Ksamil the small Albanian village with a heavenly sea
Ksamil in Albania is a small village within easy reach of Saranda, a stone's throw from the border with Greece and right in front of Corfu.
It is also the most popular destination in the Albanian Riviera since the sea of this village is probably the most beautiful in the whole country (but along the coast there are many other wonderful places such as Palermo port).
Le sandy beaches of Ksamil, clear water and local restaurants preparing fresh seafood dishes help to make Ksmail the perfect place to relax, snorkel and visit some nearby places.
In fact, although its main vocation is the maritime one, if you choose to sleep and base yourself in Ksamil, there are so many things to see in its surroundings. And in this post we will find out what!
Discover the 10 places to see in Albania and not to be missed if it is the first time you go there.
Come arrivare a Ksamil da Saranda
Ksamil is located about 15 km from Saranda, therefore quite close and easily accessible. If you have a car you can drive along the SH81 which in 15/20 minutes, depending on traffic, will take you straight to the beach! Alternatively you can take a taxi which costs around €5 or a bus which costs 100 lek and reaches Ksamil in 30 minutes.
You should sleep, Ksamil
If you are planning a holiday in Albania and you are wondering where to base yourself, if you obviously want to dedicate your time only to the South, the Albanian Riviera to be clear, Ksmail is a valid alternative to the larger Saranda and its sea is directly accessible. Ideal for those who want to sleep a stone's throw from the sea and seek relaxation (if you are looking for entertainment and nightlife then I recommend Saranda).
Near the sea and with rooms with a view, the Denoel hotel is my favorite. The location is exceptional, it's brand new and even has its own beach, which is no small thing in the high season.
Alternatively, especially if traveling in high season, the Delight hotel, also brand new and with a private beach for guests.
If you want to stay in the best hotel in Ksamil, at least in my opinion, then book at Poda Boutique Ksamil. The location and view are stunning, it has a private pool and beach for guests.
What to see in and around Ksamil and good reasons to visit it
Ksamil is a rather popular destination in Albania but if you travel outside the two months of high season it will be possible to enjoy this place in almost total solitude.
Considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe with crystal clear water, also excellent for snorkelling, and white sand, Ksamil is surrounded by nature, surrounded by high mountains and facing some islands that can be reached by kayak or boat.
I chose Ksamil as a base for about 6 days, a lot considering the size, doing something new and different every day. So here are the things to visit in the surrounding area and to alternate with sunbathing and diving in its bays.
The Ksamil islands and how to visit them
The main attraction of Ksamil is visiting the four small uninhabited islands located in front of the beach. Some islands can be reached by swimming due to their proximity to the coast while others can be easily reached by kayak or boat ride.
The most famous islands are the Twin Islands. The two islands are connected to each other via a narrow belt of sand and dense vegetation which makes it a tropical paradise. The islands are part of the Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The sunset on the islands is beautiful so make sure you stay until the end of the day.
The forbidden islands of Ksamil during communism
During communism in Albania, it was forbidden to visit the Ksamil Islands. The communist regime was isolating Albania from the rest of the world by closing all foreign borders. Being right in front of Corfu, the Ksamil islands became an off-limits area for the Albanians.
At that time, however, the government used the Ksamil islands for two purposes: planting medicinal herbs and hunting areas, in fact wild deer and goats were released, for senior government officials.
After the communist regime, two of the four islands were damaged by fires and illegal constructions that had been banned for many years now. Not only. To protect the nature on the islands, the Ksamili Islands have become a Albanian natural monument in 2002.
How to get to the Ksamil Islands?
There are several ways to visit the small islands. You can reach them with a pedal boat which costs about 10 euros. Or you can rent a canoe or kayak for around 7 euros. Obviously they can also be reached by boat or, if you wish, by swimming (to reach the nearest islands!
Butrint National Park
Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an archaeological site located just 20 minutes by bus from Ksamil, 10 by car or 1 hour on foot. If it's not too hot, the walk is highly recommended because the route will take you through olive groves and bellissime very much.
Butrint was an ancient city inhabited since prehistoric times and later dominated by the Greeks and then the Romans. The visit takes between 2 and 700 hours and the entrance costs XNUMX lek.
Butrint sits on a hill and is surrounded by spectacular lakes, so the view and location alone are worth the trip, but visiting the archaeological site is a walk among incredible finds.
