Among the Balkan countries specializing in tourism, Albania is the least studied one. This hospitable place is washed by the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic Sea; there are hidden pristine beaches, picturesque canyons and unexplored sights, which can make the rest in Albania extremely exciting and something completely new.
We will talk about the climate and beaches of Albania, take a walk through its Adriatic and Ionic resorts, take an active rest and find out when it is better to plan a trip. At the end, you will find a description of the top three Albanian resorts.
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Beach rest in Albania
Albania is located in the zone of a mild Mediterranean climate. Winter is wet and cool, and summer is dry and hot here. On the coast, in the middle of summer (July), the temperature is within +28-32°С, but in January it does not fall below +8-10°С. The July heat is quite tolerable since fresh breeze is constantly blowing from the sea.
The tourist season starts in May and ends only at the end of September. Many travelers claim that pleasant weather is preserved even in October and April.
Albanians have as many as 300 sunny days in a year – it rains only in the late autumn and early spring. The temperature of sea water in summer varies slightly in different cities of Albania:
- Saranda – 22.6-25.8°С;
- Vlore – 22.3-25.5°С; and
- Berat – 22.9-25.7°С.
In September, the temperature of water and air practically does not fall in contrast to prices for accommodation. The off-peak season captures the first weeks of September, but in some years it may last until early October.
Prices for rest in Albania are not high, but during the low season (September, May) the trip is even cheaper. From a climatic point of view, it is better to go there in September since the water is still warm enough, and at night it gets slightly colder.
The Adriatic beaches represent long sandy spits with gentle slopes and shallow sea. The shores are decorated with pine forests. The local elite prefers the Ionian south with its picturesque sandy beaches, high mountains, and rocky bays.
Rocky and pebble beaches dominate in the vicinity of Vlore. On the Ionian coast, near the towns of Himara and Dhërmi, pebble beaches predominate.
Adriatic Albania: From Vlore to Gjiri i Lalzit Bay
The Albanian Adriatic begins at the Montenegrin border and extends to the south towards the Ionian Sea and the Gulf of Vlore. Most of the beaches are located in sheltered bays – former harbors in ancient times. All kinds of summer rest flourish here, namely:
- beach rest;
- extreme rest;
- active rest; and
- cultural rest.
Eco-tourism is developing in the cozy lagoons, and group excursions to Lezhe and Durres are regular and are aimed at visiting historical museums and medieval fortresses of Albania.
Let’s take a walk through the most remarkable resorts of the Adriatic part of Albania:
- Vlore. It is a small town with clean sandy beaches. The infrastructure is quite developed, in the evening it is pleasant to wander under the moon on the wide pavements with paving stones. The beaches are well-furnished, there are enough cafes and restaurants, and everything is surrounded by coniferous forests. Albanians managed to build hotels for every taste here – from budget three-star to respectable five-star hotels (Hotel Vlora International). The staff is very hospitable and friendly.
- Durres. The main advantage of this resort is the proximity of Tirana, the local capital (the distance is only 33 km). Durres is a nodal transportation center with a population of one hundred thousand people. There are beaches (with hotels), but eyewitnesses claim that the sea in Durres is dirty due to port activities and the recent waste dump. The advantage is the lack of problems with the accommodation (due to a wide range of hotels of various categories).
- Shёnqjin. It is not even a city, but a fishing-and-resort settlement. It is a very nice place that attracts foreigners with its picturesque nature, mountain landscapes, and farm food served in cozy restaurants. Adjacent is the Kuna village where eco-tourism is starting to develop.
- Gjiri i Lalzit Bay. This resort is located in the center of Albania, not far from Tirana. The nearest landmark is the Kepi i Rodonit Cape. The beaches on the shores of the bay are excellent, sandy, with white and very soft sand. To get there, it is best to rent a car at the Tirana airport and drive about 30 kilometers on the highway. Additional benefits of this uncrowded resort are the healing air and pine groves surrounding the village.
The coast of the Ionian Sea (the part that belongs to Albania) is completely carved with rocky creeks. The coastal strip is narrow here and closely approaches steep mountain slopes.
The extreme travelers – fans of mountaineering, snorkeling and diving are attracted by its deep waters, a picturesque bottom, and isolated beaches.
The beaches of the Ionian coast are mostly pebbled ones. Local authorities have excellently equipped them with bars, rental stations for jet boats and catamarans, showers, umbrellas, and deck chairs. Beach parties and colorful show programs are regularly held here.
The list of the main Ionian Sea resorts is as follows:
- Saranda. We recommend this town to adherents of a peaceful and leisurely holiday. The Greek island of Corfu is located opposite Saranda. It is worth paying attention to the local archaeological reserve – the ruins of the ancient city of Butrint, sung by Plutarch.
Rest in Saranda is inseparable from cheap and delicious restaurants treating travelers with pasta, pizza, seafood, and grilled meat. Most hotels belong to the 3-4-star service class.
- Dhermi. The Himara region is known for its nine coastal settlements, with Dhermi as the most significant one. These lands are called the Albanian Riviera for a reason – the local upper crust flock to rest here.
