Ksamil in Albania: discover the Maldives of Europe

Ksamil in Albania is often described as the Maldives of Europe. And with its pearly white beaches and turquoise blue waters, we totally understand why! Ksamil has the charm of Greek beaches, but does not yet have the huge tourist crowds. This seaside resort in southern Albania is the ultimate destination for a relaxing beach vacation. But you can also indulge your cultural heart in Butrint National Park or taste the delicious Albanian cuisine! In short, you can easily entertain yourself for several days in and around Ksamil. Quickly discover the best sights in this cozy coastal town on the Albanian Riviera!

6 x the best things to do in Ksamil

Pearly white beaches and turquoise blue waters that remind you of the Maldives but in Europe? Believe it or not, but this exotic destination can be found in Albania! Ksamil is a hidden gem in Europe and has been growing in popularity in recent years. It is very similar to Greek beaches, which is not illogical since it also borders Greece. Still, it is not yet such a tourist destination and Albania is also a lot cheaper. These things to do are definitely not to be missed when you are in Ksamil, Albania!

Maldives of Europe
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1) Go beach hopping

Located on the Mediterranean Sea, Ksamil in Albania is the ideal destination for a wonderful beach vacation. In and around Ksamil you will find plenty of beautiful beaches dotted with colorful umbrellas and beach beds. The contrast with the turquoise blue water gives you an instant tropical feeling and invites you to settle on one of those beach beds and fully enjoy the Mediterranean sun. We skimmed quite a few beaches, and these are our favorites.

Ksamil Beach (Plazhi Ksamilit)

Located at the town of Ksamil you will find Ksamil Beach, a long white sandy beach divided into all small pieces of beach. Often a stretch of beach belongs to a restaurant or beach bar where you can rent a beach bed for an entire day. Prices vary but often you can rent two sunbeds with umbrellas between 1,000 and 2,000 LEK (~ €10 and €20) for a whole day. The beach beds really belong to Ksamil, and you won’t easily find a beach without them. But it certainly has its charm and is ideal for relaxing for a whole day, interspersed with a refreshing swim! The nice thing about Ksamil Beach is that you have a nice view of the islets off the coast of Ksamil.

Ksamil in Albania
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Ksamil Beach Albania
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Gjiri Beach (Gjiri i Hartës)

Located just outside Ksamil in a bay on the Albanian Riviera, Gjiri i Hartës was our favorite beach around Ksamil. Much of the beach is again dotted with beds and umbrellas, but these are much further apart, giving you a spacious feeling. The nice thing about Gjiri i Hartës is that there is also a stretch of public beach where you can just lay down your towel without having to pay for a bed. In our opinion, it was also much quieter here than at Ksamil Beach. This beach is a 5-minute drive from the town of Ksamil or you can also take the bus that runs between Ksamil and Sarandë.

Gjiri Beach
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Ksamil in Albania
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Pulëbardha Beach (Plazhi i Pulëbardhes)

Pulëbardha Beach is a more secluded beach set against a large cliff, giving you a hidden feeling. If you want to escape the hustle and bustle of Ksamil, this is the ideal place to come to. Despite being a pebble beach, it is well worth it thanks to its rocky but green surroundings and clear, turquoise blue waters. You can reach this beach again by bus that runs between Ksamil and Sarandë. Ask the bus driver to stop on the main road and then walk another 20 minutes to the beach. You can also reach the beach just fine with your car, but note that the road to it is not paved and you will have to drive a little slower.

Pulëbardha Beach Albania
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Near Ksamil, you have plenty of other beaches to choose from. Here are some more beaches that are definitely worth a visit:

  • Mirror Beach(Plazhi i Pasqyrave)
  • Lori Beach(Plazhi i Lorisë)
  • Laguna Beach

Around the charming town of Himare you will also find plenty of beautiful beaches. Here are the best things to do in Himare!

2) Butrint National Park

When in Ksamil, a visit to Butrint National Park should definitely not be missed! A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this archaeological site takes you through the region’s impressive history. Butrint National Park is home to numerous ruins from the Greek, Ottoman and Roman empires. You can still find a virtually intact amphitheater and impressive remains of the ancient city. The park is nestled between wetlands and salt marshes, and those who look closely will see the many turtles in the small ponds throughout the park. Be sure to count on 2-3 hours to explore the park and go in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the heat. Butrint National Park is a 10-minute drive from Ksamil and is also easily accessible by bus.

