Discovering Vlorë: A City on Albania’s Ionian Coast

The Albanian city of Vlorë is nestled between the sparkling waters of the Ionian Sea and the rolling hills and mountains of southern Albania. Vlorë is a combination of historical depth with modern charm, including all the amenities of a coastal town—where culture, nature, and culinary delights collide—a Lungomare with beaches, cafes, restaurants, and plenty to do along the coastline. Where to stay, what to eat and what to know before you go Vlorë.

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Sun, Sea, and Sand

No visit to Vlorë would be complete without experiencing its stunning beaches. A short drive from the city center, Plazhi i Vjeter (The Old Beach) offers a perfect blend of relaxation and recreation. Whether you’re interested in sunbathing, swimming, or enjoying water sports, the clear blue waters and well-maintained beachfront cater to all. For a more secluded experience, head near Zvërnec Island, connected to the mainland by a charming wooden bridge. The island is not only a serene getaway but also home to the enchanting 13th-century Zvërnec Monastery. There are excellent hiking areas, lots of beaches and beautiful cliffs in the area.

Culinary Journey

Vlorë’s culinary scene is as rich as its landscapes. The city’s coastline provides a bounty of fresh seafood that chefs utilize to create mouth-watering dishes. Traditional restaurants, often family-run, serve delights such as grilled sea bass, octopus salad, and byrek me lakra (cabbage pie). Phenomenal local olive oil, renowned for its quality and flavor, is a staple in most dishes. We had lots and lots of shrimp; they were so good! Try Maison des Chefs for some exceptional fresh seafood on the beach.

Vibrant Nightlife and Festivals

As the sun sets, Vlorë transforms. The Lungomare, a picturesque promenade stretching along the coastline, becomes a lively hub of activity. Locals and tourists stroll, socialize, and savor the ocean breeze here. The promenade is lined with bars, cafes, and clubs, where you can enjoy live music and dance the night away. Additionally, Vlorë hosts various cultural festivals throughout the year, celebrating everything from music and film to food and wine, providing visitors with a taste of local traditions and modern entertainment.

Lungomare: The Heartbeat of Vlorë

The Lungomare is Vlorë’s vibrant seaside promenade and arguably the lifeblood of the city’s social life. Extending several kilometers along the coast, this area is lined with palm trees and offers stunning views of the Ionian Sea. By day, it’s a peaceful place to enjoy a leisurely walk or a bike ride, with plenty of benches to sit on and soak up the serene sea views. As night falls, the Lungomare comes alive with locals and tourists mingling in the numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants. The promenade is also a popular spot for seasonal festivals and events, adding to its lively atmosphere.

Natural Wonders

Just outside the city, the natural landscapes of Vlorë await exploration. The Llogara Pass, part of the Llogara National Park, offers breathtaking views of the Ionian coast from above. This mountainous area is ideal for hiking, paragliding, and picnicking amidst the scenic beauty of Albania’s rugged mountain terrain. There are some honey sellers along the way, and it is fabulous honey.

A Walk Through History

The Independence Monument is a symbol of national pride where Albania declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. The monument is not just a historical site but a beacon of freedom, standing tall in the city’s heart. Up a lot of steps! Nearby is the Independence Museum, lovely green spaces, and the charming little old town.

 The Old Town of Vlorë, known locally as the historic quarter, is a delightful area to explore on foot. This part of the city retains a charming, somewhat nostalgic feel with its traditional architecture and quaint cafes. The Old Town is also home to several Ottoman-era buildings, including mosques and old houses, that showcase the rich cultural and historical layers of Vlorë. It’s a perfect place for history enthusiasts and photographers alike, offering a quiet escape from the more modern parts of the city. The old town has recently been renovated, with excellent new paint and tidy streets with shops.  Nearby is the city market.

Archaeological Treasures

Vlorë is a historical and cultural center and an archaeological hub. The region is dotted with sites that tell the story of its ancient past, including the ruins of the ancient city of Oricum. Located just a short drive from Vlorë, Oricum was established by the Greeks in the 6th century BC and later became an important Roman outpost. Today, visitors can explore the archaeological park, which includes remnants of city walls, a theater, and early Christian churches, offering a fascinating glimpse into the ancient civilizations that once thrived here.

Another significant site is the archaeological complex of Kaninë, which is home to the impressive Kaninë Castle. The castle dates back to the 3rd century BC and offers panoramic views of the countryside and Vlorë Bay. Its strategic position highlights the region’s historical importance in various eras, from the Byzantine to the Ottoman. Come before sunset for some amazing sunset views.

Where to Stay

We have affiliate links embedded in these options. Based on reviews and the location of the accommodation, these are some of the recommended stays in Vlorë.

Paradise Dream Apartment in Vlora near the beach and recreational areas.

Elmar Hotel near Lungomare, restaurants and clubs.

Yacht Hotel luxury outside of town.

Bel Ami Suita Hotel is a lovely stay in Orikum, with lots to do, hiking, and views. Dog friendly and lots of amazing delicious seafood places around.  

Know Before You Go

Vlorë is an old city that’s been under modernization initiatives. It’s been slow, causing frustrations with the local community. Issues with water and sanitation have been challenging regularly. It will take a while before the electrical problems can be stabilized. That said, the sea is clean, and garbage collection is better than in other areas of Albania, making the city tidier than others.

Vlorë’s appeal lies in its diverse offerings—from the historical insights of its Old Town and the recreational delights of the Lungomare to the ancient mysteries waiting to be uncovered at its archaeological sites. Each aspect of the city offers a unique story, making Vlorë a multifaceted destination that caters to a wide range of interests. Whether you’re strolling through the historic streets, enjoying the dynamic atmosphere of the Lungomare, or stepping back in time at ancient ruins, Vlorë promises a memorable experience for every visitor. It’s a busy tourist town, so it is best to come May 15- June 15, then after September for fewer crowds. Subscribe for more travel guides. Follow along on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok, and have a lovely day.