1 October 2018.
With deliciously blue seas, a curious network of caves and the towering ochre cliffs of the canyon, it’s really no surprise that Gjipe Beach is widely regarded as one of Albania’s best.
While these days it’s far from being the secret it once was, it’s certainly one of the most beautiful and least crowded beaches along the Albanian Riviera.
Here’s everything you need to know to plan a fantastic visit to Gjipe Beach.
* This post includes affiliate links and any purchases made through these links will earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you. *
As a secluded cove set several kilometres from the main road, Gjipe Beach can be a little challenging to reach. These are the best ways to get there and away for every type of traveller.
By Car |
Reaching Gjipe Beach by car is by far the easiest option. There’s a parking area 2.5km from the main road for 2WD vehicles, but if you have a 4WD you can continue all the way down to the beach – just be prepared for a precarious cliff road and very soft sand.
By Bus |
Every day a handful of buses and furgons ply the coastal route between Vlora and Saranda. Simply flag one down anywhere along the main road and ask to be dropped off at the turnoff for Gjipe Beach. Most drivers will know exactly where you mean, but be sure to keep an eye on the map so you don’t overshoot.
Timetables can be a little unreliable in these parts, but wherever you’re staying should have a good idea of what buses you can catch. At the time of my visit, buses departed Himara for Vlora at 7 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. as well as 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. for Tirana.
From the turnoff, there’s a 2km walk down to the beach along a well signposted dirt trail with several scenic lookouts offering views into the canyon and across the bay.
By Foot |
Gjipe Beach lies just 5km from Vuno and can be reached by following the road before veering off along a slightly overgrown trail that leads you through the coastal scrub to the southern end of the beach.
There’s also a beautiful coastal trail that leads all the way to Himara for those looking for a more active day trip. It’s relatively well marked with the red and white striped emblem, but I’d recommend using Maps.Me for navigation as well. The route is 11km and takes you along the cliff tops to Jala and Livadhi, through tiny rural communities and past a number of incredibly beautiful coves. The last few kilometres before Jala are on the main road and it’s easy to hitchhike along this section if you’re looking to shorten the walk.
From Dhermi, there also looks to be a trail feeding off the main road a short way out of town that leads all the way to Gjipe just 4km away. I didn’t take this route, but it’s a possible option if you’re starting or ending in Dhermi.
Hitchhiking along Albania’s coast is almost like a rite of passage among backpackers in these parts. Even those who once shook their heads at the mere thought of it inevitably end up squeezed into a car of friendly strangers when a bus doesn’t turn up or the raging sun and a welcoming smile force them to reconsider.
Hitchhiking along the coastal road is fairly common practice and, paired with the wonderfully friendly locals, you’ll likely never have to wait more than a few minutes for a ride. Plus, there’s really only one main road so virtually everyone is heading in the right direction and are only too happy to take you along. That said, it pays to take the usual precautions.
By Boat |
Feel like arriving in style? On the calm waters of the Ionian, you can get a boat ride from Jala or Himara direct to Gjipe Beach. To inject a little more adventure, you can also hire a kayak and paddle across from Jala.
Aside from sprawling out in the sun, taking endless dips in the aquamarine sea and relishing that wonderful feeling of being back at the beach, something that makes Gjipe so special is the geographic formations that decorate this section of coast.
Explore The Caves | Chiselled into the rockface along the southern edge of the beach lies a series of small caves just waiting to be explored. At high tide, these can become too dangerous to visit, but when the water levels are low, you can swim or kayak along the shoreline and get amongst the nooks and crannies of the rocks. Be very wary of changing tides as freak waves can slosh quite violently against these rocks, but comfortable swimmers and kayakers who pay close attention to the water movements shouldn’t have a problem.
Hike Up The Gjipe Canyon | Streaked in ochre and jet black and adorned in a lush tangle of foliage, this deep ravine is well worth exploring. Comfortably, you can hike around 1 to 2 km inland from the beach, but from there things escalate quickly with numerous boulders and steep rock faces that need to be scaled. I turned back after reaching the first rope climb as I certainly wasn’t equipped for that kind of terrain. Only the most adventurous should attempt going any further and be sure to keep a lookout for snakes which are not all that uncommon in this part of Albania.
