Incredible Locals Guide to Saranda 2024

Last Updated on March 30, 2024


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Located in the southern part of the Albanian Riviera lies the coastal city of Saranda/Sarandë. 

During the summer months, Saranda in Albania is buzzing with people. Saranda holidays are very popular in the summers and definitely the busiest time of year to visit.

In fact, apparently, the usual Saranda population is around 30,000, but during the summer that figure can spiral up to 300,000.

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Great restaurants, a beautiful coastline, and the perfect base to explore other breath-taking places nearby are the main reasons tourists flock here during the summer. 

Locals Guide to Saranda, Albania (2020): Must-do's, Food + Hotels, view of sandy beach surrounded by rocky hill and see-through blue water

It’s very affordable so if you’re a backpacker this place is heaven. The crystal clear turquoise water and affordability make this the perfect holiday destination for solo travelers, couples, and families.

I have spent most of my time living in Albania solely located in Saranda as I totally fell in love with the city. I have been living in Saranda for years and now know the area very well.

As September rolls around the tourists slowly leave and the population drops, but this shouldn’t stop you from coming here. In fact, Saranda, in my eyes, is a different city during those times.

During winter, there are fewer beach chairs, a lot less partying as the Saranda clubs close, and Saranda prices drop significantly.

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And if you need additional reasons to visit Albania, the winter prices are hard to beat.

Saranda turns into a sleepy coastal city as most of the summer season workers head back to their hometowns, most move to Tirana to study or find work there, and then it’s Tirana’s turn for the partying scene.

This massive Saranda travel guide will cover all the best places to eat, stay, and party, as well as things to do, and amazing day trips from Saranda, Albania.

Saranda or Sarandë or Sarande? 

It’s all three. Sarandë is the Albanian official way to spell it. Sarande is the lazy Albanian way of spelling it and Saranda is the English spelling of the city.

Here’s your local Saranda guide!

*Note: Some of the restaurants and accommodation options close in the winter months but I have stated if they are open or not in their descriptions.

Guide to Saranda [Albania]: Must-do's, Food, Hotels, aerial view of Saranda
Isn’t this view enough to convince you to visit Saranda?!

WHERE IS SARANDA?

Saranda is a coastal city located right in the south of Albania. It’s very close to the Greek border, in fact, a ferry to the Greek island Corfu is only a 30-minute trip! 

Saranda is a good start to an Albanian road trip along the Albanian Riviera.

For a better idea of where is Sarande, you can find a Google map here.

HOW TO GET TO SARANDA, ALBANIA?

The quickest and easiest way to get to Saranda is to fly into Corfu, Greece, and catch the Corfu to Saranda ferry

Depending on where you are coming from in the first place, Corfu is usually quite cheap to fly into from the likes of the UK.

In the summer there are two different ferries that make the trip from Greece to Albania. One is slow and one is the fast ferry.

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There are also a few companies offering trips. You can find timetables and prices here.

The fast ferry takes around 1 1/2 hours and the fast is just 25 minutes. Prices vary from season to season.

You can also travel from Athens to Saranda.

THINGS TO DO IN SARANDA, ALBANIA

Wondering what to do in Saranda, Albania? Here are 9 of the top things to do in the city! 

As Saranda tourism is slowly growing there are more and more great things to do popping up, so I regularly update this Saranda guide with the latest things to do.

1. WALK THE BOULEVARD

During the summer months, and especially as the cruise ships start to port in Saranda, the boulevard is pumping with people. 

Take some time to wander through the boulevard day or night and enjoy the scenery. During the summer there are markets, which are a great place to get some souvenirs.

Also, you may notice in the distance on the Saranda beach there is even an obstacle course (Summer only) set up if you’re up for a bit of fun. 

Yes, you can go on as an adult, and yes, your whole body will hurt in the morning, trust me from experience!

The boulevard has been reconstructed and so far it’s looking great. There’s more room for people to walk and there are a number of sitting places which wasn’t possible before.

This is a great way to experience the different Sarandë neighborhoods, if only from a distance.

Guide to Saranda [Albania]: Must-do's, Food, Hotels, aerial view of Lekuresi Castle

2. VISIT LËKURËSI CASTLE AT SUNSET

Nestled at the top of the hill and overlooking Saranda is Lëkurësi Castle. 

Although this Saranda castle is not as impressive as it has now been turned into a restaurant, the views overlooking Saranda and even into the farmland nearby, are stunning and well worth the trip. 

Thanks to that unbeatable view, it’s one of the best Saranda attractions that you can see! It’s of course one of Saranda’s top sunset spots.

You can hike up which takes about 45 minutes to an hour. I took a taxi, just remember to haggle for the price as I was overcharged on the way there. 

A lot of travellers even hitchhike back to the city centre.

3. Butrint (UNESCO SITE)

Butrint is a UNESCO site full of ancient ruins located not far from Ksamil. It was habited before the Greeks settled, and after that, the Romans took over. 

It will take 2 or 3 hours to explore and costs 700 Lek entry.

You will want to visit in the morning or late afternoon as the sun can be overbearing in the summer, and you will appreciate it a lot more in the cooler weather.

The bus to Butrint cost 100 Lek. It’s the same bus that stops off at Ksamil beforehand.

