A Budget-Friendly Guide to Saranda, Albania

Bell   |   8th August 23

Saranda, called Sarandë in Albanian, is possibly the most well known coastal destination in Albania. 

Saranda makes for the perfect budget-friendly destination to relax on the beach and enjoy the most delicious and affordable food, while also being the perfect home base to venture out to some of Albania’s most popular tourist attractions.

It is close to the famous Ksamil, sometimes referred to as the Maldives of Europe, as well as the Blue Eye where you will find the clearest turquoise water in a natural monument of impressive beauty. 

Albania in general is a very affordable mediterranean destination, perfect for budget travellers and backpackers. Saranda is perfect for a short getaway or to start your Albania trip, with plenty of beach and cultural/historic activities to keep you occupied. 

Find out more on things to do in Saranda, how to get there, why it is perfect on a budget and some tips for solo, female travellers:

Saranda is one of the most-visited coastal cities in Albania and one you shouldn’t miss on your trip. Saranda has countless activities, from beach to nature to historic, to make your trip an unforgettable one.

Many of the top attractions in Saranda are budget friendly, just like most of Albania. It’s the perfect location for fun-filled days, delicious food and bougie evenings.

Here are the top things to do in Saranda:

  • Check out the local beaches and enjoy a swim in the crystal clear water
  • Plan a day trip to one of the amazing nearby attractions such as the Blue Eye or Ksamil
  • Wander along the The Hasan Tahsini Boulevard, which follows Saranda’s seaside and has many incredible restaurants and bars
  • Watch the sunset from the 40 Saints Monastery that looks over Saranda – walking there can take up to an hour, but you can rent motorbikes for really cheap or get a taxi up (check out the view here)
  • Sign up for one of the action-packed boat day trips for as little as 20 Euros for an entire day – they provide an unique way to see attractions like Ksamil as well as exclusive access to some of the best beaches in the area
The Blue Eye - Syri i kaltër
the bluest,5clearest water at the Blue Eye, Albania

The Blue Eye is a must-visit attraction while in Saranda. 

It is a natural spring in a gorgeous, protected area. Seeing it for the first time was magical – pictures can’t do it justice. The water is crystal-clear and reflecting the stunning blue and green hues of the algae and ground beneath. 

It is ice-cold as the water comes straight from an underwater cave. Swimming is prohibited, though you will see many tourists doing it anyway. I would personally refrain from doing so for ethical and preservation reasons – after all, there is a reason that swimming is not allowed.

I’d recommend hiring a scooter for the day and leaving early to avoid the massive crowds you get in summer. Scooters are only 25 Euros for 24 hours and really easy to use. The drive is  around 40 minutes and there is a parking area at the entry of the area. 

There is a minimal entry fee to access the Blue Eye (50 LEK so less than 50 Cents) and a parking fee for cars (100 LEK).

You do need to be prepared to hike for up to an hour to reach the Blue Eye from the parking area. It is a simple walk but pack enough liquids for hot summer days. There is a restaurant with reasonable prices right by the Blue Eye if you need refreshments.

Gjirokastra- The Stone City
Gjirokastra- The Stone City - 2- traveloffscript
Gjirokastra- The Stone City - traveloffscript

In a surprise twist, Gjirokastra turned out to be one of my favourite day trips from Saranda. 

The city is gorgous, full of cobble streets, vendors lining the old, traditional houses and boasting beautiful views over the valley. 

There are lots of cultural and historic attractions to explore. The food scene is also one of a kind, with the most delicious and budget-friendly eats around every corner. Highly recommend visiting!

Butrint National Park

Butrint is one of the most advertised attractions of Albania. It is a UNSECO World Heritage Site and rightfully so. The park has a unique mix of historic, archeological sites, monuments and nature. 

There are tons of tours heading there, or you can rent a car/scooter and do the 30 minute drive yourself. 

A must for any history lovers or those looking for the best beaches in the area.


If you are on any social media site, you  have probably seen videos of Ksamil. It is also often referred to as the “Maldives of Europe“. 

