The Most Stunning Beaches in Albania

A beach near Lukova in Vlora county, on the Albanian Riviera
A beach near Lukova in Vlora county, on the Albanian Riviera | © Westend61 GmbH / Alamy Stock Photo

Albania’s southern coastline is a photogenic corner of the country: a place of hamlets woven with cobblestoned streets and small Orthodox churches speckling the terrain. Inland there’s more in store – peaceful natural springs near Saranda, lake shores near the Macedonian border. Most importantly, beautiful beaches are in no short supply, rivalling nearby Greece with their white purity and transparent Adriatic shallows, where you can holiday for half the price. Here is our selection of the most stunning beaches in Albania.

Drymades

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The stunning beach of Drymades | © artem evdokimov / Shutterstock
Looking west across the Adriatic Sea – direction southern Italy – Drymades gets super-fiery sunsets. But that’s for later – from the moment the day dawns it’s a stunner, with almost Maldivian-blue waters caught in a small bay. There is a pebbly stretch as well as a sandy expanse, the two divided by a large rock – and things never get crowded, even during summer. So if you’re looking for an alternative to the manic Med this June and July, here’s your answer.

Dhërmi

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Near Drymades, you’ll find Dhërmi, one of the most famous places in Albania thanks to its poster-lovely looks: an expanse of pale pebbles and rocks lapped by turquoise waters. This beach is one of the longest on the Albanian Riviera; in summer, it’s undoubtedly the busiest – and loudest, with music playing through speakers and accommodation full to the brim. But if you’re prepared to walk a little, you should be able to find a spot for your own solitude, even in August.

Himara

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This might just be Albania’s best-loved beach town, a gash of tropical blue glimpsed as you crest the dramatic Llogara Pass and see it spread below. It’s certainly one of the most frequented beauty spots along the Albanian Riviera, but despite that it hasn’t lost its charm. There are several corkingly lovely stretches near the town, among them Livadhi, a bay of fine white pebbles edged by olive trees; and Potami, attractively spread between the sea and a river.

Borsh

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Against a rustic backdrop of peaks, olive groves and grazing goats, the largest beach in Albania is impressive indeed: an unspoilt magic carpet of pure-white pebbles unfurling for seven kilometres along the Albanian Riviera, rinsed by the preternaturally blue Ionian Sea. The village of Borsh, about 2km from the beach, is home to a population of Albanian Muslims, and you might find little mosques hidden in the green hills beyond, along with the occasional castle.

Saranda

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Saranda is the main town along the Albanian Riviera | © KatarzynaTyl / Pixabay
The coastal town of Saranda is considered the unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera. It is one of the most frequented spots in the country, for many reasons: the town is near the border with Greece – directly across the Ionian Sea from the island of Corfu – and it has plenty of gorgeous beaches. One of our favorites is Pulebardha, which you can get to by bus: a pebbly beach, lapped by clear shallows flickering with fish, this is a reminder of the Med as it used to be before tourists.

Vlora

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The city of Vlora, the third largest in Albania, commands a bay where the Ionian Sea merges with the Adriatic: a town of historic merit, where independence was forged, it’s your gateway to some of the country’s finest untouched beaches. From Vlora port, with Teuta Boat Tours, you can hit the unspoiled bays of Karaburun and Sazan, but if you’d rather go it alone, drive in a southerly direction and flop on the shores of Radhime or Orikum. Both are textbook examples of Albanian coast, radiating brilliance in toothpaste-white-and-blue.

Ksamil

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Ksamil, Albania | © mr. Ξ
South of Saranda, you will come to Ksamil, one of the most-coveted beach destinations in Albania. Such is its beauty, it has been dubbed “the Ionian pearl”. The setting is truly dramatic, on a bay with three small islands you can reach by local boat, or swim out to if you’re feeling energetic, across startlingly turquoise waters. One piece of advice: think twice about heading here in August, because every inch of space is taken up by bronzing holidaymakers from Tirana.

Gijpe

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Hidden from sight by cradling mountains, Gjipe is a perfect beach – essentially a byword for tranquillity and relaxation. The bay is some way from the road and to reach it you’ll need to trek for half an hour or more. That said, the going is very easy on the eye, through fragrant natural landscapes that reveal tantalising views of the coast to speed you on your way. No wonder some visitors decide to stay for a night or two – there are camping options on the beach.

Narta, Zvernec

Bridge, Monastery, Natural Feature
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Just 15 minutes by car from Vlora, you can be marvelling at Narta, a beautiful sandy lagoon with technicolour-blue waters, calm and warm – and therefore perfect for families. Beyond sunbathing and swimming, the main reason for a day-trip here is to visit the small island of Zvernec: approachable along a recently constructed timber walkway, it is home to the miraculous late-Byzantine Monastery of St Mary, obscured by billowing clouds of tall dark pine trees.

Syri I Kalter

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Syri i Kaltër
Technically Syri i Kalter is not a beach. It’s a natural spring – the name translates literally as “blue eye”. But that’s not important. This gorgeous, seemingly fathomless spot is the perfect place for an intimate, untroubled swim, in one of the most beautiful natural landscapes in the country. It is located along the road between Saranda and Gijrokaster and – believe us – you’ll kick yourself if you don’t stop, only to be teased by postcard images of this amazing natural phenomenon later.
These recommendations were updated on May 19, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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