The Ultimate Backpacking Guide to the Albanian Riviera - A 5-Days Itinerary on Things to Do in Himara and Ksamil

The Ultimate Backpacking Guide to the Albanian Riviera

A 5-Days Itinerary on Things to Do in Himara and Ksamil

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The Albanian Riviera is a large coastline area in the South Western region of Albania along the North-Eastern side of the Ionian Sea and it is one of the best places to visit if you are looking for a nice beach town to relax in.

Due to its size, covering several cities and towns along the Albanian coast, it can be quite intimidating to plan a visit to the Albanian Riviera. With so many options to choose from, from where to base yourself, which beaches are the best, to things to do and where to go, I have decided to write a complete guide that will answer all the questions you have about the Albanian Riviera.

This backpacking guide to the Albanian Riviera will help you understand the region a bit more and with our complete itinerary and a guide on things to do, you should be able to have a general idea of what the region is like and allow you to plan your trip to the Albanian Riviera effectively.

NOTE: One thing to note about beaches in the Albanian Riviera is that the age of finding empty and secluded beaches in the area is long gone.

In only 2 years, all the nice beaches along the coast are now covered in rental sunbeds and umbrellas, so to avoid disappointment, try not to expect a secluded and empty white beach waiting for you to discover in the Albanian Riviera.

Don't get me wrong, the area is huge and I'm sure there are some other nice beaches out there still but even then, you might find someone already there before you, especially in the summertime.

Now, that that is out of the way, let's begin with the itinerary map to the Albanian Riviera:

2 Weeks Backpacking Itinerary For Albania

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The Albanian Riviera Things To Do and Itinerary Map

Albanian Riviera Things to Do Itinerary Map

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When to Visit the Albanian Riviera, Albania

The beautiful sunset at Ksamil in the Albanian Riviera, Albania.

The best time to visit the Albanian Riviera is during Spring (April - June) and Autumn (September - October) where the weather is a little bit more manageable with the temperature hovering around 22°C - 31°C and there will be significantly less tourist during these period.

Unlike the rest of Albania, the Albanian Riviera gets a lot of tourists from Europe during the summer months and so I would avoid July - August. The weather can also get blazingly hot during this period with the temperature as high as 35°C.

Where Should I Stay in the Albanian Riviera?

Himara coastline from above in the Albanian Riviera, Albania

That is the first question I asked myself when I was planning to visit the Albanian Riviera and from my research talking to other travelers, and from my personal experience, I have come to the conclusion that Himara is the best place to stay in the Albanian Riviera.

Himara is a small town located right on the coast of the Ionian Sea. Due to its central location, you will have access to many of the beautiful beaches along the coastline without having to travel very far. Hell, you can even reach many of them with a kayak from Himara!

Ksamil is another base that I will be including in the itinerary but it should not be your main base as it is quite far from all the cool things to do along the coastline. The reason I included Ksamil is that it is close to Butrint National Park, which is best seen in the early morning and you wouldn't be able to reach it in time from Himara.

Saranda is just a big bustling coastal city that is the central hub of Southern Albania. Depending on where you are heading next, you might have to stay a night in Saranda to catch an early bus to somewhere in Albania or to get to Corfu, Greece, but in general, I wouldn't recommend staying in Saranda if it is not necessary.

Where to Stay in Himara, Albania

Himara - Himara Downtown Hostel (Budget) - 11 USD/Night (Dorm) | Hotel Billy Bar Restorant (Mid-Range) - 22 USD/Night (Double Room with Sea View)

Ksamil - Ksamil Apartments (Mid-Range) - 18 USD/Night (Studio with Balcony)

Saranda - Saranda (SR) Backpackers (Budget) - 10 USD/Night (Dorm) | Kristina Bellavista B&B (Mid-Range) - 35 USD/Night (Double Room with Balcony and Sea View)

How to Get to the Albanian Riviera

A large cruise passing through the Corfu Strait from the Albanian side.

To get to the Albanian Riviera, you can either fly into Tirana and travel by bus to Saranda and get a connecting bus to Himara, or you can fly into Corfu, Greece and get on a ferry to Saranda and then Himara.

How to Get to Tirana

From the US, you can fly into Tirana via Turkish Airlines through Istanbul, KLM Airlines through Amsterdam, Alitalia Airlines through Rome, and a few other routes that go through Europe.

