9 best things to do in Vlore in Albania

Vlorë, a renowned town in the Albanian Riviera, offers exquisite beaches, a palm-lined boulevard, a charming pastel-colored old center, a stunning nature reserve, historical underground bunkers from the communist era, and a picturesque monastery situated on an island. Whether you refer to it as Vlorë, Flore, Flora, or Vlore, this town has become one of our favorite destinations in Albania. Discover the 9 best things to do in Vlore and learn more about this unique destination in this blog.

Vlore Albania

How to get to Vlore in Albania

Vlore is situated in southwestern Albania on the coast. The city is a part of the Albanian Riviera, which encompasses various beaches, villages, and larger cities like Vlore.

Vlorë is situated near several popular destinations: Fier (40-minute drive), Sarande on the Albanian Riviera (approximately 2.5 hours away), Apollonia archaeological site (25 minutes away), and Berat museum town (1.5 hours away). It is positioned on the picturesque coast, with the Vlorë bay stretching out. To the northwest of Vlorë lies the Narta lagoon, a section of the Vjosa-Narta Protected Landscape nature park.

Narta Bunkers Zvernec Vlore

Where to stay in Vlore

When deciding on accommodation in Vlorë, you’ll need to choose between staying near the beach and coastal boulevard or opting for the old town, which is located more inland. The beach area extends quite far south of Vlorë, where you can also find fantastic places to stay. So, should you choose the old town, the boulevard, or the beaches to the south?

We suggest staying along the coast (and making a separate trip to visit the old town during your stay). Although the vibrant city center is definitely a must-see, the beautiful beaches and the lively boulevard, complete with charming beach bars and restaurants, offer the best places to stay.

The top hotels in Vlore:

#1 Hotel Liro boasts a spectacular location perched on the rocky coastline just south of Vlorë. It features a spacious terrace, its own private beach equipped with sun loungers and umbrellas, an on-site restaurant, and a bar. Each guest room offers a magnificent view of the sea, making it a prime choice for travelers looking for scenic ocean vistas.

#2 Paradise Beach Hotel offers the feel of a luxury hotel but at Albania’s typically affordable rates. Located right on the beach south of Vlorë, this hotel comes equipped with an outdoor swimming pool, a bar, beautifully landscaped gardens, and an à la carte restaurant, creating a perfect setting for a relaxing getaway.

#3 Yacht Hotel, situated on the southern boulevard of Vlorë, is a mere 20 meters from the coastline and features a restaurant, a bar, and a private beach. The rooms are modern and airy, with nearly all providing breathtaking views of the sea, offering guests a tranquil retreat by the water..

#4 Grand Mirage is also located on the southern boulevard of Vlorë. Each room in this hotel includes a balcony that overlooks the sea, and is furnished with modern, spacious, and comfortable amenities. Guests can enjoy breakfast served daily on the top floor, where they are treated to stunning views of the beach and the sea beyond.

#5 Veranda Boutique Hotel is situated along Vlorë’s bustling boulevard and features a terrace as well as many rooms with sea views. This family-run hotel is known for its exceptional service, ensuring that guests have everything they need during their stay, which is reflected in its very high review scores.

#6 Chic Boutique Hotel Vlore is a stylish boutique hotel located near the city beach of Vlorë. The rooms are decorated with modern elegance and a touch of coziness, making it a comfortable and trendy spot for visitors. It is highly praised in reviews for its excellent breakfast, warm hospitality, and spacious rooms.

#7 Vlora Backpackers Hostel is the most popular hostel in Vlorë and offers a range of accommodations including dormitories and mixed rooms, all sharing communal bathrooms. The hostel’s free bicycle rental service makes it an excellent base for exploring the surrounding area and nearby beaches.

Zvernec Monastery Vlore Albania

The 8 best things to do in Vlore

#1 The old city

Vlore Old Town is a captivating attraction in Vlore, situated slightly inland amidst the city itself, away from the bustling boulevard and coastal strip. This beautifully restored old town center has a fresh, newly built appearance. It comprises a central square and two streets adorned with charmingly colored buildings. The pastel facades and intricate architectural details contribute to the town’s overall charm, making it one of the most delightful places to explore.

The old town is small, consisting of only a square and a few streets. However, it can still keep you entertained for the day with its charming terraces and restaurants. One such terrace is Sophie Cafe, a popular chain of coffee shops that can be found all across Albania.

Vlore Old Town

#2 The Muradie Mosque

Right next to the old city lies the Muradie Mosque, a significant cultural monument of Albania. Constructed in 1537 during the Ottoman rule, the mosque stands as one of the oldest structures in the city. While the historic center has been meticulously restored to its former glory, the Muradie Mosque still exudes an authentic, historical atmosphere. The mosque’s brick masonry, compact size, and ancient minaret distinguish it from the rest of the city center.

Muradie Mosque Vlore

#3 The Independence Monument

The Independence Monument stands as one of the most remarkable landmarks in Vlore. Located on a spacious square between the pastel-colored streets of the old town and the Muradie Mosque, this grand monument prominently displays the year 1912. This year marks the Vlore Proclamation, signifying Albania’s declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire.

Although the architectural style of the Independence Monument bears socialist influences, it was constructed during the communist era in Albania and not in 1912 itself. Thus, this monument serves as a symbol not only of independence but also as a reminder of that dark period in Albanian history.

