Sarande, Albania Cruise Port

Not far from Corfu is the fabulous Mediterranean cruise port of Sarandë, Albania, found within what's known as the Albanian Riviera on an open gulf of the Ionian Sea. Also spelled Saranda, it's one of southern Albania's most important tourist spots. Because of its proximity to Greece, Sarandë is one of two centers of Albania's Greek community. In fact, the city dates back to ancient times, where it was called by the Greek name of Onchesmos or Anchiasmos; it became an Albanian state in 1913. Sarandë became popular among travelers and a gateway to the southern part of the country, thanks to its coastal location and Mediterranean climate (with warm temperatures year-round and more than 300 sunny days). Wedged between the bay and mountains, there outdoor activities to pursue, along with historical and archaeological attractions to feed the mind. Here are some of our favorite experiences when cruising to Sarandë, Albania:
 
  • One of the most popular attractions is the UNESCO World Heritage Butrint archaeological site, about 18 miles south. This ancient city was abandoned during the Middle Ages; the uncovered ruins include a Roman amphitheater, Roman temple, Byzantine Basilica, and more. There's more still being dug up, so archaeology buffs will enjoy talking shop with the guides.
     
  • Blue Eye (or Syri i Kalter) is a gorgeous clear blue water spring where bubbles tickle you as you swim (although the water can be cool). It's also a popular place for divers, who have yet to reach the bottom; it's not entirely known just how deep the pool goes.
     
  • Not far from the Butrint national park is Ksamil, where vacationers can find beaches, water sports, and restaurants. The village itself is also charming, and there are also attractions on the nearby Ksamil Islands.
     
  • Just a couple of miles southeast of the city center is Lëkurësi Castle, built in 1537 by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. Located on a hilltop, the ruins give a fantastic view of Sarandë and surrounding area. There's a restaurant onsite that creates meals similar to what you may have eaten when the castle was a thriving entity.

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