So you are wondering if you should add Vlore to your Albania itinerary? Maybe you are not sure if Vlore is worth visiting and want are things to do in Vlore? In this post, you will find out what is my honest opinion about Vlore and what are some of the best things to do in this Albanian seaside town.
If you have visited my blog before, you know that I always speak my mind, but I also hardly ever dislike places I visit. I am just such an excitable travel junkie that it’s hard to disappoint me.
But when I am disappointed I say it. Like in the case of the gloomy town of Elbasan or some irritating aspects of Albania Riviera as a whole.
So you can count on my honest opinion. Whether you agree with it or not is another story. You can always go and find out for yourself 🙂
So let me tell you what I though about Vlore, Albania. Do I think Vlore is worth visiting?
I did not include Vlore in my Albania itinerary very last minute. This was mainly because I had heard mixed opinions about the town but curiosity got the better of me.
I arrived in Vlore after spending 5 glorious days in Himare. Vlore is a pretty big city compared to Himare and a very popular holiday spot with Italian and European vacationers. And it definitely feels like a resort.
Vlore is one of the country’s largest towns and it is quite busy but also offers plenty of shopping and dining opportunities.
As I walked through the city, I couldn’t help thinking that it resembled the holiday spots that old-school travel agents sent you to when you chose your destination from brochures. Yes, I am this old that I can still remember it lol
There are plenty of hotels lined up along the Vlore promenade and a long stretch of beach filled up with loungers and umbrellas. But it’s not as bad as places like Ksamil and there are a good number of public beaches where you can spread out your own towel. The views of the surrounding area are pretty spectacular and the Logara pass leading up to it was truly exhilarating.
Don’t get me wrong, Vlore isn’t a bad town and there is plenty of things to do around the area. But after visiting places like Berat, Gjirokaster or Himare, I can confidently say, it isn’t the best out of them all.
I visited Vlore for the beach, and the beach disappointed me the most. The beach at Vlore is really nothing special and it can be dirty, grey and uninviting.
But the city was surprisingly pleasant and as I took little day trips outside the city, Vlore grew on me.
Table of Contents
Things to know about Vlore, Albania
Vlore, (often called Vlora), is one of the largest and most populated cities in Albania. It is a modern city, a commercial centre and a port city from which you can take a ferry to Italy and Greece.
Vlore is best known as the gateway to the Albanian Riviera and as such is a very popular vacation spot.
But Vlore is also one of the most important cities in Albanian history and one of the oldest cities in the country
This historic city dates back to the 6th century B.C., when it was founded as a Greek colony on the Illyrian coast and known as Aulona. It was also the first capital of Albania after the declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire, from 1912 to 1914.
So is Vlore worth visiting?
You don’t go to Vlore for cultural sightseeing and magnificent architecture. You have Berat or Gjirocaster for that. You go to Vlore to relax, get some beach action and eat well. That’s it. Vlore is the holiday resort of Albania.
But maybe you are a traveller or backpacker and wonder if Vlore is worth visiting.
If you are one of those travellers who want to explore the different faces of the country and have enough time to visit more than one beach town in Albania, then Vlore is definitely worth a visit for you. There are a few cool day and half-day trips you could take from Vlore and there is plenty to do in the evening if you are looking for some entertainment.
In my opinion, the best things to do in Vlore are just outside of Vlore. The most spectacular beaches, the Llogara National Park and the Narta Lagoon are all spectacular, but not in the centre of Vlore. So if you do decide to visit Vlore, make sure to allow yourself enough time to explore these gems, otherwise you might leave disappointed, because the town itself is nothing special. At least in my eyes.
But if your time in Albania is limited and you have enough time just to visit one seaside town in Albania then skip Vlore and head over to Himare or Dhermi instead. The beaches in Vlore are not the best and there isn’t much charm to the city in comparison to other towns along the Albanian Riviera.
Did you get your travel insurance yet? Travel Insurance will let you travel with the peace of mind knowing that no matter what, your unexpected medical or travel emergencies are covered. I use Heymondo for a few reasons. They have clear policies with no deductibles, the price is excellent for what they offer and the price doesn’t go up when you are over 30 years old. They have a dedicated, easy-to-use app and free assistance calls.
