The Albanian Riviera (Albanian: Riviera Shqiptare) is a steep coastal section in southwestern Albania. The riviera lies on the eastern bank of the Ionian Sea within the Mediterranean Sea. It encompasses the settlements of Sarandë, Borsh, Himara, Dhërmi, Qeparo, Piqeras and Lukovë.[1]

The Ceraunian Mountains separates the coast from the hinterland. It should not be confused with the entire Albanian coastline, which includes both the Riviera, and the mostly flat coastline of central and north Albania. The area is a major nightlife, ecotourist, and elite retreat destination in Albania. It features traditional Mediterranean villages, ancient castles, churches, monasteries, secluded turquoise beaches, bays mountain passes, seaside canyons, coves, free flowing rivers, underwater fauna, caves, and orange, lemon, and olive groves. During the classical times, 48 BC during his pursuit of Pompey, Julius Caesar set foot and rested his legion at Palasë. He continued onto Llogara Pass in a place later named Caesar's Pass.

The region gained international attention after the 2009 reconstruction of the coastal road SH8, the 2010 tour stop of DJ Tiësto in Dhermi,[2] and the filming of a Top Gear episode featuring a breath-taking car pursuit along the winding coastal road.[3][4] The Albanian Riviera was proclaimed as the 2012 Top Value Destination by Frommer's.[5] The area has been host to several international music festivals such as Soundwave Albania and Turtle Fest, while becoming known for its long standing nightclubs such as Havana Beach Club near Dhermi and recently opened Folie Marine in Jale beach.

As part of the regional master plan,[6] the World Bank and other institutions are financing local infrastructure projects,[7][8] including the renovation of roofs and facades of traditional houses overlooking the Riviera, town squares redesign, and the construction of water supply and treatment plants.[9][10]


  • Sarandë is one of the most important tourist attractions of the Albanian Riviera. Near the city are the remains of the ancient city of Butrint.
  • Ksamil is one of the most frequented coastal resorts by both domestic and foreign tourists. The Ksamil Islands are remote and can only be accessed by boat.
  • Dhërmi is built on a slope of the Ceraunian Mountains at approximately 200 meters in altitude. The coastal area has seen a boom in the construction of accommodation facilities, such as wooden villa complexes. In addition, it is considered by the Albanian youth as a nightlife destination.
  • Gjipë Canyon, located in the Southern of Albania where the Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian Sea.
  • Borsh has a population of 2500 inhabitants. The thing that makes Borsh very popular is its beach, which is the largest beach in Ionian sea (7 km). The tourism has begun to develop a lot thanks to village's beauty and thanks to its friendly people.
  • Himara, there are long white sandy beaches and the few hills close to the sea are terraced and planted with olive and citrus trees.
  • Qeparo is situated on the western slope of Mount Gjivlash, at about 450 metres (1,480 ft) above sea level. Two hotels and a few guesthouses serve the tourists' enjoyment of the small beaches.
  • Palasë is a village close to the Llogara National Park and also a very popular destination for foreign tourists. On January 4, 48 BCE during his pursuit of Pompey, Julius Caesar landed in Palasë.
  • Lukovë is a village Vlorë County with great beaches.
  • Piqeras village is the birthplace of the Albanian national hero Vasil Laçi who attempted to assassinate Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy and Shefqet Bej Vërlaci, Prime Minister of Albania after the occupation of Albania by fascist Italy.[11]
  • Karaburun Peninsula is the only national marine park of Albania. The Karaburun Peninsula is completely undeveloped and offers hiking opportunity. A part of the Mountains is designated as a national park which is rich in wildlife, including deer, foxes, wild boars and even wolves.
  • Jalë is known for its nightlife. The Folie Marina is located in Jalë.
  • Llaman, is known for the gravel beaches with deep, clear waters.
  • Zvërnec Island is an island within the Narta Lagoon. The island is a tourist attraction because it contains the well preserved 13th century Byzantine Zvërnec Monastery.
  • Porto Palermo Castle is a castle situated in the bay of Porto Palermo. Huffington Post ranked Porto Palermo first among 15 Undiscovered European Destinations for 2014.
  • Butrint was an ancient city and is protected under UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

