Himare, a small Albanian town, is beautifully situated on the coast of the Ionian Sea, along the Albanian Riviera. Despite its modest size, it is immensely popular among tourists seeking a beach vacation in a serene and tranquil setting.
Himara: A Brief History and Facts About the Town
I’ll be brief, as I believe it’s essential to know the history of the place you are traveling to. However, I won’t copy ten pages from Wikipedia 🙂
- The population of Himara is just around 6,000 people, including the suburbs.
- Though the town is not very old by local standards, Himara was founded in the 7th century AD. However, these lands and the waters of the Ionian Sea have witnessed Greek battles, Romans, and Byzantines. It’s just that formal settlements never existed here.
- Though the first mentions date back to the 7th century AD, a more reliable account of these places is available only from the 17th century.
- During this time, the town of Himara was part of a separate Greek episcopacy within the Ottoman Empire.
- The Ottomans found it easier to recognize their partial independence and grant them more freedom than their other territories. It was simpler than fully controlling these remote and sparsely populated lands.
- In 1912, after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, Albania gained independence. There was a great chance that Himara and all the towns to the south would become part of Greece.
- If not for the events of those years, it might have been Greece today.
- However, after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the local residents managed to organize a small uprising and liberate Himara and six neighboring villages from the Greeks who considered these lands their own.
- To avoid starting another war, the governments of the most influential European countries offered a deal to the Greeks. They would cede Himara to the new Albanian state in exchange for full control over the Aegean Sea.
- The Greeks agreed but kept in mind that they would soon take Himara back.
- And then the First World War began, and those plans were destined to fail.
Interesting to know:Today, the south of Albania is predominantly inhabited by ethnic Greeks. There are signs in Greek, road signs duplicated in Greek, and many Greek dishes in the local cuisine. About every second resident of Himara speaks Greek.
Himara: Where to Stay?
In the article provided in the link, you’ll find everything about the types of accommodation in Albania and their differences. This will help you find your perfect option. In Himara, the main rental market consists of apartments and guesthouses run by locals.
Below, I’ll highlight some of the best ones, but these are certainly not the only worthy options. You can click, view photos, read reviews. In these links, you’ll find a vast list of other excellent options.
But, I want to specifically mention an excellent guesthouse. It has everything: a sea view, a terrace, a beautiful interior, friendly hosts, and it’s affordable. You rent the entire top third floor, complete with your kitchen and bathroom, in a villa owned by local residents. Below, there’s a link to this option.
How to Get from Tirana to Himara?
In short, public transportation in Albania is poorly developed; the roads are good, and the best way to travel is by car :). That’s about it.
So, getting to Himara by car from Tirana is not a problem at all. There’s only one road. It passes through the incredibly beautiful Llogara Pass and a viewpoint overlooking two seas. It’s about 220 km and takes around 4-5 hours. Yes, the roads are of good quality, but the mountainous serpentine roads are still there. Even if you’re a Formula 1 driver, it’s hard to get there faster than 4 hours.
Below, there’s a bit more detail on how to get to Himara for those who don’t have a car. There’s comprehensive information on public transportation, prices, schedules, and where to find up-to-date details in the article on Albanian public transport.
From Tirana to Himara, there are two daily buses with a travel time of 4 hours:
- 5:30 AM – arriving at 9:30 AM
- 1:00 PM – arriving at 5:00 PM
ticket price:The one-way ticket price is 1000 leks ($10).
- But the easiest way to get to Himara is from the tourist town of Saranda. There are 5-6 buses running daily on this route. The travel time is 1 hour. Departures are from the main stop in Saranda, with coordinates: 39.875038, 20.006624.
Himara’s Attractions: Beaches and Places to Visit
Indeed, Himara is a relatively small town. You can walk through it all in an hour. However, there are still places worth visiting. Below is a list of beaches and cool spots for tourists.
There aren’t many man-made landmarks in the town, and the fortress is the main symbol of Himara. From there, you can enjoy not only an excellent view of the sea and the Ionian coast but also explore its interior. As one would expect from a fortress, Himara’s occupies quite a significant area compared to other Albanian fortresses.
Moreover, what surprises visitors is its good condition and lack of any control over it. It seems as if the fortress exists on its own, and the ticket office is just for show, with the ticket money going elsewhere.
- Access is available 24/7.
- The entrance fee is 3 euros if the ticket office is open. If there’s nobody there, you can go ahead without a ticket.
- On the hill itself, you’ll find a church with frescoes over 700 years old. Everything is open 24/7, and you have unrestricted access everywhere.
- Coordinates of the fortress: 40.118022, 19.731797
- Time needed: 30-40 minutes
- Free parking is available at the fortress.
Author’s rating:9 out of 10. This is the most remarkable place in all of Himara. It’s interesting for those who love medieval fortresses, as much has been preserved here. It appeals to those who appreciate breathtaking panoramic views, have an interest in religious themes, and love strolling through narrow medieval streets. Himara offers all of this.
The Main Promenade of Himara
This is the central pedestrian street, the main beach, a large concrete pier, and a shopping street along the waterfront—all in one place. Beautiful, well-maintained, and simply delightful for evening strolls. Keep in mind that if you want to eat here, the restaurants are the most expensive in Himara. Just 50 meters inland, the prices are half as much, but you’ll miss the sea view.
- The pedestrian promenade is only 300-400 meters long.
