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Sarandë

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Earth : Europe : Balkans : Albania : Coastal Albania : Sarandë
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Sarandë, also known as Saranda, is a small city of about 33,000 inhabitants situated on a bay between the mountains and the Ionian Sea.


Understand[edit]

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, as well as a large Greek and transient expat population.

Visitor information[edit]

  • Saranda Tourist Info Center (Glass sphere building), Shetitorja Naim Frasheri (Near the Molo by the beach), [1].  edit

Get in[edit]

Saranda can be reached by either land or sea.

Greece[edit]

It is connected with Greece by three routes:

  1. By the nearby Greek island of Corfu (New Port). The daily ferries leave at 10:30, 13:00, and 16:30 during the high season. Fewer are available out of season. It's best to 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 around 45 minutes, as does the 13:00. The 16:30 is a car ferry. Note: Corfu is one hour ahead of Albania. Please be aware you might not be able to pay by card and can be charged more if paying with leke instead of euros.
  2. By land at the border crossing of Qafe Bote with Igoumenitsa;
  3. By land at the border crossing of Kakavia with Ioannina.

From Ioannina through the Kakavia border point[edit]

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-Sarandë.

There are direct buses from Ioannina that passes the border and leave you at Gjirokaster.

From Igoumenitsa through the Qafe Bote border point[edit]

Through the Qafe Bote crossing point, the route to Saranda is direct (Igoumenitsa-Qafe Bote-Sarandë); however, the roadway is narrower.

Albania[edit]

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[edit]

From Tirana to Saranda, one can travel with the bus lines, taxi vans, or taxis. There are two itineraries:

  • One through the riviera: Tirana-Durres-Fieri-Vlora-Dhermi-Saranda
  • One inland: Tirana-Durresi-Fieri-Mallakastra-Tepelena-Gjirokastra-Saranda

If you travel through the riviera (the first) you should pay more attention as the way is narrow.

Since 2016 there has been a new bus line Tirana-Saranda-Tirana - RivieraBus. New bus route connecting all main Albanian resorts such as Durres, Vlore, Dhermi, Jale, Himara, Borsh, and Saranda.

The bus station in Tirana which has buses to Saranda is near the roundabout with eagle (intersection of Rruga Teodor Keo and Rruga 29 Nentori - highway to Durres). It now takes just 5 hours via the inland route thanks to new roads. Price is 1300 lek.

The idea of an airport in the village of Vrion is of great interest, because it is only 5 km away from Saranda. A facility is the urban service offered nowadays.

Macedonia[edit]

There are direct buses from Skopje to Sarandë (including night buses every two days).

Get around[edit]

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 sits 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)

See[edit][add listing]

Beautiful and quiet beach at Ksamili
  • Synagogue
  • Ethnographic Museum
  • Lëkurësi Castle
  • Monastery of 40 Saints

Ksamili

The village of Ksamili just south of Saranda. It has a beautiful beach with several small islands one can swim to. The bus from Saranda serves both Ksamili and Butrint. Ksamili is now heavily developed, with a large number of part-completed properties. A rather unique 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.

Butrint

Just outside of Ksamili, lies Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site and national park. Butrint was an ancient city throughout Greek, Roman, and Byzantine periods. The city was finally abandoned during the Middle Ages likely 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 gate as well as numerous other constructions built throughout the periods. Furthermore, what you see is just 15 percent 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[6]


Picture of the Roman temple at Butrinti

Do[edit][add listing]

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 somewhat spoil the atmosphere.

For good, up to date information on Lekursi Castle: http://www.sarandaweb.com/food-dining/lekursi-castle-lekuresi/

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Skenderbeu Cognac
  • Miniature bunker from alabaster
  • Albanische Mythologie book
  • Souvenirs made from seashells in Ksamili
  • Llogara honey is a local specialty - it is sold by various merchants on the road

Eat[edit][add listing]

Saranda 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. Keep an eye out for yoghurt flavoured ice cream on the boardwalk, near the tourist info office. In Ksamili, 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 great deal more options and many are just seconds from the beach.

If you go to Saranda you must try the fish. Since Saranda is next to the sea, restaurants which are located next to water would be best because those are the places that usually have fresh fish. You should also try the squid, mussel, and shrimp. You would be missing out if you didn't try various cooking styles, not just fried. The best time to eat seafood is after a nice long day of swimming, naturally.

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

Drink[edit][add listing]

Albanian raki, the local firewater.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Hostels[edit]

  • Dolphin Hostel, 168 Lefter Talo Street, Sarandë (From the bus station, go uphill a little and turn right onto Lefter Talo street. The hostel is 30m 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, [2]. This villa is in the center of Saranda, 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 are fantastic you can always negotiate. 8 to 10euro.  edit
  • SR Backpackers, Rruga Mithat Hoxha Num 10, Lagja 4 Sarandë, 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, [3]. 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. checkin: 12-23:00; checkout: 11:00. A small 18 bed hostel run by a great Irish lady. Has hot shower, laundry, free breakfast, 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
  • The Wallaby Hostel, Rruga Pandeli Bocari, 9703 Sarandë, +355 69 333 4588, [4]. checkin: “14:00-0:00”; checkout: “11:00”. Recently relocated hostel run by two Australian blokes. Reception's run 24/7 and the staff will help with anything. Large communal kitchen's on the lowest floor with plenty of seating and room for beer pong. The rooftop terrace offers a view of the whole city and bay. (39.87752,20.00719) edit

Apartments[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

Hotels[edit]

  • Jolly Hotel, Dhermi (on the boardwalk), 068-224-0334, [5]. 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

Stay safe[edit]

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 as there are high chlorine levels.

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 Saranda, being a developed resort town with a large police presence. But of course, these activities are very much a reality in the very rural, mountainous villages. However 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 Ksamili. But violence is extremely rare in Saranda 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 Saranda.

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 Saranda. Street fighting, gang gunplay and armed conflict simply don't exist...But of course it's different in the remote 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 Saranda.

Get out[edit]

  • Borsh
  • 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 kilometers 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.
  • Dhermi
  • Albanian Riviera
  • Vuno
  • 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).
  • Gjirokastër
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