunsets, the Albanian Riviera has it all and won’t disappoint!

Thanks to JJ from Travel Across the Borderline – who loves a good adventure and has a passion for misunderstood places, post-conflict destinations, and responsible tourism.  She loves to get off the beaten path and explore some of the most unique destinations in the world as well as discover hidden gems in popular destinations.

Stock images in this article are courtesy Deposit Photos.

We receive a fee when you get a quote from World Nomads using our affiliate links. We do not represent World Nomads. This is not a recommendation to buy travel insurance.

ASocialNomad is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com, amazon.co.uk, and amazon.ca. Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases .

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The Ultimate Albanian Riviera Guide

Published: September 9, 2023

Modified: January 3, 2024

by Joly Alcala

  • Plan Your Trip
  • Travel Guide
  • Travel Tips

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Introduction

Welcome to the stunning Albanian Riviera, a hidden gem nestled along the southwestern coast of Albania. With its crystal-clear turquoise waters, pristine beaches, and charming coastal towns, this Mediterranean paradise offers a unique and unforgettable experience for travelers. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on the sandy shores, thrilling outdoor adventures, rich cultural heritage, or indulging in mouthwatering cuisine, the Albanian Riviera has something for everyone.

Stretching from the village of Llogara to the city of Saranda, the Albanian Riviera is known for its untouched natural beauty. Here, you’ll find a diverse landscape of rugged cliffs, secluded coves, and lush forests, creating a picturesque backdrop for your vacation. The region’s warm Mediterranean climate and long sunny days make it an ideal destination for those seeking a beach getaway or outdoor activities.

Despite its breathtaking beauty, the Albanian Riviera remains relatively unspoiled by mass tourism, allowing visitors to experience an authentic and tranquil escape. The region’s friendly and hospitable locals contribute to its charm, making you feel welcome from the moment you arrive.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into every aspect of the Albanian Riviera, from its top beaches to its vibrant cultural scene. Whether you’re planning a romantic honeymoon, a family vacation, or a solo adventure, this guide will help you make the most of your time in this enchanting corner of Europe.

So, pack your swimsuit, grab your sunglasses, and get ready to discover the wonders of the Albanian Riviera. From stunning coastal landscapes to rich cultural experiences and delectable local cuisine, this guide will ensure you have an unforgettable journey along this hidden gem of the Mediterranean.

Overview of the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is a mesmerizing coastal region located in the southwestern part of Albania , bordering the Adriatic and Ionian Sea. Spanning approximately 200 kilometers, it is renowned for its pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and spectacular mountain views.

Unlike some of its more popular Mediterranean counterparts, the Albanian Riviera has managed to retain its natural beauty and authentic charm. The region is blessed with a diverse landscape, including stunning sandy beaches, secluded bays, and rugged cliffs. From the moment you step foot on the Riviera, you’ll be captivated by its unspoiled beauty and tranquility.

One of the standout features of the Albanian Riviera is its incredibly clear and inviting waters. The sea here is perfect for swimming and snorkeling, allowing you to explore the colorful underwater world teeming with marine life. Many of the beaches along the Riviera have been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag status, ensuring their cleanliness and high environmental standards.

In addition to its natural beauty, the Albanian Riviera boasts a rich cultural heritage. The region is dotted with ancient sites, historical landmarks, and charming coastal towns that offer a glimpse into Albania’s fascinating history. From the archaeological ruins of Butrint to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Gjirokastër, there are plenty of cultural gems to explore during your visit.

The Albanian Riviera is also home to a vibrant local community that takes pride in preserving their traditions and way of life. You’ll have the opportunity to interact with friendly locals, sample traditional cuisine, and immerse yourself in the local culture. From traditional festivals to authentic handicrafts, there are plenty of opportunities to engage with the local community and create lasting memories.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation, an adventure-filled getaway, or a cultural exploration, the Albanian Riviera offers a unique and diverse range of experiences. From hiking along the scenic Llogara Pass to exploring the enchanting coastal towns of Himara and Saranda, you’ll find something to suit your preferences and create unforgettable memories.

In the following sections of this guide, we’ll delve into the various aspects of the Albanian Riviera, including how to get there, the best time to visit, top beaches, outdoor activities, local cuisine, nightlife, shopping, and useful travel tips. By the time you finish reading this guide, you’ll be well-equipped to plan your perfect vacation along the stunning Albanian Riviera.

How to Get to the Albanian Riviera

Getting to the Albanian Riviera is relatively easy, thanks to the well-connected transportation networks in the region. Whether you prefer to travel by air, land, or sea, there are multiple options available to suit your needs.

For those coming from international destinations, the most convenient way to reach the Albanian Riviera is by flying. The nearest airport is Tirana International Airport “Nënë Tereza,” located in the capital city of Tirana. This airport serves flights from various European cities, including London, Rome, Vienna, and Istanbul, among others. From the airport, you can hire a private transfer or take a local bus to reach your desired destination along the Riviera.

If you’re already in Albania or the neighboring countries, you can opt for a scenic road trip to the Albanian Riviera. The main coastal road, known as the Albanian National Highway, connects the Riviera with other major cities in Albania. The journey along this route offers breathtaking views of the coastline and the surrounding mountains. It’s worth noting that the road conditions can vary, so it’s important to be cautious and follow road signs and driving regulations.

Another popular option to reach the Albanian Riviera is by ferry. In the summer months, there are ferry services available from the nearby Greek island of Corfu, which is just a short distance from the Riviera. These ferries operate regularly and provide a scenic and enjoyable way to travel between the two destinations.

Once you’ve arrived in the Albanian Riviera, it’s advisable to have a car or hire a local driver to get around and explore the region. While public transportation is available, it may not be as frequent or convenient for visiting the remote beaches and villages along the coast. Having your own vehicle will give you the flexibility to discover the hidden gems of the Riviera at your own pace.

In summary, whether you choose to fly, drive, or take a ferry, reaching the Albanian Riviera is a straightforward process. The journey itself is part of the adventure, offering stunning views and a sense of anticipation as you approach this idyllic Mediterranean paradise. So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey to the Albanian Riviera and discover its natural beauty, charming towns, and vibrant culture.

Best Time to Visit the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is a destination that can be enjoyed throughout the year, but the best time to visit depends on your preferences and the type of experience you’re seeking. Each season offers its own unique charm and activities, so you can plan your trip accordingly.

The summer months, from June to September, are the peak tourist season in the Albanian Riviera. During this time, the weather is hot and sunny, perfect for sunbathing on the beaches and swimming in the azure waters. The coastal towns come alive with vibrant energy, and you’ll find a plethora of water sports, beach parties, and cultural events taking place along the coast. It’s worth noting that the beaches can be crowded during this time, especially in July and August when many European tourists flock to the Riviera to escape the summer heat.

If you prefer a quieter and more peaceful experience, the shoulder seasons of spring (April to May) and fall (September to October) are ideal. During these months, the weather is still pleasant, with mild temperatures and fewer crowds. It’s a great time to explore the charming coastal towns, indulge in delicious seafood, and soak in the natural beauty of the Riviera. The prices for accommodations and flights are generally lower during the shoulder seasons compared to the peak summer months.

Winter (November to March) is the low season in the Albanian Riviera, and while it may not be the traditional beach season, it offers a different kind of charm. The temperatures are cooler, and rainfall is more frequent during this time. However, if you’re a nature enthusiast, you can take advantage of the quiet surroundings and explore the stunning landscapes of the Riviera. You can go hiking in the nearby mountains, visit historical sites without the crowds, and enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the coastal towns. Furthermore, the winter months offer the opportunity to experience the local culture, festivals, and traditional holiday celebrations.

Ultimately, the best time to visit the Albanian Riviera depends on your personal preferences and the type of vacation you desire. Whether you’re looking for a lively summer beach getaway, a peaceful coastal retreat, or a chance to immerse yourself in the local culture, the Albanian Riviera has something to offer year-round. So, choose the time that aligns with your interests and get ready to create unforgettable memories in this breathtaking Mediterranean paradise.

Top Beaches on the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is renowned for its stunning beaches, each offering its own unique blend of natural beauty, crystal-clear waters, and laid-back atmosphere. Whether you’re a sunbather, an adventurous water sports enthusiast, or someone who appreciates secluded and untouched shorelines, the Riviera has a beach for you. Here are some of the top beaches to visit during your trip:

Dhërmi Beach:

Dhërmi Beach is one of the most popular and picturesque beaches along the Riviera. With its soft white sand, turquoise waters, and towering cliffs, it’s a true paradise for beach lovers. The beach stretches for several kilometers, providing ample space for relaxation and water activities. The vibrant beach bars and restaurants offer delicious local cuisine and refreshing drinks.

Ksamil Beach:

Ksamil Beach is located near the charming town of Saranda and is known for its stunning turquoise waters and small islands scattered just off the coast. The beach is well-equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas, making it perfect for soaking up the sun. You can also take a boat trip to explore the nearby islands and swim in their secluded coves.

Gjipe Beach:

Gjipe Beach is a hidden gem nestled between dramatic cliffs, accessible only by hiking or taking a boat from Dhërmi. This secluded beach offers an untouched and tranquil setting, surrounded by stunning natural scenery. It’s an ideal spot for nature lovers and those seeking a peaceful retreat away from the crowds.

Jale Beach:

Jale Beach is a long sandy beach situated near Himara, known for its crystal-clear waters and relaxed atmosphere. The beach is backed by olive groves and offers a variety of water activities, such as kayaking and paddleboarding. You can also enjoy fresh seafood at the beachfront restaurants while taking in the captivating views.

Borsh Beach:

Borsh Beach is the longest beach on the Albanian Riviera, stretching over 7 kilometers. It is known for its fine pebbles, clear waters, and a serene setting surrounded by olive and citrus groves. The beach is less crowded compared to others, offering a peaceful and tranquil escape for visitors.

These are just a few of the many beautiful beaches that dot the Albanian Riviera. Each has its own unique charm and allure, catering to different preferences and interests. Whether you’re seeking vibrant beach parties, peaceful sunsets, or secluded bliss, the Albanian Riviera is sure to leave you mesmerized with its pristine coastline and breathtaking views.

Exploring the Coastal Towns of the Albanian Riviera

Along the stunning coastline of the Albanian Riviera, you’ll find a collection of charming and picturesque coastal towns that exude history, culture, and breathtaking views. These towns offer a glimpse into the rich heritage of Albania while providing a warm and inviting atmosphere for visitors. Here are some of the top coastal towns to explore during your trip:

Saranda is the gateway to the Albanian Riviera and a popular tourist destination. Known for its vibrant nightlife, excellent seafood, and stunning views of the Ionian Sea, Saranda offers a mix of modern amenities and historical charm. You can explore the ancient ruins of Butrint, enjoy a leisurely stroll along the waterfront promenade, or relax at the city’s beautiful beaches.

Himara is a small coastal town nestled between the mountains and the sea. It boasts a rich history and a vibrant local culture. Explore the narrow streets of the Old Town, visit the ancient castle of Himara for panoramic views, and unwind on its beautiful beaches. The town’s warm hospitality and traditional restaurants serving fresh seafood will make you feel right at home.

Dhërmi:

Dhërmi is a picturesque coastal village known for its stunning beaches and spectacular views. It has maintained its traditional charm, with stone houses and narrow streets. Spend your days relaxing on the sandy shores, exploring nearby caves, or hiking to the nearby Llogara National Park for breathtaking vistas. Experience the local hospitality by staying in one of the traditional guesthouses and savoring the delicious local cuisine.

Vlorë:

Vlorë is a significant historical and cultural center in Albania, located at the northern tip of the Albanian Riviera. The town is home to the Independence Monument, which commemorates the country’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. Take a walk along Vlorë’s spacious promenade, visit the Historical Museum, and relax on the city’s sandy beaches. Don’t miss the opportunity to try the local delicacies, such as fresh seafood and traditional Albanian dishes.

Ksamil is a coastal town famous for its beautiful beaches and clear blue waters. It’s an excellent destination for beach lovers and those seeking a tranquil retreat. Take a boat trip to the nearby islands and swim in their secluded coves, or simply relax on the white sandy beaches. Ksamil’s laid-back atmosphere and breathtaking landscapes make it a must-visit town along the Albanian Riviera.

Each coastal town along the Albanian Riviera has its own unique character and attractions, but they all share one thing in common—their warm hospitality and genuine charm. Whether you’re seeking historical sites, serene beachfronts, culinary delights, or simply a place to unwind and soak up the Mediterranean ambiance, the coastal towns of the Albanian Riviera have it all.

Outdoor Activities in the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide array of activities that allow you to explore and immerse yourself in the region’s stunning natural landscapes. From hiking along scenic trails to thrilling water sports and cultural exploration, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the top outdoor activities to partake in during your visit to the Albanian Riviera:

Embark on a hiking adventure along the Llogara Pass, a scenic mountain road that offers breathtaking views of the coastline. The trail takes you through lush forests, past hidden waterfalls, and up to panoramic viewpoints. You can also explore the trails in the nearby Llogara National Park, where you’ll encounter diverse flora and fauna.

Water Sports:

The Albanian Riviera is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and explore the underwater world through snorkeling or scuba diving. You can also try your hand at kayaking, paddleboarding, or jet skiing for an adrenaline-filled adventure.

Boat Trips:

Take to the sea and embark on boat trips to the nearby islands of Ksamil, Saranda, or Butrint. Cruise along the coastline, discover secluded coves, and swim in turquoise waters. You can also enjoy a sunset boat tour for a romantic and unforgettable experience.

Visiting Archaeological Sites:

Explore the rich history of the Albanian Riviera by visiting archaeological sites such as the ancient city of Butrint. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a treasure trove of ruins, including a theater, temples, and an amphitheater. Walk through the remnants of ancient civilizations and immerse yourself in the stories of the past.

Beach Relaxation:

Of course, no visit to the Albanian Riviera would be complete without simply relaxing on the beautiful beaches. Whether you prefer the lively atmosphere of the popular beaches or the tranquility of the secluded coves, you can unwind and soak up the sun while enjoying the captivating views of the coastline.

In addition to these activities, you can also indulge in cultural exploration by visiting charming coastal towns, trying local cuisine, and attending traditional festivals. The Albanian Riviera offers a truly immersive outdoor experience that allows you to connect with nature, history, and the local culture.

Whether you’re seeking thrilling adventures, coastal relaxation, or cultural encounters, the Albanian Riviera provides endless opportunities to make the most of your time in this magnificent destination.

Local Cuisine and Must-Try Dishes

One of the highlights of visiting the Albanian Riviera is indulging in the delicious and unique local cuisine. Influenced by Mediterranean, Turkish, and Balkan flavors, Albanian cuisine offers a variety of mouthwatering dishes that will tantalize your taste buds. Here are some must-try dishes when exploring the culinary scene of the Albanian Riviera:

Tavë Kosi:

Tavë Kosi is a classic Albanian dish made with tender lamb or veal cooked with eggs, rice, and yogurt. It’s a rich and satisfying dish that beautifully combines savory flavors and creamy textures.

Byrek is a popular savory pastry made with thin layers of filo pastry filled with a variety of ingredients such as cheese, spinach, meat, or vegetables. It’s a versatile and delicious snack that is perfect for breakfast or as a light meal.

Pasticada is a slow-cooked beef stew that originated from the coastal region of Albania. The meat is marinated in a blend of red wine and spices, then cooked until tender. It’s often served with homemade pasta or mashed potatoes, creating a comforting and flavorful dish.

Shëndetli:

Shëndetli is a traditional seafood dish that showcases the fresh flavors of the Albanian Riviera. It consists of grilled or baked fish, typically served with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and a sprinkle of parsley. It’s a simple yet exquisite dish that truly lets the quality of the seafood shine.

Korça Beer:

While not a dish, Korça Beer is a must-try beverage when exploring the Albanian Riviera. Korça is an iconic Albanian beer brand that has been producing high-quality beer for over 90 years. Enjoy a refreshing pint of Korça Beer, whether lounging on the beach or relaxing at a local taverna.

Aside from these specific dishes, make sure to explore the fresh seafood options along the coast, indulge in a variety of local cheeses, and sample traditional desserts such as baklava and ballakume. The Albanian Riviera offers a gastronomic adventure that will leave you craving for more.

When dining in the coastal towns, seek out family-run restaurants and local eateries for an authentic experience. The warm hospitality of the locals will complement the delicious flavors, making your culinary journey through the Albanian Riviera truly unforgettable.

Nightlife and Entertainment in the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is not only a haven of natural beauty but also a vibrant destination for nightlife and entertainment. After a day spent exploring the stunning beaches and coastal towns, the Riviera comes alive with a variety of options for evening fun and excitement. Here are some highlights of the nightlife and entertainment scene in the Albanian Riviera:

Beach Clubs and Bars:

Many of the popular beaches along the Albanian Riviera transform into lively hubs of music and entertainment as the sun sets. Beach clubs and bars offer a lively atmosphere, with DJs spinning tunes, live music performances, and beach parties that continue well into the night. Sip refreshing cocktails, dance under the stars, and enjoy the pulsating energy of the Riviera’s vibrant nightlife.

Shops and Boutiques:

The coastal towns of the Albanian Riviera are dotted with charming boutiques and shops, perfect for those seeking a more relaxed evening. Take a leisurely stroll through the streets, browse for local artisanal crafts, clothing, and souvenirs, or simply indulge in some retail therapy. You’ll find unique treasures and a diverse selection of local products that showcase the creativity of the region.

Restaurants and Cafés:

When it comes to dining and entertainment, the Albanian Riviera has a wide range of options to suit every taste. Enjoy a romantic dinner at a waterfront restaurant, savoring the delectable flavors of the local cuisine. Afterward, unwind with a relaxing drink at one of the cozy cafés, where you can enjoy the lively atmosphere and engage in conversation with locals and fellow travelers.

Festivals and Events:

The Albanian Riviera hosts a number of festivals and events throughout the year, providing a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and experience traditional celebrations. From music festivals to religious and cultural events, there’s always something happening along the Riviera. Check the local event calendars to see if there are any festivities taking place during your visit.

For those seeking a touch of excitement and glamour, the Albanian Riviera also features several casinos. Test your luck at the table games or try your hand at the slot machines. Whether you’re a seasoned gambler or just looking for some entertainment, the casinos offer an alternative nighttime activity in the Riviera.

No matter what you’re looking for, the Albanian Riviera has the ingredients for a memorable evening. Whether you choose to dance the night away, indulge in delicious food and drinks, or explore the local shops and boutiques, the Riviera’s nightlife and entertainment scene is sure to delight and leave you with unforgettable memories.

Shopping in the Albanian Riviera

When visiting the Albanian Riviera, you’ll find a delightful shopping scene that offers a mix of traditional crafts, local products, and contemporary fashion. Exploring the shops and markets is a great way to immerse yourself in the local culture and take home unique souvenirs as a memento of your trip. Here are some highlights of shopping in the Albanian Riviera:

Local Crafts and Artisanal Products:

The coastal towns of the Albanian Riviera are home to skilled local artisans who produce a variety of traditional crafts. From intricate woodwork and handmade ceramics to delicate embroidery and unique silver jewelry, you’ll find a wide range of beautifully crafted items. These make fantastic souvenirs and cherished keepsakes.

