South Albania Itinerary: 10 Days in the Albanian Riviera!

Last Updated on April 15, 2024

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This south Albania itinerary is for someone who loves to be by the beach and wants to explore the Albania Riviera and some of the most beautiful beaches in Albania.

It’s also perfect for anyone hopign to take a Albania road trip through the south of Albania – I’ve included anAlbanian Riveira map to help you plan your route.

The Albania Riviera runs from the south (Saranda), to Vlora in the north. Between those two cities are the most beautiful Albanian beaches you will find. Many untouched and wild!

Ultimate Itinerary for 10 Days in Albania

Day 1: Tirana (1 Night)

I recommend starting your south Albania itinerary in the bustling capital of Tirana. Tirana airport is very convenient to land in if you’re travelling from abroad.

You ought to spend at least one night in this up-and-coming Albanian city.

South Albania Itinerary: 10 Days in the Albanian Riviera! Aerial shot of beach with beach loungers next to stone cliffs and clear turquoise water

Tirana has made leaps and bounds over the last couple of years. The first call of action on your first day is to visit Bunk Art.

Just off the Skanderbeg square you can get a look into what communism was like and step back in time.

This is a great place to get a feeling of what Albania was like during most of the 1900s under Enver Hoxha’s rule.  

Carrying on with the theme of communism a stop to the House of Leaves is a must.

It’s a new museum which looks into communism through the eyes of the government who were spying on the citizens.  

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After you have been drowned in communism history you may need something to eat and drink to process all that information!

I highly suggest a visit to the Blloku area. Here you will find an abundance of bars, restaurants and trendy cafes.

This part of Tirana is my favourite part and is the perfect location to visit if its your first trip here. You can also find Enver Hoxha’s house here as the area was built only for the communist party during 1944-1990.

If you want to organise your own things to do in Tirana, then read my full Tirana guide here with some other recommendations.

For those that have 2 weeks in Albania or longer and intend to spend more time in Tirana, you can also get in the Southern Albanian mindset by taking a day trip to the beach.

One of the best beaches near Tirana is Golem beach, which is about a 50 minute drive from the city.

Where to stay in tirana

This south Albania itinerary wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t include some of the best places to stay! Here are my favourite accommodation options in Tirana.

Luxury: A great luxury option is The Plaza which is in prime position for all of the best attractions in Tirana.

This five star hotel has gained a positive reputation in Tirana and is filled with facilities to make your stay comfortable.

Another great option is the Xheko Imperial Luxury Boutique Hotel. This hotel is located in the heart of Tirana and has gorgeous balconies overlooking the city center.

Mid-range: Try Arc Hotel Tirana or Urban Rooms.

Backpacker: The best hostel, in my opinion, is Trip’n Hostel!

If you’re still looking for somewhere to stay, here are the best hotels in Tirana.

Albania south beaches, aerial view of large cruise ship coming in to blue water beach with buildings lining the seafront and mountains in the distance

Day 2: 3 Nights in Saranda

It’s time to get up and travel to the seaside city of Saranda in the Albanian Riviera. This is a great base to start your south Albania itinerary.

I might be bias because I love here, but you can’t plan an Albania travel itinerary without including Saranda.

The bus from Tirana to Saranda goes from the north bus station and the journey will take anywhere from 4 ½ hours to 8 hours (depending on the driver and how much coffee he’s had that day).

The journey is very beautiful and almost the best part! You will go through smaller villages, mountains and then finally reach the sea!

There is a lot to do in Saranda but after a few hours of travelling, I highly suggest relaxing at one of the beaches north of the main part of the city.

The beaches next to the restaurants’ sunset and cocktail dreams are great beaches to experience your first taste of the Albanian Riviera!

After a relaxing afternoon, I highly recommend you take in the beauty of the centre of the city and go for an Xhiro, this is one of the main attractions!

An Xhiro is a unique tradition to add to your Albania itinerary, where everyone comes out from their homes at around sunset and walks down the main boulevard/road.

This is a way for people to catch up with each other. After a walk along the main boulevard, you should duck into a restaurant and enjoy a night of eating the best seafood!

