Vlora is Albania's second largest seaport and also has a story to tell, made up of trade and seafarers, conquests and sieges, and kingdoms and governments that have succeeded so far. And always managing to retain a distinctive trait, that of heartily welcoming visitors. Like any self-respecting old seaport, Vlore is proud of its identity: a bridge between the Byzantine-Ottoman Empire and the rest of Europe for ages, it was also the city where the independence of Albania was proclaimed in 1912. The mild climate, lots of sunny days (over 250) during the year, and the natural beauty of its bay make it a natural tourist destination. It will be easy to find a hotel in Vlore, able to meet the needs of the most demanding tourists.2. Geographic position
Vlora coast lies in the south-western part of Albania, where the waters of two seas merge into each other: The southern Adriatic and the northern Ionian. By means of the Strait of Otranto, Vlora is the closest Albanian location to the Italian coast, at only 72 kilometres. Vlora is one of the districts with the biggest share of the Albanian coastline, lying from the mouth of the Vjosa River in the north to Qeparo in the south.3. How to arrive
By air: Through Mother Teresa Airport in Rinas, 135 km away. Foreign tourists may also fly to the Corfu Airport, and then take the boat to Saranda.
By sea: Vlora is a sea port, which is the destination of a lot of ferry lines, such as Vlora – Brindisi, Vlora – Bari, Vlora – Igumenitsa, Vlora – Corfu.
On land: 1. If coming from north, northeast and Tirana, you should drive by Durrës and then continue along the Rrogozhina – Lushnja – Fier – Vlora road. Here are some helpful indicative distances: Shkodra – Vlora (246 km), Tirana – Vlora (135 km), Durrës – Vlora (118 km), Fier – Vlora (34 km).
2. If coming from Greece, you can enter Albania at the following border crossing points: Kakavija, Tri Urat (Three Bridges) (near Përmet) or Qafë Botë (Bota Pass) (the most southern corner of Albania) Here are some helpful indicative distances: Kakavija – Vlora (164 km), Saranda – Vlora (133 km)
3. -If coming from Eastern Albania, Macedonia or Northern Greece (Kapshtica border checkpoint), then you can drive past Elbasan, Rrogozhinë and Fier, or take the following route: Korça, Erseka, Leskovik, Përmet, Këlcyra Gorge, Tepelena, Ballsh and Fier. Here are some helpful indicative distances: Qafë Thana (Thana Pass)-Vlora (268 km), Korça – Vlora (251 km).
Vlora is one of the most historic places in Albania. It has been used as a settlement since ancient times. The earliest settlement evidence date back to the 6th century BC. Four ancient towns were established in the Bay of Vlora during that period: Orikum, Thronion (Kanina), Triporti and Aulona. Each of them had its own history of birth, thriving and decline, and they all are proof of the ancient history of the region of Vlora. The oldest evidence of civilization has been found in Orikum, where you can still see the ruins of the ancient city that played a very important role in the civil war between Caesar and Pompey. The city was initially used by Pompey as a naval base for his military fleet, but it was then taken by Caesar in 48 BC. The city seems to have had a relatively significant economic development, as its first coins were minted as early as the 3rd century BC. In the Byzantine period and the Middle Ages, Orikum was mentioned by the name of Jericho. During the Ottoman period, in early 15th century, the Turks gave the city the name Pashaliman. Ancient Aulona and Vlora of today is the most important civic, commercial and tourist centre of the Albanian south-western coast. The most historic event for Vlora—and Albania—was the Declaration of Independence on 28 November 1912, when Ismail Qemali raised the Albanian national flag and established an independent government.
During numerous wars, Vlora played a decisive role in preserving land and maritime borders. One heroic war fought by the local population was the 1920 conflict with Italy, which represents one of the strongest resistances Albanians have made against Italians. In World War II, Vlora would become one of the most important centres of the Anti-Fascist National Liberation Movement. The liberation of Vlora from German troops took place on 15 October 1944. In 1990 the population of Vlora contributed to the fall of the dictatorship. Since then Vlora has developed rapidly, with tourism being in the spearhead of such economic growth.
