Ksamil, the hidden Gem of Albania

The Ksamil Islands transport you to a tropical paradise, with the breathtakingly turquoise waters, sandy beaches, and natural tranquility so sought-after by beach-going enthusiasts. 

Relax in the sun and swim in the perfectly clear waters at Albania’s up-and-coming resort, where cultural and natural attractions are easily accessible.

Ksamil is one of the Albanian Riviera’s most alluring resorts. A sheltered cove, with perfect white sand and sparkling clear waters, sits at the resort’s heart, offering a romantic and idyllic getaway. Take a boat trip out to the Emerald Islands, set off on a day trip to the Blue Eye natural spring, or go in search of history at the ancient city of Butrint.

Find a perfect Mediterranean beach destination at Ksamil, the largest city in southern Albania. Located 10 miles (17 kilometers) south of Sarandë, it is ideally located for a quick getaway. Lounge on the beautiful beach, enhance your tan, rent a paddleboat, or try low-key watersports.

Just offshore are the paradise Emerald Islands, known individually as Emerald Island, Small Island, Stone Island, and the Twin Islands. Hop on a boat from Ksamil to hike among the abundant plants and birds that thrive here. Try snorkeling or scuba diving in the crystal clear waters.

Watch the sunset from one of the beachside bars, cafés, and restaurants that are open late into the evening. Serving a mixture of traditional Albanian dishes and international fare, they are delightful spots in which to relax after a lazy day on the beach.

Ksamil is also well positioned for several day trips. Spend a day in Sarandë to glimpse Albanian life and culture and to walk the pleasant boardwalk. Join a tour and head to the archaeological site of Butrint, where you will discover an amphitheater, basilica, watchtower, and fort. It is just 10 minutes from Ksamil. A little farther is the Blue Eye, a natural 160-foot-deep (50-meter) pool that is the source of the Bistricë River and creates mesmerizing blues and greens.

Get to Ksamil either through Albania’s capital of Tirana or via the closest international airport in Corfu, Greece. From here, take a 30-minute boat ride to reach the major city of Sarandë any time you want.

Pulebardha Beach, Ksamil, Saranda

A beautiful little beach between Saranda and Ksamil. It’s located north of Ksamil, and in Albanian, it’s known as “Plazhi i Pulëbardhës”.

Pulëbardha Beach (Plazhi i Pulëbardhës) actually means seagull’s beach. The beach is an amazing oasis that is both quiet and secluded but still has everything you need at the same time. It’s hidden and surrounded by a rocky, but the green landscape and the turquoise-colored water is extremely clear. It’s a perfect place to escape the town and relax while enjoying the beautiful views.


Mirror Beach Albania

One of the highlights of the Albanian Riviera is Mirror Beach Albania. In Albanian, Mirror beach is called “Plazhi Pasqyra”. This means the beach of mirrors. During the day, the sunlight reflects on the sea. Therefore, the sunlight makes the sea look like a sparkling mirror. The reflection of the sea really has a magical effect. Which is one of the reasons why many locals, say that the mirror beach is the highlight of the Albanian coast?

The bay of Mirror Beach is surrounded by overwhelming rock formations. The rocky background makes the bay feel like a secret spot. If you walk towards the end of the shore, you will see some smaller, more intimate beaches. You can even wade through the water of the sea, to reach a hidden spot, which can only be accessed through the water. At first sight, you will not believe your eyes, when you see the bright blue water of Mirror Beach.

The Twin Islands of Ksamil

There are a total of four spectacular islands in Ksamil. The most famous ones are the Twin Islands, which are connected to one another via a narrow sand belt. However, they each have their own individual beauty and charm, and are both definitely worth visiting – being easily reachable from the shore! The perfect tranquility and dense greenery of these islands resemble a tropical paradise that you won’t want to leave!

Here, you can go canoeing, diving, or book a boat trip. The delicious seafood dishes served in the numerous restaurants of Ksamil, and the tasty cocktails, which can be enjoyed under the sun, are some more reasons you’ll thoroughly enjoy your time here. Splash in these waters to your heart’s delight, take snaps of this photogenic paradise, and definitely take a Mussel Tour whilst you’re in the area! This innovative and charming tour was created by a local youngster and has been a big hit in the last couple of years.

St. Nicholas (Mesopotam) Monastery, Saranda Albania

In the south of the Mesopotam village in the outskirts of Saranda, very close to the ancient city of Finiq (Phoenice), you can visit one of the world’s pearls of Byzantine architecture.

