17 Best Things to do in Vlore

The Albanian port city of Vlore is one of Albania’s spectacular coastal highlights. Situated at the northern end of the Albanian Riviera and overlooking the beautiful Bay of Vlore, the city is blessed with a wealth of attractions. The home of Albanian independence and the gateway to the Riviera, the city has excellent historical and natural attractions. In addition to this, you can also throw into the mix the trappings you’d expect from a modern cosmopolitan Mediterranean city.

In this guide, we’ll be delving into 17 spectacular attractions in Vlore and compiling the most comprehensive list of the best things to do in Vlore. From beaches to museums and ancient castles to splendid restaurants, Vlore offers something for everyone. 

Where is Vlore Located?

Vlorë is a city in southern Albania on the country’s coastline along the Adriatic Sea and the Ionian Sea. It is one of the country’s important seaports and is situated in the southwestern part of Albania. Vlorë has historical significance and is known for its beautiful beaches and cultural heritage.

1. Check out Vlore's Beaches

Most visitors come to Vlore to swim in the warm waters of the Bay of Vlore and relax on the numerous beaches. It’s undoubtedly the biggest attraction for most visitors, and you won’t be disappointed with the many beaches on offer. You’ll find quieter remote beaches north of the city, bustling beaches within the city itself, and a mix of beaches to the south.

This part of Albania is blessed with a wealth of beaches ranging from fine, dusty sand to pebble beaches and everything in between. From Narta Beach in the north to Radhime Beach in the south, you’ll find a selection of beaches that cater to every taste.

View of the beach in Vlore from the water

2. Take a Boat trip to Karabun and Sazan Island

The Karaban Peninsula and Sazan Island are popular day trips from Vlore.  They are set within a National Marine Park, which was formerly a military base and strictly off-limits to tourists for many years. This time as a military base was a blessing in disguise as it meant very little development in the area. This has resulted in a pristine region that is now open to tourists. Each day, an armada of private boats make their way out here to see the likes of Karaban Beach, Dhimkushta Bay, and the Cave of Haxhi Ali. 

The area is renowned for its crystal-clear waters and spectacular remote coves. The former military buildings on Sazan Island are also a popular attraction and give you a glimpse into the topsy-turvy world of the communist era. 

3. Check out the Charms of Old Vlore

Old Vlore is a lovely part of the city where you can dine out and enjoy the city’s history. The area dates back to the 19th century, and the buildings and paved roads have been carefully and lovingly restored. Sadly, the extent of Old Vlore is limited to just a couple of streets: Rrugra Justin Godard and Rrugra Ceno Sharra. However, the sights and the ambiance of the area give you enough of a sense of what it would have been like all those years ago. Whether you’re grabbing lunch, a beer, or a coffee, be sure to stop by to see this pretty area. 

The beautifully restored 19th century street in Old Vlore

4. Visit the National Museum of Independence

Vlore’s Independence Museum is housed in an old villa near the port. Given Vlore’s history, this former quarantine hospital is a must-see attraction. The hospital building rose to fame following the proclamation of independence as the designated site for the first government’s official headquarters.  

The museum documents and plays tribute to the pivotal historical moments that led to Albania’s Independence on 28 November 1912. The exhibits within the Independence Museum chronicle the events leading to the declaration and portray the sacrifices made by individuals who fought for the nation’s autonomy. Artifacts, photographs, and documents from the era have largely been preserved in their original state and location.

The Museum of Independence building in Vlore

5. Hike to Kanine Castle

The ancient Kanine Castle sits atop the hills east of Vlore and is an excellent hiking destination. It’s around 6 km from the center of Vlore, and there are several different routes you can take to hike or drive there. Located in the present-day village of Kanine, you should be able to reach the castle within a 90-minute hike or 15-minute drive. 

The castle’s location at 380 meters above sea level means it’s an arduous uphill hike requiring a reasonable fitness level. However, the views on the way and from the castle are sensational and make it worthwhile. While the castle is little more than ruins, there’s just enough of a footprint and structure remaining to help you understand the scale of the castle in its heyday.

