Passengers traveling by ferry to Saranda discover the beauties of the magnificent Albanian Riviera and a touristic port town opposite the island of Corfu!
Thanks to its access to neighboring beaches and its Mediterranean climate, Saranda has become a seaside resort. Once a fishing village, today Saranda is a town with a bustling waterfront offering all kinds of services. It is a destination with beautiful landscapes combined with low prices.
Albania's rugged coastline, with its traditional villages set on secluded golden sandy beaches surrounded by turquoise waters, is a revelation for those traveling to Saranda.
The name of the town Agioi Saranda comes from the name of the Byzantine monastery of Agioi Saranda in honor of the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste(or Forty Saints). Visitors can see the ruins of the monastery on the hill above the city. After the period of the Ottoman rule, the name changed to Aya Sarandi and later, due to the Venetian influence the town became known as Santi Quaranta in Italian(or Santa Quaranta Saranda). Later, Benito Mussolini, during the second world war renamed the city Porto Edda, like his daughter, till the independence of Albania when the name Saranda was established.
Saranda has a population of 41,173 inhabitants whose main occupation is tourism as well as fishing and construction. Ferries to Saranda leave from the port of Corfu and it is advisable that you make your ferry booking to Saranda in advance in order to find availability.
Traveling to Saranda by ferry
Traveling to Saranda by ferry is easy, even for a day trip, starting in the morning and returning in the afternoon or evening, as the duration of the trip is very short. Departures from Greece to Saranda with a ferry, are feasible only from the port of Corfu and the duration of the trip is approx. half an hour to 1.5h.
There are also departures from Italy and in particular from Brindisi to Saranda, but they are not frequent, with one crossing per week while from Bari there is a connection twice a week for the mid July to the end of August!
Saranda ferry port
Saranda Ferry Port is located along the southern coast of Albania and is the southern port of entry into the country. It is a bustling port that has been recently renovated and expanded to accommodate cruise ships at its terminal. In the open bay they built on the west side an arrangement of docks and jetties used by large merchant ships, hydrofoils, Corfu ferries and visiting yachts. This is where all the official buildings are located, as Saranda is a port of entry into Albania
With origins dating back to ancient times, the harbor is picturesque with a beautiful promenade where visitors can stroll along the bay, explore the 5th century synagogue or visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Butrint. Its location very close to Corfu (only 6 miles) makes it a favorable and popular port for visitors not only to enter Albania but also to visit the surroundings. There are a number of restaurants and fast food outlets in the immediate vicinity of the port as well as a number of small supermarkets, bakeries, butchers and grocery stores in the streets around the port.
Saranda City Center to Saranda Port
As the port of Saranda is located very close to the city center, at the western end of the sea promenade, it is easily accessible on foot. In case there is a lot of luggage to carry it is preferable to take a taxi to go from Sarana city center to Saranda port. If you have a rented car there are parking places outside the terminal where you pick up or drop off your vehicle and long term parks near the terminal. A lot of hotels offer parking places and private parking lots are also available.
Buses in Saranda are a very economical option and run throughout the city. Most buses leave from Friendship Park, in the middle of downtown Saranda, and travel through town and neighboring towns. One of the most popular and frequent bus routes is Tirana-Saranda and it takes about 5 hours to cover a distance of 270km For more information, please visit Saranda Bus.
A preferable option is taking a taxi as they are relatively inexpensive, comfortable and 24/7 available. Taxis are everywhere in the city, but there are also standard taxi ranks. Find out more in Saranda Taxis.
Holidays in Saranda
Choosing to spend a holiday in Saranda is an essential proposition for those looking for the sea and relaxation. The city has developed along the coast and the roads run parallel to the beach. The construction of nine-story buildings so close to the coast and near the Saranda Marina reminds of places like Montecarlo, with almost all hotels and apartments to refrain a few meters from the beach. Of course, there are other accommodations away from the shore with lower prices due to being further from the beach. Saranda is a tourist town. In the evening, the whole promenade of the town is crowded with tourists. There are restaurants, bars and street food. There are activities and entertainment for everyone. There are attractions for children, a disco bar and a music club.
The proximity to the island of Corfu and the easy access by boats have helped many companies invest in tourist facilities by creating numerous accommodation and hotel options which have made Agioi Saranda a popular destination. There are beautiful beaches with a clear and deep sea and especially in the southern part there are isolated and unspoiled beaches, also beautiful areas quite close to the city.
It is a typical seaside town which gives the possibility to spend a vacation in luxury and comfort at minimal costs and a point to explore the Albanian Riviera and all the hidden treasures of Saranda. A fun adventure consisting of days of relaxing on exotic beaches, exploring ancient monuments, vibrant nightlife and delicious food at low prices.
Beaches in Saranda
The beaches of Saranda offer visitors a great opportunity to enjoy the Albanian Sea, with blue and clear waters especially during the summer months when temperatures can reach up to 40 ° C. There are organized beaches with clubs that remain open until the early hours of the morning but also isolated beaches, especially in the southern parts, which is suitable for calm and relaxation.
Below we give you a taste of the most famous beaches in Agioi Saranta and all you need to do to choose the one you like best!
- Mirrors Beach (Plazhi i Pasqyra), is a beautiful white pebble beach with crystal blue waters located at km 7 on the Saranda-Butrint road. It is accessible on foot, about 1 km from the road, it is difficult to get there by car as the path goes down over steep cliffs. There aren't a lot of amenities at Mirror Beach, but you can rent lounge chairs and eat at the small restaurant. The area is perfect for snorkeling
- Monastery Beach (Plazhi i Manastirit) is a rocky beach with beautiful warm, deep blue waters located at the southern end of town, on the road to Ksamil, and named after an ancient monastery on top of a hill nearby. There are a few restaurants and the possibility of renting sun loungers.
