Things to do in Himare
Himare is a small coastal town on the Albanian Riviera, about 4 hours south of Tirana and about 90 minutes north of Saranda. Home to sandy beaches, turquoise waters, and beautiful bays, this is the perfect location to chill for a day or two.
And the best part of it all is that it’s also not as busy as other coastal towns such as Ksamil. This means it’s free from big tourist crowds, and you won’t find all the beaches packed with umbrellas and sunbeds.
1. Himare Castle
Perched on top of a hill only a short drive from Himare’s main beach sits the ancient Castle of Himare. This archeological site dates back to the 5th century B.C. and is one of the top things to do in Himare. Not only the remains of a once important stronghold and its history, but the beautiful views of the Old Town, beaches, and gentle waters below, make it a great place to visit.
You can visit the castle by walking up a strenuous path from the main beach, which should take you about one hour. Otherwise, you can grab a taxi in town to take you there for about 400 LEK (3.40 USD). Get lost among the winding streets filled with stone buildings, small shops, and little cafes before reaching the castle at the top.
The best time to visit is during sunset, when there’s a golden glow over the area, offering the most stunning views. On a clear day, it’s even possible to spot the Greek island of Corfu in the distance! If you’re walking, we recommend visiting early in the morning before the heat of the day.
2. Visit the Beaches
No visit to Himare is complete without a day of relaxing on one of the many beaches in the region. Once you visit the coastline, there’s no such thing as too much beach time—from busy pebbled beaches to long stretches of white sand or hidden gems in small coves.
The town of Himare itself is made up of two different bays. One is quite popular with a boulevard and many hotels and restaurants, and the other is much calmer with a large beach perfect for a day of sunbathing.
Outside of Himare, you find plenty of other beautiful beaches that you can choose to relax on. All of them are relatively close to one another, allowing you to go beach-hopping.
The main beach, located in the heart of town, is Himare Beach. This busy area is partially lined with a promenade full of restaurants, supermarkets, ice cream stands, and souvenir shops. It connects with a small pebbled beach where both locals and tourists come to enjoy the beautiful turquoise water. During the summer months, this is one of the busiest beaches you can visit. Get locations of these and other secret beaches in our Albania Google Maps.
Tucked between tall cliffs covered in lush greenery, Gjipe Beach is one of the beaches further away from Himare. This sandy beach is part of the Gjipe Canyon and is not an easy one to get to. Because of this, it’s often also one of the least busy beaches in Albania. When you visit in the summer, you can rent an umbrella and a sunbed for the day. There are also a couple of beach restaurants that serve some fresh seafood and cold drinks.
To get to Gjipe Beach from Himare, you’ll have to drive about 30 minutes to Gjipe Car Park. If you’re coming from Tirana or Vlorë, you can also catch a bus (Furgon) to take you there. Once you get to the car park, you’ll have to walk another 2 kilometers down a steep gravel road to reach the beach. Along the way, you’ll come past a couple of viewpoints with panoramic views of the beautiful sea and the beach below.
Palasa beach is a long and wide beach that lies west of the village of Palasa and is also the northernmost beach you’ll find on the Albanian Riviera. With an incredible mountainous backdrop, the beach lies in a more secluded area that’s currently in development. There are some bars and hotels near the beach, and you can rent a sunbed or umbrella for the day.
It’s easiest to reach Palasa Beach by car. From Himare, it takes about 40 minutes, from Saranda two hours, and from Dhermi, it’s only a 12-minute drive.
South of the coastal town of Dhermi, you’ll find Dhermi Beach, a large stretch of soft sand with both public and private beach areas. Although there are often lots of people on this particular beach, there is plenty of space, so it’ll never feel too crowded. Enjoy the views from cute beach bars, looking out over the colorful umbrellas and up at the mountains behind.
Dhermi Beach is a 2-kilometer steep path down from Dhermi town. Getting there from Himare takes about 30 minutes by car. Alternatively, if you don’t have your own transportation, you can hop on a Furgon bus that will take you to Dhermi town. From there, you can either continue on foot or grab a taxi down to the beach.
3. Go on a Boat Tour
Many of the stunning locations on the coast of Albania can be reached by land. However, there are some hidden gems that are only accessible by boat. Discover beautiful secluded beaches with white sand and small coves carved into dramatic cliffs by going on a boat tour. Spending the day out on the water in the summer is one of the best things to do in Himare.
Many companies offer a day trip out on the turquoise water, from private boat trips to group tours. These trips often include stops at a few small coves where you can swim, snorkel, or spend some time on the beach. The boats typically leave early in the morning and return to Himare in the afternoon.
4. Visit Dhermi
Dhermi, another authentic hillside village on the coast, lies only a short distance from Himare. This town is full of cute houses and historic churches and makes a perfect stop on any day trip. Stroll through the cobblestone streets, frequently stopping to take photos of the stunning views.
On the highest hill, you can visit the old Monastery of St. Mary (which has some beautiful frescos) or head down to one of the fantastic pebbled beaches in the area. Note, though, that walking to the beach from the town takes about 45 minutes.