From within Europe, you can go with low-cost airlines like WizzAir or RyanAir to get you to Tirana. If you are coming from a place that doesn't have a low-cost direct flight to Tirana, it might be worthwhile to travel by land to a city that has one and fly from there instead of relying on expensive flights.

From Asia, the easiest way is to fly to Tirana is through Istanbul via Turkish Airlines. If you want to minimize cost, you can find a way to Turkey and then from there, you can fly with Pegasus Low-Cost Airline to Tirana. Keep in mind that you might have to change airports if you are switching from a regular carrier to a low-cost carrier in Istanbul.

To find a cheap flight to Tirana, I would recommend you use Skyscanner or Momondo to look for the cheapest route and schedule so you can compare and pick the best one.

10 Best Things to Do in Tirana, Albania

How to Get from Tirana to Himara

An Albanian driver talking to a passenger while driving to Himara, Albania.

There are 4 direct buses from Tirana to Himara at 5:30 AM, 6:15 AM, 1 PM, and 9 PM. It takes 5.5 hours and costs 1000 LEK. I would recommend taking one of these buses if you can but if not, you can take the 5:30 AM or 7:30 AM buses from Tirana to Saranda and then get on a 1 PM bus from Saranda to Himara.

How to Get from Corfu to Himara

In order to get to Himara from Corfu, you will have to first get to Saranda. There are 2 - 3 ferries from Corfu to Saranda every day at 9 AM, 1 PM, and 7 PM, so you can get one of that and then take a connecting bus from Saranda to Himara.

The ferry costs around 19 EUR and the journey will take 30 minutes. You can book your tickets from the Ionian Seaways website.

From Saranda to Himara, there are 2 buses running daily at 10 AM and 1 PM and in order to make it in time for the bus to Himara from Corfu, I would recommend you get the 9 AM ferry and you should be able to go to Himara on the 1 PM bus. The bus leaves from Saranda Bus Terminal, so be sure to spare some time to get there.

How to Get Around the Albanian Riviera

A view from the window of a car in the Albanian Riviera, Albania.

The Albanian Riviera covers a lot of areas and in this itinerary, we will be traveling between 3 cities, Himara, Saranda, and Ksamil so the cheapest way to get to these places is by buses.

From within those cities, there are both attractions that can be reached on foot, and some that can be reached either via a moped or a kayak which you can easily rent.

Getting Around Himara

For Himara, which will be your base, I would recommend you rent a moped for a day to get to all the beautiful tourist attractions like the Porto Palermo Castle and all the beautiful beaches like Gjipe Beach and Borcsh Beach.

There are several rental places in Himara you can rent a moped from or if not, you can always ask your hostel/hotel to direct you to one. Usually, the going rate is around 20 EUR per day for a Piaggio Liberty 125cc.

For the next day, I would recommend you get a kayak and visit a more secluded beach and check out all the caves along the coastline. The going rate for kayak rental in Himara is roughly 400 LEK per hour.

Getting Around Ksamil

For Ksamil, the only reason I recommend this place is due to its proximity to Butrit, an ancient Greek-Roman city that attracts a ton of tourists every day.

In order to avoid them, you will have to get there in the early morning and it is much easier if you stay overnight in Ksamil. It is also nicer in Ksamil than in Saranda in my opinion with a bit more things to do.

There are buses running from Saranda to Butrint that goes through Ksamil so you can flag one down along the main road in Ksamil. The bus should cost around 50 LEK and it will take no more than 15 minutes to get to Butrint. This bus runs from 5 AM to 6 PM every hour so you should have no trouble flagging one down.

You can also walk if you don't mind spending an hour walking along the main road. Otherwise, organizing a taxi with your hotel the day before is recommended if you don't fancy relying on Albanian Buses.

How Many Days to Spend in the Albanian Riviera

A fortress in Butrint, Albania.

For this itinerary, I would recommend you spend at least 5 days (6 nights) in the Albanian Riviera. Since you will be traveling between 2 towns, Himara and Ksamil, I have also included a day just to travel, and here is a breakdown of the itinerary per day:

Day 0 (Himara): On your arrival day, wait until evening and hike to the Himara Castle for sunset and walk around Himara beach at night and experience the Albanian tradition of Xhiro.

