Albanian Riviera – Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Albania
Albanian Riviera is still a largely underrated European holiday destination that boasts some of the best beaches in Europe! Imagine an azure, crystal clear sea, tranquil bays rolling hills and cedar forest. Some of the best beaches in Albania are located between Ksamil, Saranda, Himare and Dhermi, which are also the best Albania beach resort towns to base yourself.
This post is the ultimate guide to the best Albanian beaches that will simply take your breath away and the best Albanian Riviera cities to stay in.
Albanian Riviera Quick Links
✈️ Check Expedia for Cheap Flights to Albania
🚗 If you’re planning to rent a car, check Discover Cars for the best Albanian car rentals.
⛵ Best Albanian Riviera Tours
Butrint + Blue Eye + Castle + Ksamil
🏨 Best Albanian Riviera hotels
Saranda | Hotel Saranda Palace
Ksamil | Blue Water Hotel
Dhermi | Elysium Hotel Dhermi
Himare | Miamar Hotel Himar
Where is Albanian Riviera?
Albanian Riviera, also known as Bregu is basically the central and southwestern coast of Albania, home to the best beaches in Albania that includes, starting from the north: Vlore, Dhermi, Himare, Borsh, Lukove, Sarande and Ksamil. Durres, which sits on the Adriatic coast, is not included in this definition, but it’s also an excellent destination for beach holidays in Albania, close to the Albanian capital city of Tirana.
Planning On Renting A Car In Albania?
In this blog post, we will tell you how easy it is to rent a car in Albania, covering everything from prices, rental conditions, insurance requirements, tips for driving in Albania, and so much more.
Albanian Riviera Map – Best Beaches in Albania
What to Expect on the Albanian Riviera?
Ksamil | Best beaches & family vacation.
Saranda | Best for exploring the local area & budget hotels.
Dhermi | Best beach clubs + quaint old town.
Himare | Best local vibe & off-beaten track.
Vlore | Best for city vibes + top beaches in Albania.
If you’re looking for the best beaches in Albania with tantalising natural beauty and alluring crystal clear water of the Ionian Sea, the Albanian Riviera can’t be more perfect for your beach holidays.
The Albanian coastline is super diverse and offers something for everyone. In Dhermi, you can find the best luxury Albania beach resorts for those that seek a comfortable stay in style.
Ksamil also boasts luxury hotels and Albania best beaches. In fact, Ksamil is also known as the Maldives of Albania because of its tropical-looking coastline!
The Albanian city of Sarande is an excellent base for exploring nearby attractions such as the Blue Eye and Gjirokaster, and it’s also great for affordable accommodation.
Finally, my favourite city – Himare, is excellent for those that want an off-beaten track destination with a strong, local vibe.
There is also so much more to this country than the stunning Albanian Riviera beaches. I spent the whole summer travelling between beach resorts in Albania, and I completely fell in love with this country, its fantastic food, which is excellent for vegetarians, its nature, and its friendly people!
Albania has an important Byzantine heritage, and you can see the evidence of that in the historic, fully preserved Byzantine towns of Berat, Gjirokaster and Dhermi, Byzantine monasteries, and Albanian castles typically built strategically on the highest hill like the Himare castle. If you love exploring historical sites, you’ll be delighted with Albania!
Best Beaches in Albania – Where to Base Yourself on the Albanian Riviera?
Below, you’ll find the best places to stay in Albanian Riviera for the best beaches in Albania, best things to do and the best resorts in Albania.
#1 Ksamil Beach – Best Resort in Albania for Caribbean-like Beaches
Location | Ksamil Beach
Best for | Families, beach lovers, organised vacation.
Ksamil boasts some of the most incredible beaches in Albania, and for that reason, Ksamil is the most popular Albanian beach resort. Here you’ll find a great choice of Albanian coast resorts and apartments. Ksamil is super family-friendly but also great for couples and groups of friends that love some quality beach time.
What to expect at Ksamil Beaches Albania?
Ksamil is, hands down, the best place to visit in Albania for its stunning coastline with unbelievably turquoise water, framed by white sandy beaches that resemble tropical beaches of Thailand or Maldives! I mean, look at the drone photo above; it honestly doesn’t get more beautiful!
In Ksamil, you can find over ten different beaches, and if you want to find out more about Ksamil best beaches, check the detailed post I wrote about Ksamil Albania.
The coastline in Ksamil is divided into sections belonging to different beach bars and clubs that offer umbrella and sun loungers rental. The main beach in Ksamil is called Sunset Beach, and it is the best beach in Ksamil for convenience as it is close to all the main attractions in town. Just walk along the shore and pick the spot that you like the most. During the high season, get here early to choose the best beach spot. The best sun loungers are located on small jetties with an exclusive area for guests only!
The best beaches in Ksamil are busy during the high season but also super beautiful. They boast soft, white sand and calm water that is perfect for swimming. As you will have to rent an umbrella and sun loungers, you will also get access to facilities such as a shower and toilets as well as drink and food service brought to your sun lounger. Kayaks and water pedalos are available for rent here as well.
TIP | If you can visit Ksamil outside of the high season months of July and August when most of the beaches are taken by sunbeds and parasols!
Where to stay in Ksamil?
Here are the best hotels in Albania Ksamil.