Read my full guide on visiting Butrint before you go!

📚 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!)

4. ALI PASHA’S CASTLE

Ali Pasha Castle is my personal favourite castle near Saranda. The castle is hidden and most tourists completely miss it when visiting the nearby site of Butrint.

About 1 minute before the UNESCO site of Butrint, on the same road, there is a turnoff with a car park and a viewing deck.

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

The castle dates back to the late 17th century and belonged to a man called Ali Pasha who was later beheaded. The setting is what makes it so unique. 

It definitely shouldn’t be missed if you’re making a trip to nearby Saranda town or the town of Ksamil. It’s one of the best things to do in Albania.

5. VISIT BLUE EYE (SYRI I KALTËR)

The Blue Eye is a natural phenomenon, and one of the most unique things to see nearby. Really, no Saranda holidays are complete without a trip here.

Divers have tried to discover how deep the spring is but have only gone down 50 meters deep and still to this day cannot find the source or how far down the spring goes. 

Usually, people spend an hour or two. There is nothing else to do other than look at the spring or go swimming if you’re brave. The water year-round is 10 degrees!

Nowadays there is a little camping spot right in front of it as well as a couple of souvenir shops. There are also a few restaurants. 

I highly recommend having a drink at the restaurant with the platforms over the water for a beautiful view!

Read my full guide on visiting the Blue Eye before you go for directions on how to get there and the best times to visit.

Guide to Saranda [Albania], aerial view of a beach with rows of towels and beach umbrellas
Visiting Mirror beach is one of my favourite things to do in Saranda

6. Visit MIrror Beach

Just before Ksamil is Mirror beach (or Pasqyra in Albanian). It’s a more secluded affair with just as beautiful beaches as Ksamil. 

However, the road is not the best at all. In the summer months as it gets full it can be quite a pain getting in/out because the road is mostly one-way and it’s a very bumpy dirt road. 

The hassle of getting there is worth it though as it’s considered one of the top beaches in Albania.

Guide to Saranda [Albania], small island just off the coast with lots of trees

7. Visit Ksamil

Ksamil is the most popular destination along the Albanian Riveria.

It is hugely popular during the summer months; the beaches are full of beach chairs and all of the bars and restaurants are thriving. 

You can spend the day relaxing, eating and even swimming to and around the two nearby islands.

Although you can do Ksamil as a day trip from Saranda, there is also a lot to do in Ksamil. Be sure to read my ultimate travel guide to Ksamil to make sure you fit in all the best sites.

There are also a lot of great hotels in Ksamil if you decide to stay longer.

💡PACKING TIP: Make sure you bring a good snorkel, water shoes, and a fast-drying towel for all of the beach-going you’re about to do!

8. Explore the Seafood Scene

As Saranda is a coastal city, seafood is prominent in just about every restaurant and damn is it good! 

The fish restaurants on the other side of town are where the fishing boats land.

You can come down here at around 6 pm and buy fresh seafood off the boats or try it at one of the two restaurants – Fishland or Taverna Peshkatari.

These are the restaurants that receive the seafood first and then it filters down to the restaurants right in the city. 

Haxhi is one of the best restaurants in Saranda as well as Fish Filipi and Taverna Kapiteni. All of these restaurants are open all year round.

9. DISCOVER ANCIENT SARANDA

Right in the centre believe it or not, are ancient ruins of a synagogue that used to be there dating back to the 5th century. 

In the 6th century, these buildings were converted into a basilica but later were destroyed due to an earthquake. These ruins were only discovered in 1984.

These are just a few of the best things to do in Saranda, but I have lots of local recommendations, some that tourists have no idea about! 

If you only have one day in Saranda then you should do Butrint, Ksamil, and then go to Lekuresi Castle for sunset.

Guide to Saranda [Albania], stopping to smell the flowers outside of a building
Guide to Saranda Albania, beach view with beach chairs and people relaxing

WHERE TO EAT IN SARANDA

Taverna Laberia: This is one of my favourite restaurants in Saranda. This family-run restaurant serves quality Saranda food and generous portions.

My favourite is the open souvlaki, pork pancetta and the Greek salad. The family knows how to cook a fantastic meal for a very reasonable price. Open all year, only cash.

Limani: Located right on the water is a restaurant called Limani. They serve a huge variety of food and are the most commercial restaurant in the city.

However they do lots of dishes amazingly well like the seafood, traditional meals, pastas, and pizza – I can highly recommend the carbonara one (yes that’s carbonara on pizza!), and the Caesar salad (600 Lek) too.

They also, of course, serve seafood and traditional meals. Their menu is huge so you will definitely find something you like here.  Open all year-round and takes EFTPOS.

Your Ultimate Guide to Saranda - Albania, seafood and pasta dish

Fishland: This is one of the restaurants that are right where the fishermen come to dock, so expect super fresh seafood here! I can recommend the seafood risotto, it’s delicious. Open all year.

Best guide to Saranda Albania, wooden slat path leading to beach with beach chairs, umbrellas and beach goers on each side.

Cocktail Dreams: Located nearly right on my front doorstep is Cocktail Dreams. This is not only a good place for a cocktail but their food is good too.

I enjoy the carbonara, 4 cheese ravioli, and the grilled chicken with mushroom sauce (mmmmm). Open from May-Sept.

