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Most people probably picture the Maldives, the Greek Isles, or the Caribbean when they imagine a picture-perfect island getaway. Nevertheless, there is a less traveled road in the Balkans that begs the daring and the inquisitive to come along. The Albanian islands are like that unanticipated bonus track on your favorite album—the kind of thing you may not have thought you needed until you found it.

Along with its fascinating history and hilly landscape, Albania is home to a coastline that tells stories of long-gone sailors, secret coves, and turquoise seas. Located in the center of the Mediterranean, Albania has a beautiful coastline that is sometimes overlooked by its more famous neighbors, such as Greece, Montenegro, and Italy. Nevertheless, the result is an unmatched beauty born of its unprocessed state.

There is a welcome variation to the marketed or well-charted tourist destinations along the coasts of most other countries along Albania’s coast. Unexpected meets untouched here. Imagine towering cliffs, the Ionian Sea as a background, remote sandy coves that tourists haven’t touched in years, and crystal-purple seas that might pass for the sky on a perfect day.

1. Sazan Islands

Sazan Islands, Albania

Sazan Island is the first island on our Albanian bucket list. Have you ever questioned if Europe is devoid of hashtags? Allow us to reveal the secret: Sazan Island. Sazan, the biggest and, may we say, most interesting island in Albania, lies tucked away at the entrance of the Bay of Vlorë.

With a total area of around 5.7 square kilometers, you may believe a short trip would be plenty. Oh, absolutely not! Sazan has an abundance of tales to tell. Remember the Cold War, when this idyllic island was a clandestine military installation. What a fantastical vacation story! Just picture yourself lying on a beach by the ruins of a bunker.

Nevertheless, let us discuss the current. Besides its fascinating history, Sazan is a veritable treasure trove of natural beauty. Imagine underwater caverns that dolphins may as well call home and olive orchards that have seen the passing of ages. This island excursion is unlike any other.

2. Kunë Island

Kune Island, Albania

Would you like to visit an island that is a paradise for beach bums and birdwatchers? Kune Island is the place to be. Located in the delta of the Drin River, this island isn’t likely to be included on every Albanian postcard, but it should be!

Delightfully juxtaposing sandy stretches with densely wooded regions, Kune Island gently sprawls over 4.2 square kilometers. The beach, ocean, and sun may all be tempting, but the bird show is the show’s true star. Kune is like an ornithological symphony, with pelicans rehearsing their graceful dives and curlews serenading the daybreak.

However, this story has an unexpected turn. Unlike the more touristic Albanian islands, the Kune island’s interior is the place for a leisurely stroll. Imagine a typical Albanian fisherman, his eyes filled with tales of the island’s history, throwing his net among the whispering willows and rustling reeds.

3. Malsore Island

Malsore Island, Albania

Has the idea of finding a secret treasure that no one has spoken about before ever crossed your mind? A place where stories are as enticing as the waves are Malsore Island. Located on the coast of Albania, Malsore is a hidden gem that few tourists have heard about.

Malsore has an air of subtle beauty despite not being the biggest or most showy of Albania’s islands. Imagine rocky shores contrasting with gentle sandy beaches, with each bend in the shore telling a story of a different age. Unspoiled nature, a welcome rarity in our contemporary society, is Malsore’s essence.

4. Shurdhah Island

Shurdhah Island, Albania

Shurdhah is one of Albania’s most distinctive islands, situated in the expansive basin of Lake Shkodër, the country’s biggest lake. The underwater beauty of the seas around the island of Shurdhah and the remnants of the medieval town of Sarda are the island’s most notable attractions.

Scuba diving and snorkeling in Shurdhah is like plunging into a live history book because a significant portion of the historic town is submerged due to extended seismic activity. From Shkodër, you may board a local boat that will transport you to the island of Shurdhah by crossing the lake’s glistening waters.

5. Stillo Island

Stillo Island, Albania

When you hear “Albanian island,” pictures of sun-kissed coastlines and glistening beaches surely pop into your head. Allow us to present you with Stillo Island. This locale not only follows a distinct beat but also has its very own jazz ensemble.

Even though it’s quite close to the mainland, Stillo isn’t a beach vacation spot. Imagine instead Albania’s warm and welcoming corner, where the passing of time is as easy as sipping a cup of coffee. Despite the tranquil sound of its name, this island is full of exciting stories.

Among Stillo’s many attractions is its thriving craft community. Here, traditional arts and crafts like weaving, pottery, and more are more than simply pastimes; they are a way of life. As you go about, you’ll see people deeply engaged in their crafts, giving you a real-life glimpse into Albanian customs.

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