Palermo's Bay, Albania

Porto Palermo Castle is a small fortress on Mt. Llogara in Southern Albania. It is situated in the bay of Porto Palermo, a few kilometers south of Himare along the Albanian Riviera and overlooks the rugged coastline of the Ionian Sea.

Albania's Bay of Porto Palermo, its castle and its deep blue waters are one of the country's top tourist attractions, featured on European newspaper and Internet lists of places to visit for those with a taste of adventure. Huffington Post ranked Porto Palermo first among 15 Undiscovered European Destinations for 2014.

Once host to military vessels and submarines, Porto Palermo was closed to the public under Enver Hoxha who was the socialist leader of Albania for forty years until 1984.

Porto Palermo opened a couple of years after communism ended in 1991 and Albania began its white-knuckle ride to capitalism.

Nowadays, the bay takes its appeal from its seclusion, situated just below a two-lane coastal road and is as inviting to foreigners as it was once forbidden. German, Czech and Hungarian tourists lose no time in stripping off and bathing naked. No one bothers them as the area is uninhabited.

Just down the road, a tiny isthmus reaches out to a round rocky island, between two capes embracing the blue waters on both sides. On the island sits a castle believed by some to have been built by the Ottoman Albanian ruler Ali Pasha in the early 19th century. The castle is surrounded by trees and bushes of vibrant colours, contrasting with the deep blue sea.

The area generally is rich in history, myth and legend; part of a coastline blighted in parts by high-rises but still unspoilt in others.

While cruises are available year round in the Meditteranean region, the main season is from March to October to take advantage of the longer days and warmer weather. Weather during the cruise season is warm to hot and the days are long and generally sunny. Most rain in the region falls in the winter months.

Language: Albanian (Official).
There are two distinct dialects: Tosk, spoken in
the South and Gheg, spoken in the North. Locals
also speak basic Italian, Greek, French, German
and English.
Currency: Albanian Lek
Time Zone: UTC/GMT +2 hours

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