Klaudjo’s Saranda guidebook

Klaudjo
Klaudjo’s Saranda guidebook

My favorite Saranda Restaurants

This is the place I love to eat in Saranda and nearby!
This is one of the mainstream Restaurants offering lots of different dishes traditional and modern! Every Friday and Saturday night there is live music. It is at a perfect location in the center of the promenade and you can also sit and enjoy your coffee
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BAR RESTAURANT "LA BANANA"
Rruga Ismail Tatzati
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This is one of the mainstream Restaurants offering lots of different dishes traditional and modern! Every Friday and Saturday night there is live music. It is at a perfect location in the center of the promenade and you can also sit and enjoy your coffee
Great fresh fish and seafood with a terrace and a wooden decor that takes you to a different era! Love how friendly the owner is with his patrons!
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Haxhi
Rruga 40 Shenjtorët
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Great fresh fish and seafood with a terrace and a wooden decor that takes you to a different era! Love how friendly the owner is with his patrons!
This is one of my go to restaurants in Saranda. I really love sitting on the terrace which overlooks the sea. Great seafood and meat options. Also, at times you can find traditional Albanian dishes with a modern twist and good variety of Albanian wines which is hard to come by in other places
Manxurane Restaurant
9701 Rruga Butrinti
This is one of my go to restaurants in Saranda. I really love sitting on the terrace which overlooks the sea. Great seafood and meat options. Also, at times you can find traditional Albanian dishes with a modern twist and good variety of Albanian wines which is hard to come by in other places
Sheqer Pikant is one of the most established restaurants in Tirana. every summer they open their seasonal summer restaurant in Saranda. Great variety of international wines, English speaking staff, amazing seafood and octopus! During the past couple of years it has been one of the top restaurants on Tripadvisor (1st or 2nd spot). Best part is that it's located next to the apartment.
Sheqer Pikant
Sheqer Pikant is one of the most established restaurants in Tirana. every summer they open their seasonal summer restaurant in Saranda. Great variety of international wines, English speaking staff, amazing seafood and octopus! During the past couple of years it has been one of the top restaurants on Tripadvisor (1st or 2nd spot). Best part is that it's located next to the apartment.

Bars in Saranda

Demi is one of the most established bars in town. Operates as a private beach with sunbeds during the day and as a bar in the evening. Music is modern pop, with some EDM, and Albanian pop.
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DEMI BEACH
SH81
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Demi is one of the most established bars in town. Operates as a private beach with sunbeds during the day and as a bar in the evening. Music is modern pop, with some EDM, and Albanian pop.
This is one of the trendiest bars in town. Starts to get crowded by 8 PM and plays music until 3-4 am in the morning. Great list of cocktails and a favorite with tourists.
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Orange Cocktail Bar Music
Rruga Butrinti
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This is one of the trendiest bars in town. Starts to get crowded by 8 PM and plays music until 3-4 am in the morning. Great list of cocktails and a favorite with tourists.
One of the most chilled places in town to drink a beer or have a cocktail. Ideal location by the promenade, next to the Orthodox church. I'd suggest you sit there during the day or the afternoon!
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Jericho Cocktail Bar
Shëtitorja Naim Frashëri
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One of the most chilled places in town to drink a beer or have a cocktail. Ideal location by the promenade, next to the Orthodox church. I'd suggest you sit there during the day or the afternoon!
As the name suggest this bar has the lounge concept. I prefer their cocktails more than anywhere else in Saranda. Music is chilled electronic, ambient, DJ remixes of famous songs and beach vibes.
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City Lounge
Rruga Butrinti
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As the name suggest this bar has the lounge concept. I prefer their cocktails more than anywhere else in Saranda. Music is chilled electronic, ambient, DJ remixes of famous songs and beach vibes.

Get your tanning and enjoy the beach!

