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12 Awesome Things to do in Vlore

Vlore is the third biggest city in Albania by population. It is a city that’s also said to be the most ancient settlement in Albania. Today it’s the center of Vlore County and serves as an important part of Albanian history. As the city is located on the shore of the Adriatic sea in southern Albania, it’s also a popular tourist destination. Discover the top things to do in Vlore with TopFlightsNow to enjoy a vacation full of sunshine and history.

Whenever you are visiting Vlore, you can have a great time discovering the popular things to see. However, above all, you will have the Adriatic very close, which means amazing beaches and tons of sunshine. When you are ready to learn about the history of the country and Vlore you can start visiting museums and monuments around town.

What is the best time to visit Vlore?

Vlore as a coastal town is easy to recommend during summer. You will have plenty of sunny days to spend on the beach. Summer is the perfect season when you are looking for a beach holiday in Albania. You can enjoy the sea and still find time to explore the local attractions and things to see in Vlore.

Autumn and Spring are okay times to visit Vlore. You will still have some sunny days and due to the southern location, the temperatures will be mild. However, swimming in the sea is not guaranteed in these months. Luckily, Vlore is full of life and history. You use the milder temperatures to explore the city and the surrounding area without burning in the summer sun.

During winter Vlore can be an option for a weekend getaway. This is especially true for people living further up north. The temperatures rarely get below 5 Celsius even during winter, which means you can have a pleasant time sightseeing. Do note, however, that winter is very much the peak off-season, which means that apart from high-profile tourist spots like museums, most things stay closed.

How to get to Vlore?

The closest airport to Vlore is the Tirana international airport. Whenever you are planning a vacation in this city you will need to book a flight to Tirana. Luckily the airport of Tirana is a huge international airport. You will have no difficulties in finding a flight to Tirana.

From Triana, it takes about 2 hours and 30 minutes to drive to Vlore. For this, you would need to rent a car at the airport. If you plan to explore more of Albania on your holiday it’s a good thing to have a car ready for you anyway, so renting is recommended.

Another option is to take a direct shuttle from the airport to Vlore. Luckily these run every couple of hours and should take a similar time to reach the city than driving. If you don’t think you will need a car on your holiday, then this is a great cheap option.

At the time of writing, there are already plans in place to establish a brand new airport in Vlore. If and when it gets built, it will definitely be the best way to get to Vlore.

The Top Things to do in Vlore

Now that we have covered the essentials it’s time to get into the interesting places to see in Vlore. You will find many activities on our list that will cater to any need such as learning about history, going to the beach, or other outdoor activities. Vlore is an amazing city with plenty to do, so let’s dive into it!

1. Go to the beach

We have already mentioned that the city is a great summer destination, so it’s only natural to start our things to do in Vlore list at the beach. When you come here during the summer you will be able to get your tan on and enjoy the ever so beautiful Adriatic sea.

If you are looking to stay inside Vlore and still grab some time on the beach, your best bet is Plazhi i Ri. This beach can be found stretching on the south coast of the city. It is without question the main beach of the city with many amenities, bars, restaurants, and a general lively atmosphere. It’s a scenic patch of sandy beach, which can get a little bit crowded during the high season.

Another beach that’s worth checking out is Hidrovor Beach. Although you have to get out of the city to find it, it’s one of the most amazing beaches in the area. Imagine a huge sandy beach stretching for miles on the coast. This is Hidrovor Beach. It’s a laid-back place, with only a couple of bars and restaurants so to be covered for the day it’s best to bring some food and drinks of your own.

Vlore Beach
Picture by Flickr user bledi_

2. Independence Monument

Vlore poses as one of the most important cities in Albanian history. This is the city where Albania’s independence was born and it was established as its own country. Today you can pay respect to this moment when you visit the Independence Monument. The monument was constructed in 1972 to mark Albania’s independence from the Ottoman Empire in 1912. 

You can find the monument sitting across Flag’s Square in its own little park dotted with pine trees and palm trees. Walking around the park you will also discover the statue and grave of modern Albania’s founder and the remains of the old city wall.

Vlore Independence Monument
Picture by Flickr user etrusko25

3. Museum of National Independence

When you are ready to learn more about Albania’s journey to its independence, you can head over to the Museum of National Independence, located down at the ports. This museum was created in 1936 as the first museum in Albania. The building for the museum was chosen by its significance: this is the building that the first-ever Albanian government used after the country’s independence.

It’s a small museum that you can see in around 30-40 minutes. Due to the convenient location at the beach, you can even include it on one of your beach days for a quick visit. Inside you will be able to learn about the first government, the independence declaration, and the history that lead Albania to its own independence.

4. Muradie Mosque

This mosque was built in 1537 by the Ottoman Empire. This old religious building is the main mosque of Vlore. A sight worth seeing, that managed to stand the test of time. It has survived many rulers, many empires, and even the communist times in Albania, which were well known for demolishing religious buildings.

Today it’s not just the main mosque of the city, but also a very important sight and a reminder of the past. It’s a building that can’t be missing from your things to do in Vlore itinerary.