I can get a cover for a month or three months and I know I can travel with peace of mind and get the best product for my money.
Heymondo offers my readers 5% off so go ahead, and click on this link and get your quote.
Is Vlore Good Digital Nomad Base?
If you are a digital nomad, Vlore could actually be a pretty good town to base yourself in. I found a couple of great cafes to work from, the internet speed was decent in Vlore and there is plenty to explore around the town and many good options for an evening meal or lunch.
Vlore is a good starting point for further exploration as you will have direct busses to places like Berat, Himare, Dhermi, Sarande or Tirane.
Is Vlore a Good Backpacking Destination?
Yes and no. There is not much to see in Vlore except a visit to the Monastery and the Narta Lagoon, and perhaps a bike ride to some of the beaches located further away to the west.
Otherwise, Vlore offers a long promenade filled with bars, restaurants and cafes, souvenir stores, a fair, and a long stretch of beaches where you can spend the day sunbathing. There is not much of a backpacker scene in Vlore.
But if you decide to stay in Vlore then choose your hostel wisely and this will make or break your stay.
I had a nice time in Vlore, partially because I stayed in a nice hostel and I took a couple of trips. But if you had to choose just one beach destination in Albania, go to Himare instead.
So if you decide that you’d like to visit Vlore anyway I have a great list for you of all the things you could do in Vlore including a list of Blore beaches you should visit,
Exploring more of Albania?
If you are planning a visit to Theth and hiking the Albanian Alps I have you covered here! And in this post, I listed all the surprising things to do in Shkoder”
And in this post, you will find a complete guide and a full list of wonderful things to do in Tirana.
Heading to the beach? Great idea! Here is the list of all the most beautiful beaches near Himare!
Finally, if you are wondering where to stay, here is the list of the most iconic hostels in Albania!
Things to do in Vlore, Albania
So you decided to visit Vlore and now are wondering what are the best Vlore attractions? Here is the complete list of all the best things to do in Vlore:
Explore the 'Old Town' of Vlore and surrounding quirky architecture
Vlore is an old city and in fact, it is one of the oldest cities in Albania. Yet many of the ancient sites like the Kanine Castle or the city walls were not well preserved and are hard to find.
Vlora Old Town is not a typical Old Town as we know it. Previously a Jewish Quarter where A consolidated Jewish community lived in Vlora. The main street was declared a historical monument and the district has been recently renovated after falling into a dilapidated place.
The few renovated streets you will find there are lovely but the whole area is pretty small and I found it quite empty and lacking atmosphere. It is probably because it is way out of the popular area and far from most of tourist accommodations so you will have to intentionally make your way there.
It took me 40 minutes to get there and see 5 buildings hahaha. But it was still worth it. It’s a completely different part of Vlore and for a moment I forgot about the resort feel. The area was beautifully restored, buildings are very pretty and colourful and there are a few charming nooks and restaurants you could chill and enjoy.
There is more to see around this part of Vlore so I suggest you make it a half-day architectural adventure.
As you walk towards the old town you will pass historical buildings, a mosque, a monument and a few quirky brutalist-style buildings too. So If you decide to take a walk towards Old Town here are some Vlore sights that you should not miss on the way:
- Muradie Mosque – The Lead Mosque dates back to 1537 and was built by the famous Ottoman Turkish architect Mimar Sinan during the rule of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.
- The Monument of Independence – was erected during the communist era and order to commemorate the 1912 Albanian independence from the Ottoman Empire.
The wall ruins of the ancient city of Aulon. Not far from the Independence Monument. Not much left of them but worth taking a look.
- Flag’s Square – A main square of Vlore giving a strong brutalist vibe
- Strange unfinished building of which I could find no information. Located between Flag’s Square and Old Town entrance. This whole area is a mish-mash of old and new, ancient and brutalist.
- Theatre “Petro Marko” – Cool looking colourful theatre.
Walk up to the Kuzum Baba - One of the best things to do in Vlore
This was one of the highlights of my trip to Vlore and all the more surprising because it was a totally ad hoc event for me. I had not actually planned to walk up there.