Maria Magdalena (Summer only): If you’re a pizza lover like me then you will love Maria Magdalena. They do the best pizzas I have ever tasted.

One of the reasons I really love living in Albania is that they have a big Italian influence which means they absolutely nail Italian food right on the head!

I can recommend the 4-cheese (700 Lek), margarita (400 Lek), and special pizza (750 Lek) although I am confident every single pizza on that menu is delicious.

Like Creperie: This little Saranda cafe serves great coffee, delicious crepes, and amazing sandwiches.

My personal favourite is the paninis; they are seriously delicious and perfect if you’re craving a different food that’s not Albanian, Greek, or Italian. Open all year-round.

Kasandro: Again, great for souvlakis and affordable meals. Summer Only.

Sunset: Here they do great pizzas, perfect for a takeaway. Also great seafood! Open all year round.

Te Beau: If you’re looking for traditional Albanian food then this is your place! It’s great food and very affordable. Open all year-round.

Salad Farm: If you’re vegan, vegetarian or you just love a salad and want to try something new, then try out Salad Farm. It’s located near Santa Quaranta.

They do a really nice Chinese chicken salad, Falafel salad (my favourite), and Thai beef salad as well as smoothies! Open summer only.

Haxhi: Have the best seafood in Saranda and the restaurant is run by a lovely family. Highly recommended coming here AT LEAST once during your time in Saranda. Open all year.

You can find more recommendations in detail by reading this post about my favourite places to eat in Saranda.

Guide to Saranda Albania, empty beach chair and umbrellas at sunset

WHERE TO DRINK AND PARTY IN SARANDA

Here are my top recommendations for Saranda Nightlife!

Mango (Summer only): This is the most popular club located just out of the Saranda city centre.

You will need to catch a taxi or hitchhike as it’s quite a walk, especially if you’re staying on the other side of the city.

There is usually an entry fee (500 Lek) but sometimes you don’t have to pay, don’t ask why. The whole city just about forms at mango on any given night during the summer.

This is closed during the winter but usually opens back up on the 1st of April to celebrate the opening of the season with a big Saranda party.

Factory (Summer Only): This club is even further out of the city. It’s essentially a huge warehouse with music. But you’re sure to find a fun Saranda party here in the summers.

Orange (All year only): This Saranda beach club is located just a walk away from the boulevard.

It’s right on the beach, has good music, and is an easy option if you don’t want to trek all the way to mango.

Jericho (summer only): Right on the boulevard is Jericho which is famous for its cocktails. It serves a great view over the boulevard.

Space Bar/Rei Bar: (Open all year) This bar is nestled looking over the boulevard. There’s a cool atmosphere, the drinks are good and it’s a great place to come to chill out for a few drinks.

There is a rooftop open in summer but in the winter you can have your coffee inside downstairs.

21 Bar: (Open all year) This is a popular intimate hangout in the centre. Trendy bar with a cool ambiance!

City lounge (summer only): This is another great Saranda beach club that is a local favourite too. Right on the water and near Orange bar.

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What to do in Saranda Albania, aerial view of beach front and boats in distnace

WHERE TO STAY IN SARANDA

Hotel: Dream Hotel A small intimate hotel located right on the beach, about a 15-minute walk from the heart of the city. If you’re looking for pure relaxation then choose this hotel.

Not only do you have the beach on your doorstep but also the cocktail bar and restaurant! Closes in winter.

Luxury Hotel: Santa Quaranta Premium Resort Located right on the beachfront this beautiful Saranda beach resort is the perfect pick if you’re looking for some luxury.

It’s where the rich and famous stay when they come to Saranda!

Read my full guide on the best hotels in Saranda.

Guide to Saranda Albania, aerial view of Albanian city with mountains in distance

WHERE TO FROM SARANDA

Note the times and frequency vary from winter to summer. These are the summer times unless otherwise stated. 

I have to stress that these times change regularly!

It’s best to go to the bus station the day before and ask for the exact times. I do have an article which I keep updated with the Albania bus timetables.

You can use it to check both how to get to Saranda, Albania and how to leave again.

I also have guides on getting around Albania and how to hire a car in Albania for the more adventurous travellers!

SARANDA TRAVEL TIMETABLES AROUND ALBANIA

Saranda to Tirana (1300 Lek)– 5 am, 6.30 am, 8.30 am, 9.30 am, 10.45 am, 2 pm

Saranda to Himare – 10 am, 11.30 am, 2 pm

Saranda to Gijrokastёr – 6 am, 8 am, 11.30 am,12 pm, 1 pm

Butrint & Ksamil (100 Lek) – Every hour on the half-hour.  The last bus coming back is at 5.30 pm

Saranda to Berat – 8 am, 10.15 am, 2.30 pm

Saranda to Vlore – 11.30 am, 2.30 pm

Saranda to Borsh – 12.30 midday

🚌 See updated bus timetables here

Albania to Greece

Ferry to Corfu from Saranda (€23 but it’s cheaper in the winter) – 10.30 am and 4 pm. (In the winter there is just one leaving at 1 pm)

Bus to Athens from Saranda– 6.30 am and 6.30 pm

Ultimate guide to Saranda in Albania, sitting on stone pier looking out over Saranda beach with mountains in distance

Hitchhiking in Albania

It is extremely popular and normal to hitchhike from city to city. In fact, it is often more reliable than public transport.