Blue Water Hotel Ksamil Albania – Stylish luxury hotel Ksamil with pool
This Ksamil Albania hotel features an outdoor pool + sun terrace and free parking, a bar and a restaurant. The property features tastefully decorated double and triple rooms as well as a suite that can sleep up to 5 persons. This hotel in Ksamil is a 9-minute walk to Ksamil Beach 9 and 15 minutes to Ksamil Lori Beach.
Hotel Artur Ksamil – Beachfront Hotel
This Albania Ksamil hotel boasts a beachfront location with private sandy beach access. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast, free parking and an onsite restaurant. A range of rooms includes double, triple and quadruple rooms with balcony and fridge.
Hotel Mira Mare Ksamil – Ksamil Apartments with kitchenette close to the beach
The property features a range of newly furnished apartments that can sleep up to 4 persons. All units come with a fully equipped kitchenette, a dining area and a terrace, some feature a sea view. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast and free parking.
How to get to Ksamil Beach?
Ksamil Albania is located on the southwestern coast of the Albanian Riviera, and it’s a part of Butrint National Park and the municipality of Sarande, which is situated 14 km north of Ksamil town. A daily bus service connects Saranda to Ksamil and operates multiple times a day.
#2 Saranda – One of the Best Albanian Riviera Cities for Exploring & Budget Hotels
Location | Public Beach in Saranda
Best for | Budget accommodation, exploring.
Saranda is a lively beach resort town, excellent for those that want to stay in the heart of the Albanian Riviera to explore some of its top attractions. Saranda also boasts some of the best beach resorts in Albania that are incredibly affordable!
What to expect at Albania beaches Saranda?
Unlike Ksamil beaches, Saranda boasts an extensive stretch of beach, which is open and free to the general public. You can simply bring your own towel and umbrella and enjoy the beach for as long as you want. There are a few separate Saranda beaches that are free, and you can find them east of the port, along the main promenade.
The public beach in Saranda is a pebbly beach with shallow and crystal clear water of the beautiful turquoise colour. Swimming at the beach in Saranda is a pure pleasure, with the Ionian Sea being so transparent that you can see all the way down to the bottom! Saranda’s main beach is tucked in a bay, and thanks to that, the water stays calm most of the time, which is perfect for swimming.
The public beach in Saranda boasts an excellent range of facilities such as jet ski, standup paddleboard and kayak rentals. As Saranda beach is located right in the heart of the city, restaurants, bars, and shops are within a few minutes walk from the beach.
If you’re visiting Saranda Albania with children, there is also a lifeguard on duty in most parts of the public beach. There is also a jumping platform for those who enjoy a little adrenaline! Even if you’re not into diving, watching the local kids having so much fun jumping into the crystal clear waters is fun!
For those seeking more exclusivity, there are also various private beaches near Saranda Albania public beach such as Mango Beach.
And, if lounging on the beach is not really your thing and you would rather explore all the best things to do in Albanian Riviera, Saranda is an excellent base for visiting places like Gjirokaster, the Albanian Blue Eye and Europe’s best beaches Albania is renowned for!
If you want to learn more about Saranda and its beaches, check out the complete guide about Saranda Albania.
Best Hotels in Saranda Albania
If you’re looking for Albanian Riviera where to stay for the best value for money, choose Sarande.
Hotel Saranda Palace – Private Beach & Pool
Saranda Palace features a large outdoor pool with sun loungers and a bar and also boasts a private beach area for its guests. Rooms are modern and come with an ensuite bathroom and a balcony and come with a sea view. Saranda Palace Hotel is situated right on the beach, and it’s one of the best luxury hotels in Saranda.
Illyrian Boutique Hotel – Hotel Saranda Albania with a Cool Rooftop
This boutique Saranda hotel features modern rooms with ensuite bathrooms, large windows and tea & coffee-making facilities. It has an excellent location right by the Saranda Albania beach and the city’s promenade. The best feature of this hotel in Saranda is its cool rooftop bar which is an excellent place to enjoy the sunset.
ArtNest Luxury Hotel & Suites – Modern Suites + VIP Beach Access
This Saranda Hotel Albania is located 600 metres from the Saranda beach and features ultra-modern suites with a terrace. Guests can enjoy a complimentary English breakfast and free parking at the property. The property also boasts a shared lounge and access to a VIP beach.
How to get to Saranda?
Sarande is settled on the Albanian Riviera situated in the southwestern part of the country, 284 km south of the capital city of Tirana and 125 km from Vlore. Being one of Albanian famous sea resort towns, you can easily catch a bus to Saranda from any other Albanian city.
#3 Himare – Best Local Vibe on the Riviera Albania is Famous For
Location | Himare Albania
Best for | Local vibe & budget accommodation.
Himare is a small coastal town tucked between Dhermi and Borsh that boasts gorgeous sandy beaches Albania is known for and a local charm. If you’re planning holidays to Albanian Riviera and want to experience a local vibe and super friendly people, choose Himare.
What to expect in Himare?
Himare boasts a long stretch of a sandy beach framed by a picturesque cove. In the heart of the town, you can find a lovely promenade dotted with seafood restaurants, souvlaki shops, ice cream parlours and cosy bars. After sunset, the Himare promenade that runs along the beach becomes the centre of the action and an excellent place for an evening stroll and watching the local life.
Everything in this town is super compact and reachable on foot so that you can forget about your car for the time of your stay here! You will also have access to a few Albanian Riviera best beaches in Himare. Most beaches in Himare are public and free to use, but there are also private beaches where you can rent a set of sunbeds and an umbrella for the day.
