The main question that all tourists who come here have is about the sea in Albania. In this article, I will answer all the questions regarding seaside vacations in this Balkan country. And perhaps you will decide on the resort and the sea where you will spend your unforgettable vacation.
The Sea in Albania: Which One Exactly?
Let me answer the main question right away so as not to keep you waiting. The shores of Albania are washed by two seas at once. Those who read the table of contents have already understood this.
- The Adriatic Sea – in the northern and central parts of the country.
- The Ionian Sea – washes the southern coast of Albania.
Life hack:When you plan your vacation in Albania, you can confidently tell your wife that you are taking her to two seas at once.
Each sea has its own features and differences. The choice of resort depends on many reasons, which I will discuss further in the article.
Here’s what you need to know: if you take the entire coastline of the country, about 80% is the Adriatic Sea, and only 20% is the Ionian Sea. However, despite this, 80% of tourists go to the Ionian Sea for vacation, while the remaining 20% spread across the entire Adriatic coast of Albania.
Useful to know:On the internet, they often write that the Adriatic is sandy, while the beaches of the Ionian Sea are rocky. This is partially true. Both types of beaches can be found in both seas. But in the north, they are predominantly sandy, while in the south, they are pebbly. So, if you are looking for either a pebble beach or a sandy one, especially suitable for children, know that they can be found in any part of Albania.
By following the link, you can read the article about the best beaches in Albania according to the author.
And here’s a separate extensive article about vacationing in Albania with children.
The dividing line between the two seas is the Strait of Otranto, which is located between Albania and the heel of Italy. The strait is named after the Italian city of Otranto, which is located exactly on the dividing line between the two seas.
Observation deck at the border of the two seas in Albania
On the Albanian coastline, the Llogara Pass serves as the border between the two seas. All the points mentioned in this article, as well as the entire travel guide, are available via the link on the travel map. With this map, it will be much easier for you to plan your perfect independent route through Albania and not miss anything along the way.
In brief, here’s what you need to know about the Llogara Pass:
- It is one of the most beautiful roads in Albania. The only road more beautiful is the SH75 road, but there is a separate article about it.
- Unlike the SH75 road, the road through the Llogara Pass connects the Adriatic and Ionian coasts.
- This incredibly scenic road starts from the city of Vlora and ends on the other side of the pass in the town of Himara.
- The road has excellent pavement, good infrastructure, and is traveled by a large number of tourists. I believe that if your destination is the south of Albania, bypassing the pass would be a sacrilege.
- You can even reach this area by regular bus from Tirana to Saranda.
- There are cafes, restaurants, trekking routes, and an observation deck at the pass.
Tip:If you want to visit other remote parts of the country but sometimes lack the opportunity, be sure to visit this road and the Llogara Pass. From the observation deck, you can see both seas at once. And on clear and calm days, if you look closely at the water color, you can see the border between the two seas.
Read all about Karaburun National Park and the Llogara Pass in a separate article.
Adriatic Sea in Albania: Resorts, Reviews, Recommendations
Next, I will focus on the differences and features of the Adriatic coast of Albania. Read detailed information about resorts and tourist areas here. This information will help you choose a place for your vacation and select the perfect resort to create your travel itinerary.
Features of the Adriatic Sea and Coastline:
- First and foremost is the length of the beaches. On the Adriatic, the beaches are long and stretch for many kilometers. Not always and everywhere will you find the necessary infrastructure, but along the coast, the terrain is generally flatter.
- A beach, or something resembling a beach, can stretch for 30 kilometers, connecting several towns and villages. Over time, the boundaries have blurred, and it’s no longer clear where one settlement ends and another begins.
- The Adriatic Sea is cooler. Well, not significantly cooler, but the water temperature is 1-2 degrees lower than the Ionian Sea. During the summer season, you won’t notice much of a difference, but it’s a fact. Learn all about the weather, water temperature, and seasons in Albania.
- In my personal opinion, the water in the Adriatic is murkier compared to the Ionian coast. This is due to the seabed. In the north, it is sandier, while in the south, it is rockier. However, as I mentioned before, beaches with different types of terrain can be found throughout the country.
