Albanian Riviera Tour – Itinerary with the best beaches 

The Albanian Riviera is a 120km long coastline in the South of Albania. The area has some of the most beautiful and unspoiled beaches in Europe. However, as there are so many beaches and sights to visit in the Albanian Riviera, how do you decide what to do?

Highlights of the Albanian Riviera Tour

  • Visit to the Blue Eye Spring
  • Take a boat trip to the Karaburun Peninsula
  • Swim at the unspoiled beaches of the Albanian Riviera
  • Ksamil beach and boat trip to Ksamil islands
  • Explore Butrint & Gjirokastra UNESCO World Heritage sites

Because there are so many little beaches in the Albanian Riviera, it can be difficult to decide what to visit. Moreover, it is not easy to reach the smaller beaches by public transport, especially if you do not speak the Albanian language. Therefore, a tour of the Albanian Riviera will make your visit a lot easier.

Albanian Riviera Tour Itinerary

Duration: 8 days; 7 nights
Departure point: Tirana, Albania
Tour type: Active, Adventure, Beaches, Cultural
Suitable for: Everyone
Language: English
Schedule: May, June, July, August, September 2020

Included:

  • Transportation by private car or minibus depending on the group size
  • Breakfast daily
  • Selected entrance fees
  • English speaking tour guide
  • 7 nights in handpicked hotels
  • 6 meals in handpicked restaurants (either lunch or dinner depending on the day)
  • Airport pickup and drop-off at Tirana International Airport

Excluded:

  • Flight
  • Travel insurance

Day 1: Arrival Day

  • Airport pick-up service from Tirana International Airport
  • Check-in and time to refresh at your hotel in Tirana
  • Guided walking tour of the city centre of Tirana
  • Welcome cocktail in the trendy Bloku Area in the evening

Day 2: Zvernec Island – Karaburun Peninsula – Vlore

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Drive to the Albanian Riviera
  • Sightseeing at Zvernec Island. Zvernec Island is a little island in the Narta Lagoon. A long bridge leads you from the mainland to Zvernec Island. On the island, you can visit the little Zvernec monastery. The island is a beautiful location to make pictures.
  • Boat trip to Karaburun Peninsula. The Karaburun Peninsula is a stretch of land that points into the sea. The peninsula is known for the spectacular beaches, which can only be visited by boat. The beaches at the Karaburun peninsula are very private, as they can only be reached by boat and the beaches are enclosed by cliffs. The boat trip starts from Vlora harbour and stops at one of the small beaches, where you can relax and swim. The boat will also stop at the Haxhi Ali Cave, which is a very large cave which bends into the sea.
  • Vlore Beach. The city Vlore is a very popular and large beachside city. It is also the starting point of the Albanian Riviera, which leads from Vlore southwards to Saranda. The city is built around a large horseshoe bay in the sea. Along the bay, there is a popular beachside promenade called Lungomare. Along this promenade, you can find many shops, restaurants, clubs, coffee houses and bars.
  • Free time to walk by Vlore beach in the evening.
  • Overnight accommodation in Vlore

Day 3: Llogara Pass – Dhermi beach

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Stop at the Llogara Pass. There is a coastal road between Vlore and Saranda, that leads by all the beaches of the Albanian Riviera. The highest point on the coastal road is the Llogara Pass. We will make a stop at the Llogara Pass on our journey southwards. The Llogara Pass is famous for the spectacular view. From the pass, you can see the Ionian Sea and the beaches below. At the pass, there is a coffee house, where you can have a refreshing drink or a coffee, while admiring the view down below.
  • Dhermi beach. Dhermi beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Albanian Riviera. There is a little village on the mountain side, it is worth walking up the hill to see some of the old houses and little churches. Afterwards, you can relax and swim on the lovely beach. Moreover, you can also walk along the beach to the stunning Drymades beach, which comes highly recommended by the Lonely Planet.
  • Overnight accommodation in Dhermi

Day 4: Gjipe beach – Jale beach – Himare village

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Gjipe beach. The beach of Gjipe is a very private beach, because the beach is entirely enclosed by cliffs. After a short drive from Dhermi, you need to walk for 10 minutes to visit the beach of Gjipe. The beach is one of the most hidden beaches of Albania. It is a beautiful place, and it is known for the perfect turquoise water. You will have some free time at Gjipe beach to relax and swim.
  • Jale beach. Jale beach is close to Gjipe and it is known for the clear water. There is a little bay at this beach, but there are not many facilities yet. It is possible to go by road to Jale, but you can also go via the sea on a little kayak or by foot.
  • Himare village. In the late afternoon, we transfer to the village of Himare. There is a small walking tour of the old village, which is on the hill. You can see some of the traditional houses, which are on the hillside. Moreover, since the village is on the hill it offers a beautiful view towards the Ionian Sea.
  • Overnight accommodation in Himare