Fresh Produce Markets:

For those who appreciate fresh and local produce, a visit to the vibrant markets of the Albanian Riviera is a must. You’ll find an array of colorful fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices sourced from the region’s fertile lands. Interacting with friendly vendors and sampling the fresh produce is an authentic and sensory experience.

Fashion and Boutiques:

The coastal towns of the Albanian Riviera offer a mix of fashionable boutiques, designer stores, and small fashion ateliers. From trendy beachwear and resort wear to unique accessories and handmade jewelry, you can find stylish and unique pieces to add to your wardrobe. Support local designers and explore the eclectic fashion scene along the Riviera.

Local Products:

Indulge in the flavors and aromas of the Albanian Riviera by exploring the local products available for purchase. From olive oil and honey to spices, jams, and traditional Albanian delights such as raki and rakia, you can take home a taste of the region. Purchase these items as gifts or to enjoy later, allowing you to relive the memories of your trip.

Art Galleries:

The Albanian Riviera is home to a growing art scene, with several galleries showcasing the works of local and international artists. Explore the galleries to admire a range of paintings, sculptures, and mixed media art. You might even find a piece that captures the essence of the Riviera and speaks to your artistic sensibilities.

When shopping in the Albanian Riviera, take the time to explore the narrow streets and hidden corners of the coastal towns. You’ll discover unique shops, cozy boutiques, and street markets that offer a diverse range of products. Engage with the local shop owners, as they often have fascinating stories to share and recommendations for the best souvenirs to take home.

Overall, shopping in the Albanian Riviera is an opportunity to support local artisans, immerse yourself in the region’s rich culture, and bring home cherished mementos of your unforgettable journey.

Tips for Traveling in the Albanian Riviera

As you plan your journey to the Albanian Riviera, consider these useful tips to make the most of your trip:

Travel Documents:

Ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. Check if you require a visa to enter Albania and arrange necessary travel documents before your trip.

The official currency in Albania is the Albanian Lek (ALL). It’s advisable to carry some local currency for small purchases, as credit cards may not be accepted everywhere. There are also ATMs available in most towns and cities.

The official language is Albanian, but many locals in the tourist areas speak English. It’s always helpful to learn a few basic phrases in Albanian, which can enhance your interactions and cultural experiences.

Transportation:

Consider renting a car to explore the Albanian Riviera independently. Alternatively, public transportation, such as buses and minibusses, is available between the towns and cities. Hiring a local driver can also be a convenient option if you prefer not to drive.

Sun Protection:

Don’t forget to pack sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, as the sun can be intense, especially during the summer months. It’s essential to stay hydrated and seek shade when needed.

Respecting Local Customs:

Albania is a country with rich cultural traditions. Respect the local customs and traditions, especially when visiting religious sites or participating in cultural events. Dress modestly when necessary, and ask for permission before taking photographs, particularly of locals.

Exploring Nature:

If you are planning to hike or engage in outdoor activities, bring appropriate footwear, insect repellent, and protective clothing. It’s also advisable to inform someone of your hiking plans and be aware of your surroundings.

Water Safety:

The tap water in Albania is not considered safe for drinking. It’s recommended to drink bottled water or use a water filter during your stay. Be cautious when swimming, noting any warning signs or currents at the beaches.

Local Cuisine:

Don’t miss the opportunity to try the local cuisine, including fresh seafood, traditional dishes, and regional specialties. Ask locals for recommendations on where to find the best local restaurants and hidden culinary gems.

Travel Insurance:

It’s always wise to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and lost or stolen belongings. Check with your insurance provider to ensure you have adequate coverage for your trip to the Albanian Riviera.

By keeping these tips in mind, you’ll be well-prepared to explore the beauty of the Albanian Riviera and create lasting memories in this enchanting destination.

The Albanian Riviera is a hidden gem in Europe, offering breathtaking natural beauty, charming coastal towns, and a rich cultural heritage. From its pristine beaches and crystal-clear waters to its vibrant nightlife and delicious cuisine, the Riviera has something for every traveler seeking a unique and unforgettable experience.

Whether you choose to relax on the stunning beaches, explore the historic sites, indulge in mouthwatering local dishes, or engage in thrilling outdoor activities, the Albanian Riviera will captivate you with its untouched allure. The region’s warm hospitality and friendly locals add an extra dimension to your journey, making you feel welcome and immersed in the local culture.

As you plan your visit to the Albanian Riviera, consider the best time to go based on your preferences and the type of experience you desire. Whether you opt for the lively summer months or the serene shoulder seasons, you’ll find that each season offers its own unique charm.

Keep in mind the various transportation options available to reach the Riviera, whether it be by air, land, or sea. Once there, be sure to explore the top beaches, visit the coastal towns, and engage in outdoor activities that showcase the region’s natural beauty.

Don’t forget to immerse yourself in the local cuisine, indulging in traditional dishes and sampling the flavors that make the Albanian Riviera’s culinary scene so enticing. And, of course, make time to experience the vibrant nightlife and entertainment options available, from beach clubs and bars to cultural festivals and events.

As you navigate the Albanian Riviera, follow the tips provided to ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey. From respecting local customs to staying safe in nature’s playground, these tips will enhance your experience and help you make the most of your time along the Riviera’s captivating coastline.

In conclusion, the Albanian Riviera offers a hidden paradise waiting to be discovered. Its beauty, culture, and warm hospitality make it a destination that will leave a lasting impression on every traveler. So, pack your bags, embrace the adventure, and get ready for an unforgettable journey along the stunning Albanian Riviera.

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Anita Hendrieka

Locals Guide to the Albanian Riviera 2024

Last Updated on November 6, 2023

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The Albanian Riviera is fast becoming one of the most popular spots in Europe and for a good reason – especially if you want to enjoy a beach vacation in Albania.

The abundance of beautiful beaches, incredible scenery, delicious food, and more than hospitable locals, means the Albania Riviera should be at the top of your must-see travel list.

In my experience, almost everyone who holidays in Albania, falls in love with it, especially the Albanian Riviera.

But finding any information on the internet about Albania can be a headache.

That’s why I decided to create this comprehensive Albanian Riviera guide as a reference for you!

Whether you’re looking for an Albania family holiday, or you want to check out the best Albanian Riviera resorts (or both!), this guide will help you get the most out of your experience!

Locals Guide to the Albanian Riviera, people hanging out on beach in tents, cars and towels

In this Albanian Riviera guide, I cover:

  • Transportation and how to get to the Albanian Riviera
  • What to see along the Albanian Coast and the best beaches in Albania
  • Where to stay in Albanian Riviera and the best beach hotels in Albania
  • Other highlights you shouldn’t miss during holidays to the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera runs from a city called Vlore, down south to   the city of Saranda . The Riviera has one of the most beautiful coastal drives I have ever experienced.

Although the region is full of history and beauty, it is the ideal spot for relaxing Albania beach holidays.

📚 P.S. Grab access to my Travelling Albania Guide on Amazon to get a comprehensive insight into the best places to visit in Albania (including secret spots that are not recommended in the usual guides!)

If you’re a total beach bum like me, I also have a 10 day itinerary of South Albania so you can get the most out of your Albanian Riviera holidays.

Clearly, there is plenty to see and do here so let’s get into it and help you plan your ultimate Albania beach vacation!

Table of Contents

How to Get Around the Albanian Riviera

Public buses and minibuses are the most popular option for many travellers coming to Albania.

The main annoyance is the Albanian bus timetables are always 100% accurate, so the best way to find out when a bus will leave is by asking a local.

9 times out of 10 the bus driver will be a cousin of the person you’re asking – this has happened to me more times than I can count (not even kidding).

Another great way of getting around Albanian during any Albanian Riviera holidays is to hire a car.

This way you get the freedom of where to stop off, and especially since there are many hidden spots within the Albania Riviera, you will make plenty of unexpected spots I’m sure.

But the negative of hiring a car in Albania is the actual driving. Driving in Albania is unpredictable. Half of the population speeds excessively and no one really sticks to any sort of rules.

This can make it dangerous for foreign drivers as you may not be used to this sort of driving, and it can affect your choice of where to stay in Albania Riviera.

One of the most popular ways of getting around in the Riviera and all-around Albania is in fact hitchhiking.

It’s extremely common practice between locals and foreigners, many of whom spend their Albania Riviera holidays making new friends with people who give them a ride.

Most people never have to wait for more than 10 minutes to find a ride. And it’s completely safe.

Albanians are extremely friendly people and are always willing to help. You can read more about safety in Albania here .

Best Places to Visit in the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera: Most Beautiful Beaches, rolling hills along coastline with blue sea and sky with thin clouds

1. Palase Beach: Secluded Beach Paradise

Palase beach will absolutely take your breath away. This 1km beach will be a fantastic start to your Albania beach holiday in the Riviera.

It is also said that Julius Caesar and his troops arrived in Palase during the Roman Civil War in 48 BCE.

You can still find archaeological evidence of this today!  Not only a beautiful place but lots of interesting history here too.

Like many south Albania beaches, this is one of the best Albanian Riviera beaches you will come across!

Palase beach is the first beach as you come off the Llogara Pass which is mentioned below.

There is a new development here in Palase so there can be quite a lot of construction going on, unfortunately. But there is a road leading all the way to the beach.

There are also a few restaurants and bars where you can enjoy a bite to eat or have a drink on the beach. Sunbeds are also available to rent.

Where to stay in Palase:  Although Palase is beautiful I wouldn’t recommend staying there!

If you are wondering where to stay in Albania, you are much better staying in one of the nearby towns.

Not only will you have some of the best beach resorts in Albania to choose from, but you’ll find good choice of restaurants and nearby places to see.

Palase is a great option for camping if you have a tent or campervan, however.

2. National Park of LLogara

If you have the time, you should explore more of what Llogara park has to offer. There are great hiking options, restaurants, and log cabins. You can even take part in paragliding!

The Llogara pass is a fantastic drive and at the top of the pass, you get the most magnificent breath-taking view.

It is from Llogara that you can start hikes for Karaburun Peninsula – a completely untouched and undeveloped part of the Albanian Riviera (for now).

Hiking here is not easy and takes around 4-6 hours one way so you have to be prepared! If you don’t want to hike you can catch a boat to the beaches.

Where to stay in Llogara:  There are lots of great places to stay in the park itself including  Guesthouse Alberti  and  Llogara Tourist Village  which are both some of the best Albanian resorts.

Where to stay in Albanian riviera, villa on beach with mountains further along the beach

Most people would say that no Albania beach holiday is complete without at least a visit to Dhermi!

Dhermi has beautiful beaches, coves and hidden bays. One of the most picturesque is Drymades which is my personal favourite.

In fact, this has been named one of the top beach hangout spots in the Albanian Riviera, and hosts one of the top festivals in Albania .

There are plenty of good Albanian Riviera beaches in Dhermi but this one especially!

The village is a great base to explore the surroundings as there are plenty of restaurant options and bars on the beach.

One of the most popular hangouts is at Drymades Bungalow.

During the summer they have Kometit Kafe (which is an awesome bar in Tirana) make the trip from Tirana to Albanian Riviera, set up on the beach and serve drinks.

It’s a fun little place to hang out with bean bags, fairy lights, and the like.

Where to stay in Dhermi:  Dhermi has its share of popular Albania beach resorts, but one of the most highly recommended places to stay is  Drymades Bungalows , famous for its bright blue cabins!

Another one of the best Albanian Riviera hotels is  Sofo Hotel . It’s near Dhermi beach and comes with a continental breakfast.

Best holidays to Albanian Riviera, aerial view of city nestled between ocean coastline and mountains

This sleepy beach town is one you should plan to stay in for a few days at least. Himare is one of the best coastal towns in Albania, and also has some stunning beaches nearby.

If you want a fantastic view over Himare and the surrounding area, then make your way towards the castle. From here you get a stunning view!

You can read my full travel guide on Himara for more ideas on what to see and do.

📦 PACKING TIP: Don’t leave home without a solar powered battery pack so you can keep your devices connected at all times.

Where to stay in Himara:  There are loads of great Albania beach resorts to stay at in Himare. My favourite is  ARXONTIKO , an Albania luxury beach resort right on the water!

Another top Albania accommodation in Himara is  Ionian Terrace  which is a superb bed and breakfast which is again, right on the water!

If you’re a backpacker then stay at  Himare Hostel !

Guide to the Albanian Riviera, exterior of old stone castle wall with doorway, view of mountains in distance

5. Porto Palermo Castle

Why not improve your Albanian coast holiday with a trip to a castle?

The impressive Porto Palermo Castle is regularly said to be built in the 19th century, but the site may be far older than that.

It has been found that this castle was mentioned by ancient Greek and Roman authors in text dating back to the 5th century BC.

The exact date is unknown but nevertheless, it is worth the stop. Nearby is a tunnel that was used during communism as a submarine bunker.

The castle is located only a few km from the town of Himarë.

Where to stay near Porto Palermo:   Palermiti Luxury Rooms  is only a hop, skip, and a jump from the castle.

It is possibly the best beach resort in Albania for luxury, and if you’re lucky you will stay in the rooms where you can get a beautiful view of the castle!

The hotel is located within walking distance of some beautiful Albanian Riviera beaches.

Why visit the Albanian Riviera, Stone fortress surrounded by crumbling stone walls on mountain top with winding stone stairway leading up to it

This is the longest strip of unbroken beach in the Albanian Riviera. So if you’re looking for a bigger scale beach for your Albania beach holidays, then try this one!

There are a few great restaurants along this beach, as well.

I highly recommend visiting Borsh Castle which is on the hill overlooking the beach.

Not a lot of tourists bother to visit or even know about this castle, which is a real shame because I found it to be one of the most beautiful – even if it is mostly in ruins.

Borsh is a contender for the best area to stay in Albania for a mixture of great food, beach space and historical sites.

Where to stay in Borsh: The Sole Luna hotel  is a great option which is right on Borsh beach. There are also plenty of places to camp if that’s your thing!

Best places to visit in the Albanian Riviera, aerial view of stone structure on cliff overlooking sandy beach and  see-through blue ocean

Lukove is worth a stopover if you’re visiting the Albania Riviera. The village itself is small but the beach is lovely, and you can catch some of the best sunsets from here.

The beach is called Shpella and is about a 5-10 minute drive from the village downhill.

Where to stay in Lukove:  There are no Albania seaside resorts here. However, there is lots of room for camping here as there’s a field with trees behind the beach.

What to see and do in the Albanian Riviera, sea inlet with a dock on shore and two boats and a jet ski heading out of the inlet

Kakome is one of the most beautiful beaches along the Albanian Riviera but there are some issues with accessing it by road as the road is marked ‘private’.

Luckily, you can easily reach the beach via boat from Saranda!

Near Kakome there is another beautiful beach called Krorez Beach but also a monastery to check out too. You can only access the beach by boat, hike, or by horseback.

I am currently based in Saranda and I absolutely love it, it is definitely one of my favourite places in the whole Albanian Riviera and definitely one of the best Albanian Riviera cities.

In the summer months its extremely busy because a lot of cruise ships dock here and use it as a base to explore the surroundings.

Although it is most popular in summer, there are tons of fun things to do in Saranda year-round.

The city has the best nightlife in Albania during the summer months, and some nice beaches if you search other than the centre.

There are also many great restaurants in Saranda . Don’t forget to try the seafood – it’s mouth-watering. Actually, Albanian food , in general, is delicious!

I might be biased, but I think any Albania beach holiday is complete without visiting Sarande.

Make sure you  read my complete guide on Saranda here .

Where to stay in Saranda:   Illyrian Boutique Hotel  is one of the best resorts in Albania and a great choice as it’s right in the centre and has a really great rooftop bar.

Another great option is  Glow Boutique Hotel and Suites  if you’re looking for a boutique hotel with a pool!

If you’re a backpacker be sure to stay at  Hasta La Vista – it might be the best place to stay in Albania Riviera if you’re travelling light!

Best beaches in the Albanian Riviera, aerial top down view the coastlines of several islands separated by very clear blue water

Only 20km from Saranda is Ksamil, the place with the busiest beaches in all the Albanian Riviera in my opinion.

Many consider Ksamil to be the best place in Albanian coast, which means that during July and August, this place is absolutely packed.

So if you’re hoping for a quiet, relaxing Albania beach holiday I would recommend avoiding it and picking somewhere nearby.

Ksamil is absolutely stunning though with its (artificial) sand beaches. You can also swim in the nearby 3 islands.

The beaches in the centre are beautiful but you should also explore the other beaches nearby such as Mirror beach and Monastery beach.

You can read my full Ksamil travel guide here .

Ksamil is super close to Corfu, Greece for even more amazing beaches. Check out my guide on accommodation in Corfu if you want to plan an overnight trip.

Where to stay in Ksamil:  Ksamil has some of the best beach hotels in Albania. But my top recommendation is Hotel Mira Mare .

This hotel is a fabulous option as it is right on the water and has a beautiful view! It is definitely one of my favourite beach resorts in Albania!

💡 PACKING TIP: Make sure you bring a good snorkel , water shoes and a fast-drying towel for all of the beach-going you’re about to do!

11. Butrint

Only 20km from Saranda is the UNESCO site Butrint , which dates to prehistoric times.

This has been the site of a Greek colony, a Roman city, and a bishopric. If you want a taste of Mediterranean history, then you need to see Butrint during your trip to the Albanian Riviera.

Nearby Butrint is Ali Pasha’s fortress which is actually one of my favourite secret spots around Saranda.

Read my full guide on the Ali Pasha Castle to get all the details on where exactly Ali Pasha is and how to see one of the best places in Albanian Riviera!

12. Upper Qeparo

This is a new favourite village of mine and one well worth including in any holiday in Albania. Upper Qeparo is located on top of a mountain overlooking the Albania coastline and the sea.

The village is unique because it’s half abandoned. After communism fell many Albanians fled the village and the country leaving the buildings to crumble and become derelict.

Nowadays some properties have been refurbished but many still lay there soul-less. It’s a really incredible place to get a peek into a traditional Albanian village.

The views are incredible and there’s a lot of history within the crumbling walls.   Qepara is one of the most unique places to visit along the Albania Riviera and definitely worth a visit!

Read my full guide on Old Qeparo .

Where to stay in Qeparo:  I highly recommend staying at  Hotel Riviera  which is located in lower Qeparo right on the beach and is one of the best places to stay in Albania.

Best things to do in Albanian Riviera, village of orange-roofed homes lining a hill with blue ocean in background and blue sky

Vuno is a sleepy village that sits on the edge of a hill. This is not one of the many Albania beach towns in the Riviera, but it has incredible views and is possibly the most quaint Albanian village ever.

If you want to experience Albanian life and get off the tourist trail then stop here for a night or two.

There are Albania Riviera beaches close by which can be accessed by public transport or hitchhiking.

The village has recently undergone beautiful renovations so nearly all the houses are white with yellow shutters and it’s stunning!

Where to stay in Vuno: I recommend checking out Airbnb for accommodation as it’s very limited.

14. Gjipe Beach

Gjipe is a sort of hidden beach which can only be accessed by foot or by 4×4. The beach is unique because it is formed within a canyon.

I would highly recommend a stop here during your holidays in Albania. Read my full guide to Gjipe Beach to plan the best trip here.