Day 1 (Himara): Rent a scooter and go explore Porto Palermo Castle and then relax at Borsh Beach. For the sunset, hike to Sunset Restorant Bar and dine there before ending the day.

Day 2 (Himara): Rent a Kayak and visit the secluded beaches of Gjipe, Filikuri, and all the hidden caves along the coastline.

Day 3 (Ksamil): Travel to Ksamil.

Day 4 (Ksamil): Visit Butrint in the morning and spend the rest of the day exploring Ksamil and its beautiful beach. Dance around with the locals at night at one of the many bars along the beach in Ksamil.

Day 5 (Saranda): Depending on you are going next, you will likely have to be in Saranda to travel somewhere else may it be Corfu in Greece or other places in Albania like Gjirokaster or Tirana. It would be ideal if you can get to your next destination on the same day, but if not, you can spend one night in Saranda and leave the next day.

How Much Money Do I Need for the Albanian Riviera

Based on the 4-days itinerary above, we can calculate the minimum amount of money you will be spending in Albanian Riviera as follows:

Accommodation: 33 USD for 3 nights in Himara, 36 USD for 2 nights in Ksamil, and 10 USD for one night in Saranda (just in case you have to sleep there one night for a transit), the total accommodation cost is 79 USD (8,828 LEK)

Food: A good meal costs around 500 LEK and since most hostel includes breakfast, we can assume you will be paying 2 meals a day. For 5 nights, the total cost will be 4,500 LEK.

Transportation: For buses, you will be spending around 200 LEK, 2,456 LEK for a moped rental for one day, and 1,200 for kayak rental for 3 hours. The total cost is 3,856 LEK.

Activities: The entrance fee for Porto Palermo Castle is 100 LEK, the sunbed at Borsh Beach is 500 LEK for 2 person umbrella, 1500 for 4 person umbrellas, and the entry fee for Butrint is 700 LEK. In total, you will spend 2700 LEK for activities per person.

Total Budget for 4-days itinerary in the Albanian Riviera: 19,884 LEK (178 USD).

Is it Safe in the Albanian Riviera

Like all of Albania, traveling in the Albanian Riviera is very safe. One thing to know if you are renting a moped is that some roads go along the side of a mountain and it can be quite curvy and narrow so do drive carefully.

Other than that, there's nothing to worry about as the place gets a lot of tourists every year and local people are very friendly towards travelers.

Internet in the Albanian Riviera

WIFI is available in hotels and hostels and they are mostly reliable but some restaurants and cafes in the Albanian Riviera do not have a reliable connection or some don't even have WIFI and so I would suggest you get a local sim card if you need to stay connected while on your trip.

For the local sim card, if you are staying for more than 2 weeks in Albania, I would recommend getting the Vodafone Z package, a one-month validity sim card with 5.5 GB of regular data, 10 GB for social network usage, 400 minutes and SMS which cost 1500 LEK + 100 LEK for a new sim card.

If you are traveling in Albania for 2 weeks, I would recommend you get the 14-days validity Vodafone Tourist sim that gives you 10 GB of data and 500 mins of calls for 1300 LEK.

For more information about Albania local sim card: Albania Prepaid Data Sim Card.

Travel Insurance

If you are looking for travel insurance to go along with your trip to Albania, I would recommend, which is what I use to look for travel insurance that fits my kind of adventure.

Get a Quote from World Nomads

Things to Do Itinerary for the Albanian Riviera

Hike Up to Himara Castle for the Sunset

A sunset view from Himara Castle in Albania.

For this 4-days itinerary, you will be basing yourself in Himara first and one of the best things to do on the day of your arrival is to go and explore the town on foot and a great place to start is the Himara Castle.

A panoramic view of Himara's coastline in Himara, Albania.

Located atop the Barbakas hill overlooking Himara and the Ionian Sea coastline, the Old Town and the Himara Castle is an ancient settlement since the Bronze Age. It existed in some form or another 2000 years ago, and now, you can walk back in time and explore the ruin of Himara Castle.

An old bell atop an orthodox church inside Himara's Castle, Albania.

Within the castle, you will find local people living within the walls still as well as a few beautiful orthodox churches you can check out. There is also a cafe inside if you fancy a cup of coffee while watching the sunset.

The beautiful interior of an orthodox church inside Himara's Castle, Albania.