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Saranda has amazing seafood which you need to try. In the centre, I recommend Anchor Bar and restaurant. They do great seafood!

Vacations in Albania, aerial shot of sea inlet with green fields next to river leading to a lake by small peninsula of forested area with mountains in the distance

Day 3: Saranda & Butrint

In the early morning of the next day you should head to Butrint! Only a 20-30 minute public bus ride from Saranda is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Butrint and should definitely be on your south Albania itinerary!

I recommend a quick trip to Ali Pasha’s castle before visiting the main site. This is one of my favourite unique things to do in Albania.

After exploring the UNESCO site for a couple of hours it’s time to relax in what’s called the ‘gem of the Albanian Riviera’ Ksamil.

Ksamil has gained huge popularity over the last few years and is a must for any Albania itinerary. In summer this place can get super busy but for good reason, it’s incredible.

I recommend having a bite to eat at the restaurant Givat and then relaxing at one of the beaches.

If it’s too busy I recommend a trip to the nearby beaches like Mirror or Monastery

Monastery Beach is one of my favourites as it’s small and you also have the option to climb the hill and see an incredible view of the beach and surroundings by going to the monastery.  

Ditch the outdated guidebook and instead get your hands on the only Albania travel guide you’ll need, including the best places to visit and things to do from a local living there for 6+ years!

⏰ Digital version and hard copy available on Amazon

Did you know that the south of Albania does incredible Italian food? Tonight, you should see for yourself!

Here are some of the best places where I recommend getting a taste of Italian food: Italian Mattarello pizzeria, Maria Magdalena, and A Casa Mia do DELICIOUS Italian food in Saranda.

In my opinion, vacations in Albania aren’t complete without a day trip to Butrint National Park and Ali Pasha’s castle.

Albania roadtrip, Blue Eye lagoon featuring deep blue water with green vines and a tree on the shoreline and a person dipping their hand in

Day 4: Saranda

On your last full day in Saranda and I highly recommend taking a trip to Blue Eye – a 20-minute short drive away from Saranda.  

Blue Eye is a natural spring that has an unknown depth. Divers have been down to 50 meters and were unable to go any further, so nobody has any idea how deep this spring really goes.

The people who live here believe that the spring water has healing properties so many locals bring their water bottles to fill up from this spring.

The water is a constant 10 degrees Celsius! Have a coffee at one of the restaurants at the blue eye and enjoy nature!

Read my full post on how to visit the Blue Eye so you have the best info when adding it to your south Albanian itinerary.

On the way back from Blue Eye I suggest you visit Phoenice Archaeological park. This park is one of Saranda’s best-kept secrets. I recommend bringing a lunch picnic and enjoying it from there.  

This park dates to the 5th century BC. You can see remains of an ancient theatre, a small prostylos temple, Hellenistic houses, Byzantine church and other important relics and monuments.  

In the late afternoon either chill at the beach again or you can do a walk or drive up to the monastery of the 40 saints. This is where Saranda got its name.

💛 Anita’s Top Recommendations: Check out these incredible tours in the local area!

👉 Attend a sightseeing tour: Visit Saranda’s best sites including Blue Eye, Butrint, and Lekuresi Castle.

👉 Take a stunning hiking tour: Begin at Bovilla Lake and hike Gamti Mountain for once-in-a-lifetime type views.

👉 Go water rafting: This unforgettable water rafting tour allows you to explore the natural beauty of Albania including the Osumi Canyons.

The monastery dates back from the 4th-6th century. The monastery is half in ruins now due to it being bombed in World War 2 as the British thought there was a German garrison hiding inside.

I highly recommend staying and watching the sunset from here, it’s a beautifully quiet spot and in my opinion, gives the best view of the city centre!

Another great sunset spot that is more popular is Lëkurësi Castle.

Unfortunately, these days the castle has been turned into a restaurant but nevertheless, it’s still a beautiful spot to watch the sunset and enjoy the view.

If you have a bit more time and want to do Albania in 2 weeks rather than 10 days, I highly recommend a few extra days in Saranda.

