Visiting Butrint, Albania: One of Albania’s Best UNESCO Sites
Last Updated on July 22, 2021
Butrint is an important UNESCO site in Albania which is also incredibly popular. It’s one of the biggest and best places to see while on your holiday to Albania. If you’re staying in the nearby city of Saranda, or maybe even closer in Ksamil (the gem of the Albanian Riviera), then you simply cannot leave without making a stop here!
I would allow around 3 hours to visit Butrint. I have easily spent at least the whole morning or afternoon there as there’s just so much to see!
Visiting Butrint National Park: One of Albania’s best UNESCO sites
Butrint is an ancient city which was inhabited since prehistoric times. This site was an important site with ancient artefacts found dating back to the iron and middle ages. You can see some artefacts in the museum which is located within the castle.
Within Butrint you will see very well-preserved ancient buildings such as a theatre which seats over 2500 people. It is still used from time to time for events. There’s also the Temple of Asclepius as well as an Acropolis, columns, a beautiful floor mosaic (includes medallions of 69 churches), a 6th-century basilica, Lions gate and a Castle with an incredible view of Lake Butrint and the surroundings.
You will see when wandering around Butrint that some of the buildings are still deep underground. There’s still a lot to be discovered within the Butrint national park! Some locals believe that Butrint was actually the sunken city of Atlantis.
How to get to Butrint
By Car: Getting to Butrint is incredibly easy. If you have a car then you can drive here, there’s a big parking lot next to Butrint. You just follow the road that goes from Saranda to Ksamil. When you will pass Ksamil and just keep driving until the road ends, that’s Butrint! The ride takes about 20-30 minutes.
By bus: There’s a bus which leaves every hour from Saranda (and goes through Ksamil too). The bus costs 100 lek from Saranda and will take you to the door of Butrint. From Saranda, the bus leaves from the small roundabout near the old fruit and vegetable market, or you can also catch it from the centre at the bus stop that’s opposite the ruins and friendship park.
By taxi: There will be taxi drivers that can take you to Butrint easily for around 10 euros each way (about 1300 LEK).
Top tips for visiting Butrint
- Go early! In the summer temperatures can easily reach late 30’s/40 degrees Celsius. My recommendation is to go early. Even though Butrint is mostly covered in a dense forest it’s still ideal to get in early to beat the crowds too. From April-September cruise ships dock in Saranda and the cruise ship passengers come here by the busloads.
- Wear comfortable shoes. Butrint is a big park and most likely you will spend at least a couple of hours walking around.
- Take water and snacks with you. There’s a restaurant at the top of the park but I always recommend taking something with you to keep you going, particularly water!
- Go even further and take a picnic with you! There’s plenty of places to stop throughout the park to have a little picnic and enjoy the scenery.
- Time your visit so you can see the mosaic of Butrint revealed! Only a few days every year the mosaic which lies within Butrint is uncovered for the public to see. The rest of the year it is covered up with stones to preserve it. To see this incredible piece of history, make sure you check the Butrint site for details on when they will be uncovering it.
Cost of Butrint
To get into Butrint you can buy tickets at the counter, no need to buy tickets online.
- For international visitors: 1000 LEK
- For Groups of 10 or more: 800 LEK
Opening hours of Butrint
Butrint is open every day from 8am until dusk but the museum is open from 9am – 4pm.
Other things to do nearby
1. Take the rope ferry
I highly recommend taking the rope ferry over the lake to see the other old ruins. The rope ferry is a unique sight itself. The old platform allows locals to get to the other side of the lake. If you don’t take a ride to the other side, then make sure you watch how they do it!
2. Visit Ali Pashas fortress
On your way to Ksamil from Butrint, there is a parking lot with a platform where you can see the fortress. It is completely surrounded by water. From June until September there will be local fisherman offering rides to the Fortress. (Read more about how to get to it here).
If you haven’t already then be sure to visit Ksamil. It’s the most beautiful place along the Albanian Riviera, famous for its sandy beaches and turquoise clear water.
Where to stay near Butrint
Midrange: For a mid-range hotel in Saranda try Olive tree, prices are around 35 euros per night.
Airbnb: There’s so many great Airbnb’s that are in Ksamil and Saranda. Make sure you click here to get $35 free credit when you sign up.
Backpacker: although there are no hostels in Ksamil there are in Saranda. My recommendation is Hairy Lemon hostel, it has the best view out of all the hostels!
Camping: There are lots of camping spots and parks in Ksamil which is nearby Butrint.
If you would like to know more about what to see and do in this area, then make sure you read my recommendations on the best things to do in Ksamil here or my full Saranda guide here.
Leave a comment below and tell me if you are planning to visit Butrint this year! Don’t forget to join my Facebook group ‘Travelling Albania’ to join the conversation.
Other articles you will love:
- Albania Travel Guide for First Timers: Everything You Need to Know!
- Backpacking Albania: The Best Hostels in Albania
- Shatervan Idesh – A New Project and Mission in Saranda, Albania
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