Just a short ferry ride from Greece, Sarandë is an ideal European beach holiday destination. This seaside town has a laid-back atmosphere and rustic charm. It has Greek influences at Albanian prices. The main town area is conveniently compact, with many shops, eateries and beaches located within walking distance. For those wishing to explore further afield, there are some excellent nature parks and beaches a short drive from the town. The area attracts stunning wildlife, including birds that stop over on their regular migrations. To find out more, continue reading this Sarandë Destination Guide.
What is Sarandë Albania known for?
Sarandë is a popular tourist destination on the Albanian coast. It is known for its clear blue water and its beautiful natural attractions. This is the southernmost coastal city on the Albanian Riviera and has become a popular cruise destination. It is also only a short ferry ride from Corfu Greece. Popular attractions near Sarandë include beaches such as Mirror Beach and Ksamil Beach as well as the Blue Eye and Butrint National Park.
Why you should visit Sarandë Albania
Sarandë is the perfect place for a relaxed holiday. Stroll along the waterfront promenade and choose from one of the many restaurants and cafes in the centre of town. Conveniently, Saranda Beach is also in the heart of town. In only minutes you can go from dining at a restaurant to swimming in the gentle water of the harbour. Sarandë is well connected with Greece as well as other parts of Albania and is the ideal stopover when travelling between the two countries. There are plenty of activities both in the town as well as in the surrounding area. In particular, the beaches further down the coast are very popular. Furthermore, Albania’s low cost of living makes it a very affordable vacation destination.
Sarandë Destination Guide: Know before you go
Basic info about Sarandë Albania
- City name in Albanian – Sarandë. It is also known as Saranda in English.
- Language – Albanian. There are two dialects in the Albanian language – Tosk, which is spoken to the south as well as Gheg which is spoken in the north. The Tosk subdialect of Lab (or Labërisht) is spoken in Sarandë. Due to its proximity to Greece, Greek is commonly spoken in Sarandë. English is becoming more widely spoken in the country, particularly amongst younger people. However not everyone you meet will be able to speak English.
- Currency – Albanian lek (ALL). This has been the currency of the country since 1926. Currency exchanges can be found in most cities and ATMs are available widely throughout the country.
- Population – 188,000 (2021)
- Area – 29 km2 (11 sq mi)
- County – Vlorë
- Region – Southern Albania (also known as Toskëria).
- Emergency number – 112
- Police number – 112
Utilities in Sarandë Albania
- Electricity – Albania uses Types C and F power plugs. The country operates on a 230v supply voltage at 50Hz. Power outages are common in Albania.
- Water – the tap water in Albania is not safe to drink. However as the water is chlorinated, it is safe to use tap water for brushing your teeth. We recommend bringing a water purifier such as a life straw on your trip. Alternatively you can buy bottled water.
- Toilets – sit-down flushing toilets are the most common type of toilet in Albania, although Turkish style squat toilets can be found in some places. Don’t flush your toilet paper – use the bins provided. Bidets can be found in many bathrooms in Albania. Public toilets are common in the larger cities in Albania. Public toilets are common and are also free to use.
- Telephone country code: +355
Where is Sarandë Albania?
Sarandë is in the county of Vlorë in the Southern Region of Albania. It is the southernmost major city in Albania. Additionally, it is less than an hour drive from the Greek border.
How to get to Sarandë Albania
Sarandë destination guide: Arriving by land
Sarandë Albania intercity land transport
The main transport options for travelling overland to Sarandë Albania are:
- Private vehicle
- Private transport operator
Driving to Sarandë from within Albania
If you are driving to Sarandë from within Albania, here are the travel times and distances:
- Gjirokaster – 1 hour 13 minutes (55km, 34miles) without tolls
- Vlorë – 2 hours 44 minutes (181km, 112miles) without tolls
- Himarë – 3 hours 13 minutes (195km, 121miles) without tolls
- Berat – 3 hours 32 minutes (231km, 144miles) without tolls
- Durrës – 3 hours 33 minutes (249km, 155miles) without tolls
- Elbasan – 3 hours 54 minutes (260km, 162miles) without tolls
- Tirana – 4 hours 21 minutes (281km, 174miles) without tolls
- Shkodër – 5 hours 15 minutes (352km, 219miles) without tolls
Intercity trains to Sarandë Albania
Sarandë is does not have a train station.
