Hotels, motels and where to sleep
Restaurant, taverns and where to eat
Cultural (and not so cultural) events
Interesting information and useful tips
Description of Saranda
Saranda is a large Albanian port
that is often called "the Southern gateway to Albania". It
stands on shores of the Ionian coast opposite the Greek
Corfu. Saranda is a small town with a population of
33,000 people, located on the shores of a picturesque bay in the
shape of a horseshoe, between the mountains and the Ionian Sea. The
name Saranda is derived from the name of the early Christian
monastery of the Forty Saints (Greek Aoya Saranta), located nearby.
In antiquity, Saranda was known as Onhesmus. The city is
characterized by a Mediterranean climate and warm sea. Usually in
Saranda there are 300 sunny days a year. Because of its location,
Saranda is one of the attractive tourist towns on the Albanian
Riviera. Along the sea is a promenade, which houses hotels and
Destinations in Saranda
Saranda Tourist Info Center (Glass sphere building), Shetitorja
Naim Frasheri (Near the Molo by the beach). There are two Tourist
Info Centers (one yellow-domed building on the boardwalk, another
more traditional office near the bus center). Both are excellent
resources for bus timetables. An added bonus is that the employees
speak good English.
The ruins of the synagogue in Saranda
The Jewish synagogue of Saranda was built in the 5th century AD
within the walls of the ancient Onchemum or Onchezma, as Saranda was
originally called. Judging by the size of this two-story building,
the local Jewish community was large and rich. According to written
documents, many Jews moved to the ancient city from the surrounding
village. Here they lived peacefully and flourished.
strategic location of Oncesma at the intersection between Corfu,
Thessaloniki and Constantinople, as well as Italian cities, offered
the local population a permanent job of building and supplying
merchant ships. Many Jews were brought here to fill these jobs. The
next logical step was the construction of a synagogue.
synagogue of Saranda served as both a religious and a social center.
In addition, it housed a school for Jewish children. Originally, the
synagogue was a two-story building. It included the community prayer
hall and mosaic pictorial animals and Jewish symbols. Later, when
the community grew, the temple was rebuilt in the form of a
classical basilica somewhere in the 6th century. We do not have
reliable information about the destruction of the basilica. It was
destroyed either during the Slavic invasion of the 5th century, or
as a result of an earthquake.
Borsh (N 35 km). a maritime village
Butrint National Park and
Archaeological Site, Butrint, Ksamil (Just outside of Ksamil). This
is an 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. - 700 lek entry
fee (€5). As of September 2014, there are city buses that run to
Butrint, via Ksamil, every even hour on the half hour, from 6:30
until 16:30 p.m. (06:30, 8:30, 10:30...16:30). The same bus line
runs from Butrint to Saranda, via Ksamil, every odd hour on the half
hour from 7:30 until 17:30 p.m. (07:30, 9:30, 11:30....17:30). Bus
price is 100Lek per person and can be picked up at the main Saranda
bus station or across the street from Hotel Buntrinti. Butrint
visitors should allocate approximately 2 hours to enjoy the site;
archaeology fans will probably want closer to 3 hours.
beach (N 65 km). — one of the finest of the many beaches along the
coastal road, perfect for camping.
Ksamil beach (near Sarande.
The bus from Sarande serves both Ksamili and Butrint.). This village
has a beautiful beach with several small islands you could swim to.
Ksamili is now heavily developed, with a large number of
part-completed properties. An extraordinary sight is that some of
these new buildings are toppling over; this is believed to be where
buildings have gone up without permission, and the police have
sabotaged the building by pulling out a couple of upright pillars,
leaving the owner to clear up the damage.
Lukove beach (N 20 km).
- part of the Albanian Riviera, here is Kakome, one of the most
beautiful Albanian beaches. As of July 2018 the road access to
Kakome beach was blocked by closed gates with guards, apparently due
to a construction project.
Syri i Kalter (The Blue Eye), Delvinë
District (25 min away by driving). Water spring - a natural
phenomenon. The clear blue water of the river bubbles forth from a
stunning, more than the fifty-metre-deep pool. A great place to
visit and relax.
In antiquity the city was known by the name of
Onchesmus or Onchesmos (Ancient Greek: Ὄγκησμος), and was a
port-town of Chaonia in ancient Epirus, opposite the northwestern
point of Corcyra, and the next port upon the coast to the south of
Panormus. It was inhabited by the Greek tribe of the Chaonians.
