6 October 2018.
Whirling over the top of the spectacular Llogara Pass, the iridescent blue thread of the Ionian coast springs into view, dotted with sparkling bays, colourful umbrellas and timeworn waterfront villas.
Neon signs and city traffic fade into mountain backdrops and scraggly olive groves. Jagged cliff lines and glimpses of turquoise flash by beyond your window, and before you know it, you’re drifting between white-washed streets and abundant fruit trees toward an impossibly pretty bay where fishing boats bob lazily in a tranquil sea.
Welcome to Himara.
Albania’s much-loved laidback beach town where delicious Mediterranean eats abound, the country’s best beaches are within easy reach and a hammock is never far away.
Though Himara’s reputation as a sleepy fishing village is perhaps beginning to fade, it has thankfully managed to escape much of the haphazard development springing up along the Riviera and, to my immense delight, still retains plenty of beach town charm.
Undoubtedly, it’s one of the best beach towns along Albanian’s beautiful coastline, with a distinct Greek influence, excellent food and plenty to do in the area making it an excellent base for your time at the beach.
These were my favourite things to do in Himara, as well as where to eat, sleep and find the best beaches.
* This post includes affiliate links and any purchases made through these links will earn us a small commission at no extra cost to you. *
Set in a remote pocket of bushland with deliciously blue seas, a series of caves and the towering ochre cliffs of the Gjipe Canyon leading directly off the pebbled shore, it’s not hard to see why Gjipe Beach is widely regarded as one of Albania’s best.
Away from the summer crowds of the country’s far south, it’s a simply beautiful spot to while away the day.
Lose hours drifting between the aqua sea and pebbled shore, and when the searing midday sun becomes a little too much, escape to the cool shadows of the canyon where spiky trees sway overhead and the promise of adventure draws you in.
Check out this guide for everything you need to know to plan a perfect day trip from Himara!
The pebbly shores of Spile Beach, Himara’s main town beach, make a lovely place to flop down on the beach and relax, particularly in the morning and afternoon when the crowds are yet to rise or have already begun to disperse.
You’ll quickly notice the vast number of colourful and neatly tied up umbrellas poking out across the shoreline, and while it may be tempting to grab some shelter beneath one, these actually belong to fellow beachgoers who are saving their spot for the duration of their beach vacation.
Just a 20-minute walk through the forest north of Himara, you’ll emerge at Livadhi Beach which is another favourite in the area.
It’s a little more lively here than Himara with plenty of beach bars and chairs for rent, as well as a perfect vantage point for sunset at the right time of year.
Unmissable on the hilltop above town, Himara Fshat is a magical snapshot of traditional Albanian life.
A curious web of twisting cobbled laneways that weaves through a tight cluster of timeworn homes beneath a canopy of grapevines. It’s the kind of place that’s simply made for getting lost and is certainly worth a visit, even if just for an hour or so.
Atop the hill, you’ll find the ruins of Himara Castle which offers beautiful views over the leafy surrounds and out towards Livadhi Beach.
It’s a steep 3km walk uphill from Himara along the road or 2.5km from Livadhi Beach.
Along such a picturesque thread of coastline, where ridiculously turquoise seas and sparking bays are abundant, it can be hard to differentiate between them.
Until you arrive at Porto Palermo, that is.
Dotted with tiny pebbled beaches, this wide arcing bay is undoubtedly home to the most vibrant shade of blue water I’ve ever seen.
The spectacular water isn’t the only reason to visit though.
Porto Palermo Castle which crowds out the bay’s tiny island offers great views along the coast and has an interesting network of dark corridors and underground chambers to explore, while the gaping submarine tunnel that marks the military base in the bay’s north is a source of constant fascination among visitors.
In summer and on weekends, Porto Palermo can get pretty darn crowded, but arrive early and you’ll have no problem snagging a prime spot. The beach here is also rockier than most so a renting a beach chair isn’t a bad idea.
Aside from the main beach, the craggy coastline weaving south also hides a number of tiny coves where you can enjoy your very own slice of paradise without anybody else around.
Just 2.5km south of Himara lies Filikuri Beach – a perfect spot for those seeking a more secluded beach hideaway.
Filikuri is wrapped in cliffs and has a rather rocky shore so is best reached by boat or kayak, though I did meet some rather adventurous beachgoers who instead decided to scale the rocks with the aid of a rope which is reportedly fixed to the cliff.
Himara Hostel | Kick back in a hammock in the enormous leafy garden or enjoy a sunset swim at Spile Beach just a 5-minute walk away. This budget-friendly option also boasts spacious dorms, a decent free breakfast, guest kitchen and several resident kitties to cuddle up with.
Himara Downtown Hostel | This intimate hostel is another decent option for those on a tighter budget and is perfect for socialising, with laidback vibes and a great chill out area. Set just a block back from the beach, you can’t really beat the location either.
Guesthouses And Apartments
Beleri House | This lovely beach pad has a prime location just 2 minutes from the beach. Guests love the gorgeous ocean views, vine-covered terrace and friendly owners.
Ionian View | With comfortable private rooms, ocean views and a colourful garden area to relax in, it’s no surprise this is one of Himara’s top-rated guesthouses. It’s also just a hop, skip and a jump from the water and offers excellent value.
Vila Kosteli | Another great value find in Himara, Vila Kosteli offers up squeaky clean but simple rooms overlooking the sparkling bay and is run by a pair of lovely hosts.
Airbnb | Apartments in Himara provide excellent value, especially for couples and groups. You’ll find a number of beautiful properties right on the beach as well as a few more authentic spots just a short walk away.
New to the platform? Sign up here and receive up to $30 off when you make your first booking.
Taverna Lefteri | This was the top-rated restaurant on TripAdvisor during my stay and it certainly lived up to its reputation. Meals were tasty and plentiful, prices reasonable and a number of extra side dishes were provided on the house which is always a nice touch. Seafood is the speciality here and given the fishing culture of the town, you can be sure the ingredients are all super fresh.
I Love Souvlaki | The Greek influence in Himara manifests in many ways, but perhaps no more so than through its food. For a delicious budget-friendly bite, look no further than a mouth watering souvlaki right on the beachfront. Pull up a seat in the busy sitting area or take it away to enjoy beside the water.
There are two daily buses from Tirana to Himara at 6:15 a.m. (for Saranda) and 1 p.m. costing 1,000 lek (€8) and taking around 6 hours. Buses between Himara and Saranda are more frequent with at least five daily services.
To reach the nearby beaches, simply flag down any bus or furgon travelling to Vlora (for the north) or Saranda (for the south). Hitchhiking is also fairly commonplace along this stretch of coast and, if you’re comfortable with the risks it present, you’ll likely not have to wait more than a few minutes for a ride.