The Albanian national railway company is called Hekurudha Shqiptare (HSH). This is also known as Albanian Railways.
Intercity buses to Sarandë Albania
Sarandë does not have a bus terminal. However all intercity buses stop in the centre of town at the corner of Rruga Onhezmi and Rruga Flamurit near Friendship Park.
Popular bus destinations from Sarandë include:
- Butrint (via Ksamil) – travel time 1 hour. Tickets cost 150 lek one way.
- Gjirokaster Albania – travel time 1 hour. This service is operated by Trans Butrinti.
- Himarë Albania – travel time 1.5 hours.
- Vlorë Albania – travel time 3 hours. Ticket cost 11 euro one way.
- Berat Albania – travel time 4 hours. Tickets cost 1500 lek one way.
- Durrës Albania – travel time 4 hours.
- Elbasan Albania – travel time 4.5 hours. Tickets cost 1200 lek one way.
- Tirana Albania – travel time 5 hours. Tickets cost 1300 lek one way. This service is operated by Trans Butrinti.
Sarandë destination guide: Arriving by air
The nearest major airport to Sarandë is Corfu International Airport, Greece (Airport code CFU). This international airport is also known as Ioannis Kapodistrias (Capodistrias) International Airport. It is 32km (20miles) from the city.
Other nearby airports include:
- Ioannina National Airport, Greece (Airport code IOA). This airport is 73km (45miles) away.
- Aktion Intational Airport, Greece (Airport code PVK). This airport is 124km (77miles) away.
- Kastoria National Airport, Greece (Airport code KSO). This airport is 126km (78miles) away.
The national airline of Albania is Air Albania.
Sarandë destination guide: Arriving by boat
The city of Sarandë is in the Ionian Sea, which is an arm of the Mediterranean Sea. The Port of Sarandë has ferries between Sarandë and Corfu Greece. Previously there were also ferries between Sarandë and Bari Italy, but these are no longer available.
There are around 4 ferries a day in each direction between Sarandë Albania and Corfu Greece. The sailing time is 1-1.5 hours for normal ferry and only 30 minutes for a highspeed hydrofoil. Ticket prices vary by season and company, but expect to pay around 13-25 euro (price as at 2022) for a one-way ticket for a foot passenger. There are three ferry companies that operates between Sarandë and Corfu – Finikas Lines, Ionian Seaways and Joy Lines.
Sarandë destination guide: How to get around Sarandë Albania
Walking in Sarandë Albania
By far the easiest and cheapest way to get around Sarandë is to walk. Most of the main attractions in the city area are within easy walking distance.
Local buses in Sarandë Albania
Local buses operate in Sarandë. The cost of a one way bus ticket is 150 lek for adults (as at 2022). For more information see this website: https://www.visitsaranda.net/about-saranda/getting-around/
Mini buses (furgons) in Sarandë Albania
Mini buses known as furgons operate in Sarandë. Furgons are a popular public transport option in Albania as an alternative to buses.
Sarandë Cable Car
There are no cable cars in Sarandë.
Sarandë Sightseeing Bus
Sarandë does not have a Hop On Hop Off sightseeing bus.
Trams in Sarandë Albania
Sarandë does not currently have a tram system.
Local trains in Sarandë Albania
Sarandë does not have a local train service.
Metro trains (subway or underground) in Sarandë Albania
Sarandë does not have an underground train line.
Vehicle hire in Sarandë Albania
A wide variety of vehicles can be rented in Albania. This includes:
- Bicycles – you can hire a bike from a bike hire shop such as Go Green Vlora & Biçikleta Me Qira/Rent Bikes.
- Electric scooters
In Albania, you drive on the right side of the road.
Taxis in Albania
Taxis are common in Albania. Both official taxis with metered pricing as well as more informal taxis where a fixed fare is agreed beforehand are available. Official taxis will generally have prices displayed inside the vehicle. For longer journeys you can agree on a fixed price before you commence your trip. However in general your fare will include the following costs:
- The pickup fee or minimum fee – this is charged as soon as you get into the vehicle. This is generally around 300 lek.
- Price per kilometre.
- Price per hour – this is a price that gets charged when the taxi is stuck in heavy traffic.
A taxi trip within the city is usually around 300-500 lek.
