Just a two-hour drive from Tirana, Vlora is exactly what you’d picture a charming Albanian getaway to look like: sun-drenched tavernas, an old but recently renovated city centre steep, mountains in the background and beaches beautiful enough to rival those of the neighbor countries. Vlora is also deep in history. This is the place where the 28th of November 1912, Ismail Qemali declared the independence of Albania from Ottoman Empire. Every year that day is commemorated by all Albanians in the world as Albanian Independence Day or Flag Day.
This is a top destination for those seeking an Albanian escape minus the crowds of better-known hotspots –Dhërmi, Saranda and Ksamil. The beauty of Vlora is that it doesn’t take long to explore the entire city. Gaze at colourful market, swim between various sandy and pebbly beaches (Zvernec is the best for family with children, Nimfa beach has the cleanest water) and feed your inner boffin with a tour around the many ancient ruins -Kanina, Amantia, Orikum. A perfect day in Vlora might begin with an early-morning stroll through the Lungomare, followed by a visit to the ruins of Kanina Castle, the birthplace of national hero Skanderbeg’s wife. Spend the rest of the afternoon visiting the archaeological site of Orikum or St. Mary monastery in Zvernec, before enjoying a traditional Albanian feast.
WHERE TO SLEEP: Hotel Nimfa. Only 15 minutes by car from the city center, along the magnificent coast, this hotel offers seaview rooms with private balconies, a private unique beach and a restaurant with Mediterranean cuisine.
Featured image: ©Valter Zhara