Where to stay in Gjipe:  There are no hotels in Gjipe but if you love camping then this is a great spot to do so!

Guide to best places to visit in Albanian Riviera, aerial view of coastline with both sandy beach and large rocky area dropping into very clear blue water

Jale is slowly becoming more popular as it’s a great choice if you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway in the Albanian Riviera.

Tourism for Jale has grown fast so the main beaches in the summer will be a little crowded.

The best thing to do is to hire a kayak and explore the secluded beach coves. You can also kayak to Gjipe beach from here!

🧳 MUST-HAVE: Before you head out on your trip, make sure you have travel insurance. My #1 recommendation is SafetyWing !

Where to stay in Jale:   Folie Marine Beach hotel   is a great option for luxury travellers looking for top-notch Albania beach hotels.

Otherwise, you can camp at the likes of  Social Camping .

Frequently Asked Questions

The Albanian Rivieira runs along the coastline of Southwestern Albania between the cities of Vlore and Sarande. It is located along the Northeastern part of the Ionian Sea, which itself is part of the Mediterranean Sea.

I recommend a minimum of at least 3 days. However, you can easily spend a 10-day beach holiday in Albania here, let along all the other other amazing activities in the area.

Yes! Not only does Albanian have some of the best beaches in all of Europe, but most of the country’s best beaches are in the Albanian Riviera. There are popular beaches, party beaches and secluded hidden gem beaches.

Let me know if this guide convinced you to visit the Albanian Riviera or spend any of your upcoming holidays in Albania!

If you have any questions, then do leave them below and I will try and answer them as best as I can for you.

Other articles you will love:

  • Albania Weather: Best time to Visit Albania
  • Unique Things to do in Albania
  • Incredible Cities in Albania to Explore
  • Important Tips Before You Travel to Albania

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The Comments

Paola enrico.

Hello Anita, My name is Paola I am from Peru. My family and I are plannig a trip to Albania next July( I friend of mine suggested we discover this wonderful country) we have been to Dubrovnik before and was easy looking for info. but I am finding hard to find villas by the sea or hotels on the cliffs so we can jump right in the water. Could you recommend any hotels , we are traveling with children ages 10 to 13 years old and are looking for quiet and secluded beaches. What would ve the best town to stay in the Albamian Riviera? We are also interested in hiring a boat for aprox. 5 daays to sail around the Ionian sea of Albania. Hope you can help us. Kind regards Paola

Lavinia Dieac

Hello, and thanks for this! Is it easy to find camping along this way?

Anita Hendrieka

Yes, there’s lots of camping to be had in the Albanian Riviera. Most camping is wild, however, there are also a few campgrounds along the way. In Gjipe I heard there’s a good one called Eco campground.

Hey! I am currently in vlore and we are here for one more night. Do you have anything you could recommend us to do? I was thinking of hiring bikes and riding down to bora bora beach and then leaving the next day to go further down the Riviera. I love your blog so much it has really helped me so far! Xo

Hello Anita – you have got be SO excited about Albania, thank you

I am travelling, as a single mum with two teenage children (13 &14) at the end of June/early July 2022. I am assuming I will be fine, won’t need to wear a wedding ring etc.

Reading your blog, I am thinking it will probably be best for me to hire a car, and I am thinking about the following itinery. Does it seem sensible to you? Would you stay in Jal at start or end? Do you think I can get to Jal to Corfu in one go – or would you do an overnight in Saranda? Would you spend 1 or two nights in Permet – would love to do the horse tour

– Corfu unless can get straight across (1 night) – Saranda with day trips out (4 nights) – Permet (try and stay at Funky guesthouse) (2 nights) – Himara (3 nights) – Gjirocaster (2 nights and try and stay at kerculla resort – Jal (4 or 5 nights and stay in Folie Marine)

Sorry to have so many questions – excited but equally nervous as a single mum. Many Many thanks, for such an amazing blog!

Hi! I am thinking about driving to the Albanian Coast via car ferry from Bari, and then spending 3 nights over there. What town would you recommend staying in as a sort of “home base” for exploring the Riviera?

Thanks for your post!

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Tourism in Albania

The Albanian Riviera Travel Guide

Holidays on the Albanian Riviera! That sounds good … The beautiful Albanian Riviera is located on the coast in the south of Albania. It starts from the municipality of Sarandë in the extreme south of Albania at the places of Ksamil and the archaeological site and natural park of Butrint (near the Greek border) and ends at the mountain pass and national park of Llogara.

About the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is located in southwestern Albania on the Ionian Sea and is separated in the hinterland by the Keraunian Mountains. In general, tourism on the Albanian Riviera is still relatively small-scale, tourism development has only started since the year 2000 and the coastal road and roads to the beaches were reconstructed around 2008 and 2011. Most tourists on this coast are Albanians from Albania, Kosovo, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Serbia and emigrants on holiday in their own country. The most visited coastal towns by foreigners are probably Ksamil with the islands, Himare and Sarande.

Best time to travel to Albanian Riviera

The best time to travel to Albania is from May to September. Are you a sun lover? Then you will enjoy yourself in Albania. Although Albania has hot dry summers, the breeze from the Adriatic Sea makes for a wonderful refreshment. In winter it can be very cold especially in the interior. The area has a wonderful Mediterranean climate, also known as the Mediterranean climate.

How to get there?

The Albanian Riviera is often compared to the Amalfi coast in Italy or Greece before mass tourism. There are few ways to get to the Albanian Riviera. One option is to fly to Tirana and take a taxi or bus to the coast. A bus trip takes about 3 to 5 hours but is quite inexpensive. Another option is to fly to Corfu airport and take the ferry to the Albanian Riviera. This takes about 30 to 60 minutes.

Places to visit

Dhermi Albania

A beautiful landscape with extensive beaches, where you can relax as a visitor. The city itself has a vibrant nightlife, which attracts many young Albanians. The city is located on a mountain slope by the sea. This way you can enjoy beautiful sunsets from the city. The beach has a cozy atmosphere, partly due to the lively beach bars. The beach also has quiet places where you can enjoy the beautiful Albanian Riviera.

Read more: Dhermi Albania

Saranda Albania

A beautifully situated city on the Ionian Sea, where the weather is warm every season, who wouldn’t want that? That is why Sarande also has a completely relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunately, the coast is overdeveloped, due to the development of atmospheric apartment buildings. Yet Sarande also has beautiful parts. There are many bars, restaurants, and souvenir shops, which are worth a visit. In the area of ​​Sarande, in addition to ancient ruins, there are many other historical sites. The city is fun to visit in combination with a trip through the beautiful, natural surroundings that surround the city.

Read also: Things to do in Saranda

Himara-Abania

Sun, sea, and beach. All can be found in Himare, a town located on the Albanian Riviera, by the water, and on a hilly coastline. The beaches and the quiet boulevard by the sea are the most visited places. The historic old town is also worth a visit. The atmospheric tavernas are full of Mediterranean charm and serve delicious, local seafood. This city also has a beautiful castle with a view of the sea. The mountains near the city contain hiking trails that overlook the countryside, where spectacular churches and monasteries such as the Monastery of the Cross and Athaliotissa can be seen.

Palase beach Albania

This is the first accessible beach in the Riviera after the steep descent through the zigzagging Llogaraja pass. A new motorway leads from the main road straight to the beach, which consists of nothing more than a strip of white sand and rocks, apart from a nightclub that draws large crowds in the summer. In addition to the nightclub, there are several cafes, a pizzeria, and a handful of camping pitches. Perfect for beach lovers who want to avoid the crowds, camp alone and swim undisturbed.

Ksamil Albania

South of Saranda, the unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera, lies Ksamil: a perfect location just steps from the Greek border. The three small islands, surrounded by a turquoise bay, are easy to reach by swimming or boating and it is always less crowded than on the busy city beach. Ksamil is an important place for the locals, because of the many travelers who stay here in the summer, but even during that period, the islands offer some form of tranquility. Corfu can be seen from a distance (this part of Albania is the closest to the island) and the ancient city of Butrint, Unesco World Heritage, is a little further than Saranda, which makes it easy to combine beach and culture.

Bunec Beach Albania

This charming cove is often overlooked by travelers passing directly to Saranda just down the road. Bunec is peaceful and somewhat unconventional, with a white pebble beach divided by a river flowing from the mountains. The sunset here is nothing short of beautiful and a beach is a good option for those looking for a little more comfort, but still want to stay in an unspoiled place.

Borsh, Albania Riviera

Borsh is the longest stretch of beach in Albania. Seven kilometers of breathtaking nature, with an impressive road that leads to the open plain where the village of the same name looms from afar. Strangely enough, Borsch is not very touristy, despite its community and bustling olive oil industry. There is nothing more than a few makeshift restaurants and bars on the beach.

What to eat

You can order delicious fish on the coast. One of the best places you find is in the port city of Vlora. The bay is full of good fish restaurants and often you will also find a beautiful view. A great place to eat is the restaurant, Kuzum Baba. This restaurant is located at the highest point in the city. Nice view, good food, good wine. What more could you wish for?

Read also: Albanian traditional food and  The best restaurants in Albania

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Travel Itineraries | Luxury Travel | Travel Tips

Albania Itinerary | 7 days in the Albanian Riviera

Albania Itinerary | 7 days in the Albanian Riviera

The Albanian Riviera is one of the most up-and-coming destinations in Europe , offering something for everyone. With the perfect blend of stunning beaches, charming coastal villages, rich historical sites, and next level hospitality, there are so many reasons why you should visit . This 7 day Albania Riviera itinerary will dive into all the best spots for you to visit in Albania, with insider tips on where to go and what to do in Albania, and act as the perfect Albania Road Trip Guide for you.

PS – Useful Travel Resources that will help you plan better for your Trip to Albania  – 

  • Book your Europe train tickets at Omio or Trainline
  • Book your Rental Car in Albania on Discover Cars and RentalCars.com
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  • Book the best Culinary / Food Experiences in Europe on EatWith
  • Book your Accommodation in Albania on Agoda or Booking.com
  • Book your flights at the cheapest rates on Kiwi.com
  • Get an eSIM by Airalo to stay connected and Save on Roaming Fees
  • Sign up for a Priority Pass before flying to Albania, to enjoy premium Airport Lounge Access.
  • Sign up for a Travel Insurance to enjoy a hassle free vacation in Albania.

Days 1-3: Ksamil

Days 3-4: borsh, days 4-6: himara, days 6-7: dhermi, 7 day albania road trip itinerary – faq’s, share this:, 7 day albania road trip itinerary .

albanian riviera travel guide

Your Albanian Riviera holiday will likely start in Tirana, the country’s main airport. From here, we recommend you hire a car to drive to the first stop in this 7 day Albania itinerary: Ksamil. It’s a 4 hour drive from Tirana, though there’s several places you can stop along the way, including Vlore, Gjirokastra, and the Blue Eye.

albanian riviera travel guide

Gjirokastra | Photo by Abenteuer Albanien on Unsplash

Once you arrive, check into your hotel and freshen up before heading straight off to the beach for sunset. As the Albanian coast is west facing, you’re almost guaranteed spectacular sunsets right over the sea every night. 

Ksamil is known for its vibrant beach clubs and spectacular beaches.

Spoiler alert: these are the most beautiful beaches in the whole of Albania in our opinion!

With white stony sand and sparkling turquoise sea, it honestly feels like you’ve been transported to South East Asia, not the Mediterranean! 

On your first full day in Ksamil, we’d recommend heading slightly out of town to either Pulebardha or Pasqyra beaches. They’re a little quieter than the beaches directly in town and, in our opinion, are the most beautiful. 

Hire a sun lounger for 1000 Albanian Lek each, lay back, and relax with the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. Both of these beaches have onsite restaurants which we can highly recommend – the food is fresh and delicious! Plus, you can have drinks and ice lollies brought directly to your sunbed: pure bliss.

albanian riviera travel guide

Ksamil | Photo by Bleron Salihi on Unsplash

Once you’re done sunning yourself, spend a few hours in the afternoon wandering around Butrint National Park. This UNESCO world heritage site offers a unique insight into the history of the area, as it brings together Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Venetian influences.

albanian riviera travel guide

Butrint National Park | Photo by Bleron Salihi on Unsplash

In the evening, head to one of the many trendy beach clubs lining the seafront for a cocktail (or two) in beautiful surroundings. We’d recommend Poda Beach House for its chic vibe and plenty of insta ops – in fact you’ve probably seen it on social media yourself!

Start your third day with a dip in one of Ksamil’s main beaches, with views over one of the four islands. If you get up early, you’ll be treated to pure serenity, with the beaches completely to yourselves. Spend the morning relaxing at the beach before taking a 1hr 15 minute drive to your next destination.

Borsh is just a 1hr 15 minute drive from Ksamil, and yet it offers a completely different vibe to the popular beach town. Borsh beach is huge, stretching for over 7km. Unlike Ksamil, there are plenty of spots in Borsh where you can lay a towel and relax on the sand, rather than having to hire a sun lounger.

There is plenty of parking at Borsh beach itself, with several quiet beach bars offering food and drinks, with amazing hospitality. 

albanian riviera travel guide

Borsh is the perfect place to just spend a day chilling after Ksamil. We found there were very few tourists in Borsh, with the vast majority of people being Albanian, offering a really authentic feel and a chance to immerse yourself in the Albanian culture. We were told by a tour guide in Tirana that this was his absolute favourite beach in the whole of Albania, and we have to agree, it’s beautiful. 

Check into your hotel, spend some time relaxing in the family-friendly ambiance and interacting with the locals, before setting off again around midday the next day.

For days 4-6 of your Albanian Riviera itinerary you will be basing yourself in Himara, a little further up the coast. It’s approximately a 25 minute drive to Himara from Borsh, though we’d recommend stopping halfway to checkout the fortress of Porto Palermo, built by Ali Pasha in 1804. Head inside to learn more about the fascinating history of Albania.

albanian riviera travel guide

The Fortress of Porto Palermo

Once you arrive in Himara, find a space to park your car up and head straight into the trendy town to explore. Car parking should cost between 300-500 lek for 3-5 hours. With a beautiful promenade along the beach, lined with cafes and restaurants, it’s the perfect place for a stroll. Pick up some souvenirs and postcards to send home, before heading to Pasticeri Delight for the best ice cream in Himara! It costs just 100 lek per scoop and it is honestly divine. 

On day 5 of your Albania itinerary, get up early and drive to Livadhi, just a few minutes down the road, before hiking to Aquarium Beach. It should take you around 30 minutes to reach Aquarium beach and the hike is not too strenuous, though we would recommend sensible footwear as the path is a little uneven. 

Aquarium Beach is the most stunning little cove, with warm, sparkling turquoise water, cliffs to jump off, and fish to snorkel amongst. As it is relatively inaccessible by car (unless you have a 4×4), it remains quiet until around 10am, with no sun loungers, noise pollution, or facilities. Find a spot to lay your towel, grab a good book, and relax in this Mediterranean oasis. 

albanian riviera travel guide

The beauty of Albanian Riviera

Around midday the beach will start to get very busy and, honestly, not so tranquil. At this point, walk back to Livadhi where you can either spend the afternoon sunbathing on Livadhi beach, a beautiful sandy beach with deep sea to swim in, or head back to Himara beach. Both of these beaches are super chilled, and you have the option of hiring a sunbed if you wish. Himara beach even has free beach umbrellas for you to use!

The food in Himara has strong Greek and Italian influences, and for dinner, we’d recommend heading to Valentino Restaurant. The food is fresh and delicious, the views over the sea are incredible, and the staff are so friendly.

Set another early alarm on day 6 of this 7 Day Albania Road Trip Itinerary, and drive around 40 minutes to Gjipe Beach, a gem along the Albanian Riviera. You’ll need to park near the Holy Monastery of St. Theodore as the last stretch of road is only accessible by 4×4. The walk from there should take no more than half an hour.

Gjipe Beach is nestled at the end of a 2km canyon, with cliffs towering high around it, and the deep blue Ionian Sea lapping at the shore. The natural beauty of this beach, surrounded by lush greenery, is why it’s absolutely worth visiting. It’s quite popular, hence we recommend arriving early, and has a small restaurant and toilet facilities.

After spending a couple of hours on Gjipe Beach, hike back to your car and continue driving for around 20 minutes to reach Dhermi, where you’ll spend your last night on the Albanian Riviera.

Before heading to your accommodation, park in the Old Town where you’ll be able to explore a sleepy authentic Albanian hill side town, with the most stunning views over the sea. Climb up to the Monastery of St. Mary at the top of the Old Town for the best vantage point.

Dhermi 3

Head to Dhermi beach, a short drive away from the Old Town, for a late lunch in a luxurious beach-front bar that will have you believing you’re in Bali. 

Dhermi beach is similar to Himara in that there are sections that are covered in sunloungers for you to hire, and sections that are kept clear for sunbathers who’d rather relax on a towel (and save a bit of money!). It offers the perfect balance between luxury and authenticity, with locals loving to stop for a chat and offer you tips on where to visit. This is without a doubt the best place to end your 7 day Albanian Riviera itinerary, and flying out of Albania to your next travel destination.

Do I need a car to visit Albania?

Whilst a car is not essential to explore the Albanian Riviera, we would highly recommend one in order to make the most out of your time and to avoid hassle. Many beaches are only accessible by car, and the bus system in Albania is notoriously unreliable, so we would highly recommend hiring a car in Tirana before starting this trip.

Where is the best nightlife in the Albanian Riviera?

The award for best nightlife in the Albanian Riviera has to go to Ksamil. With numerous trendy bars and nightclubs, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy yourself and meet other travellers on a night out. With venues getting busy around 10pm, head out early to get the most out of your night.

Is Albania expensive?

When compared to other popular beach destinations in the Mediterranean, Albania is a relatively affordable country. In fact, it is one of the Cheapest Countries in Europe. With accommodation costs starting at just £20 per night and a meal out setting you back less than £10, it is very easy to travel Albania on a budget. That being said, if you prefer something a little fancier, there are plenty of high grade hotels and restaurants to splurge on. Albania really is as cheap or as expensive as you make it!

7 Day Albanian Riviera Itinerary – Summary

Day 1 | Arrival in Albania | Head to Ksamil

Day 2 | Explore Ksamil

Day 3 | Relax in Ksamil | Head to Borsh and spend the day by the beach

Day 4 | Head to Himara

Day 5 | Drive to Livadhi | Hike to Aquarium Beach

Day 6 | Drive to Gjipe Beach | Head to Dhermi | Explore Dhermi

Day 7 | Departure from Albania

The Albanian Riviera, located in southwestern Albania, is a beautiful stretch of coastline known for its stunning beaches, crystal clear waters, and impressive cliffs. It’s a favourite spot for tourists worldwide, offering something for everyone.

This 7-day Albania Road Trip itinerary, which has been rated as one of the Most Scenic Road Trips in Europe , sees you visiting four of the most beautiful and popular towns: Ksamil, Borsh, Himara, and Dhermi. Each town has its own unique character and charm, and you’re sure to have a wonderful time exploring them all.

Feel free to adjust the plan based on your interests and budget. If you love hiking, consider more time at Gjipe Canyon. If you’re on a tight budget, you could stay in hostels or guesthouses and cook your own meals.