I always enjoyed more the beaches outside the city limits. Thus most of the places that I am recommending are either south or north of the city, accessible by sea or land routes.
My go to beach outside Sarande. In English it translates as "Mirror's Beach". You can get there with the Saranda - Ksamil - Butrint bus. Then you need to walk up and down the hill for around 20 minutes to reach it! You won't be disappointed by its beauty! If it is crowded you can walk by the sea to the next cove (on the left) called the Pigeon's Cave
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Plazhi Pasqyrat Sarande
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My go to beach outside Sarande. In English it translates as "Mirror's Beach". You can get there with the Saranda - Ksamil - Butrint bus. Then you need to walk up and down the hill for around 20 minutes to reach it! You won't be disappointed by its beauty! If it is crowded you can walk by the sea to the next cove (on the left) called the Pigeon's Cave
This is a largely virgin beach just north of Sarande. Accessible only by boat so hire one of the small boats by the promenade to take you there in the morning and back in the evening!
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Krorëza Beach
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This is a largely virgin beach just north of Sarande. Accessible only by boat so hire one of the small boats by the promenade to take you there in the morning and back in the evening!
Ksamil is a village of Saranda and one of the most iconic places in the Albanian riviera. Opt for it during off season because in high season it gets rather crowded and hectic. The restaurants and bars by the beach will ask you to pay for overpriced sunbeds in July - August. The three islands though are worth a day in Ksamil and are great for some memorable photo ops. You can get there with the Saranda - Ksamil - Butrint bus line.
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Ksamil Islands
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Ksamil is a village of Saranda and one of the most iconic places in the Albanian riviera. Opt for it during off season because in high season it gets rather crowded and hectic. The restaurants and bars by the beach will ask you to pay for overpriced sunbeds in July - August. The three islands though are worth a day in Ksamil and are great for some memorable photo ops. You can get there with the Saranda - Ksamil - Butrint bus line.
Bunec is the next beach past Lukove! A long pebbled coast with an ecoparking before you get to the beach. Ideal for relaxing an avoiding the really crowded places. The beach is located by the coast of the Piqeras village a 30 minutes down hill walk. If you leave in Saranda you will need a car to get there.
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Bunec Beach
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Bunec is the next beach past Lukove! A long pebbled coast with an ecoparking before you get to the beach. Ideal for relaxing an avoiding the really crowded places. The beach is located by the coast of the Piqeras village a 30 minutes down hill walk. If you leave in Saranda you will need a car to get there.
Lukove beach and the cave are mesmerizing. There are a couple of restaurants in this pebbled beach, a cave in its farther left part, and some small mushroom bunkers along the coast. You need a car to get there as it is a 30 minutes drive from the city along the coast
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Plazhi i Lukovës
Lukovë - Shpellë
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Lukove beach and the cave are mesmerizing. There are a couple of restaurants in this pebbled beach, a cave in its farther left part, and some small mushroom bunkers along the coast. You need a car to get there as it is a 30 minutes drive from the city along the coast

