I will tell you about the best beaches in Albania. There are some unique features to expect, and I’ll provide a list of the country’s top 10 beaches. I’ll give advice and recommendations for choosing a beach and also dispel some stereotypes found on the internet.

best beach albania ksamil
Bora-Bora Beach in Ksamil.

Beaches in Albania: General Aspects and Characteristics

Here are some facts to give you an overview:

  • Albania is bordered by two seas.
    • The majority of the coastline is along the Adriatic Sea, which covers central and northern Albania.
    • The southern part of the country is washed by the waters of the Ionian Sea.
  • Albania enjoys over 300 sunny days a year and is located further south than popular destinations like Montenegro and Croatia.
  • All beaches in the country are free and public. This means that hotels are not allowed to fence off a part of the beach.
  • However, during the season, popular resorts have all their coastline occupied with sun loungers. The beach itself is free, but using a sun lounger comes with a fee.

Useful to know:

The average cost of renting two sun loungers, a table, and an umbrella for the whole day is 10 euros.

Regarding the weather in Albania, and how it differs between the Adriatic and Ionian coasts, you can read more by following the link. But in brief:

  • On the northern resorts of Albania, the air temperature is usually 1-2 degrees lower, while the water temperature is about 1 degree higher.
  • In the southern part of the country, it’s the opposite.

If the air temperature difference is understandable (the farther north, the colder), then the water temperature may be confusing.

Differences between Adriatic and Ionian beaches:

Ionian Sea beaches are generally pebbly, with transparent water that heats up less. Meanwhile, the Adriatic coastline consists mostly of sandy beaches. The waves and tides bring sediment from the bottom, making the water murkier but warmer.
sandy beaches in albania
View of Saranda from the beach.

Beaches of Albania: Top 10

I’ll be upfront: all these lists and rankings on the internet have no real connection to reality. People just copy the same information from each other. Below, you’ll find my personal ranking. It’s subjective, like any ranking compiled by a single person.

However, I’ll try to explain and describe the pros and cons of each beach separately.

  • I recommend reading the article about Albanian resorts. It will help you choose the best place for your vacation based on your preferences. Despite the country’s small size, the resorts here vary significantly from one another.

You can find a map of all the beaches from the ranking, as well as all the country’s attractions, on the Albania travel map.

It’s important to understand:

Below, it’s more accurate to call it a ranking of the most famous and visited beaches in Albania. You’ll learn which ones can be considered a slice of paradise on Earth, and which ones you can skip.

10th place. Velipoja Beach

The northernmost beach in the country, located right on the border with Montenegro. It’s a long sandy beach on the Adriatic Sea. The nearest major city is Shkodër, about 17 km away.

  • Coordinates: 41.860547, 19.407892
  • Length: about 5 km
  • The beach is wide and long, not crowded even during the tourist season.
  • Two sunbeds + umbrella = 5-7 euros per day.
  • I think it’s a comfortable place for families with children. Sandy, shallow waters create a calm sea. Learn more about vacationing with children in Albania.
  • The town of Velipoja has grown considerably, with plenty of villas and apartment hotels. There are two large supermarkets and many cafes and restaurants.
white sand in albania
A nice beach not crowded with tourists.

Author’s rating:

There’s not much reason to come here. There are few attractions nearby; only Shkodër is worth visiting. So, if you just want to lie on the beach all day without moving, love sandy shores and calm waves, then you might enjoy it here. Otherwise, I don’t recommend it.

9th place. Durrës Beach

Durrës, Golem, and Kavajë form one resort with a long 30 km beach. Here, I’ll specifically discuss Durrës Beach.

  • Coordinates: 41.296152, 19.500385
  • Length of the beach: about 10 km
  • Sandy beach
  • Adriatic Sea
  • Also suitable for children, as the entry into the water is very gradual, and there are hardly any waves.

Cons of Durrës Beach:

  • Despite its length, there’s no proper promenade along the sea.
  • There’s a large cargo port nearby, the largest in Albania.
  • The capital of the country is just 40 km away. The locals come here for holidays and weekends, so there are many tourists.
  • One of the dirtiest beaches in the country.
  • The city itself is spread out. If you stay far from the port in the hotel area, you won’t be able to walk to the amphitheater and the old town—it’s very far. Other cities are much more compact.