After walking for some time, I decided to admire the monastery from below and just walk up to the Varrezat e Deshmoreve cemetery, which is quite interesting and offers a great view.
But as it often turns up in my life as I stood there, looking up at the Kuzum Baba, I thought to myself: I am already here, I might as well walk up a little more. So I did, and I am so glad!
Kuzum Baba is about 30 metres above sea level and is a natural terrace formed by the sea on a hill above the town of Vlore. It was named after Sejjid Ali Sulltan, known as Father Kuzum (Quzum Baba), a Bektashi spiritual leader who, according to local tradition, is buried here.
There is a Bektashi temple on the hill, built around 1600. Today, the Tekke of Father Kuzum (Teqeja e Kuzum Babait) is one of the most important Bektashi centres in the whole of Albania.
The view from this place is just spectacular! There is a restaurant and bar where you can order and meal or grab a drink and watch the sunset.
I recommend seeing Kuzum Baba after visiting the Old Town for a perfect ending to the day. It is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Vlore.
Stroll the Lungomare - Vlore Promenade
Probably the best thing to do in Vlore – strolling Lungomare. The quintessential seaside resort activity.
Albanians love their evening Xhiro and I totally get it. What better than after a day of sightseeing or chilling on a beach walking down the promenade at sunset and stopping at a cafe for a relaxing brew?
The Vlore promenade is made for endless walking. It lasts forever and you will find anything and everything on the way including an outdoor cinema in the summer, a small souvenir market, a funfair and an infinitive amount of bars, cafes and restaurants.
Visit Zvernec Monastery
Visiting Zvernec Monastery is a truly wonderful day or half-day trip from Vlore and one of the must-do things while in town! It is in fact the most popular Vlore attraction and the picture of the monastery and a lagoon is the one that is most often associated with Vlore. It is definitely one of the most unique places to visit in Albania.
This medieval Byzantine monastery is beautifully preserved and located on a small island in the middle of the beautiful Narta Lagoon. There used to be a bridge connecting the island with land that everyone was scared to walk on. But now the new bridge has been built that is not only safe to walk on but also extremely picturesque.
The whole area is spectacular and very unique. I recommend renting a bicycle, getting up early and making it an active day trip. It took me around 50 minutes to get there but I had a slow bike. The terrain is flat and very suitable for biking.
If you don’t fancy riding a bike you can of course opt for a taxi or rent a car. There are no buses going to Narta Lagoon or Zvernec.
Continue to Narta Lighthouse and Dalan Beach
Unfortunately, I didnt continue to the Lighthouse as the day got hotter, and my bike wasn’t suitable for long rides, but I very much regret it. So if you get a chance, continue towards Narta Lighthouse (especially beautiful for the sunset).
Around here you will also find a wild Dalan Beach, a free camping area and a few small hiking trails. You will also find a super cool abandoned bunker in this area.
Explore Narta Lagoon
The whole area of Narta Lagoon is spectacular and very unique. Looks like nothing else in Albania and exploring this area is one of the best things to do in Vlore.
If you want to explore the whole of protected area of Narta I recommend renting a car or a motorbike as it’s pretty vast.
Apart from Zvernec Monastery and The Narta Lighthouse you can drive to the other side of the lagoon and visit the famous lagoon birdwatching area where you can spot flamingoes and pelicans or a massive Hidrovor Beach which is a popular camping spot.
If you fancy an adventurous day, then you can go on a 4×4 Outdoor Trip covering Narta Lagoon to Akerni sand dunes.
Finally, on the way to the lagoon and Zvernec, you have to stop at Narta Beach which is one of the best beaches in Vlore. But about this next!
Visiting Zvernec Monastery and the Narta Lagoon is one of the best things to do in Vlore and the main reason why Vlore is worth visiting.
Enjoy best of Vlore Beaches
Although beaches in Vlore itself are nothing to write home about, those located slightly outside of the town are truly spectacular.
If you are not prepared to travel out of town, book accommodation near the best beaches in Vlore or want to just stay in the centre and look for glorious beaches there, then Vlore isn’t for you.
