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Syri I Kalter: How to Visit the Blue Eye in Saranda, Albania (2024)

Are you planning to visit the Blue Eye near Saranda, Albania? We’re sharing all you need to know for your visit in this guide.

blue eye in saranda
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The Blue Eye, also known as Syri I Kalter, is a breathtaking freshwater spring located near the coastal town of Saranda in Albania. It’s known for its astonishingly clear blue waters surrounded by hills and lush greenery.

The spring’s name, the Blue Eye, comes from the water’s intense blue color, which resembles a giant eye. With a remarkable depth of more than 50 meters and a water flow rate of 18,400 liters per second, it is one of Albania’s most extraordinary natural sites.

Visiting the Blue Eye was at the top of our Albania bucket list, and it did not disappoint! We visited in May of 2023 as a stopover on our way from Saranda to Gjirokaster and spent a couple of hours wandering around. It’s a perfect half-day trip from either city!

In this post, we’re answering all of your questions about visiting the Blue Eye in Saranda, including whether or not you can swim here and how to get there.

Blue Eye National Park

The Blue Eye is located inside of Blue Eye National Park. The park has a total surface area of 180 hectares with 13.5 hectares of that being water.

The landscape is hilly and is made up of oak trees and other Mediterranean fauna. The main attraction inside of the national park is the Blue Eye itself. Most people spend a few hours in the park to see the crystal-clear waters and beautiful landscapes.

How to get to the Blue Eye from Saranda?

There are three primary transportation options to reach the Blue Eye from Saranda: by bus, car, or taxi.

Saranda to Blue Eye by car

The best way to get to the Blue Eye is by car. We recommend renting a car in Tirana at the airport or in Saranda city center.

The drive from Saranda to the Blue Eye takes around 35 to 40 minutes on the SH99. The roads are in good condition, and we didn’t have any issues finding it, as it’s pretty straight forward to get there.

If you’re looking for a place to rent your car, we rented our car through DiscoverCars at the Tirana Airport and had a wonderful experience.

Saranda to Blue Eye by bus

If you prefer to use public transportation, then you can take a bus from Saranda to the Blue Eye. This option is not as straight forward, but it is possible.

Previously, all the buses heading towards Gjirokaser and Tirana took the SH99, which passes by the Blue Eye. However, a new road was completed and many buses take this new route that does not pass by the Blue Eye.

To get to the Blue Eye by bus, you have to take a bus heading to Gjirokaster on the SH99. Make sure to ask the driver if you can stop at “Syri I Kalter”, and they will let you know whether or not they are going in that direction.

You can check prices and times for buses heading to Gjirokaster from Saranda on the Gjirafa website.

Alternatively, there is a shuttle bus that goes from Saranda to the Blue Eye several times per day. The company is called KMG Tourism Group and you can find the updated timetables on their Facebook page. The cost is around 1,400 Lek ($14) round-trip. The shuttle bus picks you up here.

In our opinion, the shuttle bus is a better option than the bus.

Saranda to Blue Eye by Taxi

Taking a taxi to the Blue Eye is convenient and easy. Ask the taxi driver to wait for you in order to take you back to Saranda. They will usually wait for 2 hours.

The cost of a round-trip taxi ride is usually around 35,000 – 40,000 Lek ($35-$40). Make sure to negotiate and settle on a price beforehand and bring cash to pay at the end.

Saranda to Blue Eye by Organized Tour

If you want to completely avoid having to plan your day trip to the Blue Eye, then we suggest booking an organized tour. Of course, this is the most expensive option.

Here are a couple of tours we recommend:

Syri I Kalter practical information

How much is entrance fee for the Blue Eye?

The cost to visit the Blue Eye is 50 Lek per person ($0.50). This must be paid in cash.

Syri i Kalter opening hours :

7:00 am – 7:00 pm year round, daily

Parking fee at the Blue Eye :

There is a parking lot located near the entrance to the Blue Eye. The fees for parking at the Blue Eye are outlined below. This must be paid in cash.

  • 0-3 hours: 200 Lek
  • 3-4 hours: 300 Lek
  • 8-24 hourus: 800 Lek

What to expect at the Blue Eye?

The entrance for the Blue Eye is located just a 5-minute walk from the parking lot. After you pay your entrance fee, you will cross a bridge and follow along a paved path.

The path is about 2 kilometers from the entrance to the actual Blue Eye. This takes around 20-30 minutes depending on your pace. It took us around 20 minutes to get there.

Once you reach the Blue Eye, there is a platform overlooking the spring, which is where you’ll find the best views. It can get crowded, so be prepared to wait.

