Albanian Riviera Only for the brave
Albanian Riviera Only to the brave
Not so long ago, once the Balkans were considered an only to the brave travel destination, just the bravest from the brave trickled into Albania. It isn‘t gonna be from the beaten track for for much longer so ensure it gets on top of your respective bucket list !” Ask anyone to provide you with their collection of paradise destinations and Albania is probably perhaps one of the least likely places to crop up. But as I drop my bags, kick off my flip-flops and dive into your turquoise sea, the” P ” word is that the only method to describe what I am seeing” by Matt Carroll.
I divided my Balkan tour into two parts – former going south from Serbia to Greece all inland and non-coastal areas from the Balkan countries and also the second one starting from Saranda, Albania and Corfu Greece and going north the coastal road. After exploring the interior from the country it was eventually time to discover the Albanian coast or as they simply call it the Albania Riviera.
The Albanian Riviera stretches nearly 300 miles from Vlore right all the way down to Butrint, forming perhaps one of the last stretches of unspoilt shoreline in Europe. Around nearly every corner there is a strip of empty sand that remains untouched by invasion from the package holiday hordes. Yet…I’m sure it is going to change pretty soon…The road is winding and you also need to take it slowly however the views that reveals at each turn are just breathtaking.
It is among the most important tourist attraction from the Albania Riviera. Saranda has grown rapidly during the past decade. It‘s bustling in summer – mostly Albanians but it really has been attracting increasingly more foreigners lately. A daily stream of Corfu holidaymakers eliminate the 45-minute ferry trip to Albania add the Albanian stamp on their passports striking Butrint as well as Blue Eye Spring before heading back.
I need to Saranda hitchhiking from Berat with Glenn who just discovered that hitch hiking in Albania is much faster and much more enjoyable than taking buses. I assumed it would significantly reduce our chances being two of people however that did not happen. Albanians are so genuinely hospitable and generous that many of us had no problem getting rides (I believe 8 cars in total ). So we made before our Slovenian friends who left by bus from Berat, same time we did.
Albanian Riviera Only for the brave
We stayed in Hairy Lemon hostel www. hairylemonhostel. com Pretty nice vibe, cool views from the beach and lovely breakfast – all you are able to eat pancakes. Annette, the owner is happy to answer all of your questions not just about Saranda but Albania generally. Originally from Ireland, she’s been residing in Albania for 10 years now and it is pretty acquainted with all local habits, food and places.
Coming from the terrace in Hairy Lemon Hostel
All you are able to eat pancakes. Glenn´s happy face
Dutch girls enjoying the breakfast and Serbian volunteer still in process of making them
Lots of information
Ksamil. Someday at Ksamil is perhaps worth the trip if this wasn’t that crowded. Only 15 km far from Saranda, You will find a few beaches, many little restaurants and you may also swim to perhaps one of the nearby islands. I did not however the guys did. It was eventually 4 of people – me and three pretty tall boys so we were able to hitch hike without even splitting into two. Got picked up twice created it to Ksamil faster than what going for a bus could happen to be.
Ksamil. The island is merely a swimming distance away
If you undertake find yourself craving some ancient history you will see it just half an hour or so drive away, in Butrint. Butrint is really a microscosm of Meditarrenian history represented altogether its phases of development, the rise and fall of valuable empires that dominated the region coming from the 4th century BC towards the Ottoman defences created inside the 19th century. The ruins of the city form an architectural index of ancient history, with Greek, Roman and Venetian remains all contained on a single tiny island It‘s a UNESCO heritage site since 1992. You are able to amble along avenues of shady trees, working the road up through time, until you reach the island’s highest point. The route takes you past the Venetian castle, an ancient Roman bathhouse and Christian baptistery…
Being so near Corfu I couldn´t simply not go there. Ferry to Corfu from Saranda is 24 euros (a little pricey considering that you may almost swim towards the island but no competition there ). Another alternative exists if you‘re more flexible. In case you go 75 km south to Igoumenitsa in Greece, the ferry only costs 10€ to Corfu town or 6, 50€ to Lefkini. So that’s what I did.
Getting from town, I quickly got picked up by a man who not just took me to another side of town (with non existing sense of directions I‘d been standing on the incorrect side of town ) after which to first village so I can hitch hike easier and safer but additionally didn’t let me leave the car without going for a bill of 50 euros ! Didn’t help telling him that I‘ve enough money and it‘s just my method of travelling…He insisted and I wound up taking it using the promise that I will return the favour someday by helping another person upon the road ! Who said Albanians are dangerous !