I used to always hitchhike to the Saranda clubs and have never had a problem or felt unsafe. Contrary to what the media would have you believe, Albania is extremely safe.

Albanians are very trustworthy and they are usually happy to help you to get somewhere.

SHOPPING IN SARANDA

You won’t find any big malls in Saranda (yet). However, there are plenty of great Saranda shopping options right in the centre. 

You’ll be able to find any essentials that you need here, as well as local items.

If you walk on the road that is horizontal to the boulevard you will find clothing, souvenir shops, and anything you are looking for.

Saranda Boat Rental

If you walk on the boulevard between restaurant Limani and Centralli you will find many boar rental companies with signs.

You can go and ask about prices, negotiate and ask them what they can offer you for your budget!

Saranda in the Winter

Although a lot of the businesses shut up shop for the winter all the restaurants right in the city will still be open.

As you can imagine the city is comparably quiet when the tourist season is over. But that shouldn’t stop you from coming here at that time. 

The prices drop even further and the Saranda beaches are empty. Everything is usually half-price – food, beer, and even hotels! 

This is also a good time to find a great deal for renting an apartment in Saranda if you want to stay longer.

There is plenty of sunshine so it’s the perfect place to escape a wet and cold winter if you’re from the UK or other northern European countries. Saranda typically has 320 days of sunshine a year. 

Plus even in winter, the stunning Saranda beaches are worth it. And you’ll have all the best Saranda beaches nearly to yourself!

If you’re looking for a more relaxing holiday then maybe Saranda in winter might be for you. You can experience the country with little to no tourists.

📦 PACKING TIP: Don’t leave home without a solar powered battery pack so you can keep your devices connected at all times.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

✅ What is Saranda known for?
As one of the most popular destinations along the Albanian Riviera, Saranda is known for its gorgeous beaches and almost constant sunny weather.

✅ Is Saranda safe?
Absolutely! Albania in general is very safe and Albanians are incredibly friendly. Because it is a popular tourist destination in the summers, you need to be aware of pickpockets and local scams. But no more so than any other big city.

✅ Does Saranda Albania have an airport?
Unfortunately, there is not an airport in Saranda. The closest airports are in Tirana, the capital of Albania, and in Corfu, Greece, from which you can easily get a ferry.

That’s it! There’s your ultimate Saranda travel guide with hopefully all the information you will need to enjoy a holiday here. Let me know if you have any questions about Saranda Albania in the comments!


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The Comments

  • Ryan Biddulph
    October 7, 2017

    Hi Anita,

    10 degree water? Yikes. But I’d give it a shot as I take an icy cold shower every morning.

    Excellent review here.

    I’d visit during the winter, when the number drops back to 30,000 people as opposed to 300 K. Or maybe less, it the place gets super sleepy.

    It is always more fun to visit during off season unless the place dies down so much because the monsoons are ridiculous, or something of that nature. In most cases though, the weather is fine, but folks like doing the sheeple bit.

    Thanks for the rocking share Anita.

    Ryan

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Ryan Biddulph
      November 19, 2017

      Thanks for reading 🙂 Saranda is the winter certainly is quiet but definitely worth it!

  • kasiawrites
    October 11, 2017

    I must admit that I don’t know too much about Albania. It looks amazing!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > kasiawrites
      November 19, 2017

      Thanks for reading Kasia. Albania is unbelievably beautiful!

  • Agness of aTukTuk
    October 20, 2017

    This is the first time I am hearing about Saranda. However, this place seems so picturesque and worth visiting! Would you consider it a good summer destination, Anita?

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Agness of aTukTuk
      October 25, 2017

      It’s a great place for the summer! Saranda is a buzzing city in the summer with lots to do and a raving nightlife 🙂

    • Mare
      > Agness of aTukTuk
      January 15, 2022

      Hi Anita,
      Are there any work cafés in Saranda? Just got here and looking for alternative places to do remote work.
      -Mare

  • Sreekar
    October 29, 2017

    I have a thing for the smaller countries and Albania has been on my watch list for a long time. your pictures are wonderful. Love the contrasting beige and turquoise. lovely!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Sreekar
      November 19, 2017

      Thank you for reading. I hope one day you get to visit 🙂

  • danik
    October 28, 2017

    I remember visiting Saranda back in 2008 and to be honest, it wasn’t great back then, even the beach had loads of rubbish on it and the buildings were runned down. Now looking at your photos, the town seems to have got its act together and is now a clean, beautiful place to check out. Maybe another trip to Albania beckons for me in the future. 🙂

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > danik
      November 19, 2017

      Yeah, it certainly still has a lot of issues to fix but slowly and surely its getting better.

  • Lucy - Travel Textbook
    October 29, 2017

    Albania is such a beautiful country and is overlooked way too often! Loved it there but didn’t make it to Saranda — will just have to go back 🙂

    Lucy x

  • Silke
    October 30, 2017

    Hi Antia, I never heard of Saranda before but the way you describe it seems to be a fantastic destination. I like it when you have a mix of fun and relaxation, day trip destinations, nature, and great food. That blue hole looks just magical. You said that there are many visitors in summer. What nationality are they? Thanks for sharing this comprehensive guide with us!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Silke
      November 19, 2017

      I hope you get to visit Saranda one day! The tourists here are mostly Italian and Greek.