Population: The District of Vlora population is about 230,000. They live in four towns and nine communes. Most of the population is concentrated along the coast.
Religion: Vlora is noted for the peaceful coexistence among various religion communities. Its population is dividend into Sunni Muslims, Bektashis and Orthodox Christians.
Economy: Vlora is on of the most important economic, trade and tourist centres in Albania. Notably, tourism, transport, trade and agriculture.6. Traditions and Customs
Traditional clothes: The Labëria woman’s traditional clothing includes dress. Çitjanet (billowing pantaloons that narrow at the ankles) came into use at a later period. Man’s traditional outfit was made of long shirts, fustanella (white pleated kilt that forms part of the Tosk ethnic costume for men), tirqet (traditional trusers with narrow legs) – either short or long, poturet (traditional white woollen pants worn by men in some Tosk regions, with a loose waist and narrow legs ending at the calf), qillotat (breeches that fit tightly below the knee), and the white fez with a small tassel. Opingat (clogs with leather soles and uppers) made of cow hide, or tanned hide shoe sole, with tassels, were initially worn as shoes.
Dances and songs: As part of the Albanian folk music it is characterised by the overlapping of two or more vocal or instrumental melody tunes, revealing counterpoints (horizontally) and harmonisations (vertically). The Labëria polyphony, as the most conservative tune across the Albanian territories, is entirely original and is rooted into late Illyrian ancient times. The Labëria polyphony is isopolyphony, in which all men or women drone an eeeeeee!!!!! This droned “e” represents the iso. With three voices joining in, which is a characteristic of the Labëria polyphony, the songs reveal two soloists: the song leader and the singer of the supporting voice. The group sings the iso. The Labëria polyphonic song is also accompanied by men’s and women’s dances.
Cusines: Vlora cooking is typical of the mountainous and coastal areas at the same time. It is built on fresh diary products from the herds of goats and crops growing on the mountains perched on the sea shore, where fresh grass and sea scent are ever present elements. Another characteristic of the Vlora cooking includes seafood, fish, mussels, shrimps, and lobsters. The typical drinks in Vlora include the raki and very tasteful buttermilk, a product of the very qualitative yoghurt.7. Place to visit
Attractions in Vlora
The National Independence: Museum was built at Skela in 1936 precisely in the building in which, on 28 November 1912, Albania was declared independent and the national flag was hoisted. It was at this building that, between 1912 and 1914, the Interim Government of Vlora conducted its activity. This Museum was Eqerem Bej Vlora’s house. Photos and different art objects echoing the Albanians’ efforts for freedom and independence are exhibited in the eight divisions of this Museum. The rooms where the first Albanian Prime Minister, Ismail Qemali, worked, the room where his Government convened in meetings, the handwritten documents of the time, the flag, the 1912-make camera, and the weapons kindle special interest. Everything in this building is as old as its 150-year old history. Visiting hours: Tuesday through Sunday. Closed: Monday Morning: 8:00-13:00, afternoon: 17:00-20:00 hrs Price of ticket: 100 lekë / 200 lekë for foreigners. Address: Sheshi “Pavarësia” (Pavarësia Square). Tel: + 355 (0) 33 229 419
Pashaliman situated at the Bay of Vlora about 150 km from Tirana, is one of the oldest Albanian seaports. It dates back to the Roman Empire. It was a military naval base during the Ottoman rule, and it was also used by the SSSR as the only naval military base in the Adriatic until Albania broke up with the Soviet Union in 1961. Four submarine boats, which are out of order, date back to that period. The Soviet-Albanian conflict in Pashaliman are described extensively in one of the works of the famous writer Ismail Kadare, Dimri i vetmisë së madhe (The Great Winter).
Paintings at the Lepenica Cave: (Overlooking the village of Lepenica). It is nestled at the foot of the mountain at 800 m above the sea-level. The paintings in this cave are representative of the post-Palaeolithic art, known as the most ancient art across Europe. The cave houses nineteen anthropomorphic figures, and eight geometric paintings. The figure of a man, who embodies cult and reverence to man, occupies central stage. This painting is thought to have come down from the 3rd Millennium B.C. One needs strong feet to reach up there. A mule hired from the local peasants would be a better possibility.