Independence Monument Vlore

#4 Beaches and boardwalk

Vlore’s magnificent beaches are among the primary reasons to visit both the city and the Albanian Riviera. With its prime coastal location, Vlore boasts a pleasant boulevard adorned with palm trees and numerous beaches. Adjacent to the city, you’ll find a delightful city beach. Heading northwest towards the Narta Lagoon, Narta Beach awaits, offering a vast stretch of shoreline bordered by pine trees and featuring relaxed beach bars.

However, the most popular beaches in Vlore are located south of the city. The entire coastal strip in this direction is comprised of long sandy beaches. Here, you’ll discover a plethora of beach resorts, hotels, and beach bars. Vega Beach, one of the region’s renowned and beloved beaches, awaits your visit.

#5 The Kuzum Baba viewpoint

Surrounded by hilltops, Vlore presents an idyllic panorama. From these peaks, you can admire the stunning view of the coastal city. A visit to the Kuzum Baba viewpoint, the highest point in Vlore, should undoubtedly be on your itinerary.

Kuzum Baba derives its name from the spiritual leader of the Albanian Bektashi order, a religious sect associated with Islam. The Bektashi Order maintains its Bektashi Temple on this natural terrace. Constructed around 1600, the temple represented a significant religious authority in the region. Today, the temple remains one of the most prominent centers for the Bektashi.

Vlore Albania

#6 The Zvernec Monastery

One of the most splendid attractions in Vlore is St. Mary’s Monastery, situated on the islet of Zvernec in the Narta Lagoon north of the city. The nature reserve encompassing the area is already a sight to behold, boasting wetlands, marshes, various bird species, and even flamingos. However, the monastery island stands out as the most idyllic feature.

While the monastery itself may not be overwhelmingly grand, its presence on a small island within the expansive lagoon north of Vlore creates a picturesque scene. To reach St. Mary’s Monastery, visitors must traverse a wooden decking path extending from the mainland. Only accessible by foot, the monastery allows entry into its small church. Despite its modest size, the charm and photogenic qualities of this location remain undiminished.

You can easily reach the nature reserve and Zvernec island by car, whether you have your own vehicle or a rental. If you enjoy hiking, you can also embark on a scenic trek through a beautiful pine forest, which leads not only to the island but also to the captivating nature reserve.

Zvernec Monastery Vlore Albania
Zvernec Monastery Vlore Albania
Zvernec Monastery Vlore Albania

#7 The communist bunkers

Close to the Zvernec Monastery, the Narta Lighthouse serves as a gateway to a fascinating sight: the underground bunkers from Albania’s communist era. Enver Hoxha, the country’s former dictator, was highly paranoid and feared foreign invasions, resulting in the construction of thousands of bunkers along Albania’s borders. These bunkers range from small gun turrets to intricate underground tunnel systems, and tens of thousands of them still exist today.

One of the most impressive bunker complexes in Albania can be found near Vlore, nestled within the hill where the Narta Lighthouse stands. A small information board offers limited insight into these historic structures. Constructed in 1980, the complex comprises artillery bunkers, underground passages, and storage areas. The most visually captivating entrances to the bunkers, adorned with colorful paintings, create a stunning sight. For the adventurous souls, exploring the interior of these bunkers with a flashlight provides an exhilarating experience.

Inside some of the bunkers, remnants of old drawings depicting combat ships and aircraft can still be found. However, apart from these drawings, little evidence remains of the original purpose of these underground systems. Visitors can wander through the broad, dimly lit corridors of the four painted bunkers or explore a narrow corridor on the east side of the hill. Within one of the bunkers, a staircase leads to an increasingly narrow passage, ultimately leading to a large bunker. Exploring these bunkers in Vlore promises a unique and exciting activity.

People with a camper van or motorhome will be delighted to know that you can camp near the bunkers, offering an amazing wild camping spot in Albania.

Narta Bunkers Zvernec Vlore
Narta Bunkers Zvernec Vlore
Narta Bunkers Zvernec Vlore

#8 Sunset from the Narta Lighthouse

The Narta Lagoon is renowned for its stunning natural reserve, diverse birdlife, and the Zvernec Monastery. Another notable highlight is the Narta Lighthouse. Although the lighthouse itself is modest in size, it provides a spectacular vantage point from atop the hill, offering breathtaking views of the surrounding nature reserve.

This location comes highly recommended, especially during sunset. We personally enjoyed two evenings of picturesque sunsets here and strongly advise visiting around this time of day. Bring along some refreshments, find a comfortable spot on a rug, and relish in the mesmerizing display of colors as the sun sets.

Narta Lagoon Albania
Narta Lighthouse Vlore Albania
Narta Lagoon Albania

#9 Road-tripping the Albanian Riviera

Situated at the northern tip of the Albanian Riviera, Vlore serves as the perfect starting point for an unforgettable road trip along the stunning coastline. In our opinion, the roads of the Riviera rank among the most breathtaking in Albania. Prepare to encounter enchanting hilltop vistas, winding drives through majestic mountains, picturesque villages, and some of the most beautiful beaches you can find. Exploring the remainder of the coast from Vlore is highly recommended.

Which stops along the way should you not miss? A short distance from the town, you’ll discover the Llogara Pass, meandering through mountains and offering a magnificent viewpoint at its peak. Heading further south, you’ll encounter the charming villages of Dhermi and Vuno, as well as the must-visit Gjipe Beach, often hailed as Albania’s most beautiful beach.

Continuing southwards, you’ll encounter more captivating beaches, charming villages, and scenic driving routes. However, venturing too far from Vlore for a day trip might prove challenging. An ideal option is to spend the night in Sarande or Ksamil, both located in the southern region of the Albanian Riviera. This way, you can embark on a two-day car trip to fully explore the southern portion of this remarkable coastline.