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A weekend itinerary for Sarandë, Albania

If you happen to’re contemplating travelling in Albania and spending a weekend in Sarandë, look no additional. This weblog put up is jam-packed stuffed with the most effective issues to do in Sarandë, Albania, considered one of Europe’s hidden gems and greatest stored secrets and techniques.

Previous to 1991 and the collapse of the nation’s communist dictatorship, Albania was thought-about one of the remoted international locations on this planet. This was clearly dangerous for Albanians but it surely 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 crushed vacationer observe, 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 happy with it. They’re significantly happy 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, going through out into the straight of Corfu, sits this very inexpensive, largely 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, you must strive your greatest to make the very scenic 4-hour bus journey from Tirana to Sarandë (or, even higher, lease a automobile and drive). Under is an itinerary for tips on how to spend a weekend in Sarandë, stuffed with the most effective issues to do and see, to bear in mind if and whenever 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 initially of Could, which was nonetheless thought-about the off-season (the excessive season lasts June by way of August). Due to that, I had the entire metropolis to myself for just a few weeks, which was bliss. Exercise picked up noticeably by across the finish of Could. 

If you happen to’re questioning the place to remain in Sarandë, I’d go for the town centre if you wish to be close to the hustle and bustle, or on the outskirts should you’re on the lookout for one thing quieter. There’s a promenade that runs the size of the centre and that is the place the entire nightlife and vacationer bustle is. Previous to the onset of the excessive season, it was additionally fairly empty. The port is the place you ebook your tickets to locations just like the close by Greek island of Corfu, lease automobiles, and prepare journeys to the encompassing space. Surrounding the centre, which is the principle vacationer space, you’ll discover lodges 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 need to 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 you’re extra prone to have a barn swallow couple nesting in your balcony in these areas. I shared the balcony with this couple for a month. They ultimately 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 best way to get to Sarandë…

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

If you happen to’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 acquired in at 2:30. If you happen to rented a automobile 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 best way to spend a weekend in Sarandë: my itinerary & the most effective 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 in all probability 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 is no such thing as a such factor as a foul Greek salad in Albania, in my expertise.

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

Albanian meals is a incredible mixture of native, Greek, Italian and Turkish delicacies. For me, it has the most effective of each a part of the Mediterranean weight loss program. What’s extra, Albania imports comparatively little of its produce and so they are likely to eat what’s in season. Their summer time fruit (cherries and strawberries) was wonderful and cheap and there are fruit markets far and wide. 

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

This can be a summer time itinerary for a weekend in Sarandë, so assuming it’s scorching sufficient for a swim, I’d put on my swimming swimsuit underneath my garments and pack a towel on the best way to lunch after which make my method over to Africa Seashore 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 visitors. A cruise or a small business vessel moors offshore each occasionally, however that’s about it.  And I don’t know why it’s known as Africa Seashore. 

It’s truly beautiful with fairly low visitors. 

At this level, you might be in all probability too exhausted from the bus journey to do any exploring the identical day you arrive and should you acquired there at 2:30 p.m. it’s in all probability already a bit of too late for that, so let’s save the day journeys for tomorrow. 

What you must do, nonetheless, is lease a automobile or scooter from one of many locations across the port. There are many tour corporations that can take you to the locations I point out under, however it’s a far nicer expertise to have the ability to do them by yourself phrases. 

For dinner, it’s price making your method a bit of bit up and away from the vacationer bustle to Vila Bajrami 45. This can be a criminally underrated family-run place serving wonderful and inexpensive Greek and Albanian meals, together with unimaginable selfmade baklava.

Additionally they have a method above common wine choice, which is uncommon for southern Albania in my expertise. Attempt to get the desk on the non-public second-floor balcony if it’s accessible. This was my favorite restaurant in Sarandë, arms down. 

Day 2: Blue Eye

Actually, for breakfast, head again to Vila Bajrami 45 and get an espresso and Albanian pancakes with honey. Their selfmade jam can be incredible, 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 by way of some very picturesque farmland surrounded by creeks and streams. If you happen to don’t wish to drive or journey there your self, there are additionally loads of tour operators in Sarandë that can take you. 

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

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

After you’re performed 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 Website and seize lunch. See Mollie’s information to Gjirokaster right here.

Once you get again to Sarandë, I’d suggest one other considered one of my favorite dinner spots: Taverna LiberIa. It’s to the east of the Port and in a comparatively quiet residential space. This might be a terrific a part of the 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 selfmade purple wine and raki (what Italians name grappa), a neighborhood brandy. 

Day 3: Butrint Nationwide Park & Mirror Seashore

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

On the final day of your weekend in Sarandë, you’ve acquired 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 surprise, Butrint can be one of the essential archaeological websites in Albania, dwelling to a Roman theatre, a Venetian fort, a basilica, well-preserved historic 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 instances. 

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 first rate eating places for lunch. It additionally had some very nice-looking seashores, considered one of which I swam at.

The swim was good, however if you’d 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 method into the park.

Round 9-10km exterior of Sarandë is Mirror Seashore and, other than Corfu, it was essentially 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 can 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 technique to the west, oddly bypassing the seashore under. 

Chances are you’ll be tempted to bushwack down, as I used to be, but it surely’s fully pointless and a bit of bushy. If you happen to maintain following the path in the direction of Sarandë for 50-or-so metres, it will definitely forks off down the hillside in the direction of Mirror Seashore.

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

Mirror Seashore, as a result of it takes a hike down, and due to the restricted parking, could be very unlikely to have any greater than 10 individuals at it at a given time. If you happen to rented a car and may’t discover parking within the very small parking space off the freeway, I’d extremely suggest renting a scooter (simpler to squeeze into accessible 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 stunning 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 Seashore 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 most effective 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 remainder. This isn’t to say it’s some fully undiscovered gem. Loads of individuals, significantly Albanians, love Sarandë and for good purpose.

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

With that mentioned, I hope the above recommendation and information enable you to spend a terrific weekend in Sarandë and that you just depart loving the place as a lot as I do. 

Would you wish 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 blissful adventuring… 

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