Our perfect Albanian Riviera itinerary – 1 and 2 week options!

Gjipe Beach Albanian Riviera Europe

Have you ever visited somewhere with minimal expectations and been seriously surprised? This was us in Albania! The beaches are incredible, up there with some of the very best in Europe! The locals are friendly, and there’s lots of great things to do and see in this booming travel destination.

We visited for a little over a week in 2022 just as Albania was hitting the radar of many travellers and travel bloggers. The Albanian Riviera itinerary below is based upon our well research stay and covers of what we think is the perfect way to spend your time along this beautiful stretch of coastline. We give both 1 and 2 week options pending your ideal length of stay! If you think we have missed some of your favourite options, comment below to let us know!

The perfect Albanian Riviera travel itinerary!

The entire Albanian Riviera is truly extraordinary, boasting a stunning coastline with numerous world-class beaches and cute towns. Based upon our experience during our visit, thorough research and many discussions with others who have travelled here, we recommend a few must visit areas and provide a consideration for a number of other great options to include in your itinerary. We also provide a few sample itineraries and link to other Albanian travel guides.

MUST VISIT along the Albanian Riviera:

Please note this is based upon our personal experience and opinion, which may differ from others.

1. Himare: This costal town ranks as one of our favourite beachside destinations from our European travels so far. Enjoy the calm and crystal clear water of the main beach, the authentic local food and friendly locals. Additionally, the ability for day-trip options really elevates Himare. In particular, nearby beaches of Porto Palermo and Gjipe Beach are worth visiting! See our Himare guide including top picks, accommodation and more here!

2. Gjirokaster: The small inland town of Gjirokaster is definitely a hidden gem! We consider it one of the best small towns in Albania, and possibly in all of Europe! Nestled into the hills with views of mountains, Gjirokaster is made up of cobbled old streets and charming Ottoman houses, whilst its historic castle sits impressively overlooking the town on the hill. Gjirokaster is a a great foodie town and overall very cheap! The town comes to life at night, so we recommend you stay at least 1 night! This town is located around 1.5 hours inland from Sarande. See our trip and guide to Gjirokaster here!

Other GREAT OPTIONS to look at when visiting the Albanian Riviera:

  • Ksamil: Come to Ksamil for beach clubs, good vibes, seafood and azure waters. Ksamil is also a great entry point to the Albanian Riviera due to the locality from Sarande and Corfu.
  • Butrint National Park: An easy day trip from Sarande or Ksamil, this national park offers historic old ruins and less popular beaches. Best explored with via car or private tour, however taxi or busses can be used here. We would recommend this if you are staying longer than a few days in Ksamil or Sarande.
  • Borsh Beach: A popular and top stop along the peninsula. This strip of coastline offers one of the wider beaches of the Albanian Riviera. Locals recommend this place for families, however we didn’t manage to find time to visit. The pictures look beautiful, and it may be worth investigating more during your trip along the coast.
  • Berat: This old inland town sits a little further north than Gjirokaster, meaning it’s not quite as easily accessible if you visit from Sarande. However, old historic houses pain a beautiful picture and if we had our time again, we would include this in our road trips. If you are planning a longer road trip through this region of Albania, it’s definitely worth considering!
  • The Beaches: This is the main reason you should visit the region! Either for a day trip, or to stay nearby in the cute little beachside towns, visiting the incredible coastline is a must! Consider beaches like Porto Palermo, Gjipe Beach, Jale Beach, Borsh and more!
  • Dhermi/Vlore: The other bigger towns along the Riviera offer excellent alternative options to Himare if looking to base yourself along the coast. We didn’t visit them, but have seen great photos and reviews of these locations.
  • Hiking? This is a great and highly underrated option in Albania. Sadly we didn’t include enough time on our trip to include this, but we have seen others on some incredible hikes and encourage you to do some research here!
  • Tirana: While it is considered to be up and coming as a city, this may be a little ‘out of the way’ compared to the Riviera. If you are looking to road trip, flying into Tirana may be a good option and driving down via towns like Berat and Vlore.
  • The Blue Eye (Syri i Kaltër): This freshwater spring is located inland on the trip towards Gjirokaster, making it an easy and ideal day trip option or addition to your road trip. However, it gets busy (so arrive early) and is a little ‘touristy’.

