Travelling through the south of Albania, towards Greece, we discovered what locals here call the “Albanian Riviera”: a beautiful coast, where mountains meet the Adriatic Sea, offering unique panoramas with endlessly azure blue waters and cliffs hiding some secret white sandy beaches…
On the road…
Located between the towns of Vlorë and Sarandë, the road along the Albanian Riviera is, according to us, one of the most beautiful roads we have ever taken! And there is a good reason behind: after a hairpin climb at the exit of Orikum, a village located in the heart of a natural park, we came at the kilometer 38 pass: dense vegetation of the mountainous massif gave way to a clear view of the Adriatic Sea and the beautiful Riviera. Every meter of the descent offers an exceptional panorama, but the best point of view is the Panorama Llogara, a viewpoint built a few bends away from the pass.
The road continues on the mountainside, passing through the charming and very typical village of Dhërmi – not far from which there are some beautiful secret beaches! After a short break in Himarë, a rather touristy town on the coast with a pedestrian city center overhung by the ruins of a castle, the road twists again before approaching Porto Palermo, a Venetian castle built on a small peninsula, in the heart of the same name bay. After a hundred kilometers from Vlorë, the road ends up sinking into mainland at the exit of of Lukovë and leads to the outskirts of Sarandë, the sunniest town (300 days of sunshine per year on average) and the most touristic town in Albania! If you are not really tempted by the trendy bars and restaurants of Sarandë, continue the road to Ksamil. This village with paradisiacal beaches, located in the heart of the Butrint National Park, will mark the end of this crazy journey between sea and mountains!
The secret beaches of the Albanian Riviera
Gjipe, the hidden cove
Of course, behind this dreamlike landscape lie several resorts, built with a lot of concrete, to accommodate all tourists in search of sun and exotic beaches. Luckily for natural landscapes lovers like us, the Albanian Riviera has kept some wild and secret places like the Gjipe beach, accessible only by walking 4km from the main road (1.5km from the nearest parking lot).
Nestled between two cliffs, this beach is in fact a cove formed by the old bed of the river Gjipe, now dry. If a restaurant and a camping site are located here, the beach is still natural with its stony sand and small caves found around, in the rock! As for us, at this time we did not find a host available in the area, so we spent a night under the stars, sleeping in our sleeping bags on the sand and sheltered by a small bamboo lean-to built against the cliff. Well, let us tell you that between the sunset, our swim in warm water and the quiet atmosphere, it was one of our best nights!
… And what about the others?
We didn’t try them all, but we can give you other spots recommended to us – let us know what you think!
- Pulebardha Beach, 6km north of Ksamil
- Grama Bay, in Llogora National Park
- The lost beach between Gjipe and Jale, via the hiking trail
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* Post written according to our personal experience *