Planing your next budget beach holiday in Europe? Travel to Albanian Riviera and try Albania’s rugged coastline, with traditional villages nestled in isolated bays and golden beaches lapped by turquoise waters, was a revelation when travellers first started discovering the country a decade ago.
Totally empty white beaches with crystal clear turquoise water, fresh seafood, baklava and local wine, and prices so low they make Thailand look expensive – isn’t southern Europe just wonderful?
A new access road takes you from the main road to the beach itself, a glorious stretch of white sand and rock with no development to speak of apart from a nightclub which brings in crowds at the height of summer. This is the first accessible beach on the Riviera after negotiating the incredible descent through the zigzagging Llogaraja Pass. Perfect for beach bums wanting to avoid crowds, camp alone on the beach and swim in pristine waters.
A dazzling strip of white rock several kilometres long that is lapped by deep blue water. The beach at Dhërmi is one of the most famous in Albania. Outside peak season, it’s very quiet, and while the summer months now get very busy, the beach is long enough for those who want to find a quiet spot away from the crowds even in mid-August.
The three small islands in its turquoise bay are an easy swim or boat ride away, and there are always fewer people here than on the busier town beach. South of Saranda, the unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera, and within striking distance of the Greek border, Ksamil has an excellent location. This is a big tourism centre for locals, and it can get very crowded in summer, but even then the islands offer some respite.Corfu looms across the channel in the distance, and the ancient city of Butrint, a Unesco World Heritage Site, is just beyond Saranda, which makes it very easy to combine beach time with some cultural pursuits.
Bunec is quiet and somewhat unusual, with a pebbly white beach divided by a river which runs down from the mountains above. This little charmer of a cove is often overlooked by travellers hurrying towards the bright lights of Saranda, a short distance beyond it. The sunset here is gorgeous, and the beach is a good option for those looking for a bit more comfort while remaining in a pleasingly unspoilt place.
The town of Himara is a well-established stop on the tourist trail. IF you don’t want crowded beaches head 3km north of the town to Livadhia beach, a wide and long, white stone beach backed by rolling hills and with inviting, clear water for swimming.
7km-long unbroken stretch of beach in Albania is in Borsh is quite a sight as you approach it along the dramatic coastal road leading to the wide plain with the eponymous town spread out before you. Even more remarkable is that tourism has barely touched Borsh, despite its significant community and busy olive-oil production industry – the beach is backed by little more than a few makeshift restaurants and bars.
So come now to enjoy this magical place.