For Albania, prices here are a bit more steep, with two beach chairs going for about 40 Euros per day in the most popular bars. It is well worth it though if you are into gorgeous beaches and delicious cocktails mixed with fun entertainment.

I think Ksamil is worth visiting if you are after the most Instagram-worthy pictures as well as some rare sandy beaches and are prepared to spend a little more than you would anywhere else in Albania (still cheap in comparison to other European hotspots btw).


Ksamil’s main beach is one of the rare sandy beaches in Albania. Here, you’ll get the famous views that rival the Maldives. The blue water here is incomparable to anything else.

It does get very busy though, especially in the main season and a beach chair will set you back 40-70 Euros. 

There is a public bus that goes here every day, ever 20 minutes or so. The ticket costs 150 LEK.

Gjiri i Hartës
Gjiri i Hartës beach-ksamil-albania-clear-blue-water-traveloffscript

This beach is between Saranda and Ksamil. You can get here via the same bus that goes to Ksamil.

It is a bit of a walk but worth it if you are looking for comparable water and views to Ksamil for cheaper and less-crowded.

There’s even an area just next to the paid beach area where you can lie for free. It is filled with locals who will also save their space 24/7, but you will always find a spot to lie on.

I recommend using Google Maps as your guide as you will need to walk 10 minutes or so from the main road. Well worth it in my opinion.

Saranda Beach

The public beach right in central Saranda is really not a bad option. The water is pretty clean, it is super accessible and you will be able to find a sport even in peak season.

Flamingo Beach

Another beach nearer to the centre that is a good option for a quick swim and sun bathe. 

Krorëza Beach

Many ship tours stop at this beach.

The water is some of the cleanest and bluest in the area and it is much more secluded than any other options.

Girl walking along a beach in a bikini in albania

I would recommend an absolute minimum of 3 days in Saranda. If you can, spend a week. 

There are so many things to explore, day trips to go on and amazing tours to take part in.

On top of that, you probably want a day or two to also just relax on the beach. 

Ideally, you need 5-7 days in Saranda.

Ferry journey from Saranda to Corfu - traveloffscript

The best way to  get to Saranda is fly into Corfu airport and then take the ferry from Corfu to Saranda.

The two big ferry transfer companies are Ionian Seaways and Finikas Lines. The journey takes about 30 mins to an hours and has gorgeous views of Corfu and Albania. 

I’d recommend booking online and then printing your ticket – while they usually are okay with the digital ticket, it does say on their websites to print the tickets and its better safe than sorry. That being said, I booked last-minute and had to use the e-ticket and it was completely fine.

Ticket prices range from 19-30 Euros one-way, so really affordable and Corfu has most budget airlines flying in.

There is a public bus from Corfu airport straight to the ferry terminal and the terminal in Saranda is a 5-minute walk from the center and most hotels.

Saranda Boutique Hostel

I loved this hostel! It was clean, the owner was super kind and friendly and I met the loveliest people here. Beds had curtains which is always a huge plus.

It is located on top of the hill so a 15 minute steep walk, but the views are gorgeous and it honestly didn’t bother me.

I was too late to book this hostel on my trip, but had several backpackers recommend it to me while I was in Albania. 

The location is unbeatable – right outside the ferry terminal.

This hotel is affordable and located perfectly by the coast in Ksamil. The owners are lovely and it even has free breakfast included – all for around just £44 for 2-3 people rooms.


Saranda has incredible food, especially seafood! There are also a ton of delicious burger and pizza places as well as highly raved about vegetarian restaurants.

Some of my favourites were:

Wine Bar Kristiano – located a 10 minute walk from the Monastery of the 40 Saints, it’s one of the best views over Saranda and the Albanian Riviera I have seen. They serve delicious local wines and other drinks.

Restaurant Isufi – my personal favourite restaurant in Saranda. The seafood is insanely good, the servers are the loveliest and you get free Raki and watermelon.

