The Best Solo Travel Guide To Saranda, Albania

Lost beach club, sarande

Saranda (officially known as Sarandë) is a beautiful coastal city on the Albanian Riviera, in southern Albania. It’s known for its stunning natural beauty, and Mediterranean climate, with Butrint, making its debut as the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, adding a touch of historical significance. 

Now Albania wasn’t always on my radar as I was clouded by preconceived notions or concerns about how black people are treated. But the Albanian PR on social media grabbed my attention and said I have to go and see it for myself 👀 I always like to keep an open mind when exploring new countries and Albania did not disappoint! For many, Albania might not be an obvious destination choice, but it’s a great alternative and more affordable destination like Italy, Spain and Greece, especially in the height of the summer peak season.

a walkway with palm trees and buildings

I found myself pleasantly surprised by what awaited me in this underrated Balkan gem. My mission on this trip was to relax, unwind and let my mind & body wander and it did not disappoint! Albania was giving gorgeous backdrops. It was my first time in this country and my third time exploring a Balkan country in Europe. I will be coming back as this was a short 4-day trip! The beaches, food the genuine hospitality of the people coupled with the perfect warm weather in September made it such an enjoyable solo trip for me. 

Join me as I delve deeper into the wonders of this gorgeous city, sharing insights, tips, and recommendations for fellow solo travellers eager to discover the best that Saranda, Albania, has to offer. From hidden gems to must-visit attractions, this is your ultimate guide to experiencing the beauty and charm of Saranda like never before. Let’s embark on this adventure together and uncover the secrets of one of Europe’s most enchanting destinations.

Saranda is worth visiting! Have you seen the material? It’s suitable for both budget travel and luxury travel. This solo travel guide to Saranda will provide you with all the details, sharing insights, tips, and recommendations for fellow solo travellers to help you plan your trip to Albania. From hidden gems to must-visit attractions, this is your ultimate guide to experiencing the beauty and charm of Saranda like never before. 

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Saranda hotel

Is Albania Safe For Solo Female Travel?

Yes, Albania is generally considered safe for solo female travellers. Like any destination, it’s important to exercise common sense and take precautions to ensure personal safety. Stick to well-lit and populated areas, avoid walking alone at night, and be mindful of your belongings. Additionally, it’s advisable to research and respect local customs and dress modestly in more conservative areas. I think solo travel may still be a new concept in this area or that’s the vibe I got! People were surprised I was travelling by myself. There were some restaurants I went to, seated myself at a bigger table, and got asked to move to a smaller table (even though the restaurants were not busy). 

My Experience As A Black Woman In Albania

It’s tricky because I’ve always heard not-so-good stories about the country not being welcoming or safe for black people let alone black women.

Is it safe for a Black woman to travel solo to Albania? 

Part of the research Olympics we have to do is Google search ‘’ is this country safe for ….’’ I have to admit I didn’t search that on Google this time around. Maybe it’s because I also saw other Black women like @road2culturedom and many Nigerians like @zimeee travel there and share their experiences. This is why representation in travel matters! During my trip, I also saw other black women (in groups) and couples travelling freely in Saranda which made me smile ☺️

I always try to keep an open mind when I travel and want to go and see for myself despite the negative press you might hear.
But to answer the question, yeah I felt safe! I was treated with kindness by the locals and tourists I interacted with. As a solo traveller, all your senses are a lot more heightened and you’re more observant. I did get a few stares, not hard stares but I also looked good walking around the city! I think people were more surprised that I was travelling by myself than anything.

Black woman in Albania

The Best Way To Get To Saranda

Did you know you can get to Albania from Greece?

I found my flight tickets by flight hacking (don’t worry it’s completely legal) My flight tickets cost £99 plus £25 for the Kiwi guarantee just in case as I was self-transferring. The flight tickets at the time were around £300+ so I’ve saved almost £200! I flew from London to Romania and then Romania to Corfu, Greece. Finally, I took a ferry to Sarande, Greece. That’s how I ended up passing through 3 countries in one day 😂 I probably wouldn’t do this again but hey at least I saved some coins. I love direct flights and convenience but I also love finding ways to save money 🤑 

The good news is you can get direct flights from London to Corfu.

The closest airport to Sarandë is Corfu (CFU) Airport, situated just 30.7 kilometres away. Other airports include Preveza (PVK) Airport, approximately 124 kilometres away, Tirana (TIA) Airport at a distance of 173.4 kilometres, Brindisi (BDS) Airport about 195.7 kilometres away, and Kefallinia (EFL) Airport, which is roughly 200 kilometres away. 

The best way to get to Sarande, Albania is by ferry from Corfu, Greece. It’s best to book your ferry tickets online at least a day before. There are 3 popular ferry companies you can book with which are Finikas Lines, Ionian Seaways & Joy Lines. Prices vary depending on the cruise company, timing etc.

map of port of corfu to port of sarande
Map of the journey from the port of Corfu to the port of Sarande.

I booked with Ionian Seaways for €40 return tickets. Another thing to note is that there’s a fast ferry which takes about 30 minutes and a longer journey of almost 2 hours to get to Sarande ferry terminal. You’ll go through immigration and passport checks like you normally do at an airport so arrive at the terminal early to give you enough time to pass through security. The journey felt smooth for me and there were various seating areas.

