Is it Better to Stay in Ksamil or Saranda – A Tale of Two Destinations


By Vangjel Dhimo on June 5th, 2023

Ksamil and Saranda, the stunning coastal towns of Albania, are your chosen destinations as you seek refuge in the idyllic Balkan region, escaping the everyday hustle and bustle.These neighboring towns offer a unique blend of scenic beauty, cultural richness, and warm Mediterranean hospitality. So, which of these should you choose for your stay? A closer look at the distinct features of both Ksamil and Saranda can help answer this question.

Saranda, the official capital of the Albanian Riviera, is adorned with sprawling resorts, opulent hotels, bustling restaurants, and a vibrant nightlife scene. On the other hand, Ksamil, known for its pristine beaches and islands, provides a serene environment, untouched by large-scale urbanization. While each town has its charm, this article advocates for a strategy that optimizes the best of both worlds – staying in Saranda and visiting Ksamil.

Let’s delve deeper into why this option seems to be the ideal choice for your Albanian adventure.


Stay in Saranda for Comfort and Convenience

Saranda, often regarded as the gateway to the Albanian Riviera, boasts a diverse selection of luxurious accommodations. It caters to varying budget constraints without compromising comfort and hospitality. From high-end hotels offering panoramic sea views and private beaches to modest apartments that give you a taste of the local life, Saranda has it all.

This city’s accommodation options stand out because of their proximity to urban amenities. Saranda pulsates with an active nightlife scene that draws both locals and tourists, offering bars, clubs, and restaurants serving delectable local cuisine. Additionally, it’s a hub for various cultural events, which could give travelers a deeper understanding of Albanian heritage.

saranda apartment

A Scenic Day-Trip in Ksamil

While choosing Saranda as your base, consider renting a car for convenient and flexible access to Ksamil. Just a 10-minute drive from Saranda, Ksamil offers a tranquil getaway from the city’s hustle and bustle. Renowned for its four islands and turquoise waters, this town is a haven for beach enthusiasts and nature lovers.

Despite its natural beauty, Ksamil’s accommodation facilities do not match Saranda’s. The town is significantly smaller, and while it has been developing rapidly, its hotel and apartment options can’t compete with the vast offerings in Saranda.

However, this should not deter you from experiencing the magic of Ksamil. Renting a car alleviates this issue by allowing you to commute from Saranda easily. Spend your day in Ksamil, lounging on the beaches, visiting the islands, and dining at the sea-side restaurants that serve fresh seafood, then return to the comfort of your accommodation in Saranda.

ksamil islands

The Benefits of Car Rental

Renting a car during your stay in Saranda opens up a world of possibilities for exploration. Not only does it make visiting Ksamil a breeze, but it also allows you to venture beyond these two towns. You could explore the ancient ruins of Butrint, take a scenic drive along the Riviera, or visit the stunning Blue Eye Spring.

Moreover, car rental offers a sense of freedom and flexibility that structured tours or public transport can’t provide. It allows you to set your itinerary, spend as much time as you want at each location, and truly immerse yourself in the breathtaking landscapes of southern Albania. Find your rental car here.

Beyond Ksamil and Saranda

Staying in Saranda and renting a car not only enables seamless visits to Ksamil but also provides access to other gems in the region. The ancient city of Butrint, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a short drive away. This archaeological site gives you a glimpse into the past with its well-preserved ruins, ranging from the Hellenistic to the Byzantine periods.

If you’re a fan of natural beauty, don’t miss the Blue Eye Spring (Syri i Kalter). This natural phenomenon, known for its hypnotic, azure water, is a perfect picnic spot. Nestled in a forest, it’s a place where tranquility is only disturbed by the melodic sounds of nature.

For the adventurous at heart, the Llogara Pass promises a thrilling drive. This mountain pass along the Albanian Riviera offers stunning panoramic views that will leave you breathless.

blue eye albania

Understanding the Local Culture The Joy of Interactions

Staying in Saranda also offers an opportunity to immerse yourself in Albanian culture. The city is a melting pot of traditions, evident in its food, architecture, and local customs. Wander around the local markets, engage with the friendly residents, and relish authentic Albanian cuisine. The locals’ hospitality and the town’s historical and cultural richness make for a uniquely enlightening experience.

Crafting Your Unique Albanian Experience

Your choice between Ksamil and Saranda is not merely a question of geography or amenities. It’s about how you envision your journey through the enchanting landscape of southern Albania. If you crave a balanced mix of comfort, cultural immersion, and natural beauty, then staying in Saranda with the freedom of a rented car to explore Ksamil and beyond could be your ideal choice.

Every journey is personal, every experience unique. This approach allows you to create a travel story that reflects your interests, curiosities, and passions. From the tranquil beaches of Ksamil to the bustling streets of Saranda and the historical treasures scattered in the region, your Albanian adventure awaits. It’s a tale of two towns and beyond, waiting for you to write your chapters. Embark on this journey and discover what the pearls of the Albanian Riviera have in store for you.