History and Nature

Some of the historical and natural sites in Saranda and the nearby hinterland
Butrint is the most important and most visited National Park in Albania. The UNESCO World Heritage Site city spans from pre-classical era to the Ottoman period when it went into disarray. Be ready to spend 3-4 hours exploring it. It is worth seeing the different epochs that Albania has been through and how they altered its history. You can get to Butrint with the Saranda - Ksamil - Butrint bus. It is the last bus stop and the ride last around 30 minutes. After that go for some tanning and swimming in Ksamil.
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Parku Kombëtar i Butrintit
SH81
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Butrint is the most important and most visited National Park in Albania. The UNESCO World Heritage Site city spans from pre-classical era to the Ottoman period when it went into disarray. Be ready to spend 3-4 hours exploring it. It is worth seeing the different epochs that Albania has been through and how they altered its history. You can get to Butrint with the Saranda - Ksamil - Butrint bus. It is the last bus stop and the ride last around 30 minutes. After that go for some tanning and swimming in Ksamil.
The Blue Eye spring is a natural monument only 20 km from Sarande. It is an underground spring that turns into a river inside a park full of trees. Water is freezing at 5 degrees Celsius! Ideal for days when you don't want to go to the beach! Take some beers and some food and go for a picnic there. Jumping inside the spring is prohibited due to the strong current but many people try it!
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Blue Eye
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The Blue Eye spring is a natural monument only 20 km from Sarande. It is an underground spring that turns into a river inside a park full of trees. Water is freezing at 5 degrees Celsius! Ideal for days when you don't want to go to the beach! Take some beers and some food and go for a picnic there. Jumping inside the spring is prohibited due to the strong current but many people try it!
An orthodox Christian monastery (Shen Kolli Monastery) is located in Mesopotam village near Saranda. The monastery has an interesting architecture and history! There are some water springs nearby! If you are one of those who wants to combine their vacations with some cultural activities this is a great alternative for you!
Mesopotam
An orthodox Christian monastery (Shen Kolli Monastery) is located in Mesopotam village near Saranda. The monastery has an interesting architecture and history! There are some water springs nearby! If you are one of those who wants to combine their vacations with some cultural activities this is a great alternative for you!
Lekuresi was a small fort overseeing the port in the strategic bay of Saranda during the Ottoman era. It was purposefully built on top of the mountain as to have a better overview of approaching ships to the strait of Corfu. Around it there was a small village. The fort was bombarded during WWII by the allied ships as the occupying Nazi forces had turned it into a weapons depot and had put their cannons on top of the mountain to control also the movement of ships from Greece to Albania and Italy. Now what remains are its ruins and walls. A restaurant operates inside the walls where you can enjoy your lunch or dinner. Lekuresi offers great views of the city, of Butrint lake, Corfu and other nearby Greek islets. Also around it you can find a number of communist bunkers and a light house. I recommend visiting it during sunset!
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Lekuresi Castle
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Lekuresi was a small fort overseeing the port in the strategic bay of Saranda during the Ottoman era. It was purposefully built on top of the mountain as to have a better overview of approaching ships to the strait of Corfu. Around it there was a small village. The fort was bombarded during WWII by the allied ships as the occupying Nazi forces had turned it into a weapons depot and had put their cannons on top of the mountain to control also the movement of ships from Greece to Albania and Italy. Now what remains are its ruins and walls. A restaurant operates inside the walls where you can enjoy your lunch or dinner. Lekuresi offers great views of the city, of Butrint lake, Corfu and other nearby Greek islets. Also around it you can find a number of communist bunkers and a light house. I recommend visiting it during sunset!
The Monastery of 40 Saints was one of most important landmarks of the region. Built in the 6th century, the monastery gave the name to the city of Saranda, which in Greek (the ecclesiastical language of Orthodox Christian Albanians until the 19th century) means 40. The monastery was a large building complex with its own order. Although it survived the Ottoman era it was destroyed, like the Lekuresi castle on the opposite mountain, by allied bombings as the occupying Nazi's had turned it into a weapons base. The monastery now is in ruins, yet it offers some spectacular overviews and panoramas of the city, Corfu island and strait, the nearby Greek islets, Butrint lake and surrounding hills. To get there follow the road outside the city towards Gjashta, there go to the direction of Gjashta Mosque and then keep going up until you make it to the monastery. If you go by car be advised that the last part of the road to get there is not paved.
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Manastiri i 40 Shenjtorëve
9 místní doporučují
The Monastery of 40 Saints was one of most important landmarks of the region. Built in the 6th century, the monastery gave the name to the city of Saranda, which in Greek (the ecclesiastical language of Orthodox Christian Albanians until the 19th century) means 40. The monastery was a large building complex with its own order. Although it survived the Ottoman era it was destroyed, like the Lekuresi castle on the opposite mountain, by allied bombings as the occupying Nazi's had turned it into a weapons base. The monastery now is in ruins, yet it offers some spectacular overviews and panoramas of the city, Corfu island and strait, the nearby Greek islets, Butrint lake and surrounding hills. To get there follow the road outside the city towards Gjashta, there go to the direction of Gjashta Mosque and then keep going up until you make it to the monastery. If you go by car be advised that the last part of the road to get there is not paved.