  • Linda
    October 30, 2017

    Albania has been on my travel bucket list for a long time. My husband has been to Tirana but Saranda looks like the place to be for a family holiday. Lëkurësi Castle and Butrint look like interesting excursions when taking time off from the beach. Thanks for the super detailed guide to help with planning.

  • Jenn
    October 31, 2017

    Albania looks like a fantastic spot for a vacation. The springs sound really cool and mystical since to this day they cannot find the source or how far down the spring goes.  Would definitely take a swim there! I think I would also visit Sandra since I love seafood. Nothings better then eating seafood that was caught on the same day.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Jenn
      February 9, 2018

      Totally agree with you on that! You can definitely taste the freshness 🙂

  • Sneha S
    October 30, 2017

    Ksamil sounds soo much like the place for me! Like the way you have mentioned the plus points of every location. Great post 🙂

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Sneha S
      November 19, 2017

      Ksamil is by far my favourite place! Thanks for the comment 🙂

  • Cathy
    October 31, 2017

    I’ve never heard of Albania before, but when I first read it I thought you meant Albana, and it reminds me of a teacher from Switzerland who I met when I was volunteering at a homestay. lol But this place looks col=ol tho, I don’t mind hopping in here on a low season as I’d have the vicinity all by myself! Good thing you never had a problem hitchhiking there, I like to do it too, just take lots of precaution! x

  • Elisa
    October 31, 2017

    What a beautiful city! I had never heard of Saranda. The beaches and water look perfect and the boulevard super inviting. I love that there are also ruins and history to explore in the area. Also the picture of the straw umbrellas by the water is perfection. Thanks for sharing this comprehensive guide to add to my future travels.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Elisa
      February 9, 2018

      Thanks for reading Elisa 🙂

  • Megan Jerrard
    November 1, 2017

    Holy wow, they see quite the surge in tourism in summer months! I can see why tourists love it here though – it sounds like paradise! Sounds like September would be the best time to visit for me – I’m not super fond of mass tourism, and would prefer to visit Saranda when turns into a sleepy coastal city – I feel as though you get a more authentic vibe that way.

    Thanks for the list of attractions, hotels and restaurants – I would love to take in the castle, and the ruins, and the blue eye looks so beautiful – though I’m not sure if I’m courageous enough to swim in 10 degree water! I think I’ll reserve my swimming for the beach!

  • Barbara Mystkowska
    February 6, 2018

    Hi Anita,
    I am planning to visit Saranda in the first half of Septembe this year. We will be coming from Korfu. Could you advise about the most economical ferry from Korfu to Saranda?

    Thank you
    Barb

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Barbara Mystkowska
      February 9, 2018

      Hi there, Yes there is only one ferry company that serves from Corfu to Saranda and vice versa. It usually takes around 20 minutes. In the busy season you need to buy tickets beforehand but by September it should be quieter so you can buy them at the port. Hope that helps!

    • Karl Heinz Siber
      > Barbara Mystkowska
      July 15, 2018

      Barb, we have just returned from a vacation in Saranda. We flew to Corfu then took the ferry to Saranda. We found that two different kinds of ferry rides are being offered: There is a fast boat that feels more like an aeroplane once you have boarded – no open decks, just rows of seats in a closed cabin much like on a plane, just without seatbelts. This boat makes the trip in 35 minutes. Then there is the other type of ferry that can also load vehicles. It has open decks and travels at a slower speed. It takes about 60 or 70 minutes for the trip, and the tickets are somewhat cheaper. We took the slow boat on the way to Saranda and the fast boat for the return trip to Corfu. The fast boats are often sold out in advance during the high season.

  • Patricia Stewart
    March 18, 2018

    Would love to visit Albania as we have a much-loved relative there! He loves it. Know we are too busy here to go soon. Your photos are wonderful and thank you for them,

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Patricia Stewart
      September 9, 2018

      Thanks, Patricia!

  • margrit
    May 28, 2018

    thanks for all the info… very nice readung. Am in Saranda now, end May and as soon as I saw Saranda from the hydrofoil frim Corfu I felt enormously at ease. Went to Ksamil, fantadtic beaches but happy to be back in Saranda now and have rented a small appartment! live it here but will be gone before the July tourist invadion. enjoy

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > margrit
      May 30, 2018

      That’s amazing! I’m glad you like it here 🙂

  • Tara
    June 14, 2018

    Hi Anita. I’m planning a trip in Oct. it should be nice and quiet then. Did you say you live in Saranda? I live in UK and would like some thoughts about living in Saranda full time.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Tara
      June 28, 2018

      Hey Tara, yes I currently live in Saranda. I have a blog post called ‘what it’s like living in Albania’ in my Albanian archives which might be useful for you! Meanwhile let me know if you have any other questions 🙂