Our Albanian Riviera Itineraries:

Option 1: 1 week Albanian Riviera itinerary

This is the perfect way to sample the Albanian Riviera, giving you enough time to see a few locations. We have included 3 of the top picks in your stay, and recommend hiring a car or driver to get around due to the poor public transport infrastructre.

one week perfect road trip day trip albanian riviera hidden gem europe


  • Fly in to Corfu: The Greek Island of Corfu represents the closest airport to the Albanian Riviera and the easiest way to enter. Land in Corfu and either stay a few nights or head straight to the ferry.
  • Ferry to Sarande: Be prepared for chaos. There is poor organization, things run late, and it’s busy! Book in advance and make sure to book the fast ferry.. it’s worth the extra cost! It will take between 40mins-2 hours.
  • Taxi to Ksamil: Either book a car hire or catch a taxi down to the nearby Ksamil. This will take around 1 hour.

Stop 1: Ksamil 2-4 nights: The beachside town of Ksamil has surged in popularity mostly due to social media clips of the azure water beaches, beach clubs and cheap prices. Spend a few relaxed days here with day trip options to the nearby Butrint National Park or ‘hidden beaches’.

Stop 2: Gjirokaster 1-2 nights: Head back to Sarande and pick up a car (or drive from Ksamil straight there). Head inland 1-2 hours to Gjirokaster. This little town is definitely one of our favourite spots in Albania and worth staying a night rather than rushing the day trip!

Stop 3: Himare 3-5 nights: A Himare how we love you! Spend a relaxed few days in the charming beachside town. If you have a car, head for day trips to nearby beaches (e.g. Gjipe, Porto Palermo etc). See our Himare Guide here including top accommodation picks!

End: Drop your car back in Sarande, catch the ferry to Corfu, and fly from this Greek Island onwards to your next stop.

Option 2: 2 week Albanian Riviera itinerary

The extended visit over 2 weeks gives you much more time to really explore the region and beautiful coastline. It also provides the opportunity for more inland adventures, including smaller towns like Berat, Gjirokaster, and possibly seeing the capital Tirana.

two week perfect road trip day trip albanian riviera hidden gem europe

Part 1: as above – the first week of your road trip in Albania will look similar to the itinerary above. Consider adding 1-2 more nights to both of Ksamil and Himare to ‘slow down’ a little and enjoy the trip. You may also want to spend a night in Corfu to help slow the travel.


  • Fly in to Corfu
  • Ferry to Sarande
  • Taxi to Ksamil

Stop 1: Ksamil 2-4 nights

Stop 2: Gjirokaster 1-2 nights

Stop 3: Himare 3-5 nights

Part 2: The Additions

Stop 4: Pick 1 of Vlore/Dhermi/Borsch 2-5 nights: These are some of the other beautiful beachside towns along the Albanian Riviera that are begging to be explored. Spend another few nights at one or multiple of these towns!

Stop 5: Berat 1 night: This inland town looks like another hidden gem, and is worth exploring, especially if you’re heading back up to Tirana to drop off a car. Spend 1-2 nights here exploring the charming old town streets.

Stop 6: Tirana 1-2 nights: This is your finishing point. With the reputation as an up and coming city in Europe, Tirana forms your base for 1-2 nights to explore and then fly out of their airport (the biggest in Albania).

Alternative End: Keep your car hire and drive up into the must visit Montenegro (option 1) OR head east to the incredible Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia (option 2). Both require reasonable amount of driving but form excellent options to prolong your travel in the region. Additionally, you could easily complete the road trip in reverse, flying into Tirana and exiting in Corfu (perfect base to explore the Greek islands).

Want to see more Albania & Balkan travel guides and memories:

Want to see more of Albania? Take a look at our memories and travels in Albania!

Visiting the nearby Greece? Check out some of our thoughts on the Greek Islands we visited:

Check out further highlights from our time in the Europe! Take a look!

Did we miss anything? Please let us know in the comments below if there’s any great ‘travel hacks’ or places we missed from Albania!

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