Author’s rating:

There’s a lot of infrastructure for tourists here, being the second-largest city in Albania. There are hotels of various stars, offering a wide selection. It’s also very close to the airport. However, the overall state of disarray, the multitude of tourists, and the presence of a cargo port make this beach unattractive for vacation.
best place to sunbathe in albania
According to some rankings, Durrës Beach is among the top 10 most crowded beaches in the world. Well, it’s true during weekends when everyone from Tirana comes here.

Such crowds of vacationers only for 1-2 months a year.

8th place. Shëngjin Beach in northern Albania

Another beach on the Adriatic coast, located not far from Velipoja and directly competing with it. But personally, I like this one more. In general, there are not many differences between Shëngjin and Velipoja beaches.

  • Coordinates: 41.809179, 19.596576
  • Nearest city: Lezhë
  • Sandy beach
  • Length: about 7 km
  • Adriatic Sea
  • Again, there’s not much to do here beyond the beach; few attractions make it a purely beach holiday.
  • Two sunbeds + umbrella = 7-10 euros per day.
beaches in albania
Main beach of Shëngjin. Photo is not mine; by 2024, the area has been developed more.

Author’s rating:

However, there’s some sort of promenade at the beginning of the beach, and there are places for walks. Most importantly, in the last two years, the town of Shëngjin has seen significant development. By 2024, the beachfront resembled a resort town. So, in my opinion, it’s livelier than Velipoja Beach, though not as vibrant as in the south. Also, there’s not much to do outside Shëngjin. It’s an ideal vacation for those who are willing to spend the whole day on the beach.

7th place. Golem

Though neighboring the beach of Durrës, Golem is a more pleasant option. The port is far away, and there are no local tourists from Tirana. The beach is much cleaner here. While Durrës is a large city, Golem has remained a village and only experienced significant tourist development in the last decade.

Currently, there are no clear boundaries between Durrës and Golem beaches. However, Durrës mainly features apartment buildings and condominiums, while Golem has become a classic resort village for package tourists. Numerous 3 and 4-star hotels line the coastline.

  • Coordinates: 41.243736, 19.517441
  • Beach length: Approximately 8 km
  • Sandy beach, with sand finer and whiter than Durrës
  • Adriatic Sea
  • Two sunbeds + umbrella = 10 euros per day.
photo albanian beaches
The end of Golem’s beach is where all the hotels are located, particularly the Gloria Palace Hotel beach area.

Author’s rating:

This beach is already closer to the beaches found in other countries with package tourists. It is fair to say that there are more hotels and vacation packages primarily sold for Golem. Speaking of vacation packages, prices, and where to buy a package to Albania, if you are choosing between Durrës and Golem, Golem is the better choice. However, it is still advisable to consider the beaches of the Ionian Sea.

But if you are solely interested in the beach and sea-side relaxation without trips inland, without mountains, waterfalls, and hot springs, then Golem is perhaps the best beach on the Albanian Adriatic coast, and maybe even in all of Albania. If you prefer sandy beaches over pebbled ones, Golem is an excellent option.

6th place. Vlora City Beach

I debated for a long time which beach to rank higher: Golem or Vlora City Beach. Even now, I’m not entirely sure if my decision is correct. These are two different beaches, making it challenging to compare them. Below, I will outline the pros and cons of Vlora, and you can decide for yourself what matters most to you.

Vlora is the last beach on the Adriatic coast, nearly at the junction of two seas. Just 15 km south of Vlora is the Ionian Sea.

  • The beach is sandy, but the sand is rather compact and darker, similar to Durrës. In Golem, the sand is much more pleasant.
  • Coordinates: 40.141802, 19.639209
  • Beach length: Approximately 2 km
  • There is a lovely promenade along the beach.
  • Vlora offers all the necessary infrastructure.
  • Two sunbeds + umbrella = 7-10 euros per day.
  • In the off-season, the Vlora beach is poorly maintained, and strong waves bring trash to the shore, which is rarely cleaned up (as is the case throughout Albania).
stunning albanian beaches
The city beach of Vlora in October. During summer, there are significantly more beach umbrellas.

Author’s rating:

Vlora is the third-largest city in the country. Yet, it lacks the downsides that can be found in Durrës, and it offers all the necessary infrastructure. The Vlora beach is ideal for those who want to rent an apartment for a month, go to the local market and shops, sunbathe on the beach, and swim in the sea – all within walking distance. On the other hand, Golem offers little else other than the beach, and there are far more Albanian landmarks and attractions within a 20 km radius of Vlora than the north.

