A 10-day itinerary on the Albanian Riviera

Southern Albania has a lot to offer. From hiking in the charming mountains to relaxing on the most beautiful beaches in Europe or visiting one of the many historic ancient sites in Albania. Everyone will find something for themselves. That’s why we’ve created this 10-day Albanian Riviera itinerary for those who have time to explore southern Albania. We strongly encourage you to stay longer if you have even the slightest opportunity to do so.

And one more important point! The borders of Albania are open to European tourists!


Day 1: Tirana

The best place to start your itinerary is the bustling capital of Albania, Tirana. You should spend at least one day in this rapidly developing city. Tirana has made a huge leap forward in the last couple of years. The first call to action is to visit Bunk Art. This vast bunker was once the refuge of dictator Enver Hoxha.

It is now a combined historical museum and contemporary art gallery.  

Continuing the theme of communism, be sure to visit the House of Leaves. This is a new museum that looks at communism through the eyes of a government that spied on the citizens.  

After drowning in the history of communism, you may need something to eat and drink to process all that information! Head to the neighborhood of Bloku. Here you will find many bars, restaurants, and trendy cafes. You can also find Enver Hoxha’s house here, as this neighborhood was built only for the Communist Party from 1944-1990.


Day 2: Saranda

It’s time to go to the seaside town of Saranda on the Albanian Riviera. This is a great starting point to start your trip in Southern Albania. You can travel by car, with a rental car in Tirana, or by public transportation. The bus leaves from the northern bus station in Tirana. The trip will take from 4 ½ hours to 8 hours, depending on the driver and the number of stops. But rest assured, the journey will be a mind-blowing one. The road goes through villages, and mountains and finally reaches the sea!

In Saranda, believe me, there is a lot to do. But after a few hours of travel, we recommend relaxing on one of the beaches north of the main part of the city. Beaches at sunset with your favorite cocktails – a heavenly delight! 

Afterward, you can enjoy the beauty of downtown and head to Xhiro. Xhiro is a unique tradition where everyone leaves their homes at sunset and walk along the main boulevard/road. In this way, people can meet each other.  


After a stroll along the main boulevard, you should stop by a restaurant and spend the evening eating the best seafood, for example at the Anchor Bar. Did you know that the south of Albania has incredible Italian cuisine? In the evening you will have a chance to make sure of it! There are some great Italian restaurants: Pizzeria Mattarello, Maria Magdalena, and A Casa Mia do DELICIOUS in Saranda. Read more about Saranda…


Day 3: neighborhoods of Saranda



It is better to get up early and go to the ancient city of Butrint. It is only 20-30 minutes by bus from Saranda. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We recommend a short trip to Ali Pasha’s 12th century castle before visiting the main site. The castle is surrounded by water and can only be reached by boat from a local fisherman. 

In Butrint you will see very well-preserved old buildings, such as the theater, which seats more than 2,500 people. It is still used from time to time for events. There is also the Temple of Asclepius, the Acropolis, columns, beautiful floor mosaics (including medallions of 69 churches), a 6th century basilica, the Lion’s Gate and a castle with an incredible view of Lake Butrint and the surrounding area. Walking around Butrint, you will see that some of the buildings are deep underground. Therefore, locals believe that Butrint was actually the sunken city of Atlantis.



Finally, it’s time to relax by going to the “pearl of the Albanian Riviera“. Ksamil has become very popular in the last few years and is a must on any itinerary in Albania. Here are some of the best beaches in Albania, indeed in the world. The main beach Ksamil is the busiest and most beautiful. From there you can swim to three nearby small islands. The best place to eat is at the restaurant Givat. Sun loungers are available for rent on most of the Ksamil beaches (about 1,000 lek). 

If it is too crowded, we recommend going to nearby beaches such as Mirror or Monastery. Monastery beach can be called the “hidden gem” of Ksamil. You can go up the hill to the monastery and enjoy an incredible view of the beach and the surrounding area.


Day 4: continue exploring Saranda


Blue Eye

On your last day in Saranda be sure to visit the Blue Eye, a 20-minute drive from the city. The Blue Eye is a natural spring of unknown depth. Divers descended to a depth of 50 m, but never reached the bottom. Therefore, no one knows how deep it is. The water temperature is a constant 10 ℃.

The water of the Blue Eye is so clear that you can see every little particle. When viewed from the metal watchtower above, the spring looks like an eye.  Hence its name. People who live here believe that the spring water has healing properties and fill their bottles with it. 

This is one of Ksamil’s most popular attractions, so it gets crowded in the summer! Grab a coffee at one of the restaurants on Blue Eye and enjoy nature!