In Albania. Getting upon the ferry to Butrint
After a couple of days on Corfu I got to Albania. Easy hitch hiking from Igoumenitsa to Butrint, nice old couple who drove me extra 20 km just to ensure I get safe to Butrint. Then a couple of more rides from real nice people, the obligatory coffee breaks upon the road and need to Vuno and Shkolla Vuno. I‘d been told relating to this unique place by various travellers I met in Albania and definitely wanted to spent a couple of days there. Hidden involving the olive and fig trees, next to some beautiful 200 year old church and housed inside the old village school, the hostel sits back, by having an amazing view during the Ionian sea, an excellent place to obtain from the beaten track. There is usually a volunteer who would manage you. And two restaurants inside the village with very friendly staff and nice meals.
Another surprise was waiting for myself in Shkolla Vuno. Met Antonia, another 33 old solo female Bulgarian traveller (not many people around, very first-time I meet one actually ). And a number of goats and also a donkey : ) )
Had a gaggle discussion in regards to the donkey / horse evolution and Antonia was playing the teacher
Gjepe beach – my favourite one in Albania
Near Vuno is the greatest beach for me in Albania – Gjepe beach. It‘s a 20-30 min walk down coming from the road (Shkolla Vuno provides transport inwith it every morning but if you‘re not really a morning person like me, it is simple to hitch a ride, not greater than 5 min guaranteed ). The beach is simply amazing using its canyon behind !
One more thing that surprised me in Albania was they nod head for yes and shake head for no. Identical to us ! I always thought Bulgaria was the only real country in the planet performing it the other way. good to understand we aren‘t alone !
33-year olds encounter
Gjepe beach by Antonia
Albanian bunker by Antonia
Greater than 40 many years of communist rule beneath the dictator Enver Hoxha, followed using a ruinous period of extreme capitalism inside the mid-90s, have left the nation struggling to locate its feet inside the new millennium.
The bunkers were built included in a parnoid government initative last century when Albania seemed to believe it was eventually more inclined compared to the USSR and also the USA to become destroyed by nuclear bombs !
The most beach in Dhermi
Another must visit place is that the Sea Turtle camp site in Drymandes beach (Dhermi ). This cool little set-up is run by 2 brothers. Each summer they turn the family orange orchard into your vibrant tent city, and also the price includes the tent (with mattresses, sheets and pillows ), breakfast and also a family-cooked dinner (served up in true camp style ). Hot showers are beneath the shade of old fig trees, or it is a short walk towards the beach. Ensure you reserve your tent beforehand since it is always full.
Stones get really hot after lunch
And us, happy happy at Drymandes beach. Private beach, private bar, Mojitos and sunset !
A lot of the beaches at Dhermi (Drymandes ) are stony but when attend end of them on the ideal (looking towards the ocean ), you arrive at the rocks after which you could find lots of tiny isolated sand beaches. Just whenever you think you have just found you perfect spot, you go trying to find behind subsequent rock and another private beach, much more beautiful is expecting you there… Mountains get up just behind the beach, huddling together to extend my privacy
Still looking for the ideal spot.. Apparently It‘s just behind this rock
And here It‘s…
Some Albanians even bring their suitcases to camp : ) )
The crowd here was laid back, and friendly as everywhere else in Albania. Mostly Albanians or Kosovars, all young, also camping, ready to assist with information or anything. Ask someone on the road and, even if they should cannot help, they‘re going to know someone whose second cousin definitely can.
If hospitality and generosity were a marketable resource, Albania could be rich.
Around I liked Albanian beaches, it was eventually time to reach. I experienced a flight to catch from Zagreb, Croatia in under a month and numerous other places givenfor my way north with the Balkans to discover. Headed to Skoder (almost where I started from in Albania ), experienced a stroll all around the city (not that impressive ) created my method to the border with Montenegro. Another incredible country when it comes to nature and other people… but a lot more crowded.
Shkoder and it is lake
Another classic in Albania. Again smiling.
Still not on top of your respective bucket list? Read my post in regards to the Albanian mountains (Albanian Alps ), Lake Ohrid and also the Unesco heritage site Berat and It‘ll get there : ) Albanian Alps, Lake Ohrid and Berat.