No matter how you choose to spend your time, you’re sure to have the best time on the Albanian Riviera. It is a beautiful and affordable destination with something to offer everyone.

albanian riviera travel guide

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Our perfect Albanian Riviera itinerary – 1 and 2 week options!

Gjipe Beach Albanian Riviera Europe

Have you ever visited somewhere with minimal expectations and been seriously surprised? This was us in Albania! The beaches are incredible, up there with some of the very best in Europe! The locals are friendly, and there’s lots of great things to do and see in this booming travel destination.

Gjirokaster Old Town Albania

We visited for a little over a week in 2022 just as Albania was hitting the radar of many travellers and travel bloggers. The Albanian Riviera itinerary below is based upon our well research stay and covers of what we think is the perfect way to spend your time along this beautiful stretch of coastline. We give both 1 and 2 week options pending your ideal length of stay! If you think we have missed some of your favourite options, comment below to let us know!

The perfect Albanian Riviera travel itinerary!

The entire Albanian Riviera is truly extraordinary, boasting a stunning coastline with numerous world-class beaches and cute towns. Based upon our experience during our visit, thorough research and many discussions with others who have travelled here, we recommend a few must visit areas and provide a consideration for a number of other great options to include in your itinerary. We also provide a few sample itineraries and link to other Albanian travel guides.

MUST VISIT along the Albanian Riviera:

Please note this is based upon our personal experience and opinion, which may differ from others.

1. Himare: This costal town ranks as one of our favourite beachside destinations from our European travels so far. Enjoy the calm and crystal clear water of the main beach, the authentic local food and friendly locals. Additionally, the ability for day-trip options really elevates Himare. In particular, nearby beaches of Porto Palermo and Gjipe Beach are worth visiting! See our Himare guide including top picks, accommodation and more here!

Best Beach Albanian Riviera Europe

2. Gjirokaster: The small inland town of Gjirokaster is definitely a hidden gem! We consider it one of the best small towns in Albania, and possibly in all of Europe! Nestled into the hills with views of mountains, Gjirokaster is made up of cobbled old streets and charming Ottoman houses, whilst its historic castle sits impressively overlooking the town on the hill. Gjirokaster is a a great foodie town and overall very cheap! The town comes to life at night, so we recommend you stay at least 1 night! This town is located around 1.5 hours inland from Sarande. See our trip and guide to Gjirokaster here!

Gjirokaster albania day trip

Other GREAT OPTIONS to look at when visiting the Albanian Riviera:

  • Ksamil: Come to Ksamil for beach clubs, good vibes, seafood and azure waters. Ksamil is also a great entry point to the Albanian Riviera due to the locality from Sarande and Corfu.
  • Butrint National Park: An easy day trip from Sarande or Ksamil, this national park offers historic old ruins and less popular beaches. Best explored with via car or private tour, however taxi or busses can be used here. We would recommend this if you are staying longer than a few days in Ksamil or Sarande.
  • Borsh Beach: A popular and top stop along the peninsula. This strip of coastline offers one of the wider beaches of the Albanian Riviera. Locals recommend this place for families, however we didn’t manage to find time to visit. The pictures look beautiful, and it may be worth investigating more during your trip along the coast.
  • Berat: This old inland town sits a little further north than Gjirokaster, meaning it’s not quite as easily accessible if you visit from Sarande. However, old historic houses pain a beautiful picture and if we had our time again, we would include this in our road trips. If you are planning a longer road trip through this region of Albania, it’s definitely worth considering!
  • The Beaches: This is the main reason you should visit the region! Either for a day trip, or to stay nearby in the cute little beachside towns, visiting the incredible coastline is a must! Consider beaches like Porto Palermo, Gjipe Beach, Jale Beach, Borsh and more!
  • Dhermi/Vlore: The other bigger towns along the Riviera offer excellent alternative options to Himare if looking to base yourself along the coast. We didn’t visit them, but have seen great photos and reviews of these locations.
  • Hiking? This is a great and highly underrated option in Albania. Sadly we didn’t include enough time on our trip to include this, but we have seen others on some incredible hikes and encourage you to do some research here!
  • Tirana: While it is considered to be up and coming as a city, this may be a little ‘out of the way’ compared to the Riviera. If you are looking to road trip, flying into Tirana may be a good option and driving down via towns like Berat and Vlore.
  • The Blue Eye (Syri i Kaltër ): This freshwater spring is located inland on the trip towards Gjirokaster, making it an easy and ideal day trip option or addition to your road trip. However, it gets busy (so arrive early) and is a little ‘touristy’.

Our Albanian Riviera Itineraries:

Option 1: 1 week albanian riviera itinerary.

This is the perfect way to sample the Albanian Riviera, giving you enough time to see a few locations. We have included 3 of the top picks in your stay, and recommend hiring a car or driver to get around due to the poor public transport infrastructre.

one week perfect road trip day trip albanian riviera hidden gem europe

  • Fly in to Corfu: The Greek Island of Corfu represents the closest airport to the Albanian Riviera and the easiest way to enter. Land in Corfu and either stay a few nights or head straight to the ferry.
  • Ferry to Sarande: Be prepared for chaos. There is poor organization, things run late, and it’s busy! Book in advance and make sure to book the fast ferry.. it’s worth the extra cost! It will take between 40mins-2 hours.
  • Taxi to Ksamil: Either book a car hire or catch a taxi down to the nearby Ksamil. This will take around 1 hour.

Stop 1: Ksamil 2-4 nights: The beachside town of Ksamil has surged in popularity mostly due to social media clips of the azure water beaches, beach clubs and cheap prices. Spend a few relaxed days here with day trip options to the nearby Butrint National Park or ‘hidden beaches’.

Stop 2: Gjirokaster 1-2 nights: Head back to Sarande and pick up a car (or drive from Ksamil straight there). Head inland 1-2 hours to Gjirokaster. This little town is definitely one of our favourite spots in Albania and worth staying a night rather than rushing the day trip!

Stop 3: Himare 3-5 nights: A Himare how we love you! Spend a relaxed few days in the charming beachside town. If you have a car, head for day trips to nearby beaches (e.g. Gjipe, Porto Palermo etc). See our Himare Guide here including top accommodation picks!

End: Drop your car back in Sarande, catch the ferry to Corfu, and fly from this Greek Island onwards to your next stop.

Option 2: 2 week Albanian Riviera itinerary

The extended visit over 2 weeks gives you much more time to really explore the region and beautiful coastline. It also provides the opportunity for more inland adventures, including smaller towns like Berat, Gjirokaster, and possibly seeing the capital Tirana.

two week perfect road trip day trip albanian riviera hidden gem europe

Part 1: as above – the first week of your road trip in Albania will look similar to the itinerary above. Consider adding 1-2 more nights to both of Ksamil and Himare to ‘slow down’ a little and enjoy the trip. You may also want to spend a night in Corfu to help slow the travel.

  • Fly in to Corfu
  • Ferry to Sarande
  • Taxi to Ksamil

Stop 1: Ksamil 2-4 nights

Stop 2: Gjirokaster 1-2 nights

Stop 3: Himare 3-5 nights

Part 2: The Additions

Stop 4: Pick 1 of Vlore/Dhermi/Borsch 2-5 nights : These are some of the other beautiful beachside towns along the Albanian Riviera that are begging to be explored. Spend another few nights at one or multiple of these towns!

Stop 5: Berat 1 night: This inland town looks like another hidden gem, and is worth exploring, especially if you’re heading back up to Tirana to drop off a car. Spend 1-2 nights here exploring the charming old town streets.

Stop 6: Tirana 1-2 nights : This is your finishing point. With the reputation as an up and coming city in Europe, Tirana forms your base for 1-2 nights to explore and then fly out of their airport (the biggest in Albania).

Alternative End: Keep your car hire and drive up into the must visit Montenegro (option 1) OR head east to the incredible Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia (option 2). Both require reasonable amount of driving but form excellent options to prolong your travel in the region. Additionally, you could easily complete the road trip in reverse, flying into Tirana and exiting in Corfu (perfect base to explore the Greek islands).

  • See our Kotor (Montenegro) guide here.
  • See our Lake Ohrid (Noth Macedonia) guide here.

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Want to see more Albania & Balkan travel guides and memories:

Want to see more of Albania? Take a look at our memories and travels in Albania !

The Albanian Riviera might be Europe’s best kept secret
Don’t Miss the Balkans for Your Next Europe Adventure
  • Our visit to Gjirokaster!
  • The beaches of Ksamil!
  • The beachside town of Himare!

Visiting the nearby Greece? Check out some of our thoughts on the Greek Islands we visited:

  • Have a read about our stay in Naoussa and the island of Paros!
  • Want to visit Santorini? See if we think it’s worth it!
  • Read about our time in Antiparos, one of our favourite day trips yet!
  • Want to do another great day trip on Paros? Consider a visit to Lefkes!
  • Take a look at travel content from Greece ! And follow all of our travel moments here!

Check out further highlights from our time in the Europe! Take a look!

Did we miss anything? Please let us know in the comments below if there’s any great ‘travel hacks’ or places we missed from Albania!

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Albanian Riviera Travel Guide

Posted on Last updated: September 11, 2021

Affiliate Disclosure: This post may contain some affiliate links, which means when you click, I get a small percentage of the purchase at no extra cost to you. This allows me to keep this website running, so feel free to click away! You can read my entire Affiliate Disclosure here .

The Albanian Riviera is a beautiful coastline that stretches along the Ionian Sea. Its gorgeous beaches and seaside towns are perfect for travelers looking for an authentic experience in Albania. This blog post will give you everything you need to know about this region, including where to stay, how to get around, and what activities are available.

The Albanian Riviera is the country’s most popular tourist destination for both locals and foreigners. And with good reason! The coast offers a wide range of activities, from exploring the ancient ruins at Butrint to relaxing on the beach in Ksamil. With so much beautiful scenery on offer, it can be hard to decide what you want to do first – but don’t worry, I’ve done all of that research for you! This Albanian Riviera travel guide will help you plan your visit step-by-step. So pack your bags and get ready because Albania has some incredible sights waiting for you!

The Main Cities to Visit in the Albanian Riviera

When I was in Albania, one of my favorite places to visit were the beaches at Ksamil. It’s a small beach town located about 25 minutes south of Saranda, close enough for a day trip.

Saranda, Albania , is a breath of fresh air for those looking to visit a country that still has the charm and authenticity of an undeveloped destination. The town is surrounded by beautiful beaches on one side and mountains on the other. It’s also conveniently located a few hours’ drive away from Albania’s capital city, Tirana. If you’re looking for a relaxing vacation spot where you can enjoy some time away from your everyday life, this may be just what you need!

Saranda is perfect for those who want to take in all that Albania has to offer. If you’re looking for a romantic getaway with your significant other or just some time relaxing on the beach by yourself, Saranda should be at the top of your list!

Saranda is located on Albania’s Ionian Coast, where many amazing beaches are only 10 minutes away by car from the city center.

Himare is a small town with an even smaller beach. The water here is crystal clear and perfect for swimming. Since Himare is relatively small, I wouldn’t spend more than one day here.

Dhermi is the town in Albania that I was the most impressed with. Dhermi isn’t too popular among tourists, but it is for locals. I wasn’t planning to visit Dhermi until one of my Albanian friends posted about it on Instagram, and I knew I needed to go there.

Albania is a developing county and can be quite “rough around the edges.” If you are looking for the nicest and most expensive place in Albania, I highly recommend Dhermi.

Vlore is the former capital of Albania, and it is where the country declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire. Vlore is the perfect town to visit if you are looking for city life on the Albanian Riviera.

17 Things To Do in the Albanian Riviera

1. ksamil beaches.

Ksamil

If you’re looking for some of the best beaches in Albania, then the beaches in Ksamil will be your perfect destination. With its clear blue waters and sandy beaches, it’s an ideal place to spend time relaxing.

There are plenty of places to lounge in the sun or shade, depending on your preference.

If you aren’t the type of person that likes to sit on the beach all day, make sure to check out this paddleboarding activity in Ksamil!

2. Lekuresi Castle

Lekuresi Castle

If you are looking for one of the best views in Saranda, make sure to head up to Lekuresi Castle. This castle has a beautiful view overlooking Saranda, Ksamil, and Corfu .

The castle is now a restaurant where you can order a cup of coffee while taking in the view.

3. Blue Eye

Blue Eye

The Blue Eye is a natural spring in Saranda, Albania. It is a famous freshwater spring with an average temperature of 10 degrees Celsius (about 50 Fahrenheit).

The Blue Eye is located about a 30-minute drive from the city center of Saranda, and it is one of the most popular tourist attractions outside the city. People come to soak their feet in its refreshing waters.

4. Hasan Tahsini Boulevard

Hasan Tahsini Boulevard

The Hasan Tahsini Boulevard is a street in Saranda, Albania. It was named after Hoxhe Hasan Tahsini, an Albanian astronomer, philosopher, and mathematician during the Ottoman era.

The boulevard has many shops and restaurants lined up. You can walk down the boulevard comfortably without cars passing by or crossing over into your path.

I highly recommend eating dinner at one of the restaurants on the Hasan Tahsini Boulevard one night in Saranda and watching the sunset.

5. Butrint National Park

Butrint National Park

Albania is known as a country with rich culture and history. One of Albania’s best-known national parks is Butrint National Park. It contains the largest collection of ancient ruins in Albania.

The park contains such treasures as a Roman theatre, a Roman temple, and a Greek central square.

Check out this guided tour of Butrint National Park.

6. Ali Pasha Castle

Ali Pasha Castle

The Ali Pasha Castle is named after Ali Pasha of Tepelene. It was built in the late 15th or early 16th century under Venetian rule, and it was the center of many conflicts of the Ottoman Empire.

The castle was destroyed in 1798 by a retreating French army so it wouldn’t fall into the hands of Ali Pasha. Ali Pasha did end up getting control of the castle around 1804.

Ali Pasha castle is located very close to Butrint National Park. You can view the castle from a distance from a parking lot with a viewing platform. You can take a 20-minute walk down to get closer to the castle, but you can only reach the castle by boat or kayak.

7. Mirror Beach

Mirror Beach

Mirror Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Albania, located in Saranda. The water is crystal clear and perfect for swimming.

Mirror Beach is the perfect beach alternative to Ksamil if you are looking for something quieter.

The road leading to Mirror Beach is unpaved. Before I went, I read online that the drive can be pretty dangerous and scary. I decided to park my car at the top on the paved road and walk down to the beach.

Don’t forget to bring a kindle or a book to read while relaxing on the beach.

8. Day Trip to Gjirokaster

Gjirokaster Castle

If you are looking for a day trip from Saranda with the perfect balance of culture and adventure, Gjirokaster is your destination. This ancient city is one of the most fascinating destinations in Albania.

Gjirokaster is a town located just over an hour north of Saranda. It is one of two UNESCO World Heritage cities in Albania, and it is worth a day trip to see the city while you are visiting Saranda.

Albania has tons of castles. In my opinion, the castle in Gjirokaster is the best, and the castle alone makes the trip to Gjirokaster worth it.

If you already have the Blue Eye on your itinerary, I recommend going on your day trip to Gjirokaster since it is located halfway there.

If you are interested in taking a guided tour of Gjirokaster from Saranda, check out this  day trip here . You will depart from Saranda and head to Gjirokaster. In Gjirokaster, you will visit the Gjirokaster Castle, Gjirokaster Bazaar, Skenduli House, and see the Blue Eye on your way back to Saranda.

9. Visit the Beaches in Himare

Beach in Himare, Albania

Himare, Albania, is a small town on the western coast of the country. You may have never heard of it before, but there are some incredible beaches that you should visit for your next vacation. The water in this seaside town is crystal clear and blue.

There are three main beaches in Himare: Spile beach, Prinos beach, and Potami beach. Locals frequent Potami beach and Prinos beach, but Spile beach is more popular among tourists because it’s within walking distance from the center of town.

10. Porto Palermo

Porto Palermo in Himare Albania

Porto Palermo is a must-visit while you are staying in Himare.

The main attraction at Porto Palermo is the castle. I’ve heard it called Porto Palermo Castle, Port Palermo fortress, and Ali Pasha fortress. You have to pay a small fee to explore the inside of the castle, but it is worth it.

There is also a small beach in Porto Palermo, but I recommend the beaches near the city center of Himare more.

It is not possible to walk to Porto Palermo from the center of town, and you will either need to rent a car or hire a taxi.

11. Himare Castle and Himare Old Town

Goats in Albania

The castle of Himare is situated on a rocky hill overlooking the town, and it offers the most spectacular views of Himare.

You will have to walk through the cobblestone streets of Himare Old Town to reach Himare Castle. The castle is free to enter, but it is pretty rundown.

You might even see a few mountain goats along your trek up to the castle.

12. Gjipe Beach

Gjipe Beach in Dhermi Albania

Gjipe Beach is a stunning beach on the Albanian Riviera, yet has none of the crowds. That is partially thanks to the 40-minute walk up and down each way to the beach.

If you’ve rented a car to travel around the Albanian Riviera, you can drive to the main parking lot, where you can pay 200 LEK (about $2) to park your car. From the parking park, you’ll make the hike down to Gjipe Beach.

If you’ve rented a 4×4, you can drive all the way down to the beach. The path is quite narrow, though, and I’m not sure what would happen if two 4×4 were trying to pass each other.

13. Dhermi Beach

Dhermi Beach in Dhermi Albania

In my opinion, Dhermi Beach is the most beautiful beach in Albania with the most stunning scenery.

Dhermi Beach is has been a popular beach destination for Albanians for many years, and it is growing in popularity among tourists due to its beauty.

The water stays pretty cold year-round. It may be too cold to swim if you come during the spring or fall.

14. Drive Llogara Pass

Llogara Pass in Dhermi, Albania

When you are driving from Dhermi to Vlore, you have to go through Llogara Pass. The drive is worth it, with breathtaking views of the mountains and the sea along the way.

Llogara Pass is one of the most beautiful drives you’ll ever take. It’s a long, curvy road that takes about one hour to drive through. The best thing to do while driving on this pass is to enjoy the scenery and stop at various points along the way for pictures. You can also visit some of the local restaurants or cafes that are located along the way.

15. Zvernec Island

Zvernec Island

Zvernec Island is located about 13 km from the city of Vlore, and it is a must-visit place while in Albania. The island has a pine forest and a 13th-century Byzantine monastery. You can reach the island by a wooden bridge.

16. Stroll Along the Multi-Colored Building in Vlore

Mosque in vlore, Albania

In Vlore, there are a few streets of multi-colored buildings that have coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping. These fun buildings are also very close to the Independence Monument and Muradie Mosque.

17. Take A Ferry From Saranda to Corfu, Greece

Corfu Sailing Excursion

Did you know that Corfu, Greece , is located less than two hours away from Saranda by boat ? While you may want to plan an entirely separate vacation to Greece, you could go for a day trip if you want a little taste of Greece during your stay in Albania.

The Best Time To Visit The Albanian Riviera

Spile Beach in Himare, Albania

The Albanian Riviera is an up-and-coming destination for summer vacations. The beaches are well maintained, the weather is perfect, there are plenty of activities, and it is much cheaper than many other European beach destinations.

Summer is the best time to visit the Albanian Rivera when the temperatures can exceed 30 degrees Celsius.

