After a two-week visit to the Albanian Riviera, we can happily say that Himare is one of our favorite towns in the region. In this guide, we’re sharing the best things to do in Himare, Albania, plus tips on where to eat and stay!
Located between the azure waters of the Ionian sea and the majestic Ceraunian Mountains, Himare is one of Albania’s best-kept-secrets. This beautiful beach town has the perfect blend of pristine beaches, captivating history, and a surprisingly good food scene.
We booked a week’s stay in Himare not knowing what to expect, and we came away with an immense love for the culture, the hospitable people, and the stunning landscapes. It’s one of those places that you could return back to time and time again and never get enough of it.
The town is rather untouched and it almost feels as if you’ve stepped back 50-years in time. With shepherds roaming the hills, ancient olive groves, and abandoned castle ruins, the allure to Himare is the simplicity of life here.
From family-run restaurants to hidden beaches and coastal trails, read on to discover our favorite things to do in Himare, Albania.
Quick guide to Himare, Albania
Local Currency: Albanian Lek
Closest airport: Corfu, Greece
Best beach: Gjiri i Akuariumit
Our favorite place to stay: ELÉA Guesthouse
Where to get a rental car: Discover Cars
10 Best Things to do in Himare, Albania
1. Visit Himare Castle & Old Town
The Himare old town is located atop a rocky hill overlooking the sea. The town’s narrow and winding streets are lined with traditional stone walls and houses. Walking though the town feels like you’re stepping back into ancient time.
Once you make it to the very top of the hill, you’ll enter the Himare castle. It is free to visit. This monument is over 3,500 years old and has stood the test of time throughout history. Take time to wander around the ancient castle ruins and enjoy the sweeping views of the mountains and the Ionian sea below.
Inside of the castle grounds is the Church of St. Sergius and Bacchus. It was first mentioned In the 10th century and features intricate frescoes around the altar.
After your visit around old town, make your way to Cafe Butterly for a drink and snack, which is located right next to the castle. This cafe is locally owned by an adorable couple who sells coffee and delicious cakes.
The views from the cafe terrace are stunning. We ordered a couple of cappuccinos and bought one of each cake (they only had two) and spent some time admiring the views and chatting with the owners. It’s well-worth a visit.
2. Go to the beach
Himare, Albania has some of the most beautiful beaches in the country. With azure waters and pristine white sand, Himare is the perfect place for a relaxing beach vacation.
Compared to the beaches in Ksamil, a popular summer destination down south, Himare offers a more chill vibe with stunning nature and less people.
Here are a few can’t-miss Himare beaches:
Spile Beach: Also known as Himare beach, this is the main beach in Himare and is located right next to the city center. It’s easily accessibly and is ideally placed next to some of the best restaurants in town.
The water here is shallow making it an ideal spot for swimming, and you can also rent a kayak here to paddle around the bay or to one of the nearby beaches.
Livadhi Beach: Located just a couple of kilometers north of Himare, Livadhi beach is a long and sandy beach that’s less crowded than Himare beach. Make sure to bring your own beach towel if you don’t want to pay for a beach chair and umbrella.
Gjiri i Akuariumit (Aquarium Beach): Aquarium beach is the most beautiful beach in Himare. You can only access the beach by hiking from Livadhi beach or Himare center, or by 4×4.
It feels like a slice of Albanian paradise, with its white sand and rocks that create a small cove. Make sure to bring your own food, drink, and towel, as there are no facilities here.
Check out our post on the 13 Best Himare Beaches to discover more beaches in the area.
3. Take a boat trip
One of the best ways to experience the southern Albanian coast is by boat. Some of the best hidden gems in the area, like Grama Bay, can only be seen via boat. If you don’t have a car, it’s also the easiest way to experience some of the beaches that are harder to get to without a car.
You’ll find many boat companies near Spile beach in Himare offering day trips, or you can also ask your hotel to arrange something. Himare Seas The Day offers private boat trips or group tours to some of the top places in the region.
If you’re visiting during the months of July and August, we highly suggest booking a boat tour in advance due to the high demand.
