Saranda is on a stretch of the Albanian coastline, opposite the Greek island of Corfu. It’s a classic Mediterranean town with warm weather, turquoise Ionian Sea waters and mountains covered in olive trees. You can spend your days lounging on one of the many local beaches, or visiting surrounding fishing villages along the Albanian Riviera. Join locals for a walk along the promenade, or grab a table at a waterfront restaurant for cool cocktails and fresh seafood.
Some Saranda hostels have outdoor terraces with water views, ideal for a cold beer as the sun sets. You can stay 20 metres from the main beach, or further up the hill with panoramic views across the town and coastline. Try an authentic Albanian burek (savoury filo pastry) for your free breakfast, pancakes with homemade marmalade or a continental spread with bread, fruit and eggs. Daily Saranda hostel events include beach barbecues and Albanian culture nights, or you can whip up a meal in a fully equipped kitchen.
Saranda has a recently renovated promenade, Bulevardi Hasan Tahsini, running along its main beach. There are umbrellas and sun loungers on the pebbly beach and plenty of bars. Cross the road back from the beach and you’ll find cafés and seafood restaurants, while further up the mountain are parks and the ancient Synagogue ruins. Pasqyra Beach is 8km south of Saranda and a more secluded option than the urban beach, while Ksamil, a further 6km south, is known as the Ionian Pearl.
Activities in Saranda include visiting the remains of Lekuresi Castle, which dates back to the 16th century. Perched on a hilltop overlooking the town, you’ll be rewarded after a steep climb with sweeping vistas across the bay. The 50-metre-deep Blue Eye (Syri i kaltër) is a natural spring in the hinterland nestled among oak and sycamore trees. You can dive from the platform and swim in the turquoise waters. The UNESCO-listed archaeological park Butrint is just south of Saranda and has the largest collection of ancient ruins in Albania, with some dating back to 800 BC.
You can use the local bus network to travel to surrounding Riviera villages, as well as to capital Tirana. Rapid hydrofoils and slower ferries link Saranda with Corfu, with the journey taking between 30 and 70 minutes. Corfu International Airport is the closest to Saranda, and there are shuttle buses travelling the 5km distance between the airport and the port. Intercity furgons (minibuses) can take you around Saranda, while taxis are available for longer trips.