ALBANIA yacht charter – Discover the hidden gem of the Balkans

There are few unspoilt corners of the Mediterranean left to explore, but ...

ALBANIA yacht charter – Discover the hidden gem of the Balkans

August 30, 2023

Written by Rachel Kelly

There are few unspoilt corners of the Mediterranean left to explore, but Albania is just that and lies where the Adriatic and Ionian seas converge. Albania yacht charter vacations offer new, unprecedented destinations, charming coastal towns, expanding coastlines, natural beauty and incredible history to discover while enjoying all the comforts of your own vessel.  

Albania - Saranda

Albania – Saranda

Much of the mystery surrounding this country, which borders Montenegro in the North and Greece in the South, is due to its isolation during the communist era, a regime that only collapsed in 1991. In the years since the fall of communism, tourism has increased dramatically in some parts of the Balkans, but until relatively recently Albania maintained its modesty.

Now, as an official candidate for EU membership, Albania has begun to attract visitors looking for unassuming destinations away from some of the livelier and pricey Mediterranean countries and resorts. Albania has lots to offer along its 476km coastline which hosts myriad sandy beaches lined on one side by blue water and on the other by lines of Cypress trees.

Aboard O'EVA superyacht available for charter in the Eastern Mediterranean

Aboard O’EVA superyacht available for charter in the Eastern Mediterranean

Like all the great coastal countries, Albania boasts its own Riviera in the south of the country which runs from Vlore down to Saranda … perfect for exploring by luxury yacht charter. The southern city of Vlorë is known as the city of “sea and sun” and is one of the most developed tourist areas of the country, its beaches having been revamped with contemporary hotels, bars, cafés, restaurants, and nightclubs. The beach area begins directly south of the city, along the shores of the Bay of Vlorë from where visitors can travel south to Orikum Marina, the recently created yacht harbour and the perfect starting point for a charter vacation. 

Sarande by night - Albania

Sarande by night – Albania

South of Vlore, the rocky and undulating Ionian coast offers one beautiful sandy bay after another with plenty of opportunity for kayakers and paddle boarders to get up close to the cliffs, caves and beaches. Most yachts come equipped with all the gear needed plus local crew to help navigate the landscape. A day ashore might be spent enjoying a beach picnic with games for the kids and cooling cocktails for the adults. Leisurely evenings anchored close to shore afford the opportunity to sit back and relax while savouring delicious local cuisine created by the onboard chef.

The streets of Gjirokaster in Albania

The streets of Gjirokaster in Albania

The aroma of fresh coffee drifts across the deck as charter guests begin another day in this peaceful paradise and continue the journey down the coast stopping at the spectacular Gjipe Beach, formed by a creek within a deep canyon. The captain may also recommend anchoring in Porto Palermo, a beautiful unspoilt bay and home to Porto Palermo Castle which is perched on a small island connected to the mainland by a small strip of land. The now-ruined castle was built by Ali Pasha Tepelena, a 19th-century Albanian ruler and Ottoman warlord and is a popular visitor attraction with stunning sea views.

Berat in Albania

Berat in Albania

For those ready for something livelier, but not as chaotic as a major city, look no further than the town of Himarë which offers a seaside promenade, plentiful Greek-style tavernas and an old town, built on the hill, which bears the marks of a rich history. End the day with a hike up to Himarë Castle, an impressive bronze age citadel, with spectacular sunset views over the sea and nearby islands, before returning to the yacht for a nightcap.

Lovers of history can find more to explore in Sarandë, where Lëkurësi Castle looms high on the clifftop and is worth visiting for the views alone. A final stop on a yacht charter vacation on Albania’s Riviera must include Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Ramsar Wetland Site of International Importance. The park blends history and wildlife perfectly with the ruins of the Ancient Roman City of Buthrotum side by side with hundreds of animal, bird and marine species. In the west of the park, the remote and rocky islands of Ksamil are only accessible by boat and are home to short-beaked and bottlenose dolphins. The crew can take guests on a tour of the area on board the yacht’s tender, in the hope of spotting a pod of these playful creatures.

UNESCO - Gjirokaster in Albania

UNESCO – Gjirokaster in Albania

There are plenty of yachts which now include Albania on their itineraries and there is a choice of both sailing and motor yachts. Charters during the warmest and driest months of July and August will find temperatures in the mid-late 20s and very little rain. Sailing yachts may perform better in the spring and autumn shoulder seasons when the conditions are slightly windier than the height of summer.

When preparing for a yacht charter it is important to consider weather conditions, local customs and religions plus your chosen itinerary. Albanians are renowned for their hospitality and are eager to share their culture with visitors so don’t be surprised if you’re invited to join in a lively local celebration. However, away from the beaches, it may be considerate to dress more modestly and visitors to religious sites should cover up appropriately. Those who plan to explore ruins and hike on rocky coastal tracks should bring sturdy footwear, a hat and plenty of water as it can get very hot, particularly in the middle of the day. It can be cool on deck at night when anchored offshore, so be sure to bring something long-sleeved to keep warm while enjoying leisurely evenings on board.

Island in Albania

Island in Albania

It takes less than an hour to reach Corfu from the southern tip of Albania, so it makes a great addition to a charter for those lucky enough to have time to extend their holiday. For even longer cruises, why not consider the Ionian Islands of Kefalonia and Zakynthos?

This authentic part of the Mediterranean won’t stay quiet for long, so contact us now for a personalised list of charter yachts available in the Eastern Mediterranean, Albania and the Ionian Islands … your next great travel story awaits.

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