4. Go on a coastal hike
One of the best things to do in Himare is to go on a hike along the coast. The coastline of Himare features a picturesque blend of sparkling azure waters, gorgeous beaches, hidden coves, and rugged cliffs. It is truly one of the most beautiful places we have visited in Europe.
To best experience this stunning coastline, we suggest doing one or two coastal hikes. We’ve done both of these and think they are both worth it if you have the time!
Hike to Gjipe beach
Gjipe beach one of the few secluded beaches in the area and is located at the mouth of a canyon leading up to the Ceraunian mountains. It is one of the most stunning beaches in the entire Albanian Riviera, and the hike to it makes it even more fun to visit.
Starting at the Gjipe car park located 2.5km from the beach, make your way down a rocky trail with panoramic views of the sea and islands. The hike is fairly easy and only takes around 30-45 minutes each way.
The easiest way to reach the parking lot is by car; otherwise, you can hike to Gjipe beach from Dhermi. We suggest downloading Maps.Me to find the best routes.
Hike from Himare to Jale beach
Our favorite coastal hike near Himare is the hike to Gjiri I Akuariumit beach and Jale beach. The hike starts at either Spile beach in Himare or Livadhi beach.
The trail is easy to moderate and takes 1-2 hours depending on where you start. You can do this hike without a car. Plan on a minimum of a half-day for this, as you’ll want to make sure you have time to enjoy the beaches as well.
Remember to pack plenty of water, sunscreen, a hat, and snacks for your hike. There isn’t much shade on either of these trails and it can get really hot in the summer. Also, please respect the local environment and keep it clean for others to enjoy as well.
5. Visit the Porto Palermo Castle
Porto Palermo castle is located 15-minutes south of Himare by car. The 19th century castle was built by Ali Pasha, the powerful Albanian ruler during the Ottoman Empire. The island in which the castle is located used to be completely separated by land, but is now connected by a narrow strip of land.
The castle doubled as a fortress and was the location of a military garrison in the 19th century. You’ll notice the fortress is shaped as a triangle with towers on each corner.
Also known as Panorama Bay, the bay of Porto Palermo used to be a powerful harbor in the ancient world. The bay is surrounded by beautiful Mediterranean mountains and nice beaches, like Porto Palermo beach.
It only takes about an hour to visit the castle, and we think it’s worth the short drive from Himare to visit. The castle is open from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm everyday and costs 300 Lek ($3) per person to visit. You must pay for the ticket in cash.
6. Visit the nearby town Dhermi
Dhermi, a small coastal town, is located just 30-minutes north of Himare. This old town is full of charm. With its cobblestone streets, cafes, and quaint buildings, you’ll immediately fall in love like we did.
The main attraction here is to wander around and explore the city by foot. We suggest visiting the Monastery of Saint Mary on top of the hill, one of the historic churches in town.
This 13th century church looks simple from the outside, but the interior is covered in beautiful 18th century frescoes. It was one of our favorite churches we visited in Albania.
You’ll find the best views of Dhermi on the staircase leading up to the monastery.
The beach is about a 45-minute walk from Dhermi, or an 8-minute drive if you have a car. To get to Dhermi, you can either drive or catch a local bus from Himare. Make sure to tell the bus driver you want them to stop in Dhermi.
7. Eat some delicious Mediterranean food & fresh fish
Himare has some of the best food options in the Albanian Riviera. The Mediterranean influence brings an array of Greek inspired dishes to the region, and the proximity to the gorgeous Ionian sea brings freshly caught fish.
Greek restaurants line the beach promenade, serving everything from $3 chicken gyros, moussaka (eggplant lasagna), greek salads, lamb dishes, and our personal favorite, stuffed eggplant and peppers.
If you’re hoping to try some fresh fish, then this is the place to do it. Imagine grilled sea bass, shrimp pasta, and calamari that melt in your mouth, the options are fantastic and truly endless here.
Don’t forget to try a byrek (vegetable or meat pie) at one of the local bakeries or restaurants. Our favorite is the spinach pie, similar to a Greek spanakopita.
8. Kayak to one of the nearby beaches
For an adventure-filled day, we suggest renting a kayak in Himare and paddling to one of the nearby beaches. You can find kayak rentals at Spile beach, or at some of the hotels and hostels in town.