One of the best things to do in Albania is also hiking, and if you’re an outdoor lover, you’ll be pleased to know Himare has some great hiking opportunities. The most scenic walk that takes you along the beautiful coast is a hike to Livadhi, which is one of the best beaches of Albania.
Also, because Himare is not dominated by mass tourism, accommodation is really well-priced here, and you may be able to book some of the best resorts in Albania for a bargain!
Best Hotels Albania Himare
Rea Boutique Hotel Himare – Luxury pick
Rhea Boutique Hotel Himare boasts sea view rooms with a large terrace to enjoy daily sunsets, air conditioning and bathrooms equipped with a bathtub. There is free parking on-site and a restaurant serving international and Albanian cuisine.
Miamar Hotel Himare – Beach resort hotel
Hotel Miamar Himare is situated on Livadhi Beach and boasts two outdoor lagoon pools, a spa and a fitness centre. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary buffet breakfast and an onsite restaurant serving Italian and Mediterranean cuisine. Livadhi is situated a little away from Himare town, but it is one of the best beaches in this area.
Scala Bungalows Himare – Close to nature
Scala Bungalows are located on Livadhi Beach, a little away from the Himare town centre. The air-conditioned wooden bungalows boast a beachfront location and a close-to-nature feel. Complimentary, homemade breakfast is served daily, and guests can enjoy free parking.
How to get to Himare Albania?
Himare is situated on the country’s southwestern coast, 4 hours drive south of Tirana and about 90 min drive from Sarande. The town of Himare is also close to Dhermi and Borsh. Himare is well connected with other major cities, and you can take a bus here from Tirana, Sarande, Vlore or Dhermi.
#4 Dhermi – Best For Albanian Riviera Resorts & Beach Clubs
Location | Dhermi Beach
Best for | Chic beach clubs & quaint Dhermi old town
Dhermi is another gorgeous coastal town and of the most beautiful places in Albania to spend a beach vacation. Dhermi boasts chich beach clubs and some of the best hotels in Albanian riviera. In Dhermi, you will also find a quaint old town to soak in some history and picturesque Byzantine architecture!
What to expect in Dhermi?
Dhermi Beach is one of the best, if not the best beach in Albania! Imagine crystal clear water with a beautiful shade of turquoise framed by a pebbly beach surrounded by rolling hills. The view is truly idyllic.
There are two main noticeable parts of the coast in Dhermi. When you’re coming from Dhermi Village, there is a large car park, and to the left of the car park, you can find the main stretch of Derhmi Beach. Along the beach, there is a promenade with restaurants and small shops selling drinks, snacks and beach accessories; to the left, you can find some really cool beach clubs and beach bars.
All of the beach clubs on Dhermi Beach offer sun loungers and parasol rentals. The prices vary depending on the place and time of the year and expect to pay between €10 and even €20 during July and August. If you’re more of a DIY person, don’t worry, there is plenty of beach between beach clubs to stretch your own towel.
Old town Dhermi is a super interesting place, and I can’t recommend enough paying it a visit! Stroll its narrow alleys and explore its quaint houses and picturesque churches. The old town of Dhermi is not really touristy, you won’t find here boutique shops and cafes, but it has so much potential. During my visit, there was lots of renovation work, which was nice to see because Dhermi’s old town deserves some love and care! What you can expect, though, is a charming and quiet historic town with plenty of photo opportunities.
Best Hotels in Dhermi
Elysium Hotel Dhermi – Best Hotel in Dhermi Albania with Pool
Hotel Elysium has a fantastic location, a 10-minute walk to Dhermi Beach and is one of the best 5-star hotels in Albania Dhermi. The hotel boasts a large outdoor pool with a sea view set in a lush garden. Guests can enjoy free breakfast daily and the use of complementary sun loungers and parasols in the hotel beach bar. The property features a selection of twin rooms overlooking the mountains, a bar, a restaurant and free parking.
Hotel Relax Dhermi – Hotel with Pool near Dhermi Village
Hotel Relax Dhermi is situated a 9-minute drive from Dhermi Beach and 4 minutes from Dhermi. The hotel features an outdoor pool with sun loungers and a sun terrace. Guests can enjoy a complimentary breakfast and free parking. There is also an in-house restaurant serving Albania and Italian cuisine and a bar. Rooms feature a balcony, sea views and can sleep up to 4 adults.
Olives Residence – Rooms with kitchen close to the beach
Olives Residence Dhermi is situated a 10-minute walk from Palas Beach, which is the northwestern end of the Dhermi Beach stretch. The property features suites with a kitchen and a balcony. Guests have access to a shared pool, sun terrace, a restaurant, and a bar.
How to get to Dhermi Albania?
Dhermi is situated on the country’s southwestern coast, 213 km from its capital Tirana (which is about 4 hours drive), 90 minutes drive from Vlore, and about 90 minutes drive north from Saranda and 2 hours from Ksamil. Himare is also located near, about 30 minutes from the bus from Dhermi. If you’re not driving, you can get to Dhermi by bus from all major cities such as Tirana, Vlore and Saranda.
#5 Vlore – One of the Best Cities in Albania for a Beach Vacation & Italian Food
Location | Vlore Albania
Best for | City vibes, Italian cuisine.
One of the best cities to visit in Albania for a beach vacation, Vlore boasts a long stretch of gorgeous beach framed by a tranquil cove and rolling, lush hills. What’s special about Vlore is that it has access to two seas – the Ionian Sea and the Mediterranean and strong Italian culinary influences.