Opening hours Butrint National Park: daily from 9 am to 7 pm | price per person: 1000 LEK (~ € 10)

butrint national park Albania
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Butrint National Park
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3) Explore the islands around Ksamil

Just off the coast of Ksamil are 4 uninhabited islets that you can visit. You can already see the Ksamil Islands from the beach and to the two nearest islands you can just swim. Make it a fun day activity and rent a boat, paddleboat or SUP and drift off to the farthest islets. On the islets themselves you will find nothing except beaches and nature. In Ksamil, you can talk to someone on the beach who rents out boats or pedal boats. Prices are negotiable and the earlier you go, the quieter it is on the islets!

Islands Ksamil
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pedal boats Albania
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4) Visit the Blue Eye of Sarandë

An hour’s drive from Ksamil you will find the Blue Eye(Syri i Kälter) of Sarandë. The Blue Eye is a freshwater spring that you reach after a short hike through a national park. It gets its name from the increasingly dark blue color in the center that makes it look like an eye. The true depth of the Blue Eye is not known, even though several divers have already tried to reach the bottom! Now swimming in the Blue Eye is no longer allowed, but it is still worth visiting. You can take a nice walk through the woods all around and you will find some cozy restaurants for a drink. The admission fee for the Blue Eye with parking is 150 LEK (€1.50).

TRAVEL TIP : Albania is great to explore by car and we recommend renting a car from Sunny Cars . The roads are in great condition and so you can easily get to special places like the Blue Eye of Sarandë.

blue eye of Sarandë
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fauna and flora Albania
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5) Day trip to Corfu

Just off the coast of Albania you will find the Greek island of Corfu. From Sarandë, which is a 15-minute drive from Ksamil, you can take a daily ferry that will take you to Corfu in half an hour. Wander the streets of the eponymous town of Corfu or explore the Greek beaches. In the evening you can take the ferry back, or make it an extra trip and stay several days on Corfu.

sunset Albania
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6) Traditional Albanian food

Besides all those beautiful beaches and nature, Ksamil also has a lot of tasty places to eat. Albanian cuisine is not yet well known to us, but one to lick your fingers and thumbs off! Sample freshly caught fish or one of the many local dishes overlooking the sea. We recommend reserving a table at Guvat Bar & Restaurant for the evening, where you’ll have the best view for a beautiful sunset!

Albania food
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eating out in Albania
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Other cool restaurants in Ksamil are:

  • Deti Jon Fish House
  • Zgara Tradicionale Qendra
  • Pizza Rei & Rai
  • Sea Breeze Seaside Bar & Restaurant
  • Restaurant Panorama

Where to stay in Ksamil

Ksamil has a wide range of small-scale hotels and apartments where you can stay overlooking the beautiful beaches and within walking distance of the center. Heksamil Hotel is a cozy hotel close to the most beautiful beaches of Ksamil. There are also plenty of apartments in Ksamil where you have your own kitchenette, ideal if you want to stay a little longer or with the whole family. Villa White is a great example of this and even includes breakfast!

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How to get to Ksamil

The easiest way to get to Ksamil is to rent a car. Albania is very car-friendly and it is the best way to explore the country! From the capital Tirana, it is about a 4-hour drive to Ksamil. From Tirana, you can also travel to Ksamil by bus. First, take the bus that will take you to Sarandë in 5 hours. Afterwards, transfer to the bus towards Butrint National Park which stops in Ksamil on the way. The total price of this trip is about €17, and you can easily book your bus tickets online here! Ksamil itself is a small coastal town, and you can easily explore it on foot.

TRAVEL TIP : Break up the long drive between Tirana and Ksamil by stopping in Berat. Here you can read what to do in Berat, the City of a Thousand Windows!

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Best time to visit

The best travel time for Ksamil, and Albania in general, is from April through October. In the summer months, however, it can get very hot, with temperatures sometimes reaching 40°C. Many seek refreshment at the beaches then, so it can get quite crowded. We went there ourselves in June and also recommend visiting Albania during the shoulder seasons. June or September is also the best time to do the hike from Valbona to Theth in the Albanian Alps!

Do you still have questions about Ksamil in Albania? Let us know in a comment below! Or discover all our blogs about beautiful Albania here. Looking for more information about your next trip? Please do not hesitate to contact us or send an email to snoezelsontheroad@gmail.com

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