Dhermi is a three-block tourist village. The village is surrounded by citrus and olive plantations, and the tourist infrastructure is growing rapidly – new hotels, bungalows and restaurants are being built every year. The key attraction is the Pirates Cave.
- Himare. This mountainous region adjoins the Ionian coast. The city with the same name was built by the ancient Greeks. The resort attracts travelers with delightful pebble beaches and mountain trails. The central beach is occupied by vast hordes of tourists, and divers dive nearby.
- Ksamil. This resort is the southernmost Albanian city in Saranda district. From all sides, the town is surrounded by the Butrint National Park.
It is not easy to get here from Tirana – it will take 8 hours to go on mountain serpentines by bus. Key sites are tiny islands scattered nearby. You can get there on a rented catamaran or boat. The beaches are small, but they are sandy and very clean.
Family and off-peak season rest
The off-peak season often lasts until September but this happens only in the absence of sudden cold snaps.
The most popular Albanian resorts, Saranda and Vlore, are empty by mid-September, the cause being the geographical location (west of the Balkan Peninsula). The seabed is deep here, and its structure is such that the waters are teeming with cold currents. Therefore, you should not count on the warm sea.
The beach rest with children is gaining momentum. It is necessary to treat with particular responsibility the choice of the resort since kids need excellent ecology, canopy, and a sandy strip.
Let’s consider the most popular Albanian resorts from this point of view.
- Durres. The local beach stretched for 6 kilometers – the slope is flat, the bottom decreases gradually. The width of the beach allows accommodating many tourists. The cons include bad ecology and proximity to the seaport.
- Vlore. The place is not so crowded (compared to Durres), but picturesque, quiet, and environmentally friendly with white sand, soft sun, and citrus groves.
- Dhermi Coast. The beaches here are mostly pebbly, but there are also sandy ones. It is better to take older children here.
Crystal clear waters of the Ionian Sea are the undeniable advantage of this resort.
Top 3 best Albanian beach resorts
- Saranda. This resort is located on the shores of the Ionian Sea. Saranda attracts travelers with an abundance of sunny days, a beautiful promenade, well-developed infrastructure (equipped beaches, restaurants, hotels, and tourist offices), as well as the proximity of the island of Corfu.This is the place to go with small children.
- Vlore. This resort is located at the junction of the Ionian Sea and the Adriatic. The tourists come here because of the mild climate, the unique color of the water (impacted by the sea crossroad), wide and beautiful city streets, and the possibility of family rest.
- Shёnqjin. This Adriatic resort closes our top three. Shёnqjin is located near Lezhe and offers travelers sandy beaches, blue sea, and coniferous forests covering mountain ledges. The combination of coniferous and sea air has a beneficial effect on the human body.
Types of the active Albanian rest
Albania attracts not only connoisseurs of beach pleasures, but also extreme lovers, supporters of active pastime. This category of tourists prefers diving which is especially thriving on the Ionian Sea.
Here is a list of the most popular places among divers:
- Karaburunit Peninsula;
- Cape of Rodon;
- the Sazan Island;
- the Lagju Cape; and
- the Dermi beach.
In general, Albania is interesting to active travelers – connoisseurs of inconvenience and hiking lifestyle. You don’t have to wait for much comfort, but it offers enough extreme.
The list of the main fun of active travelers:
- mountaineering (it is better to go with your personal equipment since it is hard to find good equipment in Albania);
- cycling (ideal option – central plains and coast, cons – bad roads);
- tracking (walks in protected areas are gaining momentum);
- rafting (extreme rafting has recently gained official status – there are plenty of mountain streams in the country); and
- equestrian sport (there are horse breeding centers in Durres, Shkodra, Divjaka, Elbasan, Berat).
How much the Albanian rest costs?
The cost of living in Albania is still low since the hotel owners are trying to attract tourist flow.At the same time, there are enough good options from renting a room in a large hotel and family pension to renting apartments and villas.
An independent journey is the best way to save money. A two-week stay in Vlore and Saranda (for two) will cost only USD 700. At the same time, a full-fledged breakfast will be included in the room rate. The situation is even better in Berat where the room (of good quality) will cost you USD 450.
Other prices are as follows:
- hostels of Tirana (per bed) – from USD 10;
- room in the hostel – USD 14-15;
- cheap hotel – from USD 25;
- tickets for intercity trips – USD 5-10;
- taxi (Tirana) – 3.5-5.75 (does not depend on the distance);
- train ticket to Vlore – USD 2;
- meal on the street – USD 2;
- cheap restaurant – USD 3-5;
- medium-sized restaurant (three dishes) – USD 10;
- beer – USD 1.3-2;
- coffee – USD 0.5; and
- cappuccino – USD 1.3.
Let’s summarize. Daily expenses in Albania make up approximately USD 30-35 (with accommodation, travel and meals), which significantly saves you money.
The transport infrastructure in the country is underdeveloped, but at the same time, construction is ongoing throughout the country.
Albania is a promising tourist destination, which is worth thinking about thoroughly now.