Are you planning to visit Himare Albania? Himare is by far my favourite place on the Albanian Riviera. It’s a small town that managed to preserve its local charm and where you can mingle with the locals. Himarë is also an excellent base for exploring the Albanian Coast. And did I mention the crystal clear, azure water and soft-sanded Himare Beach?
This post covers all you need to know about Himare – from its gorgeous beaches, things to do in Himare and nearby areas, the best hotels in Himare Albania to stay in, and the best Himare restaurants.
Himare Albania – What to expect?
Himare is a small town situated on the Albanian Riviera, 4 hours drive south of Tirana and about 90 min drive from Sarande. Himare has access to a sandy beach that is divided into six parts, each with its own name.
The main beach – Plazhi Himare (Beach Himare), is located in the heart of the town with a lovely promenade and restaurants running along the beach. You can find everything you need in this area, from supermarkets, souvlaki shops to the best ice cream stands and souvenirs. Everything is reachable on foot.
If you’re looking for an authentic Albanian seaside town and local vibes, Himare is for you. After visiting main Albanian seaside towns such as Ksamil, Sarande and Dhermi, I was pleasantly surprised that Himare is free from hordes of tourists and private beaches where you need to pay for umbrellas and loungers. If you rather stay somewhere with good nightlife, I recommend choosing Sarande or Ksamil. For a chilled stay at one of the best beaches in Albania, choose Himare.
Himare has a strong local community, and if you stay a little longer, you’ll get to experience the local hospitality and how helpful Albanian people are! If you need help, just ask. Although in many cases, people will even offer you help without asking if you look lost. During my two months travelling through Albania, I experienced so many acts of kindness, such as getting a free lift and advice on where to catch the bus without even asking.
Quick Himare Guide
Best Himare Hotels – Where to stay
If you’re looking for a good Himare hotel, here are some of the unique options for Himare accommodation to consider.
Luxury pick – Rea Boutique Hotel Himare
Rhea Boutique Hotel Himare boasts sea view rooms that feature 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.
Best for: Romantic vacation, couples, luxury, sea view lovers.
Best for: Beach vacation, relaxation, couples, families.
Resort hotel – Miamar Hotel Himare
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 free 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.
Midrange pick – Castle Hotel Himare
Situated only a short walk from Himare town, Himare Castle Hotel features sea view rooms with balconies and daily breakfast included in the room rate. Guests can also enjoy an a la carte restaurant, a bar with a terrace, free sun loungers on the beach and complimentary parking.
Best for: Couples, staying near the town, nightlife.
Best for: Nature and beach lovers.
Close to nature – Scala Bungalows Himare
Scala Bungalows are located by 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.
The Six Himare Beaches
Plazhi i Himares (Himare Beach Albania)
Himara Beach, as you can guess from the name, is the main beach in Himare. All the best beaches in Himare are situated close to each other and in a bay, and you can see them all and easily walk from one to another.
Himare Beach is a public beach with no entrance fees. There are showers and a lifeguard. It is my favourite beach in Himare because it has lovely soft sand and it’s never too crowded even during the high season. Both locals and tourists use the beach, and it has a nice chilled, family vibe.
Interestingly, the local people leave their colourful parasols on the beach even overnight and let tourists use them when they’re not there. You can only imagine how cosy and trusting Himare town is!
The best time to visit Himara Beach is at around 4 pm when the sun is not as strong, and you can enjoy it without getting burned. It is also a great time for photography and people watching as the locals finish work and head to the beach in the summer.
Spille Beach Albania
Spile Beach is the first northernmost beach in Himare. It is pretty small, and it merges with the main Himara beach. You can find here a Himare jetty from where you can take a water taxi to the nearby beaches such as Gjipe Beach or hire a SUP board.
Spile Beach is quiet and frequented mostly by the locals. If you want to find some peace and quiet in an already peaceful town, head to Spille Beach Himare!
Sfageio Beach is the smallest beach in Himare tucked between Himare main beach and the cliff where you can find River Downtown Bar and Acta Restaurant – a fantastic spot for a romantic sunset dinner.
There is a small amusement park for kids, located just above the beach.
Marachi Beach Himare (Plazhi i Maracit)
Marachi Himare, also known as Maracit Beach, is the next one up after Sfageio. It is a private beach where you can rent an umbrella and sunbeds for a daily charge.
Prinos Beach & Potami Himare Beach
These are the most southern beaches in Himare. They are also sandy, and some parts are taken by sun loungers and umbrellas for rent, and some remain public for everyone to use. If you’re looking for a Himara hotel, this is the area where most big hotels in Himara are located.
