Since we have been walking a lot in Finland, North Macedonia and Tirana, we needed some rest. For this we headed to the sea coast of Albania with beautiful beaches in Ksamil. There we found the perfect place for it.
Bus ride from Tirana to Ksamil
It took us almost 5 hours to get from Tirana to Saranda. The bus was half empty, so we could choose any place. It was quite comfortable.
The best part of this trip were sceneries we saw. We passed mountains and a small river. Was really nice!
In Saranda we took a local bus to Ksamil which goes every hour. The ride takes around 15 minutes.
Our apartment at the sea coast of Ksamil, Albania
As usually, we used Airbnb service to rent a place to live in Ksamil. It was an apartment in a guest house. We communicated with a boy who probably was a son of the owner. He was nice and spoke good English.
The apartment itself was spacious, but not very convenient. There was a gas ballon instead of a stove which limited our cooking capabilities a lot. We only had towels and bed sheets, and everything else we had to buy ourselves.
The kitchen was also equipped quite poorly. Because of the cultural particularities (Albanians do love coffee from tiny cups as you know from our post about Tirana) we only had a tiny cezve and no kettle.
No mugs either. We asked them from the boy-son of the owner, he gave us mugs, but they didn’t have a kettle.
So we had to boil water in this tiny cezve 4 times to fill in mugs. Quite soon we gave up and switched to coffee, because you know, it is better to try to fit in the local culture etc…
Another thing that annoyed us was a general water pump working all the time when someone used it and making a very loud noise. It was hard to sleep and felt like we were living in a laundry.
However, these are all small things, and we compensated it swimming every day in the amazing Ionian sea.
Beaches and sea of Ksamil
Our favorite thing to do in Albania was exploring beaches and sea of Ksamil. Our apartment was located 15 minutes away from the sea. There are three islands in the area, and two of them are easily reachable by swimming. We did it, and it was amazing. The water is very clear and perfect for swimming, even in September.
We had our swimming masks since our vacation last year. If you ever come to this part of the world for swimming, don’t forget to bring the masks with you, because there is a lot to see!
Every day we went to swim for averagely 2 hours. We went to water exploring its bottom and forgot about time. We saw many types of fish, including many flounders, crabs and once even an octopus and a big jellyfish.
There are many options to rent a boat to sail between the islands. We didn’t do that because we prefer to swim and stalk fish 😀
Albania has sea with different types of beaches, in Ksamil you can find two kinds: with stones and with sand. People were mostly there, sunbathing and relaxing. We found a couple of spots that never were crowded. One even had wooden stairs to the sea which was very convenient.
Another one had a small pierce 2+ meters above water. The sea bottom was deep there, there were almost no people, so it was perfect to jump. Anna overcame her fears and jumped into water for the first time in her life! And then jumper 4 more times 😀 It was a great experience!
A mystery of a stolen shoe 😀
Once we were swimming at our favorite spot for a couple of hours. We have left our shoes and clothes on the shore, as always. When we went out of water, I found out that one of my sneakers disappeared.
We didn’t know what to think. We were so much into exploring the sea bottom that we didn’t pay any attention to what was going out on the shore.
Luckily there was one local man who was fishing a bit further from us and he showed us on the dogs running around and then up. Up to the restaurant nearby. Anna went to this restaurant and asked the woman who worked there if she saw a shoe somewhere there.
The woman was confused and didn’t really understand what was going on, but agreed to help. They couldn’t find in the restaurant. Anna looked at the fisher and he pointed up again. Now they both were confused, but in the end they went to check the roof.
When they reached the top of the restaurant Anna saw my shoe right in the middle of the restaurant’s roof, standing still and enjoying the sunset above Greece 😀 Luckily, the roof was hard enough and the restaurant woman managed to get the sneaker! We laughed to much! What a nasty dog, huh!
Food in Ksamil
Beside beautiful beaches and sea of Ksamil, food is another great experience you should try in Albania. Local cuisine consists of mostly grilled meat and seafood.
There are plenty of restaurants (like, a lot!) in the area, but we liked these ones the best (both are next to the supermarket Gjordeni):
– Fast food Beshiku: Here we had a grill mix for 900 lek, and a couple of local beers. A huge portion to share between two.
– Taverna Zgara Tradicionale: Grilled Shelled Mussels (400 lek), a salami sausage, French fries and beer. The mussels come with a very tasty sauce.
There are at least three supermarkets, but we found Gjordeni to be the best one. It has the biggest selection of products, and you can pay by credit card there. It is important because not many places in Albania accept credit cards.
Don’t miss the chance to try Fergese! It’s a ready meal of cheese and tomatoes that you can get in a supermarket. We used to heat it up before eating. It makes a great addition to any meal.
Also bread is quite tasty. Kos, which is fermented milk, is good too. It tastes pretty much like yogurt. You can eat it just like that or use it to prepare some meals.
Transportation to and from Ksamil
To enjoy the sea of Albania at the beaches of Ksamil you should cross either a big piece of country by bus to Saranda or the sea by ferry to Saranda port. From there Ksamil is easily accessible by local transportation from Saranda (don’t waste your money on a taxi) which costs 100 lek and comes every hour.
From Saranda you can take a ferry to Greece, which we did once our stay in Albania ended. It took us around 2 hours to get to Corfu.
On the way we passed Ksamil and said our last goodbye to this beautiful little paradise.
We also saw some bunkers left after the communists times and now probably abandoned.
On the other side we were observing the Greek shore and foretasting another week at the beautiful Ionian sea. After having some rest, working and enjoying local food we were ready for our next destination.