Onchesmos flourished as the port of the Chaonian capital Phoenice
(modern-day Finiq). It seems to have been a place of importance in
the time of Cicero, and one of the ordinary points of departure from
Epirus to Italy, as Cicero calls the wind favourable for making that
passage an Onchesmites. According to Dionysius of Halicarnassus the
real name of the place was the Port of Anchises (Ἀγχίσου λιμήν),
named after Anchises, the father of Aeneas; and it was probably
owing to this tradition that the name Onchesmus assumed the form of
Anchiasmus or Anchiasmos (Greek: Αγχιασμός) under the Byzantine
Saranda, then under the name of Onchesmos, is held to
be the site of Albania's first synagogue, which was built in the 4th or 5th century. It is thought that it was built by the
descendants of Jews who arrived on the southern shores of Albania
around 70 CE. Onchesmos' synagogue was supplanted by a church in the
The city was probably raided by the Ostrogoths
in 551 AD, while during this period it became also the target of
piratic raids by Gothic ships. In a medieval chronicle of 1191 the
settlement appears to be abandoned, while its former name
(Anchiasmos) isn't mentioned any more. From that year, the toponym
borrows the name of the nearby Orthodox basilica church of Agioi
Saranta, erected in the 6th century, ca. 1 km (0.6 mi) southeast of
the modern town.
Following the Ottoman
administrative reform of 1867, a müdürluk (independent unit) of
Sarandë consisting of no other villages was created within the kaza
(district) of Delvinë. Sarandë in the late Ottoman period until the
Balkan Wars (1912-1913) consisted of only a harbour being a simple
commercial station without permanent residents or any institutional
community organisation. The creation of the Saranda müdürluk was
related to the desires of Ottoman authorities to upgrade the port
and reduce the economic dependence of the area on Ioannina and
In 1878, a Greek rebellion broke out, with
revolutionaries taking control of Sarandë and Delvinë. This was
suppressed by Ottoman troops, who burned twenty villages in the
region. One of the earliest photographs of Saranda dates from 3
March 1913 and shows Greek soldiers in the main street during the
course of the Second Balkan War. Saranda was a major centre of the
short-lived Autonomous Republic of Northern Epirus.
troops occupied it during the Balkan Wars. Later, the town was
included in the newly formed Albanian state in 17 December 1913
under the terms of the Protocol of Florence. The decision was
rejected by the local Greek population, and as the Greek army
withdrew to the new border, the Autonomous Republic of Northern
Epirus was established. In May 1914, negotiations were started in
Sarandë between representative of the provisional government of
Northern Epirus and that of Albania which continued in nearby Corfu
and ended up with the recognition of the Northern Epirote autonomy
inside the newly established Albanian state.
It was then
occupied by Italy between 1916 and 1920 as part of the Italian
Protectorate on southern Albania. Throughout 1926-1939 of the
interwar period, Italy financed extensive improvements to the
harbour at Sarandë. Sarandë was again occupied by Italian forces in
1939 and was a strategic port during the Italian invasion of Greece.
During this occupation, it was called "Porto Edda" in honor of the
eldest daughter of Benito Mussolini.
During the Greco-Italian
War, the city came under the control of the advancing Greek forces,
on 6 December 1940. The capture of this strategic port further
accelerated the Greek penetration to the north. As a result of the
German invasion in Greece in April 1941, the town returned to
Italian control. On 9 October 1944 the town was captured by a group
of British commandos under Brigadier Tom Churchill and local
partisans of LANÇ under Islam Radovicka. The involvement of the
British troops was considered problematic by LANÇ as they considered
that they would use the town as their base and install allies of the
Greek resistance in the area as British documents indicate that EDES
forces also joined the operation. However, the British troops soon
withdrew from the region, leaving the region to the Albanian
As part of the People's Republic of Albania (1945-1991) policies
a number of Muslim Albanians were settled from northern Albania in
the area and local Christians are no longer the only community in
Saranda. During this period as a result of the atheistic campaign
launched by the state the church of Saint Spyridon in the harbor of
the city was demolished. After the restoration of democracy in
Albania (1991) a small shrine was erected at the place of the
During the Albanian Civil War (1997) units comprised
by the local Greek minority were able to achieve the first military
success through capture of a military tank for the opposition
How to get there
On the ship
Communication with the Greek island of Corfu three times a day
during the season and once a day during the off-season. It is either
a speedboat (45 min.) or steam (1.5 hours). The fare is 19 Euro one
way, 38 Euro two way.