We paid 1,000 Lek per hour for a kayak rental, and that seems to be the standard rate in southern Albania.
You can kayak to Filikuri beach, which can only be reached by walking or by boat/kayak. It’s about a 45-minute ride to reach the stunning bay from Himare.
Alternatively, you can paddle in the other direction towards Livadhi beach and Aquarium beach. The options are endless!
9. Experience xhiro at sunset
One of our favorite things to do in Himare is to experience xhiro at sunset time. The tradition of “xhiro” (pronounced jeer-o) is a deeply ingrained part of Albanian culture.
Translated as “promenade” or “stroll”, xhiro is essentially an evening or sunset walk, usually taken around sunset time when work is done and it’s a bit cooler out.But it’s more than just a walk—it’s a social event, a time to catch up with friends, neighbors, and to see and be seen.
In Himare, you’ll see locals participating in xhiro along the beach promenade. Spend an evening joining the locals in this tradition and immerse yourself in the Albanian way of live, enjoying the sunset and engaging with the community.
10. Take a day trip
If you have some time to spare, we suggest taking a day trip to one of the many incredible towns and sites in the region.
Ksamil & Butrint National Park: Make your way down south to the stunning beach town of Ksamil. You can either spend your day at one of the many beach clubs, or head to Butrint National Park, an ancient town that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Vlore: Why not check out Vlore? It’s one of the biggest cities in Albania and it’s got a cool mix of city vibes, lovely beaches, and neat historical spots like the Independence Monument and the Muradi Mosque. Plus, the drive along the coast is absolutely stunning.
Llogara National Park: Head to the Llogara National Park for a day surrounded by mountains. There are many many wonderful day hikes that take you through the forest or up mountain peaks for panoramic views.
Borsh: Home to the longest beach in the Albanian Riviera, Borsh is a lesser-known town located just 30-minutes south of Ksmail. Don’t forget to hike up to the castle behind the city – the views re spectacular.
Each of these places offers a little something different, so you can pick and choose depending on what you’re into. All in all, they make for some fantastic day trips from Himare.
Map of Things to do in Himare
We’ve created a map of the best things to do in Himare to help you easily navigate your way around. To use the map, click on the box with the arrow on the left to see a list of all the places. To download the map to your Google Maps, click the box on the right.
How to get to Himare
Whether you’re traveling to Himare from Tirana in the north or Sarande in the south, you have several options for getting there.
The closest airport to Himare is the Corfu International Airport “Ioannis Kapodistrias” in Greece (CFU). From Corfu, you’ll need to get the ferry to Albania and then take a bus to Himare.
The next closest airport is the Tirana International Airport (TIA), and it’s about 3.5 hours north of Himare.
The easiest option is to travel to Himare by car from the airport, as you have the most flexibility. The second best option is to travel by bus, which departs several times per day.
Bus to Himare
Tirana to Himare: From the main Tirana bus station, there are a few direct routes that go to Himare daily between 5:30am and 9:00pm. The cost for this route is around 1,000 Lek ($10) each way and must be paid in cash. The journey takes 4 hours.
If you are arriving from Tirana International Airport, then you’ll need to get the bus from the airport to the main station. This takes about 30-minutes and costs around 400 Lek ($4).
Sarande to Himare: The bus ride from Sarande to Himare only takes 1.5 hours. There are a few buses that leave daily between the hours of 7:00 am to 1:00 pm. The cost for a one-way bus ticket is around 600 Lek ($6) and must be paid in cash to the driver.
For bus timetables and routes, check out the Gjirafa Travel website.
Driving to Himare
Prior to visiting Albania, we had heard “horror stories” about driving here. Nevertheless, we still rented a car and found that driving here wasn’t so bad after all, especially down south.
The road from Tirana to Himare is well-paved, wide, and is not busy, which makes for good driving conditions. The views along the coast are also spectacular.
If you are thinking about renting a car in Albania, we highly recommend it. We found that it was very reasonably priced, and it gave us the flexibility we needed to explore on our own time.
The drive from Tirana takes around 3.5 hours, and if you are departing from the Tirana airport it takes even less time.
Arriving from Sarande? The drive to Himare is incredible and only takes 1.5 hours. We suggest saving a little extra time to stop and take in the views.
