Car Rental in Albania
To properly explore Albania’s best beaches, you’ll definitely need a car. Or at least, you will if you want to see all the best, hidden beaches in Albania! During my first trip to Albania I hitchhiked and took the bus everywhere, but this time I wanted to be able to stop at all the hidden spots I saw from the road, so we rented a car in Tirana for a week.
Car rental in Albania isn’t too expensive, but it’s SO worth it. You can see so much more with a car, plus renting a car in Albania meant that we could get to totally deserted beaches instead of sticking to the more popular (and crowded) beach spots like Ksamil and Vlora.
Driving in Albania
A lot of people have asked me about driving in Albania, and while Dan was actually the one doing the driving, I would say it really isn’t so bad. Most of the roads of little traffic, and for the most part the roads are very wide and nicely paved. And I felt like Albanian drivers were very reasonable – it certainly wasn’t a scary place to be driving.
Well, it was fine aside from the time we drove down Albania’s Death Road – but that’s far away from the Albanian beaches, so you probably won’t be headed there.
I would recommend renting a car through a global chain as their prices are lower and the companies are reliable – I usually use Sixt because it’s the cheapest, but also has good customer service.
Drive the SH8 from Saranda to Himara
The drive along the seaside from Saranda to Himara is stunning, and full of turn-offs into little abandoned beaches. We simply turned down every small road we passed that looked like it was heading towards the water, and not once were we disappointed.
I’d give you more specific directions, but turning down random roads to discover hidden beaches in Albania was part of the fun! Plus it’s nice to keep the beaches hidden so only the more adventurous beach hunters find them, right? But let me just say, it will be well worth the effort.
Travel to Himara
Smaller and quieter than Saranda and Ksamil, Himara (Himarë) is simply perfect.
Locals in Himarë are predominantly Greek, which definitely comes across in the feel of the place. I think I gained five pounds from all the delicious food here, while Dan gained at least five new Facebook friends. People in Himara are so friendly!
If I had to choose I would say Himara was my second favorite stop along the Albanian Riviera, and that’s largely because of the wonderful people we met there. And the views weren’t terrible either.
The Best Albanian Beaches near Himara
One of my favorite beaches in the area wasn’t actually in Himara, but 10 kilometers north in Jala. Jali Beach wasn’t as empty as other beaches we went to, but I enjoyed burning sunning myself with the locals and taking in the relaxing atmosphere of the small beachside village.
Travel to Dhermi
Dhermi (Dhërmi) was my favorite place we stayed in Albania! Dhermi Beach is the longest I saw in Albania and seems to cater to more upscale tourists. The village itself lies up a hill from the water and has beautiful old stone houses built into the side of a mountain.
If you want the best Albanian beach experience, I would definitely recommend heading to Dhermi (in fact I have recommended a beach holiday in Dhermi to so many of my friends!).
The Best Beaches near Dhermi
Dhermi is also just 8 kilometers from what might be Albania’s most beautiful beach: Gjipe Beach. You’ll have to walk the last couple of kilometers, but I promise it’s worth it! This was definitely my happy place on the Albanian Riviera, and I plan on returning to Gjipe Beach again and again.