The best-kept secrets in Europe may be found along the Albanian Riviera, a section of coastline that stretches from Vlor (Vlore) & Palas in the north to Sarand (Saranda) & Ksamil in the South.
The coastline of Albanian is the ideal location for a vacation filled with culture, the outdoors, and warm people.
The Butrint Archaeological Site & National Park is among the UNESCO sites that date back to the period of the ancient Greeks and Romans.
You may show your pals back home the tan you got at the lovely Drymades and Jale Beaches.
You can experience both sides of Albanian life by contrasting the incredible nightlife in the city with the days in the charming villages.
1. The Albanian Riviera
The Albanian Riviera, commonly known as Bregu by the locals, offers a wealth of activities.
Here is our complete guide to the Albanian Riviera.
The Keraunian Mountains divide the Albanian Riviera’s hinterland from its location on the Ionian Sea in southwest Albania.
The Albanian Riviera has just recently begun to experience significant growth in terms of tourism, and the coastline road and access roads to the beaches have both been rebuilt.
On this coast, Albanians from Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, & Serbia, as well as emigrants on vacation in their own nation, make up the majority of visitors.
The coastal cities of Ksamil, with their islands, Himare and Sarande, are perhaps the ones that international tourists visit the most.
1.1. The Ideal Season to Visit the Albanian Riviera
Albania is most accessible from May to September.
Do you enjoy the sun? You will then have a good time in Albania. Albania has scorching, dry summers, but the air from the Adriatic Sea is a lovely way to cool off.
Winters may be extremely chilly, especially inside. Wonderful Mediterranean climate, often known as that of the Mediterranean climate, prevails throughout the region.
With the help of this backpacking guidebook to the Albanian Riviera and our comprehensive itinerary and activities guide, you should be able to gain a better understanding of the area and use it to help you plan your journey to the Albanian Riviera.
When the weather is the warmest, in July and August, there is a tonne of tourists on the Albanian Riviera. (The temperature ranges from 18 to 20 °C at night to 28 to 30 °C throughout the day.)
The crowds won’t matter much, though, because Albania’s peak season is less crowded than in other European nations.
The finest seasons to explore the Albanian Riviera are in the spring between April to June and in the fall through September to October since the weather is not too hot or too chilly.
Fewer tourists visit during the winter months of November to March when overnight lows are only 2 °C.
However, if you enjoy the cold and don’t mind skipping the beach on the trip, winter is also a lovely time to come.
2. Places to Visit in the Albanian Riviera
Ksamil, known as the “Ionian Pearl,” boasts one of Albania’s top beaches. Both locals and visitors find it to be appealing.
Furthermore, it takes less time to fly from Greece to Ksamil than to drive there in five hours.
Land at the Greek island of Corfu Airport, then take the 30- to 40-minute ferry ride to Saranda, then a bus to Ksamil.
The bus travel costs 100 LEK, which is less than a Euro, while the ferry costs between 10 and 15 Euros.
The sandy beaches & azure waters are comparable to those in Greece but less crowded. You can also locate some isolated areas to relax if you look hard enough.
Visitors can swim to the three islands that surround Ksamil, although they can also be reached by boat.
2.2. Butrint National Park
The Butrint Archaeological Site & National Park, which lies south of the town of Sarande, may easily be visited for most of the day and is an absolute necessity for any family vacation in Albania.
The park’s old village of Butrint, with its Hellenistic temples from the fourth century BC and Ottoman fortifications from the nineteenth century, reflects several historical eras.
The epic poem “The Aeneid” by Virgil also makes reference to the town of Buthrotum, also known as Butrint.
People who revered the deity of medicine, Asclepius, came here to ingest the holy Butrint waters and receive healing.
Butrint was conquered by the Romans in 228 BC, and under Augustus Ceasar, it more than doubled in size in 45 BC.
The Roman Theatre of Butrint, which sits below the Acropolis and overlooks the Vivari Channel, is the most well-preserved of the ruins.
It was constructed on the foundation of an ancient theatre in the third century BC, and over time, it has undergone a number of restorations.
The Lion Gate, Gymnasium, Dionysus Altar, Forum, Nymphaeum, and the temples of Minerva & Asclepius can all be seen by visitors.
The coastal village of Saranda, which has views of the Greek island of Corfu, is the unofficial hub of the Southern Riviera.
It links Tirana and Corfu, two close cities. Saranda’s beach is a good size and is furnished with umbrellas and lounge chairs.
If you enjoy history, travel 1.5 hours by car or minibus to the town of Gjirokaster.
