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How To Spend A Day In Sarandë, Albania (Corfu To Albania Day Trip)

So you’ve chosen to take a day trip from Corfu to Albania? Or if you’re reading this blog post, you’re thinking about it! I think it’s an amazing way to spend a day! I mean why not cross off another country if it’s only 30 minutes away. The high-speed ferry system between the two destinations is extremely efficient and easy. I have a complete guide here on how to take a day trip from Corfu to Albania by ferry if you’re curious about the transportation logistics. In this guide, I’m going to dive into can’t-miss things to do in Saranda (also known as Sarandë), Albania, along with activities along the southern Albania Rivera that are perfect for your Corfu to Albania day trip.

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Is A Corfu To Albania Day Trip Worth It?

Yes! I absolutely think Albania is worth visiting from Corfu for this day trip. It is full of charm and it is extremely affordable to visit the Sarandë beaches area. Not to mention, it is super beautiful! The water surrounding the Albanian Riviera is very clear and there are majestic mountain ranges surrounding the entire coast.

There’s so many areas of Albania to visit, including the Alps in the north and the capital, Tirana. The capital is over 4 hours away by car from the southern coast, so if you’re looking to extend your trip and visit more of Albania, it may actually be easiest to fly to Tirana from Corfu Old Town.

Since I just visited the Albanian Riviera for the day, I don’t have any accommodation recommendations in this post. However, if you’re just hoping to get a taste of the country for a reasonable cost, definitely consider taking this Corfu to Albania day trip and booking this tour to see the highlights in Saranda! Let’s dive into the recommendations!

Saranda beaches, Albania

How To Take A Day Trip From Corfu To Albania

Once you take the high-speed ferry from Corfu to Albania and arrive in the port of Sarandë, your first order of business will be exchanging Euro for Albanian Lek. Although Albania is a member of the EU, it has its own currency. And, you definitely will need it. Cash is king in Albania. I didn’t use my card once — not at restaurants or even for entrance tickets at popular tourist attractions. I found 30 Euro to be enough for my full day trip (this equates to about 2,000 Albanian Lek), but I was also traveling on a budget and didn’t really eat any meals here. If you’re looking to sit down and order 1-2 meals and maybe some drinks, I would exchange closer to 50 Euro.

You can exchange your money (FREE OF FEES!), at one of the shops to the right of the port on the same road. Once you have your cash, you’re ready to explore!

Corfu to Albania ferry

Things To Do In Saranda, Albania On Your Day Trip From Corfu

Stroll The Sarandë Beaches Promenade

Assuming you’ll arrive to Albania early in the morning, you may not be in a big rush to start sightseeing. At least I wasn’t. Instead, you can familiarize yourself with your surroundings and explore the Sarandë promenade. Walking along the promenade is the #1 thing to do in Saranda, Albania. It’s a 1K walk that hugs the crescent-shaped Sarandë beach. The port is on the far end of one side, and a few hotels and a concrete dock mark the end on the other side. Along the way, there are dozens of shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels. If you walk up the hill (away from the beach) a block or two, you’ll find more commercial streets that run parallel to the promenade. These are great for souvenir shopping, although the main promenade is the most enjoyable area to spend time on this day trip from Corfu to Albania.

Grab Some Coffee

Once you stroll the promenade you may want some coffee! Or maybe a little morning treat? I recommend Hashtag Café. Maybe it’s because I visited on a weekday during the shoulder season (late April), but I found a lot of businesses were closed. There weren’t dozens of cafes to choose from unfortunately, so this is my only cafe recommendation.

After strolling the promenade and getting some coffee, I also strolled through the food stalls here. Lots of locals were selling produce, olives, olive oil, etc. I didn’t purchase anything but it’s always neat to see local vendors when traveling internationally.

Spend Time At The Best Beaches In Saranda

Sarandë, Albania is known for its beaches! The beaches in Sarandë are very beautiful. The water is crystal clear, they are clean, and the mountainous views are something else! It was too cold to swim during the off-season, but perfect weather for a long stroll. I can only image how busy this area gets during the summer months! It’s very popular to take a ferry from Corfu to Albania for this day trip!

Corfu to Albania day trip

Riding The Public Bus In Albania

From the end of the promenade, I grabbed a bus from the Sarandë beaches to Butrint National Archaeological Park! During peak months, there are tons of tours you can book that will bring you around the area, but since I went during a quiet time, I used the public bus. This is the top tour to see all the highlights of Saranda, including the Blue Eye, Butrint, Ksamil, and the Castle!

Pro-tip: A quick disclaimer about the public bus system! First, as someone who certainly doesn’t speak the language or knew much about the area, the bus system was very easy to navigate. If you’re wanting to visit Ksamil or Butrint (the two sites all tourists gravitate towards in this area), just look for the bus marked Sarandë — Ksamil — Butrint. Once you’re on, it will stop a few extra times, but the drivers will make it clear when you’re in Ksamil center. And as for Butrint, well it’s the end of the line — so when the bus parks and shut the engine off, you know you’ve arrived.