Dhermi is a great place to visit in the afternoon or around sunset when there’s a soft golden glow over the town. To get there takes about a 30-minute drive north along the coast. If you’re traveling by bus, a ticket costs 250 LEK (2.12 USD), and you’ll have to tell the driver whether you want to stop at Dhermi town or Dhermi Beach.
By day, relax on a private or public beach, and hire sunbeds from the chic beach clubs lined along the water. At night, do as the locals do and enjoy a walk along the promenade, stopping for a bite to eat during sunset.
There are also four small islands on the coast that you can explore. Hire a kayak or SUP for the day and explore the rocky shores, jumping off into the water to cool off. You can also do a boat tour to one of the bigger islands and even take a ferry out to Corfu, Greece!
Ksamil is a great destination to head to for a couple of days after visiting Himare. It takes about a 1 hour and 45-minute drive down the scenic coast to get there.
The park introduces you to different artifacts and buildings dating from the Iron Age (1200 – 600 B.C.) until the Middle Ages. Many of these monuments are still intact. Walk over shaded paths between beautiful nature as you dive deeper into the region’s history. Butrint National Park is about a 1 hour and 45-minutes drive from Himare and only 10 minutes away from Ksamil.
Opening times & entrance fee: The park is open all year round from 8 AM till sunset (around 6 PM), and the entrance is 700 LEK (6.10 USD) per person.
7. Porto Palermo
A few kilometers south of Himare, you can go and see the incredible Castle Palermo. This immense, triangular-shaped fortress sits on a peninsula overlooking the beautiful blue sea. Once isolated from the mainland, the castle is believed to have been built in the early 19th century by Ali Pasha, an Albanian ruler who served the Ottoman Empire. The stunning bay you see now used to be one of the main harbors of the ancient world.
When visiting the castle, you can learn more about its history, roam the underground corridors, and enjoy the fantastic views from up on the rooftop. You can park your car on the road and walk the narrow stretch of land to reach the historical fortress. If you have the time, there is also a beach below the castle where you can relax and swim for a few hours.
Where to Stay
Himare can easily be visited on a day trip from Saranda or Ksamil, but ideally, you’ll stay for 1 or 2 nights to discover more of the beautiful Albanian Riviera. Once you’re in Himare, there are two bays to choose from. One has many hotels and restaurants, and the other is quieter as it’s still in development. No matter where you choose to stay, you’ll find stunning little guesthouses and beautiful luxury hotels. See all your hotel options in Himare.
Traveling to Himare by Car
The easiest way to reach Himare is by car. Renting and driving a car in Albania is an incredible experience, as you can explore the country at your own pace. From the capital, it’s about a 3,5-hour drive south through the country to get to Himare. Though long, this is a beautiful route to take as you come past some incredibly scenic sights. Himare can also easily be reached by car from other seaside towns such as Saranda or Ksamil.
Traveling to Himare by Bus
Alternatively, you can travel to Himare by bus. Note that getting around by bus in Albania is a little trickier, as many destinations don’t have direct bus connections. You may have to make multiple changes, and journeys can be long. The upside, however, is that tickets are very affordable!
From Tirana: There are two buses that leave daily From Tirana’s southbound station, one at 5.30 AM and one at 1 PM. Tickets cost max 1000 LEK (8.50 USD), and the journey takes about 4 hours.
From Saranda: There are four direct buses that leave daily to Himare (6 AM, 8 AM, 10 AM, and 1 PM). Tickets cost 600 LEK (5.10 USD), and the drive takes about 1,5 hours.
Himare Beach and everything in the town of Himare are reachable on foot, even the castle up on the hill. If you’re planning on visiting some of the beaches in the area, however, it’s best to do this with your own transportation. If you don’t have a car, there are many rental places in Himare where you can rent a motorbike. Alternatively, you can arrange a taxi or transfer to take you.
Best Restaurants in Himare
As a coastal location, Himare is not short of beachfront restaurants serving freshly caught seafood, and you’ll find most in the busier bay. If you want dinner with a view, head up along the cliffs, where numerous upscale restaurants are located. Pizzeria La Famiglia, for example, has some good pizzas that you can enjoy while looking out over Himare Beach.
Albania also serves lots of delicious vegetarian meals, leaving plenty of options for you to try. Some of our favorite restaurants were:
- Merkur Merkuri (Albanian)
- ELÉA restaurant (Greek)
- UMI Sushi & Cocktail (Japanese)
- Lefteri’s Tavern (Fish)
- Pizzeria Bella Italia (Italian)
How Much Does Himare Cost?
Food, accommodation, and activities are all incredibly affordable in Albania. Note, though, that the country is primarily cash-only. It’s, therefore, best to always have enough cash with you. There are plenty of ATMs in Albania that accept foreign cards for a fee. The best one to withdraw money from is Credins Bank.
Best Time to Visit Himare, Albania
Himare has a nice Mediterranean climate with hot summers and mild winters. The best time to visit is April to June and September to October when the weather is nice and sunny. If you can, it’s best to avoid July and August for both the high temperatures as well as the high-season crowds.