5 Glorious Beaches in Albania: Ksamil Dhermi & More

Sunset from Himara Beach

The Albanian Riviera. Pebble beaches, secluded beaches, island beaches and a few pristine sandy beaches. Southern Albania has spectacular scenery and beaches rivalling nearby Greece and Croatia for half the price. Tourists from the Balkans and Italy have been visiting this part of Albania for quite some time but the rest of Europe is just starting to discover the region.

One of the best beaches in Albania

I’ve spent many months in Albania but this was my first time on the riviera and I now understand why the country has pinned the hopes of Albanian tourism on this region. The landscape, sunsets and fresh seafood are outstanding. Visit now before the crowds come and reckless development spoils the view.

Llogara Pass looking down on the Albanian Riviera

Ksamil Beach and Islands

By far the most pristine of all the beaches I visited, Ksamil has calm, turquoise water and white sandy beaches. There were few other tourists in sight in September and after a quick boat ride we had Ksamil Island to ourselves.

Ksamil Beach with the islands in the distance

Himara

Along with having multiple stunning and secluded beaches, Himara is unusual in that the majority of the population is of Greek origin. Even though they are a minority in Albania they have retained their Greek culture and language over the centuries. The coastline around Himara is my preferred along the Albanian Riviera and the fact that I’m also of Greek origin hasn’t biased my feelings for the region whatsoever.

Himara Beach in September

Borshi Beach

The massive stretch of beach at Borsh is surrounded by olive groves, grazing goats and high mountain peaks. It’s one of the least developed of Albania’s main riviera beaches. Fingers crossed it stays that way.

Rugged Borshi Beach on the Albanian Riviera

Dhermi

Dhermi has long been recognised as Albania’s best beach destination and tourists swarm to the coastal pine forests which open onto fine pebble beaches. It’s built up fairly close to the water but if you head away from the main beach you can experience the pristine beaches the locals rave about. Dhermi’s beaches are packed during July and August but off season you’ll have the rocky bays and crystal clear water more or less to yourself.

Dhermi - one of Albania's best beaches

Lukova

Just north of Saranda, Lukova is a great option for a coastal beach holiday if you want a quiet beach but proximity to a decent sized city for shopping and nightlife. Like most Albanian beaches, it can get very busy in summer but for rest of the year you could go days without seeing other swimmers.

Lukova Beach near Saranda in Southern Albania

Where to Stay

Saranda is teeming with empty high rise holiday apartments and outside of July and August you can find nice, clean places for 25 euros per night. I spent a week in an apartment with a huge terrace and views over to Corfu. It was perfect to use as a base for visiting historic Butrint, Gjirokastra and the Blue Eye spring but for beaches I’d suggest staying in Himara instead. We negotiated 20 euros per night for a stay in September with the stunning beach located directly across the road. For more information on visiting Albania, click here to read my mini guide.

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Ksamil Beach in Southern AlbaniaΒ Himara Beach in Southern Albania

About Andrea

Andrea Anastasakis is the founder and author of road trip blog Rear View Mirror. She is currently driving her Fiat 500 around Europe. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram.


Comments

  1. What fabulous beaches! With such cheap prices for apartments it would be very tempting to spend a while there! Definitely one to remember !

  2. Wow. On the list

  3. Wow! What stunning pictures! I love beaches – this is just the right place!

  4. Wow! Those beaches are crazy beautiful; I would not have thought they were in Albania if you had asked me to guess. I haven’t heard much talk about Albania, and the only other report I had heard of the beachfront was less than glowing and featured a dead, decomposing dogβ€”hardly high praise! These photos, on the other hand, definitely make the country’s shoreline and outlying islands seem worthy of investigation. So glad I saw this! (Also, 20 euros per night in September is a fantastic deal! Those are the kind of prices I’m looking for in Eastern Europe!)

    • Albania has its good and bad points that’s for sure but there’s no denying the natural beauty. You just have to know where to go. πŸ™‚

  5. Great photos Andrea. Makes me want to look at visiting Albania next year.

  6. It is a magical place indeed. I hope we can all go back again! (and if I haven’t thanked you already, thank so much Andrea!) πŸ˜‰

  7. Wow! Had it not been for the title, I’d not have guessed where the photos were from. Added now to my list. πŸ™‚

  8. Wonderful photo essay, Andrea. Albania is on our radar now thanks to you! Invite you to come and read some of my photo essays on my luxury travel website! Would love to hear from you.

  9. I had a great time in Albania. It felt like anytime we talked to someone, it was the first time they met someone from a different country. I mean, I’m exaggerating, of course, but it was still quite a welcoming culture. And they have places like these, and no one else visits…

    • I had that same feeling too. They seem to love to meet and chat with foreigners whenever they can.