- It’s accessible 24/7 along with the main beach, and of course, it’s all free.
- Coordinates: 40.101242, 19.745407
- Be sure to come here for a walk, watch the sunset, and take a dip from the pier.
Author’s rating:8 out of 10. Everything is fantastic; it’s just too short. During the low season, there are hardly any people here. Still, it’s a must-visit spot.
Ali Pasha Fortress or Porto Palermo
Located 7 km from Himara, on the way to Saranda, this is a small peninsula housing Porto Palermo Beach and, of course, the Ali Pasha Fortress. You can read about the history of this place on Wikipedia, but in short, Ali Pasha was a Turkish official who ruled these lands quite ruthlessly.
However, he was not only responsible for killing people but also for building fortresses, bridges, and roads. For example, the Ali Pasha Bridge in Gjirokastër or this fortress.
- Coordinates: 40.062605, 19.790845
- Ticket price: 300 leks ($3)
- Time needed at the fortress: 15 minutes
Author’s rating:5 out of 10. There’s not much to see here. Only the walls of the fortress are well-preserved, and they offer a beautiful view. But, as the area is scenic throughout, you can see the views from anywhere. You can stop by when traveling from Himara to Saranda or vice versa. The fortress is right on the way, 100 meters from the road. There’s no need to make a special trip. Plus, the fortress in Himara is much more interesting.
Submarine Bunker (Porto Palermo Tunnel)
This thing is one of a kind in Albania. It dates back to the time of dictator Enver Hoxha. During his rule, there was a military base here, and they built a bunker in the cliff where a submarine could enter. They used it for repairs and regular maintenance. Naturally, such a structure is not visible from a plane or space.
Today: there’s no military base here, but there’s a sign at the entrance saying “No Entry.” The bunker is still there and well-preserved. Of course, there are no submarines anymore. This is how it looks from the road.
- Coordinates: 40.071346, 19.776463
- Open 24/7 and free
- Just 4 km from Himara.
Author’s rating:Here’s the thing—I never went down to the bunker myself, even though I passed by many times. There’s a sign saying “No Entry,” but there are always different cars down there, and people move around freely. And based on what’s said in Albanian forums, nothing is guarded there anymore. Knowing Albanians, I’m sure that even if there were security, they would, at worst, turn you away. Arrest is definitely not a concern. So, if you love such places, it’s a 10 out of 10 for you, but at your own risk. Others can take a look from above and continue their journey.
- If anyone descends to the bunker, please share more information in the comments.
Beaches of Himara
Below is a list of the best beaches in Himara, their coordinates, and brief information. I won’t write about the main city beach since it was mentioned earlier.
- Wild Beach
- A truly wild beach with a steep descent from the mountain. The last 3 meters involve descending an almost sheer cliff using a rope.
- There are no sunbeds, eateries, or vendors here. Absolutely nothing.
- Coordinates: 40.085890, 19.751948
- Livadhi Beach
- The most popular beach in Himara, both for tourists and locals.
- It’s over 1 km long and has restaurants.
- You can even arrive directly at the beach with a camper.
- Coordinates: 40.107592, 19.725702
- The beach is very wide, and even in the high season, there’s plenty of space, and it’s not crowded.
- Gjipe Beach
- This beach is located 3.5 km past Himara, but you can walk there.
- Gjipe Beach is in the top 10 best beaches in Albania. You can read all about it through the link.
- Coordinates: 40.126791, 19.670275
- Parking: 200 leks for the entire day
- Gjiri i Akuariumit Beach
- This is a very small bay squeezed between two rocks.
- It’s not far (500m) from Livadhi Beach.
- Coordinates: 40.112851, 19.711928
- Its specialty is that you can jump into the water from the steep cliffs. The height is not significant, but it’s perfect for beginner cliff jumpers.
Himara, as you’ve already realized, is a small and tranquil town. However, it is nestled in the most stunning part of Albania—the Albanian Riviera. If you’re a beach enthusiast, this is the place for you. But even if you enjoy short excursions to nearby attractions, Himara has you covered. Within an hour’s drive, you can reach incredible places that make for perfect half-day getaways:
- Neighboring town of Dhermi,
- The magnificent Saranda,
- The Blue Eye (Syri i Kaltër),
- Ksamil with its oyster farms,
- And the village of Borsh.
Timing:If you have very limited time, make a quick stop at Himara Fortress for an hour. Also, set aside a couple of hours to visit Gjipe Beach before continuing your journey. But if you have the luxury of time, Himara is a fantastic spot to spend 1-2 nights with a breathtaking sea view. However, staying for more than 2-3 days might become monotonous, but it’s ample time to explore the surrounding attractions.
In conclusion, the Albanian town of Himara is a perfect destination for all beach lovers. It’s an ideal retreat for those seeking a laid-back experience, away from the hustle and bustle of crowded tourist spots. Even during the high season, Himara always boasts secluded beaches, thanks to its relatively small population of 6,000, which leaves ample space for 5-6 splendid, spacious, and relatively large beaches.
Resources to help you plan your dream trip to Albania
- Flights at the best prices with juicy discounts
- Car rental in Albania (cheaper – only by bus):
- Hotels and apartments throughout the country: Booking
- Tours, excursions and activities (including extreme ones):
- Comprehensive travel insurance: EKTA
- eSIM virtual sim card in Albania
- Taxi and transfers: Intui.Travel