5th place. Dhermi Beach

And now we come to the best beaches in Albania (according to the author). These are all beaches along the Ionian Sea. Personally, I prefer the Ionian coastline for several reasons:

  • Most beaches are pebbled (which I love).
  • The water is crystal clear. The sea has a beautiful color.
  • All the beaches are small and cozy. You won’t find any beaches that stretch for 10 km. Most of them are less than 1 km long.

One of these picturesque beaches is located in the small village of Dhermi. It’s a perfect place for a beach vacation.

  • Coordinates: 40.141802, 19.639209
  • You can find all the details about the beach in the review of the city of Dhermi.
  • Two sunbeds + umbrella = 15-20 euros per day.
best beaches in albania list
Dhermi Beach during the peak season. It’s much quieter further away, closer to the cliffs.

Author’s rating:

It’s an excellent and tranquil place for a beach vacation. Even during the peak season, there aren’t too many tourists. One significant advantage of Dhermi Beach is that if you have a car, you can easily drive to neighboring beaches, which are just as great, along with exploring the impressive landmarks in this part of the country, far more than in the north.

4th place. Gjipe Beach

Many rankings name this beach as the best in Albania, labeling it a “wild beach.” While Gjipe Beach is fantastic, it’s not necessarily the absolute best nor entirely wild. It is situated exactly midway between the towns of Himara and Dhermi. You can reach it on foot from both towns, but it’s better to go by car. There are two restaurants, a paid parking lot, and sun loungers for rent. The beach is adorned with a beautiful canyon for walks and steep cliffs perfect for photography.

  • Beach coordinates: 40.126794, 19.670290
  • Parking coordinates: 40.130383, 19.658153
  • Paid parking: 300 lek (3 euros) for a full day with a car
  • Important: You need to walk another kilometer from the parking lot to reach the beach, which takes about 20-25 minutes.
  • The road to the beach is available, but it’s rough enough that not every car can handle it.
  • The beach itself is free and consists of pebbles.
  • Two sunbeds + umbrella = 15 euros per day.
  • Drawbacks include occasional instances when heavy rains lead to a strong flow from the canyon, causing erosion on the beach. However, efforts are made to restore it each time.
map of best albanian beaches
Gjipe Canyon and Gjipe Beach

Author’s rating:

Author’s rating: If the cleanliness is improved, the garbage is removed, and the number of people is slightly reduced during the season, Gjipe Beach could easily make it to the top three. Along the way to the beach, there are 5-6 bunkers with a view of the sea, which were built during Enver Hoxha’s time.

3rd place. Livadhi Beach

Livadhi Beach is one of the main beaches in the town of Himara. Himara is located on the Ionian Sea, just 15 km away from Dhermi. This resort area is already known as the Albanian Riviera.

  • Pebble beach
  • Ionian Sea
  • Coordinates: 40.107555, 19.725941
  • Beach length: Over 1 km, and it offers all the necessary infrastructure, including restaurants and cafes.
  • Numerous attractions within a 1-hour drive
  • You can even come to Livadhi Beach in a camper and stay here.
  • Two sunbeds + umbrella = 15-20 euros per day.
himara albania best beach
Livadhi Beach. Very beautiful when the sun is shining. I apologize, I didn’t have another photo.

Author’s rating:

There are hardly any negatives to mention here. If you want to socialize and lie on a beach with a crowd of tourists on sun loungers, go to the center of the beach. If you prefer peace and quiet, head to the cliffs on the outskirts. You can simply sit on the beach and enjoy a cocktail. Some people fish nearby, while others sail on catamarans. If you don’t like it here, there are three or four more beaches in Himara within walking distance, including a wild one where you must descend the last 3 meters along a steep cliff using a rope. You can find all about Himara’s beaches through this link.

2nd place. Saranda City Beach

In reality, this is my favorite beach in Albania, but it’s second place here, which I don’t usually do. 🙂

So, Saranda Beach:

  • Coordinates: 39.873213, 20.011798
  • Pebble beach, Ionian Sea
  • The beach isn’t large, only about 300 meters. There are changing facilities and restrooms available.
  • The most crucial aspect is that the beach is located in the heart of Albania’s most beautiful resort city.
  • There are numerous yachts and boats here for sea excursions along the coastline.
  • There are free sunbeds and umbrellas, a gesture of goodwill from the city’s municipality, as well as paid options starting from 4 euros for one sunbed.
saranda beaches which one is better
The main beach of Saranda and the city’s promenade

Author’s rating:

One drawback is the lack of showers and changing cabins. However, it’s worth noting that these facilities are also absent on the previous beaches mentioned. Everything here is excellent: the view, the infrastructure, and there’s even a concrete tower for jumping. All the cafes and restaurants are within walking distance. You can buy fresh fish or take a high-speed ferry to the Greek island of Corfu. It’s only 25 minutes to Greece. In the evening, the beautiful lighting creates an enchanting atmosphere, and you can take a leisurely stroll along the stunning promenade – one of the best in Albania. It can get crowded during the peak season.