While the Albanian Riviera does get a decent amount of tourists during the summer months, there are fewer crowds than in other European countries.

I lived in Albania for five months, and I was told to completely avoid Saranda until at least May because there is almost nothing to do there during the winter.

How to Get to the Albanian Riviera

Dhermi Beach in Dhermi

There are no airports or international trains in the Albanian Riviera. If you are flying into Albania, your best option is the airport in Tirana. This was the only airport in Albania until July 2021, when an airport opened in Kukes . Kukes is even farther north than Tirana, so it is not the best option if you are taking a trip to only the Albanian Riviera.

Albania is also in the process of building a new airport in Vlore . Once this airport is completed, it will be the best option to fly into for a trip along the Albanian Riviera.

If you want to travel the Albanian Rivera by bus, you can fly into Tirana and take the bus to either Vlore or Saranda. These are the two best cities for starting your tour along the Albanian Riviera.

If you plan on driving the Albanian Riviera (this is what I recommend), then you can fly into Tirana and rent a car to drive to either Vlore or Saranda.

Another option is to fly into Corfu, Greece, and then take a ferry to Saranda.

How to Get Around the Albanian Riviera

Boulevard in Saranda, Albania

You can get around the Albania Riviera by bus. Although this is the cheapest option, I highly discourage it.

The bus system in Albania can be very unreliable.

There really isn’t a proper bus schedule. Most of the time, you will show up at the bus station, say where you want to go, and someone will point you in the right direction of the bus. Buses will generally leave when they are full.

Sometimes bus drivers will leave with only a few people, sometimes they will wait for half of the bus to be full, and sometimes they will wait for the entire bus to be filled. There’s no way to know in advance, so you must be flexible on time.

Some cities are walkable, and others are not. You may end up paying more in taxis, time, and inconvenience by not renting a car.

With that being said, the best way to get around Albania is by renting a car . The great thing about renting a car in Albania is that you do not need an international driver’s license.

Where to Stay in the Albanian Riviera

Porto Palermo in Albania

  • Saranda: Sit back, relax, and enjoy your time in Saranda when you stay at  Santa Quaranta Premium Resort .
  • Himare: Sea View Hotel  is a 4-star hotel located only 250 feet from Prinos Beach. This hotel also features a private beach area, free parking, and a restaurant.
  • Dhermi: At  Hotel Splendor , all rooms are air-conditioned and feature a flat-screen TV, extra-large beds, a sofa, and a mini bar. Each room comes with a private bathroom with a shower, hairdryer, and free toiletries. Some rooms have private balcony that overlook either the sea or the mountains.
  • Vlore: Regina Blu  is a beautiful beachfront hotel overlooking the Ionian Sea. It has a private beach a few feet away along Vlora Bay.

How Many Days to Spend in the Albanian Riviera

Beach in Albania

For this itinerary, I would recommend spending six days in the Albanian Riviera. You will be changing cities quite a bit. Luckily, Albania is a small country, so driving times won’t be long.

Day 1 (Saranda): Visit Lekuresi castle, Butrint National Park, Ali Pasha Castle, and Hasan Tahsini Boulevard.

Day 2 (Saranda and Ksamil): Visit the beaches in Ksamil and Mirror Beach.

Day 3 (Gjirokaster): Take a day trip to Gjirokaster with a stop at the Blue Eye along the way.

Day 4 (Himare): Leave Saranda in the morning and drive for around an hour and a half to Himare. Spend the rest of the day in Himare at the beaches, Porto Palermo, and Himare Old Town.

Day 5 (Dhermi): Leave Himare in the morning and drive to Gjipe Beach. Gjipe Beach is located halfway between Himare and Dhermi. Spend some time at Gjipe Beach before heading off to Dhermi and spending the rest of the day there.

Day 6 (Vlore): Leave Dhermi in the morning and drive through Llogara Pass to Vlore. Spend the rent of the day in Vlore exploring the city center and Zvernec Island.

Is Albania Safe?

View from Lekuresi Castle

I spent five months living and traveling around Albania as a solo female traveler, and I never felt unsafe.

Albania is safe to visit and enjoy, but with the understanding that it is a developing country and there may be less desirable aspects of everyday life. There tends to be a lot of litter throughout the country, but you won’t feel threatened. Make sure to take general precautions, and it never hurts to have travel insurance .

Things to Know Before Visiting the Albanian Riviera

Porto Palermo beach in Himare, Albania

  • Driving: Although driving is the best way to get around the Albanian Riviera, driving is probably the most dangerous part of being in Albania. Many roads aren’t paved, and Albanians don’t follow driving rules that you may be used to in your country.
  • English: For being a country that doesn’t receive very many tourists, I was pleasantly surprised by Albania’s high level of English.
  • Cash Only: Cash is king in Albania. Most restaurants and shops will only take cash, not cards. I even stayed at a few hotels that would only accept cash. Albanian LEK is also a closed currency, meaning that you can only exchange it in Albania. Make sure you exchange your cash for Albanian LEK as soon as you arrive and exchange it back to your home currency before you leave. Otherwise, you will be stuck with it until your next trip to Albania.
  • Smartphone Data: I recommend buying a local SIM card once you arrive in Albania. It is inexpensive, and you won’t have to worry about getting lost without any internet access. I usually recommend buying a Skyroam when traveling, but I could never get mine to work while in Albania.

Albanian Riviera Packing Guide

boats in vlore, albania

  • Swimsuit : One of the main reasons to visit the Albanian Riviera is to see the beaches. Don’t forget to bring your swimsuit!  Swimwear for men  and  swimwear for women .
  • Sunscreen : Albania is hot in the summer. Make sure to protect yourself by wearing suncream at all times. This is my favorite for my  face  and my  body  (both are vegan and cruelty-free).
  • Microfiber Towel : A microfiber towel is one of my favorite travel products because it is lightweight, easy to dry, and takes up very little space. Even if you decide to stay at a hotel where towels are provided, a microfiber towel is still great to bring to the beach because it can fit into your backpack without taking up much space.
  • Camera : Yes, cell phone cameras are pretty good these days, but I still think the quality of a real camera is better. Try this  Canon camera  if you are new to the world of DSLRs. This  Osmo pocket  is my favorite travel camera because it is so tiny and fits right in your pocket. All of my  YouTube videos  so far have been primarily filmed on this camera. Although a  drone  isn’t essential, I love the pictures and videos that I get from it too much not to share. I also recommend bringing a  GoPro  to Albania to get great pictures from the water.
  • Portable Charger : I never leave my house without a portable charger. You never have to worry about your phone running out of battery if you have one of these.
  • Plug adapter : Albania uses a C-type plug.
  • Packing Cubes : Packing cubes will help you save space and keep your belongings organized.
  • Daypack : This is the daypack that I used while in Albania. It has enough space for my camera, drone, wallet, water bottle, and anything else I need during the day.
  • Large Backpack : This is my favorite travel backpack. It has enough space for everything you need, and it has plenty of extra pockets to hold your belongings.

Check out all of my favorite travel products  here .

The Best Resources For Traveling to Albania

  • Expedia  – book your hotel, flight, car rental, and more.
  • RenalCars.com  – the best website for renting a car.
  • HostelWorld  – the best website for finding hostels.
  • Viator  – my favorite website for finding guided tours.
  • World Nomads  – Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It is so important to have in case anything goes wrong.
  • Express VPN  – Traveling often means using free wifi available in coffee shops, hotels, and airports. This can leave you vulnerable to hackers. I always use a VPN when traveling to keep my personal information more private and secure. Using a VPN will also allow you to access information that isn’t available in the country you visit. (For example: watching US Netflix while in Albania).

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albanian riviera travel guide

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Albanian Riviera

albanian riviera travel guide

  • 1 Cities and towns
  • 2 Other destinations
  • 3 Understand
  • 5.2 By train
  • 5.4 By boat
  • 5.5 By yacht
  • 5.6 By plane
  • 6 Get around
  • 11 Stay safe

albanian riviera travel guide

The Albanian Riviera (Albanian: Bregu ) lies along the southwestern coast of Albania , from the village of Palasë and ending in Lukovë .

Cities and towns [ edit ]

Map

40.116667 19.733333 1 Himara is the only city, but there are a lot of small, picturesque villages mostly located on the overlooking mountain passes:

  • 40.15139 19.63889 2 Dhërmi
  • 40.139722 19.693611 3 Vuno
  • 40.0625 19.856667 4 Borsh

Each of the towns have several excellent beach areas.

Other destinations [ edit ]

  • Gjipe Canyon — at the start of Karaburun Peninsula near Palase is a coastal canyon ending into the sea.
  • 40.216389 19.570278 3 Llogara National Park — located amid rich fauna in the area of Llogara Pass can be used for hiking and as an alpine retreat. Some small resorts are located here. The 1020 hectare area is covered by lush plant life and considered a classic place where a natural equilibrium exists between the world of animals and plants. Don't forget to visit the Flag Pines resembling the Albanian Eagle. Mineral dolomite can be found in a place called "Gerxhina Mountain".
  • Llogara Pass — is a picturesque mountain pass overlooking the Albanian Riviera. It serves as a panoramic venue to exploring the Riviera from above and touching the clouds at the same time. Pine trees cover the land, but there are many box-wood trees as well. Don't forget to visit Caesar's Pass, a place named after Julius Caesar who passed in this area while in pursuit of Pompey. The area of Llogara has a height of 1027 meters. Here one can almost fly into the sky and walk over the sea!
  • 39.883333 20.016667 4 Sarandë — at the Corfu Strait
  • 40.45 19.483333 5 Vlore — region including Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park along the waters of adjacent Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island. In 2014, the Regina Blu ferry was established by a Radhime-based hotel owner making trips to the national marine park and stopping along the secluded beaches. [1]

Understand [ edit ]

Talk [ edit ].

Most of the villagers of this region are bilingual and speak both Albanian and Greek. In village of Palasa, Greek is spoken as a mother language. The natives also speak Italian very well. A lot of young people speak English, but old ones don't. However, since the beaches are full of educated people from Tirana, just ask help from them (search for young people) and they are very willing to help you understand the steward or someone else, that doesn't speak your language.

Get in [ edit ]

By car [ edit ].

The best way to quickly get to the Riviera and thoroughly explore it is by car.

From Tirana, enter the SH2 highway to Durrës, turn into SH85 Durres Bypass at Shkozet or enter in the city proper through Rruga Pavaresia/SH4. Continue down south onto SH4 by passing several towns like Kavaje, Rrogozhine and Lushnje. Some portions of the SH4 are being widened to double carriageway standards (as of 2011). Keep a close eye on slow moving vehicles, pedestrians, undisciplined drivers, and road signs. At Fier, exit the highway to enter the city center as the Fier Bypass in under construction (as of 2014). Enter the new A2 Highway at Levan linking Fier with Vlore. After exiting Vlore, continue onto the main SH8 road passing Orikum and Llogara Pass. The latter can be quite dangerous as the road is narrow at spots, high elevation means constant braking or frequent gear changes, tight turns and lack of barriers at some places. The typical Mediterranean coastal road that follows will prove very satisfying. However, don't be surprised to see old aged ladies dressed in black and carrying heavy loads of wood for the winter, people riding on donkeys, shepherds walking undisturbed with their flocks of sheep, or just cows chilling for the sake of it - all along the main road!

By train [ edit ]

No international train connections exist in Albania. The railway's southern most and closest train station to the riviera is at Vlore.

By bus [ edit ]

From Tirana there are buses that take you in almost all sourthern cities. Also from Elbasan is a 41.108878 20.082159 1 dedicated terminal for sourthern cities , including buses to Greece.

By boat [ edit ]

From Corfu with the daily ferry to Saranda, or from the big port of Vlora.

By yacht [ edit ]

Yachts can be anchored at Albania's only marina in Orikum, south of Vlore. Contact Orikum Marina [dead link] .

By plane [ edit ]

You could fly to Corfu, and then take the daily ferry to Saranda. Otherwise, fly to Tirana International Airport.

Get around [ edit ]

Many prefer to tour around with camper vans, rented cars or simply by foot. Most of the roads going down to the beaches have been paved. Others cycle through the winding coastal road. Most religious sites are located in strategic locations uphill from villages or beaches.

See [ edit ]

  • Castle of Porto-Palermo or Ali Pasha Tepelena Castle south of Himara in Porto Palermo. This castle was designed by a French engineer and was constructed in the shape of a pentagon with stone blocks width up to 1.6 meters.
  • Castle of Sopoti/Borshi including Borshi Mosque and Old Qeparo
  • Churches of Shen Stefani and Shen Dhimitri in the village of Dhermi (XII–XIV centuries)
  • Islands of Ereikoussa and Othonoi and a portion of Northern Corfu can be seen with the naked eye
  • Kakome Fortified Monastery in a hill overlooking picturesque Kakome Bay
  • Kroreze Monastery in Nivice with a bell dedicated by the King of Naples to the Lukove natives that fell for the Queen of Naples.
  • Ruins of Himara Castle in Himare . Emperor Justinian had the castle rebuilt to defend against the attack of the Barbars, Gots and the Hus. It was fortified by the Kaon tribe and is mentioned in Byzantine documents. It was repaired in the 6th century.
  • Shen e Premte Church in Lukove
  • Shen Gjergji Monastery and Nivice Basilica in Nivice
  • Shen Thanasi Church in downtown Piqeras and Shen Maria Kernesoves Church in uptown with a 1744 dated bell dedicated to some 30 natives who left the village to build a new one in Italy.
  • Shen Vasili Monastery in a hill above Shen Vasili village and Kronjezes Virgin Church remnants

Do [ edit ]

Generally, one should immerse in the turquoise waters, visit the numerous churches and fortresses, venture in the flower decorated footpaths of the uphill villages by meeting the hospitable elderly inhabitants, try local organic specialties, and ultimately enjoy the surrounding mountains and overall natural beauty of this coastal stretch.

  • Hike and take part in paragliding activities in Llogara National Park and visit the cave located in the area.
  • Camp alongside the beach or among the olive trees in the dozen campsites of Dhermi, Jal, and others throughout the coast.
  • Dive or take a sailing tour on the waters of the Riviera and of Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park along the adjacent Karaburun Peninsula just north of Palase. Discover the rich sea life and ruins of ancient and recent sunk ships . Explore the marble walls and cold war artifacts of the peninsula and hike the rugged terrain of Karaburun Peninsula and visit the numerous caves of the region. Be aware that the park is located nearby military zones.
  • Take part in the growing lineup of music festivals such as Soundwave Albania featuring electronic music and Turtle Fest. You can party up your stay by visiting some of the many trendy beach bars .
  • Immerse in the many turquoise beaches named after the villages overlooking the coast from the picturesque mountains. The region is a perfect combination of mountain and coastal climate. Following are villages and beaches in order from north to south:
  • Palasa is located at the beginning of the Riviera, just below Llogara Pass. In this 1 km long unspoiled beach Julius Caesar in a moment of rage is said to have thrown his wine cup into the sea. It is said that he set foot and rested his legion at Palase while in pursuit of Pompey. You could try finding it!
  • Dhërmi Beach is considered a nightlife destination for the Albanian youth where a number of small wooden villa complexes and trendy beach clubs are located.
  • Jal village incorporates four beach areas equipped with few local B&B and government owned enmities. Visit the two secluded beaches in the south, one of which is named Akuariumi (the Aquarium). Kampingu Jal, the oldest camp site in Albania is located in Jal Beach . Folie Marine is one of the trendiest beach clubs in the Riviera located near Soleil Village Resort. [2]
  • Filikuri Beach is a 100 meter long beach easily reachable by boat with a rich underwater fauna.
  • Llamani Beach is located between two rocky coastal sides and is 200 meters long. It contains cold water areas stemming from the many underground water sources.
  • Porto Palermo Beach is the most panoramic beach of the Riviera. It contains a castle bearing the same name in the midst of vegetation in a quasi- island. Nearby are found some secluded beaches, eco-friendly beach cabins, and a submarine base.
  • Qeparo . Many B&B here and some secluded beaches. Don't forget to visit the old town uphill.
  • Borsh . The longest stretch of coastline in the Riviera, this beach is surrounded by a 150 ha field with orange, lemon and olive plantations. Shkama Beach is a secluded beach worth a dip, together with 4.5 km long Kamorezes Beach rich with underwater sources. A visit at the ancient settlement near Sopoti (Borshi) Castle where the only mosque of the area is found is recommended. Take a peak at the annual crafts and delicacies fair. Go for a walk along the vividly decorated footpaths and take in the uniquely flavored air. You can also stop for a break at a restaurant located on small waterfalls along the main SH8 road.
  • Lukove Beach . Shpella Beach is worth a visit while some secluded areas are located passed the rocky part. Rich underwater fauna and soft sands are found here. Explore the town uphill with traditional Mediterranean houses and decorated footpaths.
  • Piqeras village is located at the peak of a hill where northern Corfu can be easily seen. Walk on the footpaths and visit local churches. Dip into Buneci Beach located on the sides of the flowing Lapardha stream. Take a peak at the bunkers nearby. Some secluded beaches can be found in the Northern part.
  • Nivice village is located on a mountain pass where a 300 years old olive tree can be found at the village square.
  • Shën Vasil village is located near spectacular Kakome Bay . Visit the 200 years old olive tree at the village center and light a candle at the special designated post nearby. In this exact area there used to be a church but it was destroyed in 1967. Visit the Krorezes Beach and take a walk along the village footpaths. You could meet black dressed ladies who can invite you in and offer you a meal! This is the essence of the Albanian tradition!

Eat [ edit ]

  • Try traditional Harapash , and delicious roasted lamb at Hotel Alpin in Llogara National Park.
  • Freshly caught brass and wrasse fish in Porto Palermo, and Birjan dish in Borsh
  • Local honey, sage, prickly pears and dairy products from inland villages like Kuc and Gjorme.
  • Variety of fresh sea food and locally picked lemons, oranges and olives (including the delicious olive oil).

Drink [ edit ]

  • Sheep yogurt

Stay safe [ edit ]

Go next [ edit ].

  • Corfu , Greece

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Julia Travels

Ultimate Road Trip Albanian Riviera Travel Guide

Planning a road trip in Albania, but don’t know where to start? I have you covered! In this Albanian Riviera travel guide, I share with you the ultimate itinerary for a road trip along the beautiful coast of the Adriatic Sea. Albania is oftentimes a forgotten option when planning summer vacations, but it has so much to offer. With its stunning beaches, amazing restaurants, and warm hospitality, Albania will make for an unforgettable holiday – and even better, an affordable holiday! Being next door to Montenegro and near Croatia , you will get the same beautiful coastline and architecture feel, at a cheaper rate and far less touristy.

Dhermi, Albania

Table of Contents:

  • Best time to go 

How long do I need in Albania?

