Saranda, What to See & Do | A Beach holiday

They return to Albania and precisely to Saranda – in Albanian,  Sarandë or Sarande –  with a  post that I hope will be of help to those who intend to organize a trip to Albania by the sea as we did on two occasions.

First of all, do you know that Saranda is also called Santi Quaranta in Italian? This is because the name of this Albanian city very close to Greece derives from the Greek ” Agioi Saranda “, or ” Forty Saints “, referring to the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste to whom a Byzantine monastery in the city was dedicated. Instead, during the Second World War, from 1940 to 1944, the city was called Porto Edda, in honor of Edda Ciano Mussolini.

And now ready to go to Saranda! 🙂

Saranda beach holiday: general information

If you are looking for a destination for a beach holiday in Albania that can give you crystal clear waters without giving up the worldly life, most likely many will recommend Saranda. Among other things, this Albanian city is becoming more and more cosmopolitan and really welcomes tourists from all over Europe (and beyond!).

Before leaving for this Albanian seaside resort, however, a tip: bring a travel guide of Albania and a good book to fully immerse yourself in the country. Of Albania books there would be many from those of Kadare ( ” The bridge with three arches ” takes place in Albania in 1300 and tells a story of mystery with the background of one of the many bridges that you will see on the road). But if you are looking for an easy reading under the umbrella we recommend “ Albania in furgon “. Albania guide it is suitable for those who have an on the road itinerary in mind. For the rest, the post is organized as a mini guide of Saranda.

  1. What to see in Saranda
  2. How to visit Saranda
  3. How to get to Saranda
  4. The beaches of Saranda
  5. What to do in Saranda
  6. What to see near Saranda
  7. Where to eat in Saranda
  8. Where sleeping in Saranda
  9. The nightlife of Saranda
  10. Information for a holiday in Albania
[cml_media_alt id = '6576'] Saranda - The city [/ cml_media_alt]

What to see in Saranda and why to choose it

Saranda is perhaps the best known and most touristic place in southern Albania , the first to be open to tourism in this area. Also called ” the white city “, for the glance that it offers standing out against the blue of the sea, today Sarande is a very popular destination for those who decide to organize their holidays in Albania and also the most organized tourist.

To be honest, it is mostly young people who choose Saranda , in fact there are many chic clubs, bars and restaurants along the sea and many things to do besides the beach. We are actually very little worldly and if you are like us you might prefer little Ksamil , where the sea is wonderful and in the evening there is very little to do (at the bottom of the post you will find more details also for this southern Albanian destination!) .

But a walk along the Saranda seafront is irresistible and in fact we returned there also during our second trip to southern Albania and its beaches are too, moreover the city is a good starting point for visiting southern Albanian .

Saranda with children

One of the reasons many Italian families choose Saranda is that the city is a little more lively than nearby Ksamil and certainly has more services . If you are organizing a family trip to Albania and are thinking of stopping here too you will find all the tips for a holiday in Saranda with children by following the link to the post

[cml_media_alt id = '6578'] Saranda - The small tourist port [/ cml_media_alt]

How to visit Saranda during a holiday in Albania

In Albania it is not difficult to move independently even if public transport is often lacking and you have to be patient with waiting. This city is relatively small, at least by European standards. However, if you prefer to discover the city with a guided tour, we recommend the tour of Saranda like a local .

If, on the other hand, you intend to visit Albania in addition to Saranda, the best solution is to rent a car . The costs of car rental in Albania are not high (about 30 euros per day in very high season) but if you want to evaluate the rates you can find them by following the comparison link.

How to get to Saranda

The White City is located in the south of Albania and you can reach Saranda in many ways depending on how much time you have available.

  • Saranda from Tirana or Durres: If you arrive north – by plane to Tirana , by car from Montenegro or by ferry to Durres – and you are by car you can get to Saranda along two roads. The first is the road along the coast that from Vlora – Valona in Italian – will take you through the Llogara Park and then down to Saranda. It is a very scenic road but it is the longest. The other road is instead more internal, passes by Gjirokaster and is shorter, in about three hours you will arrive in Saranda.
  • Saranda from Corfu: Another alternative is to get to Saranda from the sea, with the ferry from Corfu by plane you arrive in the city in two and a half hours, while the hydrofoil takes half an hour.
  • Saranda from Iogumenisa: If you are coming from the south the last cheaper alternative is to get to Saranda by taking the ferry to Greece at Iogumenisa and from there reach Saranda in about two hours by car.

Public transport in the Land of Eagles is not yet so well equipped for tourism so if you don’t have a car you can book a private transfer to Albania from Vlora, Durres or Tirana that will take you to Saranda (to check costs and times, find the link)

[cml_media_alt id = '6580'] Saranda - The view of Ksamil from the Castle of Saranda [/ cml_media_alt]

The beaches of Saranda with the most beautiful sea

The sea is certainly one of the good reasons to organize a holiday in Saranda. In the city there are many beaches, which follow one after the other without interruption. The water is clear, although there are many people, and there is sand, but the beaches are quite small and crowded. From the Port of Saranda, however, there are several boat trips to go and see some beautiful beaches accessible only by sea such as the beach of Krorëz .

