Saranda is considered as the unofficial capital of the Albanian Riviera, a city plenty of things to see and do, especially in summertime when it gives its best. From the plebby beaches near the town to the vibrant nightlife, from the ancient archaeological sites to natural treasures, Saranda is a top choice destination that every traveler should include in his itinerary and will not disappoint you. Here you can read the list of the best things to see and do in this lively and beautiful coastal town.
Saranda is one of the favored destinations by Albanians to spend their holidays. The town is very pleasant and offers an opportunity to spend gorgeous days without breaking the bank. The first thing to do in town is to stroll through the recently renewed boulevard, a long, elegant street near the sea. Here, you can walk admiring the gorgeous sea views or sit at a bar, order a coffee and relax.
South of Saranda, Pasqyra Beach is a terrific bay that is never crowded, not even in the peak of the season. Many tourists prefer to spend their time at the urban beach of Saranda, because it’s more comfortable and easier to reach, but if you want to see an off-the-beaten-path place, head to this secluded natural bay lapped by turquoise waters.
Saranda is not just home to extraordinary beaches but has a long and ancient history too. The town takes its name from the monastery of forty saints built on a hill behind the bay in the 15th century. By the legend, “40 saints” refers to the 40 Roman martyrs who were killed because they wouldn’t renounce their Christian faith. The monastery is today in a state of ruin but totally worth a visit, not just for its importance but for the panoramic views over Saranda.
South of Saranda, there is Ksamil, one of the best beach destinations in Albania. Ksamil is also called “the Ionian pearl” because of its beauty. It is located in a dramatic setting, a bay with three small islands reachable by swim or a boat ride and surrounded by turquoise waters. We suggest that you avoid Ksamil in August, because it is very crowded.
One of the highlights of Saranda is the Lekursi Castle, a magnificent castle from the mid-1500s located on the top of the hill that surround the town. To reach it, you have two options: You can walk about 40-50 minutes or you can grab a cab for just €1,50 (US$2). Whatever you decide, don’t forget to bring your camera with you to take beautiful pictures of both Saranda and Corfu island.
In the ancient times, a large Jewish community inhabited Saranda and generally the south of Albania. Did you know that the Land of the Eagles was the only country in Europe that was a safe haven for the Jewish community from concentration camps during the Second World War? Once in Saranda, you can’t miss the chance to visit the remnants of the Synagogue and admire its mosaics on the floor.