Are you looking for the best day trips from Saranda on your Albania vacation?
You’ve come to the right place!
This vibrant coastal city is full of culture and history, making it the perfect place to explore. Saranda is a perfect destination for picturesque beaches and great outdoor activities. But the small city of Saranda also has much to offer regarding day trips.
From the ancient ruins of Butrint to secluded beach towns, Saranda’s surroundings offer a variety of activities and experiences for tourists. You can experience all this without having to travel too far from Saranda, too.
Whether after a relaxing beach holiday or an action-packed exploration of Albanian culture, these day trips will leave you with many memories that will last a lifetime. So pack your bags and get ready – let’s explore the best day trips from Saranda!
7 Best Day Trips from Saranda in 2023
These 7 best day trips from Saranda are a great way to see what the surrounding area offers. Albania’s Ionian Coast is full of stunning scenery and breathtaking views, so it makes sense to explore the area around Saranda when you’re staying there.
1. Ksamil Beaches and Islands
If you’re looking for a peaceful beach day away from the hustle and bustle of Saranda, then head to stunning Ksamil Beach. The Ksamil beaches and islands are a paradise waiting to be explored, making it one of the best day trips from Saranda.
Ksamil is a small seaside village with four small islands connected by sandbanks. They’re close enough together that visitors can explore them all in one day.
From the stunning turquoise waters to the white sand beaches, this little oasis will surely please beachgoers of all levels. The crystal-clear waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling.
Visitors can enjoy picnic lunches or relax on lounge chairs while taking in the beautiful views of the Ionian Sea and the Ksamil Islands.
Getting there is a breeze if you want to visit the breathtaking Ksamil Islands! You can find plenty of boat operators nearby along the shoreline or bravely take on swimming there as it’s just a short distance from the mainland and boasts calming waters.
How to Get to Ksamil from Saranda
Ksamil is easily reachable from Saranda by a 20-minute car ride or bus. The bus ticket will cost around 100-150 LEK each way and departs at the bus station located here. The first bus departs at 5:30 AM and the last at 9:30 PM.
👉TRAVEL TIP: Be sure to arrive at the bus station in advance. The drivers usually only leave once the bus is near or over capacity, which can happen quickly. If you don’t want to stand in the aisle, go early!
2. Corfu Day Trip from Saranda
Yes, you can visit another country in just one day! Corfu is a Greek island near the Albanian coast. The crystal-clear waters, stunning landscapes, and cultural attractions make it an ideal day trip from Saranda.
The Greek island of Corfu is only a short ferry ride away from Saranda and departs from the Saranda Ferry Terminal. Visitors can spend the day exploring Corfu’s many attractions, such as its historical monuments, old Venetian fortresses, and stunning beaches.
🛥️You can use Ferryhopper to book ferry tickets from Saranda to Corfu.
➡️Click here to book!
The most beautiful area of Corfu is Paleokastritsa Beach, known for its turquoise waters and secluded coves. Here, you can swim in crystal-clear waters or relax in the sun on one of the lounge chairs.
In addition, be sure to visit Corfu Town to explore the old town’s narrow alleyways, vibrant cafes and bistros, and traditional Greek restaurants.
Old Town on Corfu is a great spot for souvenir shopping, sightseeing, and trying delicious Greek food. It’s cosmopolitan and vibrant, giving you an authentic taste of Greece.
The island is also known for its vibrant nightlife scene with plenty of bars and clubs to enjoy after a long day of sightseeing if you want to visit for more than a day trip.
3. The Blue Eye
The Blue Eye of Saranda is a natural phenomenon with crystal-clear blue water surrounded by lush greenery. It’s a natural underwater spring that is believed to have healing properties.
The Blue Eye is the source of the Bistricë, a 25 km long river that culminates in the Ionian Sea. Its water is so clear that visitors can see up to 20 meters deep into the pool’s depths. It’s the perfect spot for a swim or to admire the beauty of nature.
Swimming in the Blue Eye is one of the most popular tourist activities, and it’s easy to understand why! The Blue Eye’s unique natural beauty can’t be found anywhere else!
If you want to swim at the Blue Eye, arrive early. During the high season, it does get crowded in the afternoons when the air temperature rises.
👉TRAVEL TIP: The water at the Blue Eye is very cold year-round. However, in the hot summer months, this will be very refreshing.
You can actually hike to the Blue Eye if you want an extra adventure on your day trip from Saranda. A 6.5-mile trail near Shkodër takes about five hours to complete. This is a popular hiking area, so you’ll likely encounter other hikers during your explorations.
➡️Check out this excellent Blue Eye Tour from Saranda.
4. Butrint National Park
Butrint is one of Albania’s most popular tourist destinations because of its ancient ruins dating back to the 5th century BC. These ruins are considered one of the most important archaeological sites in the Balkans.