We rented our car from Discover Cars for our month-long road trip through Albania and were 100% satisfied with the customer service and care. It’s our go-to site for car rentals in Europe, and we’ve only had positive experiences.
Private Transfer to Himare
If you prefer not to rent a car and don’t want to rely on public buses to get you to Himare, then we suggest booking a private transfer from Tirana to Himare. The cost is more expensive, but it might be worth it if you are more than one person traveling.
Getting around Himare
Himare itself is a small town and everything, from the beaches to the restaurants, is within walking distance. However, if you plan to do some day trips and want to explore more of the region, then having a car is the most convenient way to get around.
There are local buses that can take you to places like Porto Palermo, Dhermi, and Borsch for a few dollars. Just ask your hotel and they can help to point you in the right direction.
Getting to some of the beaches by public transport can be timely and a bit tricky. Again, a car is your best bet; otherwise, you may want to schedule a boat tour to see some of the hard-to-get-to beaches.
Where to Stay in Himare
Himare has a range of accommodations to fit all styles and budgets, whether you’re into luxury hotels, charming boutique hotels, or budget-friendly hostels. You can either stay in the city center close to all of the restaurants, or you can escape to the hillside and enjoy a cozy getaway in nature.
We stayed in the city center this time and enjoyed the proximity to the beach and restaurants. Next time, we would prefer to stay outside of the city and escape the crowds for a bit.
Here are a few of our suggestions:
Hostel: Himara Hostel – Located just an 8-minute walk from the beach, this hostel is highly rated for its cleanliness and amenities.
Boutique Hotel: ELÉA Guesthouse – A beautiful, family owned guesthouse with wonderful views overlooking the ocean and Himare. The food is exceptional and the rooms are clean. We got a private tour of the hotel from the family and enjoyed one of our best meals in the region here. Highly recommended!
Nature Escape: Aphrodite Garden Rooms & Apartment – A charming, locally owned hotel located just a few minutes from Himare city center. Every room features a sea and mountain view and a delicious breakfast is included
Luxury Hotel: ARXONTIKO – Located just 100 meters from Spile beach, the main beach in Himare, this hotel offers rooms with beautiful sea views with breakfast included.
Where to eat in Himare
Himare is known for its Mediterranean and Greek influenced cuisine, along with freshly caught seafood and traditional Albanian dishes like byrek.
We visited Himare in May, right before peak season, and a few restaurants that we wanted to try were closed still. Most open up in June when the tourists start to arrive. Luckily, we were still able to eat at a few places and they were all fantastic.
- To Steki sti Gonia – Fantastic Greek food, we ate here twice. The Greek salad is fabulous, stuffed peppers were tasty, and the gyro was cheap ($3).
- Taverna PiroΣia – Delicious Greek food, owned by a man who grows all of his food on site. The salads were incredible and the byrek was some of our favorite in all of Albania.
- SOREN – Great place to go for seafood and pasta. We got the prawn pasta and it was fresh and flavorful.
- ELÉA Restaurant – Our favorite restaurant experience in Himare. You’ll need a car to get here, but the food is amazing. The restaurant is run by a daughter and mom duo, along with the daughter’s husband, and the food is freshly cooked right in front of you. Easily one of the best meals we had in Albania.
- Furre Himare – A wonderful little bakery in the city center run by a friendly local woman. Get the spinach byrek for breakfast or lunch and grab some treats to go for later!
- Restaurant “Merkur Merkuri” – The place to go if you want some fresh fish in Himare! They serve everything from grilled fish to octopus and calamari.
How much time to spend in Himare
We spent a total of 5 days in Himare and felt like it was just enough time to get to know the city and the region. It may seem like a long time, but there is a lot to do in the area.
From hiking and kayaking to town hopping and beach days, you could easily spend more than a week here enjoying slow-paced life.
If you are on more of time crunch, then we suggest staying for a minimum of 3-days to make the most of your time here. With just three days, you’ll still have enough time to enjoy the town, relax at the beach, and squeeze in a couple of hikes and castle visits.
Cost to Visit Himare
The cost to visit Himare, Albania depends on the time of year you visit and the type of traveler you are. Based on our experience, it’s very affordable compared to other beach destinations in Europe. You’ll feel like you’re living the luxury life even with a smaller budget.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the costs to help give you an idea of the prices in Himare.