The Nomad Burger & Steaks – the burgers here are delicious and provide a nice break from seafood when needed.

Travelling Albania on a budget is almost too easy. As in, it is pretty much impossible to spend a large amount of money.

Albania is still one of the cheapest beach holidays you can get in Europe and Saranda is the perfect location for your trip.

If you are staying in hotels, I’d recommend trying to find one that includes breakfast, as many affordable ones do. In hostels, you can use the kitchen to make meals. I always went out for dinner as it is so affordable and delicious, but if you are on a super strict budget, just cook at your accommodation.

I’d recommend using local buses to get around rather than taxis as they will overcharge massively during peak season. Even between cities, there are local buses that only cost 10€ or even less. 

Don’t buy from the souvenir shops in the touristy areas as they will likely be overpriced and inauthentic. The same goes for some restaurants – I like to check Google Maps Reviews to find more authentic eats. 

I also met a few travellers who used Couchsurfing to get through Albania. If you have never heard of it, it’s a platform that allows you to connect with locals who can offer you their couch or sometimes even spare room for free. As a solo, female traveller, I would only stay with female hosts, though I  have met plenty others who say they felt perfectly safe with male hosts.

All in all, Albania as of now is still the perfect budget travel location, even for beginner travellers. It is likely to change in the coming years as the country is getting more attention, especially on social media, so get there sooner rather than later.


Accommodation will run you 10-20€ a night for hostels and 30-50€ for affordable hotels. 


Breakfast and lunch can both be done for 10-15€ total or even under 5€ if you buy from supermarkets or small bakeries. Dinner with a drink will run you between 10-15€, with seafood possibly up to 25€. If you want to keep it super budget-friendly, you can get Gyros for about 3.50€.


A day trip will likely cost you between 25-50€ for most tours. If you rent a scooter and split the cost, the whole trip to the Blue Eye cost us less than 15€ per person.


Return flights from London to Corfu can be found for as little as £50. The ferry will cost about 40€ return and local buses less than 10€ for the entire trip.

sunset above Saranda-Albania - traveloffscript

Saranda is definitely worth a visit and was one of my favourite stops along the Albanian Riviera. 

It is more lively than Vlore and has so many daytrip options, as well as more accessible public beaches. It has the crystal-clear waters and stunning beaches associated with Greece and Italy for a fraction of the price

It also has many of Albania’s most famous attractions closeby, such as the Blue Eye and Ksamil.

I would highly recommend a trip to Saranda and Albania in general before it becomes as overrun as other European hotspots.

Saranda is an amazing destination for solo travellers.

As is Vlore and the rest of Albania. In fact, it is slowly emerging as another meeting point for digital nomads, thanks to affordable costs of living and the natural beauty of the country.

Saranda is also very safe for female, solo travellers, with a low crime rate and the friendliest locals I have met in a long time. When I was lost, a family walked with me for 5 blocks to find my accommodation and we had a lovely chat about our home countries.

Albanians are very kind and excel at hospitality, making you feel welcome from the moment you step through the doors. It is also one of the safest countries for hitchhiking, even as a solo female, though I would still recommend being extremely cautious.

I was never alone in Saranda – and not in a creepy way 🙂 There were plenty of other solo, female travellers and everyone was excited to explore together. I even met other backpackers on the beach, everyone was just so friendly. Tours also had lots of other solo travellers.

Overall, Saranda is a great place for solo travel, as is the rest of Albania.

Whether you are on a budget or looking for your dream, beach holiday destination, Saranda is the place to go.

Albania is still up and coming in terms of tourism so now is the ideal time to visit. Prices are still low but cities are prepared for tourists and infrastructure is being built to accommodate the number of visitors. 

No matter the budget, you will be able to have one of a kind experiences in Saranda and see some of the best attractions Albania has to offer. I cannot recommend visiting enough!

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Hi, I'm Bell

Bell from Travel Off Script

My blog is here to show you that there isn’t one correct way to travel the world. Together, we can figure out what that means for you. Learn more about me here!

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