A tour between the sea and monuments to enjoy your stay. Get all the tips to visit Vlora and make your travel unforgettable. The Albanian city is a pleasant surprise, especially for its beautiful coast.
Vlora is one of the oldest towns in Albania and it has a great charm. Because it counts on unique ancient monuments and it has an enviable position on the sea. I will focus more on this element. But if you want to discover this marvelous place I have 7 suggestions for you. Plus I am going to add some tips.
The city of Vlora was the capital of the country. But now it is well known by local and international tourists. In winter it is quite empty, but in summer the town is alive day and night. Visitors arriving in the center are for sure attracted by the Muradie Mosque. It is an example of old Muslim architecture. From there it is possible to reach the hill from where to enjoy an amazing panorama of Vlora. Well, let me go into detail.
Vlora, a quick overview
If you are in Albania you can go to Vlora from Tirana in a bit more than 2 hours by car. There are also buses. They can be a better choice because in the country it is not easy to drive, especially in the capital city. If you talk with locals they joke about this fact. They say that most car accidents happen because of the foreigners’ fault. Because they respect the rules, Albanians not. Anyway, you can have a day tour there. I suggest spending a few days or a week in Vlora.
Why? because there are museums and monuments you have to see. Then you will be delighted to spend some time under the sun. Also, there are great places where to go around the city. A bit out of Vlora you can see uncontaminated coast and archeology areas. Follow my steps, get my tips and your travel will be unique.
10 must-see things to see in Vlora
I am going here to describe the main attractions of the city and its surroundings. Then I will give you more impressions and tips. Vlora is increasing the number of visitors, but it is still a place to be discovered by many travelers. Catch the chance and enjoy a great vacation. Prices, according to western standards quite low, so you can take advantage of them.
1. Muradie Mosque
This religious building is located in the middle of a square and its position is quite particular. All around there are roads. In the center of Vlora, there is a lot of traffic and it’s a pity to see many cars running around it. During the Ottoman Empire, they built the mosque modifying an ancient Byzantine church. In 1537 the architect Sinān realized the minaret, 18 meters high.
In origin, the mosque had a portico, but it was destroyed. It is visible on the walls the difference between the church and the mosque. The color and the decorations are now a mixture, but I found it cool. Maybe that’s why it is so beautiful. The mosque is a Cultural Monument of Albania. Together with the one in Tirana, in my opinion, it is one of the most amazing in the country.
2. National Museum of Independence
I think that know the history of a place helps to understand it. That’s why I entered the Museum of Independence. There there is a huge collection that tells the history of Albania. It is close to the port of Vlora and it was opened in 1936. The building is a symbol. Because there Ismail Qemali proclaimed independence from the Ottoman Empire.
Inside they stored many finds from Apollonia. According to this keep in mind that you can visit the village of Pojan, 40 kilometers far from Vlora, and see the sites of Apollonia. Let’s go back to the museum. When Italians invade Albania the museum was closed. They reopened in 1962 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of independence. In 2002 they restored the building and improved the collections. Now many objects and finds describe the Albanian Renaissance. Mainly you can see the history of independence and the first six months of the Qemali government.
3. Ethnographic Museum
Archeology is your passion? You can’t miss this place in Vlora. There are two floors, plus something is exposed outside. It is a complete history of the populations who stayed in Albania in the centuries. A huge section is dedicated to Illyrians. A lot of finds are useful to understand how daily life was in the ages of those people.
On the first floor, you can see objects coming from the Second World War period. So you can explore the Albanian life between 1930 and 1950. The visit was a great experience. I love history, but the items in the museum made me more aware of the local culture as well. This is the reason to enter the museum and to have a look at the collections.
4. Zvernec Monastery
You need to travel 12 kilometers from the center of Vlora to reach the place. The monastery is located on a small island connected to the forest on the coast by a pedestrian walkway crossing the lagoon. Just the short trip to see the area worth the time you will spend to go there. If you will be at this destination during sunset, you will assist in a magnificent show of nature.
Geese welcome you before you can meet the guardian father of the monastery. He is responsible for a special place to pray and to reflect. The building, maybe not be perfectly conserved, is byzantine. Nature and the lagoon are simply suggestive, so you can enjoy a peaceful atmosphere. Especially in summertime escape for a while from the crowded Vlora is a need.
