Vlore is a harbor city and the former capital of Albania. It holds a special meaning for most Albanians since Vlore is where the country declared its independence from the Ottoman Empire at the start of the 20th century.
Vlore vs. Vlore County
You might be a bit confused when researching your trip to Vlore because many websites list things to do and places to stay in Vlore County but not in the city of Vlore.
Vlore County is one of the 12 counties in Albania. If you hear the term "Albanian Riviera," they are most likely referring to Vlore County. Vlore County also has many other popular Albanian cities like Dhermi, Himare, Saranda, and Ksamil.
In this blog post, I am focusing on the city of Vlore, not Vlore County.
How to Reach Vlore
You can either take the bus to Vlore or rent a car. I highly recommend renting a car, though. Most likely, you will want to visit more of the Albanian Riviera and see cities like Dhermi, Himare, Saranda, Ksamil, and maybe even Gjirokaster. You also don't need an international driver's license to rent a car in Albania.
You can also do the entire trip through the Albanian Riviera by bus, but I don't recommend it. The bus system in Albania can be very unreliable. There isn't a proper bus schedule. Most of the time, you will show up at the bus station, say where you want to go, and someone will point you in the right direction of the bus. Buses will generally leave when they are full. Sometimes bus drivers will leave with only a few people, sometimes they will wait for half of the bus to be full, and sometimes they will wait for the entire bus to be filled. There's no way to know in advance, so you must be flexible on time.
You can also book a private transfer from Vlora to Tirana, but this is more expensive than renting a car or taking the bus.
To find cheap flights to Tirana, I recommend using Skyscanner to look for the most affordable and fastest route. You can also take a ferry from Corfu, Greece, to Saranda, Albania using Direct Ferries.
Things To Do In Vlore
Zvernec is a must-visit place not only in Vlore but in Albania as a whole. This island is located about 13 km from the city of Vlore. You could ride bikes to Zvernec Island if you chose not to rent a car. The island is fairly small but hosts a pine forest and the 13th-century Byzantine Monastery of St. Mary. The monastery was abandoned during the Communist period in Albania when religion was banned. Zvernec Island also hosts the tomb of the woman who embroidered the original flag of Albania's independence in 1912.
The iconic Independence Monument, designed by Mumtaz Dhrami, marks Albania's declaration of independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. There are benches and a small park nearby so you can relax and enjoy yourself. The Muradie Mosque is only a short walk away.
The Muradie Mosque is the main mosque in Vlore and is a cultural monument of Albania. Mimar Sinan, a famous Ottoman Turkish architect, built the mosque in 1537. Sinan also had a hand in the design of the Taj Mahal in India.
Stroll Along the Multi-Colored Buildings
Around a 10 minute walk from the Independence Monument and Mosque, there are streets of multi-colored buildings. Many of these buildings are empty, but several have coffee shops, restaurants, and shopping. There was also an Albanian festival/concert for kids happening while I was there.
Top Tours in Vlore, Albania
Where to Stay in Vlore
Luckyshine Hostel is the best option if you are on a budget. It is well located, clean, and a great place to meet people if you are a solo traveler.
Regina Blu is a beautiful beachfront hotel overlooking the Ionian Sea. It has a private beach a few feet away along Vlora Bay.
Foleza Bed & Breakfast
Foleza - Bed and Breakfast is within 2.7 km of Vlore Beach and 2.4 km of Plazhi i Vjeter Beach. A continental breakfast is available every morning. A car rental service is also available at Foleza.
What to Pack For Vlore, Albania
- Swimsuit: One of the main reasons to visit Albania is to see the beaches. Don't forget to bring your swimsuit! Swimwear for men and swimwear for women.
- Microfiber Towel: A microfiber towel is one of my favorite travel products because it is lightweight, easy to dry, and takes up very little space. Even if you decide to stay at a hotel where towels are provided, a microfiber towel is still great to bring to the beach because it can fit into your backpack without taking up much space.
- Camera: Yes, cell phone cameras are pretty good these days, but I still think the quality of a real camera is better. Try this Canon camera if you are new to the world of DSLRs. This Osmo pocket is my favorite travel camera because it is so tiny and fits right in your pocket. All of my YouTube videos so far have been primarily filmed on this camera. Although a drone isn't essential, I love the pictures and videos that I get from it too much not to share.
- Power Bank: I never leave my house without a power bank. You never have to worry about your phone running out of battery if you have one of these.
- Plug adapter: Albania uses a C-type plug.
- Packing Cubes: Packing cubes will help you save space and keep your belongings organized.
- Daypack: This is the daypack that I used while in Vlore and for all of my trips in Albania. It has enough space for my camera, drone, wallet, water bottle, and anything else I need during the day.
- Large Backpack: This is my favorite travel backpack. It has enough space for everything you need, and it has plenty of extra pockets to hold your belongings.
Check out all of my favorite travel products here.
Eating Vegan in Vlore
Unfortunately, Albania is not a very vegan-friendly country. I was able to find a vegan meal in Vlore at the Italian restaurant Tre Forchette. I ordered spaghetti and asked them to keep the cheese off of the top. Overall, the spaghetti wasn't great, but it is a vegan food option if you are looking for something.
The Best Resources For Traveling to Albania
- Skyscanner – the best website to find affordable flights.
- RenalCars.com - the best website for renting a car.
- TripAdvisor – the best website to research hotels, restaurants, and things to do in the city you are visiting.
- HostelWorld – the best website for finding hostels.
- Intrepid Travel – Don't like solo travel? Intrepid Travel offers good small group tours that use local operators and leave a small environmental footprint.
- Viator – my favorite website for finding guided tours.
- World Nomads – Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It is so important to have in case anything goes wrong.
- Express VPN – Traveling often means using free wifi available in coffee shops, hotels, and airports. This can leave you vulnerable to hackers. I always use a VPN when traveling to keep my personal information more private and secure. Using a VPN will also allow you to access information that isn't available in the country you visit. (For example: watching US Netflix while in Albania).
- italki – italki is a language learning platform that allows you to take classes with native speakers. I always try to take at least one lesson before traveling to a new country.
- Modern Albania: From Dictatorship to Democracy in Europe – An interesting book to help you to understand some of Albania's history before your trip.