  • Karoline
    June 18, 2018

    Thanks for an wonderful introduction to Albania. Loved it!
    I’m going to Albania this summer. Arriving Tirana. Was planing to take an Fuergon or taxi down to Vlore the first evening (only staying i Tirana from early morning until leaving Vlore) and from Vlore til Sarande in the afternoon a day later. When looking at the “busrutes and approximate time schedule it seams a bit difficult getting transportation in the evening, do you know if thats right? If we aske a taxi driver or an fuergon to drive us from Tirana til Vlore, how much would that cost approximate? And do you think an fuergon or taxi driver will drive in the afternoon.. Lets say at 1700-o´clock? Looking forward to exploring this country! 😀

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Karoline
      June 28, 2018

      Hello Karoline, yes taking transport at night is limited and sometimes non-existent. I’m not sure on prices for a taxi, this is something you will have to check when you get here. The best thing to do is be flexible as bus times regularly change so it’s best to sort that out when you arrive. People are very friendly here. If you just ask a passer-by they will surely help or find someone that knows 🙂

  • Owen
    June 28, 2018

    Hi,
    Great article! I’m in Saranda now and looking to stay a while. Do you have any other info on renting apartments long term (month by month). looking for somewhere not on booking.com or similar sites.
    Thanks for the great read!
    O

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Owen
      June 28, 2018

      Hey Owen, firstly welcome to Saranda! Unfortunately finding a long-term rental at this time is very difficult as July and August are the busiest months and people tend to rent out apartments for short periods because they can earn double that way. Which means that you will be paying double, sometimes triple for an apartment. I would recommend to not look online as they are always more expensive and will only rent out per day and not per month. The way I have found my last two rentals is by talking to locals and then asking if they know of anyone renting an apartment. It’s all about making those connections!

      • Owen
        > Anita Hendrieka
        June 29, 2018

        Thank you, I had a good walk yesterday and found something suitable, as you said its all about talking to locals! Thanks again for a great read, I’m really enjoying Saranda so far!

  • Nancy
    July 19, 2018

    Hi Anita,

    thanks for all the info! A friend and I are planning on traveling through Montenegro on to Albania via bus (probably staying in Tirana and Himare/Sarande), and then getting a bus to Athens to fly home from Sarande or Gjirokaster. Do you know how reliable these bus services are in high season? We’re wondering whether to factor in a night in athens or whether it’d be okay to get an overnight bus and arrive in the morning in Athens ready for an afternoon flight.

    Thanks again for all the Albania info – we’re super excited to come!

  • Liz
    July 25, 2018

    Does every beach in Sarande charge for sunbeds? Are there any restaurants that if you buy something, they are free?

  • Lucy
    August 17, 2018

    Hi Anita,

    Lots of great info. Thanks! A friend and I are coming to Tirana and Sarande in September with an eye to moving there possibly this coming spring. Would love to take you out for a drink or dinner to pump you for more information.

    Lucy

    • Claudia Janecek
      > Lucy
      August 19, 2018

      Servus Anita,
      ein sehr toller Beitrag der mir geholfen hat…Danke !!!
      Ich bin über Airbn von Nov. bis Februar in Saranda (Neben Hotel Seaside).
      Ich habe mich davor nicht sonderlich f. dieses Land interessiert aber seit ich recherchiert habe bin ich begeistert.
      Da ich alleine unterwegs bin und auf einer Krücke gehe, möchte ich natürlich meine Anreise genau planen.
      Ich fliege über Korfu und dann mit der Fähre nach Sarande.
      Kannst du mir bitte sagen wie das mit dem Anmelden ist oder macht das der Unterkunftgeber ?
      Mich würde das “Blaue Auge” sehr interessieren. Kann man dorthin auch mit dem Taxi fahren ?
      Ich hoffe das Busse auch um diese Zeit regelmäßig fahren
      Wie verständige ich mich am Besten ?

      Nochmals danke für deinen schönen Beitrag und vllt. Antwort.

      GlG. aus Wien
      Claudia

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Lucy
      September 9, 2018

      Hey Lucy! Sorry for the late reply. Yes of course. Anything you need feel free to contact me contact@anitahendrieka.com 🙂

  • Ryan Wenzel
    September 23, 2018

    You have possibly the single most useful guides to Albania that I have been able to find. They are incredibly helpful little mini-guides. They are also quite well-written and your photos are nicely illustrative. Keep up the good work!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Ryan Wenzel
      September 27, 2018

      Thank you so much! 🙂 Glad you find them useful

  • Toni Caciopp
    October 15, 2018

    I’m enjoying your posts. Looking to move to Albania next year to retire. Single woman, 63 years old. Information in the internet is limited. I’d love to chat with you sometime!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Toni Caciopp
      October 16, 2018

      Hey Toni, great to hear that you’re thinking of moving to Albania! 🙂

  • Gertrud
    March 2, 2019

    Hello, we are two girls traveling to Sarande in the end of june (out of season according to det ferry homepage) Should we book in advance or is it fine to just buy the ferry tickets when we get there?

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Gertrud
      March 4, 2019

      Hey there, you don’t have to book well in advance. It’s good to maybe book the day before so you can secure your ticket and make sure you have a spot on the ferry 🙂

  • Alice
    March 20, 2019

    Hi Anita,
    Thank you for the great travel advice. I am travelling from England to Albania this summer and very excited. My boyfriend is Black British and I know he is a bit concerned about that he will suffer from racism in Albania or any of the other countries in Yugoslavia. I would be very grateful if you could give me some advice/information please. Many thanks in advance.