  • Tips to know before visiting
  • Getting there
  • Blue Eye of Albania
  • Gjirokastra
  • Pros & Cons
  • Overall thoughts

Best time to go:

If you plan on visiting all the amazing beach towns along the coast, visiting Albania during the summer months is a must. Our trip took place towards the end of June, and we had perfect summer weather. Because Albania is not a country that has become as popular (yet) as say Greece or Croatia, I think you could get away with also visiting in July or August and not feel swarmed with crowds of people. We didn’t make any reservations for restaurants, and the beaches never felt too crowded. If you’ve been to Greece or Italy or Croatia…. (Or any of the popular European destinations for that matter) you know how overwhelming it can feel visiting during the summer months. Accommodations need to be booked months in advance, restaurant reservations and day clubs need to be reserved weeks in advance, there’s crowds and crowds of people swarming the top tourist spots… you get the point. With Albania, we had none of these issues! It was such a breath of fresh air to have loose plans each day, walk up to a restaurant without a reservation, and just relax! I predict in the next 5 years it will become more and more popular, so I definitely recommend visiting while the country is still in its current state. 

I suggest 7-12 days in Albania depending on how much you want to do and how many towns you plan on visiting. We spent exactly one week in Albania. We arrived very late Friday night and flew out the following Friday evening. I think 10 days would have been the perfect amount of time for us, as we did feel very rushed in some of the towns. We were not able to visit some of the beaches and day clubs we had on our list due to time. If we were to do it over again, we would account for 10 days!

Dhermi Beach Albania

Tips to know before visiting:

Get a rental car: the cost of a rental car in Albania was pretty affordable and you’ll want the ease of being on your own schedule while driving from town to town. 

Driving can be dangerous:  Driving through the mountains, the roads can be small and windy. Driving through towns, the roads can be narrow and a tight squeeze. Not to mention the fact that locals will fly around you, which can be nerve-racking when you’re in a foreign country driving on unfamiliar roads. I still recommend a rental car, but something to keep in mind and be aware of. 

The country is still very much “up and coming”: Like I mentioned previously, Albania is not as “touristy” as a lot of other countries yet. Because of this many aspects felt “underdeveloped” when comparing it to other places we have been. 

The currency is the Lek: Cash is needed at most places. I would avoid the expensive ATM fees and get cash from your bank before visiting. We even had a couple instances where we needed cash from an ATM, and they were not working. 

Getting there:

There is only one airport in Albania and it is located in the capital, Tirana. You will start your journey by flying into Tirana International Airport Nënë Tereza (TIA). 

Depending on the time of your arrival or how far you’ve traveled, you may want to stay one night near the hotel before starting your road trip. We arrived from Frankfurt around 11pm on a Friday, so we decided to stay at a hotel near the airport. First thing Saturday morning we picked up our rental car from the airport and got on the road.

If your flight lands in the morning or afternoon, I suggest getting your rental car and starting your drive right away, so no time is wasted! 

Ksamil, Albania

The first town we visited during our road trip along the coast of Albania was Dhermi. From Tirana you’ll have about a 3.5 hour drive to Dhermi. Just over 2 hours into the drive, you will pass through the town of Vlore. I highly recommend stopping here for lunch or dinner- depending on the time of the day. Vlore is a fairly small town, but they have a quaint Old Town and beautiful beaches. If you have the time, I even suggest grabbing a quick lunch in the Old Town, then spending a few hours at the beach before making your way to Dhermi. 

Vlore, Albania

Dhermi is a village in Vlore County and is located just 42 kilometers south of the city of Vlore. The town itself was built on a slope in the Ceraunian Mountains, therefore offering beautiful cliffside views, but also making the roads very windy and steep. 

I recommend 3 nights in Dhermi to allow time for at least 2 beach days, depending on the time of your arrival. We stayed at the beautiful hotel Elysium Hotel and can highly recommend it. They offer complimentary breakfast in the morning, an all-day shuttle bus down to the beach, a beautiful pool and the staff was very pleasant.

Dhermi, Albania

If you are spending more than 2 nights in Dhermi, I suggest driving to Himare for one of the days and exploring the town and beaches. Since our time in Dhermi was short, we unfortunately did not have time to make it to Himare, but we are already looking forward to the next time we go! 

If you decide to visit Himare, here are some of the popular places to visit:

  • Livadhi Beach 
  • Himare Beach
  • Gjiri i Akuariumit Beach or “Aquarium Bay” 
  • Kico Meniko for lunch- great view on the water

Dhermi Beach Albania

There are so many great restaurant spots to visit, whether you’re looking for a light lunch, drinks on the beach, or a nice dinner spot, Dhermi has a lot to offer.  

  • 360 Sunset Bar Drymades : A lively spot for amazing cocktails on the beach while watching the sunset. 
  • Sanur Restaurant 
  • Baha by Nassau 
  • Diego Pizzeria Bar Restaurant: A nice spot for a quick pizza on the beach. 
  • Bacaro Beach Bar : A nice spot for sushi on the beach or midday drinks. 

Sanur Restaurant Dhermi, Albania

After an amazing time in Dhermi, we packed our bags and headed to the next destination – Ksamil. Ksamil is two hours south of Dhermi and is known as the Maldives of Europe! It has beautiful beaches and clear blue waters.

We stayed at Onix Hotel in Ksamil and it was doable for the 2 nights we were there, but we would pick a different hotel if we were to go back. It was on one end of the town, and we found ourselves walking to the other side of town often. 

Our first day in Ksamil we spent at Poda Beach, which we really enjoyed. The sunbeds that sit over the water are on a first come, first serve basis and cost 60 euros. The sunbeds in the sand cost 20 euros for 2 beds and an umbrella. We arrived at the beach around 2:00PM and luckily, they still had sunbeds over the water still available. 

Poda Beach Ksamil, Albania

For our second day we decided to go to Twin Island, which is located just off the coast and can be reached by boat, kayak or pedal boat. I recommend renting a kayak or pedal boat to get out there. There are also people with small boats offering to take you there but be sure to negotiate the price. They do try and take advantage of the tourists and will want to overcharge you. 

Twin Island Ksamil, Albania

Depending on how much time you have in Ksamil, here are the places I recommend going to.

  • Poda Beach: A crowded beach, but beautiful and offers over the water sunbeds.  
  • Principote Beach: A less crowded beach with comfortable and affordable sunbeds, but still offering a great vibe. 
  • Binanco Beach Lounge: If you’re looking for a pool / day club.
  • Twin Island: A peaceful beach where you can bring your towel and have a mellow beach day. 

Principote Beach Ksamil, Albania

We opted to stay in Ksamil and take an evening trip to Sarande due to the amount of time we had. If you are short on time and can only stay in one of the towns, how will you know which town to pick?

  • Stay in Ksamil for the better beaches during the day and a quieter / more relaxed feel at night. The town did not feel crowded whatsoever in the evenings and we didn’t need any reservations for dinner. 
  • Stay in Sarande for more options of boat days, visiting secluded islands and looking for a more lively / fun atmosphere at night. The promenade gets very busy and lively at night. Something to note- there are many people trying to sell the tourists things and there are quite a few homeless people along the promenade.

Depending on how many days you are spending here, you could split up your trip a few different ways. 

  • Stay in Ksamil for 2-4 days and take a day trip to Sarande (30 mins by car).
  • Stay in Sarande for 2-4 days and take a day trip to Ksamil.
  • Spend 1-2 nights in each location to get a full experience of both towns. 

Whether you are planning on staying in Sarande or taking day trip here from Ksamil, here are just a few things to check out during your visit.

  • Plazhi i Pasqyrave Beach
  • Shpella e Pellumbave (halfway between Ksamil and Sarande)
  • Take a small boat to Kakome beach or Gjiri Krorez
  • Watch the sunset from Lekuresi Castle. They have a restaurant here if you want to have dinner or another area where they only sell pizza, beer and wine. Since we only wanted drinks while watching the sunset we opted for this spot. It was cash only, so just remember to bring cash with you. 

Lekuresi Castle Sarande, Albania

"Blue Eye" of Albania:

After our time in Ksamil, it was time to head back up north. The next town we stayed in was Gjirokaster, which is located just over an hour from Ksamil. We decided to take a longer route and stop at Albania’s “Blue Eye” on the way. The Blue Eye is a nature preserve that is more than 50 meters deep and a popular spot to visit while in Albania. Although it was cool to see, I don’t think it is completely necessary and not anything I was blown away by. If you are already short on time, I would skip it all together. Because it is such a popular spot, parking in this area can be tough. Once you park your car you have about a 30-minute walk to the Blue Eye. They also have people renting electric scooters which is what we did to cut the time in half- not to mention it was incredibly hot that day. We paid 5 euros each for the scooters and it was well worth it. 

Blue Eye Albania

Gjirokastra:

After the Blue Eye, we made our way to Gjirokaster where we spent one night. If you are short on time or prefer to spend more time along the coast, one night in Gjirokaster is not needed. It is a very small and quaint town that can be seen quickly if you prefer stopping by for lunch on the way back to Tirana. Regardless of if you stay for one night or stop here for a few hours, I highly recommend this town! We are happy with our choice of staying the night in Gjirokaster, as it is very unique and has a different feel than the towns we visited in Albania. Luckily, we picked a hotel with a pool ( Hotel Gjirokaster ) and had enough time to lounge by the pool during the hottest part of the day. In the evening, the town really comes to life which was fun to experience. If you enjoy a hookah bar, we had a really fun time at the hookah lounge, Qoshea, after dinner and where we spent the remainder of our evening.

The next morning after breakfast, we packed up our bags and immediately got on the road to start the trek back to Tirana. From Gjirokaster to Tirana, you’ll have a 3-hour drive, so be sure to account for that when making your way back for the flight. If you opt to stay along the coast and drive straight back to Tirana, you’ll have a 4-hour drive. Plus, stopping in Gjirokaster I would account for 6 hours in total to be safe. 

Gjirokastra, Albania

We ended our trip by spending one night in Tirana. Although it was fun to explore the capital of Albania for one evening, I do not find it completely necessary. If we were to do it again, we would have added one extra night along the coast and skipped visiting Tirana.

If you opt to explore Tirana, it offers some pretty amazing restaurants. We ate at Salt for dinner, and it was incredible! The food was amazing, the staff was lovely, and the atmosphere was perfect! This was the only reservation we made beforehand, but it did not start to get busy until after 9:00PM. 

Tirana, Albania

If I were to go back to Albania again, I would do a 10 day trip and split up the trip like this (see below). If you only have 7 days to spend in Albania, this is how I would split up the trip (see below). These are just my suggestions based on the towns we visited and now knowing / seeing what each place has to offer. 

7 nights in Albania

  • 3 nights in Dhermi: with a day trip to Himare 
  • 3 nights in Ksamil: with a day trip to Sarande 
  • 1 night in Gjirokaster 

10 nights in Albania

  • 3 nights in Dhermi: with a day trip to Himare
  • 3 nights in Ksamil
  • 2 nights Sarande 
  • 1 night in Tirana (if you want to explore the capital of Albania)

Poda Beach Ksamil, Albania

Pros & Cons:

  • Beautiful beaches
  • SO affordable compared to other European destinations 
  • Far less crowded and touristy than other European destinations 
  • Reservations are not needed in advance
  • A rental car is pretty much needed….
  • Most places are cash only, which can become a hassle
  • The currency is the Lek. This is not necessarily a con, but something to keep in mind if you are traveling to other European destinations and plan on getting out of Euros as well. 
  • The country is still very much “up and coming”. There are several parts that are very run down. Some towns you drive through may look deserted. It is definitely not as built up and “boujee” as what you may have experienced in Greece for example. 

Dhermi, Albania

Overall thoughts:

Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Albania. We personally love a road trip, so it us it was fun to have a rental car and be on our own schedule. It made it a nice way to leave one town and head to the next every 1-3 days. After having been to Croatia, Montenegro, Italy and Greece, it was by far the cheapest country we have visited and far less touristy. Albania is a country that we will definitely be back to, and I am curious to see how it develops over the next few years! 

Dhermi Beach, Albania

If you’re like me and need help keeping all of your travel plans and itinerary organized, be sure to check out my  travel journal  that I designed for just this reason! It’s how I plan every single trip and keep organized. It has everything you need from a packing list, a page for your accommodation info, travel itinerary, budgeting on your trip, journaling each day and more! 

vacation planner

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The Crazy Tourist

Home » Travel Guides » Albania » 15 Things to Do in the Albanian Riviera

15 Things to Do in the Albanian Riviera

The line of villages along the Albanian coastline is known a Bregu to the locals, and the Albanian Riviera to the rest of the world.

Starting in Palasa and ending in Lukove, tourists flock to the area each year in search of what Frommer’s named the Top Value Destination of 2012.  Filled with isolated pockets of undeveloped nature, quaint villages, incredible night life, history and culture, and some of the most incredible vistas in the Balkans, it’s no wonder this hidden gem is gaining in popularity.

1. Llogara Pass

Llogara Pass, Albania

The road between Orikum and Dhermi is known as the Llogara Pass. It’s a spectacular mountain pass that overlooks the Albanian Riviera. Driving along the road you get a panoramic view of what’s below and the feeling that you can touch the clouds at the same time. The winding road reaches a height of over 1000 metres and is considered by many to be the best coastal drive in Europe.

It’s so impressive that greats such as Ptolemy, Julius Caesar, and Strabo have written about it. Be sure to bring your camera and don’t eat a heavy meal before you begin!  Prior to 2009 the road was very narrow and not well paved. And although it’s well maintained now, there are parts that remain narrow and at such elevation, fog can make driving tricky. You’ll feel like you’re flying over the sea – it’s sure to be one of your most memorable Albanian experiences.

2. Llogara National Park

Llogara National Park

In the same area as the Llogar Pass, Llogara National Park is 1020 hectares of alpine forest rich with plant and animal life. It’s about 30km from Vlore, directly between Dhermi and Orikum, and has been a national park since 1966.  There are resorts within the park, and most visitors come for hiking, picnics, air adventure sports, and for a cosy alpine retreat.

It’s a refreshing break for most people thanks to the combination of high mountain air and closeness to the sea. There are over 100 different birds and animals that call the park home. The trees in the park are particularly interesting because they have been moulded over time by the sea air currents.

Be sure to check out Flag Pine which most say resembles the Albanian Eagle.

3. Gjipe Canyon & Beach

Gjipe Beach

This secluded beach with a gorgeous coastal canyon at one end can be found between Vuno and Dhermi on the Karaburun. It’s so secluded that there is no paved road to the beach. From the nearest road is about a 30-minute trek – though it is possible to find yourself going the long way if you haven’t been there before! The walk is gorgeous and the unspoilt beach is well worth the trouble.

If you don’t prefer to hike, you can always kayak from a more accessible spot on the peninsula – like Jale Beach. Regardless of how you arrive, the clear water and pebbled beach is a relaxing spot. You’ll find a few vendors with small wagons selling snacks and drinks, but no full service restaurant or beach shack.

The canyon is fun to explore and it’s easy to take a quick dip to cool off after.

4. Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park

Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park

Also located on the Karaburun Peninsula is the only marine park in Albania. The park follows several kilometres of coastline between the peninsula and Sazan Island. Once so secluded that almost no one visited, the Regina Blu ferry was established in 2014 making access to this fantastic park easer.

The entire Karaburun peninsula is a Managed Nature Reserve. The park features sunken ships from World War II as well as some once belonging to the Greeks and Romans. You’ll find giant caves to explore, steep cliffs, interesting carvings written by sailors over the years, breath-taking views at every turn, and fabulous secluded beaches to enjoy.

If you like underwater life, don’t miss the meadows of Posidonia where you’ll see crustaceans, molluscs, reptiles, red coral, and possibly some mammals.

5. Butrint Archaeological Site And National Park

Butrint Archaeological Site And National Park

Butrint has been inhabited since prehistoric times and over the centuries has been a Greek colony, a Roman colony, and even a bishopric. So it’s no surprise that the current archaeological site is a hodgepodge of ruins. Researchers have found evidence of the Byzantines, the Venetians, the Ottomans, and more. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is surrounded by a lovely lagoon.

The highlight is surely the fourth century theatre that can sit roughly 1,500 people. Each summer you can see wonderful performances there. There’s also a 6th century baptisry with colourful mosaics and a basilica. Near the theatre are Roman homes surrounded by courtyards and imposing walls. There’s a museum on site where many of the objects are displayed. Though the most famous artefact, the famous head of Apollo, is on display in Tirana

6. Saranda at the Corfu Strait

Beach in Saranda

Saranada has the perfect combination of beauty and affordability. Both tourists and Albanians come here each summer as an affordable alternative to some of the pricier Riviera beach towns.

The vibe is energetic, with lots of seaside bars and nice restaurants that feature the catch of the day. Nearby Saranda you’ll find Butrint, the Ksamil Islands, and Lekursi Castle. Built in the mid 16th century, the castle sits on top of a hill that affords fantastic views of Corfu and the surrounding area. There’s even a great restaurant on site.

Also in Saranda is the historic synagogue complex. This is the site of a once wealthy Jewish community that reached its height in the 5th century AD. And if you want a little more history, visit the 40 Saints Monastery. Built in the 6th century, it was built in honour of 40 Christian Roman soldiers who were sentenced to death in Siberia after refusing to renounce their religious beliefs.

7. Ksamil Islands south of Saranda

Ksamil Islands

Just 17km from Saranda are the Ksamil Islands. Made up of three small islands, you can swim out or take a boat to reach them.

White sand beaches, lounging chairs, clear blue water, and the Mediterranean sun make this the perfect relaxation spot.

Find yourself a secluded inlet to avoid all others and let the rest of the world fall away.

Orikum

Most visitors to Orikum will tell you that it felt like a home away from home almost immediately.

With a long fine pebbled beach that’s perfect for walking and relaxing, there’s just something about the place that’s welcoming.

The night life is laid back and you’ll find good restaurants and shops there.

No matter where you are in town, you’re never more than ten minutes away from a cooling dip in the sea.

The village has retained all of its charm over the years and you can see and feel the history and pride of the locals.

Thanks to its geographic location (good views of the ocean and the mountain passes), Julius Caesar camped his troops here during the Roman Civil War.

At the end of the bay is the Archaeological Park where you can visit the ruins of an amphitheatre and an elaborate network of roads.

9. Church of Marmiroi

Church of Marmiroi

One of the highlights of Orikum is the Church of Marmiroi.

This Byzantine church was built sometimes between the 8th and 13th centuries and still contains many of the original frescoes.

The architecture is something to see, with one of the most complex designs from this period.

It’s a rare example of a cross-shaped construction with a dome and cylindrical roof.

It’s just outside of town and in order to reach it you have to cross a small stream.

10. Tragjas Village

Tragjas

This quaint and traditional village near Orikum is the perfect place for those who want to experience the true pace and lifestyle of the Albanian people.

If you’re just visiting for the day, be sure to take a walk up the village path that leads uphill to some spectacular views of Orikum and the coast.

Along the way to the top you’ll pass old farm factories.

The Pass of the Tombs gets you back and forth between New Tragjas and Old Tragjas.

True to its name, there are many tombs scattered around.

The Old village is abandoned but you can still explore the crumbling houses and buildings.

Villagers had to flee the village in 1943 when it was bombed by the Nazis.

You’ll also find older ruins and tombs dating to the Ottoman period

11. The Castle of Porto-Palermo

Castle of Porto-Palermo

Known by the locals as Ali Pasha Tepelena, this castle was designed by a Frenchmen and built in the shape of a pentagon with large stone blocks – some as wide as 1.6 metres.

In 2014 The Huffington Post listed the village of Porto-Palermo as a top 35 Undiscovered European Destination.

Soon to be declared protected land and a historical site, the castle was once a prison during World War II, and there are still some Albanians around who were held there.