5. Ali Pasha Castle
A wonderful bay, a peninsula covered by nature, and the ruins of the castle are some of the best landscapes around Vlora. The castle is located on top of a hill, on a promontory separated from the coastal road by an artificial creed. The view is incomparable.
The place is Porto Palermo and you can alternate the excursion to the castle with some relaxation under the sun. There is a small beach to spend time at the seaside. Anyway, keep in mind that in the high season many people go there. This means that it can be hard to find space. You can enter the castle, but you will see the walls and nothing more.
6. Independence monument
In Vlora, you have to reserve a bit of time to see this monument. It is a big sculpture, 17 meters high, realized in 1972. As you can easily imagine, it represents the main protagonists of the independence obtained from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. The leader of the movement, Qemali is immediately visible, but there are also other people.
The local artists decided not only to show the important people. They wanted to celebrate the different types of persons who took part in the battle. You noticed it thanks to the various types of clothes and the guns kept in the hands. This monument is very important because of the event described.
7. Kaninë Castle
There are only a couple of walls visible. But this castle is an archeological find. They built it between 3th and 4th centuries before Christ. It was destroyed and rebuilt. The last use was in the 14th century, by the Principality of Vlora. From the green hill, you can enjoy a beautiful panorama.
The place is in Kaninë, a village 6 kilometers far from Vlora. That’s why you should consider renting a car during your stay in the city. It will be easy to move around, at least when you want to go out from the center. Some buses connect villages and towns, but the timetable is not much respected. If you want to drive in Albania I suggest you find a car through the platform QEEQ. You can compare prices, find it ready at arrival, and get assistance.
8. Kuzum Baba
This place was the first one during my visits to Vlora. Maybe because I love to see the cities from the top. Maybe because it gives a breathless view of the city and the sea. Anyway, climb the hill on foot or by car and enjoy it. What’s there? A natural terrace with a superb panorama with day or night light. The action of the seawater made it.
Related to this place there is a legend. The Bektash spiritual leader Sejjid Ali Sultan has his tomb on the hill. He was considered as a father (baba), that’s why the name is Kuzum Baba. A group of robbers kidnapped and killed him. They cut the head to him. The legend tells that he kept his head in his hands and climbed the hill. Then he asked to be buried in that place. The community of Bektash is going there to pray since the 16th century. Now the members of that community are not so many. So the place is more for tourists.
9. Llogara National Park
Another marvelous place not far from Vlora is the National Park. It includes the mountains and there you can see the sea under you. If you want to go there you need a car, it is not possible to arrive on a walk or with public transport. Another reason to use QEEQ. Don’t worry about the words I wrote at the beginning, you don’t need to be James Bond to drive in Albania. You can do it.
It is on the road that connects Vlora to Saranda. There you can simply walk in nature and admire the unique view. Or you can practice sports, do trekking, or even do aerial sports. You will find pathways to any difficulties. Solo travelers and families with kids are welcome there. All the tastes find satisfaction.
10. Orikum – Vlora
Until 2015 Orikum was an independent municipality, now it is part of Vlora. Anyway, this place takes the name from Oricum, an ancient Greek village of Oricum, located 4 kilometers far from the new one. It has a tourism port. Why go there? If you have a boat or you want to rent it, you know your destination. I am joking. The reason to go there is different.
Orikum has a great position on the gulf and counts some of the best beaches in the area. There are uncontaminated places to spend your relaxing holiday. For some of them, you will need a boat because you can pass only by the sea. It is not hard to find people ready to take you there with their boats. Just one thing: make a deal on the price from the beginning. Don’t be shy to negotiate.
Beaches around Vlora
The list of the 10 things to do includes ideas for excursions, but maybe you want to swim. You are searching for a relaxing holiday on the beach. Vlora is the right destination for that. The city offers great beaches where to spend a few hours under the sun or swimming in the beautiful and clean seawater. There are many options. So I want to suggest to you the main ones.
During summer it is full of people, but the blue water and the soft sand surrounded by nature are wonderful. It is good to stay seated and enjoy the sun or to swim. When you are tired of lay down, just walk and discover the surroundings.