- Saranda Beach (Central), is a pebble beach a short distance from the port with umbrellas and sun loungers for hire and with a few places nearby to have a snack and a cold drink. People generally avoid swimming on this beach even if the water is clean. However, it is ideal for a stroll along the seafront.
- Seagull’s Beach (Plazhi i Pulëbardhës), is a small, unspoiled, isolated beach, located in a small bay at the foot of a hill and located about 10 km from Saranda, on the road to Butrint, very close to Ksamil. It is accessible by car and there is also a small restaurant serving seafood and fresh fish.
- Ksamil Beaches, some of the best beaches in Saranda which are located near the village of Ksamil and are known for their white sands and turquoise blue waters. It is possible to rent canoes and pedal boats to reach one of the small islands located in front of the beach. Especially during the summer season there is a wide range of restaurants offering sun loungers and umbrellas.
- Krorëz Beach is one of the few unspoiled beaches left on the Albanian Riviera and is very close to Saranda. It is only accessible on foot or by boat
- Mango Beach, although not a sandy beach, is very popular and the most modern place in Saranda. This beach comes alive with energy in the morning and continues late into the day with people swimming in the blue water. There are many bars and restaurants nearby and when the sun goes down the area becomes a hotspot for parties and discos that continue into the wee hours of the morning.
- Grande Baia Beach, a secluded, unserviced rocky beach which is only 20 minutes from the center of Saranda. It is accessible by car via a dirt road with cows. However, the water is excellent for swimming and the surroundings are fantastic
Hotels in Saranda
It is a perfectly equipped tourist resort with many accommodation possibilities! The range of hotels in Albania Saranda varies from 5 star luxury, to chic boutique hotels, to airbnb Saranda and budget rooms!
Here are some great accommodation options:
- Bougainville Bay Resort & Spa
- Hotel Santa Quaranta
- Hotels Bahamas Sarande
- Hotel Demi
- Hotel Dodona
- Illyrian Boutique Hotel
- Mucobega Hotel
- Hotel Méditerranée Sarande
- Hotel Apollon
- Villa Doka
- Hotel Sole
- Hotel Butrinti spa
- Hotel Barracuda
- Hotel Palma
- Hotel Perla
- Hotel Kompleks Joni
Interesting Sights in Saranda
If you are wondering what to do in Saranda, you can find below the most interesting sights worth visiting! It is advisable to spend at least 3 days in Saranda for the full experience!
Some of the best things to do in Saranda are:
- The Forty Saints Monastery, from which the town's current name derives, is a remarkable site, the ruins of which still stand on the hill overlooking the town. It was a church from the Proto-Byzantine period. It had two rows of columns inside and arches running the length of its sides. They said there were 40 churches in its vicinity, one for each martyr of Sebastian. Today, only part of the side walls of its basilica-type church survive.
- Lekursi Castle, is a ruined castle in Lëkurës, southern Albania was built in the 16th century and sits on a strategic point on the hill overlooking the city of Saranda and from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the city, the lake of Butrint and also of Corfu if the weather is clear. You can walk to the castle in 45 minutes or get in the car and stay until sunset for some breathtaking scenery.
- The Synagogue, an impressive vestige of a 5th or 6th century AD synagogue. were discovered in the coastal city of Saranda, and two mosaic floors are particularly noteworthy among the finds. The excavators also found other mosaic floors, which predate the construction of the synagogue.
- The ruins of Butrint (the archeological area of Butrint), near Saranda, are the remains of the ancient city of Butrint dating from the 6th century BC. It is one of the symbolic destinations of Albania and cannot visit the country without stopping in this wonderful ancient city. What is particularly beautiful about this UNESCO World Heritage Site are its many beautiful and well-preserved monuments.
- The Ethnographic Museum, located in the old customs house of Saranda, contains many interesting photographs from the communist era, as well as a very heterogeneous collection of ethnographic objects.
Onhesmi Castle, near the port of Saranda. You can see the ruins of the entrance gate to Onhezmi Castle
- The Archeological Museum, a small museum that houses a huge floor mosaic from the 6th century AD and some photos of Butrint.
- The promenade has been completely reconstructed and the new promenade with its romantic marinas and stairs leading to the sea is made up of two sections: Boulevard Hasan Tahsin and Shetitorja Naim Frasheri. This promenade is always crowded with many restaurants and souvenir shops
- The Monastery of St. George is located on the hill of Dema and offers a beautiful view of the Ionian Sea to the west and Lake Butrint to the east. The monastery is fortified, with walls, towers and a tower which has been declared as a cultural monument and which is a truly magnificent site to visit.
- The Blue Eye (Saranda Syri i Kalter) is a must if you are visiting Saranda. It is recommended to spend some hours discovering the natural beauty of the spring that keeps constantly a low temperature, even during the hot summer days. It is said that divers tried to dive up to 50 meters down but they didn’t succeed to go any deeper, a fact that proves the length of the spring.
- Explore the beautiful villages of Saranda with incredible nature and landscapes such as Lukova, Butrint, Finiq, Ksamil, Xarra, Ciuka, Kalivo, Lëkursi, Qender, Kodrra, Qafë and Gjashtës