The medieval Gjirokaster Fortress stands to watch over the stone homes that make up this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Greek Argyros and the English word “silver castle” are the roots of the name “gjirokaster.”
The city was occupied during the Bronze & Iron periods, according to archaeology. The historic cobblestone streets tell tales of several periods in the city’s past.
The only other significant town you’ll come across while dHimara driving through Albania is Himara (Hilmar).
Himara Castle’s remnants can be found in the area of Himara known as Kastro, which was built on & around the last castle.
Byzantine buildings, vistas of the Ceraunian Hills, Orthodox churches, olive trees, and a lovely bay draw a lot of tourists to the town.
Qeparo settlement is located south of the town. One of the communities in Albania that has been growing olives for many years is this one.
In the picturesque town of Qeparo, you may stroll through its winding lanes lined with quaint ancient buildings where both Greeks & Albanians reside.
Qeparo, which is part of Porto Palermo Bay, is where you can find the charming castle of Porto-Palermo.
Although many people think Ali Pasha built the castle, it might have been erected and fortified centuries before. More digging and time will tell, though.
Impressive views of the Ionian Sea, as well as the Iranian Mountains, may be seen from the Castle of Porto-Palermo, also known as Panormos.
2.4. Swim at The Ionian Sea’s Largest Beach
Borsh beach is the longest along the Ionian Sea, yet it might not be the longest secluded beach in all of Europe.
It is one of Albania’s busiest beaches, measuring 7 kilometres, and is encircled by mountains & olive groves.
On most of the beach’s portions, you may find eateries and lounge chairs, while some offer complete seclusion.
Hurry, as it will quickly become the most well-liked location in the South of the Albanian Riviera.
2.5. Go to a Scheduled Beach
Gjipe Beach in Albania, which is either off the road to Karaburun or on it, is one of the most remote beaches in all of Europe.
It is so far away that getting here requires a 30-minute stroll through a forest. There are many beautiful beaches and hotels for nightlife destinations.
It won’t be simple to find on your own if you have never been here before. It is best to use a guide. If you don’t like to hike through the bush, you can get here by renting a kayak at the nearby Jale Beach.
2.5.1. Dhermi Beach
The Dhermi Beach is one of the longest in the Albanian Riviera, with white sands and blue sea. No wonder it fills up in the summer.
Additionally, the beach’s location in Dhermi Village is regarded as a hotspot for nightlife by young Albanians.
Actually made up of three communities—Dhermi, Gjilek, and Kondraq—the village of Dhermi in Himara’s Vlore county is perched on the slope of the Ceraunian Mountains.
Here, you may find affordable villa and cottage rentals.
2.5.2. Skip Drymades Beach’s Crowds
The Drymades Beach is a stunning white length of sand that is bordered by olive trees. It is covered in pebbles on one end & sand on the other.
The beach, which is situated in a tiny bay of the community of Dhermi, is ideal for a leisurely beach day without the crowds that can be observed at the neighbouring Dhermi Beach.
Here was Caesar! Caesar, Julius The Llogara Pass is where Caesar & his legions crossed in 48 BC to pursue General Pompey after landing at Palase.
And even though Caesar most likely rode a horse or hiked up the Llogara Pass, you may drive here.
The breathtaking mountain route connecting Dhermi and Orikum is known as the Llogara Pass.
The Llogara Pass, also known as Qafa e Llogaras, is a section of the Cika Mountainous Region in the Llogara National Park and rises to a height of 1027 meters.
Now that it has advanced, it offers stunning vistas of the nearby mountains and the seaside highway.
The 1010-acre Llogara National Park, which is protected, is an alpine woodland with views of the Albanian Riviera.
The Albanian Riviera hotels, modest resorts, or hiking and picnicking in the park are all options for visitors.
Old Tragjas, a deserted village, is located on the opposite side of the Llogara Pass. After being bombed, the village was left in ruins.
Old Tragjas, which is located atop a hill not far from the new Tragjas, has a nice view of Orikum.
The path connecting the new settlement and the old one is dotted with tombs and is hence known as the Pass of the Tombs.
An ancient Jewish doctor’s tomb, as well as an Ottoman tomb featuring Arabic lettering, are both located inside the settlement.
2.7. National Marine Karaburun-Sazan
The biodiversity surrounding Sazan Island and the Karaburun Peninsula is exemplified by the Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park, which is located in the county of Vlora.
Dolphins, monk seals, red squirrels, & some endangered species are among the many plant and animal species that have developed here due to the region’s unique landforms and ecological systems.
Sunken ships from ancient Greece, Rome, & World War II can be found in the park. The park is a must-see because of its steep cliffs, ancient sailor inscriptions, caves, and quiet beaches.
