No frills guide to Ksamil Albania. Including how to get there, the best things to do and the best Ksamil beaches.
We have checked out Ksamil, the supposed best beach destination in Albania.
Is Ksamlil Beach the Maldives of Europe or a tourist trap? Find out in our honest review.
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Why should you visit Ksamil? Because Ksamil is the Top Beach Destination in Albania!
The sand is the nicest we have seen in Albania, the water is a beautiful turquoise, and the backdrop with the Ksamil Islands and Corfu is stunning. Wait, there’s a but coming.
It is also by far the most expensive beach we have visited in Albania. We paid double the price for sunbeds, food, and a parking space. Additionally, we were shocked to learn that some beaches do not let you sit on the sand for free but force you to pay for a lounger or leave.
Furthermore, Ksamil is by far the most crowded beach we have visited in Albania. We visited in September which is theoretically the off-season. Still, it was hard to find a free sunbed and the water was full of people.
When you type Ksamil beach into the Google picture search, you’ll find Maldives like empty beaches. For us, this was simply not the reality (see picture below).
We strongly believe that you should check out Ksamil Beach. We suggest that you lower your expectations a bit and if you have the time, consider adding some other beaches to your Albania itinerary. We’ll give you some suggestions at the end of this blog post.
Ksamil Albania weather: Like in all of southern Europe, summer is the best time to visit weatherise. Unfortunately, this means that the months of July and August are also the most crowded.
You’ll have decent weather from April to October as well but with fewer people. In September and October, you’ll have the additional advantage of a warmed-up sea. Beware that it was still pretty crowded when we visited in September.
This depends on your plans for your holidays:
If you mostly want to stay in Ksamil and hit the beach, public transport is a convenient and cheap way to reach the seaside town.
If you want to explore more of the beautiful country and go on some day trips, a rental car will make your life easier.
There are two main ways to get to Ksamil by public transport:
Take a public bus from Corfu airport to the ferry port. The bus runs multiple times per hour and takes around 2 minutes. A ticket should cost you around 2$.
Hop on a ferry from Corfu, Greece, to Saranda, Albania where you go through immigration. The normal ride takes 80 minutes and the fast ferry around 30 minutes. Depending on the season, they should run multiple times a day. Currently, there are four companies (Sarris Cruises & Lines, Finikas Lines, Ionian Seaways, and Joy Lines) with over 30 daily sailings. A ticket should cost around 20$.
Get some Albanian Lek for the bus.
Hop on a bus from Saranda to Ksamil. It departs close to the port every 30 to 60 minutes during the day. The Saranda Ksamil distance is 16 km (10 mi) and the ride takes 30 minutes. It should cost around 1$.
How much costs a taxi Saranda to Ksamil? A taxi should cost around 15$.
Where To Stay In Ksamil Albania:Booking.com
Real talk: There are no Ksamil hotels on the beach. Not a single one. Even when you filter by beachfront into booking.com, you have to walk a few minutes to reach the beach from your Ksamil hotel. Additionally, you’ll face the same sunbed struggle as everybody else because there are no hotels with their own beaches in Ksamil.
What you can find however are sea view accommodations:
Blue Bay Ksamil
We have marked all the beaches with a rating of >4 dark blue and <4 light blue.
As you can see, most of the beaches within walking distance of central Ksamil have horrendous ratings. They are expensive, crowded, and most likely blast loud music.
A rule of thumb seems to be that the beaches furthest away have the best rating:
See Cubana Beach as they are super close together.
Monastery Beach can no longer be reached as it has changed to a giant construction site.
The 10 best things to do in Ksamil are:
The Ksamil Albania Islands are four little uninhabited islands just across Ksamil Beach.
To get to the closer two islands, you can organise your own Ksamil boat trip by SUP, kayak, or paddle boat.
To get to the further two islands, expect to pay around 5000 Lek for a boat tour including two sunbeds and an umbrella.
Butrint National Park encompasses 9,424 hectares (94.24 km2) of hilly terrain with freshwater lakes, wetlands, salt marshes, open plains, reed beds and islands. It is home to over 1,200 different species of animals and plants.
The highlight of Butrint National Park is the Butrint Archeological Site. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important archaeological sites in all of Albania. The structures date back from the Iron Age up until the Middle Ages. You can visit many buildings including the city walls, a late-antique baptistery, a basilica, a Roman theatre, and not one but two castles.
It is this combination of culture and nature which makes Butrint a super unique place to visit.
When you’re in the area, think about hopping on the small ferry to visit the Venetian Triangular Castle on the other site. It’s free to visit and a lovely bonus to your Ksamil day trip.
There’s a nice little coffee place with a super friendly owner on the other side as well.
Ali Pasha's Island Castle is another nice addition to your Ksamil day trip. You can only reach it by boat. When we visited, several boat drivers were waiting outside the Butrint Archeological Site.
The Blue Eye is another popular day trip from Ksamil. The spring with the blue water is only a quick stop and the water is super cold in case you consider swimming here. It’s best combined with a trip to Gjirokaster.
Gjirokaster or Gjirokastra is a small UNESCO World Heritage city. The compact size of Gjirokaster's city centre allows you to explore it within just a few hours. We especially liked the cold war tunnel and the castle. For a nice view of the city and the castle, we suggest that you seek the obelisk.
Saranda or Sarandë **is the port town next to Ksamil. With 17500 inhabitants, it’s much livelier than Ksamil. You can find plenty of cafes and restaurants as well as bars and a bustling nightlife.
The highlights are the castle and the Monastery of 40 Saints.
St. George’s Monastery could be a short stop on your way to Saranda. The ruins offer nice views of the coast. It’s close to King Mussel Taverna where you’ll get great mussels + a great view across Lake Butrint, a beautiful salt lagoon.
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