Bring plenty of water | If you’re visiting on a day trip, it’s best to bring all the water you’ll need with you. Bear in mind too that the beach can be brutally hot and the walk in and out very sweaty so you’ll most likely be consuming a little more than usual. For those staying overnight, there is a tap at the campground but it’s not suitable for drinking. If you have a water purification system (the SteriPen is my go-to) or camp stove, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Be wary of rain | Heavy rainfall can create flash floods in the canyon which could pose a serious threat if you’re hiking through the ravine or camping near the canyon entrance. If storms and heavy rainfall are expected, it’s best to seek higher ground until the worst has passed or at least stick to the outer edges of the shore.
Rent a deckchair | As with most beaches in Albania, it’s all pebbles here. Though I always resisted forking out for a deckchair, if you’ll be spending all day at Gjipe, it’s a great way to maximise your comfort and escape the blazing sun. There are 3 separate areas each offering a pair of deck chairs and an umbrella for just 500 lek (€4) per day.
Feast on fresh fish | During the summer months, you’ll find a couple of cafes and bars dotted across the beach serving up ice-cold drinks and freshly cooked seafood. Understandably given the secluded location, prices are a little higher than what you’ll find in most places along the coast so be sure to bring enough cash with you if you intend to eat here. A grilled whole fish will generally cost upward of 1,000 lek (€8) while drinks start from 200 lek (€1.50).
Bring appropriate sun protection | In the height of summer, the Albanian sun can be ferocious! From midday onwards, when the sun gleams into every nook and cranny of the protective caves, shade becomes increasingly limited. Be smart and bring adequate sun protection, including water-resistant suncream with at least 30SPF, a hat and sunglasses. A long-sleeved shirt is also a good idea if you’re planning to hike anywhere along the cliffs which are very exposed to the elements.
Don’t wait until dark | If you’re planning to hike out, be sure to leave plenty of time before sunset to get where you’re going. Some trails are not always easy to follow, even less so in the dark.
Budget travellers will find plenty of great options within walking distance of Gjipe Beach, while those looking for something a little more comfortable will be spoiled for choice at nearby Himara and Dhermi, or Vlora or Saranda which lie a little further afield.
Gjipe Eco Campground |
With an unbeatable location and the chance to fall asleep beneath the stars with the gentle gurgle of waves as your lullaby, the Gjipe Beach Campground is a pretty perfect spot. Despite the name, there’s nothing specifically ‘eco’ about the place, but if you’ve got a tent and enjoy being outdoors, the campground offers up the opportunity to enjoy the beach under cover of darkness and without the crowds. Facilities are basic at best.
Contact for rates and availability on Facebook.
Shkolla Vuno |
Another nearby option that thoroughly embraces its rustic charm is Shkolla, a school-turned-hostel set amidst an olive grove. There’s no wifi or nearby shops which shifts the focus heavily to being active and socialising with fellow travellers – just like it used to be in the days before we each had a smartphone glued to our fingers. This hostel certainly isn’t for everyone, but if you’re prepared for a ‘back to basics’ approach, there’s every chance you’ll love it. Open June through September with dorms and camping spots available.
Himara Hostel |
Himara Hostel in one word – chill! Kick back in a hammock in the enormous leafy garden or enjoy a sunset swim at the local beach just a 5-minute walk away. This hostel also boasts spacious dorms, a decent free breakfast, guest kitchen and several resident kitties to cuddle up with. Daily buses to Vlora and Tirana that pass the Gjipe turnoff make this a great base for a day trip.
Dhori House Dhermi |
Set a short way back from the beach, Dhori House offers spacious and affordable private rooms with ocean views in Dhermi. Its easy access to the main road makes it a great option for visiting Gjipe while still being just a short walk from lovely Drymades Beach.
Check rates and availability on Booking.com.
Vlora and Saranda |
Buzzing Vlora and Saranda also make good bases for a visit to Gjipe Beach, though you’ll be looking at far more travel time.
Check available accommodation options here.
For a more home-away-from-home experience, Airbnb is an excellent option and you’ll be glad to know there are plenty of great apartments dotted along the Albanian Riviera.
Sign up here and receive up to $30 off when you make your first booking.