Velipoje beach is the Northernmost beach in Albania, located approx. 30 km from Shkoder town close to the border with Montenegro.
It’s usually spelled as Velipoje or Velipoja in English, and Velipojë in Albanian.
After falling in love with Shkoder town for a week, I decided to spend a few days on the beach, too. The closest beach from Shkoder is Velipoje and as I’d heard a lot about it from the Shkoder locals, I simply had to visit.
Many locals love Velipoje but they also warned me that there would be almost nothing left open and nothing to do off-season there. For me, that was not a problem. On the contrary, it was a benefit. My introverted soul could enjoy some peace and quiet there.
I went to Velipoje long after the end of the summer season, in fall (since the 30th October to 6th November 2022).
My first 4 days there the weather was collaborating very well so I could enjoy the Velipoje beach, go for a swim in the sea and even sunbathe. Then the last 2 days it was cloudy, windy and even with a lot of rain.
Velipoje location and facts
Velipoje is situated on the estuary of the only navigable river of Albania, the Buna river. In fact, the Buna river is constituting the natural border of Albania with Montenegro. The Buna flows into the Adriatic Sea just Northwest of Velipoje.
Velipoje is a village in Northwestern Albania. Since 2015 it’s a subdivision of the Shkoder municipality.
- Velipoje has a wide beach that’s almost 5 km long (between Derdhja e Bunes in the North and Këneta e Vilunit in the South).
- About 250 sunny days a year make it a perfect beach location.
- Since mid-May the air temperatures rise above 20°C. Surprisingly, it was 22 to 24°C during the day when I was there the last days of October, too.
- The Velipoje beach is a favorite beach of Northern Albanians.
- High-quality sand and shallow sea make it particularly suitable for families with children, and people who are scared of deep water.
- It’s a sort of a bay so the Adriatic sea there is usually rather calm and with no big waves.
How to get to Velipoje
There’s a couple of options to get to Velipoje.
- Hitchhiking, or you need a rental car, or you can take a public minivan from Shkoder or Lezhe.
- Velipoje can be reached in approx. 30 to 50 minutes by minivan from Shkoder. The minivans have a sign “Velipoje” and can be found in “Sheshi Demokracia” in front of the Theatre (Teatri Migjeni). There’s no official departure schedule so the bus drivers usually wait for a few passengers to board. Sometimes they even wait until all the seats on the minivan are taken. When I wanted to take a van from Shkoder to Velipoje, I had to wait on the sidewalk for more than 90 minutes until the van was full and we could depart.
- The minivans run more often during summer than the rest of the year.
- Before getting off the minivan, you need to pay cash directly to the driver in Albanian lek. The fee per person in November 2022 was 200 lek (at that time that was approx. 1.72 eur).
- There’s no bus station in Velipoje. Just a street stop next to the Velipoja park on the street Rruga Ura e Gjon Lulit Plazh.
- if you know the street where you need to go in Velipoje, and it’s one of the streets Rruga nr. 1 to nr. 7 which are located before the main bus stop, just tell the driver the number of the street so he can stop there for you to jump off. In that case you wouldn’t need to get off at the last stop at the main square and then walk from there with all your baggage. Street in Albanian is rruga and you can just show the number of the street to the driver with your fingers.
- The van drivers might not speak any English.
- I am not sure if there are any taxis in Velipoje during July and August, I assume there are, but I saw NO taxis during my fall visit.
- I hitchhiked on the way back from Velipoje to Shkoder. I walked with my suitcase to Rruga Shkoder – Velipoje, and waited there. When after 40 windy minutes no minivan passed that way (and yes, that’s the road where they do pass), I hitchhiked cars together with an elder local man who was also waiting there on the side of the road. Another local man from Shkoder drove us both to the Shkoder city center. I do not speak any Albanian, the two of them spoke no English but the car driver spoke Italian so we could communicate what was needed.
- Albania is Albania, you know, and I am sure some of you heard some negative stories when it comes to hitchhiking or safety, especially for women. But personally, I felt really safe in Velipoje, Shkoder and Tirana. I would have not hitchhiked otherwise. Having said that, use your common sense, please.
Where to stay in Velipoje
As you can imagine, most hotels are closed off–season. The same goes for restaurants and shops.
I rented a lovely modern apartment Blue Coral situated close to the street number 3 (Rruga nr. 3) just a minute walking from the beach. That part of Velipoje is usually more quiet than the city center. However, I am not sure what time they close the rooftop bar next to the apartment building in summer months. And if you could hear the noise from there or not. But during my visit the rooftop bar was closed.
The apartment had everything I needed: clean, hot shower water, a bedroom with a big bed and a bunk bed (it could fit 4 people), and a kitchen with living room. The wifi worked well in the kitchen, living room and also at the terrace.