To the nearby Greek island of Corfu (New Port). The daily
ferryboats are at 10:30; 13:00 and 16:30 (fewer out of season -
check with the ticket office at the port). The 10:30 passage is a
hydrofoil which takes about 25-45 minutes. The 16:30 is a car ferry.
Corfu is one hour ahead of Albania. One way: 19€/Return: 38€.
Buses to/from Tirana can be travelled with the bus
lines, taxi vans or taxis. There are two itineraries:
you travel through the Riviera (the first) you should pay more
attention as the way is narrow.
There is also a
Tirana-Sarandë bus line by RivieraBus.com. Their route connects all
main Albanian resorts such as Durres, Vlore, Dhermi, Jale, Himara,
Borsh and Sarandë.
There are lines to/from Vlore that go
through the Riviera or "Bregu" (a line of picturesque, gorgeous
Mediterranean beaches and villages; Bregu is the summer hostel of
the Prime Minister and President). The line from Gjirokaster to
Tepelene, Fier and Tirana also passes Sarandë. - From Ioannina to
Kakavi takes around 40 minutes by bus or taxi. When you reach
Kakavi, you follow this itinerary: Kakavi-Gjirokaster-Jergucat-Qafe
From Kosovo and North Macedonia
follow this itinerary to reach Saranda: Strufe-Qafe
Thana-Librazhd-Elbasani-Rrogozhina-Fier and so on. It is connected
with Greece by land: (i) By the border of Qafe Bota with Gumenitsa;
(ii) By the border of Kakavi with Ioannina The tourists, who come
here from Greece, reach the border of Kakavi in two ways: from
Ioannina and Gumenitsa. From Ioannina to Kakavi takes around 40 min.
When you reach Kakavi, you follow this itinerary:
Kakavi-Gjirokaster-Jergucat-Qafe e Muzines-Sarande. Though
Qafe-Bota, the itinerary is Igoumenitsa-Qafe Bote-Sarande, but the
roadway is narrower.
The idea of an airport in the
village of Viron is of great interest, because it is only 5 km far
from Saranda. A facility is the urban service offered nowadays.
1 Backpackers SR, Rruga Mithat Hoxha Num 10, Lagja 4
Sarande, 7500 (*Directions from Bus - From the bus stop walk
downhill towards the sea, when you reach the promenade turn right on
to Ionianet street and walk to the eucalyptus in the center of the
road and turn left and 50 metres on the right you will see a yellow
and grey building No. 10. At the dark brown door, ring the bell
(Tomi) six minute walk. *Directions from the Corfu ferry - Exit the
customer area, walk up the ramp, turn right and 50 meters in front
you should see a yellow and grey building with an internet cafe on
the ground floor. Look for the dark brown door to the left of the
creppe shop. Ring the bell named Tomi. One minute walk.), ☎ +355
694345426. Centrally located in the heart of town, close to
everything Saranda has to offer. Bus route 6 min walk, Corfu ferry 1
min, Bus st. to Ksamil/Butrint 1 min, Bus st. to Greece 2 min, beach
in front of the hostel, the famous promenade (xhiro) on our
doorstep, the farmers market, fresh fruits & vegs 1 min. Open
year-round. 14 dorm beds in a new building. Free breakfast. Free
wifi. Kitchen. Free Security lockers. Free linen & bedsheets. Free
coffee and tea. Roof terrace. Beach BBQ dinners in front of the
hostel in the summer. Run by Tomi, a local resident, who is such a
nice and helpful guy. He will make you feel right at home by going
out of his way to help you out. Knows lots of information about day
trips to Butrint and the Blue eye. €11.
Bunkies Hostel, Rruga
Butrinti KM 1 (next to vila duraku hotel) (Getting to the hostel is
very easy: from the bus station or port, walk towards the tourist
information that's on the beach. The hostel is located in the first
white and blue building at the end of the main promenade, next to
Vila Duraku hotel. Walk up the stairs and enter the building from
your right side. Go up the elevator to the 6th floor (there's also a
sign inside the building)), ☎ +355 69 371 9316, e-mail:
email@example.com. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 11:00. Bunkies
is a new hostel (as of 2016) and is located in the city center in
front of the beach. It has 14 comfortable dorm beds and includes
free breakfast, free Wi-Fi, free linen, free lockers, laundry
service, book exchange, car rental and tour options. Also, the
owner, Dani, is very nice and helpful. The hostel has a communal
kitchen area, two lounge rooms, two shared bathrooms and two
balconies that overlook the city and Corfu islands. 9-12 €.