To the south, the Uji i Ftohtë coastal area grabs visitors’ attention once they are out of the city of Vlora. At this location, the coastline is typically rocky, and the mountains and the sea merge into one. Nearly 40 underground sources spring in this nearly 2-km long area, stretching as far as Jonufër. These typically karstic waters are formed in the hinterland, or at the sea-bottom, and crop up all along the coast, from Uji i Ftohtë at the tunnel entrance carrying the same name, down to Jonufër. These very suitable natural conditions have always earned Vlora a reputation as the most preferable area for holidays. Alongside the former holiday villas and resorts, numerous bars, restaurants and hotels at the service of tourism have been built here in recent years.
Past Jonufër, a wide area planted to olive- and citrus-trees, the expanded sea shore leads to the area featuring Radhima and Orikum. . The clear water, the gravely beaches with their typical white colour, the very beautiful seaside landscape with the mountains rising above the head, and the quietness away from the city are good enough motives for numerous holiday-makers to be attracted to this area. It may be said that this area is currently mostly preferred by visitors who choose to go on vacation to the Vlora Bay. The road ends up at the town of Orikum. This is a town with a long history behind it. Visitors will be impressed by two things: the boom of tourist constructions, and several buildings distributed along the lanes of the towns, which look like coming from another epoch. These are the wooden cottages used by the Soviet officers who used to live here until 1961, when profound contradictions surfaced between Enver Hoxha and Khrushchev. It was precisely this location, the Pashaliman base, which represented the advanced post of the Warsaw Treaty towards the West. Visitors keen to hear dramatic stories related to the Cold War should look for some old military in town. A magnificent beach lies only several metres away from the town. It is worth taking a dive into the marvellous blue waters.
A National Park, Llogara represents one of the most beautiful spots in Albania. Its total surface of 1020 ha is immersed in ever greenery. It is considered a classical location offering a biological equilibrium between the botanical and animal worlds. Beautiful meadows, numerous natural water springs and different kinds of animals and game are found inside its forests. It is precisely one of its most beautiful parts, situated at the heart of Llogara, which hosts its tourist resort. Visitors bound to the Palasa beach should leave the main road at the bridge and take to the right. Even though not paved, small cars can also make it. Megalihora and Jaliskar feature among the main beaches at Palasa. The village itself is wrapped up by a gigantic crown of olive- and citrus-trees, which imparts it a magnificent image. A short walk further down the village takes visitors to the Dhërmi beach, which is one of the biggest beaches on the Ionian coastline. The length and width of this beach, the clean water and the sand, the serenity and greenery – all of these together provide ideal conditions for sunbathing and holidays. A trip from Dhërmi to the Cave of Pirates on board of a number of private boats may offer visitors another pleasure. The Gjipe Bay, a wonderful beach nearly 20 m wide and 800 m long, is located further down. This is a unique opportunity to admire virgin nature. A road sign nearly 6 km down the main road gives directions how to reach another well-known beach, that of Jal. Recently, it has been one of the most populated beaches. A tourist compound offering all the required services to its occupants is found there. Further down, southwards, is Himara. This is traditionally the centre of the whole area of the Ionian Coastline. The first beach at Himara is nestled at the foot of the Castle. It is called the Beach of Livadh. The Monastery of Athal also features in the same area. A visit to the Cave of Kardin will surely remind visitors of Homer and Odyssey’s adventures. Himara is nothing other than Chimera mentioned in the ancient epos.
The Spille Peninsula, a magnificent beach, is located further down southwards. A lot of surprises lie in ambush in the area. One of them is the Llaman Bay, a small bay discerned from the road. Curiosity would drive visitors into taking the downward slope.
Sazan Island – Karaburun
A boat trip to the Sazan Island and the Karaburun Peninsula would make the stay in Vlora very special. It is roughly a one-hour long trip, departing either from Vlora Sea-port, or the small harbour in the area of Plazhi i Ri. A first stop during the trip is scheduled on the Sazan Island, and the next on the shores of the Karaburun Peninsula. Sailing by boat around them allows visitors to admire the beautiful and unique landscapes, which are reflected on the blue waters of the sea.