Resorts of the Adriatic Sea in Albania
Let’s start from north to south with brief comments.
- Velipoja – the northernmost beach resort in Albania. It is located right on the border with Montenegro. Convenient for those traveling by car through the Balkans and coming from Montenegro.
- San Pietro and Hamallaj Beaches. Same as Velipoja Beach, but even longer – 10 km.
- Durres-Golem-Kavaja resort area. This encompasses three towns with an almost endless beach, spanning 30 km. The boundaries between them have almost disappeared. This is my least favorite resort. Read why in the link about resorts mentioned earlier.
- Vlora. The third-largest city in Albania, located almost on the border between the two seas. It is the last resort on the Adriatic coast.
Ionian Sea in Albania: Brief about resorts and advice
The distinctive feature of the Ionian Sea coastline is its small rocky beaches. Here, you won’t find beaches that stretch for kilometers. There are more mountains and other attractions besides the sea. If you choose the Ionian coast, you can easily make excursions to the mountains and visit other tourist spots between beach vacations.
Below is a list of resorts and resort towns on the coastline washed by the Ionian Sea:
- Himara. Both are small, cozy towns with pebbly beaches and good infrastructure. They have everything you need for a great beach vacation.
- Saranda. The main and largest city in Albania on the Ionian Sea. It is also the main tourist resort in southern Albania.
- Here, the Greek influence is strongly felt, as there is a significant population of ethnic Greeks in this region.
- Signs in Greek start to appear.
- Greek dishes can be found on restaurant menus that are not available in the north.
- And the most important thing: a high-speed ferry operates daily from here to the Greek island of Corfu. If you have a Schengen visa (or you are a European Union citizen), you can have an excellent 1-3 day trip. It takes just 25 minutes to sail to Corfu.
- Ksamil – the last resort village on the Ionian coast of Albania. Its advantages include:
- Stunning sandy beaches. Although they are small.
- Greek Corfu is just 2 km away from Ksamil.
- Saranda is 7 km away.
- Oyster farms and the Blue Eye.
- And much more, but all the details can be found in the link about Ksamil and the islands.
See the list of all cities in Albania here.
Best beaches and the best sea in Albania: Where?
The answer to this question is very subjective, and I might be biased. Nonetheless, I will still give you some advice because handing out recommendations is easier than anything else. So, here’s my rating and recommendations.
- Worst resort in the country: Durres-Golem-Kavaja. Sure, there are excellent hotels here, and it’s as safe as the rest of Albania. You will enjoy your vacation. But if you have the opportunity, it’s better to choose another resort because the others are much better.
- Looking for a peaceful beach holiday to simply relax and enjoy the sand? Or perhaps you’re traveling with children? The beaches of Ksamil, especially Bora-Bora Beach, are a dream come true.
- Need a pebbly beach with infrastructure, plenty of establishments, and a lively nightlife (as far as it’s possible in Albania)? And if you also want a promenade for strolling, the ideal choice is Saranda. Vlora is also not bad.
- Looking for a place with beautiful landscapes, away from crowds but with infrastructure? Somewhere you can spend a couple of days relaxing on the beach and enjoying the view. Plus, you’re interested in fortresses atop mountains and beautiful sunsets. Choose a vacation in Dhermi or Himara.
- Holiday packages to Albania: Price, Tips, and Where to Buy
In conclusion, the answer to the question of which sea washes Albania is simple. However, choosing which sea to vacation at is much more difficult. Personally, I believe the Ionian Sea excels in all aspects. Its only drawback is that it has more pebbly beaches and fewer sandy ones. But that’s a drawback for me; for someone else, it could be a plus.
In general, Albania is not the kind of country where you should stay in one place. You must travel throughout Albania. Even if you have only 5-6 days in this country, you can easily spend 3 days on the Adriatic beaches and another 3 days on the Ionian coast. And if you’re an active tourist, remember that spending more than 3 days in any city in Albania is not necessary.
Remember: every sea is beautiful, even if it’s the Northern Sea, and even if it’s February on the calendar!
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