The Hairy Lemon hostel, Rruga Mitat Hoxha, 8th floor (lemon logo on
door), Koder (Directions: A taxi from the port costs €3. Otherwise,
with your back to the Port turn left and continue on this coastal
road (part tarmac and part dirt track) 1 km till you see a sign on
the right: 'Pharmacy' and on the left 'Kasandro Restaurant' at the
'Apollonia Hotel' junction. Ask anyone along the coastal road for
'Apollonia Hotel'. From the map 'Andon Lapa Hotel' to 'Apollonia
Hotel' is a 2/3 min walk. Above the 'Pharmacy' in the 10-storey
lemon and orange building, look up to the 8th floor to see an
Albanian flag hanging from their balcony. Go to the opposite side of
this building to find the entrance. You can get a key to the
building from the shop near the building entrance. Take the lift to
the 8th floor. From the lift go left, and the 'Hairy Lemon' is
behind the last door on the left), ☎ +355 69 3559317, e-mail:
firstname.lastname@example.org. A small 18-bed hostel run by a great
Irish lady. Has hot shower, laundry, free breakfast, 24-hour tea and
coffee, internet, comfy bunks and a large balcony with great views
of the beach and Corfu. €12 (€14 jul-aug).
Holiday Apartments from locals, everywhere in and around Sarandë.
There are plenty of private houses, apartments offered by locals
especially during the high season period. The accommodation offered
ranges from low-budget to highly exclusive locations both for low
and reasonably high prices. However, if you are traveling in a group
of more than 2 people, it is worth considering. The apartments can
usually accommodate up to 10 people and are much cheaper than a
hotel. Furthermore, you can usually cook in the apartment and save
some money. But make sure to book your accommodation in advance,
since most of the apartments get booked out very fast.
Epirus Hotel, Mitat Hoxha 2. dbl €23 incl. breakfast.
Hotel Palma, Rruga Mitat Hoxha. sgl from €20.
Porto Eda Hotel,
Rruga Jonianet, ☎ +355 69 2063480, fax: +355 85226696, e-mail:
email@example.com. The simple. Mobile: +355 69 7233180 dbl €45.
Hotel Aulona, Rruga Lefter Talo, nr.84. Wi-Fi dbl. from €25.
Hotel Kaonia, Rruga Jonianet, 22 Tel.+355 85 222600
Rruga (street) Jonianet, 20, dbl from €40
Villa Kanina, At Rruga
Studenti and Rruga Sali Ceka corner +355 69 558 4338, dbl from €25
Hotel New Heaven, Saranda Butrinti Road (1 km from port). Twenty
rooms with a shower. Dbl €30.
Hotel Butrint. This luxury five-star hotel is prohibitively
expensive but very pretty.
Hotel Duraku. Very comfortable and
clean rooms, and the staff is very qualified. dbl €90.
‘Dea’ (1 km from the city center, walk along the road
Sarand-Butrinti), ☎ +355 69 2724043, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 20
rooms, all with views on the sea, 3 large suites, a big swimming
pool, bar, restaurant, reception and 24-hour private parking.
Sarandë is bustling with restaurants, cafes and bars. Fast food
places offer a surprisingly cheap and tasty variety of options: 1
euro will usually get you a good souvlaki (usually pork) or a very
nice crepe. Look out for yoghurt flavoured ice cream on the
boardwalk, near the tourist info office.
The Mare Nostrum
Cuisine is a nice restaurant on the sea-front of Saranda, in the
center. It has the reputation as one of the best places to eat in
Saranda. Great food and service but known to be a little more
expensive than other restaurants.
Fresh fish is abundant in
Sarandë and available at most restaurants. Establishments next to
the sea and fishing ports provide the freshest fish but generally
speaking good seafood can be had all around.
are a few places you can eat in Ksamil. At least 4 restaurants in
Ksamil are open year-round, but in the summer there are a lot more
options and many are just seconds from the beach.
Albanian Raki, the local firewater.