What to do in Albania Himare?
Hike to Livadhi Beach
Hike time: 60 min & 45 min back
Best time to do: morning
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, situated 5km north of Himare. 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.
The route is not very well marked, so I recommend bookmarking this post to easily follow the directions. It took me over 90 minutes to get there because I had to come back a few times trying different routes!
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.
If you’re looking for a good lunch spot, try Blue Bay Himare, situated just next door from Livadhi Beach. It’s a beach bar and restaurant and comfy seats in the shade overlooking the beach and decent food.
Livadhi Beach is wide and long, covered mostly in pebbles of different sizes. You can either rent a pair of sun loungers and an umbrella for the day or bring a blanket and stay in the public part of the beach.
Standup Paddle Boarding
Cost: €5 per hour or €20 per day
Where: Himare Beach by the jetty
Best time: between 4-6 pm or morning
Himare Beach is an excellent place for practising your paddling and balance on a SUP. The sea is calm most of the time, and there is not much traffic from the boats in Himare, which makes it the perfect place for stand up paddleboarding! Rent a paddleboat during the golden hour for the best experience! Early in the morning is also a good time to paddleboard in Himara.
Himare Castle (Barbaka)
Cost: 100 Lek
Taxi cost: 400 Lek one way
Hike time: 60 min
Best time: sunset time
If you want to explore Himare Albania heritage, visit Himare Castle perched on the hilltop just a few minutes drive from Himare Beach. The castle dates back to the 5th century BC, and today is mostly a ruin, but it gives you a good idea of how grand the structure must have been during its prime time!
The castle is part of the Himare Old Town that ruled the entire coastal region. During your visit, you will be able to see that people still live in the old buildings belonging to the castle.
There is a small chapel with colourful frescos.
If you’re not easily impressed by the ruins, you will be awed by the scenery and the view! On a clear day, it is possible to spot the Greek island of Corfu and the many shades of turquoise waters of the Livadhi Beach.
The best time to visit the castle is at sunset time or early in the morning if you decide to hike.
Sunset promenading (xhiro)
Taking a stroll along the beach at sunset is definitely one of the best things to do in Himare. The promenade comes to life at the golden hour with local vendors setting up their stools with souvenirs and snacks such as crepes, popcorn and candy floss. The seaside restaurants invite people in for dinner.
And the locals come out for a walk and catch up with the neighbours, which is an Albanian tradition called xhiro. In some cities, the main promenades are even closed for car traffic in the evening to facilitate xhiro (the walking and talking Albanian custom)!
Enjoy a rooftop bar
If you rather spend the golden hour in style, head to one of the Himare rooftop bars situated along the beach promenade. Have a drink and watch the sky changing colours and the busy street underneath. One of the bars I can recommend is UMI Sushi & cocktails. It was not overly crowded when I visited (perhaps due to the high prices), and they have a really cool rooftop terrace and a chilled vibe. There was a happy hour during the sunset, and I had the best sushi I’ve had in my life. I’m not even kidding!
Go for a sunset dinner
If sushi is not your thing or you’re looking for something more romantic, head to one of the beach restaurants in Himare for a sunset dinner. There is nothing more romantic than enjoying a dinner accompanied by the sound of waves, colourful sunset sky! One of the excellent choices in Himare is Acta Restaurant overlooking the small cove of Sfageio Beach.
Himare Day Trips
Dhermi Beach & Dhermi Old Town
Where: 30 minutes drive south
Bus cost: 250 Lek (tell the driver whether you want Dhermi town or beach, there are two agreed places where buses stop but use Google maps to see where you want to be and ask the driver to stop where it’s convenient)
Time: 11:00 am
Sun loungers hire: 1,000 LEK
Dhermi Albania is a small coastal town that is famous for its wide stretch of a pebbly beach with incredibly turquoise waters. Dhermi is an excellent destination for a day trip from Himare.
For culture and history enthusiasts there is Dhermi old town perched on the hill with cute narrow alleys, stone buildings and historic churches. The old town of Dhermi is not what you imagine based on a typical European old town. Dhermi old town hasn’t been commercialised and is a little of a work in progress with restoration works. Don’t expect to find fancy cafes, but what you can expect it’s a lot of beauty and heritage all to yourself!
The highlight of Dhermi historic town is the old Monastery of St. Mary, perched on the highest hill of Dhermi, famous for its frescos. It will take around 20 min to hike to the hill from the main road where buses stop in Dhermi, but at the top, you will be rewarded with epic views of the sea and the surrounding areas.