One of the oldest and largest churches of the Byzantine era, St. Nicholas Monastery (Manastiri i Shën Kollit), also known as the Monastery of Mesopotam, is a must-visit for just about anyone, especially those who love very well-preserved ruins and byzantine art. Having withstood the test of time, the traces of the monastery’s centuries-long history along with its gorgeous mosaics are ready to be explored by the curious traveler.

History and Architecture

The church was built in the 11th century, specifically during the reign of Byzantine Emperor Constantine IX Monomachos which lasted from 1042 to 1055. The Orthodox Monastery consists of a typical Byzantine architecture, surrounded by the ruins of a former temple’s circular wall, built before the church. The exterior is constructed in bricks while the interior rooms are divided by gorgeous arches. In the monastery’s interior walls and columns, you will find spectacular floral designs as well as some beautiful mosaics depicting mostly animals and mythical creatures. Four circular roofs, built one over the other, hold the grand entrance of the church’s portico while the garden sits beautifully under the shade of century-old cypresses and olive trees. Its architecture easily places the monastery in the category of rare architectural objects and it is precisely its double apse that makes it a truly singular structure in its genre.

The Fourty Saints Monastery, Saranda Albania

The monastery was built in the 6th century AD as an important Byzantine pilgrimage site. It was named after the Forty Martyrs of Sebaste, which is also why it included 40 rooms, one for each of the martyrs. The legend tells that a group of Roman soldiers was asked to renounce their Christian religion in exchange for shelter. They kept loyal to their faith and refused upon which they were killed as martyrs near the city of Sebaste in Armenia.

The monastery has played an important role in the history of Saranda by giving the city its initial name, Agi Saranda, which means “Forty Saints” in Greek. Later the name was shortened by removing “Agi” and only keeping Saranda (forty).

Lekuresi Castle, Saranda, Albania

If you stay at Blue Eye Hotel which is located in Ksamil or if you visit Saranda, you should definitely make a stop at the Lëkursi Castle. This fortress dates back to the 16th century and is constructed in the shape of a square with two round towers sitting diagonally to one another.

All that remains of the castle are its ancient walls, but a small restaurant located inside has converted a part of the ruins into a restaurant terrace. From this cafe take in views of the sea and the town below as you sample the traditional cuisine. You may have to approach the bar to order during the busy peak season.

Its strategic position on a hill of about 300 meters in height as well as its panoramic views of Saranda, the Butrint Lagoon, and even the island of Corfu, make this destination a tourist favorite. Not to mention that, inside the fortress, you will find one of the best-known bars and restaurants in Saranda which also offers the most beautiful view of the sunset.

Blue Eye Albania

Syri i Kalter (The Blue Eye) is one of those rare, almost unreal places. You know, places you won’t believe exist on Earth. You’ll find Syri i Kalter in south Albania, located between the gorgeous Albanian Riviera and the epic UNESCO town of Gjirokastër. Both are worth a visit while you’re there.

The Blue Eye is a water spring with extremely light blue water bubbles in a more than 50-meter deep pool. You’ll be mesmerized by how clear the water is, to the point that you’ll be able to see straight to the bottom. Also, make sure you follow the sign that leads to Syri i kaltër, so you don’t miss out on the actual Blue Eye. Divers have attempted to descend into the Blue Eye to calculate its actual depth but it’s still unclear how far the mysterious hole really goes. The initial water source of the 25 km Bistricë River, the Blue Eye is just the starting point of a water path that goes all the way to the Ionian Sea. Of course, the area around the Blue Eye is also quite important since it’s a natural monument where oak and sycamore trees stand out with their beauty.


Ali Pasha Castle – Butrint, Albania

Ali Pasha castle is near the main site of UNESCO Butrint.  The castle sits surrounded by water and can only be accessed by boat from a local fisherman.  Ali pashas castle is regularly missed by tourists who all pile to visit the nearby site of UNESCO Butrint.  If you don’t look for it, it’s easily missed!

The castle dates to the 17th century and belonged to Ali Pasha. There is virtually no information on this site other than the odd archaeological document of findings.  The castle is in pretty good condition for being built so long ago.  The structure is preserved so you can see how the castle worked.  Ali Pasha also has other castles and fortifications around Albania like Porto Palermo Castle and of course the main sites of Butrint too.