The walk is around 30 to 40 minutes from Himara along the main road up the Barbakas hill to the Old Town area and the castle. I would recommend you do it in the evening right before the sunset so that you don't have to walk in the heat and you should be there by the time the sunsets.

Walk Along the Main Street in Himara

Himara's beach in Albania.

After hiking up to Himara castle for the sunset, make your way back to Himara and go check out the main boulevard along the Himara Beach. Like any Albanian towns, you will be able to experience the Albanian tradition of Xhiro where locals would come gather at the boulevard and walk up and down the street while socializing with one another.

The busy main street of Himara at night in Albania.

You can experience xhiro hours in Berat and Gjirokaster, as well as in Himara so be sure not to miss it. It is quite fun to see people come out and participate in activities along the boulevard, transforming a seemingly quiet town like Himara into a circus filled with fun things to do.

People gathering around an air hockey table in Himara, Albania.

You can indulge in one of the many seafood restaurants and bars along the boulevard and enjoy people-watching. There is also a hidden bar by the beach called River Cocktail Bar where you can sit and bury your feet in the sand while sipping cocktails.

One of the many restaurants along the main street of Himara, Albania.

If you are looking for a place to eat and drink in Himara, be sure to check out our Where to Eat and Drink in the Albanian Riviera section for more information.

Walk Around Porto Palermo Castle

View from the terrace of Porto Palermo Castle in Himara, Albania.

On your first day in Himara, I would recommend you rent a moped and go off and explore the tourist attractions around the area. One of the most prominent landmarks of the Albanian Riviera is the Porto Palermo Castle, an ancient greek fortified port town standing on a hill overlooking the coast of the Ionian Sea.

The empty top of Porto Palermo Castle in Himara, Albania.

Within the Porto Palermo Castle, there is a labyrinth of hallways and rooms you can explore. There is nothing inside these rooms though so you can easily see them all in 10 minutes.

The entrance of Porto Palermo Castle in Himara, Albania.

The highlight of the castle is the terrace at the top where you will be able to have a panoramic view of the stunning coastline and the turquoise-colored ocean as far as the eye can see.

The hallways of Porto Palermo Castle in Himara, Albania.

The entrance fee is only 100 LEK and it is on the way to our next destination in our itinerary, the Borsh Beach, and so be sure to stop by here before moving on.

Spend a Day Relaxing at Borsh Beach, the Longest Beach in the Ionian Sea

Borsh beach in Albania, the longest beach on the Ionian Sea

Borsh Beach is the longest and largest beach in the Ionian sea and you can see how long it is right from the road from Himara. Its stunning white sand beach that stretches for miles attracts a lot of tourists and yet, you won't feel like its crowded at all.

Colorful inflatable tube stacked up at Borsh Beach in Albania.

There are a few restaurants along the beach where you can park your moped or car but it is very likely that they will ask you to rent their sunbeds and umbrellas.

People relaxing at Borsh Beach in Albania.

From my experience, there are pretty much all in the same price-range at 500 LEK per day for 2 sunbeds and an umbrella and so simply just pick the one you like and spend the rest of your day relaxing and swimming at Borsch Beach.

Kayak to all the Albanian Hidden Beaches

People Kayaking in the middle of the Ionian Sea in Albania.

On your second day, rent a kayak and go and explore the beautiful coastline of the Albanian Riviera and visit some of the more secluded beaches in the area.

People kayaking in front of a cave along the Albanian Riviera, Albania.

If you go up north, you will be able to visit Gjipe beach and Jala beach which are quite nice when it is not crowded. Along the way, you will find plenty of small caves and stunning rock formation for you to explore along the coastline.

One of the many caves along the Albanian Riviera, Albania

It is a fun and different perspective to see the Southern Albanian coastline from a kayak instead of from the road above. You can spend around 3 - 4 hours exploring the coastline with your kayak.

A crowded Gjipe Beach in the Albanian Riviera, Albania

You can rent a kayak in Himara for 400 LEK per hour. There are several rental places you can find along the Himara Beach or you can ask your hotel/hostel to direct you to one close by.

