Dhermi and Llogara Pass all the way to the town of Vlora were the last points on our itinerary along the Albanian riviera. Going North, we left behind Ksamil, Blue Eye Spring, Himare and my favorite, hidden beaches in Albania - Jala and Ghipe. We already knew Albania is a paradise for those who love unspoiled nature and we just wanted to relax for the last part of the journey. And once more, this little unknown country had another surprise for us - the unbelievable mountainous views all the way to the turquoise, tropical looking Ionian Sea.
Dhermi is a scenic village, located right before the mountainous Llogara Pass, between Himare and Vlora. From Jala beach, it takes only takes a 20 minutes drive to reach Dhermi. On the way, you'll see a tiny town full of rock houses, called Vuno. Public transport can be confusing but I'm sure there is a way to travel from Dhermi to Jala - especially now when Albania is getting slightly more recognition.
We've been traveling along the coast in Albania, and mostly (although not always) near the sea level. Now, we've started entering the highlands and the village of Dhermi turned out to be the most picturesque of all along the Albanian riviera. Stop there for lunch, walk around and sit somewhere near the edge of the town. Here, you can admire the hills which are way greener now and together with the extremely bright, clear sea create a perfect postcard view.
After visiting the village, we drove down the coast and reached Dhermi beach. There are two long, pebble beaches near Dhermi - one which bears the same name (Dhermi) and right beside it, there's another - called Drymades.
As usual in Albania, the water was extremely clear and as beautiful as in the tropics. The beaches were very long and wide. I prefer small coves surrounded by rocks, so those long strands of sand are not my favorites. However, their real striking beauty is easily noticeable from a bird's eye perspective - you can experience that while driving up the winding roads of Llogara Pass.
Near the northern end of Drymades beach, we found the best spot ever - cliffs with a short trail and extremely attractive beaches - just like in Ghipe (see the previous part).
Little beaches were surrounded with white limestone cliffs on top of which you could notice the infamous, ugly bunkers overlooking the paradise beneath. Those disintegrating bunkers all along the Albanian coast are an interesting feature of this country. You can spot them everywhere.
Along the Drymades beach, we've noticed some sunbeds and a few restaurants with amazing food, but the whole place doesn't even come close to what you see in Greece or Spain, where the beaches are crowded to the maximum and the only thing you see is the back of the seat of the person sunbathing in front of you.
But when you climb the cliffs, any signs of human activity end - it's completely empty all around and it seems you're on a desert island where nobody's foot has ever stepped on. Again - it feels like all this paradise is just for yourself - no drunk westerners pissing in the water (like in Thailand), no noise and no rubbish. Jut like on your own, private beach.
The only people we've seen there was a family enjoying the sun. We found our own little beach and spent some time there.
If you ever visit Dhermi beach and it's too crowded in the summer, go over to the little cliff walk and you'll find a perfect, quiet spot for yourself.
After having a relaxing afternoon, we started climbing up the mountains of Llogara Pass. It's surprising how quickly the climate and flora change - we left behind rocky cliffs and it became greener and greener. The air was cooler and crispier. The bare slopes were now covered with forests of pine and other trees resembling cedars.
But the best part was where we stopped - near the abandoned, crumbling bunker which was way bigger than the other ones. It was the remnant of the communist regime that had once been in power in Albania. But as ugly as it is, it's also interesting and it's a perfect viewing platform over the Ionian cost - those two aforementioned beaches (Dhermi and Drymades) reveal their true colors (literally) from this perspective.
Long strands of white pebbles and perfectly turquoise sea with very little human activity around - it's one of those views you won't forget easily. Unfortunately, photos can't show the distance, space, greatness and sheer size of this site in full.
Vlora was the last town we've seen in Albanian Riviera - the sea is absolutely perfect and the surrounding mountains bring even more charm to the area.
However, Vlora is seemingly a typical touristic site and it's crowded with people. Nevertheless, it's still quite authentic as most of the visitors are locals - from Albania or Kosovo. If you prefer more lively places, Vlora would be a good option for you.
Vlora wasn't the last town we visited along the whole coast in Albania. More to the north, where the Ionian Sea ends and the Adriatic starts, lies Durres - a port city filled with huge concrete hotels packed tightly along the beach which doesn't even come close to the pristine beaches of southern Albania. The sand is brown and the water murky and grey.
It's a typical place for tourists who just want to stay in hotels and at the swimming pools. I truly disliked it and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone as all the other places in Albania were million times better - pure paradise. It's a total surprise for me why Durres is the most popular place in Albania.
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