Butrint has been home to civilizations since its birth in prehistory, including the Greeks, Romans, and Byzantines. After reaching its peak of success under Byzantine rule and a short stint with Venice, it was ultimately abandoned due to marshlands forming in the vicinity during the late Middle Ages.
The Butrint National Park has various historical monuments, such as a 6th-century BCE temple, an ancient theatre, and a large lake. The park is filled with lush greenery and breathtaking views of the Ionian Sea.
It’s the perfect spot for a day of exploration and discovery and a great place to take some really unique photos.
It’s also great for a leisurely stroll and some birdwatching. Visitors can take a guided tour of the site to learn more about its history and wildlife or explore the ruins independently.
➡️I highly recommend this Combo Tour: Significant Landmarks.
Visits Butrint, Ksamil, Blue Eye, and Lekuresi Castle
5. Explore the Ottoman-Period Gjirokaster
Gjirokaster is a small town with stunning views of the Ionian Sea and 18th-century Ottoman architecture. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it an exciting place to explore.
Gjirokastra is renowned as the “Stone City” because of its many buildings made entirely from stone, its streets paved with cobblestones, and an ancient Bazaar that houses a majestic Mosque built in 1557. Wander through these historic lanes to experience this remarkable city for yourself!
The most popular thing about Gjirokaster is its Ottoman-era fortress, which can be found at the top of the town. It’s a great place for photography and selfies, so don’t forget your camera!
It’s also a great place to learn about Albania’s history and culture, as it is full of traditional houses from different periods. There are plenty of cafes and restaurants to enjoy if you’d like to take a break from sightseeing.
The streets are still lined with substantial remnants of old stone houses, cobblestone paths, and traditional shops. Traveling through the old town and exploring the narrow alleys for a unique day trip from the Saranda experience.
➡️For a historical guided tour of this gorgeous town, book this
Gjirokaster Private Tour.
How do I get from Saranda to Gjirokaster?
Getting to Gjirokaster from Saranda is easy by car. It’s about a one-hour drive, and you’ll pass many beautiful vistas. A great resource to book rental cars from in Saranda is Discover Cars.
Here is where I check rental car prices:
If you don’t want to rent a car on your trip, you can also take a bus from Saranda to Gjirokaster. Starting from Saranda, you can take a furgon bus to Gjirokaster every hour between 6 AM and 5 PM.
The journey is only 1.5 hours long, and the bus trip is just 300 LEK one way! Saranda’s central bus station is next to the synagogue ruins.
This remarkable 5th-6th century CE synagogue adds an extra layer of intrigue to your journey.
6. Beaches along Himara’s Coast
Himara’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in Albania, with stunning views of the Ionian Sea. The golden sand and crystal-clear waters make it a perfect day trip from Saranda.
The long stretch of sandy beach is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, or relaxing in the Mediterranean sunshine. There are also cool restaurants and bars to enjoy as you enjoy the breathtaking views.
Porto Palermo Beach
Porto Palermo Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Himara, and it’s also a great place to go diving or snorkeling.
The beach is known for its stunning turquoise waters and rocky cliffs, making it an ideal spot for swimming and exploring the underwater world. Plus, there is a nearby castle ruin that visitors can explore too.
The ruins are said to be from the 17th century and are known as Porto Palermo Fortress. Some people also call it Ali Pash Tepelena’s castle.
The best snorkeling on Porto Palermo beach is on the isthmus near the fortress ruins. You can easily find scorpionfish, sand steenbras, sea urchins, and starfish in shallow waters.
Gjipe Beach is a hidden gem in Himara, and it’s the perfect spot to escape from the hustle and bustle of Saranda. It’s been listed among the best beaches in Albania.
This beach is tucked between two cliffs, offering stunning views of the Ionian Sea. The golden sand and turquoise waters are ideal for swimming or relaxing in the sunshine.
Plus, in the summer, there are some restaurants and bars in the area to enjoy after sunbathing.
Are you up for an exciting adventure? If so, why not stay at the beach overnight and camp in the wild?! The campsite also offers daily access passes for restroom and shower amenities. So go ahead – take a chance to have some fun outdoors under the stars!
Jale Beach sometimes spelled Jali or Jal, is one of the most beautiful beaches in Himara, with stunning views of the Ionian Sea and a picturesque landscape. Even the road to the beach is beautiful, with centennial olive tree groves lining the route.
The golden sand and turquoise waters make it an ideal destination for swimming or lounging in the sun. You can even rent a sun lounger for 600-700 LEK daily!
The beach also has a restaurant with delicious local seafood dishes, so you can enjoy a delicious meal while enjoying the sea views.