I went to the beach in Vlore once. I swam in the sea and although it wasn’t terrible it wasn’t the best swim I have ever had either. The sea is shallow for a very long time, the water is a bit murky and so is the sand. The beach however stretches for some time and there is plenty of space to put on your towel or you can rent a chair as well.
But if you want an extraordinary beach experience, there are 2 ways to enjoy the best beaches in Vlore.
- Book a hotel or resort located near the nicest and clearest Vlore beaches so you don’t have to make it a trip every time you want a swim (Like the Belvedere Hotel)
- Rent a bike, a scooter or a car and travel out of town. I rented a bicycle and did a bit of beach hopping!
What are the best beaches near Vlore?
Narta Beach – Located south of town on the way to Narta Lagoon and Zvernec monastery. You can bike there or take a taxi. It’s a beautiful sandy beach ideal for a relaxed day! You can park the cart nearby free of charge and the beach goes on forever.
The chair rental and food and drink prices are very reasonable. I would choose this area over Ksamil at any time!
Plazhi i Ri – that’s the main Vlore beach that stretches all the way towards the north part of the town. The further away from the city center the better it gets, but this is still y least favourite beach in Vlore.
Then as I mentioned earlier for the best beaches near Vlore you will have to get out of Vlore.
Head over to the neighbouring village of Radhimë or even further to Orikum for a spectacular beach experience.
I cycled to Radhime and it made for a wonderful active beach day. The way can be a bit hard at times, especially in the heat of the summer and if your bike has no gears (!!). Learn from my experience and rent a good bike for this journey!
Bora Bora – the most recommended beach in Vlore. It is a very beautiful beach and the water is crystal clear. You can rent a chair and umbrella but I put my towel on the floor and wasn’t told off. Move towards the north part of it tho, further away from the pier where the music was coming from.
Plazhi i Ullirit – right next to Bora Bora. The chair is only €5!
La Plaia – Lovely beach but you will have to pay for the chair. It is still around 10€ so not the worst.
Vega Beach – More expensive with more fancy loungers. Great if you are looking for something more comfortable but be aware that the music is on all day.
Radhimë Beach – Lovely beach but arrive early to secure the spot!
Are you wondering what are the best tourist sim cards in Albania? Head over to this post, where I compare all the sim card providers in Albania and their plans and will tell you what was my favourite sim card provider in Albania and why.
Take a Sazan Island Boat Tour!
There are a few excellent boat tours you can take from Vlore:
A Sazan Island trip is the most popular one. It is a full-day boat tour where you will be able to experience the Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park, which will include the Karabarun Peninsula, the caves and Sazan Island. Sazan Island is famous for previously being a restricted military zone, which housed a secret Soviet military base and a chemical biological weapons plant until the early 1960s.
Now, the island boasts stunning beaches, forests, and remains of the former base for visitors to explore.
Additionally, the Karaburun Peninsula, accessible only by boat, features picturesque bays, including the Bay of Grama with its golden beach, the Bay of Skaloma, and the legendary Cave of Haxhi Ali.
It is a wonderful day trip and you can book it from your hotel or take a look at this Sazan Island & Karaburun Marine Park boat tour.
Hike Llogara National Park
If you make your way to Vlore from Dhermi you will inevitably drive thru the famous Llogara Pass. It is an experience in itself and the views are exhilarating!
This whole region between Vlore and Dhermi is a Llogara National Park and it’s a wonderful hiking destination too. There are many scenic, and well-marked trails as well as few accommodation options if you want to escape the crowds. The views over the coast from here are incredible!
Hike up to Kanine Castle
Explore the outskirts of Vlora for some hidden gems. Just a 6-kilometer from Vlore lies Kaninë Castle, situated on a hill, granting stunning vistas of the Vlore coast.
While the castle’s former grandeur has faded and there is not much to see around it, it still offers a glimpse into its past as one of Albania’s most remarkable structures, initially constructed in the 3rd century and the stunning panoramic view of the Bay of Vlora makes the visit worthwhile.
Take a Day Trip to Dhermi
Dhermi is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in Albania. The journey from Vlore is also pretty amazing given the Llogara pass so if only you get a chance, consider a day trip to Dhermi.
You can also hop on a bus but it is a longer journey so I actually recommend staying in Dhermi for a night or two. Also, this bus runs only during the high season so outside of the summer months you will have to rent a car.