Among the beaches of Saranda not to be missed that are not far from the city there are Heaven Beach (a pebble and rocky beach that is not very busy but with bars and umbrellas) and Pasqirat Plazhi (two twin beaches, the first is equipped with umbrellas and restaurant, the second one is free but accessible only from the sea). If you have a car, an idea can be to reach Ksamil which is about half an hour away or to go to the beaches of Lukove further away from the city which are less crowded and really beautiful.

If you want an idea of what we believe are the most beautiful beaches in Albania you can read the dedicated post by clicking on the link.

What to do in Saranda besides the beach

If it is true that the sea is an excellent reason to organize a holiday in Saranda, it is also true that the city also offers more than just the beach.

If you love history, for example, there are the ruins of an ancient synagogue, the monastery and the Lekursi Castle , now converted into a restaurant from which you can enjoy a splendid view of the city and the ruins of the monastery. If, on the other hand, Saranda’s nightlife pushes you to vacation in Albania, know that you won’t be disappointed because there is no shortage of discos, clubs, bars and restaurants and the prices are cheap.

[cml_media_alt id = '6581'] Saranda - The view of the city at night from the Castle [/ cml_media_alt]

What to see near Saranda

The city can be a good base for visiting southern Albania by exploring the other locations along the Albanian Riviera : small Borsh, Qeparo, Himare with its magnificent beaches and trendy Dhermi . But there are also other destinations to see near Saranda for a different day by the sea.

Trips from Saranda: Gjirokastra, Syri i Kalter and Antigonea

In fact, from the city you can reach Gjirokaster in about an hour and a half by car , stopping on the road at Syri i Kalter , also called Blue Eye or Blue Eye, a very cold spring that forms an intense blue lake surrounded by lush nature with restaurants and bars where to eat or drink something al fresco. If you love archeology from Gjirokaster you can climb up to the ruins of Antigonea , the city built by Pyrrhus and destroyed by the Romans only 150 years later.

From Saranda in about an hour you arrive at the Archaeological Park of Butrint , one of the most beautiful in Albania which is located immediately after Ksamil . If you want to know more you can follow the links and read the stories dedicated to our holidays in Saranda and surroundings while if you do not have a car do not worry because it is also possible to participate in  guided tours of Butrint departing from Saranda . The latter can be booked in the city or even online (follow the link for all the info).

Corfu day trip and how to reach Corfu from Saranda

But the seaside resorts of southern Albania are very close to Greece and the port of departure for ferries and hydrofoils is Porto Edda in Saranda. So if you have time, why don’t you take the opportunity to “jump” this country? From Saranda by hydrofoil you can reach Corfu in about half an hour of travel. If you want to read our visit to the island and have some advice on how to go to Corfu from Saranda you can follow the link and read the post with all the information.

[cml_media_alt id = '6496'] Butrint - The great theater in excellent condition [/ cml_media_alt]

Where to eat in Saranda

There is no shortage of bars and restaurants in Saranda and even just walking along the promenade you will be spoiled for choice. A special place is the Lejursi Castle Restaurant, where the view is priceless and if you choose the pizzeria the prices are still fair even if more expensive than elsewhere.

In general in the south and in particular in Saranda you can taste many Greek specialties. A good Greek fast food tavern with low prices is the Viljani on the seafront. Another waterfront area but closer to the port is the Bar Restaurant Plazhi I Ri Caci . In none of these places, however, we found a changing table or high chairs.

Where to sleep in Saranda: hotels in Sarande and houses for rent

Our advice for choosing where to sleep in Saranda is to be careful where you book . Normally in Albania it is very easy to find “ Dhoma Plazhi ” or “ Dhoma me Qera ” (ie houses for rent by the sea or not far away) along the road. In this way you will be able to see them and choose directly, but if you do not speak the language you may prefer to rely on the various booking portals.

In this case, check the reviews carefully, keep in mind that the road that runs along the seafront is very busy (and therefore make sure you really have a sea view because the street view could be very chaotic) or you prefer a house a little further away from the beaches but in a more peaceful and quiet area. We in Albania have always relied on Booking, always finding ourselves well. As a hotel in Saranda we recommend the Sunny Apartment , in a strategic position and with a beautiful sea view.

The nightlife of Saranda

Did you know that the nightlife of Saranda is one of the liveliest of the southern Albanian coast ? This is actually also one of the reasons why many young people choose it. In the city you will find bars, discos, discopubs, piano bars and many restaurants, which are concentrated in particular on the Saranda seafront. Often it is the beaches, especially those on the side towards Ksamil, that turn into discos that enliven the night of Saranda and tourists.

As for costs , prices in Albania are lower than in Italy and entertainment is no exception. For a beer you will be around 2 euros and a little more for a cocktail, while a pizza you will pay about 3/4 euros.

Useful information for organizing a holiday in Saranda

Albanian guides and books to read

Finally, here we are with the chapter travel guides and books to read for a holiday in Albania that we mentioned at the beginning.

Other tips for a seaside holiday in Albania

So far our tips for organizing a holiday in Saranda. If you want more information for a trip to Albania by the sea, keep in mind that Albania is a small country but the distances are longer than it would seem from the kilometers because the roads are often winding and if you can avoid the month of August , when everywhere is more expensive and busier! 🙂 Below we indicate some articles that could be useful for you to organize yourself better, just click to open the article and read the insights:

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