Horseshoe-shaped Saranda is close to the Greek island of Corfu (27km). Larger ships will anchor and use their tenders to bring you ashore.
The new cruise terminal is about a 10 minute walk from downtown Saranda.
Watch a destination video.
Saranda is Albania's most southern city. Situated opposite the Island of Corfu, it is now mostly visited by day trippers who come to enjoy this previously inaccessible resort. It is a tourist site that was the preferred choice for Albanian new couples on their honeymoon. Saranda has an excellent climate, averaging 290 sunny days a year. In the summer temperatures rarely exceed 30 degrees during the day, while the sea breeze at night is quite refreshing.
As some old communist habits still linger the town might at first sight seem somewhat trashy with many unfinished buildings...but times are changing.
The inside of the town is a combination of top new buildings, old taverns, cafeterias and houses built in the traditional impressive stone style, even with top roofs of stone plates. Albanian and northwest Greeks are the best carved-stone workers in the world.
There's not much to see in Saranda except for some excavations near the main square, but the city makes a good base for trips to nice beaches, and for visiting Butrint.
Above Saranda is the old Castle of Lekures at "Qafa e Gjashtes" (The Pass of Six). 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.
Several city buses run to Butrint daily (50 lek, from Saranda's main square, via the Butrint hotel; 30 minutes).
It pays to compare your cruise line tours here.
Just outside of Ksamili, lies Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Butrint was an ancient city throughout Greek, Roman, bishopric and Byzantine periods. The city was finally abandoned during the Middle Ages perhaps 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's gate as well numerous constructions built throughout the periods. Furthermore, what you see is just 15 per cent 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.
Situated in southern Albania, Gjirokastra perches on the steep side of the Drino valley overlooking an historic landscape framed by snow-capped mountains. This ‘city of a thousand steps’ comprises hundreds of Ottoman-style tower houses with distinctive stone roofs, wooden balconies and whitewashed stone walls. Dominated by the sheer flanks of its vast castle, Gjirokastra is a magical city with a tumultuous past. From feudal stronghold to Ottoman jewel to Italian colony, the city has known many rulers and has inspired poets, authors and artists. Bus schedule.
Murano glass, exquisite and unusual jewelry, handmade lace, masks and marbled paper, fine clothing, leather goods, etchings and other artwork are just a sampling of what's available.
Saranda is bustling with restaurants, cafes and bars. Fast food places offer a surprisingly cheap and tasty variety of options.
Be aware that sanitary facilities are not always of a western standard.
Lek 131 = 1 Euro
Plenty of ATM's around.
Generally Mon-Sat 0800-1200 and 1500-1900 (although regional variations are possible). Many shops are also open Sunday.
Holidays in Albania
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