Ride-share services in Sarandë Albania
Uber, Lyft and Grab and other rider-share services do not operate in Albania.
Sarandë Albania destination guide: Is Sarandë Albania worth visiting?
Sarandë is certainly worth visiting. We loved its laid-back vibe and its great food scene. The area also had plenty of great beaches such as the Sarande city beach which is right in the heart of the city. Additionally, there are some stunning natural attractions in the area like Butrint National Park. Furthermore its proximity to Greece makes it a convenient stop when travelling through the area.
Sarandë destination guide: How long to spend in Sarandë Albania
Sarandë is a great place to come for a few days. This port city has plenty of great food and a wide variety of attractions. We spent 2 nights in Sarandë and enjoyed taking time to enjoy the various activities available in this vibrant city.
Sarandë destination guide: What to do in Sarandë Albania
Sarandë is a beautiful Albanian city with many activities on offer. It has a range of great free activities as well as paid activities.
Sarandë destination guide: Free things to do in Sarandë Albania
There are enough free activities in Sarandë Albania to keep you entertained for a weekend or even a leisurely week:
- Saranda Beach
- Saranda Embankment / Saranda Promenade
- Remains of ancient Onchesmos
- Saint Charalampos Orthodox Church
- Lekuresi Castle
- Vivar Kanal
For more details, see our Sarandë travel guide on the 6 Best Free Things To Do in Sarandë Albania.
Sarandë destination guide: Paid activities in Sarandë Albania
A number of attractions in Sarandë Albania charge an entry fee:
- Ohana Beach Bar Ksamil
- Monastery of 40 Saints – entry fee is 200 lek for adults (as at 2022)
- Blue Eye – entry fee is 50 lek for adults (as at 2023)
- Butrint National Park – entry fee is 1000 lek for adults (as at 2023)
- Plazhi i Pasqyrave (Mirror Beach)
- Bora Bora Beach (Plazhi Bora Bora)
- Neasden Lane Beach
- Pulëbardha Beach
- Lori Beach
- Ksamil Beach
- Monastery Beach
- Plazhi Paradise
Weather in Sarandë Albania
Sarandë enjoys a warm temperate climate. Its climate is heavily influenced by the Mediterranean sea. It has cold winters, with average temperature range between 3°C and 13°C in the coldest month of January. Summers last from June to September and are hot and sunny, with the average temperature range between 19°C and 34°C in the hottest month of July. The month with the most rainfall is November with 11.4 days of rain on average and the driest month is July with an average of 1.5 rainy days.
Best time to visit Sarandë Albania
The best time to visit Sarandë for a beach vacation is from May to October when the weather is warm and sunny. However, keep in mind that Sarandë gets crowded and accommodation is more expensive during the peak tourist season of July and August. Therefore, for fewer crowds and better prices, we recommend visiting Sarandë during the shoulder season of May-June and September-October.
Internet and mobile phones in Albania
There are four major internet and phone companies in Albania – Vodafone Albania, One Telecommunications Albania (formerly Telekom Albania), ALBTelekom (formerly Eagle Mobile Albania) and Plus.
Albania is yet to get 5G. 2G is expected to be switched off in Albania in December 2025, however no date has been set for when 3G will be switched off.
Albania is ranked 47th fastest in the world for mobile internet speeds and 92nd fastest for fixed broadband. For Fixed Broadband the average download speed is 48mbps and upload is 24mbps (as at June 2023).
Cell phone SIM cards can be bought in a numbers of places throughout Albania. These include phone stores as well as at Sarandë International Airport.
How much to budget for Sarandë Albania?
Is Sarandë Albania expensive?
Sarandë is an inexpensive place to visit. It has Albania’s cost of living whilst being right on the doorstep of more expensive tourist destinations like Corfu Greece. There is a wide range of accommodation options available including plenty of affordable furnished rentals and food and activities are very budget friendly.
Sarandë destination guide: Daily spend for a couple travelling in Sarandë Albania
As a rough guide, we recommend the following budgets for a couple:
- Low-budget daily spend – 60 euro per day for a couple will get you hostel accommodation, meals from bakeries and markets, local transport and free or cheap activities such as visiting museums and parks
- Mid-range daily spend – 250 euro per day for a couple will get you mid-range accommodation, local transport, restaurant meals and a few paid activities
- Luxury spend – 600 euro per day for a couple will get you a premium experience in Albania, staying at luxury resorts, travelling by private transport, doing a range of paid activities and eating at high end restaurants
Sarandë destination guide: Accommodation in Sarandë Albania
There is a good range of accommodation to suit most budgets in Sarandë Albania. Airbnb operates in Albania and we were impressed with the range of options available in Sarandë.