It is the perfect place for those who love snorkeling. There are a lot of fish species and also ancient submerged wrecks. A paradise to be explored under the water. You will feel like the Indiana Jones of the seaside.
This beach is cool. It is located on a small island not far from the coast. Rent a boat and enjoy it. You can stop on the way and swim then you can have a tour of the island, relaxing and exploring it.
This is a cove, ideal to enjoy the beach but not only. There are rocks and you can find some ancient inscriptions made by sailors in the past. They left in centuries some finds and now they are conserved there for visitors.
Eat fish in Vlora
You will spend hours between beaches and visits to the attractions. A good reason to get hungry. Vlora is the second port of Albania and it has a long coast, so fish is surely the food you can taste. The quality is good and they prepared it in different ways, but grilled is great because it is fresh.
In the city, you will find a lot of places for all budgets and tastes. But I want to suggest a couple of places. I had good experiences and I think you should try them for the superb meals and the setting. Let me explain to you something more.
San Giorgio al Porto
I decided to go to a luxury and elegant restaurant. This is San Giorgio al Porto. The Italian name is not by chance. But they serve dishes from the Mediterranean cuisine. Local ingredients are very well prepared by the chef. The nice ambiance and the high-quality service are surely a good combination with the various menu.
Every dish is presented innovatively and accompanied by superb wines, to be chosen in the big selection present on the list or suggested by the owner. The standards are higher than the ones that normally it is possible to find in the country and it is a preferred restaurant for locals.
Yes, you have read correctly. The name is the same because the restaurant is in that place, on the terrace. You can eat and enjoy a marvelous view. During high season it is crowded and it works also as a bar. The food is excellent, they serve Albanian and Italian food prepared excellently. The price is well proportioned to the quality.
Fish is the best food and the chef cooked in various ways. The owner is kind and able, so you can ask for some advice. I suggest you ask what is the fish of the day, what they have fresh. Then you decide and you can have something prepared as you like. It is even better than just follow the menu.
Stay in Vlora
You can choose among various accommodations. You find hotels, hostels, apartments. They are quite organized to welcome tourism in Vlora. During my trips to the city, I had the chance to reserve a room in a couple of hotels. My experience was good so I think it can be useful to give you some recommendations.
Both of them are close to each other. On one side there is the sea, on the other one the center of Vlora. You can walk to the seaside or on the main street where shops, restaurants, and bars are located.
Hotel Vlora International
It is a luxury structure, a 4-star hotel, with spacious and well-equipped rooms. It is common to find a Jacuzzi bathtub or showers and some of the rooms offer a complete view of the sea. They have a balcony and all that you may need to take the maximum benefit for your vacation.
Hotel Vlora International count on 5 bars and a restaurant. The recipes prepared follow international cuisine. The staff is kind and the services are on high standards. They have also an inside pool, but if you go in summer I think you will swim in the sea.
It is closed to the beach and it has spacious rooms. This 4-stars hotel is a bit less luxurious than the previous one, but it is very good. The standards are on a high level, mixing Albanian and Italian hospitality. The same happens with the cuisine. The recipes come from the main dishes of Italy and Albania.
The construction is recent, so it is normal to find a modern setting, amenities, and facilities all around the hotel. The restaurant is located on a terrace so you can taste the fish and enjoy the panorama on the sea. Some of the rooms give the same view. Hotel Bologna is a good choice also for a romantic escape.
Last tips about Vlora
If you go in the summertime you will find a cool nightlife. It is full of bars, disco, and clubs. But it will be easy to discover them and to go to the right place according to your taste. For a relaxing holiday, but especially to visit the place without tourism invasion I suggest you go there between late spring and early summer.
In this way, you will swim, make all the excursions and have good weather. Plan to stay there at least five days. In case you will be fast to see all, you can go to South Albania and spend time in other beautiful places. Check out my posts about Albania, you will get inspired.
People are friendly and young locals can speak English. All the population speaks well Italian and understand it. So don’t be shy, chat with them. You will like to explore the culture and to exchange ideas and experiences with them.
Preparing the trip to Vlora
You have all the information you need to visit Vlora. Now it is time to find a plane and I suggest the platforms I use: Infobus, Skyscanner, and Kiwi. You can compare prices and create the best connections for your trip.
If you like to get ideas for other destinations, follow my blog.