Himare is a town in southern Albania and is a part of Vlore County. A part of the Albanian Riviera, it is neighboured by Dhermi, Drymadhes, Borsh, Qeparo and various other small villages. A popular holiday destination it offers stunning beaches, history, wonderful food, and unsurpassed views. Roughly 3-4 hours drive from Tirana, it is popular with local and foreign tourists alike.
I recently travelled there and these are my recommendations of where go sleep, eat, visit, and enjoy!
Where to stay
During my most recent visit to Himare, we stayed at Scala Bungalows. A small business run by the infamous Tefta (everyone in Himare knows her) with help from her daughter, it is the perfect family-friendly destination. Nestled into the hillside at the far end of Livadhi Beach, it comprises a number of wooden cabins offering spectacular views, just 30 seconds from the sand.
Spread across several terraces, the cabins are surrounded by herbs and flowers that Tefta tends to each day. Breakfast is traditional, bio, and different every day, offering a range of delicious treats accompanied by iced tea and coffee, just the way you like it. The rooms are basic but comfortable and each cabin has a bed (or two), air conditioning, natural insect repellent plugs, a fridge, somewhere to store clothes and a power shower in the adjacent private bathroom. In front of each cabin is a private terrace with a table and chairs. There are two deluxe cabins on the highest tier, fitted out to a higher standard.
We opted for standard rooms as they were more child friendly and didn’t involve as many steps! One of the things I loved about staying at Scala was waking to the sound of crashing waves every morning and the resident dog (Diana) and two kittens who prowled the walkways.
On our previous visit to Himare, we stayed at Alex’s Bed and Breakfast which sits upon the hilltops, a five-minute drive from Livadhi. Spiro, the owner and his family gave us an incredibly warm welcome and offered up similarly spectacular breakfasts. In fact, we bumped into Spiro while having coffee during our latest visit and he invited us for a BBQ and to check out his farmland, complete with chickens, olive trees, and more!
Both options cost between EUR 30 and EUR 55 a night, depending on when you go, what kind of room you have, and whether you include breakfast. WiFi, aircon, and washing machine facilities are available at both locations.
Where to eat
Despite it being ‘out of season’ and some businesses remaining closed during our visit, we had no shortage of excellent meals. We took breakfast in Scala Bungalows which kept us going until well after midday.
For lunch, we visited Odissea, located at the beginning of Livadhi Beach. Here we enjoyed marinated squid crudo, grilled fish, prawns, and salad that came in around 1000 LEk (EUR 8) per head including wine. The service here was excellent and the English-speaking waiter was extremely attentive and waved at us each time we went past during the rest of our visit. They also kindly gave my daughter some biscuits and sweet treats to keep her happy!
Another great lunch location is Dimitri’s. One of, if not the oldest restaurant in Livadhi, it offers stunning views with a shabby-chic white interior. The waiters spoke English, Greek, and Albanian and were very baby and child friendly. I was told by several individuals that Dimitri’s offers the best pizza in town, and we were not disappointed. The seafood on one pizza was plentiful and fresh, the cheese was not overpowering or ‘fake’ and it wasn’t swamped in tomato sauce. I found the dough to be the right combination of chewy and crisp, and they most definitely lived up to my expectations. The prices were reasonable (400ALL + for a pizza) and the house wine (a Greek one apparently) was fantastic as far as house wine goes.
For dinner, a firm favourite became Nasho’s fish restaurant which was right next to Scala Bungalows. Nasho is a character and looks like he would be more comfortable on a Harley Davidson than in a kitchen, but don’t let appearances fool you. While blaring out Greek music, he cooks up some of the freshest and finest fish and seafood in the area. This is a real ‘no-frills’ place, but the dishes he prepared for us (even the chips) were some of the best I have tasted in Albania. We paid around EUR 11 per head, including wine for our seafood feasts.
Another restaurant we wanted to visit was Restaurant Piazza located in Himare city. Another family-owned restaurant that has been there for 17 years (and counting), I heard they prepare wonderful pizza and pasta. Sadly we had to start our drive back to Tirana before they opened but they are on my list of places to visit next time!
If you fancy a sweet snack, I must also recommend Iceland Gelato. I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth but ice cream is a big weakness of mine. This small ice cream parlour had a small, but delightful selection of wonderfully creamy ice cream on offer. Highly recommended!
Where to drink
Himare, like many other Albanian cities, is home to plenty of coffee shops and bars. As you walk down the promenade, there is no shortage of options to entice you. A short distance around the corner, however, is the not very politically correct “Red Indian Rock Cafe”. Despite its questionable name, it offers a truly unique drinking experience overlooking the sea. The bar is decorated with all sorts of American memorabilia and has painted chairs and benches, tables decorated with beer caps, and a wide selection of beers and spirits. Popular with bikers, its owner is a well-known character both locally and with international guests.
Where to visit
Livadhi Beach is a must-visit- over 1km of white pebbles and sand, flanked by two headlands it is popular with families.
The water is clean, clear, and turquoise blue all year round. Some hotels and bars offer sunbeds and day beds for hire, but during our visit, they were closed so the beach remained totally peaceful and uninvaded.
Once you’ve had your fill of the beach, you can head up to Old Himare and the castle to enjoy the cooler air. This is by far my favourite part of the area and I will dedicate an entire post to what you can find there.
To really enjoy it, you need half a day to explore the cobbled streets, take photos, and stop for coffee/raki in some of the houses within.
I also highly recommend a stop at Homemade Products on the way into Himare city centre. Within this small shop is a huge selection of locally made delicacies, preserves, jams, syrups, and dried teas and herbs. The lady who runs the shop and makes most of the products is incredibly kind and helpful.
A short drive down the coast is the bay of Porto Palermo which is home to an old military base and the castle of Ali Pasha of Tepelene. The castle is in great condition and you can explore the many rooms and passages with, or without a knowledgeable local guide. The views from the top of the castle are unsurpassed. Entrance is 300 lek. You can then relax on the beach and stare across to the submarine base, wondering what sorts of mysterious goings of have occurred there over the years.
A bit further on from Porto Palermo is the seaside town of Qeparo. We had intended to visit Old Qeparo that sits on top of a hill behind the beach, but sadly our family car full of people broke down halfway up. I’ve been reliably informed there are a number of interesting places to stay, eat, and explore if you do make it to the top. If you don’t have access to a decent car, you can go by foot and it takes around 40 minutes at a medium pace.
Qeparo beach is less developed (in a good way) than some of its Albanian Riviera neighbours and it offers quiet relaxation with the same stunning surroundings.
Himare is a beautiful place- a place where you can relax, unwind, and enjoy exceptional hospitality from the locals. A must-see for anyone looking for the perfect beach holiday, Himare is great for families, solo travellers, and couples. Stay tuned for more articles about my trip to Himare and the people and places I came across during my time there!
These recommendations are based on my own genuine experiences and I did not receive payment or any freebies for mentioning any of these businesses.