Ali Pasha Castle – Butrint, Albania: Everything you need to know!

Last Updated on June 20, 2022

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When you think of Albania, castles are not usually the first thing to spring to mind. But Albania does indeed have castles, and Ali Pasha Castle is one of the country’s best!

Ali Pasha Castle is one of my favourite places. It’s located near Saranda, near to the main site of UNESCO Butrint.

The reason I love this place is that it is so unique, like none of the other castles in Albania.

The castle of Ali Pasha sits surrounded by water and can only be accessed by boat from a local fisherman.

Ali Pasha Castle – Butrint, Albania, aerial shot of Ali Pasha Castle from above showing white-walled structure with long bridge pathway leading down into turquoise waters surrounded by green watery areas

This Albanian castle is regularly missed by tourists who all pile to visit the nearby site of UNESCO Butrint. If you don’t look for it, it’s easily missed!

I highly recommend visiting early in the morning when it’s just you and the local fisherman. At this time, it feels like the most peaceful place in the world.

It’s only you and nature, you will be at utter peace.

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Beautiful Ali Pasha fortress, white-walled fortress sitting amongst patches of grassland and water pools with blue ocean water behind and mountains in the distance
Visit Kalaja e Ali Pashës in Albania, frontal view of Ali Pasha Castle with white pathway leading into open white-walled courtyard surrounded by well-preserved fortifications and towers

History of Ali Pasha Castle

Kalaja e Ali Pashës (as they say in Albanian) dates to the 16th century and belonged to Ali Pasha. There is virtually no information on this site other than the odd archaeological document of findings.

This Butrint castle is in pretty good condition for being built so long ago. Unlike some other Albanian castles, the structure is well-preserved so you can see how the castle worked.

This is not the only Ali Pasha fortress in Albania; Ali Pasha also has other castles and fortifications around Albania like Porto Palermo Castle and of course the main sites of Butrint too.

You can find a Google map of Ali Pasha castles and fortifications here.

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How to Get to Ali Pasha Albania Castle

About 1 minute before Butrint on the same road there is a turnoff with a carpark and a viewing deck.

From the viewing deck, you can see the castle, but I recommend taking the road down to see it from close by!

The road is not in the best condition and is only made for 1 car at a time so if you’re not a confident driver then you can park at the carpark and walk down. It’s only an easy 2km walk from the carpark.

Ali Pasha Albanian castle, single white cloud floating in azure blue sky above calm sea water with leaning green tree to the side and mountains in the distance

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Ali Pasha and the beautiful castles of Albania, abandoned domed stone buildings with dusty ground and grassy patches with green trees nearby and mountains in the distance

Ali Pasha Castle is surrounded by water in the most beautiful setting. To get to the castle you will have to ask a local fisherman to take you over there by boat.

You could alternatively swim there but I guess that’s not for everyone and especially if you aren’t visiting in summer it may be a little chilly!

I would recommend taking a little picnic with you and admiring the view and the serenity by the castle. It really is a beautiful little spot near Saranda.

There’s also an abandoned house nearby, as well as a couple of bunkers and usually a cute stray dog wanting belly rubs.

📚 P.S. Grab access to my Travelling Albania Guide to get a comprehensive insight into more places to visit in Albania (including secret spots that are not recommended in the usual guides!)

Nearby Points of Interest

Obviously, you have to visit the main site of UNESCO Butrint which is not far from Ali Pasha Castle at all. I recommend you spend a few hours uncovering the history there.

If you want a little break from all the facts and history, then travel to one of the nearby beaches. Ksamil is beautiful but very busy in the summertime.

There is also Mirror Beach and Monastery beach which are equally beautiful. You can read my big list of things to do in Saranda here if you want some more ideas!

Accommodation Options

I recommend staying in either Ksamil or Saranda which are nearby. Accommodation is incredibly affordable for tourists coming to Albania.

🛌🏼 Click here to find the latest availability and prices in the local areas!

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How many castles are in Albania?

Albania has over 150 castles and fortifications that have been classified as historically important.

✅ How old is Ali Pasha Castle?

Ali Pasha Castle dates from the 16th century, though the current site was rebuilt in the early 19th century.

✅ What’s the best way to see Ali Pasha Castle?

Aside from booking a tour of some kind, asking a local fisherman to take you across is the best way, unless you’re a strong enough swimmer to make it there and back!

I hope I have inspired you to visit Ali Pasha castle in Butrint (and to seek out more castles of Albania)! It’s very unique, and like I said often missed by tourists, but it deserves so much more attention!

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The Comments

  • Pat @ Travel ETA Australia
    November 8, 2018

    Great article and your pictures are beautiful! Thanks!

  • Lena Oksholen
    July 9, 2022

    Hi. We are a family of 5 traveling to Sarandë on tuesday. I have read EVERYTHING on your travelblog. I love it. Thank you for great tips on food, beaches and sightseeing. I am SO looking forward to our trip now.