12. The Ruins of Himara

Ruins of Himara

Originally dating to the Bronze Age, the castle contains the Church of Saints Sergius and Baku, the apartment of Tanj Jorgii Goro, the Church of All Saints, and an ancient tower.

The castle has been used by many historical figures like Emperor Justinian, and has been destroyed and rebuilt many times.

The medieval walls are still standing and the entire site makes for an interesting walk through Albanian history.

13. Churches of Shen Stefani and Shen Dhimitri

Dhermi

In the village of Dhermi you’ll find two of the designated Cultural Monuments of Albania.

These are buildings that have been recognized by the government as having particular religious and national heritage.

The Churches of Shen Stefani and Shen Dhimitiri are still places of worship and architecture and history buffs will love a break from the Dhermi beaches to explore the churches.

14. Qeparo Village

Qeparo

Located near Porto Palermo, Qeparo is an ancient village built on a hillside.

There are several historical sites here, including the Towers of Ali Pasha, the House of Minella Gjika, and the Monastery of Shen Dhimitri.

There’s also a beach nearby for a little relaxing after your site seeing.

Many visitors who come to Qeparoi also visit nearby the Borshc Castle and mosque in Borshc Village, and the ancient village of Pilur.

You’ll find plenty of dining and accommodation options and a warm welcome from the villagers.

15. Karavasta Lagoon & Divjaka National Park

Karavasta Lagoon

The largest lagoon in Albanian is the Karavasta.

The rich ecosystem includes the lush Divjaka National Park, large flocks of penguins, a colony of threatened Dalmatian Pelicans, and tons of eels in the shallows.

For nature lovers, you can’t go wrong here.

The lagoon is just over 4,000 hectares and you can arrange a boat ride to explore the lagoon.

After, grab lunch at a local restaurant serving mullet and eel fresh caught from Karavasta.

15 Things to Do in the Albanian Riviera:

  • Llogara Pass
  • Llogara National Park
  • Gjipe Canyon & Beach
  • Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park
  • Butrint Archaeological Site And National Park
  • Saranda at the Corfu Strait
  • Ksamil Islands south of Saranda
  • Church of Marmiroi
  • Tragjas Village
  • The Castle of Porto-Palermo
  • The Ruins of Himara
  • Churches of Shen Stefani and Shen Dhimitri
  • Qeparo Village
  • Karavasta Lagoon & Divjaka National Park

Unique Experiences on the Albanian Riviera You Can’t Miss

Albania may not be the biggest country on the Balkan peninsula, but it’s full of natural beauty and places that everyone, from eager travel lovers to regular tourists, can explore and enjoy. 

This hidden European gem is located just south of Montenegro and north of Greece, with access to the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. Its coastline stretches for 476 kilometers (296 miles), but it shouldn’t be confused with the Albanian Riviera, also known as Bregu, which encompasses the southwestern districts of Sarandë and Vlorë.

The Albanian Riviera is dotted with ancient castles, charming villages, churches, and monasteries, making it a perfect spot for sightseeing. Once you’re done checking out these attractions, you can easily visit some of the country’s most famous nightlife spots, as well as its magnificent turquoise water beaches, seaside canyons, mountain passes, and even groves full of lemon, orange, and olive trees.

albanian riviera travel guide

However, with so many one-of-a-kind attractions in one place, it may be challenging to choose the ones that are worth visiting the most. To give you a head start, this article will guide you through some of the undeniably unique locations and things you can experience there. Continue reading below for more details. 

Himarë Municipality

The name Himarë refers to both the region and municipality in southern Albania. The region is mostly home to a vast ethnic Greek community, and local people speak both Greek and Albanian. Himarë, also known as Himara, is filled with long white sandy beaches and hills planted with citrus and olive trees.

If you want to work on your holiday tan and eat some delicious seafood while you’re at it, you can visit Jale, which is a hidden bay with deep-blue waters located near the bilingual and incredibly picturesque town of Himarë. There you can either enjoy swimming in the azure seas, lay on the well-maintained beach, or step into one of the restaurants to taste the traditional Albanian dishes . 

Camping in Gjipe

In Vuno, the charming small village located in the Himarë municipality, about 10 kilometers (6,5 miles) from the town of Himarë, there’s another hidden gem — Gjipe beach and camping site. It’s a free campsite equipped with necessities such as a toilet and access to a secluded yet stunningly beautiful beach. 

Getting to the Gjipe beach might be the most tricky part of your adventure, but the best way to reach it is either on foot or by car/boat. A car or a boat will take you straight to the beach, but if you decide to hike there, watch out for the old bunkers from Albania’s communist era, which make for an interesting sight.

Gjipe is a remote beach with shining aquamarine waters of the Ionian Sea. Once you get there, you can set up your tent to stay overnight. It’s also a good idea to go for a swim and visit the restaurants and cafes that offer delicious fresh seafood. Once you’re done dipping your toes in the sea, you can also go on a hike and explore the Gjipe canyon.

Aquarium Beach

The Aquarium beach is a tiny, secluded beach not too far from Himara. One could even call its location the literal middle of nowhere, as the spot is well-hidden and surrounded by rock formations covered in green shrubs and trees. It can be reached by boat from Jale beach, and there’s also a narrow dirt road that leads to it, but it may not be too friendly to inexperienced drivers or those who don’t drive a 4×4. 

There are no facilities such as bars, cafes, or hotels near the beach. The Aquarium beach is a magical and tranquil spot that’s free from crowds and still unknown to many tourists. If you bring your own supplies, such as umbrellas, towels, and food, you can have a great day of peaceful tanning and swim in the perfectly blue water without being bothered by others.

Kakome Beach

Kakome beach is located in a secluded bay of the same name. This true jewel of the Albanian Riviera lies along the coastlines of the Adriatic and Ionian seas. It’s a pebble beach, made of light gravel and equipped with sunbeds and umbrellas. There aren’t too many people there, so if you want to relax away from the madding crowds, then Kakome beach is the perfect destination for you.

The water that washes the beach’s shores is clean and surrounded by high, green hills. Near the bay, there’s a fortified Saint Mary’s of Kakome Monastery that’s been sitting there since the XVI century. Bear in mind that there are no bars in restaurants near the beach, so if you decide to visit it for a day, make sure to bring your own drinks and food.

Llogara National Park

Albania also has plenty to offer to all adventure lovers out there. For one of the best experiences, it’s best to travel to the Llogara National Park, situated in the Ceraunian Mountains, which overlooks the Albanian Riviera. The park is widely recognized for its rich flora and fauna, with its lush forests that are home to a wide range of rare species, such as the golden eagle, European wildcat, or Alpine chamois. Tourism is an important part of the park, so it is only natural that on your way there, you’ll find an abundance of different hotels, restaurants, and wooden cabins. 

Paragliding over Llogara Pass

The Llogara pass, at an elevation of 1.043m (3422ft) above sea level, is arguably the best spot to enjoy tandem paragliding in Albania. You’ll need to do your research before arriving in the place, as a lot depends on the particular operator you’ll fly with. For instance, some people paraglide only in certain months, such as August, while others fly year-round.

Paragliding is a great sport that will raise your adrenaline levels and allow you to enjoy around 15 minutes of flying at a time. You’ll see some of the most beautiful views from high above and be able to feel like the Greek mythology hero Icarus. 

Boat Trip to Karaburun Peninsula

While visiting the Albanian Riviera, you can explore some of the best shopping locations while on land, but you can also decide to set out on an adventure to the Karaburun Peninsula. The largest peninsula in the whole country, Karaburun boasts astonishing views of the Karaburun-Sazan Marine Park, unique subtropical flora, and perfectly blue, calm waters. 

You can stay on the boat and enjoy drinks, soak up the sun, snap pictures of your surroundings or try swimming and snorkeling to see spots such as the Cave of Haxhi Ali. There are plenty of speedboats you can book for either 4 or 7 hours, and most of them provide amenities such as alcoholic beverages, bottled water, and snorkeling equipment. 

Cave of Haxhi Ali

The cave of Haxhi Ali is a karst cave that can be found on the Karaburun Peninsula, not too far from the rocky Cape of Gjuhëz. It was formed in limestone cliffs and named after Haxhi Aliu, a famous Albanian pirate lord. Many people consider the cave to be one of the most beautiful places located in the Karaburun-Sazan Marine National Park.

Besides being a famous tourist attraction and a great place to visit for Instagram-worthy photos, the cave of Haxhi Ali also has a high geological value as it boasts distinctive stalactite formations that formed over the centuries.  With the help of snorkeling equipment, you can jump off the boat and see the cave up close.

The Bay of Grama is a well-known tourist spot on the Albanian Riviera. In the classical antiquity period, it used to serve as a crucial harbor and shelter for ships and boats sailing along the coast. Now, its shore consists mostly of pebbled beaches and sloped coastal cliffs. In the bay, you’ll find numerous solutional and sea caves that are home to the Mediterranean monk seal, which is one of the rarest sea animals in the world. 

Once you get there, either by boat or on foot, following the Palasë – Shën Andre Bay – Grama Bay trail, you can spend your time sunbathing and relaxing. The waters in the Grama Bay are incredibly clear and stunningly turquoise. There’s also a bar restaurant that serves grilled fish and lamb as well as snacks and drinks. Another option is to stay there overnight and camp in a tent. This way, you’ll be able to enjoy magnificent views of the setting sun.

Hiking to Maja e Çikës

The Maja e Çikës trail that leads straight to the peak of the same name can be found in the Ceraunian Mountains — a coastal mountain range within the county of Vlorë.

albanian riviera travel guide

The summit is at 2,044 meters (6,706 ft) above sea level, making it the highest peak of these mountains. You can set on an adventure at any time of the year, but bear in mind that hiking this trail in winter might be exceptionally difficult because of the snow and the 50-grade steep that begins at around 1000 meters.

It’s a trail that will require you to use crampons during the winter months. They won’t be necessary for summer, though. The views from the summit will certainly be worth the effort. Besides the blue waters of the Ionian sea, you’ll also see Italy’s coast, provided the weather is good. It’s also likely that you’ll meet some Albanian shepherds on your way and be able to look down at Himarë, Palasa, Dhermi, and Jala beaches.

Porto Palermo Castle

Porto Palermo Castle is a small fortress that’s been built by a French architect hired by Ali Pasha, a famous Albanian leader who, at one point in his reign, used to control directly or indirectly the vast majority of mainland Greece, almost half of Albania, and a significant part of Macedonia. 

The castle is located on a small island right in the Bay of Palermo that’s easily accessible on foot due to the fact that it’s connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land. All you need to do to get there is reach Porto Palermo by car or a local mini-bus and go on a long walk. 

The castle has many rooms that you can peek into. Inside its walls, you’ll find many interesting paintings, some of them depicting Ali Pasha himself. There’s an old prison on the ground floor, but it hasn’t been used since World War II. If you go up the stone stairs, you can stand on a terrace on top of the castle. It’s a great spot for taking photos with the glistening waters on the Ionian sea in the background.

Saint Nicholas Monastery

Although there are several monasteries dedicated to the memory of Saint Nicholas in Europe, the one located in the Albanian Mesopotam village is certainly worth visiting. The monastery is a part of the abandoned Orthodox monastery of Saint George. It is considered to be particularly special thanks to its double apse, a semi-circle built into the ceiling over a pinnacle point.

You need to stay careful when exploring this monastery. That’s because even though it’s a designated Cultural Monument of Albania, it desperately needs to be restored, and there are plenty of wooden props and scaffolding preventing it from collapsing. It’s an incredibly interesting spot full of history, perfect for those with a burning passion for architecture. 

albanian riviera travel guide

While this monastery isn’t located directly on the Albanian Riviera, it’s only around 20 minutes by car from the coastal Sarandë, making it an ideal place to visit once you’re finished working on your perfect tan.

In Conclusion

albanian riviera travel guide

As you can see, the Albanian Riviera is a diverse place that can allow you to spend time relaxing on its various beaches and swimming in the crystal-clear waters. However, there’s also something for those who prefer to stay active during their travels or want to see some exciting locations that are full of history.

There’s so much to do while visiting the Albanian Riviera. You can relax on some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, such as Jale, Aquarium, or Kakome beaches, and swim in the waters of the warm southern seas. You can also have fun exploring the Cave of Haxhi Ali, camp in Gjipe, visit the Llogara National Park to try paragliding, or hike to the summit of Maja e Çikës. If you want to get in touch with history, go to see the Porto Palermo castle or travel a short distance into the mainland to see Saint Nicholas Monastery.

Visiting the Albanian Riviera allows you to experience unique locations that are often true hidden gems, as not that many people know about all of them. Enjoy the delicious Albanian food, deemed one of the best cuisines in the world , take beautiful photos , and get ready to make great memories !

albanian riviera travel guide

Wander-Lush

Guide to Dhermi, the Loveliest Village on the Albanian Riviera

Dangling off the side of the Ceraunian Mountains like a string of pearls, Dhërmi is a dreamy village of whitewashed houses and blue-domed churches.

With strong Santorini vibes, it is widely regarded as the most charming settlement on the Albanian Riviera.

A blue-domed church belltower rises above the red-roofted houses of a small village on the Albanian Riviera, Dhermi.

Dhermi is located between Vlora and Himara. Approaching from the north, it is one of the first villages you reach after descending towards the sea via the spectacular Llogara Pass.

It is perfectly positioned for exploring the northern portion of the riviera and popular Albanian beaches including Gjipe and Jala, as well as the town’s own beach, Dhërmiu.

Ann aerial view of white houses in Dhermi, Albania.

Unlike other villages such as Qeparo and Vuno, Dhermi has been partially reconstructed, giving the old stone houses and Greek Orthodox churches a fresh lease on life. A multitude of boutique accommodations can be found here, along with restaurants and cafes.

Dhermi is one of the few places on the riviera where there are enough alternative activities beyond the beach to comfortably fill a day.

A reconstructed stone church overlooking the mountains in Dhermi, Albania.

In this Dhermi Travel Guide, I will show you all the best things to do in Dhermi in 1-2 days, where to stay, where to eat, and other travel tips.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

Why visit Dhermi?

It was a photograph of a stunning blue-domed church that first put Dhermi on my radar. When planning our Albania road trip , I wanted to dedicate at least two nights to the village. (As a side note, I connected with the author of that photograph on social media after my trip – small world!)

Sunset over the houses and mountains in Dhermi, Albania.

Dhermi’s good looks do indeed set it apart from other villages on the riviera. Extensive conservation works – the likes of which have been planned for nearby Qeparo and Vuno, but are yet to commence – have transformed Dhermi.

Not only is it one of the best places in Albania to see vernacular terraced architecture, Dhermi is a cultural experience too. Rehabilitation and revitalisation projects have aimed to honour Dhermi’s history, and there are several initiatives that teach visitors about the village and its way of life.

A beautiful corner house with laundry strung from the balcony in Dhermi.

One of these initiatives is the Mills Trail, a historic hiking path that links the village with the coast, which has been redeveloped into an immersive experience with the use of signboards.

Among locals, Dhermi is still called by its Greek name, Drymades. Most inhabitants are ethnically Greek and speak the Greek Himariote dialect and/or the Tosk Albanian dialect.

A view of Dhermi village and the nearby sea.

As I mentioned, Dhermi has a lot to offer beyond the beaches. We spent two nights in Dhermi and found this was the perfect amount of time. A full day can be spent exploring the village and walking the trail. If you’re visiting in the season, you might wish to add another day for the beach.

How to get to Dhermi

Dhermi is located on Albania’s main State Highway 8 that runs down the coast. It is approximately 60 kilometres from Vlora and 70 kilometres from Saranda.

Any bus that travels the coastal road – e.g. from Vlora to Himara (16 kilometres from Dhermi) – will be able to drop you off in Dhermi.

Dhermi is close to the Llogara Pass and Llogara National Park. If you are driving in Albania , you are in for one of the most scenic legs of your trip.

Thinking of self-driving in Albania? I recommend hiring a car from a local agent via Local Rent . Prices are competitive, and most vehicles do not require a cash deposit or a credit card. I used Local Rent on my recent trip to Albania and couldn’t have been happier with the service.

I highly recommend timing your journey to reach the Llogara Pass at sunset. There are several marked viewpoints for panoramic sea views. Dhermi is a quick 20-minute drive from the Big Bunker, for example (see below for more), so you can enjoy the sunset and still safely reach your accommodation before it gets too dark.

Good to know: If you plan on self-catering during your stay in Dhermi (which might be necessary – more info below), there are a few small supermarkets in town. We found that Market Neco had a good range of pre-packaged food, but not much in the way of fresh ingredients.

Where to stay in Dhermi

Dhermi is quite sprawling, with houses stretching from the highest point of the village along the SH8 highway all the way down to the shoreline. I highly recommend staying in the upper part of Dhermi rather than on the beach.

A luxury resort in Dhermi, Albania, with tables and trees arranged on a rooftop terrace overlooking the sea.

Dhermi’s best (in my opinion) accommodations are in the older upper town, and even though some of the streets are too tight for a car, there is ample free parking available on corners and in small squares.

We stayed at Roots Dhermi , a beautifully renovated old house that now has several self-contained guest studios. Our upper-level room had incredible views and was very spacious, with a full-size bathroom, apartment style kitchen, sitting area, generous bedroom, and a private terrace.

A cosy boutique hotel room in Albania with stone walls and a timber roof.

Another popular option in Dhermi is Zoe Hora , a luxury resort complex that occupies a clutch of old houses under the cliff at the top of the village. We wandered into the resort a few times on our travels around Dhermi. The outdoor terraces and pool looked lovely.

Things to do in Dhermi

Wander dhermi’s cobbled streets & look for the blue-domed church.

Dhermi is made for long, aimless walks. Concentrate your efforts on the northern side of the village and the streets around Roots Dhermi. Here is where you’ll find the grandest stone houses and loveliest wooden doors.

There are several small squares in Dhermi. At one, we found old mill stones and what might have been an olive oil press propped up against the stone walls. A nearby building, de-roofed and hollowed-out, has an old mill in its centre, overgrown with tall grass.

A small square in Dhermi surrounded by heritage stone buildings and with an old mill stone propped up against a wall.

Another square has a statue of Albanian novelist Petro Marko , who was born in Dhermi in 1913.

A statue of Albanian author Petro Marko stands in front of heritage houses in Dhermi.

There are several small Orthodox churches hidden amongst the houses, including the Church of St Thanasi and Church of St Michael .

A small church in Dhermi with a Greek-style cross.

The Church Of St Spyridon – that iconic church with the blue dome – isn’t marked on Google Maps, but it is located next to the school on the north-western side of the village ( see the exact location here ).

For that classic Dhermi photo of the bell tower framed by red rooftops, head to the old laneways north-west of Zoe Hora. Many of the houses on this far side of the village are untouched and partially ruined.

A blue Greek style church belltower in Dhermi on the Albanian Riviera.

Walk up to the Monastery of St. Mary

The Monastery of St Mary sits on top of a small hill on the north-western side of Dhermi and is one of the best vantage points for a sweeping view of the village.

A small graveyard in front of a monastery overlooking the mountains in Dhermi.

The church can only be reached by foot via a glorious new set of stairs. It only takes 5 minutes to climb up. Parking is available nearby at this point .

