Earth : Europe : Balkans : Albania : Coastal Albania : Sarandë
Sarandë, is a small city of about 33.000 inhabitants, situated on a 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, and a large Greek and transient expat population.
Saranda can be reached by land or by sea.
It is connected with Greece by three routes:
- 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 and with several agencies along Rruga Mitat Hoxha, the street leading to the port). The 10:30 passage is a hydrofoil which takes about 45 minutes, as is the 13.00. The 16:30 is a car ferry. Note: Corfu is one hour ahead of Albania. Please be aware: you might 1) not be able to pay by card and 2) be charged more if paying in leke and not euro.
- By land at the border crossing of Qafe Bote with Igoumenitsa;
- By land at the border crossing of Kakavia with Ioannina.
From Ioannina through the Kakavia border pointEdit
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.
There are direct buses from Ioannina that passes the border and leave you at Gjirokaster.
From Igoumenitsa through the Qafe Bote border pointEdit
Through the Qafe-Bote crossing point, the route to Saranda is direct (Igoumenitsa-Qafe Bote-Sarande); however, the roadway is narrower.
It is reached from other parts of Albania by two important routes:
- 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)
- From Gjrokaster to Tepelene, Fier and Tirana
From Tirana to Saranda, it can be travelled with the bus lines, taxi vans or taxies. The are two itineraries: * One through the riviera : Tirana-Durres-Fieri-Vlora-Dhermi-Saranda
- One more inland : Tirana-Durresi-Fieri-Mallakastra-Tepelena-Gjirokastra-Saranda.
If you travel through Riviera (the first) you should pay more attention as the way is narrow.
From 2016 there is a new bus line Tirana-Saranda-Tirana launched - RivieraBus. New bus route connecting all main Albanian resorts such as Durres, Vlore, Dhermi, Jale, Himara, Borsh, Saranda.
The bus station in Tirana with buses to Sarande is near roundabout with eagle (intersection of Rruga Teodor Keo and Rruga 29 Nentori - highway to Durres). It takes now just 5 hours via inland route thanks to new roads. Price 1300 lek.
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 nowadays.
There are direct buses from Skopje to Sarande (including night buses every two days).
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. In this area there are a lot of plants and shills, locals making the scene posing as tourists, passing the word.
Many car rentals around port - e.g. Scandinavian Tourist Center (Mitsubishi Colt 35 euro/day,100 euro cash deposit)
- Ethnographic Museum
- Lëkurësi Castle
- Monastery of 40 Saints
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 and national park. 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:
- Butrinti 2000 International Festival of Theater
Above Saranda is the old Castle of Lekures at "Qafa e Gjashtes" (The Pass of Six), also known as Lekursi Castle (Lëkurësi Castle). 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.
- Attractive Travel, rr"Bardhok Biba"(Behind Hotel Tirana International), Fax: 00 355(0)42 244 347 Tel:00 355(0) 682020013 Email:[email protected], . daily. This organization of scholars, professors, and specialists in such fields as architecture, archaeology, art history, and theology organize walking and bus tours for groups and individuals.
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.
During peak season there are a lot of people at Lekursi Castle during sunset which can kind of spoil the atmosphere.
A of good, up to date information on Lekursi Castle: http://www.sarandaweb.com/food-dining/lekursi-castle-lekuresi/
- Skenderbeu Cognac
- Miniature bunker from alabaster
- Albanische Mythologie book
- Souvenirs made from sea shells in Ksamil
- LLogara honey is a local speciality - it is sold by various merchants on the road.
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.
Klironomi - next to the sea, nice host and seafood, good wine - 5-10 euros per dinner with wine
Byrektore Turi - probably the best burek in town
Albanian Raki, the local firewater.
- Dolphin Hostel, 168 Lefter Talo Street, Saranda (From the bus station, go uphill a little and turn right onto Lefter Talo street. The hostel is 30 m on the left, no.168, opposite the athens bus office. Enter the garden and veer right up the steps to the first floor. From the Port, turn right and go downhill to the big tree roundabout. Take a right, and take the first left onto Adem Sheme street. Continue uphill 3 blocks until lefter Talo Street. Turn right and continue past the first junction. The hostel is the left no.168, opposite the athens bus office. Enter the garden and veer right up the steps to the first floor.), ☎ +355693502207, . This villa is in the center of Sarande, it has a huge balcony to enjoy peaceful Albanian night, and the Dolphin hostel offers good dorms with breakfast and free laundry in price from 8 to 10 euros per person. every room and every corner in the hostel can connect with the free strong wifi. the staff is fantastic you can always negotiate. 8 to 10euro. edit
- SR Backpackers, Rruga Mithat Hoxha Num 10, Lagja 4 Sarande, 7500 (*Directions from Bus - From the bus stop, walk downhill towards the sea and then right right on Rruga Abedin Dino (the ruins will be on your right). Pass the first intersection and continue on the road until it ends. You will see Raiffaisen Bank on your left and a big eucalyptus tree in the middle of the road. Bear to the right of the tree and 50 meters in front of you, there will be a yellow and grey building No. 10. Pass the Krepi Star shop and at the next dark brown door, ring the bell named 'SR Backpackers.' (6 minute walk) *Directions from the Corfu ferry - Exit the customer area, walk up the ramp, turn right and 50 meters in front you should see a yellow and grey building with an internet cafe on the ground floor. Look for the dark brown door to the left of the crepe shop. Ring the bell named 'SR Backpackers.' (One minute walk)), ☎ 00355694345426, . Centrally located in the heart of town, close to everything Saranda has to offer. Bus route (6 minute walk), Corfu ferry (1 minute), bus street to Ksamil beaches and the ruins of Butrint (1 minute), bus street to Greece (3 minutes), the beach and the famous promenade (xhiro) on the doorstep (20 meters), the farmers market, fresh fruits & vegetables (1 minute). Open year-round. 14 dorm beds in a new building. Free breakfast. Free wifi. Kitchen. Free Security lockers. Free linen & bedsheets. Free coffee and tea. Roof terrace. Beach BBQ dinners in front of the hostel in the summer. Run by Tomi, a local resident, who is such a nice and helpful guy. He will make you feel right at home by going out of his way to help you out. Knows lots of information about day trips to Butrint and the Blue eye. 10 euro. edit