What to expect in Vlore Albania?
Vlore is located only a short ferry ride away from Italy, and you can see very well this proximity in the culinary influences. In Vlore, you can find authentic Italian pizza, gorge on gelato and taste real Italian espresso – all this for a fraction of the price that it would cost in Italy.
Vlore also has a rich history, and it was home to the first independent Albanian government. You can learn more about it at the Museum of National Independence situated in the heart of the city, which actually also served as government headquarters for the first few months after announcing the independence.
The city has a chilled vibe and is a perfect place whether you’re travelling with your family, friends or partner. What you can definitely count on is some of the most beautiful beaches in Albania and even Europe, with exquisitely crystal clear water framed by pristine beaches.
Also, apart from having one of the best beaches Albanian Riviera is so famous for, Vlore is also an excellent base for exploring places like Llogara National Park – excellent for hiking and the best place in Albania for taking a scenic drive through the famous Llogara Pass. Other best places in Albanian riviera that can be visited from Vlore on a day trip include Zvernec Monastery in the Narta Lagoon, Kanine Castle and white-pebbled Orikum Beach – one of the best beaches in Vlore.
Best Hotels in Vlore
Veranda Boutique Hotel – Hotel by the beach with breakfast
This Vlore hotel is located 550 m from the main beach and features ensuite rooms with a balcony either with a garden or sea view. Guests can also enjoy a complimentary breakfast daily and free parking.
Mini Hotel & Maxi Room – Large sea view rooms
Mini Hotel & Maxi Room Hotel is also situated within 500 meters walk to Vlore Beach and 300 meters to Ri beach. The hotel features a bar, and a restaurant and guests can take advantage of complimentary breakfast and free parking.
How to get to Vlore?
Vlore is also situated on the Albanian coast, over two hours drive south of Tirana and up to 3 hours north of Saranda. Buses to Vlore leave multiple times a day from the capital city as well as Saranda, so it’s relatively easy to get here by bus.
#6 Borsh – One of the Best Places in Albania for an Off-Beaten Track Beach Vacation
Location | Borsh Albania
Best for | Off-beaten track beach.
What to expect at Borsh Beach Albania?
Borsh is a great alternative to Saranda beach Albania during the busiest summer months of July and August for those that are looking for a more secluded spot for their beach day.
Borsh is a small village that boasts a 7 km long and 30 meters wide beach, settled amongst lush hills and olive groves. In fact, Borsh beach is the largest out of all Albanian beaches. Borsh beach enjoys white pebbles and crystal clear and unbelievably turquoise water that will leave you mesmerised! The beach in Borsh never gets busy as it is remote from more popular seaside resorts such as Vlore or Sarandë Albania.
Borsh beach is an excellent destination for a day trip, and if you enjoy some history too, after relaxing on the beach, head up the hill to visit Borsh castle perched 500 meters above sea level. The castle dates back to the 3rd century and includes a well-preserved mosque that was added later on, during Ali Pasha’s rule.
If you’re interested in the history of the Communist regime, you can also check out many bunkers that were built to protect Albania from the enemies during the Cold War.
Another excellent spot to check out is Borsh waterfall which runs by Ujëvara e Borshit restaurant. You can come here for lunch and cool down by the waterfall!
Due to the long stretch of the beach, Borsh beach never feels busy or overcrowded, but that doesn’t mean it lacks beach facilities. You can find here a great selection of beach bars and restaurants as well as umbrellas and sunbeds rental. For the adrenaline enthusiast, there are also water sports facilities such as jet ski rental, kayaks and SUP boards.
If you’re looking for an excellent hotel in Borsh, check out the Sole Luna Hotel, which boasts modern suites, superb breakfast and a beachfront location!
How to get to Borsh Beach?
38 km south of Saranda Albania, you can find a quaint town of Borsh that boasts a stunning coastline. The best way to get to Borsh Albania is by car, and the trip shouldn’t take more than an hour.
It is also possible to catch a bus from Saranda, Vlore or Tirana.
The Most Epic Albanian Beaches
#1 Gijipe Beach – Most Epic Albanian Beach
Location | Gijipe Beach Albania
Best for | Day trip from Himare or Dhermi.
Tucked between soaring cliffs covered with greenery, Gjipe Beach is considered to be one of the most epic and top beaches in Albania! The beach is part of the impressive Gjipe Canyon, and if you’re up for an adventure, you can hike its length! For the rest of us, even getting to Gjipe Beach is an adventure.
What to expect at Gijipe?
Unless you own a 4×4, you’ll have to walk about 2 km from the main road where you need to leave your car to reach the beach. Along the way, stop at the various viewpoints to enjoy the birdseye view of the beach.
The beach is sandy, and in season you can rent a parasol and sun loungers. Also, a few simple beach restaurants serve fresh seafood and ice-cold drinks in the season. Alternatively, you can bring your own umbrella, water and snacks to last you the day.
Hot to get to Gijipe Beach Albania?
By car | Travelling by car is probably the easiest way to get to the beach. However, be aware that from Gjipe Car Park, where you leave your car, there is another 2 km of scenic walk to get to the beach.
By boat | From Dhermi or Himare it is possible to take a water taxi to Gjipe Beach. The boat will drop you off at the beach in the morning and collect you in the afternoon.
