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A weekend itinerary for Sarandë, Albania

Should you’re contemplating travelling in Albania and spending a weekend in Sarandë, look no additional. This weblog put up is jam-packed stuffed with the very best issues to do in Sarandë, Albania, certainly one of Europe’s hidden gems and greatest saved secrets and techniques.

Previous to 1991 and the collapse of the nation’s communist dictatorship, Albania was thought-about some of the remoted international locations on the planet. This was clearly unhealthy for Albanians however it has meant that the nation has been a lot slower to make it onto the radar of worldwide travellers. Albania is the right place to go travelling if you wish to get off the overwhelmed vacationer monitor, and in addition one of many most cost-effective locations to go to in Europe! See our information to visiting Albania right here.

The small nation of two.9 million occupies slightly below 28,000 sq. kilometres in southeastern Europe, bordering Greece, Macedonia, and Kosovo, and it’s spectacularly stunning. Naturally, Albanians are fairly pleased with it. They’re notably pleased with the nation’s southern Riviera, and particularly so of the small port metropolis of Sarandë.

And so they need to be. Located on the foot of the Ceraunian mountains, dealing with out into the straight of Corfu, sits this very inexpensive, principally sleepy, enchanting little seaside resort city (particularly if you may make it earlier than June when the vacationer season kicks off).  See Mollie’s Albanian coastal highway journey itinerary right here.

In case you are planning an prolonged journey to Albania, it is best to strive your greatest to make the very scenic 4-hour bus trip from Tirana to Sarandë (or, even higher, hire a automotive and drive). Under is an itinerary for the way to spend a weekend in Sarandë, stuffed with the very best issues to do and see, to bear in mind if and if you do go to. 

Different journey guides you may discover helpful…

How to spend a weekend in Sarandë: my itinerary & the best things to do...​

The place to remain in Sarandë…

I arrived in Sarandë firstly of Might, which was nonetheless thought-about the off-season (the excessive season lasts June via August). Due to that, I had the entire metropolis to myself for a couple of weeks, which was bliss. Exercise picked up noticeably by across the finish of Might. 

Should you’re questioning the place to remain in Sarandë, I’d go for town centre if you wish to be close to the hustle and bustle, or on the outskirts should you’re searching for one thing quieter. There’s a promenade that runs the size of the centre and that is the place all the nightlife and vacationer bustle is. Previous to the onset of the excessive season, it was additionally fairly empty. The port is the place you e-book your tickets to locations just like the close by Greek island of Corfu, hire automobiles, and organize journeys to the encircling space. Surrounding the centre, which is the principle vacationer space, you’ll discover motels and eating places. 

There are additionally some very nice Airbnb choices going up into the Qender space, straight north of the centre. Keep in mind that Sarandë is structured like an amphitheatre, so to go north, you must go up, and it will get fairly steep. 

I selected to remain on the outskirts, the place it was very peaceable and quiet. Right here’s the hyperlink to the Airbnb I stayed in. Right here you’re extra more likely to have a barn swallow couple nesting in your balcony in these areas. I shared the balcony with this couple for a month. They finally accepted my presence and would simply peer out at me whereas I had my night balcony beer. 

How to spend a weekend in Sarandë: my itinerary & the best things to do...​

The right way to get to Sarandë…

One of the crucial charming components about Sarandë is how small it’s. Wherever you’re staying, it is best to solely be about 10 minutes by taxi from the place the bus drops you off. Undoubtedly don’t anticipate environment friendly city design or simply navegable streets, although. 

Should you’re bussing from Tirana, the earliest bus I might discover left at 10:30 a.m. and it took simply over 4 hours, so I bought in at 2:30. Should you rented a automotive and drove, which continues to be fairly inexpensive, you possibly can drive from Tirana to Sarandë in round 2 hours. 

There are varied methods to get to Sarandë from different locations in Albania and the remainder of the Balkans, even Greece.

The right way to spend a weekend in Sarandë: my itinerary & the very best issues to do…

Day 1: Arrive in Sarandë, swim & strive some native meals

Use your first morning of your weekend in Sarandë to get there! Like I mentioned, it’s fairly small, so should you’re already in Albania, you will get there by lunchtime. 

