Sarandë, the gateway to the southern Albania, is a small town of about 33.000 inhabitants, situated on a beautiful horseshoe bay between the mountains and the Ionian Sea. The name Saranda derives from an early Christian monastery dedicated to Agioi Saranta (Forty Saints). In antiquity, Saranda was known as Onchesmus. Located opposite the Greek island of Corfu, Saranda is characterized by a Mediterranean climate and warm sea waters. Saranda typically has over 300 sunny days a year. Due to its location and warm weather Saranda is one of the most attractive tourist towns on the Albanian Riviera, where honeymooners traditionally spend their holidays. Fronting the sea and along the main promenade there are some hotels and restaurants which offer you catering facilities and accommodation.
Saranda can be reached by land or by sea.
It is connected with Greece by three routes: (i) To the nearby Greek island of Corfu (New Port). The daily ferryboats are at 10:30; 13:00 and 16:30 (fewer out of season - check with the ticket office at the port). The 10:30 passage is a hydrofoil which takes about 45 minutes. The 16:30 is a car ferry. Corfu is one hour ahead of Albania. (ii) By the border of Qafe Bota with Gumenitsa; (iii) By the border of Kakavi with Ioannina
It is reached from other parts of Albania by two important routes: 1. From Vlore it goes through Riviera or "Bregu" (a line of picturesque, gorgeous Mediterranean beaches and villages; Bregu is the summer hostel of the country Prime Minister and President) 2. From Gjrokaster to Tepelene, Fier and Tirana
From Tirana to Saranda can be travelled with the bus lines, taxi vans or taxies. The are two itineraries: Tirana-Durres-Fieri-Vlora-Dhermi-Saranda or Tirana-Durresi-Fieri-Mallakastra-Tepelena-Gjirokastra-Saranda. If you travel through Riviera (the first) you should pay more attention as the way is narrow. Albanians from Kosovo and Macedonia follow this itinerary to reach Saranda: Strufe-Qafe Thana-Librazhd-Elbasani-Rrogozhina-Fier and so on. The tourists, who come here from Greece, reach the border of Kakavi in two ways: from Ioannina and Gumenitsa. You can fly from Athine to Ioannina, and then the roadway from Janina to Kakavi takes around 40 minutes by bus or taxi. When you reach Kakavi, you follow this itinerary: Kakavi-Gjirokaster-Jergucat-Qafe e Muzines-Sarande. Though Qafe-Bota, the itinerary is Igoumenitsa-Qafe Bote-Sarande, but the roadway is narrower.
The idea of an airport in the village of Vrion is of great interest, because it is only 5 km far from Saranda. A facility is the urban service offered nowdays.
Saranda has a boulevard called "Shëtitorja Naim Frashëri" where during the evening everyone goes to walk around. It stretches for about 1 kilometer and is by the seaside (only 5 meters away from coast). On the other side of of the promenade, lay bars, restaurants and many souvenir shops.
The village of Ksamili is near Sarande. It has a beautiful beach with several small islands you could swim to. The bus from Sarande serves both Ksamili and Butrint. Ksamili is now heavily developed, with a large number of part-completed properties. An extraordinary sight is that some of these new buildings are toppling over; this is believed to be where buildings have gone up without permission, and the police have sabotaged the building by pulling out a couple of upright pillars, leaving the owner to clear up the damage.
Just outside of Ksamili, lies Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Butrint was an ancient city throughout Greek, Roman, bishopric and Byzantine periods. The city was finally abandoned during the Middle Ages perhaps due to the marsh surrounding and subsequent malaria epidemic.
Despite being one of the greatest classical cities of the Mediterranean, Butrint remains largely unknown. The current archaeological site includes an impressive Roman amphitheater, a Byzantine Basilica (the largest in the world after Hagia Sophia in Istanbul), a Roman temple with mosaic floor, a beautifully carved lion's gate as well numerous constructions built throughout the periods. Furthermore, what you see is just 15 per cent of what lies beneath. As of summer of 2005, there is an international archaeological team performing excavations at Butrint which can be observed inside the park.
700 lek entry fee (€5)
The amphitheater is used as a performance venue by world amateur theater troops at the annual:
Above Saranda is the old Castle of Lekures at "Qafa e Gjashtes" (The Pass of Six). There is a nice outdoor restaurant within the castle from which you have panoramic views of Saranda Bay below, the inland mountains, the Butrint Lagoon and the island of Corfu on the Ionian Sea. After visiting Butrint and the Ali Pasha Tepelena Castle, you could go to the Pulbardha Beach and enjoy some great food and relax on the sandy beach. Syri i Kalter is just 25 min away past the city of Saranda. This is a great place to visit and relax.
In the afternoon, when the sun is setting, you should go to Lekures, and watch the sun set, or you could go to the beach and relax with your friends or family while enjoying the beautiful sunset. Something else that you can do, when it’s not a really hot day is to go camping. If it’s not a hot day, camping would be a really good experience, and it would be a change from going to the beach because it could get a bit boring and tiresome to just go to the beach. So for a change you could go camping because not only will you have a good time looking at the stars at night, but you would be trying something different. Something else you should do is visit a new beach each day, such as one day “pllakat” the next day “manastiri” and so on. You should also take a ferry to visit Corfu, for it is only a hour or two away from the coast of Saranda.
Sarandë is bustling with restaurants, cafes and bars. Fast food places offer a surprisingly cheap and tasty variety of options: 1 euro will usually get you a good souvlaki (usually pork) or a very nice crepe. Look out for yoghurt flavoured ice cream on the boardwalk, near the tourist info office. In Ksamil, there are a few places you can eat at. At least 4 restaurants in Ksamil are open year-round, but in the summer there are a lot more options and many are just seconds from the beach.
If you go to Sarandë, you must try the fish, since Sarandë is next to the sea, restaurants that are located next to water would be the best because those are the places that usually have fresh fish. You should also try the squid, mussel, and shrimp. You should try them in different cooking styles, not just fried. The best time to eat sea products is after a nice long day of swimming.
Albanian Raki, the local firewater.
The luxury five star Hotel Butrint in Saranda is prohibitively expensive but very pretty. Another luxury hotel is "Hotel Duraku". The rooms are very comfortable and clean, and the staff is very qualified. It costs around 90euro/night for a family.
The simple yet nice Porto Eda Hotel.
For accomodation in Ksamil You can have a look at www.ksamiliapartments.com
Hotel ‘Dea’ tel 00355692724043 e-mail; firstname.lastname@example.org .Probably the best out there in Saranda,with 20 rooms all rooms view on the sea, 3 large suites,big swimming pool,bar restaurant reception 24h/24 private parking,it is only 1 km from the city center so you can just have a nice walk along the road Sarand-Butrinti and you are there
As everywhere in Albania, some areas suffer from waste disposal issues, and illegal construction, while others from excessive noise pollution by beach clubs. Bottled water is recommended instead of tap water for drinking.