Inside a cavern along the Albanian Riviera coastline in Albania

If you go south, you can visit Filikuri Beach which is located not too far from Himara. You can also access this beach by land with a rope down from the Sunset Restorant Bar above but it is quite dangerous and we are going to visit the Sunset Restorant Bar anyway at sunset and it is not recommended to go down the rope at night and so I would recommend you visit the beach with a kayak and then visit the The Sunset Restorat Bar separately.

Watch the Sunset at the Sunset Restorant Bar

Sunset over Himare at Sunset Restorant Bar in the Albanian Riviera, Albania.

After a day of kayaking, there is no better way to reward yourself than to dine while watching the sunset and one of the best places to watch the sunset is at the The Sunset Restorat Bar.

The rolling hills of the landscape around Himara in the Albanian Riviera, Albania.

The Sunset Restorat Bar is located on top of the cliff above Filikuri Beach mentioned previously, overlooking the coastline of Himara with a mountainous backdrop of the hills and mountains of Southern Albania.

Himara's beach from the Sunset Restorant Bar in the Albanian Riviera, Albania.

For some reason, the sky at sunset in the Ionian Sea becomes extremely saturated with an orange and purple hue, more than anywhere I have seen in the world.

Himara after sunset in the Albanian Riviera, Albania.

If you are looking for a nice viewpoint in Himara, this is the best one you will find here. Its 180° panoramic view of the landscape of Himara is hard to beat, especially after the sunset when the sky turned purple and the quiet town of Himara wakes up from its slumber and come to life.

Get from Himara to Ksamil

Ksamil Beach in the Albanian Riviera, Albania.

After the second day in Himara, it is time to go to move on and the next town you will be visiting is Ksamil, another fun coastal town located just a few kilometers south of Saranda.

A sunset from Ksamil Apartments in Ksamil, Albania.

There is a 9 AM bus from Vlore that goes through Himara to Saranda so you can take that one to Saranda. Unfortunately, there is no proper bus stop in Himara so you will have to stand along the S8 Highway and flag one down. It should cost around 50 LEK and takes 1.5 hours to get to Saranda.

Along the road from Himara to Ksamil in Albanian Riviera, Albania.

Keep in mind that the bus schedule may change for no reason and so it is best to inquire your hotel/hostel before you make the journey to Saranda.

From Saranda, there are buses going to Butrint that passes through Ksamil every 30 minutes and so you can take that one. The bus should cost 100 LEK and you should be in Ksamil in 30 minutes.

If you are short on time, you can visit Butrint directly from Saranda and back on the same day but the place gets jam-packed with tourists all day long starting at 9 AM and so I would recommend you stay one night in Ksamil and visit Butrint the next day.

Walk Around Ksamil at Sunset

The main market street in Ksamil, Albanian Riviera, Albania.

After arriving in Ksamil, you can spend the rest of the day walking around the main market street where you can find small local shops along 2 sides as well as plenty of restaurants and bars along the street.

Crazy vivid sunset in Ksamil, Albanian Riviera, Albania.

Again, the sunset along the Albanian Riviera is worth seeing every day you are there and so I would recommend picking a restaurant with a view for dinner and watch the sunset over the Ionian Sea.

Another beautiful sunset in Ksamil, Albanian Riviera, Albania.

One of the restaurants I would recommend is Guvat Restaurant where you can eat local cuisine on their terrace and watch the sunset. For more information about where to eat, check out our Where to Eat and Drink in the Albanian Riviera section below.

Explore Butrint National Park

A Greek/Roman Ruin at the entrance of Butrint, Albania.

The next day, get up as early as you can and get to Butrint right before the opening time at 8 AM. Go to the roundabout on the main road in Ksamil at 7:30 AM and flag down a bus bound for Butrint to beat the crowd.

A fortress at the entrance of Butrint, Albania.

At 8 AM, you should see no line at the ticket booth and you should be able to get the ticket and go inside without having to wait like if you arrive at 9 AM. The ticket costs 700 LEK and you can spend at least 2 - 3 hours exploring Butrint and all its structure.

An empty amphitheater in Butrint, Albania.

Within Butrint, you will find many well-preserved structures that dated back to the Middle Ages like the Theatre of Buthrotum, an amphitheater from the Greek-era still pretty much intact.

Me standing in the middle of the Great Basilica in Butrint, Albania.

The Great Basilica is also a prominent structure in Butrint. It is the remain of a large well-preserved basilica from the 6th Century that you can walk around and explore.

The columns of baptistery in Butrint, Albania.