Short excursions

Interesting towns and places worth visiting near Saranda
Gjirokaster is a bit more than one hour away from Saranda with the bus. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While there you can enjoy the castle (the largest mountaintop castle in the Balkans), its Ottoman era bazaar, its traditional houses, eat traditional delicacies, visit the former dictator's Enver Hoxha house or that of Ismail Kadare the most renowned Albanian author.
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Gjirokaster
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Gjirokaster is a bit more than one hour away from Saranda with the bus. The old city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. While there you can enjoy the castle (the largest mountaintop castle in the Balkans), its Ottoman era bazaar, its traditional houses, eat traditional delicacies, visit the former dictator's Enver Hoxha house or that of Ismail Kadare the most renowned Albanian author.
Himara is a bit more than 1 hour drive from Saranda. It is the largest town between Saranda and Vlora. While there is not much to see in the modern town itself you can use it as point of reference to visit some of the most spectacular sites in the Albanian Riviera like: Gjipe Beach Dhermi old village and Dhermi beach Jale beach Qeparo Old village Borsh and its beach Porto Palermo My personal favorites are Gjipe beach and the old villages of Qeparo and Dhermi. Also Porto Palermo has a castle and an abandoned U boat Cold War base!
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Himarë
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Himara is a bit more than 1 hour drive from Saranda. It is the largest town between Saranda and Vlora. While there is not much to see in the modern town itself you can use it as point of reference to visit some of the most spectacular sites in the Albanian Riviera like: Gjipe Beach Dhermi old village and Dhermi beach Jale beach Qeparo Old village Borsh and its beach Porto Palermo My personal favorites are Gjipe beach and the old villages of Qeparo and Dhermi. Also Porto Palermo has a castle and an abandoned U boat Cold War base!
The hot springs in Benje are another site you can explore as a day trip from Saranda. They are located around 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Saranda. The water stays at a warm of around 28 degrees Celsius and on your way there or back you can combine it with visiting also Gjirokaster!
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Bënjë
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The hot springs in Benje are another site you can explore as a day trip from Saranda. They are located around 1 hour and 30 minutes drive from Saranda. The water stays at a warm of around 28 degrees Celsius and on your way there or back you can combine it with visiting also Gjirokaster!
Zagori villages are divided between Greece and Albania. In the Albanian part you can reach it on your way to Gjirokaster from Saranda and vice versa. It is a great drive between the mountains and the area is a national park with small and sparsely inhabited villages with stone houses (part of the region's distinct architectural tradition). An ideal 1 or 2 day trip for the ones who want to explore the mountains and countryside and off the beaten path!
Zagori
Zagori villages are divided between Greece and Albania. In the Albanian part you can reach it on your way to Gjirokaster from Saranda and vice versa. It is a great drive between the mountains and the area is a national park with small and sparsely inhabited villages with stone houses (part of the region's distinct architectural tradition). An ideal 1 or 2 day trip for the ones who want to explore the mountains and countryside and off the beaten path!