At this level, you’re most likely getting hungry, and it’s time to cease for a fast lunch. When you get to your lodge or Airbnb, assuming you haven’t had lunch, drop your stuff off and seize a Korca (a scrumptious native pilsner) and a Greek salad just about anyplace. There isn’t a such factor as a nasty Greek salad in Albania, in my expertise.

It is because Albanian fruit and greens are a number of the greatest I’ve ever had. Their olive oil and crimson wine vinegar are additionally scrumptious. Additionally it is as a result of there are such a lot of Greek individuals in Albania (notably in Sarandë). 

Albanian meals is a unbelievable mixture of native, Greek, Italian and Turkish delicacies. For me, it has the very best of each a part of the Mediterranean food regimen. What’s extra, Albania imports comparatively little of its produce and so they are likely to eat what’s in season. Their summer season fruit (cherries and strawberries) was wonderful and cheap and there are fruit markets everywhere. 

I went to Savos Pizza restaurant, and this salad, beer and pita price me $4.47 CAD. Discount! 

It is a summer season itinerary for a weekend in Sarandë, so assuming it’s scorching sufficient for a swim, I might put on my swimming swimsuit underneath my garments and pack a towel on the way in which to lunch after which make my approach over to Africa Seaside about 500m west of the port.

Don’t fear, it’s not the port of Los Angeles. Sarandë is a small city and there may be surprisingly little boat site visitors. A cruise or a small business vessel moors offshore each infrequently, however that’s about it.  And I don’t know why it’s known as Africa Seaside. 

It’s really pretty with fairly low site visitors. 

At this level, you might be most likely too exhausted from the bus trip to do any exploring the identical day you arrive and should you bought there at 2:30 p.m. it’s most likely already just a little too late for that, so let’s save the day journeys for tomorrow. 

What it is best to do, nonetheless, is hire a automotive or scooter from one of many locations across the port. There are many tour corporations that may take you to the locations I point out beneath, however it’s a far nicer expertise to have the ability to do them by yourself phrases. I rented my scooter from Orion Rental on Rruga e Flamurit. 

For dinner, it’s value making your approach just a little bit up and away from the vacationer bustle to Vila Bajrami 45. It is a criminally underrated family-run place serving wonderful and inexpensive Greek and Albanian meals, together with unimaginable do-it-yourself baklava.

Additionally they have a approach above common wine choice, which is uncommon for southern Albania in my expertise. Attempt to get the desk on the personal second-floor balcony if it’s out there. This was my favorite restaurant in Sarandë, fingers down. 

Day 2: Blue Eye

Truthfully, for breakfast, head again to Vila Bajrami 45 and get an espresso and Albanian pancakes with honey. Their do-it-yourself jam can be unbelievable, as is their omelette. 

Blue eye is a spring-fed river round 22km exterior of Sarandë. I’ve seen some wonderful spring-fed rivers in my time and this was actually high 3 for me.

The drive there may be actually stunning and the highway snakes via some very picturesque farmland surrounded by creeks and streams. Should you don’t need to drive or trip there your self, there are additionally loads of tour operators in Sarandë that may take you. 

When you get there there are such a lot of wonderful picture ops, in addition to a few cafes to seize a drink or one thing to eat. I counsel going early, because it’s a well-liked place to go to in Albania!

How to spend a weekend in Sarandë: my itinerary & the best things to do...​

After you’re accomplished seeing Blue Eye, you possibly can proceed on for one more 37km to the north and go to the city of Gijrokaster, a UNESCO World Heritage Web site and seize lunch. See Mollie’s information to Gjirokaster right here.

While you get again to Sarandë, I might suggest one other certainly one of my favorite dinner spots: Taverna LiberIa. It’s to the east of the Port and in a comparatively quiet residential space. This is able to be an amazing a part of town to remain in should you needed to keep away from the crowds. 

Taverna Liberia is one other quaint family-run place serving up native seafood in addition to Greek and Albanian delicacies. Their parts are beneficiant and so they additionally make nice do-it-yourself crimson wine and raki (what Italians name grappa), a neighborhood brandy. 

Day 3: Butrint Nationwide Park & Mirror Seaside

For breakfast, strive Style of the South within the lodge zone to the east of town centre. They’ve a western-style breakfast if you’re searching for that, and actually good espresso. 