Mosque in Vlore
Picture by Flickr user Julien Seguinot

5. Ethnographic Museum

Another great museum to visit if you want to better understand the culture and history of Albania is the Ethnographic museum found in Vlore. You will be treated with relics and archeological find of the past from the region. You can check out how the people of Vlore lived before modern ages. It’s a great little museum to learn more about the locals.

6. Kuzum Baba and Tempulli Bektashian

Kuzum Baba is the location you want to visit when you are looking to get the best views of Vlore. It can be found on the hillside surrounding the city. The Kuzum Baba is actually the highest point in the city, making it a must-see on the things to do on the Vlore list.

When you have taken in the amazing city view, you can marvel at the beautiful religious building erected for Father Kuzum, a spiritual leader. According to local legends he is buried somewhere on the hillside, in an unmarked grave. 

A short walk from Kuzum Baba will also take you to the Bektashi temple of Vlore. It was built in the early 1600s. It’s an impressive building and one of the most significant Bekatashi centers in Albania.

7. Aulona Luna Park

If you are looking for family activities or attractions you should consider visiting Aulona Luna Park. It’s located towards the port of Vlore and is a very light theme park. There are only a couple of attractions, however, as a family activity, it will keep the children occupied for some time. There are no big rollercoasters or thrill rides. It’s a gentle theme park aimed mainly at small children.

8. Vlore Old Town

One thing you can’t skip is the Vlora Old Town. It’s located near the independence monument and is rather small. However, as soon as you set foot in the historical old town, you will be transformed to another era. While some parts of Vlore can feel like a tourist resort town, especially the beach areas, the old town maintains its charm.

The huge hotels and residential buildings are not present here. It’s all small two or three-floor homes, built mainly in a charming mix of Albanian and Mediterranean architecture. It’s no secret that as Italy is just on the other side of the Adriatic from Vlore, their culture had left a great impression in these parts of Albania.

Vlore Old Town
Albinfo, CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

9. Enjoy the unique local cuisine

Following the footsteps of Italian influence, you will find an amazingly unique cuisine in Vlore. They are pretty good at making Italian dishes, especially pizza which will taste extremely similar to the Italian version. As coastal town seafood is also abundant and the Albanian cooks make an amazing job in making shrimp or small sea fish taste amazing. Whenever you are in Vlore, you should not leave without trying the local seafood meals.

10. St Mary’s Monastery

This amazing religious place is also known as Zvernec Monastery. You can find it to the north of Vlore, located on an island within the Narta Lagoon. It’s an extremely unique monastery to visit on your holiday. To get there you will have to walk a small wooden pathway taking you over the water and into the island.

On the island, you will be able to see a Byzantine-style monastery from the 1300s. There are also some small paths going around the island that you can walk and enjoy some nature. It’s a truly off-the-beaten-path experience, where it’s not uncommon to only meet a few tourists. Perfect destination if you want to get away from the crowds.

11. Kanine Castle

Traveling towards the south from Vlore you will be able to visit Kanine Castle. It’s a thing to do in Vlore for those who like ruins and old military structures. Truth to be told, only a few walls and bricks remain from the once glorious castle in the hills. 

Still, as you reach the castle you will be able to tell how the walls were laid onto the ground and how it once defended the region. There is some small text which will tell the story of the castle.

Another reason people come to visit the Kanine Castle is the view. Standing on a hill will give you a great view of Vlore, the sea, and the surrounding mountains. It’s a spectacular place that you should include on any of your day trips.

Kanine Castle
Nikol Likja, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

12. Sazan Island

Sazan Island is a mysterious place. It was an old military complex not open to the public until 2015, the Albanian government decided to open it up to tourism. The island proves as an amazing day trip location. For starters, it has some great beaches which are much less crowded than the ones in mainland Albania. 

Additionally, it’s an old Soviet military island. This means there are tons of abandoned military buildings and tunnels spanning across it. If you are someone who likes to explore such buildings you can venture out and find an entire abandoned military complex. Just note that due to the bad state of the buildings it can be quite dangerous to explore them and TopFlightsNow does not recommend going near or into any old military objects on the island.

How many days to spend in Vlore?

It depends on the season you choose for your holiday in Vlore. If you are traveling during summer we recommend at least a week-long vacation. This way you will have time to relax on the beach and still check out every major attraction or maybe do some day trips.

On the other hand, if you are traveling in the off-season or planning a longer Albania itinerary 2 or 3 days should be enough to see everything. This means it’s a good destination for a weekend getaway if you are longing for a vacation without taking any days off from work.

An Unusual Vacation

As you can tell from our travel guide, there are plenty of things to do in Vlore. It can serve as a great and unusual vacation spot for you. Due to the easy beach access, it’s perfect for both individuals, couples, or families. There are many places to explore in and out of Vlore. What’s great is that Albania is yet to be discovered as a popular destination, meaning that you will not yet see the typical touristy prices on food and accommodation.

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