Albanian coastline has a considerable length of 450 km, including even the lagoons area. The coast has a particular character because it is rich in varieties of sandy beaches, capes, hidden bays, lagoons, small gravel beaches, sea caves etc. Some parts of the coast are very clean ecologically, which represent in this context unexplored areas, still virgin in the Mediterranean basin.
The Albanian coast starts in the north at the Buna River estuary, which marks the Albania-Montenegro border. Precisely here, as a result of the river’s alluvions, it is formed the small island of Franz Joseph which, depending on the flow, turns also into a peninsula. This is an important natural object, especially because of the presence of waterfowls and vegetations contained therein. Its vegetation is of the type of coppice, dominated by poplar trees, alder and other timbers. Woodcock prevails, regarding the birds. Franz Joseph is a very favourable place for those who love nature and prefer to stay away from the noise. The estuary of Buna River is part of RAMSAR International Convention.
The country’s northern beach is that of Velipoja, situated 22 km away from Shkodra. Velipoja is a sandy beach, 4 km long, distinguished for the high quality of sand. There are 250 sunny days in this area and the days with a temperature above 200C normally start by the middle of May. The beach is suitable for family vacations and is frequented in general by vacationers of north Albanian areas. Near Velipoja beach is situated the lagoon of Viluni with an area of 130 hectares. This is a very important natural ecosystem for the breeding of waterfowls; 183 species of birds are found in it. There it is situated also a legally hunting area of 700 hectares near Velipoja beach.
Shëngjini Beach is another sandy beach in the district of Lezha. It is situated only 8 km away from the city of Lezha. Shëngjini is well-known for the quality of its sand. This beach has 200 to 300 sunny days a year. In the north of Shëngjin, near to the Renci hills, lies protected from the winds, the wonderful beach called “Rana e Hedhun”. Lezha Coast has an excellent natural ecosystem for the development of ecotourism, observation of the birds, etc. The area of Drini River estuary as a result of the wind direction, it is very suitable for “surfing”. At Drini estuary is located the System of Kune-vain lagoons, where many waterfowls nets. Two lagoons are located here, the one of Ceka with an area of 235 hectares and the one called Merxhani with an area of 77 hectares. The biggest surprise for tourists is the Kunë sandy island, with an area of 125 hectares, on the right of the delta of Drini River. The Kunë Island is covered with lush vegetation of hygrophytes. Green Mediterranean shrubs grow there, such as lianas, willows, ash, etc. In this area you can find 227 species of plants. Regarding the wild life, we can mention wild ducks, pheasants, woodpeckers, phalacrocorax carbo, heron, anas Penelope, etc. In this lagoon system are found 70 species of birds; 22 reptiles, from 33 throughout Albania; 6 species of amphibians, from 15 species in total in Albania; and 23 species of mammals. In the south of Kunë, in Tale area, are located other less frequented beaches by the tourists.
One of the most attractive areas of the Albanian Adriatic is Lalëzi bay, which extends from the Cape of Rodoni to Bishti i Pallës. The Cape of Rodoni, which limits the bay from the north, is of great natural beauty that enters the sea at the length of 7.5 km. Cape of Rodoni is one of the most interesting places of the Albanian coast for practicing underwater diving The beaches of Lalëzi Bay are sandy, some of which are surrounded by a belt of natural vegetation of coniferous forests. It is worth to refer the beaches of Shën Pjetri and Rrushkull, which are distinguished for the purity of sea waters.