  • Vicki Rose
    March 27, 2019

    Hi Anita,
    Great informative article.
    We are spending about 3 weeks in Albania in June, then catching a morning ferry across to Corfu for flights.
    What area would you recommend staying the night prior to catching the ferry (so we can arrive early) and is the ferry/port within walking distance from the accommodation area?
    Many thanks,
    Vicki

  • Marcus
    April 8, 2019

    Hi Anita,
    we will visit Albania next month, starting in Saranda. After reading your article, My wife and me we are very curious to visit Saranda. What do you think how much Time do we Need to spend in Saranda? And Van we go by bus to the highlights? (Blue eye, Castle, ancient town etc…) thanks for reply
    Marcus

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Marcus
      April 17, 2019

      There’s a lot of things to do in Saranda so I would recommend at least a few days, a week is more relaxing! There’s a are buses to the likes of Butrint, Ksamil and Gjirokaster. The Gjirokaster bus can stop at the entrance of blue eye but then you have to walk a few km to blue eye. You can easily get a taxi to take you there and back for cheap. With the castle, you can either walk or catch a taxi up, it’s about a 45-1 hour walk.

  • Kieran
    April 13, 2019

    I have just arrived in Sarandë today for the first time. I have been to quite a few places in Albania but never to the south west Riviera stretch part, but now here I am.

    I am staying in a private apartment with a great balcony, 15-20 minutes walk from the centre for just short of £10 a night, absolutely stunned at the accommodation prices here, and the price to quality ratio is amazing.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Kieran
      April 17, 2019

      Sounds lovely. I hope you enjoy your time in Albania!

      • Kieran
        > Anita Hendrieka
        April 27, 2019

        It is extremely hard for me to decide where to live, between Tirana or Saranda.

        I am first and foremost a city person. I LOVE the city, the infinite number of people just walking around all throughout the day, the cars, the endless amounts of bars and restaurants, just the sounds and sights of any large city.

        Only problem with Tirana is there is no beach or seaside, no gorgeous views in that sense like Saranda.

        In Saranda I can have an apartment with a balcony with a decent view overlooking the city and/or sea, which has always been one of my dreams growing up. It really is stunning to wake up each and every day to it and it never gets old. The only problem is it is tiny by Tirana standards and therefore can get boring more quickly, it just doesn’t have the same city vibe.

        Durres isn’t really a compromise because it is like poor man’s saranda in my view so it just doesn’t do it for me, even taking day trips out to it.

        • Anita Hendrieka
          > Kieran
          May 2, 2019

          Yea,h if you’re a city person then Saranda will be disappointing because it’s so chilled, especially in the winter! I’m a full beach bum so Saranda is the perfect place for me! I hate Tirana in the summer, it’s so unbearably hot and nowhere to cool off but it’s great in the winter. What about 6 months in Saranda and 6 months in Tirana? :p

  • box athens
    May 3, 2019

    hi thanks for the nformation

  • Rob
    May 9, 2019

    Hi Anita,

    I’m really pleased I stumbled across your blog – a fantastic source of information! I’m coming to Albania in late May for a long weekend with some friends, starting in Tirana before heading south to Llogara and then onto Saranda. We’re keen to hike in Llogara and then kayak somewhere between Dhermi and Saranda (any tips welcome). We’re also wondering where is best to stay on the Sunday night. One of the towns along the coast or in Saranda? Ideally we’d like a bit of nightlife but I imagine it’s slim pickings in late May, especially on a Sunday. Any advice you can give?

    Thanks,
    R

  • Jane Hansen
    May 22, 2019

    Hi we Will go to Saranda for 2 weeks in the middle of June. We already rented a car for 3 days, any exiting things to see ? Maybe some war history ?

    We are really looking forward to getting to know a new exiting country

  • Virginia
    May 28, 2019

    Hi, I enjoyed your posts. Can you recommend a tour company for a one day visit from a cruise ship? Thank you so much – Virginia

  • Gerald Epstein
    May 31, 2019

    Such a useful site, many thanks, I have an ”urgent” enquiry – do you know where I can buy a suitcase near (very near) Saranda Port – tomorrow!!

  • Sean Pager
    June 8, 2019

    Hi Anita,
    Thanks for the very helpful blog info. I have a transport question. We want to travel across the border to Greece by bus end of June from Albania. Your Saranda guide says a bus to Athens departs twice daily (at 6:30). My question: can we take this bus but only buy a ticket to a town just across the border? Also, do you know the route the bus takes? To Athens, the bus could go either via Igoumenitsa (on the coast) or via Ioannina (further inland). Either would suit us, but I would like to know which in order to make arrangements in advance on the Greek side. Any information you could provide on this would be greatly appreciated!
    –Sean

    P.S. I’m guessing there’s one or more Greek-bound bus leaving from Gjirokaster as well and would appreciate the same information re: schedule and route for that, if you happen to know it. We would consider either option.

