Located on Southeastern Europe’s Balkan Peninsula, Albania is the answers for the Swiss Alps, the Mediterranean cuisine, and lately, the European Riviera.
Albanian Riviera is one of the best in Europe. However, it was still under the radar. People keep visiting the French and Italian ones, making them way too crowded to actually enjoy your day on the beach.
European Riviera hidden gems:
Head to Albania for the answer!
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Located on the south coast of Albania, about 3.5 hours from the capital Tirana, Drymades is among the best and finest beaches in the country. At the northern end of Drymades Beach, a natural archway on the cliff leads to a pebbly shore with almost no tourists.
Drymades offers campsites by the sea and classic hotels on the slopes. There are also many trucks and restaurants to enjoy, bonus with fresh fruits from vendors next door.
Fresh seafood, gorgeous sunset, and homemade wine is all you need here.
Maybe one reason why the Albanian Riviera is still a mystery for many tourists is that it’s only accessible by boat.
The best wild beaches are between the party town of Dhërmi and the more touristy city of Himara. Both offer many boat tours for beach-hopping. You stop at beaches without real name (think Bird Cave or Aquarium Cove), and there will be a bar just right the water’s edge selling Tirana Beer and some snacks.
You cannot miss the Gjipe Beach, which is backed by a massive canyon. This is a true gem for beach lovers backpacker legend in Albania.
If you come to Gjipe by car, you have to walk 45 minutes on the steep dirt road. And then, two shabby restaurants on either side of the beach will be there to serve you with fresh seafood, salads, and chips.
The road on Himarë beach is fully-packed with pizzerias, high-end seafood pubs and brag-and-go gyro spots, and children’s area at the other end of the water.
Himara is Albanian’s family vacations, backpackers’s paradise, and couples’ romantic getaway destination.
Leaving Himara and heading south on the coastal highway, you will pass Albania’s longest beach, Borsch. A little further, you will meet Buneci, where mountain streams flow into the sea.
If you do not travel by boat or your own vehicle, hitchhiking is a popular and convenient means of transport in Albania.
Close to the Greek border, Saranda is the unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera. A city of continuous growth, full of luxury apartments with panoramic balconies overlooking the sea.
The lively promenade that winds around the bay is a the place to enjoy seafood, followed by some Rakia shots and fireworks from the waterfront nightclubs after sunset.
The main beaches may be surrounded by city life, but the water is still clear and spectacular as it is in some parts of the coast. A small marina is located on one side of the bay, where small ferry boats come from Corfu (Greece) 30 minutes offshore.
You have many options for Saranda beaches. Most restaurants and bars are there and they even offer umbrellas, chairs, hammocks or beach beds for rent.
Half an hour south are Ksamil’s tiny islands and white sand beaches, which are conveniently close to the 2,500-year-old UNESCO ruins of the ancient city of Butrint.