Road trip in Albania: find the best beaches on the Riviera
The tourism in Albania is exploding and every day more people go to savor the turquoise waters on the riviera. It was the case for us as well! The main point of this trip was to spend some time on the beach. Therefore, after discovering Tirana and some charming towns inland, it was time for us to take a swim and tan under the sun!
So here we present to you, the ultimate guide to finding the best beaches on the riviera of Albania, as well as our travel itinerary.
Albanese enjoy “private” beaches, this means paying for a deck chair that is next to the other 50 chairs and lay down all day in front of the sea. By consequence, all the wild deserted beaches are quickly disappearing and it is becoming more difficult to find “secret” beaches. Refusing to be on a crowded beach, ten centimeters apart from the other chair, we decided to explore and find those last remaining hidden beaches.
The Albanian Riviera
The riviera starts in Vlorë and keeps all the way south to Ksamil. All along the coast, you will find little towns and teal water bays. Don’t hesitate to stop the car near one of the beaches and go to explore it.
Arriving from Vlorë, the panoramic view from the top of Llogera National Park is breathtaking, with Corfu island on the background and an infinite blue color from the ocean and the sky merging in the disappearing horizon.
➞ On the right side of road SH8 there is a flat part next to the street where you can park the car, a few meters away there is a little way up. You can hike all the way to the top, to the radio antennas or just hike along the gravel path (10 minutes stroll from the car) and find this amazing viewpoint. Enjoy the panorama and try to calculate all the shades of blue. Check the app maps me to find it out.
➞ Take your car and keep driving down, there is an official viewpoint, quite famous, you will see the people parked. At a lower point on the mountain, the panorama decorated with communist walls and cement constructions is amazing.
Our 3 favorite Beaches
#1 The secret Beach of Gjiri i Filikurit
This one is mind-blowing, probably one of the most beautiful beaches we have ever seen. Situated in the south of Himarë, it takes a considerable amount of effort to get there, be sure to wear sneakers or hiking boots, because there is no clear pathway to arrive. Behind a farmhouse at the end of a gravel road, you will find a small track between the bushes. At the end of the track, there is a huge cliff with a view on the turquoise water and the deserted rocky beach. Now, you have to go down the cliff, don’t panic! There is a system of ropes to help people to “rappel” down as well as to climb back up.
If you are having trouble to get there, don’t hesitate to send us a message, we will be happy to help you out with a more detailed explanation.
It is a little bay situated just before Livadhi beach, north from Himarë.
Going south on the SH8, before arriving at Himare, turn right on the road to go to Livadhi beach, again on the right, there is a very small bridge to cross, then, turn left and follow the road in direction of Bougainvillea Hotel. Park wherever you can. Next, walk along the gravel way for 30 minutes. At one point you will see the panorama and the two little bays below. You have almost arrived. There are 2 beaches, one that is smaller, dirtier and more crowded, chose the one of your preference.
#3 Plazhi i Lukovës
Definitely not a world-class paradise beach, especially during the day time, but it has a special charm, you will only find locals, just Albanese families on holidays. As well the drive to arrive there is stunning, we even put it on our list of favorite roads.
We spent there the end of the afternoon, had a drink in one of the newly opened terraces, enjoying a delightful sunset.
Points of interest and things to see along the coast
We spent four nights on the Riviera, three at first, then we went inland and came back for our last night, in Ksamil. A good thing to keep in mind is that the main road crosses some villages and old towns. In the bigger urban areas, there are plenty of hotels, restaurants, and private beaches. We liked better the little villages and the old town part of the big cities. Explore around and you will find some awesome places!
Dhermi is one of the first beaches coming down from Llogara national park and Vlorë. It is very enjoyable, and, although you have deck chairs all around, there are enough empty spaces to extend a towel and jump into the ocean. We were really happy to stop here for a night, as the beach is beautiful with crystalline water and an amazing mountain backdrop.
➞ The area is really steep so try to find a hotel next to the beach.
➞ There is plenty of offers to eat all along the waterfront. At the time we were there, a big amount of restaurants were installing and preparing for the high season.
Probably the most famous beach in Albania, and what a deception it was for us.
At 6 am we were parked and ready to walk down the hill to see it with our own eyes.
The way down is really beautiful with astonishing views of the coast, full of cliffs and aquamarine waters.
But arriving on the beach we discovered the sad truth, it was trashy, people camping right at the middle, deck chairs all over the place, and not so nice looking restaurants, all of them with evidence of a night party (bottles of beer and cigarette butts). What a shame!
We took a bath before all the hippie campers started to wake up, and an hour later we were on our way back to the car park.