- Accommodation: $35-$100 per night in a hotel, depending on where you stay.
- Transportation: $25-$40 per day for a rental car, depending on the season. Local buses are about $2.50 for a short ride.
- Food: A meal costs anywhere between $5-$10 per person on average. The more expensive Himare restaurants can cost upwards of $15-$20 per meal. If you’re looking for a cheap meal or snack, then you can get a slice of byrek (pie) for $1 and a gyro for $3.
When is the best time to visit Himare?
The best time to visit Himare is in late June and early September. During these months, the weather is usually warm and the restaurants are open, but the best part is that you avoid the crazy summer crowds.
If you’re only going for the beach and want almost guaranteed good weather, then July and August are the months for you. Just be aware, this is peak season, so the prices are high and the beaches will be busy with tourists.
Luckily Himare isn’t as popular with tourists as Ksamil, so it’s a more relaxing place to be during the high season.
We visited in early May and it was rainy, cloudy, and we had cooler temperatures. We were practically the only ones in town, but we like to enjoy the outdoors, so I wish we had visited a bit later in the spring.
Himare Frequently Asked Questions
Which beach is best in Himare, Albania?
The best beach in Himare is Gjiri I Akuariumit. The water is crystal clear and the beach is secluded making it feel like your own personal paradise. There are no facilities here, so make sure to bring your own water, snacks, and beach equipment.
Which sea is in Himare, Albania?
Himare is located along the coast of the Ionian Sea, which is part of the Mediterranean Sea. The Ionian Sea is bordered by Southern Italy, Sicily, and the western part of Greece, and it extends south to the island of Crete and east to the coastline of Albania. It’s known for its deep blue waters and is a popular destination for swimming, boating, and other water activities.
What is the difference between Dhermi and Himare?
Dhermi and Himare are both coastal towns located in southern Albania, along the beautiful Albanian Riviera. They share stunning views of the Ionian Sea, lovely beaches, and a warm Mediterranean climate.
Himare is larger and a bit more cosmopolitan compared to Dhermi. It’s a hub for tourists and offers a broader range of amenities, shops, cafes, and restaurants.
Dhermi, on the other hand, is a smaller, quieter village. It’s known for its long stretch of white pebble beach, crystal-clear waters, and old stone houses. Dhermi beach has recently gained a reputation as a party destination due to its lively beach clubs and summer music festivals, attracting a younger crowd.
Both towns offer unique experiences, and which one you prefer depends on what you’re looking for in your visit to the Albanian Riviera.
Himare or Saranda?
Based on our experience, we recommend staying in Himare. Saranda is a much larger city, and while that can be more convenient, the charm, natural beauty, and laid-back vibe of Himare makes it a better base location than Saranda.
Himare or Ksamil?
Both Himare and Ksamil are beautiful destinations. However, Ksamil is much busier than Himare. We recommend visiting both if you can, but we much prefer the calmer experience in Himare.
More Information for your Albania Trip
GJIROKASTER: This historic city is well worth a visit. Read our post on the best things to do in Gjirokaster to help plan your day in this town.
BERAT: Check out our guide on the best things to do in Berat, one of our favorite cities in Albania.
KRUJA: This is one of the best places to shop for local Albanian goods at the old bazaar in Kruja. Read more about the best things to do in Kruja in our guide.
DURRES: Our post on the top things to do in Durres includes visiting ancient Roman monuments and beautiful beaches.
Albania Travel Planning Guide
Albania Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Albania? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.
Albania Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Albania? Yes! We rented a car in Albania for one month and it is the best way to see the country. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.
Albania Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Albania, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Albania, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. We even had to rely on it for data to get some work done, and it worked great!
Albania Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Albania? We booked all of our hotels through Booking. All of the hotels were responsive through the messaging tool, and there are endless options to choose from. Note – some hotels in Albania require you to pay in cash. Make sure to message the hotel in advance to be prepared with the correct form of payment.
Drinking Water in Albania – Wondering if you can drink the tap water in Albania? We were advised to not drink the water by our hotels, so we ended up buying bottled water instead.