Halfway between the coast of Saranda and the city of Gjirokastra and two kilometers off the main road following a rather bumpy path is one of the secrets (not so secret anymore) most beautiful in Albania: Blue Eye (the Blue Eye or Blue eye in Albanian).
The Blue Eye is a water spring and initial source of the Bistricë, a 25 km long river which ends in the Ionian seat south of Saranda.
The source is a natural phenomenon at least 50m, even the divers couldn't go further so depth is unknown, which features a deep sapphire blue colored 'hole' beneath the surface of calmer turquoise water – color combination typically only seen in hot springs salty – with a constant temperature of 10 degrees.
The area around the Blue Eye is a natural monument where you can have nice walks, a pedal boat ride or a picnic and it is considered one of the most popular and beautiful places in Southern Albania where it is worth popping in for a few hours on your way to or from Saranda from Gjirokastër.
If you are planning a trip to Albania also read the post - What to see in GjirokasterContents hide 1. Why is the Blue Eye special and worth a visit? 2. How deep is the blue eye? 3. How to get to the Blue Eye from Saranda and Gjirokastra 3.1. Reaching the Blue Eye by bus from Gjirokastra or Saranda 3.2. Getting to the Blue Eye by car 4. Visiting the Blue Eye with a tour or taxi 5. What is the best time to visit the Blue Eye? 6. Visit the Blue Eye in Albania – Frequently Asked Questions
Why is the Blue Eye special and worth a visit?
The Blue Eye in Albania is one underwater freshwater spring very deep, resembling a human eye. This image becomes evident if you look at it from the top of the walkway that overlooks it and from which young people dive, challenging the power of the water pumped from the underground cave (actually this is forbidden but it seems that everyone does it ... except me that I find the 10 degrees of the water too cold even on very hot days!).
The name Blue Eye (blue eye) is due to the fact that the impression it gives when seen from above is precisely that of a human eye. The iris is turquoise in color while the pupil is intense blue given by the darkness of the deep underwater cave from which water gushes out with such force that anyone who tries to dive into it is spat out quickly (you can also try with a stone). Every second from the depths of Syri i Kalter in fact, 18.400 liters of water flow out.
How deep is the blue eye?
Conventionally it is said that the underwater cave is 50 meters deep, nobody knows the truth because no diver has managed to go further having to challenge the force of the water that rises to the surface.
How to get to the Blue Eye from Saranda and Gjirokaster
The Blue Eye (Syri i Kalter) is located near the village of Muzine, in southern Albania about 35 minutes drive from Saranda and 50 minutes from Argiroscastro. If you have a car you will not encounter any problems, from the main road you will then have to drive about 2 kilometers on a dirt road and you can park at the restaurant. If you don't have a car, you can choose the bus or a tour. Let's find out all the travel options together.
Reach the Blue Eye by bus from Gjirokastra or Saranda
There are no buses that go directly to the Blue Eye, but if you are in Saranda or Gjirokastra you can take a bus that travels between the two destinations and ask the driver to drop you off at Syri i Kalter. The bus will drop you off on the main road, from here you'll have to walk about 2 kilometers on a rough, unpaved road, so if you're a backpacker it could be quite tiring.
At the end of the road you will reach the restaurant, which overlooks the beautiful river, and on the left the small bridge that leads directly to the Blue Eye of Albania!
Reach the Blue Eye by car
Reaching the Blue Eye by car is certainly the simplest, fastest and most comfortable way. You avoid the long walk, which can be tiring under the sun, and you can stay as long as you want without having to wait in the sun for a bus that doesn't know when it will pass.
To reach Syri i Kalter by car, take the highway that connects Saranda to Gjirokaster and keep your eyes peeled not to miss the sign indicating the detour.
At this point you will have to take a dirt and wooded road of about 2 km. At the bridge you have to pay the entrance fee which is 100 toys for cars and 50 toys per person.
Visit the Blue Eye with a tour or taxi
Alternatively, it is possible to opt for a tour with an Italian-speaking guide, like this one which also includes a visit to the splendid church Butrint, the phenomenal beach of Ksamil and Lekursi castle, which costs around €75 or a taxi which costs around €30 from Saranda (more from Gjirokaster) return.
When is the best time to visit the Blue Eye?
Locals and tourists flock to the Blue Eye in the peak season months – July and August – so summer is undoubtedly the busiest time of year to visit, which is why it is recommended to avoid the peak hours and perhaps arrive very early morning or in the afternoon.
Visiting the Blue Eye in Albania – Frequently Asked Questions
What are the opening hours of the Blue Eye?
Blue Eye Albania is open every day from 7.00 to 19.00
How much is the entrance to the Blue Eye?
Each car costs 100 LEK. Each person pays 50 LEK.
Can you swim at the Blue Eye?
It's technically not allowed. There are signs posted around the site prohibiting it, but you will always see lots of people doing it
Are there any hotels near the Blue Eye?
Nearby there are only rather basic cabins and a restaurant with a wonderful view. Nothing more.