When you finish exploring the town of Dhermi, head to Albania Dhermi Beach, home to many cool beach bars and stylish beach clubs. The distance between Dhermi hilltop historic town and the beaches is a little challenging for walkers. I came to Dhermi by bus, and it is manageable but prepare yourself for a 45 min hike down. When you get to the coast, there is a large parking lot. If you come by car, you can leave it here. Follow the main beach promenade to the left.
Along the main stretch, you’ll find various small snack shops and restaurants and to the right beach clubs where you can hire sun loungers for a daily charge. The prices really vary from one place to another and depending on the season, but expect to pay around 1,000 LEK for two sun loungers and an umbrella for a day.
Tucked between soaring cliffs covered with greenery, Gjipe Beach is considered to be one of the most epic Albanian beaches! 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.
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 birds eye 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 are serving fresh seafood and ice-cold drinks in the season. Alternatively, you can bring your own umbrella, water and snacks to last you the day.
By bus: You can catch a bus/Furgon in Vlore or Tirana direction and ask the driver to drop you off at Gjipe. Expect to pay around 200 Lek (€1.7). From the main road, you’ll have to walk 4 km (1 hour) to get to the beach.
By car: If you’re travelling by car from Himare, it will take around 30 minutes to reach the Gjipe Car Park. From the car park is another 2 km walk to get to the beach.
By taxi: You will get dropped off at the car park and will have to walk the remaining 2 km. Expect to pay €50 for a return trip.
By boat: Taking a water taxi is probably the most enjoyable way to visit Gjipe Beach. The boat will drop you off at the beach in the morning and collect you in the afternoon. Expect to pay about 2,000 LEK per person (€17)
Jala or Jale Beach is another gorgeous beach near Himare that you may want to visit. 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. Jala Beach is known for its party vibe, with loud music playing in the bars all day long. If this is not your vibe, then choose Gjipe beach or Dhermi Beach for your day trip instead.
By car: 20 min drive.
By boat: The boat will drop you off at the beach in the morning and collect you.
By bus: The bus will drop you off on the main road from which point there is still a 5 km walk down to the beach. Expect to pay around 200 Lek (€1.7).
Gjiri I Filikurit
Hidden behind a cliff from the main stretch of Himare beaches, about 2.5 km away, are the crystal clear waters of the 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!
There are three ways you can access the beach. The first way is to walk following the Google maps and to 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.
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 mixes in the warm seawater! It is such a lovely quiet beach!
How to get there: by boat
Best Time: Early morning when the sea conditions are fine
Situated 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 part of the national park, and its flora and fauna are protected.
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. 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 in 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.
Porto Palermo Castle – Ali Pasha Fortress
How to get there: take a tour or hire a car
Porto Palermo Castle is situated a few kilometres south from 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!
Best time to visit Himare?
What’s the Himare weather like? Himare enjoys a mild Mediterranean climate with hot and sunny summers and mild winters where temperatures rarely drop below 10 degrees Celsius. The best time to visit Himare is April to June and September to October, when there is plenty of sunshine and temperatures averaging in the mid-20s. If you can, avoid July and August due to the high temperatures reaching the mid-30s and high season crowds.
Having said that, the Albanian Riviera is way cooler than the mainland during the European summer. When I travelled through Albania in the summer, Southern Albania was a good few degrees cooler than the mainland towns such as Berat or Gjirokaster. Also, while avoiding Ksamil in July and August is really important, Himare doesn’t tend to get the same amount of foreign tourists. So, if you choose to go between July and August, you should be good too!
How long to spend in Himare Albania?
This will depend on the type of traveller you are. There are a lot of amazing places and activities in Albania to try in this area, such as kayaking, paddleboarding, visiting Gama Bay and Gjipe Beach. You will need your Himare vacations to last at least seven days to do some of them. But, I get, not everyone has seven days to spend in one location. In this case, I recommend spending at least 3-4 days to be able to enjoy the main Himare Albania Beach and 1 or 2 nearby Himare Albania beaches such as Livadhi or Gjipe.
Restaurant Merkuri – if you’re looking for great seafood which is reasonably priced, look no further. You can find Merkuri two min walk from the main beach promenade. It doesn’t have any views, but there is a pleasant outdoor seating area. You can get seafood linguine for 700 lek.
Lefteri’s Tavern – this restaurant also serves a mixture of fresh seafood, pasta and risotto, as well as Albanian/ Greek favourites such as stuffed peppers, moussaka and pasticcio. It is a little more pricey than Merkuri.
I love Souvlaki – it is situated right on Himare beach and is great for grabbing a quick bite. The menu features souvlaki and salads.