Where to Stay in Saranda

Luxury: One of the best luxury hotels in Saranda is Santa Quaranta. This hotel offers a seasonal outdoor pool, an on-site bar and spacious bedrooms.

By staying here, you will also be close by to some of Saranda’s most popular locations including Butrint National Park.

Another great option is the White residence rooms.

Mid-range: Try Olive Tree or Hotel Pini.

Backpacker: My two recommendations are the Hairy Lemon and Hasta La Vista.

Read my full list of the best Saranda hotels.

Albania travel itinerary, old stone buildings with stone wall ruins perched atop green hill on mountainside under blue sky with clouds and other mountains in the distance

Day 5: 1 Night in Qeparo

Next up on your south Albania itinerary, it’s time to hit the road and drive towards the small southern Albania village of Qeparo.

This is one of the most underrated places to visit in Albania, but people often tell me it was a highlight of their Albania vacations, and I don’t disagree!

On the way, I recommend a stop to Borsh Beach, the longest strip of beach along the Albanian Riviera. You can always find a spot for yourself here. 

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After a little relaxing at the beach, you can go to Borsh Castle. It’s an incredibly unique castle with a lot of history.

The castle is often missed by tourists, but I highly recommend adding to your Albania itinerary.

The view from the castle is amazing. It dates to the 13th century.

The castle is in ruins but in the 14th century when the Ottoman empire took over Albania, they built a mosque in the middle of the castle which still stands today.

And now it’s time to reach the beach portion of Qeparo!

Enjoy lunch at Hotel Riviera and soak up the rays. In the afternoon you must visit the half-abandoned village of old Qeparo on top of the hill.

This is the most beautiful old Albanian village in my eyes. Cobbled paths leading around the village which was pretty much abandoned during the fall of communism.

Unfortunately, there is no option to stay up here so after visiting make your way back to the beach front and settle for the night.

Where to stay in Qeparo

Luxury: For a luxury accommodation option try Qeparo Napolon Complex. The complex is set within the hills of Qeparo, so you will have some pretty great views by staying here.

You’ll also have access to an outdoor pool, BBQ facilities and free wi-fi.

Mid-range: For a mid-priced hotel try Irini’s Garden Hotel.

Backpacker: There are currently no hostels in Qeparo but if you look at you can get a room for as little as €20.

Visit southern Albania, aerial shot of waterfront with boat dock next to turquoise clear waters and forested areas

Day 6 & 7: 2 Nights in Himare

Today on your south Albania itinerary, you will travel to the coastal town of Himara. This is one of the most beautiful places in South Albania!

On the way make sure you visit the unique castle of Ali Pasha – Porto Palermo castle.

The castle is unique because it has 3 corners instead of 4. There’s also a small beach by the castle.

When you get to Himare you can opt to stay by the beach or in the old village which sits on top of the mountain.

Ditch the outdated guidebook and instead get your hands on the only Albania travel guide you’ll need, including the best places to visit and things to do from a local living there for 6+ years!

⏰ Digital version and hard copy available on Amazon

Spend 2 nights here enjoying everything that Himara has to offer.

Walk down the boulevard, enjoy the beaches in the small town (There’s even a secret one which you can only rock climb or kayak too).

This is the perfect place to lay out on the beach and soak up the Albanian Riviera rays. Another thing you should do is check out the old town on the hill if you are not already staying up there.

The view is incredible, and the town lies within an old ruined castle. It’s one of my favourite spots in southern Albania for some peace and quiet.

Where to stay Himare

Luxury: Make sure you stay at Vila Kosteli as you’ll be 200 metres from Maracit Beach and 300 metres from Spille Beach!

When staying here, you can indulge in a refreshing breakfast on the rooftop with incredible views of Himara.

Mid-range: Try Scala Bungalows, a boutique setting but at a very affordable!

Backpacker: There are two great hostels in Himara, Himara Downtown Hostel and Himara Hostel.

South Albania cities, view along coastline with beachfront and road off to one side next to blue waters

Day 8: 1 Night in Jale

Jale is a small developing beach stopover, but still worth including in your south Albania itinerary.