      • That is the problem with Albanians. They love to chat with foreigners and are very kind towards them. When it comes to the albanian-albanian relationship it is quite the opposite. Dissapointing!!!

    • Andrea first of all thank you very much for the beautiful pictures from my country
      Please, visit north of Albania too, it is amazing I promise you πŸ™‚

  10. Nice job Andrea, for the marketing and promoting to your community,some of Albania beautiful beaches. Thanks

  11. Beautiful photos! Out of these, we’ve only made it to Dhermi. Another reason to go back to Albania!

    • Thanks Gemma! Dhermi is gorgeous and the most well known of Albania’s beaches but personally I much preferred Ksamil and Borsh. I hope you get to go back to see them!

  12. Thank you for the wonderful article dear neighbour from Greece ;)!!!

  13. Good photos and great beaches. But, those people in Himara are not greeks. It’s not the place here to explain why they are not greeks, but don’t make statements like this before you know the history.

  14. I’m glad you enjoyed my country, but I noticed you made an honest mistake when describing Himara. The people of Himara are NOT of greek descent, it is a minority of Albanians that speak greek and claim to be greek and are paid and/or supported by the greek government! It’s all greek propaganda, There are many people in this town that consider themselves Albanian and NOT greek…Himara was and will always be Albanian!

    • Actually there is no mistake about Himara. We all know that Himara has been always part of Greece and the majority of the populations is of greek descends.

  15. Albania has some really beautiful beaches located in the south. The rest of the shoreline is filthy and full of trash. While it is always good to advertise and promote your own country it is also worh spending a few moments describing the other side. Lets be more realistic. The infrastructure is very poor and it lacks the basic stuff one needs during their vacations. The places pictures above are visited mostly by the Albanian youth during the weekends. These places are only a few hours away from the capital so it is worth going there for a day or two. However, it must be said that most of the Albanians spend their vacations in Greece, Italy, Spain, Croatia, Montenegro, and Turkey and that is because it is way cheaper and these countries offer a lot more than just a bar or a night club. The hotel or apartment prices are outrageously high and there is a high probability wou wont have a/c in your room. If you are over 40 or 50, or 60 it is not a good idea to go for a vacations in the places the article mentions. Let alone if you have a family. If you plan to drive you must be really careful since the majority of Albanian drivers do not respect the traffic signs and they driving is extremely dangerous.
    I love my country but the reality, sadly, does not match the beauty of the pictures. Hopefully, the future generations will have better days and be more counscious about Albania.

    • Andi,

      Its obvious that you are Greek and afraid of Albanian competition in tourism . Whatever you say is just smear campaign nothing else. Please enlighten us about this Himara being Greece, because as far as there is history and memory it was never Greece.

      Whatever you say, you are insignificant πŸ™‚

      • Everybody knows that Himara was Greek since ancient times.Drymades(instead of Dhermi),Palasa,Liates,Vouno,Panormo and a lot of other toponyms sound Albanian to you???Go open some history books to get enlighted.

        • Even the Ionian sea is an Albanian word. If you remove the ‘ian’ suffix, its root means ‘our’ in Albanian. Just google “deti jon”. It means both “ionian sea” and “our sea”. Greeks were Albanian speakers until 2 centuries ago and called Romioi, as Greeks in Anatolia still call themselves even today.

  16. Great Entry, thanks for writing it πŸ™‚ Yes, the Ionian seaside is remarkably beautiful in Albania. But as you might know there are so much more unknown amazing places to visit, especially in north Albania. I find it still very crazy that so little is known about these hidden gems in my country. I just wrote a piece in my blog about this: 20 Places that will change your mind about Albania πŸ˜‰

  17. Hi Andrea,
    I came to Ksamil beach based on what you wrote but I must say the place is very far from being pleasant, to say the least. In fact, the term that comes to mind is s**thole. The water and the nature are indeed beautiful but it’s all been defaced with awful concrete and metal structures everywhere. It is just depressing.

    Maybe things have changed since you came here but I would not advise any nature lovers to come here. I can’t wait to get the hell out!

    • I’m truly sorry to hear that Ana. Albania has a serious problem with overbuilding, particularly in Saranda which is why I don’t recommend it as a destination but I didn’t think Ksamil was that bad. When I was there last they were actually demolishing some of the concrete structures and I heard they were continuing to do so but I guess they haven’t gone far enough. The Butrint national park area, which includes Ksamil, is beautiful as you say but yeah it is built up in some parts. I still think it’s worth visiting. Sorry you found it depressing. πŸ™

  18. what about Cameri? Greeks took it. Greece history is not true at all, but the problem is, if you change the Greece history, the wohle EU history has to be changed as well.. very simple.