The ruins of Kanine Castle overlooking the Bay of Vlore

6. Take a Trip to Italy

If you fancy a change of scene, it’s cheap and easy to get to nearby Italy from Albania. It’s a short 105-mile boat ride between Vlore and the Italian port of Brindisi on the heel of Italy. From Brindisi, you can easily travel to major cities such as Bari and Leece or explore the Salento Coast. 

The route between the two destinations is serviced by several ferry operators who collectively offer up to 3 sailings per day during the peak summer season. Each sailing typically takes around 6 hours, so a day trip is out of the question, but it’s an excellent option for a long weekend break. If you just need some good Italian food, there are plenty of authentic Italian opportunities in Vlore! 

Old stone harbour in southern Italy

7. Have Some fun at Vlore Fair

The Vlore Funfair is the epicenter of the evening’s entertainment and is permanently situated at Peshkatari at the northern end of the Lungomare. The fair has some fun rides for the whole family, including dodgems, a pirate ship, a big wheel, and a mini roller coaster. There are also some rides and games for younger kids. The fair is good value, and the rides should provide enough excitement for the whole family.

If you’re feeling hungry or thirsty after the rides, there are several open-air bars and takeaway food vendors in the same square. Just be warned, there are no toilet facilities here, so you’ll need to use the bathroom at one of the surrounding cafes, bars, and restaurants. 

Pirate ship and big wheel at Vlore Fair

8. Check out Zvernec Monastery

An excursion that is slightly further afield is Zvernec Monastery. It is 10 km north of Vlore, in the Narta Lagoon.  The monastery and accompanying church are located on Zverneci Island in the lagoon, occupying an incredibly scenic setting.  The island is reached via a long wooden boardwalk that extends from the coastline. You can visit the various buildings on the island and learn about the island’s chequered history (it was once used as an internment camp for political prisoners). 

Reaching the island is only possible by car or a 2-hour hike. It’s a flat and relatively straightforward hike, although there’s not much to see. If you’re making the effort to come out this far, it’s also worth checking out one of the excellent beaches in the area, such as Narta Beach or Barracuda Beach. 

The long wooden walkway leading to Zvernec Monastery in Vlore

9. Watch the Sunset Over the Bay of Vlore

Vlore is famous for its spectacular sunsets, and it’s one of the city’s best times of the day. The city is west-facing over the Bay of Vlore, and each evening, you’re treated to an explosion of color as the sun sets. The shadows of the Karaban Peninusla and Saraban Island add to the setting. 

The sunset can be enjoyed across the length of the Vlore coastline, although our favorite spot is at Plazhi i Ri, midway along the promenade.

Sunset over an old sailing boat in the Bay of Vlore

10. Dine Out in Vlore's Excellent Restaurant Scene

Vlore is home to hundreds of restaurants and offers a wide range of cuisines. You’ll find everything from native Albanian cuisine to Italian, seafood, barbeque grills, and everything in between. The heart of the restaurant scene is along Rruga Murat Terbaci, also known as the Lungomare, the palm-fringed boulevard that runs along the Bay of Vlore. 

Albanians tend to eat out later, so the restaurant scene only really swings into life around 8 pm. However, you’ll find the restaurants, bars, and tavernas are packed during the summer months until midnight or later. 

11. Visit Vlore's Ethnographic Museum

Vlore’s Ethnographic Museum is an excellent destination to visit for a couple of hours one morning or afternoon. It is located in a traditional three-story stone and wood house and is believed to have been built in the nineteenth century. Within the museum, you’ll discover a comprehensive portrayal of the livelihood and lifestyle of Vlore’s people through the ages, with various ethnographic artifacts on display.

The ground floor is dedicated to farming. fishing and labor tools that were utilized by locals across different historical periods. The second floor changes tact and focuses on clothing, embroidery, and a variety of different rugs and carpets.

While it’s not a museum that will beguile all visitors, it’s an enjoyable visit for anyone interested in Vlore’s past. 

12. See the Muradie Mosque

The Muradie Mosque is a beautiful Ottoman-style mosque constructed in the center of Vlore in 1537. Designed by the renowned architect Sinan, the mosque is known for its beautiful design and elegant carvings. It’s possible to go inside the mosque outside prayer times, provided you remove your shoes and are dressed appropriately. 