#2 Grama Bay Albania – One of the Best Beaches in Albania Accessible Only by Boat
Location | Grama Bay
Best for | Boat excursion from Dhermi, Himare or Vlore.
Southwest of Himare in the Bay of Grama lays a perfectly untouched little cove amongst dramatic cliff tops and washed by azure, crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea. Grama Bay is easily one of the most beautiful places in Albania, it is part of the national park and boasts some incredible flora and fauna!
What’s unique about this place is that its remote location makes it impossible to get there by car. The only way to visit Grama Bay is to go on a boat tour from Himare or Dhermi. The boat typically leaves in the morning and comes back to Himare in the afternoon. This timing allows for a day spent in this peaceful cove!
Apart from the stunning landscape and a paradisical beach, Grama Bay has a rich history dating back to over 1,500 years ago. The bay was a refuge for ships seeking shelter from the storm. Today, you can find many inscriptions left engraved on the rock walls from different periods in history. ‘Grama’ means word in Greek, and the bay takes its name from its rock inscriptions that were left in honour of various patrons.
#3 Jale Albania – One of The Best Beaches in Albania for Beach Clubs
Location | Jale Beach Albania near Himare
Best for | Beach club party vibes.
What to expect at Jala Beach Albania?
Jala or Jale Beach is another gorgeous sandy beach Albania boasts. It used to be unspoiled like Gjipe, but the beach has been largely commercialised in recent years, with beach bars and parasol rentals covering almost the entire beach during the high season months of July and August.
Jala Beach is known for its party vibe, with music playing in the bars and a youngish crowd enjoying the party.
How to get to Jala Beach?
Jala Beach is located near Himare and can be a great destination for a day trip. You get here by car, which will take around 30 minutes to drive. You can also take a bus, which will drop you off on the main road, from which point there is still a 5 km walk down to the beach.
From Himare, you can also take a boat, which will drop you off at the beach in the morning and collect you in the afternoon.
Check Hotels in Jale Albania here.
#4 Livadhi Beach – One of the Best Albanian Beaches to Hike To
Location | Livadhi beach
Best for | Hiking from Himare.
What to expect at Livadhi Beach?
Situated in a picturesque cove framed by rolling hills, Livadhi Beach is wide and long, covered mostly in pretty pebbles – all the features you would expect from the best Albania beaches.
If you’re looking for a good lunch spot, try Blue Bay Himare, situated just next door to Livadhi Beach. It’s a beach bar and restaurant and comfy seats in the shade overlooking the beach and decent food.
How to get to Livadhi Beach?
You can find Livadhi Beach 5 km northwest of Himare. If you don’t have a car, you can get here by taxi.
But if you’re up for some hiking in Albania accompanied by the stunning coastal views, take the scenic route and walk from Himare to Livadhi Beach. The hike should take around one hour and the best time to do the walk is in the morning to avoid the heat. The hike starts by the ferry port.
On the way to Levadhi Beach, stop at Kico Sea View Himara, where you’ll find an abandoned building which you can climb to the top for a jaw-dropping view of the azure waters of the Gjiri i Spilese bay.
#5 Filikuri Beach – One of the Hidden Gem Beaches in Albania
Location | Filikuri Beach
Best for | Kayak trip from Himare
What to expect at Filikuri Beach?
Hidden behind a cliff from the main stretch of Himare beaches, about 2.5 km away, are the crystal clear waters of Filikurit Beach. The beach is inaccessible by car, and perhaps for that reason, it is a secret beach of Himare where you can have a peaceful beach day with only a handful of other people or if you’re lucky, no one at all!
The beach has a dramatic white rock formation, white pebbly sand and crystal clear water. There is a cold water stream running from the rocks that joins the warm seawater! Filikuri Beach is one of the best beaches in Albanian Riviera for the off-beaten track experience!
How to get to Filikuri Beach?
There are three ways you can access the beach. The first way is to walk following Google maps and climb down the steep rocky cliff down the beach. The other, more enjoyable way, in my opinion, is to hire a kayak or a pedalo for the day and get there from the sea.
Filikurit Beach is just around the corner from Potami Beach in Himare. Another way is to get dropped off by a sea taxi and picked up later on, in the afternoon. Just walk to the jetty in the morning, and you can negotiate the price of the service.
#6 Mirror Beach Albania – One of The Best Beaches in Ksamil
Location | Mirror Beach Ksamil
Best for | Beach day from Ksamil or Saranda.
What to expect at Mirror Beach?
If you’re planning to stay in either Ksamil or Saranda, Mirror Beach is one of the best places in Albanian coast to visit for a beautiful beach day!
The beach is super gorgeous – covered with small white pebbles and surrounded by rocky cliffs from both sides. The crystal clear water with a lovely shade of turquoise stays shallow for a while, which is good for the kids. The sea is not as calm as the Monastery beach, and it experiences some waves, especially in the afternoon.
During the months of July and August, colourful sunbeds and umbrellas fill almost the entire space. If you’re travelling during that time, arrive early in the morning to reserve a good spot. There is also some space on both ends of the beach for stretching a towel for the early risers. Outside of the busy months, you can enjoy this stunning beach any time of the day or week. On the side, there is a small caved shape in the rocks, and during the low tide, it is possible to walk to the beach next door called Seagull’s Beach through knee-high water.
There is a parking space with a 200 LEK charge and a beach restaurant with a seafood menu, and a lovely outdoor space overlooking the unbelievably turquoise water. Other beach facilities include a shower and toilets.