  • Vera
    July 4, 2019

    Anita,
    thank you for your lovely and helpful insights for Saranda and Ksamil.
    We are about to go there next week. Are there possibly some good and cheap shopping places and malls in Saranda? I would like to do shopping, as well as visiting all the places that you recommended.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Vera
      July 5, 2019

      There are no shopping malls in Saranda, it’s quite a small city. There are lots of shops in the centre though. Also, make sure you don’t go shopping from 2-6pm as that’s Albanians sleep time 🙂

      • Vera
        > Anita Hendrieka
        July 5, 2019

        Once again – thank you

  • Alina
    July 18, 2019

    Hi Anita,
    I’m planning a family trip to Albania this September. Can you recommend some beaches that are more secluded? Also, is the weather still warm enough for swimming in September? Thank you!

  • Alenka
    August 13, 2019

    Hi Anita, thank you for this article. I’m planning my trip in fist half of September. Is it still busy there? Werey looking for nightlife and clubs

  • francisco larrauri
    September 2, 2019

    Hi Anita I am planning to go to Saranda for 2 weeks , by anychance which bus to take from tirana to Saranda and where the bus leaves thank you Patricia and Francisco

  • Emily
    January 12, 2020

    Hi!
    Me and my mom are thinking about visiting saranda in june, how often (and what time if you know) does the boats go from and too corfu? I believe our flight is coming to corfu airport 10:30 or 11:30 june 6. And leaving 12:15 ond week later, are their any ferries that match that? I cant search so many months ahead on the sites i looked at.
    Thank you for this guide! I would really love to visit saranda if i find an easy way to take me from/to the airport!

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Emily
      February 3, 2020

      Yes, I think usually the last boat is around 5pm or 6pm so you should be fine!

  • Ana
    June 5, 2020

    As a habitant I totally agree that every thing you said is true . There is nothing that you have added and does not excist. I suggest everyone that they must visit saranda to have the time of their lives. 😊

  • Suzette Lundberg
    September 6, 2020

    Are you still living in Sarande. I am planning a travel to the area. Would love to meet up with you when I arrive.

    • ana
      > Suzette Lundberg
      February 22, 2021

      yes I am still living here. I would love to .

  • James Macsay
    June 17, 2021

    Hey Anita,
    Just discovered your blog (great stuff!) as we researched for a potential summer trip in mid-Aug (kids school break) to Tirana and Saranda.
    – From your experience, do you think that the load of tourists will be the same or lower than usual this summer season due to the Coronavirus dynamics?

    A neighbor of mine who was in Ksamil (summer 2019) said people had to book a space on the beach through Facebook. That didn`t sound too exciting:-) Is that now becoming common practice

    If one flies into Tirana – spends 2-3 days and then wants to spend some time near the sea (quieter and open areas /w/o beach club atmosphere) would you have any other top-of-mind tips beyond Saranda?

    Any comments or ideas you may have are appreciated.
    James in Switzerland

  • Krista
    July 13, 2021

    Hey quick question! We are traveling there from India! So we won’t be able to fly into Greece bc of travel bands? What is the best way to get from the capital to serenada?
    Thanks so much

  • Ahmed
    August 2, 2021

    Thanks soon much

  • Gary
    January 29, 2023

    Can’t wait to move there in April. Have lived all over the world and currently in Mexico. Seems the perfect place for me. Hope to see you around.

  • Jacques
    February 24, 2023

    Hello Anita!
    Thank you for this post.
    A few questions, is July too crowded, or is it still enjoyable in Saranda?
    What is the best way to go from Saranda to Budva Montenegro?
    Regards,
    Jacques

  • Jack
    February 26, 2023

    Maybe things have changed, I see this post is nearly 6 years old, but Albanians seem to perpetrate a lot of scams against tourists, especially with regards to accommodation. “Trustworthy” isn’t a word I’d use for the majority, in my experience. I have met good ones, but they also tend to be Albanians who lived in the “West” for many years before returning. Even they have told me most Albanians just treat tourist housing as a cash grab. I’ve also heard pickpocketing there can be rather bad (just read this now, don’t like hearing that). So, fair warning. I’m not sure if I will visit or not, right now, because while crime statistics say it’s very safe, and people describe it sweetly, I’ve only found unpleasant Airbnb hosts looking to take advantage to the point I changed my plans to avoid Saranda, at least until I can find an honest person to rent from.

    • Anita Hendrieka
      > Jack
      March 13, 2023

      Heya! Unfortunately with Airbnb and rental places, there are a lot of over-charging tourists, which you will find in a lot of places round the world. Other than that Albania is very safe. I may have created this post many years ago but I still update them every year and my opinion is still the same. There are going to be bad people anywhere you go, but I don’t subscribe to the idea that all Albanians are ‘cash-grabby’ or untrustworthy because I’ve lived here for nearly 6 years and met some amazing people – in fact my partner is Albanian, never lived overseas and is incredibly trust-worthy. As for pickpocketing, I’m not sure where you read that but this rarely happens in Albania.

  • Haley
    April 7, 2023

    Yo Sup Anita!
    Iam curious about ethnic food/restaurant variety.
    Are there any Asian restaurants in Saranda, specially Thai?

  • Chris Levesque
    September 8, 2023

    Hello I am wondering if you know when buses go from Tirana to saranda? I have found three different time departures. Any help would be great thank you.

  • Efrain Felipe
    December 1, 2023

    Hello, Traveling in May need help? Staying in Dhermi, Ksamil, Sarande, Will like to take ferry to Corfu, staying one day in Tirana.