Imagine beautiful beaches lapped by crystalline waters, terrific coastal panoramas and cliffside hamlets; the Albanian Riviera is exactly like this. Less touristic than other places located on the Balkan Peninsula, the Riviera is a dreamy destination that every traveler should visit. So get ready to explore the wild coast of Albania before everyone finds out how gorgeous it is. Read our tips for a great weekend in the most magical area of the Land of the Eagles.
Start your day in Saranda, the liveliest town of the Albanian Riviera, a vibrant summer destination frequented by locals as well as international tourists. The best thing to do here is to sip a coffee and eat a slice of baklava, a tasty cake made with filo pasta, nuts and syrup typical of Turkey and Balkan countries. Then take your time to visit the town and don’t forget to see the ancient rests of the synagogue and to reach the Forty Saints Monastery, located on the top of a hill, to admire gorgeous views over the city.
Reach Ksamil, also called the “Ionian pearl,” one of the most beautiful beaches of Albania and Mediterranean Sea, just 17 km south of Saranda. Ksamil has three small islands within swimming distance and several great restaurants with excellent fish-menus. You can stay here all the afternoon relaxing and swimming in the crystal clear waters or, if you prefer to learn something more about the history of this enchanting country, you can go to visit the near park of Butrint, the largest archaeological site of Albania.
After the visit of the archaeological site, you really deserve an excellent Albanian dinner. To eat fresh fish and traditional dishes, we suggest you to go to Guvat, a beautiful restaurant in Ksamil with a terrace that offers gorgeous views over the three lovely islands. Enjoy your dinner while viewing terrific panoramas over the sea and don’t forget to end you meal with a glass of raki, an aromatized Balkan liquor.
Ksamil may not be exciting as Tirana or Saranda, but it has three beautiful lounge bars always crowded in the summer months: Islands Lounge Bar, Africana Beach Club and Bianco Lounge Bar. All of three are perfect if you want to drink fresh cocktails and listen good music, but Bianco is located in front of the beach and offers heartbreaking views over the three small islands. Ksamil has many hotel options, including the beautiful Luxury Hotel, just a few meters from the Paradise Beach.
It’s time to explore the rest of the Albanian Riviera, so leave Saranda and Ksamil and go north. Along the Albanian Riviera you’ll find plenty of gorgeous beaches, such as Lukove, Piqeras and Borsh, just choose one and relax few hours before to reach Qeparo, a charming hamlet with old houses, flowers and narrow streets, and the Ali Pasha castle, near Porto Palermo, a beautiful fortress. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you because from the castle it’s possible to see terrific views over the sea and the surrounding hills.
The best thing to do before continuing your tour is to lunch at Porto Palermo restaurant, the only restaurant located in front of the fortress. Try the sea fruits risotto and grilled fish and sit on a table located on the terrace to admire the castle from the top. Then continue to the small coastal town of Himara to reach Dhërmi, the most enchanting hamlet of the Albanian Riviera. Near Dhërmi is hidden Drymades beach, the best beach of the country.
Dhërmi sports plenty of great restaurants at which to eat fish as well as traditional Albanian gastronomy. The best is Sofra e Pashait, located on the road that leads to Drymades Beach. Sofra e Pashait is often crowded, so be sure to come here early to choose your table and have an excellent dinner. The best plates to order here are sea fruits linguine, cooked feta and local salad, but if you want to taste the typical gastronomy you can order a tavë kosi, lamb cooked with yogurt sauce.
In front of the beach of Dhërmi, there are several nightclubs to spend the night with your friends and chat with locals, such as Free Day Beach Bar, Havana Beach Bar and Casablanca Club. If you don’t like to dance and drink but prefer quiet and silence, book a room at Summer Dream Hotel, the only hotel located in front of Drymades Beach surrounded by mountains and perfect to spend some time in total relaxation.