After taking some photos here, we recommend follow along the dirt trail behind the platform for even better views of the entire river. You’ll reach some stairs, head up the stairs, and the view is just a short walk from the top.

There is a souvenir shop next to the overlook selling magnets, postcards, and other items if you are interested in purchasing something.

Overall, you should only need about 2 hours in total at the Blue Eye.

Food at the Blue Eye

If you’re planning to eat at the Blue Eye, there is a restaurant called “The Blue Eye” near the pool. The ratings aren’t the best, but it’s something in case you’re visiting during lunch time.

Can you swim at the Blue Eye in Saranda?

This is a bit of a debated question. Technically, no, you are not supposed to swim at the Blue Eye. However, many people do it anyways.

Prior to visiting the Blue Eye, we were under the impression that you could swim at the spring and around the river. We had read about it online and had seen various photos of other people swimming there.

As of our visit in May 2023, there are signs everywhere that say swimming is not allowed. The reason being that they are trying to preserve the national park and keep the area clean.

Understandably, we agree with this and chose not to swim in order to do our part in helping to preserve the natural area. We also visited on a cooler day, so no one was swimming anyways.

While we understand that this is not ideal, it’s really up to you if you want to swim or not. The constant water temperature is about 53.5º fahrenheit (12º celscius), so it’s pretty chilly!

Is the Blue Eye worth visiting?

The Blue Eye was one of the top things on our Albania road trip itinerary. It is definitely worth visiting if you are traveling around southern Albania!

Both the Blue Eye in Theth and the one near Saranda are beautiful, but we preferred the Blue Eye down south more. In our opinion, it’s more stunning and unique, as you get to see the water bubbling up from the spring.

The Blue Eye up north in Theth is mainly a pool of water that is being fed from a waterfall. It’s still worth visiting if you are in the area, but if you have to choose between the two – we recommend the Blue Eye in Saranda.

Best Time to visit the Saranda Blue Eye

The best time to visit the Blue Eye is from May to the beginning of October. During this period, the weather is warm and sunny, creating ideal conditions for enjoying the clear blue waters and the lush surrounding landscape.

July and August are the busiest time of year, so expect crowds if you’re visiting during the peak travel season. We recommend going to the Blue Eye in May, June, September, or October during the shoulder season for a more pleasant experience.

Tips for visiting the Blue Eye in Saranda

  • Bring cash – The entrance and parking fees must be paid with cash. Make sure to bring enough for this and any other purchases during the day.
  • Pack water – During the summer months, it can get pretty warm here. Bring water to stay hydrated.
  • Wear walking shoes – The walk up to the Blue Eye is 2 kilometers, and the other trails are made of dirt. We recommend bringing comfortable shoes, since you’re looking at over 4 kilometers of walking round trip.
  • Don’t expect to swim – Swimming is technically not allowed at the Blue Eye; however, some people swim anyways. The rules are always changing, so you may not be able to swim if you were planning on it.

More information for your Albania Trip

KSAMIL: Planning to head down south to the beaches? Check out our post on the Best Things to do in Ksamil and discover the 13 Best Beaches in Ksamil

HIMARE: Read about the most incredible Beaches in Himare and the top Things to do in Himare to help plan your trip to the Albanian Riviera.

BERAT: Plan your trip to Berat with our 15 Best Things to do in Berat post.

KRUJA: If you are looking for a day trip from Tirana, or driving to Theth, make sure to stop in Kruja on your way. It has the most amazing shopping bazaar in Albania!

THETH: Heading to the mountains? Check out our posts on driving the Road to Theth 

Albania Travel Planning Guide

Albania Travel Insurance – Should you get travel insurance for Albania? YES! We always get travel insurance before all of our trips for peace of mind. Check out Travel Insurance Master to find the best plan for you.

Albania Rental Cars – Is it safe to rent a car in Albania? Yes! We rented a car in Albania for one month and it is the best way to see the country. We rented our car through Discover Cars (our go-to rental agency), which helps you find the best rates no matter where you are traveling.

Albania Phone Plans – If your phone plan does not offer free coverage in Albania, then we suggest getting an eSIM. We used Airalo during our trip to Albania, and we had fantastic coverage the entire time. We even had to rely on it for data to get some work done, and it worked great!

Albania Hotels – Wondering where to book your accommodations for Albania? We booked all of our hotels through Booking. All of the hotels were responsive through the messaging tool, and there are endless options to choose from. Note – some hotels in Albania require you to pay in cash. Make sure to message the hotel in advance to be prepared with the correct form of payment.

Drinking Water in Albania – Wondering if you can drink the tap water in Albania? We were advised to not drink the water by our hotels, so we ended up buying bottled water instead.

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