On the final day of your weekend in Sarandë, you’ve bought to go to Butrint Nationwide Park. Butrint is 18km south of Sarandë and options 1000’s of hectares of lakes, wetlands, islands, reed beds, salt marshes and open plains. Along with being a pure marvel, Butrint can be some of the necessary archaeological websites in Albania, house to a Roman theatre, a Venetian citadel, a basilica, well-preserved historical partitions and extra. 

The drive alongside the freeway to Butrint is mesmerizingly stunning, a lot in order that I needed to remind myself to concentrate to the highway quite a few occasions. 

How to spend a weekend in Sarandë: my itinerary & the best things to do...​

There’s a small vacationer city that has sprung up a kilometre or so earlier than you attain the precise park and archaeological website, which seemed prefer it had some respectable eating places for lunch. It additionally had some very nice-looking seashores, certainly one of which I swam at.

The swim was good, however if you would like an much more stunning and secluded seashore, there’s a spectacular spot about midway between Sarandë and Butrint, the doorway to which you’d have handed in your approach into the park.

Round 9-10km exterior of Sarandë is Mirror Seaside and, other than Corfu, it was probably the most stunning piece of the Ionian I noticed. 

It’s a small, secluded seashore simply off the motorway that requires a flip up a hillside that may lead you to a really restricted parking space on the foot of a small trailhead. The path goes up for a bit after which appears to be like prefer it continues on its strategy to the west, oddly bypassing the seashore beneath. 

It’s possible you’ll be tempted to bushwack down, as I used to be, however it’s fully pointless and just a little furry. Should you hold following the path in direction of Sarandë for 50-or-so metres, it will definitely forks off down the hillside in direction of Mirror Seaside.

You might also be tempted to comply with the path westward alongside the coast in direction of Monastery Seaside. Whereas the view is actually good, don’t do this both. Monastery Seaside has its personal freeway turn-off, is much simpler to get to, has much more parking, is much extra populated and, due to this fact, the far much less charming of the Sarandë seashores. 

Mirror Seaside, as a result of it takes a hike down, and due to the restricted parking, may be very unlikely to have any greater than 10 individuals at it at a given time. Should you rented a automobile and may’t discover parking within the very small parking space off the freeway, I might extremely suggest renting a scooter (simpler to squeeze into out there parking) and attempting to return again, it’s that good. 

That is additionally a pleasant seashore for snorkelling. It’s the Mediterranean, so don’t anticipate the Indo-Pacific, however should you swim out and to the left, there are some archways and nice underwater formations to discover. I additionally noticed a shocking quantity of marine life, together with a Mediterranean moray eel. 

How to spend a weekend in Sarandë: my itinerary & the best things to do...​

After your swim, make the quick drive again to Sarandë and head to Shemo Seaside Bar. Shemo is, once more, simply to the west of the Port and options a phenomenal terrace proper on the water with views out over the straight of Corfu. 

A lot of the eating places to the west of the port, as a result of they’re far (in Sarandë phrases) from the lodge zone and promenade, had been by no means busy whereas I used to be there and it was at all times a really enjoyable expertise. 

That is the very best of Sarandë. Sarandë is gorgeous and, in comparison with the favored Greek islands and coastal Italian locations (comparable close by experiences), it suffers a lot much less from mass tourism, vacationer traps and all the remaining. This isn’t to say it’s some fully undiscovered gem. Loads of individuals, notably Albanians, love Sarandë and for good cause.

What I’m attempting to say is that additionally it is attainable to have a far much less “magical” expertise in Sarandë than I did. Should you come on the peak of the vacationer season, keep in a lodge proper on the promenade, solely eat on the promenade eating places, and e-book your entire experiences via the large native tour corporations, you may stroll away feeling such as you bought one thing rather less distinctive and genuine than you had been hoping for. 

With that mentioned, I hope the above recommendation and information make it easier to spend an amazing weekend in Sarandë and that you just depart loving the place as a lot as I do. 

Would you prefer to spend a weekend in Sarandë?

What are your favorite issues to do in Sarandë? Something you’d add to this Sarandë itinerary?

Love as at all times and joyful adventuring… 

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