Travel Smart Tip: If you do experience seasickness, take some anti-sickness medication.

Top Things to Know Before Travelling To Sarande, Albania

1. Best time to visit Albania: The best time to visit Sarande is during the summer months, from May to September when the weather is warm and ideal for beach activities. If you want to avoid the crowds and still enjoy warm weather then travel end of April/ May or September. I went in mid-September and the weather was HOT 🥵 Anytime outside these months, shops, and restaurants are closed.

2.  Entry requirements: You may need a visa to enter Albania depending on your nationality. For UK, USA and Canadian citizens, it’s visa-free and you can stay up to 90 days. To enter Albania, your passport must have an ‘expiry date’ at least 3 months after the day you plan to leave. 🛂

3. The Albanian currency: Albanian Lek (ALL) Is their currency but euros are widely accepted in this part of the region. It’s also quite a cash-heavy city so bring cash with you. 💰

4. How to get around Saranda, Albania: There’s no ride-sharing app here or Uber. You can only book with a local Taxi. You’ll find a taxi stand near popular areas like the Saranda promenade or organise with your hotel. I’ll also recommend these two drivers in Sarande. Romeo – (+355 69 270 8394) and Gert – (+355 69 831 2225). Taxi rides can cost around 300-500+ lek (£2.50 – £4 +) for short 5-minute journeys but it’s always best to negotiate with the driver. 🚕 

5.  The language spoken in Albania: Albanian is the official language, but you’ll find that many people in tourist areas, including Sarande, speak English, especially in hotels and restaurants.

6. The food in Saranda: Albanian cuisine is diverse, and you’ll find seafood, grilled meats, and traditional dishes like burek and tave kosi. Don’t forget to try local wines in this region! 

Saranda hotel

Where To Stay In Saranda 

Choose accommodations wisely! Sarande sprawls down the coastline for a good distance. Opt for hotels near the northernmost part of the city where the promenade is as you will be within walking distance from restaurants and sites and you’ll also save a lot of money on taxis as they are quite pricey. I stayed in a 4-star hotel, Azure Inn Hotel and enjoyed my experience overall. 

Located on the edge of Saranda city, just a 10-minute drive from the Saranda promenade, the Azure Inn Hotel offers easy access to dining, shopping, and the beach, with stunning sea views from its balconies being a huge plus. This brand-new 4-star hotel boasts clean rooms, daily room service, and a complimentary breakfast. Free parking is available onsite and WiFi is provided, along with a range of amenities including a restaurant, bar, and private beach area. With friendly staff and modern facilities, it’s the perfect base for exploring Saranda. 

Other hotels I recommend staying in:

Yacht Premium Hotel  – 3 minutes drive to the Saranda promenade

PALMA city HOTEL – 3 minutes drive to the Saranda Promenade

Lost Beach Hotel – 7 minutes drive to the Saranda Promenade

Republika Hotel – 1 minute drive to the Saranda Promenade

The Queen’s Lion Premium Hotel – 7 minutes drive to the Saranda Promenade

Is it better to stay in Ksamil or Sarandë?

Choosing between Ksamil and Sarande depends on what you seek in a beach holiday. Sarande, being the more popular resort, offers a wider range of attractions and facilities. However, it tends to be busier and more developed. On the other hand, Ksamil offers a quieter and more relaxed atmosphere, perfect for those seeking tranquillity. Ultimately, it boils down to personal preference and the type of experience you desire during your beach getaway.

red boat on body of water near brown wooden foot boardThings To Do In Saranda, Albania

1. Visit Lekursi Castle

Explore Lekursi Castle, perched on a hill overlooking Saranda, to enjoy panoramic views of the city and the Ionian Sea. The castle also houses a restaurant serving traditional Albanian cuisine. Lëkurësit is a hilltop castle ruins featuring imposing round towers, sweeping views & a spacious eatery.

I had a lovely dinner with local Albanian wine! Although it was a simple dinner, everything tasted so fresh. I had a good evening surrounded by amazing views of Sarande and the ocean while enjoying local music from a live band. It was giving romance 🥰

The South of Albania is well known for the production of good wine and strong raki (traditional alcoholic drink). If you visit this region, it’s a must-try! 

2. Visit the Blue Eye (Syri i Kalter)

Venture into the beautiful natural wonder of the Blue Eye, located just a short drive from Saranda. This spring, with its astonishingly blue hue and crystal-clear waters, is surrounded by lush greenery, creating a picturesque oasis. Take a refreshing dip in the cool waters or simply marvel at the beauty of this unique geological phenomenon. The Blue Eye offers a tranquil escape from the Saranda and is a must-visit destination if you’re a nature lover. For ease, I recommend booking this 3 hour tour to the Blue Eye and Lekuresi Castle where transportation is provided. Want to spend longer at the Blue Eye? Book this tour!

