If you are planning to visit Albania, don’t forget to include the coastal town of Vlora in your itinerary. Vlora is the third largest city in the country and one of the most beautiful to visit. It is surrounded by some of the greatest beaches in Albania, ancient monasteries, castles and archaeological parks that are unforgettable. Read our tips on spending a great weekend in this sunny town in southern Albania.
Start your weekend in Vlora visiting Narta, a small village situated northwest of the city. Here you’ll find a Greek community with a lovely, small Orthodox church and typical white houses. We strongly suggest renting a car because buses are not the best option if you want to visit unspoiled places in this area of the Land of the Eagles.
Next, make your way to the Zvernec Monastery, one of the most beautiful churches in the south of Albania. Don’t forget to bring your camera with you to take amazing pictures of this enchanting place. Few tourists know of it, so don’t be surprised if you are the only person with a camera in your hand. For tasty fish dishes, go back to the main street and choose one of the several restaurants located there. The best are the ones without signboards, frequented only by locals.
As we said, the town of Vlora has plenty of interesting sights: one of the best is the archaeological park of Orikum, a small village located south of the city centre. The archaeological rests are hidden inside a navy base, so you will need special permission by the soldiers to visit it. They usually let visitors see it. Did you know that Orikum was the first city taken by Julius Caesar during his invasion of Epirus? The Roman emperor described it in his masterpiece, De Bello Civili. Albania is full of surprises.
One of the best place to dine in Vlora is the recently renewed Lungomare. This boulevard offers breathtaking views over the sea and the nearby Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island. Lungomare has plenty of restaurants, such as Mustafa, but you’ll want to keep going until you reach Uje Ftohte, at the end of the boulevard. This is where you will find Amantia, a place with a beautiful terrace frequented mostly by locals.
During the summer months, Vlora turns into one of the liveliest places in Albania and the Balkans. Most Albanians from Tirana, Kosovo and the surrounding areas come here to spend their holidays, so Vlora has a great reputation for nightclubs. It’s a great place to spend the night out having fun. The coast has plenty of great nightclubs, discotheques and cafés. One of the coolest is Coco Bongo, a beautiful club in front of the beach.
When you are ready to sleep, spend the night at Hotel Lido, one of the most beautiful accommodations in Albania.
The best thing to do on your second day in Vlora, is to first have a great breakfast of trilece (a cake made with milk and cream) and a Turkish coffee at the beautiful port-side cafe, Piazza, and second, buy a ticket for the Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island. Teuta Boat Tours departs every day at 9 am from the port of Vlora, near Hotel Bologna, and returns in town at 5 pm. In those eight hours, you will have the chance to swim in crystal clear waters, relax, visit natural caves, admire great panoramas and eat fresh fish at the restaurant located right on the beach.
Once back in town, if you are not too tired, head to the ancient castle of Kanina to admire breathtaking views over Vlora. The castle, erected in the third century BC, was reconstructed by Justinian I in the sixth century AD and is said to be one of the oldest and largest in the Vlora region. Now there are only a few rests of the old fortress, but it is still visible and easy to imagine how big it was.
Vlora has a great variety of restaurants and bars, but if you are looking for great, crispy, fried fish, go straight to Piceri Restoran Mustafa2, one of the best restaurants in town. If you don’t like fish, don’t worry, this beautiful restaurant also offers great pizza, pasta and vegetarian options.
For your last night in Vlora, go straight to Summer Depo. During the day, this beautiful place is one of the classiest bathhouses in town. When the sun goes down, Summer Depo becomes one of the coolest places to have fun, dance and drink excellent cocktails.