People tend to forget that Albania is a Mediterranean country. But we are, and we’re also blessed with one of the most beautiful coastlines in Europe. In the high season of July and August our beaches are crowded with tourists from Italy and elsewhere in the Balkans, but in May and June and September and October you can be almost guaranteed great weather and a beach to yourself, more or less (this is not a legally binding guarantee – if there’s another person on the beach please don’t try to take us to court!).
The big coastal towns are, going down the coast, Durrës, Vlorë, Himarë and Saranda, which is a short ferry journey from Corfu. We tend not to recommend any of these towns for our visitors from northwestern Europe – they’ve suffered from over-development and are drowning in concrete, though Durrës is convenient if you’re staying in Tirana and have only a few days to spare for the beach.
For us the real beauty of the Albanian coast is to be found along its short ‘Riviera’, from Llogora Pass to just north of Saranda. Outside of Himarë there’s been very little development, and the poor state of the roads going inland from the main coastal road (which is generally excellent) means that you don’t have to go far to find traditional and barely visited villages.
The only drawback, if it is a drawback, is that Llogora Pass is about three and a half hours’ (easy but dull) drive from Tirana. If you’re looking for a budget beach break and don’t want to explore inland Albania – and shame on you if this is the case! – then we recommend you fly to Corfu and get the ferry across to Saranda. We can arrange tickets, and a hire car to be waiting for you at the ferry terminal in Saranda (which, it has to be said, is a good overnight stop if you want to beat the crowds to Butrint).
It would be foolish not to mention that the Albanian coast currently offers a great opportunity to buy property. But be warned – we tried to do this ourselves here at Albanian Trip. Finding beautiful old stone cottages in need of renovation is easy, but finding them with the correct paperwork is quite another matter! Please proceed with caution!
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