The Ionian Coast
The Albanian Ionian Coast runs from Vlora to Saranda, in the south, opposite Corfu. The coast line is famous for its small bays, pebbly beaches and crystal clear waters. The Riviera is one of Albania’s natural beauties and certainly one of the most picturesque places in the whole Mediterranean. Since ancient times, the Albanian Coast has seen different cultural influences come and go, leaving behind a host of archaeological and historical treasures, such as ancient sites, Roman or Greek cities, hillside castles and fortresses, walled towns, monasteries, churches, mosques, temples, caves, museums and other interesting jewels. A typical Mediterranean climate offers ideal conditions for a beautiful holiday encompassing many different activities, especially from April until the end of October.
Here are short descriptions of some of the places and cultural jewels included in the itineraries we offer.

Palasa village is situated in an area of rare beauty. The village is known for its old oak tree and for the Church of Saint Dimitrios. There are also signs of an old settlement, probably the site where Julius Cesar’s fleet sought harbour whilst organising the attacks against the army of Pompey, who was camped at Orik. There is an old Roman quarry, still visible, at Grama, on the road towards the beach. Vineyards and trees - olives, lemons, oranges, surround the village.
As the road winds down from the pass of Llogara, the vista opens up to reveal the stunning Delta of Palasa. The delta collects the limestone and other mineral deposits picked up in the mountains by the river and forms an open fan shape as it reaches the lower levels. Due to the high levels of limestone deposited in the river beds, some of which are now dry, it is called the “Stream of White Roads” (Përroi i Rrugëve të Bardha) and the delta as a whole appears white. The cone of the delta measures about 2 km.

Dhërmi is one of the most well-known and picturesque coastal villages in Albania. The old village is set into the mountain and is one of the oldest and most characteristic villages on the Ionian Coast, with its stone, mountain houses nestling happily with historical monuments such as the Tower of the Gjikopulli tribe, the Kumi tribe Tower and the seven Water Mills in Potam. The earliest signs of settlement date back to the 1st century B.C. There are no less than 30 churches in the village. In particular, we recommend, the Church of Saint Stefan dating from the Byzantine era, the Church of Ipapandisa which mixes elements of western architecture, the monastery of Panajinas with its XV century church and engravings, the monastery of Saint Theodhore, situated on the rock above Pirate Cave. The village as a whole comes together to create an aesthetically harmonious architectural jewel, offering amazing views of the Ionian Sea.
Below the village, near the coast is the beach of Dhërmi, one of the bigger beaches of the Ionian Coast. The beach is a popular destination for discerning holiday makers.
The Pirate Cave is on the beach, under the hill on which stands the monastery of Saint Theodhore. The rock is carstic and has an abundance of clear water and fallen rocks in the first few metres. A stone block pillar divides the entry into two parts. It is easy to visit in calm seas but the cave is blocked in strong waves. The cave is more than 30 m long, 8 m wide and 10 -12 m high: there are no stalactites or stalagmites.

Vuno lies 13 km south of Dhërmi at the same altitude, along the same road. Vuno is a protected village. Houses here are made of stone, and densely packed giving the impression of forming a single fortress. The name comes from the Greek word for “hill”. The restored XVI century church of St Spiridon lies on the right side of the main road, with even more churches in the village. About 6 km from Vuno a road takes you to the beach at Jale, one of the pearls of the Albanian Riviera.

The canyon of Ngjipe is situated along the lower parts of Ngjipe stream, between Vuno and Ilias. It is formed by water erosion, is more than 2 km long and 100 m deep. Walking along its length is not recommended due to risks of falling rock. The landscape is attractive, the beach is clean and the water clear.

Himara
Himara has a long history, preceding the dates of its castles and monuments. Philip V, is known to have attacked Himara. In 167 BC, Himara became a Roman base. In the tenth century it was taken by the Slavs. The Byzantines wrote it Chimarae, (pronounced Himara). During the early Ottoman occupation, Himara fell under the rule of Mehmet "The Triumphant", but in 1570 the Venetians expelled the Turks. However, they returned shortly afterwards but, during that period, Himara’s situation and economy declined. In 1810 Ali Pasha of Tepelena seized Himara. During the last period of Ottoman rule, Himara enjoyed a significant level of effective independence. However, even throughout Ottoman rule, it remained an important Christian center and until 1833 it even had its own bishopric.
Historic Himara is seen in the old part of the town, situated on the hill. Here you can enjoy the ruined walls of the old castle (IV century BC until XVI century AD). It had been built as a fortress for the Epirus tribe of CHaonians and is an important part of the long history of the Himara people to be safe and independent. The unusual and interesting architecture with stone arches of the Churches of Cassiopeia and Saint Pandos are a sight worth seeing on the Ionian Riviera. We recommend the Monastery of Athali.
At the foot of the castle is the wonderful beach of Livadhi and nearby the Cave of Kardini, where Homer’s epics were inspired – “Journeys of Ullyses/Odissey" in the "Country of the Himariots".
Himara’s economy and life is geared to tourism.
Himara’s beach, with its crystal clear water is very popular among sun-seekers. Apart from the area nearer the town, the beach runs on southwards and leads to the small bay and peninsula of Spile. Here you find a cave with underwater springs. The cave has an interesting history, it used to shelter people from the activities of sea-pirates. During the Italian occupation, the bay was called Porto Spilio and a number of boats regularly made the crossing to Italy exporting local produce - citruses, corn, olives, etc.

Leaving Spile, you meet one of the most amazing sights of the Ionian coastline - the Bay of Porto Palermo. From the road you can see the small but very picturesque Bay of Llamani, few resist the desire to stop and enjoy the beauty of its beach and clear waters. From the hill above there is a wonderful view of the Bay of Porto Palermo with its small island and the Castle of Ali Pashë Tepelena(also known as the Pasha of Ioannina)as well as the island of Corfu.
The Bay of Porto Palermo, apart from its natural beauties, was also one of the most important military bases during the cold war. From the road you can see the tunnels where Albanian military submarines were moored. During the communist years, it was forbidden to walk or even to be in this area without permission.
The castle is on a peninsula, connected by a narrow rock strip. The castle on the island was built by the master builders of Ali Pasha under the supervision of his main architect Petro Përmetari. It is a good example of traditional, Ottoman military architecture. It measures 150m x 400m and the walls reach to 20m. The castle seems to be built in the middle of the sea and has its own story: apparently it was built by Ali Pasha as a gift for one of his wives, Vasilika, seemingly a favourite of his. Today, only some stone walls of the castle survive. However, there are underground tunnels which were used to house the sad prisoners of some infamous rulers such as Ali Pasha and Enver Hoxha as well as less infamous King Zog. There is a spectacular and rare view of the coast from the castle walls.