Day 5: Ali Pasha castle – Borsh beach – Saranda

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Ali Pasha Castle. The castle of Ali Pasha is something special, because the castle is on a little peninsula in the middle of the Porto Palermo bay. The castle was built by Ali Pasha Tepelena, who was a governor while the Turkish Ottomans ruled Albania. Ali Pasha was somewhat of an eccentric figure and therefore there are many legends and stories about the castle’s owner. The building has a triangular shape and is pitch dark inside. But on the roof top, you can overlook the entire bay, which is stunning.
  • Borsh beach. The beach of Borsh is an impressive sight, because the beach is extremely long. You can choose to stay amongst other people, close to the restaurants. Or you can walk along the beach to be by yourself. The beach has perfect clear blue water and there is a good restaurant at the beach as well.
  • Saranda beach. Saranda is located all the way in the south of Albania, close to the Greek border. The city is the most well-known beach destination in Albania, and it is known for the vibrant nightlife. Along the seaside, there is a great variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, shops and coffee houses. In the evening, you can walk along the waterside and see all the little lights along the bay.
  • Seafood dinner by the bay of Saranda while watching the sunset
  • Overnight accommodation in Saranda

Day 6: Butrint UNESCO site – Ksamil beach & islands

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Guided tour of Butrint UNESCO heritage site. Butrint is the most impressive, archaeological site in Albania. At Butrint, you can visit the ruins of an ancient city. The site was inhabited by the Greeks from Corfu, the Romans and the Byzantines. What makes the site special, is that it is a little sanctuary and it feels very romantic. The ruins are surrounded by the trees and nature of the national park. Moreover, the site is located on a small hill, which is surrounded by water from Lake Butrint and the Vivardi channel. The archaeological remains and the beautiful setting, make Butrint worth a visit.
  • Ksamil beach and islands. Ksamil beach is the most beautiful beach in Albania. The beach is paradise-like with perfect white sand and the clearest sea water you have ever seen. Moreover, there are four little islands in front of the beach. The islands are grown with nature and they have a very tropical feel. We take the boat to the Twin islands, that are connected to each other by a little strip of land. There is free time in Ksamil to swim and relax.
  • Overnight accommodation in Saranda

Day 7: Blue Eye Albania – Gjirokaster UNESCO site – Tirana

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Visit to the Blue Eye Spring. The Blue Eye Spring is a natural wonder and touristic highlight. The underwater spring pumps water from an underwater cave to the surface. The Blue Eye spring is very beautiful, because of its bright blue colour. The blue/green colour of the water seems artificial, but it is natural. Moreover, the spring looks like a human eye. The blue water is the iris and the black underwater cave is the pupil. The Blue Eye is something truly unique, that you cannot see anywhere else.
  • Visit to Gjirokastra UNESCO site. Gjirokastra is a historical city, which has been crowned a UNESCO heritage site. The city has beautiful, traditional stone houses and cobble stone streets everywhere. There are a several touristic sights in the city. There is a castle on the top of the hill overlooking the town. Moreover, you can visit Zekate or Skenduli house, which are traditional houses with the original décor inside. Furthermore, you can visit the Cold War tunnel, which is a bunker from the communist period. Or you can visit the house of Enver Hoxha, who was the former communist dictator of Albania. However, if you do not want to visit any of the sights, you can simply browse at the traditional bazaar market, where you can buy souvenirs and crafts.
  • Drive to Tirana
  • Stop for Byrek along the way
  • Overnight accommodation in Tirana

Day 8: Departure day

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Transfer to Tirana International Airport for your return flight home

Where is the Albanian Riviera?

The Albanian Riviera is a 120-kilometre-long coastline in the South of Albania. The area has some of Europe’s most beautiful and hidden beaches. Although Albania has some beaches in the north of the country, the beaches in the south are the most beautiful. The Albanian Riviera starts in the coastal city Vlore and runs southwards to the city Saranda. Both Vlore and Saranda are big coastal cities with many facilities e.g. shops, restaurants, bars etcetera.

However, the true beauty of the Albanian Riviera are the little beaches. The small, hidden beaches that are enclosed by cliffs. Compared to other European countries, Albania still has unspoiled and deserted beached.

The coastal road that runs through the Albanian Riviera has a very Mediterranean feel. The road winds through the hills and every time you turn a corner, there is a little hidden beach and a fantastic view across the Ionian Sea.

The climate of the Albanian Riviera is excellent. The area has hot dry summers and mild rainy winters. The areas in the south of Albania, around Saranda, have 290 sunny days per year.

When should I visit the Albanian Riviera?

The best time to visit the Albanian Riviera is between April and October. The high season in Albania is in July and August, when there are hot temperatures and the seawater warm.

However, it is also very nice to visit Albania just before or just after the high season. If you have a chance to visit in April, May, June, September or October, you can avoid the busy season. Moreover, the temperatures are still very pleasant.

The best part of visiting in the months just before or just after the high season, is that you can have the loveliest beaches to yourself. Ksamil beach is the most popular and most pretty beach, I have visited in June and it was completely empty.