The apartment is located approx. 15 to 20 min walk from the main square, Velipoja park and supermarkets. There’s a nice view of the beach and Velipoja village from the rooftop. The apartment owner is a nice elder Albanian lady who speaks basic English.
Unfortunately, I was not very lucky with other tourists renting the apartment above me as they were noisy in the middle of the night, but other than that, renting the apartment was a great idea.
What to do on Velipoje beach off–season
- Enjoy the beach with very few other people.
- Go for a walk along the beach.
- Go for a walk, jog or cycle along the promenade.
- Watch the sunrise or sunset on the beach.
- Check the sand statues next to the restaurant 407.
- Read a book, listen to a podcast, or do some yoga, meditation or pranayama at the beach.
- Walk around the mini Velipoje park in city centre.
- Just chill and spend time alone.
- Walk to the Buna river delta (Derdhja e Bunes). Remember to bring potable water with you.
- Walk to the Southern side of the Velipoje beach to the Lagoon of Viluni (Këneta e Vilunit in Albanian), also commonly known as the Lagoon of Velipoje.
- You can observe birds, butterflies and dragon flies around Velipoje. I could see many of them even when sunbathing on the beach.
- I haven’t been there but I heard about 2 other lovely places close by. If you have a car, or would like to try hitchhiking, then go to the south of Velipoje to the marvelous beach of Rana e Hedhun.
- Even further South another splendid beach can be found – Shëngjin beach. Thanks to its fine sand and more than 200 sunny days per year, Shëngjin beach is another local favorite beach.
More tips about Velipoje beach off-season:
- it’s better to have Albanian lek money in cash and not just euros/dollars etc. Please exchange them BEFORE getting to Velipoje as exchange offices in Velipoje will most probably be closed off–season. When I was there, I did not find any place to exchange money there.
- Some restaurants accept cards and/or euro but not all of them. For example La Maroja restaurant does accept cards. And to be honest, that was the only restaurant I found open when walking around the beach and the village the first week of November. It’s a nice restaurant with fast wifi, and the food looks good there as well. I tasted only grilled veggies with chips as that was the only vegan meal they had off-season.
- Local grocery stores are more expensive in Velipoje than in Shkoder. Some fresh fruit and vegetables are one third more expensive, or even double price than in Shkoder. As I thought it would be like that, I brought some food with me from Shkoder for the first 2 days in Velipoje.
- The only market I found open when I visited the village was the Klejdi market at the main square close to the minibus stop.
- If you need to buy/use anything special during your stay in Velipoje, bring it to Velipoje with you. There’s no big supermarkets in there.
- Get ready for many mosquitoes EVERYWHERE.
- There’s a couple of street dogs but not too many. I didn’t find them angry and most of the time they paid no attention to me.
- As far as I know, the Velipoje beach gets crowded and loud in summer months (July and August mostly) but not before and after that. The sea water is too cold for Albanians which is why the beach is rather empty off-season. Do expect many sun umbrellas during the summer but none on the beach are left off–season.
- As the Velipoje beach was pretty wild until just a few years ago, there’s small wild spiky plants with thorns growing between the promenade and the sea. So be careful when walking towards the sea as you might step on them. I always prefer to walk barefoot on sand (and any natural material over man-made) but because of the thorns in the sand it’s better to walk along the pavements.
What I did not enjoy in Velipoje
Velipoje is a lovely place, indeed. But there are a few things I did not personally like there.
- The area is full of mosquitoes. Just very close to the sea there were few, or none, but everywhere else loads of hungry mosquitoes didn’t stop feeding on me even when I was walking fast. Thankfully, I had mosquito nets in my apartment but I still had to be very quick when opening and closing the main door in order to keep all the mosquitoes out of the apartment.
- The beach was full of rubbish. The closer to the downtown, the more trash on the beach. It was cleaner in the Northern part of the beach where I stayed but still…
- It’s heart-breaking to see a lovely beach destroyed by so much trash.
I really hope that the official tourism office together with people working in tourism in Velipoje (hotels, restaurants etc.) will realize they should keep the beach clean. And at the same time I really wish all the tourists visiting Velipoje would understand they should NEVER leave trash on the beach ever. And not just there, but nowhere else except trash bins. Please people, be responsible and intelligent.
Despite of mosquitoes and beach litter, I did enjoy Velipoje beach off-season a lot. I love peaceful places like that. Not sure if I’d like it there also in summer though. I am not into crowded places and parties.
TIP: If you’d like to check more photos from Velipoje beach and the village itself, click on my album with Velipoje photos.
Have you ever been to Albania? What do you think about the country?