1st place. Bora-Bora Beach

This is not just one beach; it’s a collection of 5-6 beaches in the village of Ksamil, a small village located at the southernmost tip of Albania. It’s only 7 km from Saranda to Ksamil, and most tourists who vacation in Saranda also make periodic visits to Ksamil’s beaches, and vice versa. The beaches in Ksamil boast several advantages:

  • They are the only, or at least almost the only, sandy beaches on the Ionian Sea in Albania.
  • All the beaches are incredibly small, only about 100 meters long, and follow one another.
  • These beaches feature fine white sand and crystal-clear waters, along with:
    • Four Albanian islands located just 200 meters from Ksamil’s central beaches.
    • They are often referred to as the Ksamil Albanian Archipelago.
    • These islands are uninhabited, and their total area is just 0.1 sq. km.
  • Firstly, the stunning color of the water, the white sand, and the green coniferous islands in the foreground create an absolutely breathtaking view.
  • Secondly, the islands act as a natural barrier, protecting the main beach from the sea winds.
  • Thirdly, you can reach the islands either by catamaran or by swimming, and you can explore the footpaths amidst Mediterranean conifers.
  • Furthermore, just 1 km from Bora-Bora Beach, there are oyster and mussel farms where you can savor the freshest seafood.
  • Two sunbeds + umbrella = 25-30 euros per day.
bora-bora beach in albania
We were at the main Ksamil beach in late October. Can you spot 10 differences from the next photo?

However, this place does have its drawbacks:

  • Apart from the beach, the oyster farm, and the ancient city of Butrint, there is nothing else within walking distance. Evenings here can be a bit dull.
  • During the season, the small beaches can get quite crowded.
ksamil bora bora
The same beach as above, but in July.

Author’s rating:

Living in Saranda and visiting Ksamil for sunbathing, swimming between the islands, and having some oysters makes for an ideal combination. Nonetheless, in any case, Ksamil’s beaches, as depicted in the pictures, undoubtedly deserve the first place.

Albanian Beaches: Tourist Tips and Infrastructure

I’ve already provided extensive descriptions of the infrastructure for each beach. The only thing I’d like to emphasize is that Albanian beaches are primarily suited for peaceful and tranquil vacations. Watercraft such as jet skis and banana boats are practically non-existent here. The water activities offered on the beaches are limited to catamarans and kayaks for tourists. More recently, there have been some stand-up paddleboards for surfers.

Here’s one piece of advice: in Albania, it would be a shame to spend two weeks on a single beach, even if it’s the most fabulous and well-equipped beach. Albania is perfect for tourists who enjoy moving around and discovering new places.

I’m not suggesting you should travel to a new city and beach every day. Even if you have a 7-day vacation in Albania, you could spend three days on Vlora’s beaches, another three days on Saranda and Ksamil’s beaches, and dedicate the last day to Tirana, where there’s also plenty to see.

In conclusion, the best beaches in Albania are not limited to this ranking. It is a purely subjective list to help you choose a beach for your vacation. Remember, Albanian beaches span a list of a thousand lines, including secluded beaches where you might rarely encounter another soul. But in the humble opinion of the author (myself), the best beaches in Albania are undoubtedly on the southern coast along the Ionian Sea.

Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania

  • Flights at the best prices with best discounts
  • Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
    • DiscoverCars – a major international resource
    • LocalRent – the leader in the Albanian car rental market. Very low deposits, even in cash.
  • Hotels and apartments throughout the country:
    • Hotellook – compares prices among dozens of platforms and offer you the best one.
    • Booking – large online booking platform.
    • Agoda – even more accommodation options in Albania.
  • Tours, excursions and activities:
    • GetYourGuide – more than 550 tours
    • Viator – 920+ excursions and activities throughout the country
  • Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
  • Internet and Calls:
    • Airalo eSIM in Albania from $4.5
    • DRIMSIM – universal SIM card (or eSIM) in any country in the world.
  • Taxi and airport transfer: Intui.Travel