Albanian Riviera (Albanian: Riviera Shqiptare or Bregu) is a coastal area in the County of Vlorë, running along the Ionian Sea under the Ceraunian Mountains in Southern Albania. It should not be confused with the Albanian coastline as a whole, which includes both the Riviera, and the mostly flat coastline of central and north Albania. Traditionally, the region begins south of Llogara National Park, continues down along the coast through the villages of Borsh, Himara, Qeparo, and Piqeras, and ends at Lukovë. The Albanian Riviera was proclaimed as the 2012 Top Value Destination by Frommer's.
The region gained international attention after the 2009 reconstruction of the coastal road SH8, the 2010 tour stop of DJ Tiesto in Dhermi, and the filming of a Top Gear episode featuring a breath-taking car pursuit along the winding coastal road.
The area is a major nightlife, ecotourist, and elite retreat destination in Albania. It features traditional Mediterranean villages, ancient castles, Orthodox churches, secluded turquoise beaches, mountain passes, seaside canyons, coves, free flowing rivers, underwater fauna, caves, and orange, lemon, and olive groves.
In 48 BC during his pursuit of Pompey, Julius Caesar set foot and rested his legion at Palase. He continued onto Llogara Pass in a place later named Caesar's Pass. As part of the regional master plan, the World Bank and other institutions are financing local infrastructure projects, including the renovation of roofs and facades of traditional houses overlooking the Riviera, town squares redesign, and the construction of water supply and treatment plants. The whole coastline of Albania is over 476 km (296 mi) long and administered by the National Coastal Agency .
The area has been host to several international music festivals such as Soundwave Albania and Turtle Fest, while becoming known for its long standing nightclubs such as Havana Beach Club near Dhermi and recently opened Folie Marine in Jale beach.
- Sarandë is one of the most important tourist attractions of the Albanian Riviera. Near the city are the remains of the ancient city of Butrint.
- Ksamil is one of the most frequented coastal resorts by both domestic and foreign tourists. The Ksamil Islands are remote and can only be accessed by boat.
- Dhërmi is built on a slope of the Ceraunian Mountains at approximately 200 meters in altitude. The coastal area has seen a boom in the construction of accommodation facilities, such as wooden villa complexes. In addition, it is considered by the Albanian youth as a nightlife destination.
- Gjipë Canyon, located in the Southern of Albania where the Adriatic Sea meets the Ionian Sea.
- Borsh has a population of 2500 inhabitants. The thing that makes Borsh very popular is its beach, which is the largest beach in Ionian sea (7 km). The tourism has begun to develop a lot thanks to village's beauty and thanks to its friendly people.
- Himara, there are long white sandy beaches and the few hills close to the sea are terraced and planted with olive and citrus trees.
- Qeparo is situated on the western slope of Mount Gjivlash, at about 450 metres (1,480 ft) above sea level. Two hotels and a few guesthouses serve the tourists' enjoyment of the small beaches.
- Palasë is a village close to the Llogara National Park and also a very popular destination for foreign tourists. On January 4, 48 BCE during his pursuit of Pompey, Julius Caesar landed in Palasë.
- Lukovë is a village Vlorë County with great beaches.
- Piqeras village is the birthplace of the Albanian national hero Vasil Laçi who attempted to assassinate Victor Emmanuel III, King of Italy and Shefqet Bej Vërlaci, Prime Minister of Albania after the occupation of Albania by fascist Italy.
- Karaburun Peninsula is the only national marine park of Albania. The Karaburun Peninsula is completely undeveloped and offers hiking opportunity. A part of the Mountains is designated as a national park which is rich in wildlife, including deer, foxes, wild boars and even wolves.
- Jalë is known for its nightlife. The Folie Marina is located in Jalë.
- Llaman, is known for the gravel beaches with deep, clear waters.
- Zvërnec Island is an island within the Narta Lagoon. The island is a tourist attraction because it contains the well preserved 13th century Byzantine Zvërnec Monastery.
- Porto Palermo Castle is a castle situated in the bay of Porto Palermo. Huffington Post ranked Porto Palermo first among 15 Undiscovered European Destinations for 2014.
- Butrint was an ancient city and is protected under UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
National Parks in the Albanian Riviera
|1||Butrint||Inhabited since prehistoric times, Butrint has been the site of a Greek colony, a Roman city and a bishopric. Following a period of prosperity under Byzantine administration, then a brief occupation by the Venetians, the city was abandoned in the late Middle Ages after marshes formed in the area. The present archaeological site is a repository of ruins representing each period in the city’s development.|
|2||Llogara National Park||The Park is known from its vibrant flora and fauna with over 100 different types of wild animals and birds including: deer, wild cats, foxes, etc. The mixture of refreshing high altitude mountain air and proximity of the sea makes it very attractive destination for tourists. The area is also important for the growth of eco-tourism, picnic, hiking and air sports.|
|3||Karaburun-Sazan National Marine Park||Only marine park in Albania. Consists of surrounding sea water 1 nautical mile from the shores of the Karaburun Peninsula and Sazan Island.|
Castles in the Albanian Riviera
|1||Ali Pasha Castle||It is named after Ali Pasha of Tepelenë who resided there until 1820. The current fortress was rebuilt in 1819 from its surface with 3 towers. Until 1820 it was the second residence of Ali Pashe Tepelena. The castle described and pictured is popularly known as 'The Triangular Fortress'. Built under Venetian dominion in the late 15th or early 16th century, it provided a stronghold for the Venetians on Corfu to exploit fishing, grazing, olives and timber in and around Butrint.|
|2||Borsh Castle||This castle is also known as the Castle of Sopot by the name of the hill on which it is located.|
|3||Kaninë Castle||The castle rises on the side of the Shushica Mountain, about 380 meters above the sea level. The castle was built on the site of an ancient settlement, one of the oldest in the Vlora region. The castle is believed to have been erected in the 3rd century B.C. In the 4th century B.C. the castle was transformed into a fortress town. In the 6th century A.D. the castle was reconstructed by Justinian I.|
|4||Lëkurësi Castle||The castle is located on a strategic hill point overlooking the town of Saranda, southeast of the town centre. From here one can control the whole town as well as the islands of Ksamil.|
|5||Porto Palermo Castle||Its located near Himarë in southern Albania. It is situated in the bay of Porto Palermo, a few kilometers south of Himarë along the Albanian Riviera. Huffington Post ranked Porto Palermo first among 15 Undiscovered European Destinations for 2014.|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Albanian Riviera.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Albanian Riviera.|
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Coastal Albania.|
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