TIP | During July and August, avoid weekends and arrive early to reserve a good spot.
How to get to Mirror Beach?
Mirror Beach is situated around a 20-minute drive from Saranda and a 15-minute drive from Ksamil. The beach is a little hard to get to because of the difficult road that is narrow with steep hills, and at the end, it turns into a steep dirt track. I highly recommend leaving your car at the top of the hill and walking down.
You can also get here by bus, but the bus will drop you off on the main road from where there is still a considerable distance to walk, plus there are some steep hills to climb too. Our lady host took us here, and she was super scared to drive, and judging by the distance, it would take around 30 minutes to walk to the beach from the bus stop. You can also hire a taxi that will drop you off and come back to get you at the agreed time.
TIP| Leave your car at the top of the hill to avoid the dangerous steep dirt track road!
#7 Monastery Beach Albania
Location | Plazhi i Manastirit
Best for | Beach day from Ksamil or Saranda.
What to expect at Monastery Beach?
Monastery Beach is a relatively small but extremely beautiful beach and definitely deserves a spot on the list of the best beaches in Albania.
The beach is covered with large, round pebbles, and because it is sheltered from both sides, the water is calm and lovely to swim in with its stunning azure colour.
Most of the beach is filled with sunbeds and umbrellas for rent, and there is a small space on both sides of the beach to stretch your own towel. But, if you want to do that, I recommend arriving early in the morning during the high season. Outside of July and August, there is way more space. The pictures of the beach were taken at the end of August when Ksamil was still busy. Monastery Beach is way quieter compared to the Ksamil beaches during the high season.
A beach restaurant serves well-priced Italian and Albanian dishes, including salads, pasta and seafood, and boasts a nice outdoor seating area overlooking the beach. The restaurant is closed during the off-season.
How to get to Monastery Beach Albania?
Monastery Beach Albania is located 9 km from Saranda town or about a 20-minutes drive by car. The easiest way to get here is by car. But, there is also a Ksamil Saranda bus that connects both towns and stops by the main road, from where you can walk to the beach. You can also get here by taxi.
#8 Pulebardha Beach
Location | Pulebardha Beach Ksamil
Best for | Beach day from Ksamil or Saranda.
What to expect at Seagull’s Beach?
Pulebardha Beach is another gorgeous beach on the Albanian Riviera that boasts turquoise water framed by rocky hills and a stretch of colourful pebbles.
The pictures in this post were taken on Saturday in August, and as you can see, the beach was packed. To the left, there is a smaller secluded beach where you can stretch your towel for free if you find the space.
If you’re travelling outside of July and August, Seagull’s Beach is a peaceful slice of paradise. The water is super turquoise but not as calm as on Monastery Beach, in fact, waves are fairly common here, especially in the afternoon. And the beach is covered with small pebbles, which are a little hard to walk on.
TIP | Bring water shoes to walk on the pebbles with comfort.
There is a beach bar serving cold drinks, including cocktails, and on Saturday afternoon, loud music is played, and the beach has a party vibe, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
How to get Pulebardha Ksamil?
Pulëbardha Beach is located 11 km from Saranda and 5.5 km away from Ksamil town. You take the main road to Saranda and then turn off left, where there is a dirt track road all the way to the beach. Despite being unpaved, this road is much easier to navigate, and it’s a little safer compared to the road to Mirror Beach. If you want to get there by bus, again, the bus drops you off on the main road, from where there is a long hike down the dirt road to get to the beach. You can also take a taxi.
#9 Lukove Beach – One of the Best Beaches of Albania for Families
Location | Lukove Beach
Best for | Quiet & family-friendly beach.
What to expect at Lukove Beach?
The beach at Lukove is way lower-key in comparison to Saranda or Ksamil beaches, making this small coastal town one of the best beach places in Albania for a peaceful getaway!
There is a wide stretch of pebbly beach partly organised with sunbeds and umbrellas and partly unorganised, where you can stretch your own towel and enjoy the beach for free. Lukove is excellent for families, and its calm and shallow waters are great for kids.
The sunbed prices are way cheaper than in Sarande, and Ksamil and Lukove Beach is a great place to seek refuge during the busiest months of July and August. The beach is lined up with excellent restaurants and beach bars which are perfect for grabbing a light lunch. In the summer months, you can also find here kayak and SUP board rentals. There is also a free parking lot.
How to get to Lukove Beach?
Lukove is a small coastal town located 22 km south of Saranda Albania. The best way to get there is by car, and the trip should take just over half an hour. It is also possible to get to Lukove by bus.
#10 Buneci Beach – One of the Best Beaches in Albanian Riviera for an Off-Beaten Track Getaway
Location | Buneci Beach
Best for | Off-beaten track beach.
What to expect at Buneci Beach?
Buneci Beach is set in a quiet town tucked amongst green hills, if you’re looking for the best places to go in Albania, away from the crowds, look no further! The beach is a mixture of sand and pebbles, and there is a small pier where you can make a jump into the refreshing Ionian Sea.
The beach is divided by a small stream which begins up in the mountains surrounding the beach. The area has been occupied by the military when Albania was communist, and today there are still many abandoned bunkers in Buneci.
The beach facilities include sunbeds and umbrellas for rent, toilets and showers and a free parking lot. There are also a few beach restaurants where you can grab some lunch and a larger supermarket to stock up with beach snacks and cold drinks.
How to get to Buneci Beach?