A stone staircase leads to St Mary Monastery in Dhermi on the Albanian coast.

The church has a freestanding twin-bell tower that is distinctly Greek in style. We arrived in the early morning to find the gate open, so we wandered in for a closer look. The churchyard contains a small cemetery with most stones bearing Greek lettering.

Get a village view from the Ballkoni i Gjilekut

For a postcard-perfect photo of old Dhermi and its white houses buttoned onto the hillside, you need to head back up the highway towards Vlora. The road bends at the perfect spot for a panoramic view of the village and St Mary’s.

A view of Dhermi from the highway, with white houses stacked on the mountainside and a monastery in the middle distance.

If you’re in a car, there is a small parking area in front of this church where you can safely pull over. I recommend going in the late afternoon or evening for better light (the east-facing vantage is too shadowy in the morning).

Walk the historic Mills Trail

The Mills Trail is a unique Dhermi attraction that sets this village apart from its peers. Created during the restorations, it links the upper part of the village with the shoreline and beaches below via a marked path through a pocket of forest. Information boards dotted along the way teach visitors about different aspects of Dhermi’s history.

This is an easy 1.5-kilometre trail that takes around 30-45 minutes to walk each way. Allow more time if you’re going to stop and read the signboards. The path is clearly marked with signboards and bright red rails/bridges, and the terrain is easy to manage in light shoes.

The trailhead starts from the side of the highway close to the aforementioned viewpoint. You will see an opening on the side of the road and an information board describing the walk. Find the exact location pinned here .

A black information board provides directions for the Mills Trail, a historic walking route from Dhermi village to the beach.

As you start making your way downhill, you are almost immediately launched into a green oasis of pomegranate and olive trees. At times you are following a stream and water channels carved from the earth for irrigation and to feed the stone grinding mills that give the trail its name. The atmosphere reminded me a lot of hiking through an Omani wadi .

I highly recommend doing this walk early in the morning before the heat of the day sets in. Even though the path is mostly shaded, it is still very warm and humid. We set off before 9am and were joined by a herd of sheep and goats!

A man walks through lush foliage on the Mills Trail hike in Dhermi village.

The path does need some maintenance as some of the sign boards have toppled over. The ones that still stand reveal fascinating tidbits about Dhermi village and its inhabitants.

The trail passes the remains of several ancestral mills that once belonged to prominent families, an old hydropower station (the first of its kind in rural Albania), a waterfall, and towards the end of the path, two churches. The dirt path slowly changes to sand, and eventually it delivers you to the sea.

A red archway marks the beach-end of the trail, at this point . From there, you can access the beach by following the main road to the west for around 600 metres.

Stroll along Dhermi’s rehabilitated waterfront

Like every place we visited on the Albanian coast, Dhermi’s beachfront is still under development. At the time of our visit there were several intrusive construction sites right on the shoreline.

Dhermi’s waterfront was reconstructed in 2016 as part of the Albanian government’s Urban Rebirth initiative. The main promenade was converted into a pedestrian-only zone, basic infrastructure such as bench seats and rubbish bins were added, and to enhance the feeling of connection with the physical environment, a ‘water square’ was created at the neck of the esplanade.

Dhermi Beach has a nice feel to it. I especially like the sculptural square near the pier.

A sculptural ensemble on the waterfront in Dhermi, with the blue sea just beyond.

The further down the beach you go, the more developed it feels. Beach bars and clubs take over. We stopped for a drink at the La Brisa pavilion – the caffe freddo was tasty, and prices were surprisingly good.

Swim on Dhermi Beach

Dhermi Beach (Dhërmiu Beach) is a pebble beach that stretches approximately 1.5 kilometres from Empire Resort down to the Theodore Bay headland. It is quieter than some of the other beaches in the vicinity and favoured by locals as a result.

We arrived in the off-season when the thatched umbrellas has already been bundled away for the winter, but I’m sure it’s more lively in summer.

Beach chairs and thatched umbrellas set up on the beach in Dhermi, Albania.

Outside of the small public beach , you will need to pay for the privilege of swimming here. Expect to pay between 6-8 Euros per person for a chair, umbrella and towel.

A makeshift jetty leads to the sea in Dhermi, Albania.

There are plenty of restaurants along the water, but they are seasonal and shut down outside of summer. We were keen to try Luciano but it was well and truly closed by the time we arrived in mid-October.

Eat a local fish dinner at Sofia Bar

Food options are limited in Dhermi outside of the high season. We found almost every restaurant and bar on the beach was closed when we visited in mid-October. 

Thankfully there are a handful of establishments that stay open to serve the local crowd. There are two small restaurants in the upper part of town that sit side by side and look almost identical – we chose the one on the left with the small patio out front – Sofia Bar .

A restaurant with a small terrace inside a white house in Dhermi village.

Fish is the thing to order here. We were only after a snack, so we went for the tzatziki and a big plate of fries. Honestly it was some of the best tzatziki I’ve had in my life. Paired with a beer and a sunset view, it was the perfect end to our day in Dhermi.

A man sitting at a wooden table in front of a viewpoint in Dhermi.

If you have a car, there are a few more all-year food options available in nearby Gjilekë. We had our morning coffee and byrek at Barba Niko Bakery and ate lunch one day at Restorant Genti opposite. The pizza oven was closed for the season, but the pasta was actually very good. The restaurant has a great balcony view, too.

Watch the sunset in Dhermi

In front of Sofia Bar there is a wide balcony that teeters over the edge of the forest with the Mills Trail below. Angled west, it offers a very nice view of the sun going down over Drymades Beach.

The sun setting over the horizon in Dhermi, with white houses on the hillside.

The plastic tables scattered in front of the glass railing appear to be shared between Sofia Bar and the neighbouring restaurants. Arrive early if you want to get a front row seat.

More things to do around Dhermi

Drive to the big bunker for sunset.

Located at the Dhermi-end of the Llogara Pass, the so-called Big Bunker is a 20-minute drive from the village and another excellent place to watch the sunset .

A concrete bunker in Albania overlooking the sea at sunset.

If you missed it on your way in, I highly recommend venturing up here one evening for the light show.

Gjipe Canyon & Beach

Continuing down the coast, the turnoff for Gjipe Canyon and Gjipe Beach is a short 4.5-kilometre drive from Dhermi. The junction is located in the village of Iljas, at this point .

The road into the canyon is unpaved and only suitable for 4WDs. At some point you have to abandon your car and continue by foot, navigating through the canyon for around 25 minutes to reach the secluded, cave-studded Gjipe Beach .

We were short on time and decided to skip Gjipe – but I have heard good things. If you have a spare morning in the area, it is worth the detour.

Take a side trip to Vuno, another charming village in Albania

Located 7.5 kilometres (around a 15-minute drive) further down the coast from Dhermi, Vuno is another delightful village with a very different feel.

Vuno feels more medieval, with thick stone walls that resemble fortifications and vaulted arches over some of the narrow streets. Some of the houses have been refurbished and white-washed, while others further up the mountain hang in a state of semi-decay.

White houses with wooden shutters in Vuno, a charming village on the Albanian coast.

Glory To The Martyrs Of The Village Vuno , the village’s war memorial, greets you as you enter. In the square at its foot, there is a popular cafe called Lula Bar-Restaurant (sadly it was closed at the time of our visit).

Vuno’s streets are extra narrow and steep. We parked at the square and continued on foot. Be sure to follow the village roads all the way up to the 16th-century St Nicholas Church . We had not researched it properly and had no idea what to expect – thus we were very taken aback to find a roofless church that has been completely hollowed out, but still has splendid frescoes in tact (below right).

An old wooden door on a stone house in Vuno village in Albania.

Apparently the roof was removed in order to repurpose the tiles for a cowshed. I do hope plans for preservation are in the works, because it is truly a special church that desperately needs some TLC.

Where to go next: Onward travel from Dhermi

We departed Dhermi and headed down the coast, stopping at Vuno, Himara Castle and Porto Palermo before arriving at our next destination, Upper Qeparo .

If you are continuing by bus, note that drivers stop at this junction point in Dhermi to collect passengers.

More ideas for Albania

  • The best things to do in Tirana , Albania’s quirky capital
  • How to get from Tirana Airport to the city centre , a practical guide
  • Exploring Upper Qeparo , a traditional semi-abandoned Albanian village
  • Things to do in Lin , a beautiful village on Lake Ohrid
  • Full guide to Berat , the castle city
  • Full guide to Gjirokaster , the stone city
  • Why you should visit Leskovik , home of one of Albania’s best boutique hotels
  • Things to do in Korca , a lesser-visited city of culture
  • Valbona National Park , hiking in the Albanian Alps
  • My 2-week Albania road trip itinerary , for an epic Albania adventure

Stone buildings in Gjirokaster Old Bazaar, Albania.

Albania Travel Guide

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The Holistic Backpacker

Inspiring a life of outdoor adventure, eco-mindedness, natural living & holistic wellness

albanian riviera travel guide

2 Day Guide to Vlora: Explore the Albanian Riviera

Vlora (aka Vlorë in Albanian) marks the northernmost point of the Albanian Riviera. There’s something unique about Vlora’s beaches that are unlike any of the other beaches on the Riviera – but I’ll get into that later. For now all you need to know is that in this guide you’ll learn about things to do in Vlora as well as discover a detailed 2 day Vlora itinerary.

Although Vlora is not necessarily a “fan favourite” destination in Albania, I certainly think it warrants a visit. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Vlora and I think you will too!

Skip Ahead:

How to get to vlora.

  • Where to stay in Vlora
  • Tips for visiting Vlora

Things to do in Vlora

  • 2 day Vlora itinerary

This post contains affiliate links – see my full disclosure . If you click these links and make a purchase/booking, a small commission goes toward The Holistic Backpacker at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my work!

–  Taylor  ♡

Quick Albania Travel Guide:

Currency : Albanian LEK (aka ALL). This is a closed currency so you’ll need to wait until you’re in Albania to exchange $.

Transportation : to enter the country you can find 1 international airport in Tirana, 1 port in Saranda (daily ferry arrivals/departures to Corfu, Greece), and a bus line from Montenegro. Buses are very cheap here, but unreliable. Driving is chaotic, I’d recommend sticking to buses. There are no trains within the country.

Phone : purchase a local SIM card from Vodafone – the plans are cheap and they include lots of data, however international minutes are typically not available.

Language : Albanian, however you can get by with English. Google translate is recommended for smaller cities/villages.

Helpful Info : don’t drink the tap water or bring a purifying bottle like this one . Bring an international travel adapter , and notify your bank before travelling.

Travel Insurance : ALWAYS purchase reliable travel insurance prior to any trip. This insurance is trusted by backpackers and adventure sport enthusiasts around the world, however here are a few more insurance company suggestions .

Purchase my Albania map which is downloadable to google maps on your phone. It has 200+ pinned locations around the country – all available at your fingertips.

Albania is one of the last “undiscovered” countries in Europe. Plan your trip while prices & tourism levels are low!

Downloadable Map of Albania

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I’ve created a map of Albania equipped with 200+ pinned locations including:

  • Hiking trails, national parks, caves, waterfalls & beaches
  • Historical, cultural & religious sites
  • Lodging options, restaurant recommendations & transit hubs
  • Main points of interest, big cities, beach towns and mountain villages

Each pin has photos, a description, direct booking links, and external itineraries (when applicable).

The map is downloadable to Google Maps on your phone and was designed to be a digital tour guide when you’re on-the-go.

This map has all of Albania’s best and will save you loads of pre-travel research time.

Related Articles:

  • 18 Helpful Tips You Should Know BEFORE Travelling Albania
  • 30+ Best Things to do in Albania: Excursions, Tours, and Destinations
  • 17 Best Places in Albania
  • Backpacker’s Guide to the Best Hostels in Albania
  • Hiker’s Guide to the Albanian Alps
  • 10 Reasons to Visit the Shala River aka the “Thailand of Albania”

Things to do in Vlora

The best way to travel within Albania if you don’t have a car is by bus. In saying this though, I must warn that the bus system here is quite unreliable! You won’t find updated timetables online and you certainly won’t be able to use google maps to search for a bus route.

You won’t have issues getting to Vlora from any city in Albania, however you will have to rely on local knowledge to get you here. By this I mean don’t be afraid to ask your hotel or hostel employees for bus information. They’ll know better than anyone where the bus will come and at what time.

Where to Stay in Vlora

Lucky for you (and me) Albania is a super cheap country to travel! Albania hasn’t been subjected to Schengen inflation which means going out to eat or paying for accommodations is totally affordable; if you’re a hostel-er, you can get a dorm for 10 euros/night. That’s cheaper than my daily rent back home in Canada !

When I visited Vlora I stayed at Vlora Backpackers . The hostel itself isn’t anything special however the owner is fabulous ! He’s super helpful and he has excellent recommendations for things to do in Vlora. The vibe of the hostel was also quite social and relaxed, PLUS they had the cutest little puppies!

Alternatively if you’re looking for something mid-range, and more private than a hostel, you can check out Deluxe Apartment or Hotel Artisti .

If you’re looking for a little razzle dazzle, Hotel Aross and the Maritim Resort are the fanciest of the fancy 5 star hotels in Vlora.

None of these options float your boat? You can browse all accommodation in Vlora here .

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Tips for Visiting Vlora

Things to do in Vlora

  • Plan to stay a minimum of 2 nights to make sure you check all the things to do in Vlora off your bucket list.
  • If you’re looking to travel to the beaches in and around Vlora, you can rent a scooter to get around.
  • Honestly, in some parts of Vlora the city looks quite sketchy; lots of trash, run-down buildings, etc. You’ll discover that this is just part of Albania’s “charm” though. Vlora and the rest of Albania are surprisingly safe, despite what they may look like!
  • You can’t drink the tap water – bottled water only here.

1. Cruise the Karaburun Peninsula to Sazan Island

Sazan Island, Karaburun Peninsula

This is by far the best thing to do in Vlora, and the thing to do in Vlora that inspired my trip!

There are plenty of boat trips that depart Vlora and venture over to the Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island. Along the way you’ll come across caves and private beaches. Oftentimes the boat drivers are also quite flexible and will allow you to customize the day’s itinerary!

You can book the Vlora boat trip to the Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island here .

2. Visit Vlora Old Town

Vlora Old Town

The Vlora Old Town is the perfect place to grab breakfast or dinner in Vlora. The colourful buildings in the daytime and the sparkly twinkle lights in the evening make for the perfect location to grab a meal or a drink.

Vlora Old Town is located approximately a 40 minute walk from Vlora’s main strip.

3. Swim at the Local Beaches

Things to do in Vlora

Vlora has a nice, long beach front right in the center of town. You have the option of spreading out your own towel or the option to rent a beach chair owned by one of the local resorts.

As I preluded to there being something “special” about the beaches in Vlora, you may be asking what that “special” something is. The answer is sand! The vast majority of beaches along the Albanian Riviera are covered in smooth rocks, however Vlora’s beaches (as well as the Ksamil beaches near Saranda in the south) have sand!

If you ask your local hotel or hostel employees they can make recommendations for beaches nearby where you can find a little more peace and quiet along the shore as well as flamingos!

4. Try Paragliding

If you’re searching for an activity that offers a little more adrenaline, you can add paragliding to the list of things to do in Vlora.

5. Grab a Cone

One of my favourite things to do in Vlora is soak up the ice cream scene. Along the coast you’ll find multiple massive ice cream shops with big patios and lots of other food options. During the day these ice cream shops are totally empty, but at night they’re filled.

6. Sunset Swim

Things to do in Vlora

If you’re in Vlora you’ll have to go for a sunset swim. The location of Vlora plus the sandy beaches create the perfect scene for swimming and sunset strolling.

7. Go for a Sunset Xhiro

Xhiro translates to “walk” in English and this “walk” is a beloved Albanian pastime. Every night in Albania – no matter where you are – you’ll find that local Albanians emerge from their homes as the sun sets. They go for a slow cruise around town, grab a drink at the local patios, and enjoy friendly conversation.

I’ve come to  loooove  the Albanian patio/xhiro vibe. It’s the perfect way to wind down from a busy day and engage in local culture.

Vlora, as well as the other coastal cities in Albania like Saranda and Himara , have excellent xhiro vibes. The music, patio culture, and seaside location add up to culminate the perfect place for an evening xhiro.

8. Drive Llogara Pass

Llogara Pass, Albania

Llogara Pass is a high mountain pass (peak elevation of 1,043m) within the Ceraunian Mountains. The pass is 31.5kms long and features some sharp turns and steep grades.

From the pass you’ll have a beautiful view of the Albanian Riviera as well as the surrounding mountains (which, by the way, are impressively large).

To drive Llogara Pass you’ll want to leave from Vlora and head south toward Himara . If you’re using public transportation to go south ( Himara or Saranda ), fear not! The bus will drive along this windy mountain road, so you certainly don’t have to worry about missing those picture-perfect Llogara views.

Another way to experience Llogara Pass is to rent a scooter .

9. Hike Caesar’s Path

If you’re hoping to get out and see more of the beautiful nature in nearby Llogara National Park, you can add a hike on Caesar’s Path to your list of things to do in Vlora.

10. Take a Walking Tour

Things to do in Vlora

If you’re looking to get your bearings and learn the history of Vlora you can also sign up for a walking tour.

You can book the Vlora walking tour here .

2 Day Vlora Itinerary

Day 1 in vlora.

Vlora sunset

To start off your first day in Vlora you’ll want to check into your accommodations. I recommend either Vlora Backpackers or Hotel Aross .

After checking in, head on down to the main strip beside the sea and browse the restaurants for breakfast/lunch.

Now, choose your adventure! If you want a chill day, feel free to lounge on the city’s beaches. If you’re looking for a little more peace and quiet (and potentially flamingos) rent a bike and cycle to the nearby beaches. The owner at Vlora Backpackers has some excellent recommendations for nearby beaches as well as cheap bike rentals!

Alternatively if you’re looking for a little more adventure, you could try paragliding .

Make sure you’re on the beach to watch the phenomenal sunset and go for a swim. Then freshen up at your hotel and return to the main strip for xhiro and dinner at one of the many patios in Vlora. This is the time of day when you’ll really see Vlora come to life!

Day 2 in Vlora

Boat Cruise along the Karaburun Peninsula

On day 2 in Vlora plan to wake up early and set sail! Today you’ll be boarding a boat and cruising along the Karaburun Peninsula . Depending on the tour you book, you can expect to visit private beaches, caves, and Sazan Island itself. If you’re lucky, your tour guide will take you on a quick hike through an old military base on Sazan Island too.

When you return to Vlora you’ll want to head back to your accommodations, change clothes, and walk to the Old Town for a quaint and delicious dinner on the patio.

Happy adventuring!

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albanian riviera travel guide

About The Author

HI, I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.

After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.

I now spend my days travelling the world, climbing mountains, and spending nights under the stars in the Canadian Rockies backcountry.

I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.

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albanian riviera travel guide

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  • Hiking trails, national parks, beaches, caves, & waterfalls 
  • Historical, cultural, & religious sites 
  • Lodging options, restaurant recommendations, & transit hubs
  • Main points of interest, big cities, beach towns, & mountain villages

This map acts as a digital tour guide & was designed with the intention of saving you pre-travel research time!

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