Albania on a Budget - Saranda

Albania on a Budget - Saranda

Albania is considered to have one of the best beaches in the Balkans and to be one of the cheapest destinations for the summer. I decided to check by myself if the title "Maldives of Europe" actually fits it!

Just to give you a heads-up, I don't think it was the cheapest country I visited in the Balkans. 

Getting from Tirana to Saranda

I only had 4 days in Albania, so I arrived in Tirana, and the plan was to go directly to the coast side (Saranda). The best way is by bus. To go to the Regional Bus Terminal from the airport, you have to take a taxi since there's no direct bus from there. Just ask them to drive you to Terminali i Autobusave te Jugut dhe Veriut. It means "South and North Albania Bus Terminal".

The taxi cost me 20€ and took around 15-20min to arrive at the bus terminal.

The bus terminal doesn't look like a bus terminal, it's just a parking lot with lots of buses! As a female solo traveler, I didn't feel any danger, and I arrive late at night. 


The bus from Tirana to Saranda departs at 5:30 AM, 6:15 AM, 7:30 AM, 8:30 AM, 9:45 AM, 12:30 PM, 16:00 PM and 22:00 PM. You can always double-check the bus timetable on the website of Girafa Autobus here:

The bus trip was around 4h30, and it was 1700 lek (2023), around 15€. You need to buy your ticket in the small booth at the entrance of the bus terminal. It could be euros or lek.


You cannot pay by credit card or debit card, so be sure to bring cash with you. If you do not have euros, they'll probably accept cash Albanian Leek or USD or GBP.

You don't need to reserve a bus ticket online (also, I don't think it's even possible). In Albania, people simply show up at the bus station. That's the way bus travel works in Albania.

Pro tip: if you're arriving late, make sure you contact the property where you're staying for late check-in. Most of the hotels/hostels only offer check-in till midnight.

Arriving at Saranda

Saranda, a coastal town in southern Albania, offers an incredible vacation experience with crystal-clear turquoise waters, stunning beaches, and a rich historical heritage. The town center offers a mix of traditional Albanian charm and modern delights, with a leisurely stroll along the promenade and panoramic views of the Ionian Sea. Visitors can explore the local culture by visiting Lekursi Castle, which is 200 Albanian Lek (ALL), and indulge in delicious local cuisine at affordable restaurants. The colorful streets offer shops selling souvenirs and crafts at reasonable prices.

For four days, I explored Ksamil Beaches, a picturesque village just a 15-minute bus trip from Saranda. Ksamil is known for its pristine beaches and turquoise waters. For a more secluded beach, consider visiting lesser-known beaches like Pasqyra Beach or Krorez Beach. For lunch, enjoy a picnic on the beach or try local street food like gyro or byrek. Most of the beaches are private, so expect to pay around 700 - 1000 lek per sunbed. 

albania on a budget - ultimate 2023 travel guide

Pro tip: buy an inflatable and go to the free beach in Saranda. It's a pebble beach, but it's free ;)

In the afternoon, I went to visit the nearby Butrint National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for its ancient ruins and historical significance. The park is 1000 lek and offers a chance to explore the ancient ruins and learn about the area's historical significance.

How to get from Saranda to Ksamil and Butrint

You can go to Ksamil and Butrint by taking the bus. The price was 160 lek each way for Ksamil and 200 lek for Butrint.

Saranda to Kamil bus timetable
The bus from Saranda to Kamil departs at 6:30 AM, 7:00 AM, 8:00 AM, 8:30 AM, 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 13:30 PM, 14:30 PM, 15:30 PM, 16:30 PM, 17:30 PM, and 18:30 PM.

If you want to take the bus from Saranda to Ksamil, you're basically taking the bus from Saranda via Ksamil to Butrint. So the final destination of the bus is actually Butrint, but you are getting off the bus in Ksamil beforehand.

The bus leaves Saranda from Rruga Jonianet near port of Saranda ferry terminal.

Pro tip: take the bus at this bus stop, as it's the first one, it's more likely to be less crowded (especially during the peak season). On the bus, try to always stay on the right side. To Ksamil, you'll enjoy the sea view, and on the way back, you'll see a fantastic landscape with a vast lake.

Ksamil to Saranda bus timetable
You can also take the bus back from Ksamil to Saranda. The bus departs from Butrint, which is just to the South of Ksamil. From Butrint, it drives via Ksamil to Saranda. The bus departs from Butrint at 7:00 AM, 7:30 AM, 8:30 AM, 9:30 AM, 10:30 AM, 11:30 AM, 12:30 PM, 13:30 PM, 14:30 PM, 15:30 PM, 16:30 PM,

17:30 PM, 18:30 PM and 19:30 PM.

There are four bus stations in Ksamil, where you can get on the bus to Saranda or Butrint.

Pro tip: from Saranda, don't get off on the first bus stop in Ksamil where everyone leaves. Go to the second one. You'll enjoy a less crowded beach and cheaper sunbeds. 


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.