Buneci Beach is located 100 km south of Vlore and 28 km south of Saranda on the route to Himare, Dhermi and Vlore. Similarly to Lukove, you can either drive your own vehicle here or catch a bus.
Albanian Riviera Beyond Beaches
Porto Palermo Castle & Beach – Off-Beaten Track Place to See
Location | Porto Palermo Albania
Porto Palermo Castle is situated a few kilometres south of Himarë along the Albanian Riviera on a strip of land that is connected to the mainland only with a narrow passage. It is believed that the castle was built by the powerful leader – Ali Pasha in the 19th century. During the communist regime, the fort served as a Soviet submarine base, and today it is a curious tourist destination!
Park your car on the road, and walk the narrow stretch of the land to the ruins of the castle for some incredible views of the Ionian Coast. After visiting the fort, head to Porto Palermo Beach for some relaxation and a light lunch!
Butrint Albania – One of the best places to visit Albania for History Buffs
Location | Butrint National Park Albania
Entrance Fee | 1,000 LEK
Visiting Butrint ruins is one of the best things to do in the Albanian Riviera if you enjoy exploring historical sites. Butrint was a grand ancient Greek city and later a Roman city that boasted some incredible monuments and castles, including a colosseum, various temples and houses.
The first human settlement in this area dates back to the 12th century BC, and during the 4th century BC, there was a Sanctuary of Asclepius here, which was a god of medicine. The worshippers visited this place to be healed because Butrint’s water was believed to have healing properties. Thanks to the sanctuary and the pilgrims, Butrint became famous in the ancient world.
Today, Butrint is a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognised for its historical importance and beauty and a super interesting place to visit.
When you buy your ticket, you will also get a map that comes in a few different languages that will take you through the most important sites of Butrint. The whole visit will take you about 2 hours, and it’s a lovely walk to take in the late afternoon when the heat eases off.
I visited Butrint in August in the high season, and even then, the place wasn’t busy, which was a nice bonus. Make sure you don’t miss out on seeing the colosseum, which was sadly under renovation during my visit and a castle that is perched on the highest point for some incredible views of the surroundings, including the picturesque lake.
How to get to Butrint?
There is a local Saranda Butrint bus that runs every hour. The bus leaves from Saranda to Butrint direction at half past every hour between 8:30 and 18:30, and on the way back, it leaves Butrint every hour from 7:30 and 19:30 back to Sarande through Ksamil. For those that want to drive to Butrint, the site is easy to find, and there is a large car park with plenty of spaces.
Ali Pasha Castle
Location | Ali Pasha Castle
Return boat trip | €20
If you have more time, you can also visit Ali Pasha Castle, which is located on a little island just off the shores of Butrint. As you come out of the Butrint site, there is a small jetty, and the local men will most likely approach you, offering you a boat lift to the castle. The Ottoman fortress itself is mostly a ruin today, but the place and the surroundings are super beautiful and worth a visit.
Blue Eye (Syri I Kalter) – One of the Coolest & Beautiful Places in Albania
Location | Saranda Syri i Kalter
Entrance fee | 200 LEK per car + 100 LEK per person (€0.8 & €1.6)
What to expect at Blue Eye in Albania?
Blue Eye is a place of exceptional natural beauty, with its main attraction being a super beautiful natural spring with a depth of 50 metres! The water in the spring is so clear that you can see all the way down into the ‘eye’. The main attraction is a jump into the Blue Eye, which is extremely refreshing because the water only has about 10 degrees Celsius! In fact, it is so cold that no one can stay inside for too long.
There is a small gift shop just by the spring and two restaurants with nice river seating areas. Facilities also include a toilet.
How to get to Blue Eye?
The Albanian Blue Eye is an easy day trip that can be done from Ksamil, Saranda or Gjirokaster. The easiest way to get there is to drive, but it is also possible to get here by public transport, but this will involve some walking.
If you don’t want to drive or take a bus, visiting Blue Eye is one of the best Saranda Albania tours that also include Ksamil, Butrint and Lekuresi Castle. This is a fantastic option for travellers on a tight itinerary!
How to get to the Albanian Riviera?
By plane – Airports in Albania
Unless you’re road tripping Europe by car, the most likely point of entry to Albania for you will be Tirana International Airport in Albania. Depending on the time of your arrival, you can stay a few nights in the Albanian capital (I recommend staying 1-2 nights) or head directly to one of the Albanian beach resorts.
There is a shuttle bus that connects the Tirana Airport with the city centre. It costs 300 LEK (€3) and gets you to Skanderbeg Square. The main bus terminal that connects Tirana with other major cities is a little away from the city centre. The best way to get there is to grab a taxi. Make sure you confirm the taxi rate before you get inside.
Bus Station Tirana | check the location here.
By Private Transfer from Tirana
For a hassle-free transfer from Tirana airport to Saranda or Ksamil, book a private transfer with Viator.
By Car – Albania Car Rental
The best way to get to the Albanian Riviera is to rent a car. Car rentals are widely available in Albania, and if you’re flying to Tirana, you can prearrange a car rental with a pick-up at the airport.
Albanian drivers are notorious for speeding, tailgating and, in general, being reckless, so make sure you are super careful. Always go for the full insurance and take a short video of the car recording all its existing scratches and dents before you drive away from the car rental place. If you don’t want to drive, opt for the buses Albania is known for.