Durrësi beach, which is only 39 km away from Tirana, the capital of Albania, is the largest and most populated beach of the country. It is 6 km long with a considerable wide sand belt. The sea depth increases gradually, thus making this beach suitable for children and family holidays. The position of Durrësi bay makes it very protected by the winds. In Durrësi beach are situated the biggest number of tourist facilities like hotels, motels, villas complex, bars, restaurants, discos, etc. Over the last few years, this beach has not only been frequented from the capital daily tourists, but also from tourists coming from Kosovo and Macedonia. In the north of the city of Durrës, on the foot of its hills, is located the famous beach of Currila, where sea waters are deep blue and the beach is well protected from hot winds coming from the land. The beaches of Golemi and that of Mali i Robit are almost an extension of the beach of Durrës, as they have common features. Here you can find the presence of pine forests, which decorate the seaside. Same as in Durrësi beach, the number of tourist facilities is quite large here (hotels, complexes, restaurants). Regarding the beaches belonging to Kavaja District, it is worthy to mention Karpen and Spillenjë beaches, which are distinguished for the high quality of sand, pure sea waters and dense vegetation of pine trees (Spillenja beach). Recently, investments are made in this area in order to create the conditions for accommodation of tourists.
The Cape of Lagji closes Durrës bay on the south. It is a natural place suitable for divers. Nearby can be found small beaches of rare beauty, such as Bardhori and Gjenerali beach. Bardhori is a rocky beach, while Gjeneral is surrounded by lush vegetation. It looks like a natural amphitheatre. Both are isolated beaches, very quiet ones, with high quality marine waters.
Undoubtedly, one of the most beautiful natural places of the Albanian coast is the beach of Divjaka and the Lagoon of Karavasta. Divjaka sandy beach, the forest and the lagoon constitute a natural complex with a greattourist importance. Divjaka forest stretches from mouth of Seman river up to the estuary of Shkumbini river. The Lagoon has an area of 4,330 hectares, being the largest lagoon in the entire Albanian coast. It is one of 12 National Parks of Albania and it has a special importance in terms of its biodiversity. The Lagoon of Karavasta is the western extreme point in Europe, where the Dalmatian Pelican (pelicanus crispus) can nest. Here can be found 5 percent of its world population. It is due to these qualities, that since 1994, the Lagoon is under the protection of international RAMSAR Convention. It’s a very interesting experience watching these pelicans, while coming by boat to the island in the lagoon where they usually sit. This ecosystem is home to 210 species of birds, 12 species of mammals and 16 species of reptiles. The waters of the lagoon, which reach a maximum depth of 1.5 meters, are rich in fish, where the main catches are mullet and eel, which are offered in many restaurants at Divjaka beach. The National Park vegetation of Divjaka is known for its unique beauty and freshness. The coniferous surfaces prevail here, such as soft and wild pine. The pines with large crown, shaped as an umbrella, are very noticeable. The forest has different categories of plants ranging from herbs to high woods. It is noted for the firs, ashes, etc. Divjaka’s Beach sand has a significant content of iodine and temperatures over 200C starting from the second half of May to continue until beginning of October. This is an area where beach activities are combined with ecotourism.
The estuary of Vjosa River, located further in the south, constitutes a protected natural area in both sides of the river called the area of Pish Poro Fier and Vlora. This is a natural area with coastal pines, sandy secluded beaches and favourable nesting location for aquatic birds.
In the south of Vjosa estuary is located the Lagoon of Narta, with an area of 4,180 hectares, being the second largest lagoon in Albania. The belt of the land, which separates the lagoon from the sea, is covered by a pine forest. Narta Lagoon is another natural ecosystem with possibilities for development of ecotourism, poultries observation, fishing, etc. It represents the second largest lagoon in Albania regarding the presence of waterfowls. Narta lagoon is home to 195 species of poultries. Only during the winter season, 48,700 water birds build here their nests. They constitute 23 percent of the winter birds that come in Albania. Thousands of different ducks arrivals are noticed. There are also present the whitetail eagle, flamingos, pilgrims hawk, the black claws falcon, etc. The area of Narta is well-known for its handicraft production of high quality wine. In the future, natural tourism in the lagoon can be combined with the “wine tour” produced here. In the waters of lagoon are grown various types of fishes, such as eel and bass of Narta.