You can find some amazing luxury places to stay here, a daybed can cost over 100 euros!

In the summer it’s buzzing with people and in the other seasons, it’s completely empty.

Depending on when you visit south Albania might affect if you stay here or not as in the summer the parties can be wild. If partying is not your thing then you can choose to stay in Dhermi for an extra night.

Whilst you relax or party in Jale make sure you hire a kayak and go to the nearby beach paradise of Gjipe.

Nowadays it’s not so secret but it’s still such a beautiful place to visit in southern Albania. You can go here by car (only 4wd) or by walking or kayak!

This beach is set in between a huge canyon and is a good option for people who love to camp as there are some beautiful views here.

Where to stay?

Luxury: Try Folie Marine Beach Hotel and Club has comfortable rooms, a delicious breakfast and a gorgeous outdoor pool.

You can also try out many local delicious whilst staying here and of course, enjoy the gorgeous outdoor pool.

Backpacker: There are no hostels but there is a great camping spot in Jale!

South Albania Itinerary: 10 Days in the Albanian Riviera! Mountains under white clouds leading down to seafront with beach town and forested areas lining the shoreline

Day 9 & 10: 2 Nights in Dhermi

The final stop on your south Albania itinerary or Albania roadtrip is Dhermi. Dhermi is another popular place for holidaymakers coming to south Albania.

It’s beautiful beaches, luxurious resorts, and great places to visit nearby make it a popular destination of anybody’s Albania itinerary!

Apart from checking out Dhermi and relaxing near the seaside, you can also visit the nearby village of Vuno where you’ll discover traditional houses and some of the best views in South Albania.

This picturesque small village sits on the hillside and has an amazing view of the Albanian Riviera. 

While you’re in Dhermi be sure to check our Drymades, a beach that’s not far from Dhermi. It’s one of my favourite places to visit during the summer months!

You can also opt to go to Llogara national Park which is not too far from Dhermi and one of the best national parks in Albania, in my opinion. 

🧳 MUST-HAVE: Before you head out on your trip, make sure you have travel insurance. My #1 recommendation is SafetyWing! Me and thousands of other travellers use it to stay safe on the road. Click here to check it out.

At the top of the park, you can explore by doing a short walk or if you’re a thrill seeker you also have the opportunity to do parasailing from here! 

Where to stay Dhermi

Luxury: Try Golden View residence for a luxury hotel in Dhermi!

This hotel has spacious rooms, a large outdoor pool and stunning views Ionian sea.

Backpacker: There is currently no hostels in Dhermi however, if you look on there are very cheap private room options.

Now it’s time to head back to Tirana for the finale of your Albanian Riviera holiday. From Dhermi it’s a 4-5 hour bus or car ride. Purchasing a rental car is the most convenient way to travel and the best option if you have the budget to do so. However, taking public transportion is one of the fun things about travelling and you never know who you might meet.

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This Albanian Riviera itinerary can easily be extended and adjusted according to your wants and needs.

That concludes this south Albania itinerary. If you have more time and are interested in more Albania day trips, here is a list of other great places to visit or stay in south Albania that I haven’t mentioned in this article:

  • Vlora
  • Palase
  • Gjirokastra

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ Where is the Albanian Riviera?

The Albanian Riviera is located in the Southwestern part of the Albania along the Northeastern Ionian Sea in the Mediterranean Sea. Generally the Albanian Riviera is considered to be between the cities of Vlore and Sarande.

✅ How long is the Albanian Riviera?

It spans 120-kilometres (74.5 miles) along the Albanian coast.

✅ How long to visit southern Albania?

Ten days is a great amount of time to see the region. This gives you enough time to enjoy all the best Albania south beaches and have a fun Albanian road trip through the south. However, if you have more time, definitely spend a few extra days at least and do Albania in 2 weeks instead.

✅ Which is better north or south Albania?

Both the north and south of Albania has its own characteristics. The south is well known for its traditional tourist attractions whereas the north is most famous for the Albanian Alps and its charming villages.

Now that you have prepared your south Albania itinerary, do you have any questions? Did I miss anywhere worth visiting? What are your favourite South Albania cities?

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