7 of Albania's very best beaches

Closed off to the rest of the world under a Communist dictatorship until the 1990s, Albania* was a country shrouded in mystery for decades.

Discover some of the most tempting beaches on the Albanian Riviera
Discover some of the most tempting beaches on the Albanian Riviera © Lukaszimilena - Dreamstime.com

Thanks to a litany of affordable flights and holidays from across the UK, and a 35-minute ferry ride from Corfu Town, people are slowly waking up to everything this southern European destination has to offer, including its pristine shores.

The peak summer months see crowds descend on the Albanian Riviera, the southern Ionian Sea stretch of its Mediterranean coast, drawn to sand as white as snow and a sea sparkling with all the ethereal blues of the Indian Ocean.

But the shoulder seasons covering May, late August and September see blissfully quiet bays where you can easily bag a day bed with billowing white curtains for a beach experience to rival the Maldives.

From Durrës in the north to Ksamil near the Greek border in the south, beachside towns and villages run the length of the Albanian coast. Secluded coves and long stretches of sand bring the blissed-out Bali beach vibes to a part of Europe that's having a real moment. Here we take a look at those stand-outs along the southern stretch that makes up the Albanian Riviera.

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A quiet village within a national park, Ksamil is near the Greek border and practically kisses Corfu from across the sea. It's a collection of villas, bars and restaurants sandwiched between two glorious beaches.

Popular Ksamil Beach and the islands off-shore
Popular Ksamil Beach and the islands off-shore © Tatiana - Adobe Stock Image

The sand here is bone-white and the Ionian Sea is as turquoise as a Barbados bay. Pirate-themed beach bars with fishing net beds suspended above the clear water lean into the Caribbean aesthetic.

From Ksamil, you can spot three uninhabited islands in front of Corfu, two of which are within swimming distance. Those seeking a little history and culture can spend a day exploring the Roman and Byzantine ruins at Butrint Archaeological Park, just a few miles away.

In the peak of summer, you'll be hard-pressed to bag a beach lounger though, as Ksamil's beauty attracts crowds from across Albania, but in shoulder seasons you'll find it blissfully quiet.


Sitting just south of the village of the same name, Dhërmi Beach is a long stretch of sand lapped by clear, quiet waves. There's plenty of room to take a dip and the sea is calm enough for swimming.

Looking down on the white sands of Dhërmi Beach
Looking down on the white sands of Dhërmi Beach © Lukaszimilena - Adobe Stock Image

You'll be glad of it in the summer months when this slice of southern Europe is blessed with scorching sunshine. The beach is lined with loungers, has a healthy crop of beach bars serving fresh seafood and elaborate cocktails, and has a handful of deluxe hotels if you want to pad barefoot from room to sand in the morning.

Alternatively, you can stay in the village of Dhërmi, a 10-minute walk up the hill, with far-reaching views of the shore.


Stretching for 7 km, Borsh is one of the longest beaches in Albania. Mountains surround this slice of coastline and olive groves fill the verdant green plateau between the peaks and swathes of sand.

Like the majority of the Albanian coast, the water here is a heady medley of ultramarine and turquoise but unlike the majority of the Albanian coast, the area around Borsh remains largely undeveloped.

There's a handful of hotels, guesthouses and brand-new wooden cabins for families on the shore and plenty of places to grab a drink and rustic Albanian meal.

The long stretch of sand affords more space in peak season than its coastal neighbours. For a little historical intrigue, Borsh Castle, dating back to the 4th century, presides on a rocky outcrop overlooking the beach and is a great spot to watch the sunset.

Lukovë Cave

Following signs from the tranquil mountain village of Lukovë to Lukovë Cave, you might expect to find a cavern in the rocks.

Instead, you'll find a beautiful sandy beach encased by sleek, marble-like rocks. Boho beach bars sit back from the sand, each with a cluster of sun loungers shaded by thatched umbrellas, just like the beaches of Thailand.

At the far end of the sand, the concrete expanse of an abandoned Cold War bunker has been turned into a ramshackle bar and restaurant where a platform allows revellers to leap into the crystalline sea just beyond the rocks.


A short drive north from the resort village of Himarë, Livadhi Beach is a little more rough and ready than a lot of the built-up Albanian coast.

The inviting waters of Livadhi Beach
The inviting waters of Livadhi Beach © Lukaszimilena - Adobe Stock Image

There are still a few beachfront hotels to choose from and regimented lines of sun loungers in the sunny months, but you can find an empty section of sand at one end of the beach.

Those looking to save a few pennies can stay at the beachside campsite. In high season, wooden platforms out in the milky-blue shallows house premium lounging spots and a litany of pop-up food trucks and beach bars buzz to life.

Perhaps the most notable is Boho Livadhi, which has a quirky medley of Moroccan-style lounge seating and areas with the vintage living room sets that would have been prevalent across Albanian homes in the 1980s.


A seaside suburb of Vlorë, Orikum feels like a quieter version of Miami Beach or Rio's Copacabana. Palm trees fringe the white sand and the streets next to the shore are home to some of Albania's best seafood restaurants.

Boat and yacht charters are available from Orikum Marina, shuttling people to sea caves and snorkelling spots in the crystal-clear Adriatic.

This one's for those who like their beach stay with a bit of buzz, plenty of places to eat and a little luxury in terms of accommodation.


Sheer cliffs and an obligatory 20-minute hike from a shabby car park keep this sandy cove just south of Dhërmi quieter than most in the area.

Taking the scenic route down to Gjipe Beach
Taking the scenic route down to Gjipe Beach © Angelov - Adobe Stock Image

This is the choice for those who like their beaches undiscovered. There are a couple of shack-style restaurants serving cold beer and freshly cooked fish but you won't find any high-rise hotels here.

Accommodation is purely in the form of campsites if you plan to stay overnight. At the mouth of a dramatic canyon, natural caves burrow into the cliffside and the water is blissfully calm for swimming.

Climate in Albania

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum daytime temperature °C
Hours of sunshine (daily)
Days with some rainfall
Sea temperature °C

The above guide shows the climate in Sarande. Find out more about conditions across the country in our complete guide to the climate in Albania.

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Suzy Pope

Suzy Pope

Posted on Thursday 4th July 2024 in: Beach Europe Summer

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