2.8. Go to Apollonia
The remnants of an old town founded by the Greeks can be found on Albania’s central coast.
This ancient Greek city, which was first known as Gylakeia and then changed to Apollonia in honour of the god Apollo, was significant to the Greeks and even once possessed a school for philosophy.
Temples, theatres, and libraries are among the preserved ruins of this historic site in Albania.
The views from this stunning tourist destination in Albania are also nothing short of amazing.
2.9. Experience the outdoors in Qaf Shtam National Park
This picturesque national park in central Albania is located on the rim of the hills, north of the capital, & is named after the Qaf-Shtam Mountain Pass.
Its tall, lush trees, lofty peaks, and valleys. The undulating hills are perfect for walking through and are fantastic for photographers.
2.10. Kruj Castle
Among the best things to do in Albania is to find close to the Ethnographic Museum at the lovely Kruj Castle, which is renowned for its impressive and well-preserved castle, which includes the Skanderbeg Museum.
It was built in the fifth or sixth century, and Georg Kastriot used it as his base of operations when the Ottoman sieges started in 1444.
Kastriot successfully resisted numerous assaults from this little elliptical stronghold, which held no more than 3,000 soldiers and severely impeded the Ottoman Empire’s advance into Central Europe.
The Ottomans, his adversaries, referred to him as Iskender Bey.
He is compared to Alexander himself and implies the same as Lord or Leader Alexander. He goes by the moniker Skanderbeg in English.
He earned the moniker “Dragon of Albania” and rose to prominence as a national hero in Albania.
Today, a statue honouring Georg Kastriot Skanderbeg rules Skanderbeg Square in the heart of Tirana.
It’s simple to take a day excursion from Tirana to Kruj Castle. You should just need a few hours to thoroughly explore the area because it is also rather tiny.
A day excursion from Tirana to this historically important castle is a fantastic idea if you’re unsure of what to do in Albania.
Due to its rarity as an Ottoman town that has been conserved successfully, Gjirokastra was chosen to be included on the UNESCO register of cultural identity in the South of the nation.
As would be expected, Ottoman architecture is prominent in this area, and many of the old stone houses serve as windows into the past.
The fact that the city is also referred to as the “City of Stones” is not surprising.
This is the spot to go if you want to pick up some unique native Albanian souvenirs to send home for loved ones.
You can bargain for your purchases while taking in the lively ambience, which is seldom very busy.
2.11. National History Museum
After checking off everything on your things to do in Albania list, if you still want to learn about the nation, head to the city and spend some time at the National History Museum, one of the country’s most well-known attractions.
It is split up into a number of pavilions, each of which focuses on a different era, such as Antiquity, early Renaissance, Independence, & Communist Terror.
There is no better site to go to in Albania than the National Historical Museum if you want to learn more about its historical background.
When you leave, with greater knowledge, you’ll be able to appreciate many other Tirana and Albanian sites.
Additionally, you’ll have a deeper understanding of Albania’s top tourist destinations.
2.12. Wander through the Grand Park in Tirana
If you want to find some peace during your city break, Grand Park should be your destination.
The area is popular among locals for morning or afternoon strolls because of the relaxed and carefree pace of life there.
The lake sparkles in the sunlight, & there are plenty of picnic tables & cafes around where you may unwind.
The Presidential Palace, St. Procopius Church, Botanical Garden, and Zoo are among the notable sites in this 289-hectare park, which also has a sizable man-made lake.
A number of monuments to prominent Albanians, including writers and statesmen, are also visible. It’s among the best locations in Tirana to get away from the crowds.
This magnificent piece of architecture and design, both inside and out, can be found in Tirana.
Despite its lengthy history, this church has a fairly modern design that stands out from most others you have probably seen.
The Bunk’Art Museum must be your top priority if you’re attempting to decide what to do in Tirana.
The problematic communist past of Albania is displayed in this five-floor combined art and history museum, which is situated close to the Deshmoret at the foot of Mount Dajti.
In certain exhibitions, the more recent history of the nation is juxtaposed with pieces of contemporary art, while other displays depict daily life for Albanians during the communist dictatorship.
2.13. Skanderbeg Square’s Cultural Relevance
The area, which has a sizable lawn, rows of grand trees, and vibrant flowerbeds, serves as the primary location for events in Tirana and Albania.
The Skanderbeg Monument dominates the square, which bears the name of the national hero Kastriot Skanderbeg, who assisted in halting the Ottoman Empire’s push into Eastern Europe (see Kruj Castle above).
The statue’s former location is now symbolically occupied by the monument.