National Parks

The Butrint National Park has been included in the list of Top 10 national parks in Europe by The Guardian. Butrint is known for its unique Ancient heritage which includes UNESCO-protected Butrint National Park. It was inhabited since prehistoric times and was a city of the Illyrian tribe of the Chaonians, later a Roman colony and a bishopric. Butrint is some 14 kilometres south of Sarandë and close to the Greek border. A number of major monuments are still extant including the city walls, late-antique baptistery, great basilica, theatre and Venetian castles. In addition to archaeological remains, the site of the ancient city is situated within natural woodland with a complex ecosystem which depends on the nearby freshwater Lake Butrint and Vivari Channel, which drains the lake into the Ionian Sea. It is this combination of historic monuments and natural environment which makes Butrint such a unique place, a landscape with monuments as beloved of the Grand Tourists of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park is the only national marine park of Albania. It lies southwest of Albania, in the county of Vlorë, whereas the Strait of Otranto separates it from Salento in Italy, by only 72 kilometres (45 mi). The western coast of the Karaburun Peninsula comprises a rough relief, steep cliffs, caves, small bays and rocky beaches, such as Gjiri i Kakomesë, Gjiri i Arushës (Bear's bay), Gjiri i Dafinës (Laurel bay) and 14 km (8.7 mi) southeast of Gjiri i Arushës is located the most interesting Gramata Bay, a small bay where ships and vessels anchored since antiquity.

The Llogara National Park is known from its vibrant flora and fauna with over 100 different types of wild animals and birds including: deer, wild cats, foxes, etc. The mixture of refreshing high altitude mountain air and proximity of the sea makes it very attractive destination for tourists. The area is also important for the growth of eco-tourism, picnic, hiking and air sports.

Butrint National Park
(Parku Kombëtar i Butrintit)
Llogara National Park
(Parku Kombëtar i Llogarasë)
Karaburun-Sazan National Park
(Parku Kombëtar Karaburun-Sazan)


The Ali Pasha Castle was named after Ali Pasha of Tepelenë, who resided there until 1820. The current fortress was rebuilt in 1819 from its surface with 3 towers. Until 1820, it was the second residence of Ali Pasha. The castle described and pictured is popularly known as The Triangular Fortress. Built under Venetian dominion in the late 15th or early 16th century, it provided a stronghold for the Venetians on Corfu to exploit fishing, grazing, olives and timber in and around Butrint.[12] The Borsh Castle is also known as the Castle of Sopot by the name of the hill on which it is located.

The Kaninë Castle rises on the side of the Shushica Mountain, about 380 meters above the sea level. The castle was built on the site of an ancient settlement, one of the oldest in the Vlorë region. The castle is believed to have been erected in the 3rd century BC. In the 4th century BC the castle was transformed into a fortress town. In the 6th century AD, the castle was reconstructed by Byzantine emperor Justinian I. Lëkurësi Castle is located on a strategic hill point overlooking the town of Sarandë, southeast of the town centre. From here one can control the whole town as well as the islands of Ksamil. The Porto Palermo Castle located near Himarë in southern Albania. It is situated in the bay of Porto Palermo, a few kilometers south of Himarë along the Albanian Riviera. Huffington Post ranked Porto Palermo first among 15 Undiscovered European Destinations for 2014.

Ali Pasha Castle
(Kalaja e Ali Pashës)
Porto Palermo Castle
(Kalaja e Porto Palermos)
Lëkurësi Castle
(Kalaja e Lëkurësit)

See also


  1. ^ Gloyer, Gillian (2008). The Bradt Travel Guide Albania. Bradt Publications UK. p. 199. ISBN 1-84162-246-X. 
  2. ^ "DJ me famë botërore Tiesto, vjen për herë të parë në Shqipëri, ç'po ndodh në Dhërmi". noa.al (in Albanian). Retrieved 30 July 2009. Lajmi fantastik është se ditën e Enjte, datë 6 Gusht, DJ Tiesto do të shkelë për herë të parë tokën shqiptare, duke luajtur në "Havana Beach Club", në Dhërmi. 
  3. ^ Driving in Albania – Top Gear – BBC YouTube (8 June 2011). Retrieved on 19 October 2011.
  4. ^ High Speed Albanian Police Chase – Top Gear Series 16 Episode 3 – BBC Two. YouTube (8 February 2011). Retrieved on 19 October 2011
  5. ^ "Top Value Destination Albanian Riviera". frommers.com. Unsung, undeveloped and eminently affordable, the Albanian Riviera has all the natural attractions of its Croatian counterpart further north but without the crowds and considerable expense. Here you have white-sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and Mediterranean villages barely changed since long before King Zog. 
  6. ^ http://www.mppt.gov.al/previewdoc.php?file_id=136
  7. ^ http://siteresources.worldbank.org/EXTINSPECTIONPANEL/Resources/AlbaniaICZMCPManagementResponseFinal.pdf
  8. ^ http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2010/03/17/000020953_20100317103239/Rendered/INDEX/535540ISDS0ALB0integrated0coastal0rev.txt
  9. ^ http://www.mppt.gov.al/previewdoc.php?file_id=1362
  10. ^ http://gradst.hr/~pavasic/albania/Interim%20Report%20Final.pdf
  11. ^ Owen Pearson (11 July 2006). Albania in the Twentieth Century, A History: Volume II: Albania in Occupation and War, 1939-45. I.B.Tauris. pp. 153–. ISBN 978-1-84511-104-5. 
  12. ^ http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/570

External links