Taverna To Steki – this place is excellent if you like meat. For vegetarians such as myself, the choice is limited to grilled cheese, stuffed peppers and salads. All those options are great, but you need at least one more person to share it with as these dishes are normally to share.
River Down Town – head to River Down Town for a great sunset view and cheap drinks. Situated above Sfageio beach, River Down Town has the perfect location to enjoy the golden hour in Himare and a cool vibe.
Pasticeri Delight – this place has the best ice cream in town! One scoop is 70 lek, and the choice is incredible – from old-time favourites such as pistachio and Raffaello to bubble gum and cheesecake flavours!!
Big Market – this is probably the biggest supermarket you’ll find in Himare if you’re looking to do your groceries. They have a good selection of products, a deli counter and a fruit stand outside. If you’re looking to get some fresh bread, you can find a small bakery just across the street from Big Market.
How to get to Himare?
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 Himare. 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.
Terminali – Main Bus Station in Tirana – check the location here
By Bus – Albania Bus System
Himare is one of Albania’s more popular seaside towns, and getting here from main cities such as Tirana or Sarande by bus is relatively easy. Here are the most common routes with prices and journey times:
Tirana to Himare Bus – 1,000 lek, 5-7 hours (5:30 am, 1:00 pm, 9:00 pm)
Saranda to Himare Bus – 500 lek 2-3 hours 1:00 pm
Himare to Dhermi Bus – 100 lek 30 min 11:00 am
Bus stops in Albania are not very well-marked, and sometimes it is just an agreed place on the road. If you’re ever unsure, just ask one of the local people or your accommodation host for directions. You can find the bus stop in Himare just before a junction where the Big Market is located on the main road (SH8).
The same applies to timetables. It is extremely rare that there is any official bus timetable that you can find online. This requires you to be a little flexible when travelling in Albania. Just ask your hotel staff or the local people the first thing when you get to the location and plan your trip accordingly.
My experience of travelling on Albania buses (called forgone) was mostly positive. They are super cheap and mostly efficient. I agree that it would be nice if the timetables were available online.
Himare to Greece
If you want to go to Greece from Himare, there are two ways you can do that.
Take a ferry from Saranda to Corfu. Serenade is 30 minutes away from the Greek island of Corfu, and ferry tickets start at €20. You can either pre-book the ferry online or buy your ticket from one of the tour agencies based in Sarande.
Take a bus from Himare (or Sarande) to Athens. The buses leave once or twice a day and go all the way to Athens. The approximate cost depending on the season is €35. You can buy your ticket at Ruci Tours situated just off Himare Beach.
By Car – Albania Car Rental
Another option to get to Himare is to rent a car. Car rentals are widely available in Albania, and if you’re flying to Tirana, you can prearrange 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 buses Albania is known for.
Other Albania Travel Tips
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. (2021 Rates)
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.
ATMs in Albania
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).
The official language in Albania is Albanian or Shqipëri – how Albanian people call it. It is a fairly difficult language, but it is always nice to know at least a few phrases to get by. I’m sharing some below, and if you’re interested to learn more about Albania, read the post below, I promise the information I share is super interesting!
Albanians eat their main meal at lunchtime, which means that restaurants are open all day, and you can have your dinner as you please – early or late.
Albania has a rich culinary tradition. A lot of the traditional dishes are vegetarian friendly and resemble Greek food. If you’re a fast-food type of person, you will be very disappointed. In fact, Albania has hardly any international fast food restaurants! If you enjoy trying traditional dishes, you’ll love Albania. Don’t forget to try Albanian byrek – a fluffy puff pastry with a savoury cottage cheese filling! Albanian dishes in restaurants are great for sharing. If you’re travelling in a group, order a few dishes and share them between you. This way you get to try more tasty kinds of food!
You’ll be surprised that Albania is still very traditional when it comes to shopping. This means that if you want to buy bread, you need to find a bakery. Meat is sold at the butchers, fruit and veggies at the grocery, and there is even a separate shop for dairy and eggs. This is such a delight to see that Albania hasn’t been overrun by the large supermarket chains yet!
If you’re a sucker for fresh produce, like me, you’ll love Albania as you can find fresh fruits and veggies sold almost on every street by small local shops and for an absolute bargain!
Like me? PIN me for later! 🙂
THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MAY EARN A COMMISSION SHOULD YOU CHOSE TO SIGN UP FOR A PROGRAM OR MAKE A PURCHASE USING MY LINK FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU. IT’S OKAY – I LOVE ALL OF THESE COMPANIES ANYWAYS, AND YOU WILL TOO!