Vlora is the second biggest harbour of the country and one of the most important tourist places, which mainly offers the product “sun & sea”. The area near the town, along the beaches of Vlora bay, is distinguished for the new and modern hotels and other facilities such as bars, restaurants, disco-clubs etc. This is one of the most intensive tourist areas of the country. The tourist area starts immediately in the south of the city, across the small, rocky beaches of Vlora bay. These are beaches with a very interesting configuration. In front of these beaches lies the Karaburun Peninsula, the largest peninsula of the coast and also Sazan island, that is also the largest island of Albania. This configuration makes the beaches of Vlora bay quite protected from the winds. Jonufri beaches are located in this area of Vlora bay, which stretch to Dukat stream, close to the small town of Orikum. The beach is surrounded by a hilly area, covered with citrus, which contrasts nicely with the blue waters of the sea.
In south of Vlora’s bay you can visit Orikum, where recently is established a harbour for yachts. The Orikum beach has a length of 2 km. In this area you can visit also Rrapi and Pana sea caves. All this area can be of interest for underwater explorations, because of archaeological remains and sunken ships. Such is the Italian ship “Po” sunk in 1941 during the Italian – Greek war. It is also said that Julius Caesar sank the ships that its troops brought during the pursuit of Pompey. A suitable area for diving and observing the different algae is the one called “Cold Water”, while Zhironi beach is well-known for the presence of green and black algae, etc.
In the west, Vlora bay is closed by the peninsula of Karaburun, the largest peninsula in Albania about 16 km long and 4.5 km wide. Karaburun west coast is a spectacular one, with high and fragmented shores, small bays and beaches. In the north of peninsula is to be visited the cave of Haxhi Ali, which is the largest marine cave in the country. It has a depthof 30 m, a height of 18 meters and a width of 12 meters. These dimensions allow the entrance of the boats into the cave. The cave name is in the memory of an Ulqin sailor in the XVII century, who used to sail in these waters. Regarding the small beaches of Karaburun, it should be mentioned the bay of the Bear, Dafina and Grama beaches, which are distinguished for deep waters, very high quality of marine waters and secluded positioning, completely away from the noise. Nearby Grama beach you will find the cave of Slaves. According to the legends, in ancient times, the slaves used to work here and extract stones. On the walls of Grama beach are found ancient writings and it is thought that here was probably a temple of Pelasgian- Dioscuria. Western of Karaburun is one of the most attractive sites of the Albanian coast for those who love underwater diving.
Near the Peninsula of Karaburun is situated the island of Sazan, which is the largest island in Albania. It has an area of 5.7 km2, with a length of 4.8 km and a maximum width of 2 km. It is about 12 miles away from Vlora Harbour. In antiquity the island was named Saso. The island represents a block with harsh rocky shores, especially in the western part of the island. In the southeast of the island is located a pebble beach named Beach of Admiral, which is known for its very clean waters of the sea. Sazani represents a special interest for divers and along with the Karaburun Peninsula, they create a real underwater park. After the Llogara Pass, the Ionian beaches follow, also called “the Albanian Riviera”, which is one of the most beautiful regions of Albania, where the sun meets with the depth sea, small rocky and intimate beaches, wonderful configurations, mountain slopes and hills lined with typical Mediterranean vegetation (olives, citrus), and typical villages built between mountains and sea, that opens in front of them. This is the warmest region of the country, where average January temperature is 100C and 250C in July. The area has 300 days of sunshine.
From the Pass of Llogara, 1,057 meters above sea level, a magnificent view of the coast opens in front of you, which seems to behold from the plane. Dhraleos beach is the first one in Palace, which has a length of 1.5 km. It is one of the most exotic beaches across the Albanian coast, which is known for its quietness, very deep and blue waters and with a very high quality. The beach serves also as a landing point for air sports, especially for parachute flights from the Llogara Pass. Finally, there is a driving road available to reach the beach.
Dhërmi beach that follows more in the south of Albania, is one of the most frequented and important tourist places of the entire Albanian coast. The crystal sea waters, secluded beaches, water sports and scuba diving make it much preferred, especially by young people. The beaches being part of Dhërmi are Drimades, Jaliksari, Shkambo and Gjipea. Gjipe beach has a very beautiful formation – as you walk past the beach, you will see a canyon with walls up to 70 meters high, created by a stream. Near the beach of Dhërmiu, you will find the Cave of Pirates, where tourists can access by boat. There are several hotels, restaurants, and summer discos in Dhërmiu beach. “Family Tourism” is developed in the entire area and the surrounding areas, offering to tourists houses for rent. Vuno is located 8 km to the south of Dhërmi. From Vuno you can drive to the popular beach of Jali.
