The coastal town of Sarandë is a popular resort town in Albania. Plenty of (mostly domestic) tourists visit each year to enjoy its relaxing beaches, tasty restaurants, or take the ferry across to the Greek Island of Corfu. We stayed a full day relaxing and sunbathing in Sarandë, before driving north along the coast, visiting a series of equally amazing beaches.
Lucky for us, we were able to stay at a family members’ beach house in Sarandë, which was only steps away from the waterfront. had the luck we could stay with a family friend of our hosts, only steps away from the Sarandë promenade and waterfront. Especially at night, this area becomes alive; from people enjoying the weather, to kids playing around in the sand. Later at night, most restaurants are at full capacity, and the nightclubs are opening up.
During the day, most people can be found on any of the nearby beaches. Apart from Sarandës main beach, there are plenty of small, almost hidden, beaches, like Dekko Beach.
The main beach of Sarandë is located about a 10-minute walk away from the promenade, on the north side of town. From here, you have great views over the town itself. As people who normally don’t like to stay on the beach for too long, it was very tempting to relax in one of the many chairs, order a cocktail or two, and cool off in the Mediterranean waters every now and then.
There are multiple ferries connecting Sarandë with the Greek island of Corfu. We’d imagine making a daytrip is pretty easy to do, as it almost appears the island is within swimming distance from the Albanian coast.
Ksamil is located about thirty minutes south of Sarandë, only a few kilometers from the Greek border. Apart from more beaches, which we’d visit later, Ksamil is home to Buthrotum, an ancient Greek and Roman city. Despite the heat, we spend a good hour walking around the ruins of what once was a thriving city.
Some parts of the city are remarkably well-preserved; like the tiles of the ancient temple. There is also a small museum on the hill, where you can read more about the history of the city, and view a selection of tools and artifacts.
After spending the morning in Buthrotum, it was time to cool down. Only a few minutes after leaving Buthrotum, we stumbled upon the first beach: Ksamil Beach. This beach is small and crowded, but we managed to find a spot to lay down, swim, and have a delicious seafood lunch.
We left Ksamil, and headed back to Sarandë. But, there was another beach we just had to stop at: Mirror Beach, or Plazhi Pasqyrat. As with most beaches there are plenty of relaxing chairs available. But, if you don’t feel like paying the small fee, you can always find a public spot next to the chairs.
If you feel adventurous, you can go for a little hike on the rocks to get a good picture of the entire beach. If you want, you can even jump into the sea from the rocks, it’s deep enough!
After spending another night in Sarandë, it was time to slowly head back to Tirana. We planned to take the scenic coastal route, with ample of time to cool down at a few beaches along the way. The first beach we stopped at was Bunec Beach.
The pier on the beach separates the beach in two. As with almost all beaches we would visit that day, getting to the beach involves taking a turn from the main road onto a narrow unpaved road, and you better make sure your brakes work. But, once you get onto the beach, it was all worth it.
As this part of Albania has just too many beautiful beaches, we unfortunately couldn’t visit all from up close. We did make a few stops along the main road to enjoy the views. Like Qeparo Beach, a long, stretched beach full of restaurants, bars, and tourists.
The next beach we made a stop at was Llaman Beach, near the town of Himarë. At this point, since we were getting further and further away from Sarandë, most people on the beach were locals, as getting to these beaches without private transportation is hard. We didn’t mind though, as this also meant there were less and less people around.
Our last and longest stop of the day was at Dhermi Beach. It was understandable busy on this beach, as it was simply incredible. Surrounded by the mountains, this beach had everything: crystal-clear water, rocks to jump off, shade if you want it, and some restaurants and bars to grab a bite to eat and drink.
Dhermi Beach is also the place to try jet skiing, or to take a short boat trip to the nearby Pirate Cave. We decided to do just that, and about ten minutes later we were in front of the cave. Because of the name, we can only assume the natural cave was a hiding spot for pirates, back in the day.
After leaving Dhermi, the main road takes a detour away from the coast. Instead, several hairpin turns will lead you up Mount Çika. On the top, you will be rewarded with more incredible views, after which the road will eventually lead you to Vlorë.
At this point, we were already a few hours away from Sarandë, and roughly halfway to Tirana. Yet still, the beaches remained amazing. We made a quick coffee stop, as the locals do, and discovered a beach tucked away almost underneath the road: Vlorë Beach. After yet another almost hidden beach it was pretty clear: the Albanian coast is full of beautiful beaches.
We, Mark & Herta, are currently backpacking through Europe, and eventually planning to settle in London. Beyond that? The possibilities are endless.Read Mark & Herta’s full story.