Places to see within town

Although Saranda has changed a lot during the times of transition to democracy there are still some places that could be intriguing for visitors
This is the only park in downtown. Its name translates to "Friendship". You can find it easily as it is where the Tirana bus is located, next to the old synagogue and basilica. You will see lots of old people, which have become park of folk tradition, like the money brokers who will exchange your EURO or Dollars for LEK, the local shoe shiner, the newspaper stall, next to eat you have BEQO a traditional eatery for locals. Also the park is a small green escape with shade during the hot summer months
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Friendship Park
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This is the only park in downtown. Its name translates to "Friendship". You can find it easily as it is where the Tirana bus is located, next to the old synagogue and basilica. You will see lots of old people, which have become park of folk tradition, like the money brokers who will exchange your EURO or Dollars for LEK, the local shoe shiner, the newspaper stall, next to eat you have BEQO a traditional eatery for locals. Also the park is a small green escape with shade during the hot summer months
The Promenade is the place where everyone meets. Stretching from the Public beach - by the end of the port - and continuing until Butrinti Hotel you will start recognizing familiar places if you walk it for some times. It was built during the commmunist era and connects with all the famous Saranda stairways. You will notice that locals enjoy walking it from beginning to the end as a sort of a ritual!! It will get full of life during the summer months as a lot of hip cafes, bars, and restaurants are located on the Promenade or just past it.
Shëtitorja Naim Frashëri
Shëtitorja Naim Frashëri
The Promenade is the place where everyone meets. Stretching from the Public beach - by the end of the port - and continuing until Butrinti Hotel you will start recognizing familiar places if you walk it for some times. It was built during the commmunist era and connects with all the famous Saranda stairways. You will notice that locals enjoy walking it from beginning to the end as a sort of a ritual!! It will get full of life during the summer months as a lot of hip cafes, bars, and restaurants are located on the Promenade or just past it.
Teqe or in Latin Tekke is the religious temple where a Sufi order of Shi'a Islam known as the Bektashi order hold their ceremonies. Tekke's are built in higher points, secluded from urban life due to the mystic character of the order and their sermons. The Bektashi order although it draws its origins from Persia, it managed to make ways to the Western Balkans as they were expelled from other parts of the then Ottoman Empire, making Albania as its official headquarters. You can recognize the Bektashi Tekke of Saranda by being a white building with green cupolas on the far north / north-west edge of the town. It is a stand alone building, with nothing being built around it, visible with the naked eye from afar. The Bektashi order made inroads in Albania, becoming the fourth religious groups in terms of followers during the Ottoman era due to its more liberal nature than traditional Islam. For example; alcohol is allowed, they have their own saints, and women do not need to cover their hair.
Teqeja Sarande
Teqe or in Latin Tekke is the religious temple where a Sufi order of Shi'a Islam known as the Bektashi order hold their ceremonies. Tekke's are built in higher points, secluded from urban life due to the mystic character of the order and their sermons. The Bektashi order although it draws its origins from Persia, it managed to make ways to the Western Balkans as they were expelled from other parts of the then Ottoman Empire, making Albania as its official headquarters. You can recognize the Bektashi Tekke of Saranda by being a white building with green cupolas on the far north / north-west edge of the town. It is a stand alone building, with nothing being built around it, visible with the naked eye from afar. The Bektashi order made inroads in Albania, becoming the fourth religious groups in terms of followers during the Ottoman era due to its more liberal nature than traditional Islam. For example; alcohol is allowed, they have their own saints, and women do not need to cover their hair.
The Limioni cove was the old marine base of Saranda during the Communist era. Now it serves as a port of the local coast guard and as a station for ship refueling. If you are interested in the communist era of Albania you will see one of the speedboats used by the Marine during Communism to patrol the waters displayed on the ground. You will also see some of the "mushroom" bunkers surrounding the cove in order to offer protection from the permanent fixation of the Communism nomenclature of that era fearing a foreign invasion. There are two fish restaurants in the same road where you could have lunch like Ben Peshkatari and Fish Land. If you decide to make it there I would suggest to combine it with a visit to the town's norther edge where the Tekke is.
Gjiri I Limionit
The Limioni cove was the old marine base of Saranda during the Communist era. Now it serves as a port of the local coast guard and as a station for ship refueling. If you are interested in the communist era of Albania you will see one of the speedboats used by the Marine during Communism to patrol the waters displayed on the ground. You will also see some of the "mushroom" bunkers surrounding the cove in order to offer protection from the permanent fixation of the Communism nomenclature of that era fearing a foreign invasion. There are two fish restaurants in the same road where you could have lunch like Ben Peshkatari and Fish Land. If you decide to make it there I would suggest to combine it with a visit to the town's norther edge where the Tekke is.
Next to the property, on the opposite side of the road there is a private beach bar with sun loungers and a small public beach where you can chill with your towel on the pebbled beach. You can pick which of the two you prefer! Walk down the big stairway next to Alexander restaurant to get there. For the brave ones there is a platform at the end of the stairway where you can jump into the water for some extra adrenaline! (pictured in the photo).
Secret Beach
Rruga Naim Frashëri
Next to the property, on the opposite side of the road there is a private beach bar with sun loungers and a small public beach where you can chill with your towel on the pebbled beach. You can pick which of the two you prefer! Walk down the big stairway next to Alexander restaurant to get there. For the brave ones there is a platform at the end of the stairway where you can jump into the water for some extra adrenaline! (pictured in the photo).