Major Tirana sites like the Historical Museum, the Palace of Culture, the Et’hem Bey Mosque, the National Library, and more may be found in the vicinity of Skanderbeg Square.
2.14. Embark on A Trip with The Dajti Ekspres
The Dajti Ekspres is, without a doubt, a big Tirana highlight & one of the most enjoyable tourist destinations in Albania.
The distance from the city centre to Mount Dajti is more than 800 meters. The Balkans’ longest cable car journey is a kilometre long and lasts roughly 15 minutes.
The top is home to a tourist complex with lodging and dining options, as well as the views are breathtaking.
This is appropriately referred to as the “Balcony of Tirana.” You could drive to the summit, which takes an hour or longer if you’re terrified of heights or don’t want to take the cable car.
2.15. Visit Mount Dajti National Park and Go Hiking
You may reach Mount Dajti National Park by cable car, car, or even on foot if you prefer to ascend Mount Dajti that way.
One of the easiest-to-reach national parks inside the Balkans, if not all of Europe, is this one.
It’s one of Albania’s most picturesque locations due to its incredibly handy location as well.
Spend the day exploring the mountainous region that sits just beyond Tirana’s eastern border.
Numerous hiking routes wind through forests & along ridges, providing breathtaking views, fantastic opportunities for wildlife viewing, and—most importantly—a wonderful break from the hectic city life below.
2.16. Check out Butrint National Park
One of the top tourist destinations in Albania is, without a doubt, the 9,400 hectares of breathtaking natural beauty that make up Butrint National Park.
It is beneficial to take a guided tour while exploring the park because it is rich in historical sites from the Iron Age through the Middle Ages and is situated near Greece in south Albania.
There are still some historic structures in this area, albeit in ruins. There are two castles, a basilica, a Roman theatre, and even a late-antique baptistery.
The park is not only home to some of Albania’s most archaeologically significant locations—it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site—but it also offers a wealth of scenic beauty.
It is a Ramsar Convention-designated area of special concern for birds.
Butrint National Park is one of Albania’s most amazing tourist destinations for both history and environment buffs.
From wide grasslands to islands, freshwater lakes, and salt marshes.
The Shkodra and Skadar Lake region, one of Albania’s most well-known locations, offers opportunities for swimming, strolling, cycling, and simply taking in the scenery.
Cycling is a terrific way to take in the passing vistas, though. Many businesses provide guided excursions, but you can simply rent a bike and travel independently.
2.17. View The Location of Several Battles at Shkodra
Shkodra, an area surrounded by countryside in north Albania, was the scene of numerous wars in the past, including those from Roman antiquity.
Even though Shkodra is now a city unto itself, Rozafa Castle remains one of the city’s top draws.
2.18. Visit the Berat Cobo Winery
The Cobo Winery, located close to Berat, has a history of over a century of producing wine using traditional production methods.
It is one of the most well-known and popular wineries in the nation.
One of the best things to do in Albania for you is to visit a winery if you don’t mind the occasional sip of fermented grape juice.
2.19. Discover The National Park
The National Park is an isolated area that is located high inside the Albanian Alps in the northernmost part of the country.
The National Park is an isolated area that is located high inside the Albanian Alps in the northernmost part of the country.
The best area in Albania for nature lovers who routinely rank it as the most picturesque location to visit, with landmarks like the Lock-in Tower, a functional watermill, as well as the Grunnas Waterfall as residents.
Then, the park’s namesake settlement is about as far from civilization as a community in Europe can get.
Only a 25-kilometre dirt route, which is unusable in the winter, leads there. You might require a 4WD car to get there, even in the summer.
You are rewarded with privacy and tranquillity in stunning natural surroundings.
2.20. Visit One of The Albanian Coast Largest Mosques
The largest mosque in Tirana and one of the biggest in the entire country is the Baitul Avval Mosque inside the nation’s capital.
The exterior is unquestionably lovely, and the nearby Darul Falah Missionary House is equally interesting to check out.
At Berat, go back in time. You can still visit this old city, which was formerly constructed as a sizable castle on the shores of the River Osum.
Within the city walls, there are a large number of churches and mosques, all of which are in excellent condition.
This has been named Albania’s top tourist destination for a look into the past and has been dubbed the “City of Museums.”
We have made this detailed guide on Albanian Riviera. We hope you like it!
To get to the Albanian Riviera, there aren’t many options. Flying to Tirana and then taking a bus or taxi to the shore is one alternative.
A bus ride lasts between three and five hours and costs very little.
Flying to the airport in Corfu and taking a ferry towards the Albanian Riviera are further options.