Himara is the main center of the “Upper Ionian coast”. It is a tourist place, which is revived during the summer season by families and young people. The beaches of Himara are: Spillea, Potami, Llamani, Livadhja and Filikuri. All of them are distinguished for deep waters, rocky nature and the high quality of sea waters. Before reaching Borsh, you can find Qeparo beach and small tectonic bay of Porto Palermo, where to be visit the castle of Ali Pasha.
Borshi is the longest beach of Albanian Riviera, stretching to 6km. This beach is surrounded by massive Mediterranean plants (olives and citrus plantations). Family tourism is very popular in the area. On the road to Saranda, you can visit the beaches of Bunec, Kakome and Krorëz (up to 3 km long), distinguished for their rare beauty and the clear crystal waters.
The city of Saranda is the largest inhabited center of the “Albanian Riviera” and one of the most important tourist sites of the country, preferred historically by newlyweds, who come to Saranda for their honeymoon. The city and the area around it, offer a network of hotels, starting from 5-star hotels to “budget travellers”, as well as houses for rent. The city has a very favourable geographical position, as it is located only 9km away from Corfu island. The ferries provide daily trips from Corfu to Saranda, making Saranda an attractive place frequented by European and international tourists coming from Corfu.
An important place due to natural and archaeological beauty is Butrint, which is part of UNESCO heritage, located 18km south of the city. In Saranda, you will find the small beaches of Central, Pllaka and Liman. Usually, the tourists who prefer sea, travel on the south of the city, to the most frequented beach of Ksamil, which is located between the peninsula with the same name and Butrinti lagoon. In front of Ksamil, lies the island of Corfu; close to Ksamil beach you will find 4 small islands, completely covered by green Mediterranean vegetation. Their total area amounts to 8,9 hectares. In Ksamil, you will find several hotels and restaurants.
Another important ecosystem of tourist values, is the Lagoon of butrinti, which is also called a lake because of its tectonic origin. It has an area of 16km2 and it has access to the sea through Vivari Channel, 3.6km long. Maximum depth of the lake is 20 meters. Due to favourable wind direction, it is a very suitable place for those who want to practice the sport of sailing. Regarding its fauna, some of the most important species are: the wild duck, the black neck duck, fulica atra, eagle of the field, Falco tinnunculus, the white tail eagle, the Mediterranean horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale) and the bat (Myotis capaccinni). The lagoon also shelters many amphibians and reptiles, which grow in the rred area, located in the north-eastern shore of the lake. To be mentioned is the frog of Epirus, a species found only in Albania. The ecosystem is also suitable for the observation of birds, of which 90 species are aquatic birds only in the forest of the archaeological area, near the shores of the lake. The southern extreme point of the Albanian coast up to the Cape of Stillo is composed by low, completely virgin beaches.
Another important ecosystem of tourist values, is the Lagoon of Butrinti, which is also called a lake because of its tectonic origin. It has an area of 16km2 and it has access to the sea through Vivari Channel, 3.6km long. Maximum depth of the lake is 20 meters. Due to favourable wind direction, it is a very suitable place for those who want to practice the sport of sailing. Regarding its fauna, some of the most important species are: the wild duck, the black neck duck, fulica atra, eagle of the field, Falco tinnunculus, the white tail eagle, the Mediterranean horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus euryale) and the bat (Myotis capaccinni). The lagoon also shelters many amphibians and reptiles, which grow in the rred area, located in the north-eastern shore of the lake. To be mentioned is the frog of Epirus, a species found only in Albania. The ecosystem is also suitable for the observation of birds, of which 90 species are aquatic birds only in the forest of the archaeological area, near the shores of the lake. The southern extreme point of the Albanian coast up to the Cape of Stillo is composed by low, completely virgin beaches.