Magic Riviera Tour
Llogara - Palasa - Dhermi - Vuno - Himara - Qeparo - Borsh
The Llogara National Park lies approximately 40 km south of the city of Vlora. It is situated on the slopes of Llogara Mountain and covers a surface area of 810 hectares, with elevations ranging from 470 to 2,018 m above sea level. The park combines the beauties of the mountains with a seaside climate. You can enjoy part of its magical beauty while traveling along the Vlorë-Sarandë national highway at Qafa e Llogarasë, 1025 m above sea level. Here, medicinal and decorative plants are interspersed within a pine forest. The park is also home to several animal species. After 20 minutes of driving along the national highway, you will enter the Albanian Riviera. Here, you can stay overnight in the park and enjoy different restaurants, contemporary clubs, activities, and excursions. It is also a great place to enjoy aerial sports as Llogara is well-known for international aerial sporting such as parachuting and hang-gliding.
After passing Qafa e Llogarasë on a road that dates back to the time of Pompey, you descend into the Albanian Riviera. This warm Mediterranean zone has nearly 300 sunny days a year. The first beach to visit is Dhraleo (Palasë), known for its clear waters. Pompey and his army stopped at this beach in ancient times, when it was known as Palestra.
Dhërmi is famous for its crystal-clear waters and small, intimate pebble beaches, such as Jaliksari, Shkambo, and Gjipea. Situated at the foot of a 70 m cliff, Gjipea is a rare wonder. Close to Dhërmi is the legendary Cavern of the Pirates. Dhërmi is a picturesque village thought to have first been inhabited in 49-48 BC. The village is home to the Monastery of Shën Maria, the Church of Shën Todhri, the Church of the Ipapandia and the Church of Shën Mitri, with frescos dating from the 12th-14th centuries. The main leisure activities in Dhërmi are swimming, water sports, and diving. There are many hotels, restaurants, bars, and discotheques. The restaurants combine traditional and foreign cuisines, and serve many seafood specialties.
8 km south of Dhërmi is the village of Vuno, which is built on a hill facing the sea and is well known for its traditions and patriotism. Here you can visit old churches like the Church of Shën Spiridhoni, built in 1778, and the Church of Mesodhia, with paintings from 1783. There are also several architectural landmarks such as the ruins of the house of Odise Kasneci and the tower-like house of Shane Kote. From here, follow the road to the wonderful beach of Jal, whose gulf is distinctive from those in the rest of the Riviera.
Continuing your tour towards the south, you will come across the small city of Himara, which has two neighborhoods: Old Himara, built on the hill, and New Himara, in the gulf of Spille. Himara has five beaches: Filikuri, Spille, Llamani, Potami, and Livadhet. They are all gravel beaches with deep, clear waters. The city comes to life during the summer tourist season, when visitors take up residence in the hotels or in rented houses. Himara is the ancient residence and city of the Illyrian Kaon clan. It was settled in the 5th century B.C. and its name is of Pelasgian (pre-Illyrian) origin. There are several religious sites to visit such as the Church of Shën Maria e Athalit, the Church of Cassiopeia, the Church of All Saints, and the House of Lilo Llazari, which has been turned into a cultural monument. Another site to visit is the Castle of Ali Pashë Tepelena, built on a small peninsula in the tectonic gulf of Porto Palermo. The castle was built in a triangular shape with 20 m high walls. Ali Pasha dedicated this castle to his wife, Vasiliqia. It is said that it was built on top of the ruins of an ancient castle. Himara is particularly noted for its traditional iso-polyphonic songs (part of UNESCO oral art patrimony).
The village of Qeparo is located close to the gulf of Porto Palermo and has its own distinctive beach. Old Qeparo, built on the hillside, has several historical sights including the three-story Towers of Ali Pasha, the Monastery of Shën Dhimitri, and the House of Minella Gjika.
The village of Borsh is situated a few hundred meters away from the shore and about 20 minutes from Himara. It is the largest beach of the Albanian Riviera and its clear waters stretch for almost 6 km. Several hotels, clubs, discotheques, and restaurants are built along the length of the beach. The hospitality of the villagers and the traditional dish of grilled lamb are distinctive features found in Borsh.