Pre-summer season: April – June 
High season: July and August
Post summer season: September and October
Low season: November – March

Do not worry, if you only have the chance to visit in July or August, due to holiday restrictions. In these months, there are still plenty little hidden beaches that are uncrowded.

Moreover, at many beaches, you can wade through the sea along the cliffs to find a hidden beach. Furthermore, some of the beaches, like Dhermi and Borsh, are very long. So, you can walk along the beach, to find the perfect spot for yourself.

How to get to the Albanian Riviera?

You can get to the Albanian Riviera by:

  1. Flying to Tirana International airport and driving to the south.
  2. Flying to the Greek Corfu island and taking the ferry to Albania.

To fly to Tirana International airport, you can book a flight with one of the following airlines:

Adria airways, Transavia airways, Austrian airlines, Alitalia, Tui Fly, British Airways, Lufthansa airline, Edelweiss air, Czech airlines, Aegean air, Air Serbia, Turkish airlines, Pegasus airline, Albawings, Blue Panorama airlines, Wizz Air, Smart Wings airline, Air Albania, Eurowings and Ernest airlines.

Then from Tirana, you can get to the Albanian Riviera by car or by bus. From Tirana, it takes roughly 3 hours and 30 minutes to drive to Vlore. The coastal city of Vlore is the starting point of the Albanian Riviera.

From Vlore, you can drive along the winding coastal road to Saranda. There are many little beaches between Vlore and Saranda. If you drive from Tirana to Saranda along the coastal road without stopping it will take you 6 hours and 30 minutes.

****IMPORTANT**** If you book the Albanian Riviera Tour, you will be picked up from Tirana International Airport and all transportation is included in the tour. 

It is possible to take a minibus to Vlore or Saranda, those depart from the bus station, which is 5 kilometres from the city centre of Tirana.

It is also possible to fly to the Greek Corfu island and take the ferry to Albania. Upon arrival at Corfu airport, you need to travel to the port of Corfu. The ferry trip from the port of Corfu to Saranda takes 30 minutes by high speed boat or 70 minutes by ferry boat. The ticket prices for the ferry are between €19.00 – €23.80 depending on the season. There are between 1 – 5 ferry boat departures a day, depending on whether you travel in the low-season or the high-season.

How is the Albanian Riviera weather?

The weather in the Albanian Riviera in the summer is between 17 – 33 °C, depending on the month and city you visit.

The Albanian Riviera is the coastal area between Vlore city and Saranda city. Therefore, you can see the temperature visuals for both cities just below.

The best period to visit Vlore is between April and September. On average the temperatures in Vlore are:

April – 17 °C
May – 19°C
June – 23 °C
July – 26 °C
August – 27°C
September – 25 °C

The best period to visit Sarande is between April and October. On average the temperatures in Sarande are:

April – 22 °C
May – 24°C
June – 29 °C
July – 33 °C
August – 32°C
September – 27 °C

Does Albania have nice beaches?

The nicest beach of Albania is Ksamil beach. The beach of Ksamil is like a paradise with perfect white sand and turquoise water. There are four little islands in front of the beach, which gives it a very tropical feeling.

The most well-known beaches in the Albanian Riviera are Vlore, Sarande and Dhermi. These are popular amongst tourists and young people. At Vlore, Sarande and Dhermi, you will find a variety of restaurants, bars, clubs, coffee places and shops near the beach.

However, some of the lesser-known and smaller beaches are the best, if you are looking for private and unspoiled beaches. Some of the smaller beaches that are well worth a visit are:

  1. Jale beach
  2. Gjipe beach
  3. Monastery beach
  4. Mirror beach
  5. Borsh beach

If you prefer to stay in a village with some character, instead of a large city. You can choose to stay at Himare. The village of Himare has traditional houses on the hill and it has a beautiful city. Himare is also a very convenient place to stay as it is in the middle of the Albanian Riviera. So it is easy to visit the nearby beaches by taxi.

Related Questions

How long is Albanian coastline? The Albanian coastline is 427 km long. Albania has beaches along the Adriatic Sea in the North and along the Ionian Sea in the South. The most beautiful part of the coast is the Albanian Riviera, which is 120 kilometres long. The Albanian Riviera is in the south of Albania between Vlore and Sarande.

How many islands has Albania? Albania has 13 islands, which are Sazan island, Kune island, Malsori island, Zvernec island, Shurdhah island, Maligrad island, Tongo island, Stillo island, Paqe island and the four Ksamil islands. For tourists, the best islands to visit at Sazan, Zvernec and the Ksamil islands.

What is the nearest airport to the Albanian Riviera? The nearest airports to the Albanian Riviera are Tirana International Airport (TIA) and Corfu Airport (CFU). If you fly to Tirana airport, you can drive or take the bus to Vlore city, which takes 3 hours and 30 min. If you fly to Corfu airport, you can take the ferry boat to Albania for 30 – 70 min.