Where to stay in Sarandë Albania
We recommend the following accommodation in Sarandë Albania:
- Best camping in Sarandë Albania – Secret Village Den – Camping has cute wooden cabins in a garden setting close to the sea. It is around 30 minutes walk from town but there is a supermarket and restaurants nearby. The hosts are very warm and welcoming and the campsite has a peaceful atmosphere. Facilities include toilets, showers and a communal kitchen.
- Best hostel in Sarandë Albania – Hostel Hasta La Vista is a large hostel a short walk from the beach. It has a relaxed atmosphere, a nice communal and friendly staff. Guests can also use sunbeds and umbrellas at a nearby beach bar for free.
- Best budget beachfront hotel in Sarandë Albania – Hotel Ramo Saranda is ideally positioned close to the port as well as to Saranda city beach. The staff are friendly and attentive and the hotel restaurant serves great food. The rooms are clean, cosy and comfortable.
- Best beachfront hotel in Sarandë Albania – Buzë Boutique Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel on the beachfront in Saranda. It has thoughtfully designed and well-appointed rooms, excellent breakfasts and its own private beach. Sunsets here are amazing and its the perfect place to unwind and relax. Furthermore the owner and the staff provide exceptional service.
- Best mid-range hotel in Sarandë Albania – Yacht Premium Hotel is a modern hotel right next to the Port of Saranda. It has clean and spacious rooms, brilliant views and delicious breakfasts. The beds are extremely comfortable and the staff are attentive and friendly.
How much is accommodation in Sarandë Albania?
For short-term accommodation, a general price per night is as follows:
- Budget accommodation – 10-12 euro for a dorm
- Mid-range accommodation – 30-100 euro for a private room
- Luxury accommodation – 150-200 euro a night for a luxury hotel
- Rental property – 60-300 euro a night for a fully furnished 3-4 bedroom home
Sarandë destination guide: Food in Sarandë Albania
How much does food cost in Sarandë Albania?
Our price guide for your food budget in Sarandë Albania is as follows (prices as at 2022):
- Restaurant meal – 600-2000 lek for a main dish
- Local eatery – 600-1200 lek for a main dish
- Bakery food – 100-240 lek euro for byrek, a slice of pizza as well as other bakery items
- Glass of wine – 300 lek
- Shot of Raki – 70-100 lek
- Coffee – 50-150 lek
Regional dishes in Sarandë Albania
Popular traditional Albanian dishes can be found throughout the country. There are not too many dishes that trace their roots to specific regions of Albania. The following traditional Albanian dishes can be found in Sarandë Albania:
- Tavë kosi: You’ll notice lot’s of lamb dishes on every menu. Tavë kosi is a lamb stew with yoghurt and eggs definitely worth a try.
- Mish në hell: Spit-roasted is the most traditional way to eat lamb.
- Shish qebap: Marinated and grilled meat cubes (lamb, pork or beef) on a skewer.
- Qofta: Rissoles of minced lamb bound with egg, either served as a dish with salad and chips, or as fast food from kiosks.
- Midhje: Mussels are a local specialty and are farmed in the Butrint lagoon.
- Byrek: A typical snack found throughout the Balkans, which is a hearty pastry filled with either cheese, vegetables, or meat. The Albanian versions are usually triangular in shape.
Other Albanian dishes that are not specific to Sarandë
- Byrek – popular in the Balkans, byrek is a filo pastry stuffed with items such as spinach, cheese, meat and potatoes.
- Pollo alla Cotoletta – similar to chicken parmigiana.
- Qofte te ferguara – Albanian meatball
- Flija – this dough based dish is popular in Albania as well as Kosovo.
- Shapkat – this is a casserol that is made with cornmeal and greens.
- Tave Mishi – grilled meat.
- Perime në Zgarë – grilled vegetables.
- Speça me gjize – stuffed bell peppers.
- Kaçkavall – breaded and fried cheese. This is served as an apetiser.
- Jani me Fasule – bean soup.