Inside Butrint you will see very well preserved old buildings such as a theater which housed over 2500 people and is still used for events. Continuing along the path you will come across the Asclepius temple,Acropoli, a XNUMXth century basilica, the Lions gate and a Castle, which is now a museum with artifacts dating back to the Iron Age and the Middle Ages, with an incredible view of Lake Butrint and its surroundings. Some locals believe that Butrint was actually the sunken city of Atlantis.
Boat ride to Ksmail Island
A boat trip to Ksamil is one of the best things to do from Ksamil beach. These tours last approximately 6 hours and take you to the most beautiful beaches in the area including Dry Tree, which is a beautiful white sand beach, Buka, which is a famous fishing area, and finally the Ftele beach, which is the southernmost beach of Albania, near the border with Greece, which is perhaps the most beautiful and untouched of all.
The most beautiful beaches of Ksamil
Apart from the main beach and the islands, there are several amazing beaches in Ksamil, the best beaches are: Monastery Beach, Mirror Beach and Pema e Thate Beach.
Monastery Beach (Monastir Beach)
The Monastero beach is a small hidden beach that takes its name from the Monastery of San Giorgio which is located at the top of the hill and which can be visited. The beach is completely surrounded by hills and there are several trampolines by the sea.
Pulebardha Beach (Mirror Beach)
Mirror beach is a magical place. Its name is due to the fact that the sun reflects off the cliff sides and therefore the sea water actually looks like a mirror. The road is rather uncomfortable, like most of the roads in Albania, and you will find a lido on site.
Pema e Thate Beach
Pema e Thate Beach is a small sandy beach near Ksamil. The name means dry tree beach because there was an old tree in the water near the beach that was several hundred years old. Ksamil is about 6km away from Pema e Thate which is also the closest point to Corfu island.
The beach is the perfect place to visit if you have children, as it has shallow water and the bottom of the sea is all sand.
Visit the Blue Eye
The Blue Eye is a spring with beautiful blue water a short distance from Ksamil on the way to Gjirokastër.
The source is called blue eye because it looks like a human eye. The water is pumped up from a cave. The Blue Eye is a fairytale place, located in a forest inhabited by many dragonflies.
Gjirokaster is a city located about 2 hours drive from Ksamil. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is now considered a museum city (with the equally beautiful Berat). The city is famous for its beautiful traditional stone houses, some of which can be visited, and the beautiful fort on the top of the mountain overlooking the city. After exploring these attractions, you can finish the day in one of the many restaurants in the bazaar.
Ksmail Albania – Frequently Asked Questions
Is Ksamil beach near Saranda?
Yes Ksamil beach is close to Sarande which is about 15km away. From Saranda it takes only 10/15 minutes by taxi, which costs around €10, or by car. Or you can take the Ksamil bus from Saranda, which costs less than 1 euro and takes about 30 minutes.
Can I go to Ksamil from Saranda by bus?
The bus from Saranda to Ksamil took about 20-30 minutes and cost 100 Lek. L'autobus Saranda Ksamil parte dalla piazza Mother Teresa of Saranda (Sheshi Nene Tereza).
In summer the bus from Saranda to Ksamil can be very crowded so in this case I recommend getting on the bus at the intersection of Jonianet street and Mitat Hoxha street, near the port of Saranda. The bus stops near the big tree.
Conviene dormire a Ksamil or Saranda?
The first time I visited Albania I stayed in Saranda, but the second time in Ksamil and between the two I definitely prefer Ksamil for many reasons. It is a small village, access to the sea is immediate and it is much less built up than Saranda where you can go easily anyway. However, if you are looking for a city with lots of bars, restaurants and action in the evening, you most likely prefer to sleep in Saranda and reach Ksamil in the day (perhaps on the way to Bitrunti)
When is the best time to go to Ksami?
The climate in Ksamil is pleasant most of the year. The village boasts more than 300 sunny days a year and the least amount of rain in Albania. From May to October, the temperature is very pleasant. In July and August it is very hot and the beaches are generally quite crowded, but if you travel between April and May or in October expect climates around 20 degrees.
Serve una machine a Ksamil?
The car is not needed if you want to stay still in Ksamil but if you want to move around then yes. Remember that if you arrive in Albania with your car you will have to pay compulsory insurance, which can be done at the border or at the port. Alternatively, you can rent one, like everything else, the rental is also quite cheap (here you can evaluate some alternatives and choose the rental you prefer at the best price). Beware that the roads are in very bad condition and the Albanians are a bit aggressive when driving.