The beautiful Muradie Mosque in Vlore

13. Stroll Vlore's Lungomare at Night

Vlore’s Lungomare is a palm-fringed promenade alongside Rruga Murat Terbaci, and is the heart of the city’s nighttime entertainment. Once the sun has set, the Boulevard comes to life with countless restaurants, cafes, and bars filling up with families, couples, and holidaymakers. Pop-up shops emerge, selling sweet treats, local crafts, and trinkets for tourists. There’s also plenty of family fun to be had across several arcades, fairground rides, and entertainment areas. 

Lungomare at night with the sun setting

14. Travel the Longara Pass for Amazing Views

The Longara Pass, through the Ceraunian Mountains, is possibly Albania’s most scenic road journey. The journey through the Longara Pass follows a winding road of hairpin turns and rises from sea level at Orikum to an altitude of 1027 meters at the pass. It then descends close to sea level at the village of Dhermi before continuing to Himare. 

You’ll be treated to some incredible coastal views on the way up and down. The sparkling Adriatic Ocean, beautiful coastline, historic villages, and offshore islands provide a spectacular setting. If you’re traveling using your own transport, there are plenty of viewpoints to stop at and several good restaurants at the pass itself. 

It’s worth noting that the Llogara Tunnel is due to be completed in 2024, which will remove the reliance on traveling through the Longara Pass. This tunnel through the mountain will open up Dhermi and the wider Albania Riviera and make it much more accessible. This will likely relegate the Longara Pass route to a scenic drive rather than a major travel route. 

15. See the Independence Monument

Alongside the Independence Museum, Vlore’s Independence Monument is the main testament to the momentous events of 1912. The monument has been erected in Flag Square, where the first independent Albanian flag was raised over one hundred years ago. The monument is located in the historic part of town. It can be visited as part of a more comprehensive tour of Vlore and Albania’s history, incorporating the Muradie Mosque, Ethnographic Museum, and Old Vlore.

Albanian Independence Monument in Flag Square in Vlore

16. Take a Day Trip to Dhermi

Dhermi is perhaps the best-known and most beautiful of Albania’s beach resorts. However, this once-sleepy resort set below the hillside village of Old Dhermi is developing fast. With the scheduled opening of the Longara Tunnel, this growth is likely to accelerate. So it’s important to visit now while the area retains its charm and laid-back feel.

Visitors to Dhermi will find several different and excellent beaches, including Dhermiu Beach, Drymades Beach, and Palasa Beach. They’ll also find the beautiful warm waters of the Adriatic and an array of beach bars and tavernas. Back up the hill, Old Dhermi has some excellent eateries and fine historic buildings. While it’s a steep hike up the hill, the views and the village justify the effort.

Dhermi is a 75-minute drive from Vlore or 1 hour and 45 minutes by bus. The travel time will reduce significantly from 2024, but it’s expected that visitor numbers will increase dramatically, which may erode some of the areas charm. 

Sunset over the beach in Dhermi

17. Scale Vlore's Grass Mound

Vlore’s grass mound, often called Vlore Park Pyramid, is an excellent vantage point from which to view the city. Located close to the Independence Museum, it rises above the surrounding buildings and provides far-reaching views in every direction. It’s not a challenging climb, and the views more than justify climbing up the steps. The views from the top are particularly spectacular at sunset.

View from the summit of Vlore's grass mount

Best Time to Visit Vlore

The best time to visit Vlore is generally during the summer, from June to August when the weather is warm and the sea is inviting for swimming and other water activities. During this period, Vlore experiences a warm Mediterranean climate with temperatures ranging from 25°C to 30°C (77°F to 86°F).

If you prefer milder temperatures and fewer crowds, the shoulder seasons of late spring (May) and early autumn (September) can also be an excellent time to visit. During these months, the weather is still pleasant, with temperatures ranging from 20°C to 25°C (68°F to 77°F). The advantage of visiting during the shoulder seasons is that you can enjoy the beaches and attractions without the peak tourist crowds.


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Best Time to Visit Vlore

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article on the best things to do in Vlore. Why not check out some of our other guides and articles on countries in the region, including Greece and North Macedonia?  If you’ve any comments or feedback, we’d love to hear from you, so get in touch.

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