The Albanian Riviera ( Riviera shqiptare in Albanian) is perhaps the least known stretch of coastline in the European Mediterranean, but it is nevertheless one of the most popular tourist areas each year. Albania is washed by two seas, the Adriatic and the Ionian. Both have interesting beaches, but the Albanian Riviera, whose coastline is on the Ionian Sea, is known as a paradise.
Map of the Albanian Riviera
Two examples of these beaches are those of Dhérm or Himara, which are becoming a reference point, a destination for travellers from all over the world who discover in Albania an interesting country with affordable prices.
Holidays on the Albanian Riviera
Stretching from the northern beaches of Himara to Saranda, in just 60 kilometres, the Albanian Riviera has become a holiday destination that has been covered by prestigious magazines and websites. The 300 days of sunshine and the average July temperature of 25 degrees Celsius serve as its calling card. The Ionian coastline is known for its fascinating beaches with deep and very clean waters.
The region started to become known just after the 2009 reconstruction of the SH8 coast road. Interestingly, the filming of an episode of the TV series Top Gear made everyone in Britain, the United States and Germany wonder where this scenic road is.
In addition to the beaches, along the coast there are typical Mediterranean villages, ancient castles, churches, mountain passes, and enclaves of the Albanian summer “march”.
The Albanian Riviera is locally called Bregu . Although the boundaries are as we have indicated the south of Llogara National Park in the north and Kakome beach in Lukovë in the south, it is normal to see that it includes the space from Vlore in the north to the Ksamil archipelago in the south, near the border with Greece.
Beaches of the Albanian Riviera
If you ask yourselves which are the best beaches of the Albanian Riviera we can make a selection of some of them, highlighting the beaches of Ksamil, Kakome, Himara, Borsh or Porto Palermo
Beaches from north to south
From the north, just off the Llogara Pass, a steep mountain pass, you reach the Albanian Riviera.
The first beach is Dhraleos beach in Palasë, with a length of 1.5 km. This is one of the most exotic and quiet beaches in the Albanian coastal area. It is popular for water sports and is sometimes even the destination for parachutists who parachute from the “Llogara saddle”.
Drymades is a beautiful white sandy beach with rocks. It is reached by following a tarmac road that zigzags between olive trees.
Dhërm – Dhërmi Beach
A few kilometres further south is the village of Dhërmi. It is one of the most popular villages on the Albanian Riviera. The centre of the village is high up, and by the sea is Dhërmi Beach, which is where the summer atmosphere, bars and restaurants are concentrated. It’s the most famous among Albanians, so it’s perfect for mingling with the locals. It is one of the largest urban beaches in Albania. The sand is gravel or small pebbles, with a promenade running along the beach. Many young people flock to Dhërmi, looking for fun, diving and water sports. For many it has the best nightlife on the riviera except for Saranda
Dhermi beach in Albania
The next beach is near the village of Ilias, just off the SH8 road. Gjipe beach is a commendable spot. Situated at the end of the canyon of the same name, the small cove is surrounded by towering cliffs and lapped by turquoise waters. It is one of the most picturesque beaches in Albania, hidden from the road and until a few years ago hardly known. To get there, it’s best to be comfortable because flip-flops can be slippery. From the car park there is a dirt road, passing between bunkers that were used to make out the coast. There is a campsite behind the beach.
Plazhi Me Shpella
This small cove is only accessible by boat. There is a cave there which has been nicknamed the Pirate’s Cave
Past the village of Vuno there is a turn-off to Jale. Jala Beach is sometimes called the party beach. It is located between Dhermi and Himara (about 15 minutes drive from both). Jala is the best party beach on the Albanian Riviera, if beach parties are what you are looking for. The beach has both free areas and areas with sun loungers and umbrellas owned by the clubs. There is a large car park behind the beach.
Livadh – Livadhi Beach
The next beach is Livadhi, before Himara. On the outskirts of town, a beautiful sandy beach with views of the mountains and Himara Castle, it’s a great place to relax in good weather. There are beach bars, bars, terraces and restaurants.
Himara is one of the classic family tourism towns in Albania, being one of the main towns on the Albanian Riviera.In addition to the urban beach, there are three sandy beaches that wrap around the bay. Spile, a pebble beach on the promenade, the urban beach of Himara, Maraçit and Potami, which is the longest and has a car park. Another cove, only accessible by sea, is Filikur
Llaman – Llamani Beach
Llaman is a small village south of Himarë. Traditionally a fishing village, a number of resorts have sprung up around it. Llaman beach is very popular with local tourism, with its pebble cove.
Porto Palermo beach
Leaving the monastery of San Esteban behind, you reach the bay of Porto Palermo. The shelter of the peninsula allows several coves to have calm, blue waters. Next to the isthmus of what was once an island where you can see the castle of Ali Pasha, there are two sandy coves.
Castle of Porto Palermo
Quieter than its “sister” Borshi with which it practically joins, Qeparo Beach is a good option if you want to escape from the mass of people.
Borsh beach is the longest and widest beach on the Albanian Riviera, at 7km long. Composed of small pebbles it is nevertheless comfortable. There are a few bars and restaurants nearby, as well as a large car park. Perhaps because of its size it seems quieter and not as crowded as other beaches.
Bunec – Buneci Beach
South of Borsh is Bunec, which is one of the quietest and most recommended beaches for “loners”.
Kakome Beach (Plazhi i Kakomese)
Somewhat hidden, Kakome cove forms a crescent of sand amidst Mediterranean vegetation. With a shallow, transparent seabed, it is an attractive beach near Sarande. It is accessed by the road that shares the indications of the Monastery of Santa Maria de Kakome, a 16th century Byzantine complex.
Krorëzës (Plazhi i Krorëzës)
This beach can only be reached by boat, or by swimming from neighbouring Kakome. But if we have the opportunity we will see that this isolation makes it very appealing.
What else to see on the Albanian Riviera
In summer, Tirana’s nightlife moves to the coast, and the trendy bars of the capital’s Blloku neighbourhood “move” along the Albanian Riviera.
Alternating the beaches, we can go on a castle tour, visiting Ali Pasha Castle, Borshi Castle, Kaninë Castle, Lëkurësi Castle, Porto Palermo Castle or Gjon Boçari Castle.
There are also numerous bunkers, such as in Porto Palermo, which bear witness to the years of dictatorship and fear of the Soviet invasion.
Accommodation on the Albanian Riviera
Accommodation on the Riviera consists mainly of guesthouses, bed & breakfasts and log cabin complexes. There are quite a few camping areas and a few resorts, while the rest of the coastline is still unspoilt.
How to get to the Albanian Riviera
From Spain it is not possible to fly directly to Albania, so the options are to stop over at airports in Italy, France or Germany, and then end up in Tirana at Mother Teresa International Airport; or fly to another country, the closest being the island of Corfu in Greece, or Skopje in Macedonia.
Once on the ground we still have to travel the distance to the beaches of the Albanian Riviera, opting for car rental or private transfers.
From Corfu or from South Italy, there are ferries that go directly to the port of Saranda, which is the best option to finally reach our destination.