Albania is hands down the country that has surprised me and stolen my heart the most, of all the destinations I’ve been to. Fact. And the Albanian coast is insane.
Nowadays, before you board the flight to our ‘dream destination’, chances are Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and/or YouTube have already given you a pretty good idea of what your adventure will look like.
That incredible sense of discovery and awe is slightly lost now as a result, but Albania certainly brought it right back. It was the most incredible feeling.
Prior to stepping foot in Albania, I actually had no associated picture of it in my head. By the responses I got from people when telling them I was coming here – neither did anyone else.
I would have honestly never even considered Albania as an adventure on my bucket list. But, now that I’ve been and that I’m completely astounded by the beauty, I cannot recommend it enough. I’m already trying to figure out when I can go back and explore the northern Alps.
After landing in Tirana, having lunch in Vlöre, driving through the insane Llogara National Park and spending a few days in Dhërmi for Kala Festival, it was time to continue down the Albanian coast in our jeeps and see what else the Riviera had to offer.
See all the places mentioned in my Albanian blog posts mapped on the Google Map below…
Leaving Dhërmi to head south down the Albanian coast marked our first coastal drive. I don’t think any of us were ready for how stunning the views were about to get.
With the jeep roofs down, the music up and arms popping dances moves left, right and centre, the additional of panoramic ocean views took us all to another level. [No alcohol involved – just excitement from our surroundings].
I would never in my wildest dreams have matched Albania to what we witnessed (you’ll see in a second). I’d say there was a grin and a half stuck on my face for the next few hours, at least.
We cruised down the Albanian coast from Dhërmi in Jeep convoy, stopping off in Himarë overlooking the water for lunch and then in Porto Palermo to explore the castle (100 Lek entry).
By the time we had devoured another gorgeous three courses of local fish and food and explored the castle, the sun was beginning to set.
Enjoying ourselves a little too much (and taking allllll the photos) we were, again, behind on our itinerary. So, we had to make a few cuts to ensure we got to our overnight destination, Sarandë, before midnight.
One thing we certainly weren’t going to miss out on was Upper Qeparo: the so-called Cinque Terre of Albania.
Navigating your way down the Albanian coast is pretty self explanatory. There’s one road, the SH8. If you take the SH8 from Dhërmi you’ll pass all the spots I mention in this blog post. Watch out, though. To find Upper Qeparo you’ll need to keep an eye out for for a little left turn when winding through Qeparo. The road doesn’t look inviting and it isn’t too obvious (I’d recommend using Google Maps here) but it’s this exact one that will have you climb the steep roads for 10 minutes to uncover Upper Qeparo.
Take a peek for yourself…
The Albanian coast is seriously filled to the brim with beautiful, untouched, little towns overlooking the waters from the mountains, just like those in Italy. I only wish I had more time to meander through the streets and get close and personal with the magic residing here for a little while longer.
But, our overnight stop called and the sun fell beautifully beyond the horizon. We drove the remaining 50 minutes down to Sarandë arriving happily tired just before midnight to our apartments.
You’ll have to forgive me because I totally forgot to take a picture of the rooms in our Sarandë apartment, which I’m gutted about because the apartments were so spacious, clean and beautiful. I highly recommend them. Absolutely perfect for sharing with a group of friends.
Oh a small extra detail, look at that view. The dreamiest of set ups for a group breakfast of local cheeses, olives and bakes…
You can check out Nefeli Apartments here to make a date / price enquiry.
Again, we didn’t have the time to fully explore the town, but I had a really good feeling about Sarandë. There were a lot of quad bike rentals around so if you’re planning to stay here longer, I’d guess there are some pretty cool places to explore.
Stay tuned for the fourth and final part of our Albanian road trip. We head to the mussel farming centre before climbing back into the mountains to some beautiful ruins and castle accommodation. See the post here.
What were your favourite spots? I’d love to know!
Love as always + happy adventuring,
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