Not too far from the basilica, you will also find a Baptisterium, one of the largest paleochristian buildings of its type where you will be able to take a peek at the well-preserved mosaic pavement.

The beautiful mosaic pavement of the baptistery in Butrint, Albania.

Unfortunately, the majority of them are covered in sand for preservation and only one corner of the baptistery is visible to tourists, but even then, the detail of the mosaic pavement will make you wonder as to what this ancient city would have looked like back when it was at its peak.

Many artifacts inside Butrint Museum in Albania.

There is also a archeological museum within Butrint where you can learn a bit more about the history of this ancient city and how it became the colony of the Greeks, the Romans, and the Ottomans.

Dance Your Night Away with the Locals in Ksamil

Albanians dancing in circle to Albanian music in Ksamil, Albania.

After spending almost 5 days in the Albanian Riviera, the best way to say farewell to such a beautiful place is to go off into the night and dance away with the locals.

Stunning sunset in Ksamil, Albania.

After the sunset, the city of Ksamil turns into a lively place full of activities and nightlife for one to enjoy. If you walk around at night, you will see many people dancing around in a circle to local music where you can join in and have fun among the locals.

People dancing at Grill House in Ksamil, Albania.

From spending several nights in Ksamil, I saw 2 bars and restaurants that often form a dance circle, Poda Beach Bar and Grill House and so if you are interested in dancing your night away or to just witness of the cool tradition of Albania, be sure to check them out before you end your trip in the Albanian Riviera.

Where to Eat and Drink in the Albanian Riviera

Eat Seafood at Lefteri's Tavern in Himara

For Himara, one of the best places to eat seafood is at Lefteri's Tavern, a cozy restaurant with outdoor seatings that serve all kinds of dishes with seafood like shrimps, squids, and mussels.

Their seafood spaghetti and risotto are dishes to die for or if you are hungry for all kinds of seafood, you can also go for their mixed seafood plate. The price ranged from 500 - 1000 LEK and so if you are looking for a nice and affordable place to eat seafood, be sure to drop by Lefteri's Tavern.

Eat Grill Mix at Fast Food Beshiku in Ksamil

Me and my friends eating at Fast Food Beshiku in Ksamil, Albania.

For Ksamil, there are quite a few more options with many varieties. One of the most popular restaurants in Ksamil is Fast Food Beshiku right at the corner of Ksamil main roundabout.

Me and my friend sharing a mixed grill dish at Fast Food Beshiku in Ksamil, Albania.

In the evening, you will see many people in the restaurant, which should be a clear sign that Fast Food Beshiku is great. They serve grill dishes like kebabs, kofta, doners, hamburgers, grilled veggies, salads, and you can order all of them in one plate with a mixed grill dish if you are hungry as I did 😅.

The best part is, you can eat and eat and eat at this restaurant, and yet the price will still be affordable. It's really cheap compared to other restaurants in the area. The price starts from 200 LEK - 900 LEK for 2 persons so if you are looking for a cheap place to eat in Ksamil, this is it.

Eat While Watching Sunset at Guvat Restaurant in Ksamil

The Musaka at Guvat Restaurant in Ksamil, Albania.

If you are looking for a nice restaurant with a view near the beach, Guvat Restaurant is highly recommended. They serve seafood as well as local dishes like Musaka which I highly recommended.

My friend watching a sunset in from Guvat Restaurant balcony in Ksamil, Albania.

It's a little more expensive but for the price, you will get a front seat row to watch the magical sunset with a table by the terrace overlooking all the 3 Ksamil islands and the coastline.

Drink at Poda Beach Bar in Ksamil

Me and my friends saying farewell with a mojito at Poda Beach Bar.

For a great place to drink and enjoy a fun night dancing with the locals, Poda Beach Bar is a great place to go for a drink after dark. They serve many delicious mojitos you can choose from and if the choices are a little too overwhelming, their friendly staff can help you out as well.

People dancing in circle in Ksamil, Albania.

As the night progresses, you will see more and more people on the dance floor and once the DJ turns on a traditional Albanian song, people will come in a circle and dance their nights away as seen in the photo.

People dancing to Albanian music in Ksamil, Albania.

I would have loved to join them but after studying their steps and footwork, I gave up 😂. It's not as easy as it looks from afar! If you do try to dance with them, do let us know how it went in the comments below 😂.