- The Hairy Lemon, ☎ +355 69 355 9317. checkout: ""lat="". A small 18 bed hostel run by a great Irish lady. Has hot shower, laundry, free breafast, 24 hour tea and coffee, internet, comfy bunks, large balcony with awesome view of the beach and Corfu. Just a hop skip and a jump from a nice beach with beach chairs and beach umbrellas free after 4 PM! Directions: A taxi from the port costs 3 euros. Otherwise, with your back to the Port turn left and continue on this coastal road (part tarmac and part dirt track) 1 km till you see a sign on the right: 'Pharmacy' and on the left 'Kasandro Restaurant' at the 'Apollonia Hotel' junction. Ask anyone along the coastal road for 'Apollonia Hotel'. From the map 'Andon Lapa Hotel' to 'Apollonia Hotel' is a 2/3 min walk. Above the 'Pharmacy' in the 10 storey lemon and orange building, look up to the 8th floor to see an Albanian flag hanging from their balcony. Go to the opposite side of this building to find the entrance. You can get a key to the building from the shop near the building entrance. Take the lift to the 8th floor. From the lift go left, and the 'Hairy Lemon' awaits you, behind the last door on the left! edit
- Bunkies Hostel, Rruga Butrinti KM 1(next to Vila Duraku hotel), Saranda, ☎ +355693719316. checkin: 14:00; checkout: 11:00. Bunkies is a new hostel and is located in the city center in front of the beach, next to many restaurants, food corners and bars. It has 14 dorm comfortable beds and includes free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free linen, laundry service, book exchange. car rental and tour options and a very friendly staff. The hostel have a communal kitchen area, two lounge rooms and two balconies that looks over Saranda neighborhood and Corfu islands. Directions: Getting to the hostel is very easy: from the bus station or port, walk towards the tourist information that's on the beach. the hostel is located in the first white and blue building at the end of the main promenade, next to Vila Duraku hotel. walk up the stairs and enter the building from your right side. go up the elevator to the 6th floor (there's also signing inside the building). edit
- Holiday Apartments from locals, everywhere in and around Sarande. There are plenty of private houses, apartments offered by locals especially during the high season period. The accomodation offered ranges from low-budget to highly exclusive locations both for low and reasonably high prices. However, if you are traveling in a group of more than 2 people, it is worth a consideration. The apartments can usually accomodate up to 10 people and are much cheaper than a hotel. Furthermore, you can usually cook in the apartment and save some money for the outstanding night life of Sarande. But make sure to book your accomodation in advance, since most of the apartments get booked out very fast. edit
- Jolly Hotel, Dhermi (on the boardwalk), ☎ 068-224-0334, . This small beach village before reaching Sarande has a beautiful beach, and the Jolly Hotel has 4 person rooms for 20 to 25 euros per room (not person!). You can negotiate. The staff, food, room, and location are all great. 20euro. edit
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.
Hotel ‘Dea’ tel 00355692724043 e-mail; [email protected] .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.
Warnings exist against travel to the nearby town of Lazarat, due to an untenable situation for local law enforcement to control violence by local gangs in defense of illegal marijuana cultivation operations.
You may hear stories of a 'mafia' who are in involved in human trafficking and marijuana manufacturing and smuggling, but the fact is that this just doesn't happen in Sarande, being a developed resort town with a large police prescence. But of course, these activities are very mucha reality in the very rural, mountainous villages: But it's extremely unlikely that you will ever go to these places. So you will only encounter trouble if you go looking for it.
Many stalled construction projects, large and small, are problematic especially towards Ksamil. But violence is extremely rare in Sarande as it is a resort town. Whatever you have heard about "violent street gangs" is misinformation or it's just plain rascism directed towards Albania: Because such problems just don't exist in Sarande.
While there is a regional culture of 'Vendetta' i.e "blood feuds" and domestic violence is very high, you will not see this in your time in Sarande. Street fighting, gang gunplay and armed conflict simply don't exist...But of course it's different in the rempote rural mountain areas where it's a completely different culture.
A few residential areas have children who speak English very well but sadly do not go to school because their parents cannot afford it or simply do not want to pay for it: Therefore some very petty attempts at pickpocketing can occasionally be an issue. But it's no worse than say street kids in India, Thailand, South America etc. Just use common sense and it will be a non-issue.
Local police may be reluctant to discuss matters with you in public or sometimes may discourage you from being seen speaking to police. However, despite corruption still being a problem, the police are much better than they have been in previous years and are generally pretty helpful towards tourists, with tourism being the number one industry in Sarande.
- Corfu (Kerkyra) in Greece is the island of grace and politeness. It lies opposite the coast of Epirus mainland and it is separated from Albania in the north part of it by a narrow Strait of 1.5 sea miles. Corfu is the capital of the seven Ionian Islands with an area of 592 square kilometres it is the second largest Island of the Ionian Islands, with a beautiful coastline of 217 km. Corfu is also the greenest island of all Greece. The impressive vegetation of the island consist mainly of olive and cypress trees One way: 19€/Return: 38€. Voyage duration: 25 min.
- Albanian Riviera
- Berat There are two buses a day to Berat at 8am and 2:30pm from the main bus stop up from the waterfront (5-6 hours, 1200 lek).
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