2024 Visit The National Park of Blue Eye & The Fortress of Lekurësi
Visit the Blue Eye (Syri i Kalter)

3. Visit Lost Beach Club

Head to Lost Beach Club for a memorable beachfront experience in Saranda. This popular destination offers a vibrant atmosphere with music, cocktails, and delicious food served right on the sand. Lounge on comfortable sunbeds, take a dip in the sea or simply soak up the sun while enjoying the stunning views of the Ionian Sea. With its lively ambience and picturesque setting, Lost Beach Club is the perfect spot to unwind and enjoy the best of Saranda’s beach culture.

Don’t leave Sarande without visiting this beach club. Lost Seaside is a beautiful beach club in Sarande. It was truly giving Tulum! Loved the vibes here and you could easily spend a whole day relaxing and going for a swim. If you’re short on time, come here just before sunset and enjoy dinner with stunning backdrop views of the ocean and sunset! They have a hotel, bar, restaurant, several sunbeds, gazebos and seating areas near the pool, by the ocean and lower deck. The gazebos near the pool have this net over the ocean which was giving Maldives vibes kinda. 😍

Costs:
💰Spaces for umbrellas with 2 sunbeds = 3000 lek (£25)
💰gazebo for 2 people = 7,000 lek (£57) for 2 people and 2’ 000 extra lek for each person. Can fit max 4 people!
💰gazebo by the pool for up to 3 people = 7,000 lek (£57)

If you book near the pool you have access to the sea, if you book at the beach you do not have access to the pool. Your reservation is accepted until 10 am. The restaurant menu offers many choices, from seafood, meats, sushi and drinks. Food is on the pricier side than the average Albanian local meal. This beach club gets super busy in the summer, so I recommend booking in advance (at least a couple of days).

4. Explore Butrint

Visit the ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved ruins, including a Roman theatre, Byzantine basilica, and Venetian fortress, delving into the rich history and culture of Saranda. You’ll also get to explore the wonders of Trionch Palace, the Baptistery, the Basilica, the City Walls and Gates, the Acropolis, and a myriad of other noteworthy landmarks. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to explore these iconic sites by booking your spot now on this tour.

5.  Take a Boat Tour

One of the best activities to do while in Saranda is to experience the stunning coastline and natural landmarks of the Albanian Riviera. You’ll nearby islands, including Ksamil, Cape of Qefali, Gjiri Roidha, Plazhi Ushtarit, and Gremina Kakome by boat. Krorëza Beach was my personal favourite and you’ll have the chance to go for a swim. A small warning, most of the beaches are not sandy and are filled with pebbles. I paid €30 for the group boat tour and along the Saranda promenade, plenty of boat tour companies like Ajla Boat and Saranda Tours compete for customers. 

6.  Day trip to  Ksmail

Enjoy a day trip from Saranda to the picturesque coastal village of Ksamil, located just a short distance away. Ksamil is renowned for its breathtaking beaches and crystalline waters, making it an ideal destination for a day of relaxation and exploration.

Spend your day sunbathing on the soft sands, swimming in the azure sea, or indulging in fresh seafood at one of the local restaurants. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the nearby Ksamil Islands, a cluster of small islets with pristine beaches and hidden coves waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re seeking tranquillity or adventure, a day trip to Ksamil promises an unforgettable experience amidst stunning natural beauty.

7. Relax on the Beaches

 Spend leisurely days soaking up the sun on Saranda’s beautiful beaches, such as Mango Beach, and Pulebardha Beach, known for their crystal-clear waters and scenic surroundings.

8.  Day trip to Corfu Town

Corfu town is on a great day trip from Saranda to the captivating island of Corfu, located just a short ferry ride away. Known for its lush landscapes, Venetian architecture, and rich history, Corfu offers a perfect blend of cultural exploration and scenic beauty.

Start your day by exploring Corfu Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you can wander through narrow cobblestone streets, admire elegant mansions, and visit historic landmarks such as the Old Fortress and the Liston Promenade.

9. Enjoy traditional Albanian Cusine

Albanian cuisine is a blend of Mediterranean and Balkan flavours, with a rich history and diverse influences. Some traditional Albanian dishes you should enjoy include Flija and Byrek,  a pastry stuffed with cheese, spinach and sometimes meat.

10. Stroll Along The Promenade

Take a stroll along Saranda’s seaside promenade, lined with palm trees, cafes, and souvenir shops, and enjoy the lively atmosphere and views of the harbour.

How many days do I need in Sarande?

I would suggest a minimum of 4 days in Saranda. Ideally, aim for a week to fully experience all it has to offer, including day trips, tours, and leisure time on the beach. This allows you to explore the city’s attractions thoroughly while also enjoying some downtime by the sea.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Saranda, Albania, is a hidden gem to visit  Despite any preconceived notions, Saranda offers a safe and welcoming environment for solo female travellers and visitors of all backgrounds. From its stunning beaches to its rich historical sites and delicious cuisine, Saranda has something to offer every type of traveller. Whether you’re lounging on the soft sands of Mango Beach, exploring the ancient ruins of Butrint, or indulging in traditional Albanian cuisine, Saranda promises an unforgettable experience.

Have you been to Albania or thought about going?
a beach with a city on the other side of it

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