Other Things to Do in the Albanian Riviera

Visit the Blue Eye

Me looking at the clear turquoise water of the Blue Eye in Albania.

If you have a few extra days left, you can travel to the Blue Eye, a natural water spring located in between Gjirokaster and Saranda. It is quite beautiful there, but a little too crowded for my liking.

The clear turquoise water of the Blue Eye in Albania.

There is not much to do here except swim in the pool which is technically prohibited but no one seems to care so you can do that as well or just sit in one of the 2 restaurants located nearby. I would say, maximum you will be spending less than 3 hours here.

Getting to the Blue Eye

From Ksamil or Himara, you will have to first get to Saranda and from there, get on a bus going to Gjirokaster, which goes every hour and tell the driver to drop you off at the Blue Eye.

The journey should take around 30 minutes and cost you 300 LEK. From the main road, it's another 2 km walk on a dirt road so be prepared to walk in the sun for a while.

Go On a Boat Tour Along the Southern Albanian Coast

Speed Boat leaving the Albanian Riviera coast in Himara, Albania.

You can also go on a speedboat trip up and down the coastline in Himara if you don't fancy renting a moped or kayaking. The boat trip will visit most of the attractions in one go but only for a brief moment each.

One of the many caves you will find along the coastline of Himara, Albania.

Places they go are the Pirate's Cave, the Pigeons Cave, Filikuri Beach, the Submarine Bunker, and Porto Palermo Castle. The total cost of the tour is 4,000 LEK and it will take 3 hours.

Personally, I would recommend against it because having only 3 hours to visit all these places will barely give you enough time to relax and enjoy the scenery at your own leisure. Moped and Kayaking are the ways to go in my opinion.

Where to Go Next?

Corfu, Greece

To get to Corfu, Greece, you will have to get to Saranda first. There are 3 boats going daily from Saranda to Corfu at 8:45 AM, 10:30 AM, and 04:00 PM. From Ksamil, there are buses going to Saranda every 30 minutes so you can easily make it to one of these ferries to Corfu.

The ferry will cost you 19 EUR and it can take from 30 minutes to 70 minutes depending on the type of ferry you get. You can book your tickets from the Ionian Seaways website.

Gjirokaster, Albania

Gjirokaster is a beautiful UNESCO Heritage Site known as the Stone City of Thousand Steps and there are a ton of awesome things you can there so if you are looking to go somewhere after the Albanian Riviera, Gjirokaster is the place to be.

To get to Gjirokaster, you have to get to Saranda first which is quite easy from Ksamil as there are buses connecting the 2 cities every 30 minutes. From Saranda, there is one bus every hour that passes through Gjirokaster, so you should have no trouble getting to Gjirokaster after the Albanian Riviera.

8 Best Things To Do In Gjirokaster

Tirana, Albania

If you want to get to Tirana from Ksamil, you will have to get a bus to Saranda which leaves every 30 minutes from the main roundabout and take 30 minutes and from Saranda, there are several buses running from 5 AM to 10 PM every day.

From Saranda to Tirana, it will take about 5 hours and cost around 1300 LEK per person. Keep in mind that the schedule may change due to seasonality or some other reason so I would recommend you ask your hostel/hotel before embarking on the journey.

Shkodra, Albania

A bus schedule from Tirana to Shkodra, Albania.

To get to Shkodra you can easily do it in one day without a stopover in Tirana. First, you will have to get to Saranda and then Tirana by following the guide above and then there are buses every hour from 7 AM to 5 PM to Shkodra that you can take.

The journey from Saranda to Tirana will take 5 hours and cost 1300 LEK and the journey from Tirana to Shkodra will take another 2 hours and cost 300 LEK.

And there you have it, a complete backpacking guide to the Albanian Riviera. If you are planning a trip to the Albanian Riviera and you have a question, feel free to ask me in the comments below.

Further Reading for Albania

Looking for more information for your trip to Albania? Here is a collection of articles about Albania that will help you with your trip planning:

The Solo Traveler’s Journal is a series of posts by Pete Rojwongsuriya, the founder of BucketListly Blog where we will follow his solo journey around the world as he experiences different cultures, people, and historical locations one country at a time.

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Categories: destinationseuropeeastern europebalkansalbania

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