- Tarator soup – a cold cucumber soup that is popular in many eastern European countries.
- Qumështor – baked custard.
- Baklava – a sweet pastry.
- Shëndetli – a dessert made from walnuts, honey and cinnamon.
- Trilece – a dough based dessert commonly made in Albania.
- Petulla – fried dough sprinkled with powdered sugar.
Cheap Eats in Sarandë Albania
- Bakeries are a great place to get cheap and delicious food. Byrek are typically around 100-240 lek. Other common bakery food include pizzas and cakes.
Sarandë Albania culture
Albania national holidays
- New Year’s Day – 1-3 January
- Dita e Verës – 14 March
- Nowruz – Spring equinox, March 19, 20 or 21
- Easter Sunday – typically in March or April.
- Easter Monday – the Monday after Easter Day, typically in March or April.
- Orthodox Easter Day – typically in April or May.
- Orthodox Easter Monday – the Monday after Easter Day, typically in April or May.
- Eid al-Fitr – first day of Shawwal in the Islamic calendar
- Labour Day – 1 May (public holiday the following Monday if it falls on a weekend)
- Eid al-Adha – 10th day of Dhu al-Hijjah in the Islamic calendar
- Saint Teresa Canonisation Day – 5 September
- Flag Day or Independence Day – 28 November
- Liberation Day – 29 November
- National Youth Day – 8 December
- Christmas Day – 25 December (public holiday the following Monday if it falls on a weekend)
National symbols of Albania
- Albania flag – a red flag with a black double headed eagle in the centre.
- Albania coat of arms – a black two-headed eagle with a golden crown. Its wings are raised in flight. It is on a red background with a gold border.
- National flower – red poppy
- National bird – eagle
- National dish – Tavë kosi
- Popular drinks – rakija, coffee, beer, Albanian wine
- National sport – football
- Religion – 59% Islam, 17% Christianity (as at 2020)
Famous people from Sarandë Albania
- Famous people born in Sarandë Albania – actor Laert Vasili, actor Luiza Xhuvani, chess international master Ilir Seitaj, military officer Dimitrios Doulis
- Notable people with family connections to Sarandë Albania – singer Ava Max
- Sports stars from Sarandë Albania – Olympic high jumper Antonia Stergiou, footballer Mario Gurma
Is Sarandë Albania Safe?
Albania travel guide: Safety in Albania
We travelled through Albania for three weeks and found the country to be extremely safe. Albania ranks 41st safest country on the Global Peace Index (as at 2022). As with any country, there are good areas and bad areas. Watch out for pickpockets particularly at crowded tourist attractions. Make sure no-one is watching whenever you are entering pin codes and never lose sight of your credit card when making a purchase.
Unexploded landmines and ordinances are a particular risk around the Albania and Kosovo border. These are a dangerous remnant from the 1999 conflict. Don’t stray from designated hiking paths and take any warning signs very seriously.
General safety considerations in Albania
Other general safety considerations for travel in Albania:
- Drinking water – Tap water is safe to drink almost everywhere in the country.
- Mosquitoes – the tiger mosquito has been found in Albania. This type of mosquito spreads diseases such as Zika, dengue and chikunguya. After being eradicated in 1967, malaria returned to Albania in 1994 and is a re-emerging disease in the country.
- Altitude sickness – Albania has areas of high altitude. This comes with the risk of altitude sickness. If you are planning to visit any high altitude areas in Albania, be sure to allow sufficient time to acclimatise. If you experience any signs of altitude sickness, such as headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, tiredness, loss of appetite or shortness of breath, get help immediately.
- Road safety – Road accidents are a significant risk on Albania. Road conditions are an issue, particularly in rural areas as well as in winter.
- Water safety – If you visit any of the coastal areas or lakes, take care when swimming as currents and waves may be stronger than you expect.
- Earthquakes – Albania experiences earthquake activity. If you experience an earthquake, stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls and anything that could fall. If you are inside get under a table, desk or solid furniture and hang onto it. Cover your head and torso to protect from falling objects. If you are outside, stay outside and go to an open area away from buildings.
- Sun safety – Exposure to the sun can have adverse short-term and long-term effects on the skin, eyes and immune system. Sun protection such as sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses is very important to ensure you don’t get burnt.
As with any destination, take all of your normal safety precautions.
You can find our Albania travel blogs below.
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