Plus, nearby Jale village is also worth exploring if you’d like a party vibe. The town has become known for its all-day parties and loud music, so stick with Gjipe Beach if you want pure relaxation.
7. Finiq’s Archaeological Site
Finiq is a small town located just north of Saranda, and it’s home to some incredible archaeological sites. The ancient Illyrian tribes inhabited the area, so there are plenty of ruins to explore.
The Illyrians were the first inhabitants of Albania, settling in the area from 1000 BCE to 250 CE. Albanians are believed to be their descendants – a people Greeks colonized during the 7th century BCE and later subjugated by Romans.
One of the most interesting sites is the remains of an old castle, where you can find an array of stone walls and towers. The ruins also have an ancient theater, a small temple, and two towers. The town also features the remains of an old port, with a few still-standing columns.
Some exciting churches also exist, including Saint Stephen’s Church and Saint Mary’s Church. Finiq is definitely worth a visit if you’re interested in exploring Albania’s rich history and culture.
➡️This is a great tour that visits Finiq!
Is Saranda Worth Visiting
Yes! Saranda is worth visiting for its beautiful beaches, cultural attractions, and day trips to nearby destinations. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an action-packed adventure, there’s something for everyone in Saranda!
The best parts of visiting Saranda are its stunning views of the Ionian Sea and its close proximity to some incredible archaeological sites. There are so many fun day trips from Saranda nearby.
Where to Stay in Saranda
If you plan to stay in Saranda, plenty of accommodation options exist. From luxury resorts and hotels to budget-friendly hostels and vacation rentals, you will surely find something that fits your needs and budget.
There’s even beach camping if your budget is small or you want a unique adventure.
Staying in Saranda’s Center is a great option to be close to the action. The city center has restaurants, bars, cafes, and shops, so you can explore all Saranda offers.
If you stay in the Center, visit the old castle and the lighthouse for amazing city views.
Hotels in the Center
📍House of A&Arwen ($)– With modern rooms and a location that’s hard to beat, House of A&Arwen is a great choice to stay in the city center. Breakfast is included in the rate, and the hotel also has free parking, 24-hour reception, and superb hospitality.
📍Illyrian Boutique Hotel ($)– This boutique hotel is right in the city center, providing guests easy entertainment access and proximity to beaches. In addition, this hotel offers a good breakfast, a bar, and balconies with each room.
The Rruga Butrinti neighborhood is an excellent option for those looking for accommodation close to the beach. This area east of the Center is home to some of Saranda’s most popular beaches. It’s also a bit closer to Ksamil Beach, south of Saranda.
But it’s still near the city center so you can explore the beach and the city! When staying in Rruga Butrinti, don’t forget to visit the old mosque and take in the stunning sea views.
Hotels in Rruga Butrinti
📍Glow Boutique Hotel & Suites ($$)– Featuring a great rooftop pool and stunning views, Glow Boutique Hotel & Suites is a great accommodation option. Additionally, this hotel offers sea-view rooms and breakfast and is located near Flamingo and Mango Beach.
📍Seawave Hotel ($)– Right in front of Mango Beach and located a bit further south of the central part of Rruga Butrinti, the 3-star Seawave Hotel offers a great location and views. The breakfast room is on a rooftop terrace with a jaw-dropping Ionian sea view. This is where I stayed during my visit and had a great time.
If you’re looking for a more secluded location, Kodrra Saranda could be perfect. It’s quieter than the Center but still accessible to the hustle and bustle of Saranda’s Center.
This neighborhood is located just outside the city center, to the west, and offers stunning views of the Ionian Sea. The best place to view the sea is from the Kodrra Lighthouse.
Kodrra is also home to some of Saranda’s best restaurants, shops, and cafes, which makes it the perfect place to explore Saranda’s local culture.
No matter where you stay in Saranda, you will have an unforgettable experience!
Hotels in Kodrra
📍Yacht Premium Hotel ($$)– This 4-star hotel is just a 2-minute walk from Saranda’s main beach and features sea views with every room. Together with amazing views, Yacht Premium Hotel has an on-site restaurant, bar, and free parking for guests.
📍Hotel Aloha ($)– With an ideal location right in front of Saranda’s main beach, it offers guests excellent views. The hotel has a private beach with sunbeds for guests and is around a 10-minute walk to the city center. A daily buffet breakfast and a bar, restaurant, and 24-hour reception are provided.
To Sum Up: Day Trips from Saranda
From relaxing beach holidays to action-packed explorations of history and culture, there are a variety of day trips from Saranda for everyone.
The best part is that many of the best day trips from Saranda are just a short drive, or bus ride, away!
Start planning your Saranda adventure today, and include some of these fantastic day trips in your travel itinerary. With abundant activities and attractions, you will have a great time here! Saranda is one of the best reasons why Albania is worth visiting!