Apparently, one year before it wasn’t like that, we came too late, and from now on we think it will be like that. So if you want to take a good piece of advice, do not plan a whole day there, you can spend some hours in the early morning, it is the occasion to have a little hike along the sea, but be sure to leave before everybody is up and it becomes the new Koh Phangan.
We kept our way to Himarë, the last “big” city before Sarandë and a good base to explore small beaches around. Before arriving we deviated and had a look at Jalë beach that was crowded so we ran away.
Near Himarë is where we found our two first favorite beaches (see up) and we had a great time.
Go to explore the castle and the old town, the view from there is stunning. For sunset time you can enjoy the waterfront and swim.
Where to eat / have a coffee?
Situated on a back street, with just local people drinking coffee or raki. We had a mix of roasted vegetables, homemade fries with herbs and good tzatziki for cheap!
Apart from the ruins, there is not a lot going on in the old town of Himarë, look for this place to drink a coffee with a fascinating view, one of the best. We found it walking near the castle ruins early in the morning. The owner is really nice and she gave us some nice tips!
Leaving Himarë and going south the vegetation changes slowly and starts to become arider, with another palette of colors and greener water. The road is definitely amazing! You have some spots where you can swim. We saw some locals parking their cars, crossing the highway and jumping into the water to swim.
Take time to explore the castle for a stunning panorama with olives trees and cactus.
cost : 200 Lek / person.
Queparo & Borsh
Starting here, and going south to Sarandë you will find more locals. The water is not as turquoise and the beaches are not as stunning, but you will see olive trees arriving at the edge of the sea, just on the sand and lots of Albanese families enjoying their free time. Queparo is rather small and we don’t think it’s the best option to sleep but if you are around for lunchtime and you want to take a break, it is a good spot to have quick a bath and have food.
Where to eat?
➞ Restaurant Riviera Qeparo
On the right side of the beach (facing the sea). Fresh and good products! We had a good moussaka and an amazing orange cake.
➞ Mr. Baker
A small convenience store/bakery where we bought good pecan loukoums!
One of our crushes. Not just the beach but the mood of the village with almost zero tourists. Nobody talks about this place on the internet and it’s too bad.
Go for the sunset on the beach and you will have a great time.
Don’t miss the old town of Lukovë, early in the morning, to see old grandmas dressed in black talking with their friends.
To eat in the village there is not a lot of options, but almost all the restaurants have a view to the ocean!
Sarandë is a big city, we just crossed there to return our rental car and wait for our ferry. There is no need to spend a lot of time here as the water is heavily polluted.
Around Sarandë there are still wild beaches, we heard about Kakome Beach, but we didn’t have time to go.
Here we leave you some gems you can visit instead of Sarandë:
➞ Heaven beach
With a nice road facing the big city, it is another option not far from Sarandë and not crowded, you will be able to put your towel on the sand!
➞ Monastir Beach
A little bay super nice down the main road. Facing the sea, walk completely on the right, climb a little rock and you will have a mini beach for yourself!
Ksamil is a seaside resort village full of eastern European families. It’s crowded! The road is the entrance of the national park of Butrint. Ksamil is quite scenic but you really don’t need to go to this city. There is not a single meter of public beaches to enjoy and the water is full of people driving pedal boats. So yes, the views are beautiful and the water crystal clear, but we just didn’t want to swim in the sunscreen filled waters.
Where to eat?
➞ Pizzeria Afrimi
To avoid the crowds (and high the prices) of the beachfront we recommend you this place. Otherwise, there are a lot of restaurants and supermarkets in town.
Pro tip : 3 cool viewpoints to explore around Ksamil
➞ A little north up the main road with view on the lagoon and the mountains. Don’t hesitate to take the gravel road and to see where it arrives!
➞ To have a view on the Butrint lagoon along the road SH81.
➞ On another gravel road with view on the bay of Ksamil, the mussel parks, and Corfu island.
Where to sleep on the riviera?
Himarë, Tzavelitiko home
This bed & breakfast is not in the front row of the sea but situated at 5 minutes walk from the castle and right next to the road to take for one secret beach.
The rooms are completely new, Eva is really nice and helpful and the decoration is fresh and sober. The terrace with lemon trees is super cool. We definitely recommend it.
Lukova, Let rooms Lukova
It is the side of the road, cheap and simple. Be sure to take a room with a view of the Adriatic, you will be able to glimpse the ocean from the bed. The sunset from the balcony is just wow!
Ksamil, Hotel Nebo
We don’t really recommend Ksamil but if you want to spend some time there we completely vouch for this hotel that is really nice.
A road trip in Albania
You can find all the articles about our trip in Albania 🇦🇱 by following the link below.
➞ What you need to know for a road trip in Albania ?
➞ A city guide of the capital Tirana
➞ The center of the country (Krujë, Berat and Gjirokaster)
➞ How to find the best beaches of the Riviera ?