Considering renting a car in Albania? If you are travelling in high season, book early. Prices increase the later you book a car. Of course, you can also rent a car at the airport. There are several car rental agencies outside the arrival terminal. You can also negotiate the price.
Enjoy Local Cuisine in Vlore
I enjoyed eating out in Vlore and there is plenty to choose from. From bakeries abundant in delish bureks to seafood restaurants and affordable local restaurants and bougie eateries, you will find in Vlore anything you fancy.
For the best seafood head over to Restorant Tradicional VANI. There will be a queue, guaranteed. It’s worth waiting for!
Novus is a great spot if you want to try a few different things. There is a buffet from which you can choose what you want and as much as you want. The service is great too! Te Fabio is a great cosy traditional restaurant and Trattoria Jonçe will get you the best pizza in town.
There is just so much to choose from. Vlore is great for eating out, sipping cocktails on the promenade or enjoying excellent coffee.
Where to stay in Vlora
You will find any type of accommodation in Vlore. From beach resorts and luxury hotels to private apartments and affordable backpacker hostels.
For this vacation feel and a very comfortable stay you can consider places like:
- Azar Luxury Suites – A beachside aparthotel located near the centre of Vlore
- Yacht Hotel – Luxurious hotel and beach club
- Villa Santa Maria – Pool and incredible location
- Mazarine Hotel – Incredible family-run hotel near the best beaches
If you are looking for moderately priced accommodation there is also plenty to choose from in Vlore:
- This Sea View Apartment offers an excellent location and value for money
- Panorama Sea View Apartments – even more value for money!
- The Central View Boutique Hotel – Excellent hotel right in the middle of the action
Finally, if you are on a budget Vlore will accom0date you as well:
Have you considered an eSIM yet?
Tired of roaming bills or wasting time anxiously looking for a SIM vendor at the airport?
Airalo is the world’s first eSIM store that solves the pain of high roaming bills by giving you access to eSIMs (digital SIM cards). With eSIMs from Airalo, download and install a digital data pack from 200+ countries/regions and be connected anywhere in the world the second you land.
How to get to Vlore
Vlore is well connected with many cities and towns in Albania and it is easy to get to by local bus.
The so-called ‘bus station’ in Vlore is located by the main road, around this spot. Basically, you will have a bunch of buses and furgons parked along the street. From the Vlore bus station, you can take busses to Berat, Durres, Tirana, Shkoder and Sarande.
Please double-check those routes if you are travelling out of season. I believe that buses to Sarande and Himare only run during the summer months.
To get to Vlore from Tirana you will have to head to Tirana Regional Bus Station. Busses leave every 30 minutes until 5:30 pm and the journey lasts around 3 hours. You can also catch a direct bus to Vlore from Tirana airport.
To get to Vlore from Berat you will have to take a bus from Berat Bus Station. There are 5 busses a day starting from 6 am and the journey lasts around 2 hours. The ticket is 400Lek.
In order to get to Vlore from Durres you can get a direct bus between 5:30 am and 6 p.m. Busses leave regularly throughout the day and the journey lasts around 2 hours.
There are 2 buses a day between Vlore and Sarande and between Vlore and Himare.
There is one bus a day from Shkoder to Vlore departing at 1 pm.
There is one bus a day between Vlore and Gjirocaster and Vlore and Korca.
So If at the start you were not sure if Vlore is worth visiting and worth your precious Albania time, I hope that now you have a clearer picture.
Vlore is a pleasant seaside resort worth checking out and there is a surprisingly good amount of things to do around Vlore, even if you have to venture into its suburbs. Yet I was trying to be as honest as I could about what I thought about the town. I don’t regret visiting Vlore at all. But I had 2 months to explore Albania.
Maybe if you have only a few days, you should be quite selective about your destination picks. The choice is yours. Until then, happy travels and enjoy beautiful Alanania!
This post may contain affiliate links which means that if you purchase the product or make a booking via one of my links, I will receive a small commission. Please know that I will never recommend or promote a product I don’t believe in or haven’t used. This way, you are supporting this blog at no extra cost to you. Thank you!