Saranda, Albania beaches

Finding The Bus Stop & Schedule

The bus stop, however, was a bit difficult to find. When I visited in April 2024, the main road before the promenade was under construction so they casually moved the bus stop to the complete other end of the promenade, near the Bougainville Bay Resort hotel. I didn’t realize this and had to walk up and down the promenade twice looking for the bus. The Sarandë beach area is a pretty walk, but this wasn’t ideal.

If the road is open during your visit, you’ll find the bus stop at the end of the road that the Sarandë customs building is on. Just walk right out of the port area and at the end of the road there’s a small round-a-bout. If you were to take another right here, you’d begin your walk to the promenade. Stop in this round-a-bout and look for the small bus stop. That’s it — that’s the bus station. I only knew this was it because there was a small timetable nailed to a pole by a bench. So, it certainly can be difficult to find on your Corfu to Albania day trip, even without the construction.

The bus comes every hour on the :30 mark. Since I got coffee and walked around after arriving around 8:30 am, I ended up catching the 10:30 am bus, arriving at Butrint by 11:15 am. If you want to start adventuring right from the port, you could totally catch the 9:30 am bus if you time it right. I don’t recommend pushing it any later than 10:30 am though or you won’t have time to leave the Sarande beaches area before your ferry back.

Paying For The Public Bus

As mentioned above, you’ll need Albanian Lek to pay for the public bus! To reach the Butrint National Park, the ride will take about 35 minutes and cost 200 Lek. If you choose to get off in Ksamil first, the ride is only 20 minutes from Sarandë and will cost around 100-150 Lek. There is a worker on the bus who will come around and collect money once the bus gets moving.

Things To Do In Saranda, Albania: Visit The Butrint Archaeological Site

Visiting Butrint National Park during your day trip to Albania from Corfu is a must! This archaeological site is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was extremely impressive. The national park is an ancient town that was founded in the 8th century BC and later occupied by both the Romans and the Ottomans.

Butrint National Park

I spent a little over an hour exploring the Butrint area because I wanted to visit Ksamil too during my day trip in Albania from Corfu. If I caught an earlier bus, I probably would’ve spent closer to 2 hours here, but I had to keep an eye on the bus schedule.

This archaeological site completely exceeded my expectations — there’s a fantastic walking loop you can do here to see theater ruins, the Great Basilica ruins, several of the original city walls, etc. I was impressed by how well this area is preserved! Visiting Butrint is definitely one of the top things to do in Saranda, Albania. This day tour of Saranda covers entrance into the archaeological site, in addition to other highlights of the Albanian Riviera!

Butrint National Park

Pro-tip: The cost to visit Butrint Natioanl Park is 1,000 Lek per adult. This equates to about $10 USD pp and MUST be paid in cash! Also, there are restrooms near the old theater within the park, not right at the entrance.

Things To Do In Ksamil, Albania

After visiting Butrint National Park, grab the bus back towards Sarandë beaches and stop in Ksamil. At this point, you may be ready for lunch! There are several seaside restaurants in Ksamil at the various beach clubs and hotels.

Abiori Restaurant Pizzeria and Poda Restaurant Ksamil are both in fantastic locations and serve the basics (pasta, fish, sandwiches), along with some Albanian specialties! The cuisine in Ksamil is mostly Greek and Mediterranean — probably because this area is so popular with tourists during the summer months.

After lunch (or just a snack from one of the several mini markets near the bus stop), I recommend heading to the Ksamil beach! Spending time at the beach is definitely one of the top things to do in Ksamil, Albania.

Ksamil beach

Aside from renting a beach chair at Ksamil beach and paying to hangout and day drink at one of the beach clubs, I also recommend renting a kayak to explore the Ksamil islands! The water here is so clear, it’s the perfect way to adventure around the area.

Be sure to keep an eye on the bus schedule so you don’t miss the bus back to the ferry port. I only spent about 1-2 hours in Ksamil, but again, it was the off-season and too cold to swim. You could easily post up all day here on a summer day!

Returning To Corfu from Albania

Once I arrived back to the Sarande beaches, I had about 45 minutes before I had to make my way back to the ferry. Since I had already walked the whole promenade in the morning, I just used this time to buy some postcards and this local yummy flaky potato pastry thing at a café near the port. There’s not a whole lot else to see here, unless you want to hike or bus up to the Kalaja e Lëkurësit Castle. I chose not to do this to see the other areas instead and am happy with my decision. If you’re traveling during the “on-season”, definitely book this tour so you can see the above sites AND the castle!

Albania to Corfu day trip

Albania to Corfu day trip

I hope this guide inspires you to plan your own day trip from Corfu Old Town to Albania, and to soak up the best things to do in Saranda, Albania! The ferry is so easy, why not check a new country off the bucket list?

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