Foinike Archaeological Park

On the way back from Blue Eye we suggest you visit the Archaeological Park of Foinicke. This park dates back to the 5th century B.C. You can see the remains of an ancient theater, a small temple of Prostylos, Hellenistic houses, a Byzantine church and other important relics and monuments.  

In the evening you can again relax on the beach or take a walk or drive up to the monastery of the 40 saints. Hence the name Saranda. The monastery dates back to the IY-YI centuries. Now the monastery is half destroyed because of the bombing during World War II, because the British thought there was a German garrison hiding inside.

You can stop and admire the sunset from here. This beautiful quiet spot gives the best view of the city! Another great place to watch the sunset, which is more popular, is Lökursi Castle. Unfortunately, these days the castle has been turned into a restaurant, but it’s still a great place to enjoy the sunset and the local scenery.


Day 5: Keparo

It’s time to hit the road and drive to the small village of Keparo in southern Albania. On the way we recommend a stop at Borsch beach, the longest stretch of beach on the Albanian Riviera. 

After relaxing on the beach, you can go to Borsch Castle. The view from the castle is amazing. The castle was built in the 13th century, now it is in ruins. But in the eleventh century, when the Ottoman Empire conquered Albania, they built a mosque in the center of the castle, which survived to this day. This is a unique castle with a rich history.

It’s time to get to the beach part of Keparo. And in the afternoon you should visit the semi-abandoned village at the top of the hill. The village was abandoned in the 1990s during the fall of communism. Most of the inhabitants have left it, but many of the buildings have survived. In the center of the village stands an old oak tree and the church of St. Mary with a beautiful clock tower and bell, built in 1796.


DÍA 6 y 7: two days in Himara

Along the Albanian Riviera is the small coastal town of Himara. It is one of the must-visit stops. Himara is more peaceful than Saranda and is an ideal base for relaxation, but not too boring. On the way be sure to visit the unique castle-fort of Ali Pasha, also called Porto Palermo Castle. The castle is unique in that it has 3 corners instead of 4. There is a small beach next to the castle. Once you get to Himara, you can stay on the beach or in the old village, which is on top of the mountain.

Spend 2 nights here enjoying all that Himara has to offer. Take a walk along the boulevard, enjoy the beaches in the little town (there’s even a secret one that can only be reached by kayak or rock climbers). Another thing you should do is check out the old town on the hill, if you haven’t already stopped there. The town is in an old ruined castle. And the castle is stunningly beautiful, even though it’s ruined. And the views of the surrounding area are mesmerizing. And then there’s the peace and quiet! 


Day 8: Jala 

Jala is another small coastal town. Here you can find some amazing luxury vacation spots. It’s full of people in the summer and completely empty the rest of the year. Depending on when you visit southern Albania, this can affect whether you stay here or not. While vacationing or partying in Jala, don’t forget to rent a kayak and head to the nearby paradise beach of Jeepe. It’s also accessible by SUV, bus, and even on foot.

Gjipe is unique and unlike any other beach in Albania. You can take a hike in the canyon of Gjipe. But keep in mind that you must have ideal climbing equipment and good preparation. Along the coast from Gjipe there are numerous caves in which you can swim. Be sure to visit them at low tide and always watch the tides or you could get trapped.

From the beach you can walk along the coast along the road that used to be the military road to the monastery of St. Theodore. The hike lasts about 45 minutes. This monastery was used as a prison during the socialist past, but has now been reconstructed.


Day 9 y 10: two days in Dermi

Dermi is another popular destination for vacationers coming to southern Albania. Its beautiful beaches and luxurious resorts make it a favorite part of many people’s itineraries in Albania.

In addition to visiting Dermi and relaxing by the sea, you can also visit the nearby village of Vuno. This picturesque little village is situated on a hillside with a stunning view of the Albanian Riviera.

While in Dermi, be sure to visit Drymades beach. You can also choose Logara National Park, which is not far from Dermi. You can just take a walk. But, if you are a thrill seeker, you also have the opportunity to go parasailing!

Now it’s time to return to Tirana to complete your vacation on the Albanian Riviera. From Dermi you can get by bus or car in 4-5 hours.

The itinerary of the Albanian Riviera can easily be expanded and adjusted according to your desires and needs. Here is a list of other great places to visit or stay in southern Albania that we have not mentioned in this article:

Our 10-day itinerary of the Albanian Riviera has come to an end. In our opinion, this is the best trip in southern Albania. We are sure you will not be disappointed!