Check the best Saranda car rental rates with Discover Cars:
By Bus – Albanian Buses Explained
Albania has an efficient bus system that connects most cities and towns in the country. Most buses are privately owned and look like small passenger vans; in Albania, they are known as “furgons”.
The curious part of this system is that normally, furgons don’t have timetables, and the driver will only leave when he/she collects enough passengers to make the trip worthwhile. Additionally, not all the bus stops in Albania are clearly marked, sometimes, it’s just an agreed place where a bus tends to stop!
Despite all this, my experience of travelling around Albania by bus was very good, and weirdly, the system worked perfectly.
TIP | I recommend asking your accommodation host if you’re having trouble with locating the bus stop or figuring out departure times.
Albanian Riviera Itinerary & Visiting the Best Beaches in Albania
Here is a 10-day Albanian Riviera Itinerary:
DAY 1 Ksamil – Visit Ksami beaches & Butirnt
DAY 2 Ksamil – Pulëbardha Beach, Monastery and/or Mirror Beach.
DAY 3 Saranda – Saranda town & Forty Saints Monastery
DAY 4 Saranda – Day trip to Gjirokaster & Blue Eye
Day 5 Himare – Hike to Livadhi Beach or kayak to Filikuri Beach
Day 6 Himare – Boat trip to Gijipe Beach
Day 7 Himare – Boat trip to Grama Bay
Day 8 Himare – Day trip to Dhermi old town + beach
Day 9 Vlore – relax on the beach
Day 10 Vlore – relax & take a bus to Tirana airport
Tips for Visiting Albanian Riviera
How many days do I need for the Albanian Riviera?
It is always tricky to answer this question as the number of days you’ll need will largely depend on how many days you have and your travel style. If you just want to experience one of the Albanian sea resorts, even a few days will be fine. But, you will need at least a full week to experience the best things to do on the Albanian Riviera listed in the itinerary section!
What’s the best time to visit Albania – Albanian cities vs Riviera Albania?
Albanian Riviera is an excellent all-year-round destination. In the winter, the daily temperatures don’t usually drop below 15 degrees celsius, with plenty of sunshine and pleasant enough weather to rent a car and explore the nearby area.
For the beach weather, visit Albanian sea resorts between May and September. In the summer, the Albanian coast doesn’t experience the heat waves that can occur in mainland Albania with temperatures getting close to 40 degrees.
If you’re travelling in the summer high season, I recommend avoiding the most popular Albanian beach resorts such as Ksamil, which tend to get overcrowded and opting for lower-key destinations such as Himare, Borsh or Lukove.
Is it safe to travel in Albania?
Yes, it is very safe to travel in Albania. Albania is a very underrated destination that really deserves more attention! It boasts stunning beaches that are equally beautiful compared with beaches of Spain, Greece or France, with the only difference being much lower prices.
Albanians are very open and extremely friendly towards foreign tourists. It is not uncommon to be offered help by complete strangers without even asking!
The only thing to be aware of in Albania is driving. As I mentioned in the section about renting a car, Albanian drivers are infamous for being crazy, so keep that in mind and exercise limited trust when driving a car in beautiful Albania.
If you want to find out more about the Albanians, read – 100 Fun Albanian Facts
What’s the Internet like on the Albanian Riviera?
Before my trip to Albania, I read various opinions about the Internet quality in Albania, some blogs even claiming that the country has the best Internet speed in Europe! 😉 I can only share my personal experience with you, and it wasn’t the best. I experienced a decent internet speed in Sarande and Vlore, which is expected from larger cities, but a poor connection in places like Ksamil and Himare.
If you’re a digital nomad and need a strong connection for work, I recommend asking the owner of the hotel for a screenshot of the Internet speed test app before you commit to staying somewhere long-term.
ATMs and Paying
Albania uses their own currency called Albanian Lek. 1 Euro is equivalent to 121 Lek 1 Pound Sterling is 143 Lek, and 1 USD Dollar equals 105 Lek. (2022 Albanian exchange rate)
Most places in Albania still use cash for purchasing goods and services, including shops, restaurants and even hotels. I was only able to pay by card in a few fancy cafes in Tirana. If you’re coming from Euro countries, you will also be able to pay in Euros. However, I advise you to withdraw Lek as the locals seem to always round up the prices if you decide to pay in Euros.
Luckily, cash points in Albania are plenty, and you can find them in all touristy places, including Sarande, Ksamil and Gjirokaster. Most ATMs charge for international cash withdrawals around €3. However, there is one that doesn’t! It’s called Credins Bank, and you can find one in Saranda city centre (with yellow and navy blue colours).
What to pack for your holidays to Albanian Riviera?
Fast Drying Towel | The best towels are the fast-drying ones made of microfibre that also are super compact – like the Fit-Flip Beach Towel.
Water Shoes | Water shoes may come in handy at stony Albanian beaches.
Thermal water bottle | Stay hydrated and bring with you a thermal water bottle to keep your water cool and help reduce the use of plastic. My favourite is Chilly’s Bottle. It’s a little more expensive, but the price comes with superb quality. Our water literally stays icy cold the whole day!
A good camera | If you want a professional camera go for the Sony a7iii – which I also use, or the Sony a7c.
Adventure Sandals | You’ll need adventure sandals for comfortable beach hikes!
Power Bank | A good power bank can be useful to recharge your phone, especially when you’re using Google maps, which can drain the battery fast.
International Adaptor | Albania uses European sockets, so if you’re from the US or Canada, you’ll need a power adapter.